Written Tuesday 13/2
There are seagulls in the white sky . In pairs and singly , their movement is what you see , stark against an opaque background. They look like olympic ice dancers gliding , soaring , lost in the momentum and their own beauty .
Perhaps they are celebrating the year opening up a bit . I know how they feel .
Sunday found us walking on the beach . Down near the shore line , delighting in the light and the relative warmth .
Yesterday far out along the hythe . Hibernation halted , the estuary mud had the dull gleam of old pitted metal .
Today , the seagulls arrogance - they need no judge , they already know they all have the perfect ten . And us ?
Heading to the harbour as I write this . Smug in the knowledge that there is a big fat pork pie in the boot to eat in greedy gulps when we get there . Pass the mustard .
Today I did it again . We did it again .
Its like being sated and rolling away from a much loved lover and rolling straight back and doing it again .
The seductive landscape is indeed seductive . It's only February and , already , we are entranced .
That's not pretentious or precious .
There are other people , all ages , both sexes . Away from the shops , away from the crowds .
A solitary individual will spot you and grin like a long lost friend .
It's like we are all in the nightclub , a track comes on and we all get up with no thought , only compulsion , and dance . Uninhibited .
Friday, 9 February 2018
A lot of stuff happened . Two deaths in the family and three betrayals plus the fallout which showed clear daylight on a lot of other people .
So we walked away . A lot of walking got done on solitary beaches . Sometimes together and sometimes alone .
Eventually, though you look up and realise you can now take your umberella down .
So it comes time to savour again the things that ,necessarily , got pushed to the margins .
So what of the kitchen ? Well , gradually chutney bubbled again and marmalade perfumed the house but what else ?
I grew up on farm house and country house food . Then by observation , osmosis , and intuition cooked it . Not the painting by numbers that the sainted Delia prescribed (and thus knocked any confidence and creativity out of a potential cook ). No , this was more commonsense , resourcefulness ,a bit of skill and a lot of greed .
Now it's different .The postman's bored with hearing me belt down the back stairs to get the latest second hand cookery book . Mind you he often suppresses a grin as I emerge hair half up , half down looking like Bella from the bordello in the saxophonist's dressing gown .
The book's are various and so this week I'm making :
a stir fry
deep fried squid
and a pineapple crumble with clotted cream custard
and then having a sit down - obviously .
So what I want to know is what are you cooking and if some of the inspiration comes from a couple of books , what are they ?
I'll show you mine if you show me yours .
Note to self : put less red meat in next week's menu .
Tuesday, 6 February 2018
Today is the coldest day of the year so far . ( Around here at least .)
Last weekend I finally came upon a stall piled high with blood oranges and fat lemons too .
What better to do then than stay in the warm and make marmalade . I switched on the radio , put an apron on and set too . I'd forgotten how labour intensive it is .Especially paring off the peel and leaving the pith , them slicing the peel into thin , thin , tiny batons .
The whole house is now scented with oranges and my hands sting from the citrusy juices . I am sitting , in solitary splendour , at the table with hot coffee and a cigarette writing this as the marmalade boils .
Cooking is continuity isn't it . Good ingredients , enough skill and there you have it . Simple but perfect in a homemade sort of way . A form of alchemy .
Two people can walk into a kitchen .
One can have bread and water . The other a pot of tea and some hot buttered toast .
We can always choose which person we want to be .
I'm glad I made marmalade today .
Wednesday, 31 January 2018
Humankind is divided into larks and owls .
The lark is perceived , in many quarters , to be the better/more worthy person . Some of this comes from the Victorian " early to bed early to rise makes a man healthy , wealthy and wise ". Coupled with the Victorian factory owner who wants his factory on full production at maximum profit and minimal cost .
Some of it also comes from people who make a virtue of what they want to do anyway or as a way of feeling superior/more disciplined than their neighbour (having , I'm guessing , little else to distinguish themselves) .
This winter I have heard so many people saying they are struggling much more than usual with the cold and dark for some reason .
I , myself , am an owl .
This winter it has been so convivial to sit by the fire , late at night ,drinking tea or wine deep in frivolous conversation or watching something cheerful on the television . So convivial . Equally how pleasant to go to the bathroom and then snuggle back in the soft warmth again .
The saxophonist used to sometimes play with a very good key board player . Daytime he was a teacher before he retired . Finding he needed more money ( chiefly for sheet music and gin I believe ) he took extra work at home marking exam papers in the evening . Gradually , on retirement , what with gigs and gin generating exam marking his hours slipped round . Eventually his regular time to get up each day was four in the afternoon . I don't think it bothered him in the least .
Whilst my time has been productive and as the blog shows we have been out and about , keeping regular hour has been harder this winter . A morning gone sometimes , a bed time that would have the Victorian factory owner reaching for the smelling salts .
So what I want to know is this . Am I the only one ? Does it matter ? Have you erred so to speak ? Is it as the saxophonist says "no big deal " ?
So doctor is this normal and if it is what hours do you keep ? I refer to those of us who have unencumbered free time, be that in the week , at weekends or a mixture of both .
I'm curious .......
Sunday, 28 January 2018
We have just got back from the coast . It was rough and it was dark . The sea was liquid jet as it rushed up the harbour walls .
It winked it's inky eye at me as it played hand ball with a small fishing boat in the harbour . Slapping it this way, slapping it that way.
The wind flew round and through the metal struts of the old pier .
Slowly , then , a very small container ship came along . It sat low in the water with a single line of lights along its side and a bundle of them at the back .
In the dark it looked like a viking long boat being rowed in and the mournful sound from the pier sounded like the men singing to keep the rhythm of the rowing .
Saturday, 27 January 2018
I have snowdrops coming out in my garden , crocuses too . A treat to see . Apart from anything else it sets off the urge to get out the biscuit tin .
The one with all the little jars and envelopes in . They all have seeds I collected from the garden last autumn. They can be anything from hollyhocks to coriander and laying them all out on the table is always fun . It makes you want to buy gardening oddments too .
Today we sprinted into the discount supermarket for more milk . There was a display of plants . Amongst them was Aloe Vera . I used to have just such a plant on the kitchen window sill . Pull off a leaf , break it and rub it on an oven burn .
The saxophonist has a younger brother . They are as different as can be . Narrowness of a life lived , snobbery , prejudice . The saxophonist's brother has all these aplenty . Over the years people have melted away from his life . We were about the last to go .
He told us that the entire female staff where he worked had gone to personnel about him .
He told us that his former best friend had hidden his invitation so that he did not know there was a party on .
He told us that he did what he felt to be necessary to secure a seat on the underground . A young lady was also trying to secure it and she called him "lard arse ". ( I must admit I did enjoy that one ) .
He treats shop assistants , waiters and bar staff as if they were stupid , criminal or common . Heaven help them if they are female , black or gay .
He makes the atmosphere bad and people either hurt or angry time after time .
So I sit the little pot of Aloe Vera on the window sill . Of course I hope I never have to use it . But if I do the attractive little succulent will sooth , repair and comfort all at once .
In India at one time I'm told women got married to a tree .
Do you think if I ask nicely they would let me swap my brother in law for another Aloe Vera plant ?
Friday, 26 January 2018
I am an unapologetic feminist . I believe in fairness , justice and freedom . It doesn't have to be more complicated than that . If in doubt turn the lens round the other way : would it be appropriate to do that to a man , say that to a man ? If the answer is no then don't do it to a woman .
That said , I like being a woman and all the things that brings . Some historical , some necessitated by gender and a few freedoms - some hard won .
No , this is not having your cake and eating it . It's celebrating your intellect and the fact that you happen to be a woman .
It's saying I can discuss politics , philosophy and literature with you and I can do it with high heels on . Choice and ability . Both my choice and my ability.
So, the thrills of femininity . What are they ? Well some of them are the snap of a handbag clasp , the rasp of silk stockings when you cross your legs , The way putting your hair up and long earrings in makes you pull back your shoulders and arch your neck , the way a new lipstick puts a spring in your step and of course pulling on a new dress and high heels and strutting into a room .
What do you think girls ?