Friday, 28 October 2016

Little Lanes

Devon has the largest road network for any county in the UK. So you'd think we'd all be effortlessly zipping around  between the moors, sea and the pretty towns and villages.  How wrong you'd be!

Some of our roads are tiny. Barely big enough for my compact little Citigo to squeeze through.   I'm used to them now. But I still recall the horror when I was a rookie in my job. I took a trip out to Thurlestone as the proud 'owner' of a brand new lease car, my first ever Skoda.  There was a pile up in a single track lane  and I watched with horror the school bus took wing mirrors off other vehicles in the bottleneck.

One of my favourite routes through Brixham up to my house takes me through teeny tiny winding streets of some of the severest gradients I've ever encountered.  It feels like  I'm in the 'Italian Job' when I'm nipping through.  My poor American friend, the Second Martha Stewart, looked like she needed smelling salts to revive her when her Sat-Nav took her that way when she visited last Christmas.

Here's a scene from yesterday on my way between Kingsbridge and Ivybridge.  This is a pretty wide lane in the scheme of things but it's a busy route.  Lorries getting themselves into a bit of a situation is common place.   Nothing for it but to sit in the queue and watch the drama unfold!

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Back To The Dark Ages

Oh my beloved Leonard!  For a few years I've been telling people that you're quite jolly these days and had shed the gloom that was characteristic of your music in the 1960s and '70s.   Then last week you  released a new album which scuppered my plans to re-brand you as Mr Perky.  It comes highly acclaimed, and quite rightly so.  The lyrics are glorious and then there is that voice that, even in your eighties, oozes seduction and vulnerability.  A critic in the Observer shared a quote.   'No can say naked as nakedly as Leonard Cohen.' Yowzah!

'You Want It Darker' is a sombre offering indeed from a man who announced last week that he 'was ready to die'.    It's rather wonderful though, full of the poetry that sets my heart racing.  I'm sharing 'Treaty', the second song on my album. These words stopped me in my tracks the other day.  They are very representitive of this man's genius.

'I heard the snake was baffled by his sin
He shed his scales to find the snake within
But born again is born without a skin
The poison enters into everything.'

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Pom Bears and Slushies

My sister passed away three months ago tomorrow.  Life for those who are left behind goes on.  But moments of grief still hit me, sometime at times when least expected.

I shed a tear when my lovely friend Ibiza Queen Vikki got out her elevenses yesterday.  At Esther's funeral I found out that Pom Bears were one of her favourite snacks when she was volunteering at Hadleigh Farm, which prepares people with learning difficulties for work.  Mixed in with the earth that was scattered on her coffin were little potato shaped bears.  A friend of hers who worked at the farm came forward and emptied a packet into her grave.

Slushy machines have a similar propensity to make me weep.  At the end of her life Esther's appetite was limited but she loved the coldness of these lurid drinks.  Louis and I sought them out on Southend seafront and brought them back for her.  Her smile when she got a surprise that she liked was always quite lovely.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Trendy Men

Why do magazines and newspapers bother doing fashion features for men?  I've never known any bloke who is vaguely influenced by anything in vogue at all.  I'm somewhat skeptical that the guys that I know would wear the last coat in this Guardian article for instance. Even the gay ones.

If you need a laugh today I'd urge you to follow this link  to a very funny Bored Panda post which showcases men's clothing of the seventies.  I giggled my little socks off when I saw number 5, a man in crocheted pants who seems to have Calvary shaved into his chest hair. For decency's sake I thought I'd share the picture of this chap who's wearing a bit more clothing.  Now I really don't remember my dad wearing anything similar to this when I was growing up!

Monday, 24 October 2016

A Little Hope

We live in a world where a bloke who looks like Dobby out of Harry Potter sends his warships down the English Channel just to give us a bit of a scare.  And there's a shouty man with awful hair who's trying is to get his hand on the big old nuclear button over the pond.  It can seem like our planet is a frightening place to be these days.  Yet I believe the kind, compassionate decent folk will win the day.  After all there's enough of us.  Our shared humanity manifested in billions of acts of kindness will pull through I'm sure.

Here's a story from my working life. The other day I had to help a very lovely lady take her lifelong friend to live in a care home.  Her dementia was of a rare and aggressive type.  Quite quickly she went from being able to live independently to someone for whom home had been a very frightening place where imagined intruders stalked her when she was alone.

'She's not the same woman'  said her friend as I was driving her in the car to collect her friend.  It's a cry that I've heard many times before.  Some choose to walk away at that stage.  It is too painful for them to continue the relationship.  I feel no sense of blame when this happens.  But not this lady.  'Well I'm just going to have to get to know the new person, aren't I?'

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Le Doggy Bag

I've taken today's title as the excuse to hop on over to Pixabay and choose myself a beguiling photograph.  I know that there's a lot of animal lovers who read my blog so I hope that this cutie is a bit of a treat for you guys. If I ever decided to have a dog I think I might choose a spaniel. They're pretty but feisty, like the tomboys of the canine world.

Back to the task in hand!  I've written before about our practice of asking for a doggy bag when we're eating out and there's too much to eat.   After all there's no shame in cutting food waste and saving the cost of a couple of meals in the process. In fact I'm sure Louis now orders food in eateries  with the idea in mind that he'd like some leftovers!

We had a lovely meal in France in the summer in a restaurant that we've eaten in before, La Chaumiere in the  Breton fishing town of Guilvinec.  Now this isn't a fancy tourist joint.  They don't speak English and there's a three course menu du jour seemingly aimed at the town's workers given the clientele. I opted for this and had a monkfish salad with a raspberry vinaigrette,  a beautifully cooked tuna steak and chips and a chocolate mousse all for the princely sum of eleven euros.  There's few places in England that you could get such a culinary bargain.   I wolfed the lot down in situ.  After all we'd been cycling and I'd built up a healthy appetite.    Lou embarrassed my inner food snob by asking for an adult sized portion of chicken nuggets from the kid's menu.  He'd had these on his last visit and they're home made by the chef.  Of course there was too much and he was pleased about that.

'What's the word for doggy bag Mum?' he asked.  A quick Google search yielded the answer, not 'le sac du chien' but yep, exactly the same as the title of today's post.   Apparently some French  chefs feel the term is enough of an affront  without it being turned into a proper French phrase.  They think it infers that their cooking is only fit for dogs.  Silly peeps!  Surely they should think it's a compliment that someone wants to eat their food all over again in the comfort of their own home.  But attitudes are changing.  Since 1 January French restaurants over a certain size have to offer take out containers and with the change in law our cousins over the Channel are coming around to the idea. Viva le doggy bag!

Saturday, 22 October 2016

The Old Soak

The folk down at my local Aldi must think that I'm a right lush. First there was all that gin that I  tipped on a shedload of English and Breton sloes.  Oh wait! I got that in Sainsbury's. Perhaps my reputation is safe after all.    A recent shop included wine for immediate consumption and bottles of the cheapest vodka and whiskey that I could find.

My nephew told me that his mum had made Crab Apple Whiskey.  'I'll  give that a go!' I thought although I doubt it will last as long as the recommended  3-5 year steeping time!. I went in search of a crab apple tree.  I didn't have to look too far.  There's one by the gate of the park down the road.  While I was there I picked a few brambles as I've been thinking of making blackberry vodka for a while.  Christmas with me is going to be fun I can tell you.

'Having a party are we?' asked the young bloke on the till at Aldi.  I replied in the negative and then described my latest culinary endeavours.  He told me that he'd made marrow rum. Now I'd never heard of that one before.  One to add to the repertoire for 2017 maybe?  I can't make any more liqueurs.  It's getting a bit expensive.

As you can see the blackberry jar needs a top up.  I'll get some more fruit this weekend.  I've already bought another bottle of vodka.  They're a mine of information in Aldi.  This time another employee was keen to share his recipe.  It's a breeze.  All I'd need would be another bottle of vodka and a big packet of Werther's Originals!