Sunday, December 16, 2007

Teacher Cookie Baking Day

I rarely bake. In fact my 10 year old did most of these. I had fun decorating with the kids today but it took all day to package these up to the various teachers and best friends in the school. Phew! If wishes were cookies, I would send you some! Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

What is my favourite food?

I interrupt the current dreamy broadcast to announce the opening of a new sushi bar in town! I've been pondering what is my favourite food since Nigel asked me. How can you ask any foodie this question? It's a definite way of mentally torturing them, I know now. And for a while, I was gonna do a long piece on soup, because, yes, that is one of my favourite foods, anything soupy, I'll try it. Anything leftover, I'll cook it! But...

Grey and threatening skies and the tension of christmas lights notwithstanding, my feet took me straight in to Yen Sushi the minute I saw it was open. No question. No hesitation. One big beeline. You get the picture. I had heard some rumors before, but this was the first time I had set eyes on it. It's a simple place north of Milsom Street, up the cobbled alleyway by the pelican crossing. You can see the conveyor belt going round and round. The bar was full of people at 12.30pm and they squeeezed me in to the last seat in the corner.

I couldn't stop the secret smile of glee curving on my lips as I sat there, securely in my place: ginger, wasabi, tamari - ready! I think I got a few looks, as people are secretly suspicious of happy looking people - they think "what are they up to?" or "Looking too happy, must be faking." My patience all these years waiting for a decent sushi bar to come out to somersetshire* (*made-up word, pronounced in country accent, with a piece of hay sticking out of my mouth) has finally paid off! I was definitely having a zen moment. What do you do when you achieve a heart's desire? You TUCK in!

There was a varied mixture of hot dishes, sushi, sashimi and large hand rolls. I had some smooth tofu fried in cornflour with spring onion and soy, a sesame inside out roll with avocado and crabstick, those pillow things, some salmon sashimi ( pics, was too busy eating), and salmon belly chunk tempura in miso broth. Ya, go on, where's she putting it. And then I thought I'd better take some pics. Here's my last morsel. Everything was really fresh.
I was probably looking so happy that Chef Pedro came over and had a chat with me. He has been in Bath 3 weeks and he loves it. He wants to stay here. I'll tell you his story when I find out. Meanwhile, he says, "You from town, means I'll be seeing you here again then?" Oh yes, Chef Pedro, I'm sure I'm gonna be your friend. Gastronomically, of course.

The Following text is copied

Proposition: What is your favorite food in your state or country? Requirements: Find some info about the food and show delicious pictures of it. Quantity: FIVE PEOPLE. Tag Mode: You leave their blog and post link and add to the list below.

Mybabybay loves Asam Laksa from Penang, Malaysia

JustMyThoughts loves Penang Char Koay Teow

My Lil Venture loves Laksa Sarawak

Monterssorimum loves Teluk Intan Chee Cheong Fun

Chinnee loves Melaka Wan Tan Mee

PeimunLeah loves Hakka Lei Cha

Hui Sia


Karen loves Pan Mee

Something about Lai loves Crispy duck skin from China

Simple American loves Cheese Enchiladas

Nicole Tan loves Char Tau Kueh

Velverse loves Otak-otak

Kenny Ng loves Jawa Mee

Fatty Poh loves Nasi Dagang Kelantan

wmw loves Kuih Tutu.

Nigel loves Char Kway Teow

Msiagirl loves sushi

I tag the following 5;

Lord Daft
Effie in Blindingham
Ryn Tales

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Vagaries of Memory– Part 1

Another leaf of memory fallen onto the rich compost of imagination. Hearing writers speak about their process is usually what their readers want. After attending a few such events, it really struck me how (for the really engaging ones) all life experience was really fodder for the cannon of their minds. Whether they wrote essays or pure fiction, each memory was transformed into story. Just because it is present in a story does not make it any less true, no no. It magnifies the trueness, it resonates the human experience and connects us together.

Memory seems to have been the theme of this summer's musings, and now that the autumn has come - like a rake through the grass, I felt I needed to take the gleanings of the year, and gather them up. Who can say any memory is the true one, seen through multiple lenses of our experience? Each of the cases I sat in on for jury duty this year involved one man's memory against another's. Who do we believe? Who is the reliable witness?

Is it the man, fundamentally good, knowingly duped by his own community of immigrants into the crime of carrying drugs? What was his lense of experience: fear of revenge against his family if he didn't agree, the need to return home to see his blind mother, denial that his countrymen would involve him in such activity. His own brain shorted and lightning struck by the epilepsy he has suffered from, increased by the stress of imprisonment. He is broken, murmuring in Spanish, defeated by the facts, appalled by where he has found himself after years of struggle and sacrifice. What of the undercover cop, with his scouser accent and careful notes, his 20 years of experience: receiving a kilo of cocaine in a posh Mayfair townhouse from the casual swagger of the men with the package. Handing over a sackful of money to complete the sting with a wire down his shirt. Will he ever see it again? The good lawyers look down their Oxford noses at him. The wife bursts into tears and sobs quietly as the judge, stern but fair, commutes his sentence and softens it - but it is still another 3 years out of the full 6 she was entitled to give. He will miss his daughter's wedding as an innocent man - will this wedding even happen? She is marrying a very surprised policeman, newly informed of his father-in-law's case.

Is it the blank faced boy in the dock, nondescript in a white shirt and jeans? Can his accuser really recognise him two years later while walking down the street, after suffering a violent knife attack from this man's hand? Is he the "tall one with bulging eyes"? It doesn't help that the man in the witness stand preaches to his audience and crows about the rightness of his position, that he is the victim, that this man belongs to a brotherhood of bad men, running through these English streets. He harangues the patient judge, with the twinkly eyes, for allowing men of such ilk to go free! One man's memory against another's. The boy says he has been recognised bringing his shopping home on the same bus, that he lives only streets away from his accuser, that he has never owned a knife. Mistaken identity? Someone has to be lying. The witness may be irritating and pedantic but he is sincere, he will never forget the face leering with aggression above him, the blade slashing down, the blood, the hours of questioning by the police. The boy's demeanour changes as the verdict is read, he straightens up from his meekness and eyeballs the jury like he might recognise us walking down the street two years later.

Friday, November 16, 2007


Aunt Leaf - by Mary Oliver

Needing one, I invented her –
the great-great-aunt dark as hickory
called Shining-Leaf, or Drifting Cloud
or The-Beauty-of-the-Night.

Dear aunt, I'd call into the leaves,
and she'd rise up, like an old log in a pool,
and whisper in a language only the two of us knew
the word that meant follow,

and we'd travel
cheerful as birds
out of the dusty town and into the trees
where she would change us both into something quicker –
two foxes with black feet,
two snakes green as ribbons,
two shimmering fish –
and all day we'd travel.

At day's end she'd leave me back at my own door
with the rest of my family,
who were kind, but solid as wood
and rarely wandered. While she,
old twist of feathers and birch bark,
would walk in circles wide as rain and then
float back

scattering the rags of twilight
on fluttering moth wings;

or she'd slouch from the barn like a grey opossum;

or she'd hang in the milky moonlight
burning like a medallion,

this bone dream,
this friend I had to have,
this old woman made out of leaves.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Autumn Leaves

There have been a few windy days on the cliff and the trees are more bare than ever. Plenty of crunchy leaves underfoot of every colour of gold. Squirrels rustling in the undergrowth, busy collecting the tricornered beech nuts sprung free from their prickly cases.

I had my encounter with urban wildlife today after walking up the steep steps from school - my neighbour's cat in a small tree by the path looking like he couldn't go up or down. "Meow!" he said to me a trifle piteously. And seeing that he is always being told not to pee in my garden, it was a direct appeal to my previously non-existent sympathies. "Come on," I said, offering my arm as he inched along an ever-bendy girth-decreasing twig. Perhaps he could feel me smiling at his predicament in my mind. He tried not to struggle too hard at the indignity and I escaped with a very small scratch to my chin (for although it was a small tree, alas for me, it was a little over my head). Stalking off quite ungratefully afterwards. Still, needs must, on one's rounds in the universe.

Speaking of more urban wildlife, I was also lucky enough to see the peregrine falcons circling on the thermals above St.John's steeple where they have a nesting box. In the summer you can hear the harsh and raucous cries of the chicks, waiting for food. Plenty of fat pigeon here for them!

I love autumn - time of the earth, when the leaves are settling back into the loam. mmm. Here's one of my favourite poems from Gerard Manley Hopkins:

Spring and Fall

to a young child

MÁRGARÉT, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves, líke the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Áh! ás the heart grows older 5
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name: 10
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for. 15

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Aww what a lovely boy

Charlie Cox in Stardust

OK OK, I know I am getting old when I go to a movie and I think the hero is a lovely BOY. A bit like young mr G when he had floppy hair, aww. And a gang of teenaged boys on bikes gave me the eye today. I know I am getting old when I am appreciating youth and beauty with such a detached air! I did give them a little wave though, as I am a saucy miss! They probably would have been horrified to know my real age, but we won't speak of that.

Charlie Cox in Stardust
Mr G and I went to see Stardust- the movie, of course, being keen on Neil Gaiman - and I know the book is always better is a cliche, but I found my mind busily filling in the bits that were edited out. Sigh. What's left is so happy ever after. Don't get me wrong, the book is a fairy tale and has its share of ever after, but there was enough otherworldliness about it so it wasn't saccharine sweet. Maybe I should do a proper reader impression, eh?

It opened in the UK this Friday. It is fun and good to look at...we had relaxing time chomping on the toffee popcorn. I won't give it away, but I am fond of the swordplay. Cracking!

Robert de Niro in Stardust

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Wot I et: for dinner - Autumn Chicken

Autumn chicken with chorizo - a warming dish made with one whole spicy spanish sausage, red with paprika. Onions, garlic and 5 bay leaves, generous grindings of black pepper. Cubed Maris Piper potatoes, butternut squash and carrots. Fried chorizo first, then added diced onions and chunks of garlic into the mix as the paprika flavoured oil seeped out. Then the bay leaves and black pepper. Two whole chicken legs on the bone, thigh and drum, skinside down. Layer the vegetables: squash, carrots, then a layer of potatoes with a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Add enough water to cover the chicken legs and cook in oven at about 190 celsius for one and a half hours or until chicken is tender. An all in one comfort dish! Err...not for dieters!

Lavender Blue

Ask anyone on the street what single oil they would name in association with aromatherapy and they would state: "Lavender". There are many, many varieties of lavender. There is a lot of confusion about the names, and gardeners have their own names for some of them. Therapists only use 3 to 4 varieties in treatment, so I'll concentrate on these.

In my own practice, I only use True lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), as well as the lesser known Lavendin (Lavandula x intermedia) and Spike Lavender (Lavandula spica/latifolia). These three are related to each other - Lavendin is a hybrid of the other two. True lavender likes to grow high up in the mountains, and the other two will grow happily on the lower slopes. French Lavender, the ones with the 'ears' (Lavandula stoechas) also produces an essential oil, but I find it is very strong and there are other things I can use instead.

True lavender is soft and sweet in its fragrance. It's very gentleness soothes us and sends us to sleep. My children do sleep deeper when I burn lavender in their room - I only use it if they are very restless and excited, have a snuffly nose (with Ravensara or Myrtle) or a drop on the pillow for the older one if she has a headache. I put it on neat on the back of my skull if I have a mild headache, but if it is a strong tension or flu headache you might need to massage it vigorously in the area top of the foot between the big toe and second toe. It is good for chronic grumpiness, maybe I need an automatic spray of it in the morning! Hmm. I'll make up a lavender flower water spritzer to wake me and my skin, and maybe I will have a calmer kind of morning! And it will help with spots or the time of the month. I also use it to clean scrapes and grazes and it helps calm the person who has fallen down.

If I had to choose one First Aid oil for my kit, it would be this lavender. It has a broad spectrum of uses and is gentle on the skin. I keep a special bottle in the kitchen for burns I get from cooking - hot oven, spitting oil. It stops blisters and scars from forming. It is brilliant for healing wounds and clearing inflammation: cooling skin that is red and hot. Like sunburn! Or a sprained ankle, or a hot arthritic knee (with Lemon Eucalyptus). If you are caught out without the Tiger Balm, lavender will help with insect bites. I always put lavender in an eczema blend to sooth the skin - and use lavender with ravensara and geranium to cool itchy chickenpox and prevent from scarring.

The other two do a lot of the same things - lavender isn't only for sedation - it is a balancing oil - which means that if you are hyper: it calms you, and if you are listless or fatigued: it will energise you. Lavendin is that little bit more energising, so I would select it if I was tired but needed to function clearly. I would select it in a blend for aching muscles. If my client had to go to work with a cold I would choose Lavendin, so they would not get too sleepy!

For someone with a seriously bad cold I would move a notch up to Spike Lavender - it has a stronger action on the Lungs and better for infection in that area. I choose it for someone who gets so tense that they get depressed and make themselves ill. It is very heart calming but vigorous. And I use it a lot in muscular blends. It does smell a lot like minyak angin! That is perhaps from its camphor content, which has that familiar decongesting smell.

A lot of the time I have a bigger bottle of L.angustifolia than anything else in my collection. Sometimes I take it for granted, it is easy to use and blends with so many things, often harmonising the mixture and making it more pleasant. For its gentle power and breadth, none can match it. We would be very much the poorer if we could not have lavender in our toolkit.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Can she bake an apple pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy?

Perfect autumn food. Fresh off the tree, the apples are ready to eat. Cinnamon and nutmeg warm the body and soul.

The golden beech leaves are falling on our hill. The squirrels are busy collecting the funny angled beechnuts popping out from their prickly cases.

It is time to make apple pie. A toffee-like apple pie with dark molasses sugar and spice. Tarte tatin without the flipping, and it always reminds me of my friend Esther, who used to bake me covered pies like this in Virginia.

What do you do if you are girl like me and can't make pastry and can only make this recipe up new everytime? Well: 1. buy sweet pastry case. 2. get lots of dark molasses sugar and crumble all over base. 3. peel and cut up apples in chunky slices. 4. toss in more sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg sprinkled generously. 5. arrange artistically and dot butter strategically around the slices. 6. bake till brown sugar is oozing and apples shrink slightly. (And Mr. G, following his nose shouts to you, lounging on the sofa hypnotised by Elektra's flashing blades: "Oy! Does this need to come out?")

psst. As you can see, we each had a slice already, warm from the oven before bedtime!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Star Struck

I look embarassingly pleased with myself to have Neil Gaiman actually signing my book! He said he had only been to KLIA in Malaysia and of course politely said he would have loved to go. Oh, he was extremely charming!

He read excerpts from two new stories he is writing - a book about a child who is brought up in a graveyard...he says it is really 8 linked short stories. The story opens with a killer disposing of this boy baby's family, the baby crawls into the graveyard and is rescued and brought up by the ghosts. Someone in the audience asked how could this be a children's book (it had a rather chilling opening paragraph) . I won't be able to post the answer blow by blow but the gist was that children can take such things in their stride. He said that he had loved The Jungle Book as a child and it was full of Death, blood, hunting and killing, and that The Graveyard Book was a nod to it. When he wrote his children's book Coraline, his editor had nightmares about the story, while his two daughters aged 6 or 7 at the time loved it and wanted to know what happened next. Neil Gaiman is a great story teller - he can see the story going on anywhere. He got the idea for his book when he used to live in a house in Surrey with no garden and took his young son on a tricycle to the graveyard near by to cycle along its paths. I look forward to reading this when it comes out.

He also read us a chapter from Odd and the Frost Giants - his World Book Day 2008 contribution, which he's supposed to hand in to the publisher next week. Odd is the son of a woodcutter/woodcarver who is drowned at sea, he has a limp from injuring himself with his father's axe shortly after his father's death as he tries to take over the job, his mother remarries and the story begins as one winter, Odd takes himself off to his father's old woodcutting cabin in the forest and meets (I think...) a grumpy bear and two other creatures who turn out to be argumentative Gods trying to regain Asgard from an invasion of Frost Giants.

All in all a cracking evening - they even sent him on stage in a cloud of dry ice, LOL. Well, you know I'd do it all again. Check out his website for his blog and lots of cool stuff

Monday, September 24, 2007

Very small round up

Well this isn't my post on my favourite food, or on Lavender, or on the vagaries of memory - but I will promise all those because I will have written down my promise and must therefore do it - remember the Frog Prince? I threaten my children - "A promise is a promise." (or else a frog will come and sit on your pillow and implore you to kiss it until you do). Hmm. I am just excited because I am going to see Neil Gaiman at the kids litfest in Bath this Saturday. Yay! I just know he will just be so delicious. Don't worry though, hubby Mr G is coming along err... to escort me. I shan't do anything rash. I'll bring along American Gods and Stardust for him to sign. And the very next day Lyrical Lemongrass and Bald Eagle are coming to stay for a few days! I can't wait to see them, I expect we are all going to have a bubble in the spa, in the rooftop pool. We'll watch the steam rise in the chilly air with the Abbey looming gracefully in the background. Ahh Autumn, my favourite season.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

kiddie chatter

"Maaaaa ammmmm!"
Dad says," What do you need? Mum is blogging again."
"I want to come out of the bath."
D: "OK then, did you wash your face?"
"No, mum says I was to wash my bottom."

Monday, August 27, 2007

To be or not to be on a jury?

In the balance of things I am glad to have served my jury duty. It was service and it was duty, some of it was tedious in extreme, most of it was about making difficult and responsible decisions. I was grateful to serve with other people who took the job seriously, and were careful to be fair and analytical about the facts. I was glad to have witnessed the process of law and I have new respect for the role of the crown court judge, and insight into the role of the bewigged barristers. I sincerely hope I don't find my way back there too soon. Although the staff were extremely kind and courteous to all of us...they all did say, with a twinkle in their eyes, "We hope we don't see you back too soon!"

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Who says fish aren't cuddly?

These two always cosy up to one another at the bottom of the tank!

Summer is too busy. Must spend time indulging kids' whims before they turn into teenagers and it is too late. I have jury duty on Monday, so I expect i won't be able to say a word about it. I might have two weeks worth of lunches up to £5 in value at the Crown Court Cafeteria...what on earth is that going to be like! Maybe I'll finally get to do some food blogging. They may search my camera before leaving the premises though.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Home away from Home

Bright and early, I boarded the bus and headed out to meet Kak Teh at Malaysia Hall. There was no water to be seen anywhere along my route and I was waiting in front of the Bayswater tube stop - where the familiar figure of Kak Teh came up the street to meet me, and gave me a big hug. We started talking and did not stop until lunch time!

I knew it would be warm and wonderful to meet her, but it was underlined to me that she embodies all that is true and warm of the Malaysian personality - and to many of the community here, she is the heart and home away from home. Meeting her brought me in touch with a whole part of Malaysia inside of me I had not visited for a long time, and it was a gentle homecoming.

I think the cafe at Malaysia Hall is worth a visit. I will confess I was so intent on the conversation, I barely tasted my food! There is no picture of the nasi lemak as I had demolished it before I thought of taking a picture - aiyah, not a food bloggerlah! In the picture you can see the curry puff and a bit of the roti canai, a pot of my Frankincense potion, YM's book (for Kak Teh) and some Terengganu rendang and Asam kepala ikan that Kak Teh kindly brought for me.

Of course I would have carried on till dinner if I could, but I had an appointment with the Tower of London. Ahh, I drifted away back into the bowels of the city, the happy hum of friendly words in my head.

Wot I et: for lunch or comfort food in pouring rain

oo-er, is that a sausage or are you just pleased to see me?

Dodging the flood

Woke up today with more rain slanting across the windowpanes. The children are home at the start of their summer holidays - with its wet weather promise of indoor pursuits! We should be like true brits and don our wet weather gear and wellies and go tramping round the mud, at least to stop the cabin fever from mounting.

However, being a bad blogger mum - (Is that an oxymoron for the holidays? Blogging means "ignoring your children".) I have agreed that if they allow me some time to blog - I will allow them some time on their Nintendo DS. Which I guess will balance out our electronic burnout, I won't spend hours on this because I shall be aware that my little darlings are simultaneously frying their brains.

I was very lucky on Friday going up to London - I left on the 9.13am train and the drizzle was coming down steadily. By the time I arrived at Victoria Station, and got on the first train to my destination there was an enormous clap of thunder and the word "cloudburst" springs to mind. The train was cancelled. The roof of the station gave up the ghost and immediately sprang innumerable leaks as large as rubbertree trunks. It was amusing to see the waterfalls pouring onto the cash and ticket machines, and all the people taking pictures. I had to save the battery and find a train. Bagel, chocolate and flower vendors looked on in amazement at the encroaching flood. Large rivers of water began to snake across the white, slippery stone floors as I dodged huge drips and deluge from platform to platform trying to catch a train out. On my third try I was successful, and chugged away from the beleagured station into clearer skies.

My cousin YM from Fusionview picked me up and we had a huge gossip about blogworld, probably boring anyone else within earshot. Angie made us yummy smoked mackerel pasta with rocket, watercress and baby spinach (an added touch she said, owing to my post on tortellini - the blogworld is all about us!). The sun was hot and we decided to walk off lunch at the park, passing gardens bursting with roses and lavender. Two-thirds of our group being Malaysian, we stopped off for coffee and cake.

So while the nation looked like this:

photo by Peter Stewart

I was wandering around in weather like this:

Mr G phoned and said all the trains between London and home had been cancelled. Nobody had made it east since mid-morning and anyone headed west were stopped at Oxford and then turned back, but finally made it home by midnite after 7 hours. We were all shocked at the flood news, and our thoughts go out to those who are still struggling in the continuing rain. Thanks to YM for a lovely visit and more after the lunch break.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Off to the Tower with you!

Ooh crown jewels and ravens and the echo of the executioner's axe. Or I could just be fighting my way through hordes of tourists. Quite excited really, never seen a Beefeater close up before! I say!
This photo is from the Royal Palaces website.

I'm off to London to see the queen, err... I mean YM and Kak Teh. We're gonna have a grreat time!

Have a really really good weekend folks.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Wedding 15!

Happy 15th Wedding anniversary to Mr G and me! Oops we forgot till now - 5 minutes to midnight of tomorrow. What happens to old married couples?? Life, I guess. Still we ate dinner together, at least! Mr G's greek lamb casserole with tomatoes, cumin and fresh coriander. Blinis with sour cream and roe, sprinkled with chives from my garden. Hummus and pita and cracked chilli olives, a nice salad. Very companionable.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Tortellini Malaysian Style - wot I et for lunch

Mr G has taken to buying enormous packs of tortellini, which the children prefer in a soup - tortellini en brodo, I believe it is called. But there is only so much tortellini you can have in a week! And who is left to correct the food balance in the house? So for my lunch, I really really fancied pan mee, not that this is a craving from my childhood - we never seemed to have it in our house or when we went out! I figured the tortellini would do, as the fresh pasta is egg noodle dough, so I boiled it up with Marigold brand vegan low salt soup powder (!! don't ask!! Delia uses the regular kind, same brand.) and added two handfuls of Waitrose rocket, watercress and baby spinach salad from a bag, some mini corn and a big spoonful of chiu chow chilli oil. Happy!

And what else makes me happy? A bowl of lovely ripe summer cherries!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Sunny Intervals - Jacob's Ladder, Bath

This is only the middle bit of the climb up the hill. More steps before and more steps after. I don't always walk it, I confess. But I try to do it more than once a week, hopefully at least three or four times! I caught it in a quiet, summer moment between rain and schoolboys sliding down the bannisters. Apparently they have been doing that for decades from the boy's school at the top - sturdy steel worn smooth by There is always birdsong, you'll be able to see the year's progression from these steps: first Spring, now Summer. When the leaves begin to fall, I will chart them to the bareness of winter.

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Feeling Wet

You can see the rain on the back of these people's necks! Woo Hoo, it was fun though jumping up and down in the rain, the warm summery downpour, bass reverberating through your sternum.

(Bit busy with the daily slog at the moment, I'm behind in blogging!)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Take it easy

Mr G came home with new mugs for both of us. Mugs have favoured status in the english household as the ceremonial vessels for the traditional cuppa.

Cuppa means comfort, cuppa means love ya, cuppa means sorry, cuppa means friendship. I'm sure all those things and more. And Mr G being the proper englishman he is, wields the cuppa in all its full meaningful glory.

Mr G chose for me a serene and feminine mug called Momiji Peaches. When you finish drinking your nice cuppa tea, there's a little message revealed through the milk and sugar (just one, please).

It says, "take it easy! life is peaches."

How sweet is that? Maybe I can actually be a sweet and feminine, actually it won't work. Too bad. Don't get me wrong, Mr G did not choose wrongly because he does know my exact taste for beautiful Japanese design, and this is just right. Little did he know, that in the underbed drawer full of presents for little girls, there are already two momiji dolls which I couldn't resist buying for my two. You can see the kind of thing I mean at this shop. What kind of momiji would you like? Or which momiji would you get me? *wink*

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Back To School - to Cheddar Gorge

In the rolling Somerset Hills lies Cheddar Gorge, home of cheese. Vertical limestone cliffs rose up around us and then we were there, at the rather cheesy village of cheddar, full of gift shops and twee tea houses. Apparently it is true that cheddar cheese was first made here, and during the tour of Gough's cave, we saw some wheels of cheddar cheese maturing, and a cheesy aroma (mixed with bat) floated through the air...dubious mmm? We, meaning 3 teachers, 3 parents and 60 kids, were on an educational school trip for the school day. Whilst I, would have been happy at a cheese tasting - it was not to be. My first responsibility was to ward the children's safety through the bowels of the Gorge...ah but I learned a decent amount!

The cave we visited was discovered in 1890 by Mr Richard Gough who retired to Cheddar in 1881 - he was a sea captain, and thus an adventurous soul. A beardy Victorian gentleman, he had 7 children. Together with his 5 sons, he discovered and cleared the mud and boulders away, year after patient year, to reveal the caverns before us.

The cave walls were chill and smooth to the touch, and everywhere was dripping water. Formed by the ice-melt of million year old glaciers it was the old riverbed, and an underground river still ran beneath us. There were some beautiful formations in the cave - my phone camera cannot do justice to them - though not bad for phone-cam!

A calcite "waterfall" - an airpocket in the earth caused the water to form in pools, and as the water evaporated and the level went down, formed each level of the "falls".
My favourite formation - King Soloman's Temple (yes, Mr Gough was a grand old Victorian wasn't he!) - I was really impressed! All this knowledge made up for the ear-splitting volume of the trip, despite behaving well. Needed a good lie-down in silence after, and probably some lavender water in the victorian theme!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Work in Progress

You know how you have work that isn't quite right, and you sit on it, take it out and revise it, and it still isn't quite right? Well I have this one I am not willing to give up on, but am stuck on where to go next. Can anyone give me feedback on which bits they 'get' and which bits are ?huh? ect, you know, just reader's impressions, doesn't have to be full analysis! Maybe it will light a fire under this work and get me to finalise it. I'll post it here, I promise not to get upset by anything anyone says...and I thought since I have explained chamomiles below, it may be less obscure than I think...

Chamomile Mother
for L and B

You tasted them equally–
Mother’s milk, chamomile tea,
One sweet, one bitter healer,
Soothing the night’s darkness–
Strict in the day’s relentless light.

Flower water and fragrance,
Bathed you and laved you,
Matricaria Chamomilla
Rubbed it on the hard knocks of
budding independence,
Remedy for your tears.

Bitterness to cool your blood,
Purify that daisy chain of dreams,
Your mother will tell you all the truth if you ask.
It won’t be pink through her chamomile glasses.

Love doesn’t come into it.
Love’s like the planet Mars to this plain tale.
An evening star over it all,
A daily wonder to be explored.
Curious companion for life.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Monster Slug eats Bellflowers

Actually, this was a small slug.

Raindrops on ladies mantle...

The back garden will be evolving slowly and organically. :)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Back garden before...

There's a large pictsy along the garden path. Will post after work pictures if the slugs don't eat everything aargh!

Started to dig (How many HSS does it take to build a Garden?)

*update: It is done now. Top view of garden above and from my front door view of the new grass and herb bed! Two weeks before we can actually walk on the grass!

Front garden being cleared...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Summer is here, make room!

Nigella sativa and Nigella (photo by Francesca York) - this photo is for Kenny. Learn more about the herb here.

These are not quite the right colours but I like them, some strange technical fairyland has touched the edge of my photo! Surreal.

My garden is being dug up and replanted to make an aromatic herb garden. I am excited. Will update you on progress.

I'd like some blue roses, wouldn't you?