Wednesday, 8 November 2017

The Perfect Antidote ...and it feels surreal.

I spent this afternoon in the company of my sweet great niece - nearly 4 years old. She was a delight .... such a perfect antidote to keep me from being sucked back into the memory of this day a year ago when we buried Robin. 

This morning I felt as weak and wobbly as I did standing at the edge of that red gash in the ground .....where I could see with my own eyes the wicker weave of his coffin...... but not a cell in my body could believe it was real. Or true.

Looking for photos of him to put on this blog tonight has a different flavour .....plunged back into the technicolour of the life we feels surreal.... as if it never really happened at all. How can all that breath and blood and bone and sweetness be snuffed out forever .....he has gone from my days and nights now can I keep him real..... even in the past.... when it feels like he has disappeared like a will o' the wisp into the pages of my photo albums....

Here he is with our same sweet great niece when she was only a few months old in 2014.




This is my last blog from the UK for a while. I'll be back here in December.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Green Juice and Daily Good

I'm getting ready to go to Portugal for three weeks with my lovely sisters. Which means running down the contents of the fridge. Usually in my case it means using up all the veggies I over-bought in  the market.
This morning I made a  jug of green juice squeezed  from

curly kale, neroli cabbage, spinach, carrots, apples, fresh ginger root, limes and a whole head of celery. The zing of the ginger and the sweetness of the apples rescue it from being too sulphurous and cabbagey tasting. I have enough to last me for all breakfasts before I leave.

It's been bleak and icy cold and raining on and off all day. I haven't been able to get warm in the house till late this evening after a bath. I had a three hour meeting with a very efficient woman about the possibility of switching all my utility providers to another company. It sounds good but I'm left a bit mind boggled and not entirely sure......concentrating is knackering.

As I'm too tired to write tonight I'm posting a few quotes from a magazine I get in my inbox every morning called Daily Good - News that Inspires.
Sometimes I just find them annoying but I am inspired by these three. And I especially love Desmond Tutu.

What is the essence of life?
To serve others and to do good.
- Aristotle -

Do your little bit of good where you are. It's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.
- Desmond Tutu - 

Creativity is intelligence having fun.
- Albert Einstein - 

Monday, 6 November 2017

Foodie Jigsaw Puzzle and Be Vigilant

I took these photos ...walking in Lyme Regis.... a few weeks ago.

I'm not entirely sure I haven't posted them on this blog before. I'm not going to look back and check...but it's the sort of thing I forget sometimes. I've done it in my head - like writing an email  - but I haven't actually done it in reality. But I'm convinced I have. I'd go to the stake on it, my mother used to say. Sometimes she was right.

Till the last minute I wasn't entirely sure what I was going to cook for the lovely people on Saturday night. Apart from the Spicy Red Cabbage and Apple. And roast potatoes. So I sort of made it up as I went along mixing and matching all the wonderful veggies from the a foodie jigsaw puzzle...always looking for an edge piece or fitting in a missing texture or colour or flavour to bring it all together.

In the end the I roasted quarter moon slices of butternut squash and flat rectangles of huge carrots... flash-fried meaty field mushrooms with garlic and rosemary....steamed long French beans and sauted them with toasted walnuts and chopped parsley.... tossed broccoli spears, crinkly Neroli cabbage and wilted ruby chard with black pepper, sea salt and a grassy green olive oil.....

I baked an upside down red onion, roasted tomato and fennel tart with a crumbly oat, almond and coconut oil pastry....made sweetcorn, feta cheese and spring onion pancakes spiked with red chilli and cumin seeds and served a boat of roasted red pepper sauce to accompany it all. Plus the red cabbage with cranberries. 
And the small-crisp-on-the-outside-and-floury-soft-on-the-inside roast potatoes.  For me they were really the star of the show and everything else was the  accompaniment.

But the lovely people seemed to enjoy the whole jigsaw.


 Julia Cameron : Life Lesson 55 

Edgy one, your anxiety shadows your days.
You face the future with feelings of apprehension.
What is called for is a gentle discipline.
When your thoughts run to the negative rein them in.
Focus on the moment.
Ask yourself, "Am I not OK?"
Take yourself in hand.
Breathe deeply.
Feel your anxiety slip away.
Be vigilant concerning your dark moods.
Allow a sense of optimism to wash over you.

 She is right about the gentle discipline and being vigilant.
My dark moods have been hurting me. 
My self confidence is rock bottom today.

 So I feel nourished and healed in the company of three gorgeous women as we sit round a table  dipping into big platters of fresh and zingy Lebanese food.

They remind me that what feels like a space of nothing ahead of me is already a fertile ground,  still unploughed, which I couldn't imagine this time last year, two days before Robin's funeral.

 When I was only held together with the string of my fragile will and the all embracing care and strength of my loved ones.

Friday, 3 November 2017

Warm my Soul

I've invited lovely people for supper tomorrow. This morning I cooked a pan of Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage and Apple.... one of the accompaniments to the main course.

Although it tastes sharp and savoury and fruity, like a bowl of muddy brown curry it's not easy to make it look appetising in a photo. Hence the addition of a crinkle tulip. I couldn't resist their weird and wonderful design and bought a bunch in the market yesterday.

I associate Red Cabbage and Apple with Robin's father who used to make a delicious classic version to accompany the Christmas turkey. He was a meticulous fine chopper of the cabbage.

My version - with blackcurrants, grated beetroot, fresh ginger and pomegranate molasses -  is inspired by Diana Henry's recipe, Red Cabbage and Cranberries, in her gloriously named book of winter cooking

Roast Figs Sugar Snow.
Subtitled  -  Food to Warm the Soul.

Her writing is pure mouth-watering informative  poetry. I read her like a novel....eager to find out what happens next.
The other book of hers I own is called

Crazy Water Pickled Lemons
Enchanting dishes from the Middle East, Mediterranean and North Africa.

Both of them are illustrated with photographs by  Jason Lowe  - probably the best food photographer in the business.

Just the titles make me curious to open the covers. I do look up recipes on the internet more and more these days but I still have shelves and shelves of cookery books. Even though I don't refer to all of them I still love them and their Falling Cloudberries by Tessa Kiros. 

And although I'm a total supporter of healthy eating... and I'm lucky that I like 'healthy food' and follow a  mainly plant based, mostly vegan diet( although I am struggling to like kefir)..... I am not really inspired to open a book entitled
Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Sugar Free and Vegan which I saw in Waterstones Bookshop this afternoon.

It doesn't warm my soul like 
Roast Figs Sugar Snow.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Tiny Things

My day starts with a de-caf oat-milk mocha in the company of dear friends.....
bags of farmers' market vegetables slumped at our feet.

After more shopping at Waitrose for things you can't grow in the red ploughed fields of Devon,
I walk in glorious sunshine in Mincing Lake Park. 

Everyone I pass has a dog by their side or running ahead of them. One man is surrounded  by eight of them - all different sizes and breeds. I imagine he must be a dog walker.

I carry my camera like a shield.

I'm at loss for words tonight..... I feel grumpy and sad and fat.

So here are some  encouraging words instead from Julia Cameron 's Lesson 13 in

Life Lessons

Little one, be alert to tiny things.
Do not demand loud noises or showy events.
The moon rises softly blessing the evening air.
Stars appear twinkling on the horizon.

As twilight slips into night a hush comes to the world.
Light a candle. Burn a stick of incense celebrating the passing of the day.
Ask for guidance and feel its gentle hand.
You are well and carefully led.

The moon tonight slipping through the slats of the wooden blind in my bedroom.

It's nearly full again did that happen.....time waxing and waning in its own eternal rhythm....taking no notice of tiny things.... like my small daily dramas. 

Nothing left to do now but sleep.