Friday, 20 October 2017

Oxy-morons? A peaceful walk in the countryside with 100 others.

I have never understood the desire to go 'Collective Rambling', especially of the type where people carry ski sticks.

Surely a walk in the country should be relaxed, taken at one's own pace, and in reasonable meditational solitude.

This lot above (there were many more behind) passed by our house recently. They all looked miserable as they 'marched' at a military pace, all looking straight ahead as if desperate to reach their destination as quickly as possible. They seemed to take no pleasure from being out in the peace and quiet of the countryside.

I usually go for a couple of walks every day; weather permitting. Bok joins me, and we go where our noses lead us. We take our time, and are as happy to walk 5 kms, as we are to walk 20.

There was a sense of determination about the people above. They were there to take sensible outdoor exercise, and to follow a prescribed route; not to be seen to be enjoying themselves. For them, walking was not for enjoyment, but for achievement. I quite expect they all wore pedometers, stopwatches, and heart monitors. They will no doubt all return to their urban homes to record in their efficient 'log-books' where they went, how far it was, and what rotten bloody sandwiches they ate for lunch. Not one of them will have noticed any fauna or flora, or even what the weather was like.

They might, of course, consider my style of walking as ramshackle and aimless, but that's how I think it should be.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

The throw of a dice.

Some things are best decided by the throw of a dice, or the spin of a coin. Personally I prefer my home-made dice.

It can be anything as simple as which route to take for my morning walk, or if I should prepare Pork rather than Chicken for supper. If I can't make my mind up about something; the dice will do it for me.

Last Friday, for example, I was undecided about visiting a particular distant town; between 1 and 3 was 'yes', and between 4 and 6 was 'no'. I threw a 5, so we stayed at home. It was a lovely day, and we took full advantage.

However, yesterday we did go to the town in question, but by determination rather than 'chance'. Each method has its moments.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Holiday Souvenirs.

Both my immediate neighbours are off on their holidays; one lot to London, the others to Marrakech.

I've never bought a Straw Donkey from Spain, nor a foam Stetson from the US, but I have returned home from holidays with some quite interesting stuff.

I once returned from the US with a man in front of me on the 'plane wearing about 10 foam Stetsons piled one on top of the other! What a plonker.

We always used to buy strange, interesting looking, foods. I remember once buying small tins of Thrushes in sauce, which were not terribly nice (or PC), and I also remember my mother getting very excited over the purchase of a big, very decorative, 5 litre can of expensive Greek Olive Oil, which turned out to contain big fat green olives in brine. Her knowledge of Greek was zero; but the tin, and the olives were nice anyway!

These rustic dishes (above) come from the tiny Balearic Island of Formentera. I would have bought more but I didn't trust the baggage handlers. I've now had them for over 40 years, and we still use them daily.


And these Olive wood stacking Egg Cups from the Italian Riviera seemed like a very good idea at the time, but don't get used too often. Even so, they haven't joined all those donkeys and stetsons at the tip, and remain prospectively useful. I wouldn't encourage people to buy tinned Thrushes, but there are plenty of other tinned delights awaiting you.

I've bought Argan and Patchouli Oils in Morocco, strange small 'stamped' metal depictions of ears, noses, and eyes, from Greece, and some wonderful 17th C wood carvings from Palma (which went directly to Sotheby's, and paid for the trip many times over).

Part of the fun of travel is what one brings back.

It's very nice to go trav'ling
to Paris London or Rome
Bla bla bla
But it's so much nicer to come home (with some half-decent souvenirs).

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

With Tears in my Eyes.

The end-of-year C word seems to have been resurrected recently, so it's time to think of what will accompany our cold Turkey.

There are two main pickles I associate with our winter feasts; onions and red cabbage. As we are now less than 90 days away from the big feasting and fattening season, I have begun the preparations by starting with the pickled onions.

I cannot envisage my Boxing Day slices of cold Turkey without a few pickled onions.

The small onions were peeled (with lachrymose difficulty), put into a light brine for 24 hours, then bottled in spiced wine vinegar with some sugar. I don't bother with weights and measures when it comes to such things; I do it by eye, and memory.

The pickled red cabbage will be prepared about two weeks before the big day, otherwise it loses its freshness colour and crunch.

I'm almost beginning to feel 'festive' (no I'm not).

Monday, 16 October 2017

Spurs v Bournemouth.

I've only been to one professional Football match in my life, and that was at Brighton & Hove Albion, back in the 1960's. I can't remember who they played.

The noise was so loud that I had a headache for a week.

On Saturday, Kimbo and Ollie went to watch Spurs playing Bournemouth. I'm not a big Football fan, but I do kinda support both Chelsea and Brighton, because they're the only places I've lived that have decent teams.

Ollie was given the Spurs tickets by his school, and as you can probably see, they were way up in the gods.

The score was Spurs 1 Bournemouth 0. Predictable.

My son-in-law is in the UK at the moment, and no doubt he'll be going to watch Arsenal while he's there. He's a fan-atic! I see that they lost against Watford; so he won't be happy.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Amanita Caesarea.

Most serious mycologists will tell you that the very finest of mushrooms are the above; Amanita Caesarea, known here as the 'Orange'.

As the name suggests, it was Caesar's favourite mushroom. It has a very fine and delicate flavour, but is not common. Lady Magnon came upon these two yesterday by chance.

Known in Italy as the 'Ovolo', it is highly appreciated throughout southern Europe; with good reason!

Lucky is he, or she, who has one of these with their breakfast fried egg; as did I yesterday.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Villefranche-du-Périgord, site remarquable du goût

The first of our local Autumn Chestnut Fairs takes place this afternoon (St Caprais), when every possible use for the humble fruit is celebrated.

I've mentioned before that I live in a serious Chestnut Growing Area, the centre of which is the ancient small town of Villefranche du Perigord (founded in 1270); just 7 kms away.

It's where I go on Saturday mornings to the tiny market. It also has some pleasant cafés, shops, bakers, and restaurants.

Here is a short film praising everything that is 'Chestnut'. It also shows a small glimpse of the town itself. The small bakery at 1.00 is where we buy our Saturday bread.

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