A Productive Year

20140905173906The garden has been very productive this year. We have many, many more raspberries, tomatoes, peas and beans than every before, plus all the herbs, several batches of leaf lettuce three mini-pomegranates and five olives. Only the courgettes were better in previous years.

We enjoyed some of the runner beans when they were green, young and tender. A good amount of those is still in the freezer. I harvested approximately 1/4 of the remaining beans today, after deciding to let them grow into real beans. The girlish colour-scheme aside they look marvellous, don’t they?

We also made Blackberry jam, Mango jam (with late Indian mangoes) and two batches of yummy Tomato Jam.

Not bad for a tiny suburban garden, methinks.

Meet Nutmeg

DSC_0416I am awaiting a pro-quality shot once the Missus returned home. For now, this one must do.

I decided to call him Nutmeg on account of his black and brown fur. While the little General watches proceedings from an elevated position, I believe that Nutmeg might become the boss soon. He is clearly interested in the job.

The Saddest Thing

20140228_110847The saddest thing on Earth (or at least one of the very saddest things) must be a lonely Guinea Pig. While they are usually quite perky, a lonely Guinea Pig just sits in the corner with little appetite and dropping ears. Funny how you can see the ears dropping even though they are never in a different position, but something about the entire posture, the absence of whistling and lack of appetite is just heart-breaking.

So, first things first. The first sad news is that Castor, the black Guinea Pig with the white twirl on his head (pictured here), perished on July 22nd, 2014 as a result of an unidentified illness. (A dead Guinea Pig also is a pretty sad thing, really.)

While away on a business trip, I decided not to replace Castor, but when I saw the little General as sad as described above, the decision was easy. The new one, not named as yet, got 24 hours indoors to cope with the initial shock of the move. All the time, he sat with the exact same expression of loneliness, so I brought the two together for a few hours on Sunday. It’s as if I flicked a switch; immediately, both start acting normally and eat, and are of course quite excited about the new mate.

Of course, now they need to fight for dominance. The surviving General hasn’t woken up to the new situation, or is generally submissive. It is very clear that the new little bugger wants the job as top dog.

They’ll get all day together tomorrow (and maybe I get a decent photo of the new recruit). Starting Tuesday, they should be together all day and night.

The Castle and I

DSC_0150Interpol, the NSA and most other intelligence agenciesseem to exchange data about us, our Facebook status, Twitter habit or bowel movement frequently and liberally. However, when we travel, we must submit a letter of invitation, a letter of confirmation, two photos of a specific size, a signed application form, gas bills of the last three years (optionally water bills), substantial payment, and a passport.

I look forward to a trip to the Gujarat, India, but the overhead of those arrangements is just ludicrous, fit to keeping an enormous bureaucratic apparatus comfortably alive. I don’t see which other purpose this serves.

Franz Kafka was right all along with his novel The Castle. All along.


The Optician’s Margin

DSC_0999Just ordered new pair of reading glasses. Again. My eyesight is deteriorating faster than I want it to. I blame the computer work, but what’s to be done? I take breaks from the screens as much as I can, but in the end, 95% of my working time is screen-bound.

I couldn’t help marvel at the margins these guys must have though. I paid a substantial amount of money for lenses with bi-focal, prism, anti-this and anti-that, plus a frame, plus the eye test, but the place was crawling with more employees than customers – and full of customers, too! On a normal Monday morning. No wonder there are almost as many opticians in our high streets as there are mobile phone shops or coffee bars.

Golden Mango Mystery

DSC_1005There’s no Golden Mango Season. Not this year, not where we live. In previous years, and for a few weeks only, the streets of London’s suburbia are lined with piles of boxes of the most delicious Golden Mango from countries like India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

I asked one of our local Afghani shopkeepers where the mangos were this year. He wasn’t sure but thought he heard rumours about bacteria or fungal infections preventing import into the European Union.

Even Google knows little, but I found this intersting commentary by Tahmima Anam in the New York Times, which sheds light on a number of things in relation to Golden Mangos, and their shortage. Apparently, the Golden Mangoes are rotting on the trucks and in the fields away after having been found sprayed with formalin, a strong solution of formaldehyde. According Wikipedia, the Bangladesh government issued a formalin control law in 2014.

Not sure how this applies to the mangoes of Pakistan and Afghanistan, but at least it explains the absence of Golden Mango from our streets to some extend. Maybe the Pakistani and Afghani are too busy fighting over beliefs or running for their lives.

Turns out that shipments of Indian mangoes (and other produce) are banned from import into Europe after fruit fly infection has been discovered.

Kippers ’R’ Us

DSC_0439Kippers ‘R’ Us today, with this lovely new Kippers Salad. A base from young potatoes, radishes and asparagus in a rouille dressing with boiled quail eggs and smoked oily fish. We used Kippers (Scottish smoked herring), but smoked Mackerel or similar smoked oily fish would also work.

The full recipe is here: Kippers Salad. Check it out.

Image Prohibited

img-prohibitedWe went to the Tate Britain’s current exhibition of British Folk Art.  I could have told you how we liked it, and that we thought it was, while quite a small exhibition, still well worth going. I could have told you how we generally like Tate Britain’s permanent and special exhibitions, and we could have accompanied these words with a nice little smartphone shot of one of the exhibits, just good enough to make you want to go and see for yourself.

It’s just too annoying that they don’t allow photography. No flash photography – fine. No professional photography – fine. No commercial use of photos taken, no tripods within the exhibition, no extra lighting – all fine. But a little handheld pocket digital camera or a smartphone snapping away for personal memories or sharing (and advertising) on social media?

No, no photography whatsoever.

As if they own the place, or the exhibits.

We Thought You Was a Toad

DSCF3184It’s been too long since I last watched O Brother Where Art Thou, but I did watch it again last night. Boy, what a brilliant movie. Even ignoring lots of lovely Bluegrass music and all the good that it did for the Bluegrass Revival, the idea for the movie is just brilliant, and so is the realization and acting.

There’s an ever-growing list of I should watch this one again, or that one. I guess I should. Forest Gump could be next in line.

Usage Optimization

20140617_093443A bed is like an aeroplane. When the aeroplane is on the stand and not in the air, or when the bed is empty and disused, both aren’t really doing their job.

The cat solved the bed problem for us. The missus by night, the cat by day.

Harvest Time


Over 1400g of broad beans, after shelling. Pretty good for a tiny area, less than one meter square.

I’m mighty pleased with this harvest, especially after finishing removing each bean’s outer skin.

We enjoyed a summer vegetable garden soup with crispy grilled belly of pork yesterday.