Acid Attack!

acidJust when I was content to lean back, release a sigh of relief and agree with myself that I do now really have all the essentials gadgets I could possibly need want, the ever so inspired good wife finds a new one!

A Pelikan M205 DUO, how’s that?

You’ll probably never heard of it either. It is a fountain pen and a marker pen all in one (hence called duo). It takes normal fountain pen ink and it takes highlighter ink (hence called duo), just not at once. I suppose they should have called it Pelican M205 DUO SQUARED therefore. Or maybe a fountain pen and fountain pen highlighter ink. But that’d be too profane I’m sure.

Some of my dial-in web conference meetings will become a great deal more interesting. Or acidly.

Not An Old Couple Yet

bof-l I am guessing we aren’t an old couple yet, but that particular milestone is only one year away now. We celebrate 33 years together today, 9 in sin and 24 in blasphemy.

As a child, I never quite understood why I should congratulate my parents on their wedding anniversary. It felt like something intimate and private to them, embarrassing to me.

Now I understand that it is quite an accomplishment for many, even though it comes fairly easy to us. We aren’t an old couple just yet, but we are a happy one.

I Do

soupI do becomes increasingly popular, but not in the good old traditional sense of wedding promises. It is often heard in cookery shows in the form of I’ll do you a baked cod, or I do a blackberry cheesecake. All Bar One informs us with a blackboard on the pavement that they thought it best if we do lunch.

How sad.

The English language is much richer, rich of terms for fine-tuned means of expression. I’ll prepare a baked code, and I’ll create a cheesecake. Invent, make, cook, bake, fry. Attempt, construct, present. Delight in, impress with, make.

We don’t do lunch either. We have lunch, take lunch, eat lunch. We enjoy, sit down for, retire to, relax for, replenish with, delight in.

We do a lot of things, but we don’t do do.


IMG_20150919_194715-pWe hadn’t been to Charlotte’s Place, Ealing, in a while, and given that we had a good cause for celebration, we went and enjoyed a lovely evening.

We started with a glass of Prosecco and ordered our starters.

The good wife received a starter of Smoked Sea Trout, which was very nice yet served in a laughably tiny portion, sprinkled across a plate with Frisee salad tops – a bad joke of a presentation.

I enjoyed Terrine of Duck, which hadn’t set and made me wonder how on earth they managed to cut and plate it. It tasted very nice but lacked texture; the dish was a mush with the very soft terrine, a bland liver mousse and an equally unexciting apricot and gin mousse.

For the main, we enjoyed fillet of pork (she) and quail (he), and all was very well with that, accompanied by a very nice bottle of Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley in France.

We bot chose the same pudding, Blackberry and port jelly with compressed greengages and juniper ice cream. I scream! The jelly wasn’t set and contained whole fruit, so was a compote, not jelly. We found it nice, and thought it worked better as a compote as it would have in form of a jelly, but it’s still mislabeled. The compressed greengages didn’t give much and their compressed nature completely eluded us, but we found the juniper ice cream intriguing and delicious with the blackberry compote.

A cup of stale and fairly disgusting coffee, made a long time ago and slowly reduced on the hot plate, and a rather nice Grappa concluded our meal. Even though we thought there was much room of improvement, it still made for a lovely meal, over average for the area as we know it but under average for our previous experiences at Charlotte’s.

The evening was certainly rescued by their brilliant service. Absolutely spot-on. Attentive but not invasive, courteous but not grovelling, just right. Ten out of ten for the service, no doubt.


Container Harvest

IMG_20150920_102203Here’s the 2015 apple and pear container harvest from our own mini garden, or what I could rescue from the damp conditions, the slimy or multi-legged critters or the squirrels.

A good pear harvest, which we attribute to the much reduced pear rust infection now that a heavily infected tree in the neighbour’s garden is no more.

Only two Braeburn apples survive from the original five or six, but given that this is a tiny tree in a tiny pot, often fallen dry, I think it has done pretty well. I think I will probably set it free from its pot and put it into a bed this coming spring.

Foragers At Work

IMG_20150918_123103-cNot bad for a 90 minute lunchtime foraging quickie: 2.5 kg deep red rose hips, a very large bag of apples and a bag of golden ripe pears, all courtesy of Elthorne Rough.


Labor Day

A red banner outside the Mac Cafe, MoscowIt’s Labor Day in the US of A today. Dated safely away from May 1st, the traditional Labour Day in the rest of the world, surely to avoid any accidental ideas of communist influences.

Given the general apparent communist paranoia in the US, you’d think it would more fitting for the US to celebrate Commerce Day, Imperialism Day or Freedom Monday (Freedom, My Arse). In the end, you wouldn’t notice a difference. Some will organize firework displays, many will have a barbecue or a picnic, and most of those who actually have the day off work end up drinking too much.

All in praise of the workers’ unions, hurrah!

Strelitzia Reginae

After years of waiting, caring, sometimes neglecting but always hoping, we are overjoyed to announce the first flower of our indoors strelitzia reginae.

It truly is the most amazing flower.

A Day In The Smithy

20150612171707I was Blacksmith for a day last Friday, thanks for a generous and spot-on present from the good wife, and thanks to excellent one-on-one tuition by Jo “The Iron” Fry in the beautiful setting of Standalone Farm in Letchworth Garden City.

Jo knows exactly the right balance between explaining and letting students try out. He’s been an excellent teacher for the day, never letting me alone or feeling lost, never letting me feel supervised or put under stress. The perfect way to experience bright orange hot iron, a forge, hammer, anvil and a good old ping ping ping.

Banging a piece of hot iron into shape is a very satisfying thing, but I suppose my highlight of the day was the cutting of hot steel with hammer and chisel. All in all very satisfying.

The creations made during my first ever eight hours of being a blacksmith are of course of questionable beauty and limited usefulness, but heck! I had fun and would happily repeat the experience. Who knows. Maybe one day, I might even have space for my own little forge.

A Man Walks Into a Bar

DSC_0053So, a man walks into a bar and expertly orders a pint and a half of London Pride and two pints of Kronenbourg.

Bitte sehr! said the barmaid in flawless German.

Funny how my origins are still so easily detectable after more than 18 years in London.

To bad that she didn’t have time to explain herself, but I will be back…

The Unexpected Vacation of George Thring

A canoe on the banks of the River ThamesBooks are always nice and easy to write about. The books don’t complain, and the related posts help me addressing the typical small talk party situation:

[Someone] So, ummm, what do you read?
[Me] Oh, I read all sorts of books. I like epic fantasy and enjoy contemporary Japanese authors, among other things.
[Someone] Oh, how interesting. Give me an example!
[Me] Oh sure, it’s called…. Ummmm…. by… hmmmm.

So, here’s one of my recently read books:

The Unexpected Vacation of George Thring, by Alastair Puddick.

I found it delightful. At first it feels like yet another instalment of the awkward-person-stumbles-awkwardly-through-life novels and it is, but in a different kind of awkwardness. Very enjoyable and highly recommended.

Super Spicy Squid Supper

Spicy Squid mealOne of the household favourites. We call it Salt and Pepper Squid, but it has come a long way since.

Cut the tubes into thick rings, toss in flour, then in lightly beaten egg white, then in a mix of capers, spring onions, parsley, crushed chilli, salt and pepper. Toss the tentacles in salted flour. Quickly shallow-fry in grape seed oil, drain well and serve with Sauce Vierge and a poached egg.

Dress with chilli oil and Balsamic vinegar.

The picture to the left shows a rather busy plate because I was over-indulging myself with Sauce Vierge and the amount of squid, but given that this meal is so very tasty, I didn’t mind the portion size. Below are a few somewhat nicer presentations from earlier occasions (some without Sauce Vierge).