Saturday, 16 July 2011

If I wasn't typing this, I'd be standing in the doorway of my kitchen looking up through the courtyard into the garden and beyond. It's a breezy, cool July evening and the trees (chestnut, ash, oak, fir) are swaying irritably in the wind - like me, I imagine they long to be caressed by the warmth we should be having every day in summer but this year comes only rarely: such an fickle lover, the British Summer. I would be looking up the path through lavender and cat mint and bright flaming scarlet crocosmia, to my sweetpeas climbing up their wigwam and the buddleija overhanging them, to a sky that is (for once) blue in the fading light.

But I'm not. I'm typing this and sipping plain cocoa-and-water and when I look up I can see the vases full of sweetpeas that I picked earlier. At the moment my house smells of supper - artichokes with vinegrette, and grilled halloumi with tomatoes and cucumber and leaves - with overtones of what I can only identify as "grandmother", which seems to consist of fresh coffee and baking bread and lavender soap (and is faintly disturbing, to be honest. The ghosts we can conjure in our kitchens are manifold).

So yes, I am typing this. It's been more than a while and it's been a while since I thought about this blog, this pretty much anonymous outlet that I should utilise more often, perhaps. It's a matter of catching myself unwares; if I don't think, I am more likely to do. And I often need a kick to get myself into gear...

So. I last blogged in December 2009. In brief, not a lot has changed (shame to say). Ennui is a hideous thing. I did do the month long cookery course. It was enjoyable and in some ways an education but it wasn't what I wanted; I already know how to cook, and this was a course for much younger people to be taught how to cook and how to cook in a certain way. Let's just say there was far too much butter and cream involved for me. And far too few veggies. I was the only one on the course who lost weight. (Not that I ever complain about that.) But, it did knock my confidence a lot. It's only been in the last six months that I have managed to pull back to wanting to be in the kitchen, to wanting to create, and to feeling that I have something worthwhile to give when I am creating. I'm back onto cooking blind, meat and fish for friends that I will never taste but seems to please them. It gives me so much satisfaction.

The lasting gift I took from the course is both gift and personal curse - the ability and addiction to baking bread. I love it, I just love it. The magical transformation of 4 ingredients, or 3 if I am feeling clever, into something so comforting and visually impressive is incredibly, again, satisfying. It almost feels like a cheat. Flour, water, salt, yeast - and 3 hours later, it's like an artisan market in my kitchen. I don't even need to weigh or measure anything any more; I can tell how the loaf will be by the feel of the dough in my hands. It is beautifully tactile.

(Speaking of weighing and measuring, it goes without saying I no longer practice CRON. Healthy eating, yes. I do try *not* to eat the bread. But CRON, no. Sorry.)

So, well. A lot goes on in a year and a half, and a lot doesn't. I am incredibly lucky in so many ways. I love where I live (oh my garden my garden); I have fabulous friends; I even have people who check back on the blog after months! But it all feels so fragile; as though it could all slip away at any time, as though there is a price still to be paid. Ridiculous, huh? Or the beginings of a mid-life crisis, perhaps. I began this blog when I was 34. I'm going to be 39 next week. How on earth did that happen? How fast does time go? :-)

Maybe more later. Maybe in sooner than another year. xxxx

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Letting It All Go

So, at the end of August I was hoping to make a Fresh Start on various things - exercise, diet, attitude, direction. And with that Fresh Start, there would have been lots of wonderfully fascinating blog posts that would have kept you hooked, on the edge of your seat, thrilled by my adventures, my daring, my skills, my achievements, gasping at my success...


Yeah, well. That didn't happen. Life got in the way, as life does - and it was always next week, next week, next week... Consequently I am writing this feeling unhealthier than I have done for a very long time, and looking it too. That photo I titled Gratuitous Vanity Shot? Vanity indeed. Serves me right. If I could fit into those shorts now without a muffin top, I'd be happy... Well, not happy but you know what I mean.

So, this post is a kick up my own backside really. A note to myself to Get A Grip. Yes, Christmas is coming up and yes, my diary is jam-packed full of meals out and parties. But that's not excuse to end 2009 feeling like a whale, so. Belated damage limitation ahoy. Wish me luck.

(It hasn't all been bad bad bad. I have more or less completely redecorated the upstairs of my cottage (admittedly after the ceilings fell down), and it looks so much nicer now. I lie in bed and look at my lovely wallpaper (such an exciting life, isn't it?) and coo with pleasure. And I have booked myself on a month-long professional cookery course, in March 2010. To see if I really can stand the heat in the kitchen.)

Friday, 28 August 2009

Summer Holidays

I spent 4 wonderful all-too-short days in Portugal on the Algarve last week. Lots of pottering around, and lying in the sun (well, in the shade but there was lots of sun!), and generally relaxing. It must be so easy to be CR'd in warm climates; all I wanted to eat was lots and lots of the wonderful tomatoes and cucumbers that were in the markets.

Some random pics of interesting things, and a gratutious vanity shot.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Feeling Blue

I think that this article about the places in the world where people live the longest, healthy lives is something I need to flag here and read again and again myself. Simple, no nonsense, straight-forward commonsense. And it's *not* hard to live life as if one were in a Blue Zone.

But I don't do it.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Clearly I have failed to put anything into the new blog, which shows shamefully on my profile. Flake.

Still, have some flowers.


Borage. Perfect in Pimms, apparently. But I don't like Pimms, so I don't know. I eat the flowers on salads, and scare people by putting them on cupcakes.
Sweetpeas. After I'd done the picking for the day. Triffids have nothing on them.
And now have some veggies:

View up the veggie patch...
Squash gone mad... yummy though.

Radicchio (sp?!) and swiss chard. We had chard for dinner tonight... the patch is, shall we say, somewhat denuded. I can eat A LOT of chard.

My enchanted asparagus forest. Unfortunately, this was something I could not eat a lot of this year, and here it is, taunting me with all its flowering glory.

As for CR.... Usual story - loads of veggies, but not counting calories. Probably far too much bread and cheese and, yes, wine, lately. Which I am feeling.

As for life, a hell of a lot of horrible stuff which paradoxically makes CR very hard. Life is too short v life cannot be long enough.

Anyway, xxx all.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Cholesterol Test Results

Sainsbury's are doing them free, so I thought - why not?

Anyway. I think these are okay in themselves, but wonder if I practiced CR more rigorously (or, indeed, more often at all) whether they would be better?

Total Cholesterol Reading - 4.22 (I feel this should be lower)
HDL Reading - 2.26 (... and this should be higher?)
Ratio Reading - 1.9 (er...)
Glucose (non-fasting) - 5.0

And I weighed 110.2lbs on the scales this morning. The scales are mad. I probably could have gotten on them 30 seconds later and been 2lbs heavier.

(The last time I had some tests done was Dec 2007. Then my total cholesterol was over 5.00 and my blood sugar was, as I recall, 3.8).

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

May Morning

I woke up early this morning just before dawn and lay in the gathering light, listening to the bird sing and breathing in the damp clean air that smelt and tasted of childhood holidays in summer. A gentle drizzle has been falling all day, and the garden is lush and green and glimmering, wearing the droplets of rain like jewels. Before my coffee, I planted rows of yellow climbing beans in the veggie patch and trained their grasping tendrils around their canes, patting their roots into the damp soil and tucking the loose earth around them.

Some pictures that I took last night, before the rain.

The veggie patch. On the left, from nearest to furthest: sweetpea canes, over-wintered endive lettuces, beetroot (grown mostly for leaves), peas, strange random leafy vegetable (that was supposed to be rocket but isn't and has come up again from what I failed to dig out last year when I cleared the ground), spinach; behind the spinach are rows of salad leaves, heritage carrots, rainbow chard and spinach; raspberry canes; various fruit bushes and rhubarb, and right at the back of the patch, runner bean canes. And then on the right, from furthest to nearest: peas under fleece; supports for yellow climbing beans, flowering asparagus, rows of parsnip seedlings; supports for borlotti beans (looking very sad at the moment; I think they are shocked by cold), and membrane laid down ready for squash, sweetcorn and tomatoes.

The flower bed above my courtyard. Lavender, sweetpeas, catmint, geraniums, and pots of various spring bulbs that are dying back.

The path from the courtyard up to the garden, with snaking hose that I was using to water the veggies with last night.

Flowers in the courtyard, and the beans waiting to be planted. I am particularly happy with the way the clematis in the pot is scrambling up into the yew tree and pyracanthus and am really looking forward to it flowering; last year it had amazing white blooms, blousey and elaborate, like old-fashioned ballgowns. I love my aquilegia too.