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New blogs

I am now blogging in two separate places:




Please do check them out, thank you!


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Home made bacon

Home made bacon

Cured in the fridge in an ‘easy cure’ mix, then smoked with Beechwood in the Pro Q Eco cold smoker (in the shed due to the rain!)

So far it’s gone into homemade creamy tomato gnocchi and chicken salad… French toast and syrup to come soon!

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Helvellyn, yeah!

Despite my borderline Royalist rant below, I must have been one of the few sober people in the Commonwealth last Friday, as we drove back – four adults crammed into a Toyota Starlet called Janice – from the Lake District. And it was there that I climbed a mountain.

I use the word ‘mountain’ with some trepidation, because in actual fact, Helvellyn was described to me as the second highest ‘peak’ in England. Whatever the terminology, it was bloody hard work. But then what did I expect from a climb about which a famous poem was written, inspired by a man’s death en route? But as is always the way with these things, once the achy muscles have eased and the memories of burning lungs and near-death slips have faded, I have become somewhat complacent; it wasn’t actually that difficult at all and I overtook loads of unsuitably-clad amateurs along the way. Ha! In fact, I practically ran across Striding Edge (above), as nimble as a mountain goat from my native Switzerland, and when I got to the top I could see all the way to Liverpool*.

Of course I know these ‘memories’ are colourful versions of the truth, but it beats the feeble reality, that the only thing that saved me on the way up was regular Jaffa Cake stops, and that the slow, scraggy descent almost killed me. Hardcore.

*not strictly true, but the views were awesome (as you can see right, waving to my colleague as he sat in a Basingstoke office)

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Bank holiday kitsch

Oh, come on – you love it, don’t you? Just a little bit – don’t fight it. Ever since the royal couple announced their engagement in November, I have been vehemently struggling against the tide, insisting that it’s not of interest to me and that companies who jump on the band wagon are just ridiculous. I still hold to that latter point a bit, but last week I finally cracked and embraced the kitsch in an all-out manner. Infact, I seem to have gone the complete opposite way and, let me tell you brothers and sisters, it feels good!

For starters, check out the mug that I bought in the spirit of things. Now every tea break is a reminder, not only of one couple’s fight against all the odds en route to true love (!), but also of the upcoming bank holidays and the general feeling of happiness and goodwill that accompanies this time of year – but is magnified in 2010. Come on, you feel less morose than you did a month ago. Just a bit, admit it.

If you want to know how mad I actually went when I finally cracked, here’s the proof.

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Ode to a grubby friend

Today I face a dilemma.  It’s no life-changing decision, nor will its outcome affect anyone other than myself, but it is playing on my mind greatly nonetheless. It’s to do with my rucksack: do I wash it or not? A trivial question, you may think – “just wash the damn thing, you dirty tramp”. I can see where these thoughts could come from but, you see, my rucksack is my only true travelling companion and the dirt that is ingrained in his seams is all a part of who he is – who I am – and washing it would mean losing a little part of that forever. It’s not like he smells or anything.

From the moment I picked him from the crowd of stupid pink ‘girl’ rucksacks (who incidentally don’t have key clips inside them – why is this? Is it because the man must always carry clinky objects?  I don’t think so, otherwise men’s wallets would have change compartments – which is also a mystery to me) our adventure together began. Not only have we spent many nights  alone (and in company) together, sleeping in tents, rooms, or even under the stars, he has also joined me each day to the dull, grey skies of Basingstoke and beyond, he’s waited for hours for delayed trains, boats, buses, planes – even battered old utes. Our love is no fair-weather bond; he is a loyal friend. Like wrinkles on a well-worn face, the small streaks and dusty patches on his skin tell tales of his life with me – of dusty Savanna plains, of  spice-breeze shores, African wilderness, mighty storms and probably a healthy dose of wine and food. Heck he was even with me when we were chased by Hippos. Also, a small part of me doesn’t want to delve toooo deep inside his many alluring compartments – occasionally he throws up (excuse the expression) a real gem that brings memories flooding back; a map of a path I trekked, a ticket to a museum or, heaven forbid, a note from a boy, long forgotten and living on another continent.  This bag is a constant, comforting reminder of adventure and I love him just the way he is.

So, tell me – do you really have to wash a rucksack?

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In amongst the chaos, turmoil and general upset that the unpronounceable Icelandic volcano has caused, a miracle has made itself known to me. It concerns Santiago the goldfish, a regular feature of posts throughout this blog’s lifespan.

Read the above link and you will know how Santiago came into my life. Read on and you will learn of the excitement I felt when he returned, and take a glance at this short post to see how I tried to make his life in our pond a more pleasurable one.  Finished reading? Then I will continue the tale.

After  uniting Santiago and Fatima, and after  a few days of synchronised swimming (which I obviously took as a sure-fire sign of love and fairytale endings) she started to chase him. Viciously.  He became elusive (and reclusive) and his golden glean was noticeably fading. She was a menace – maybe she was a boy-fish, after all, I cannot claim to be an expert in these aqua-matters. Well, eventually both disappeared; eaten by cats/herons/each other, so I sadly accepted that two months of no sightings in a small pond could only mean one thing.  And I am afraid that I am not here to tell you otherwise.

However (crikey, I was always told never to start a new paragraph with ‘however’ but, hell, I’m a rebel)…however, on Sunday I received yet another fateful call from my pond-gazing Mother to announce that we had a fish in our pond! A little spring clearance of water weeds and other detritus revealed, not only a frog and a newt (the first of the year), but a small goldfish with similar (but not identical) markings to Fatima…..it can only be their baby!

Praise King Triton, this is indeed a miracle!

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This is a genuine message that my housemate has JUST recieved from match.com.  If this doesn’t make you laugh then I don’t know what would:

“hey, how are you? did you have a good christmas and new year? I think you did say you were not interested a while ago, but you have looked at me since, so thought i’d just drop an email 🙂:)
Hope all is well, and hopefully hear back from you!

‘Name withheld’ x”

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