Pandemic Pondering #403

May 1st and we have plans to travel a little more than 10 miles!

But first news of the last swim of April. “April is the cruelest month” a line from T.S Eliots’ poem, Wasteland,written after and about a pandemic.”We dared to hope” a line from the poem, exactly matches the optimism of the ‘ bobbers’ as we emerged out of our first winter season of cold water swimming.

April has bitten the bobbers on the bum swimming wise. The weather has improved and the sea water temperatures have started to stabilise, and even rise a little, but we seem to have had some of our most challenging swims recently, most of us succumbing to ‘After drop’ after a swim in April even though we have avoided it throughout the darkest, coldest months.

‘ After drop’ was unknown to Eliot when he published Wasteland in 1922. His poem written after A World War and the Spanish Flu pandemic, it could only have been more glum with a portion of ‘ afterdrop’ included in the narrative.

“Afterdrop” is common after swimming in cold water; you get out and feel fine, and then you start to get colder, sometimes growing faint, shivering violently and feeling unwell.

As you can see from the photographs in this blog, the last bob of April 2021 was a much more joyous affair. Using T.S Eliot as our theme it was more ‘Cats’ ( Old Possums Book of Practical Cats) than Wasteland.

As it happened the last day of April was also a bobbers birthday. Tranquility Bay pulled out all the stops to make our first after-swim, bobbing- birthday picnic a big event. The Bobbing Balcony was available for out door snacking. Street art made the location more vivid.

There was cake.

A Chinook fly past.

Exuberant waving to Sailors returning to port.

Happy quotes.

Low energy time keeping, to mark time passing.

And a puppy.

Thanks to Helen for having a birthday and serendipity for providing the entertainment.

Pandemic Pondering#163

The prompt word(s) for today are, Birds Eye View. I know where I’m going with this prompt and it’s not pretty. I’ve just popped a feather photograph in to give me a bit of visual integrity.

For my generation Birds Eye is forever associated with a brand of freezer convenience foods. The most iconic of which is probably the fish finger but the one I have a photograph of is The Arctic Roll.

This would have been a familiar sight in British supermarkets and homes in the Seventies or Eighties. Less so now, this photo was taken in Hong Kong recently where it is clearly very popular. Arctic Roll in Britain has become a bit of a home chef thing . Googling it brings up recipes quicker than it does the Birds Eye version. For those unfamiliar with either the Birds Eye Version or the posher one, Arctic Roll is Vanilla ice cream enrobed with thin sponge and raspberry jam served, unsurprisingly, in a roll shape. It was invented by Dr Ernest Velden in the 1950’s he mass produced it in a factory in Eastbourne from 1968

Birds Eye marketed the product for 30 years until sales slumped in the 1990’s when they stopped production. This coincided with a resurgence in British coooking and increased interest in good quality restaurant food. Beloved by many the Arctic Roll is considered a nostalgia food, which is why the cheap family desert transformed into a desert made by aspiring chefs.

In 2008 during an economic downturn Birds Eye started production up again, firstly because it is still cheap to produce but also because in difficult times people like to return to comfort foods. The world’s Pandemic of 2020 has probably also been very good for sales

I have never been a fan, it’s a texture thing. It seems almost disrespectful to admit this but I am not alone, Nigel Slater, a television cook and food critic ,who I admire, says it tastes like carpet. Perhaps a chef’s version should be my next project.

Better still an informal supper with Nigel Slater where he serves a sublime version would be perfection.

Pandemic Pondering #53

Today I broke my pandemic bread making virginity. Later than most people in this pandemic apparently.

The main reason is that my bread making in the past has been a somewhat lumpen experience.

We were gifted a Dutch Oven home-made loaf a month ago which was delicious. So I had a pretty tough act to follow and no Dutch oven.

But I do have a tagine with a cast-iron bottom.

Turns out Tagine bread is a thing.

The link above is the recipe I used for No Knead Bread.

A really nice flavour loaf that is also visually pleasing and if I’d bought it in an Artisan bakers I would have been happy with it.

But I made it, it’s beautiful and I’m ecstatic. Happy Monday.