Pandemic Pondering #74

Saturday at Elvira’s

Saturdays in Lockdown got a whole lot better once we could get our favourite coffee fix at The Lord High Admiral provided by the lovely Hutong Crew.

Either before or after good coffee we go for breakfast at Elvira’s.

We’ve developed an unusual socially distance friendship with people we met on the first day in the Hutong queue. We meet for coffee and breakfast.

Breakfast at Elvira’s is immense, normally I go for a bacon buttie. For some unknown reason after four weeks on a super healthy diet I opted for the Farmhouse Breakfast.

As an aside this cafe in normal times is the favoured haunt of Commandos based at Stonehouse Barracks.

The Farmhouse Breakfast is exactly what a commando would deserve after a hard nights soldiering on night exercises

This breakfast was a thing of beauty and despite only doing a Joe Wicks work out I was determined to enjoy every mouthful. It was wonderful .

Elvira’s is very close to the Plymouth side of the Cremyll ferry. A boat ferry has crossed the Hamoaze, a stretch of the River Tamar, here, since the 11th Century.

Whilst waiting for my take away breakfast I discovered a combination of two of my favourite things . Rust and a Ghost Sign.

A ghost sign is a faded sign, often seen on the walls of city buildings.

This one was set into the ground where passenger alight from the Cremyll foot ferry.

There wasn’t an easy way to capture the words in the bright sunlight.

The text reads.

WELCOME to Plymouth, now wipe your feet.

It is a matter of great pride that salmon have come back to the Tamar . A gentlemen was fly fishing on the slipway near where the ferry comes in. He was not a picturesque fisherman but he was standing in a picturesque place. I was anxious that he leave so I could get a nice photograph. I was very happy when his breakfast was delivered and he moved out of shot.

After a couple of long dog walks and no Hutong coffee, I had declined earlier, I was pretty sleepy after all that breakfast. An afternoon of reading turned into something much more relaxing.


Pandemic Pondering #71

Lockdown and a new diet regime has had a funny effect on our store cupboards. We are cooking everything from scratch and also learning new things to cook with ingredients we’ve not used before. We’ve always cooked a lot of Asian food . Today it was time to incorporate the local Asian Supermarket into the morning dog walk. KW Brothers of Durnford Street is a great shop. We stocked up on sauces for a third of the price of non specialist supermarkets.

Other things may have slipped into the bag too. KW Brothers has an amazing smell, I’m never sure if it makes me homesick for the Asian Stores of South London or Asia itself.

Either way I love it. Random fact of the day . KW Brothers stands on the site of a doctor’s surgery where Arthur Conan Doyle worked. Durnford Street has quotes from Sherlock Holmes inset into the pavement between the Asian Supermarket and Firestone Bay.

Durnford Street is pretty.

Firestone Bay is beautiful.

We were planning a Fusion evening meal , it was a coincidence really that we went to the supermarket as we had everything we needed for tonight’s supper without a visit.

This is our favourite Asian cookery book.

Fusion supper, Fragrant Aubergine with minced pork.

Elderflower and raspberry gin and tonic.

Happy Thursday

Pandemic Pondering #59

The textures of Sunday. Lockdown Sundays are supposed to be days of relaxation and recuperation from the giddy whirl of trying to fill the previous 6 days with tasks and dog walks, which will keep our minds and bodies happy and active. We’ve not always been successful, there have been some not so happy days and some curiously exhausted days. This week has felt full to the brim with thoughts and activities. We’ve had a whole new way of eating to consider , no carb, no dairy and as of Wednesday a slight relaxation of Lockdown rules. We coped better with the change of diet than we did with the new freedoms. So all things considered Sunday should have been a day of reflection, relaxation and recalibration but for some reason that wasn’t quite suiting us . Hannah opted to do some hard landscaping of the garden storage area. It’s a bit of a struggle to get pebbles or other garden DIY supplies. There was no real choice so our hard landscaping has been done with soft sounding pebbles described as Raspberry Ripple.

It is fitting really that Hannah was working on Raspberry Ripple because I was in the kitchen using up carbs and experimenting with new ingredients.

Bread and Butter Pudding


Cauliflower Hummous

Time to read a book!

Pandemic Pondering #49

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

Or preserve them, a couple of years ago we had a lemon grove attached to a holiday villa in Greece. We preserved a litre and a half of lemons , brought them home and they’ve lasted until now.

Gathering lemons in Greek sunshine to the accompaniment of goat bells and in the company of leathery faced women wearing black is not a chore.

It was not a particular chore to buy unwaxed lemons at Lidl but it does have zero romance. The sunshine today was pretty similar to Greece. No goats and the only leathery faced women were wearing fleeces, not the same at all.

Now preserving lemons is not a huge subject for a pondering but it saves you all from more hedge trimming Ponderings. The storms of yesterday disturbed the bits of hedge we had chopped but not been able to pull out. We’ve tweaked it to near parfection now.

I really believe this is the last time the hedge will get a mention.

Pandemic Ponderings #45

Sunday takes a similar shape to any other day in the pandemic lock-down but there are accessories to the day which make it different. Sunday permits laziness in the hours that would normally be spent with family and friends. The dogs get walked , books and newspapers get read. There is always cake. Cake in a Pandemic is a serious business, there is nothing flimsy about our pandemic cakes. They are always home- made and are described as having ‘heft’.Everything about our cake choices is hefty. The flavours are strong, Guinness, Cocoa, Strong Coffee and the textures are extreme. Super moist brownie, deep black dense texture or richly golden crumble.

We seem to be adopting bold colours and bold flavours during this lockdown. I wonder if it’s because the world seems brighter when we are allowed out so our indoor life has to get brighter and bolder too.

The tulips in the house are feeling pretty bold too. Or are they hefty?

Pandemic Pondering #39

Sunday was cooking day for us. I made Brownies from a foolproof recipe which I had to adapt because we couldn’t get all the ingredients. That then makes it not foolproof of course.

The reason I needed a foolproof recipe is fussiness. I only like a brownie that is dry or crisp on the outside and very moist on the inside. I was browsing the internet on a completely different quest when another blogger claimed the same fussiness and presented the ‘perfect’ recipe. Normally I would have waited until I could get the correct ingredients but yesterday I had all the pandemic time in the world and a yearning for a perfect Brownie.

My necessary adaptations caused no problems and the resulting brownie was so lovely I’m going to have to adapt and rewrite the recipe to use forevermore.

The things I couldn’t get were , unsalted butter and milk or dark chocolate nibs.

Here is the brownie served with ice cream and cream. A serving suggestion first brought to my notice by the wonderful Jessie and Lennie Ware on the Podcast , Table Manners.

Try it, you might never go back.

The brownie is versatile and is equally happy with a cup of tea.

We also stepped into the world of Nigella Lawson and made a tray bake chicken supper that involved frozen peas and Cinzano Bianco.

We employed social distancing and distributed chocolate brownies to a few friends.

The dogs didn’t have to social distance and enjoyed Mel’s hard work rejuvenating her water feature during one delivery.

The Poppies are putting up quite a show on the tidied up rough ground.

People are stopping to take their portraits. At a Social Distance naturally.

Pandemic Pondering #38

Saturday night @theoldmortuary.

A curious mix of old and new. We finally managed to get our hands on some Cherry Liqueur and were able to make a derivative of the ‘Hix Fix’ cocktail, a reward for diligent moss raking in the garden and exterior painting of the actual old mortuary.

I’m not sure where Cherry Liqueur fits into ‘ essential’ shopping but it was bought at the same time as an adequate but not extravagant quantity of toilet roll. In the interests of total honesty it was also bought alongside a bottle of Cinzano Bianco for cooking purposes.

The ‘ old’ of our Saturday night was watching Brassed Off. A British film set in Yorkshire at the time of the closure of Coal Mines by the Conservative Government during the time of Margaret Thatcher.


Cocktails and a comedy/drama. Exploring the harm caused to a community by the loss of jobs and the accompanying damage to a way of life; driven by a government devoid of compassion, whilst drinking cocktails, would have felt a shocking pairing in 1996 when the film was made. The film is ‘grand’, as they would say in Yorkshire

The passing of time has made the drinking of cocktails more acceptable and less elitist than they were in 1996. Elitist governments that lack intelligent compassion have not become any more acceptable.

Let’s return to the Cocktail , a thing of simple beauty.

Invented by Mark Hix and first exposed to me by a fabulous work colleague, Nic Delahunty in Pandemic Pondering#25 .

We had to slightly change the recipe because of Pandemic restrictions.

We used in each glass.

Two Morrello cherries.

Two teaspoons of Cherry Brandy, we could have used Kirsch perhaps.

Top up the glass , you can see the style we used, with Prosseco, any sparkling wine will do.

Pandemic Pondering #36

Free Friday Feeling… In a Pandemic what is a Friday Feeling? I’m not entirely sure, I’ve researched pictures from Fridays past that were freer than our current Fridays. I took orange as a bit of a theme.

This Friday is the first of Ramadan, although gathering is not permitted the fabulous call to Prayer coming from a Mosque is one of the loveliest sounds.

Ramadan Mubarak


Iftar, the breaking of the fast, will be be less sociable than normal years.

Breaking a fast brings me to food, orange is the link.

Tate Modern
Boston Tea Party
Rosemary and Chilli nuts @theoldmortuary
Afternoon Tea
Oranges and Lemons
Crumpets @theoldmortuary
Vegetarian Platter

The last two images are not exactly food related. First one of my favourite glamour models for Watercolour paintings.

Mr Lobster

And finally not food for humans, Herons maybe.

Goldfish in a spin.

Pandemic Ponderings #25 Chapter 5

Easter 2020 in Lockdown was an intriguing one. Throughout the world people were unable to gather.

Our Lockdown Easter for two involved chocolate and some lovely home cooking. Pandemic Ponderings #25 gave us the chance to gather together with friends and family, sharing stories and anecdotes using technology. It wasn’t as lonely as I anticipated and the food lasted longer than it ever has, but next year it would be good to get back to normal, I accept that means the weather will be shocking.

Pandemic Ponderings #25 Chapter 4

Here we go off to Hungary with an artist friend Ildiko who sent me these words and pictures.

“Easter traditions go back to pagan ones. It’s the start of spring, the break from lent. On Easter Monday morning men would draw fresh water from the well and splash that over the young women to keep them fresh for the coming year.
Nowadays this ‘watering’ is done with parfume and is slightly more sophisticated. Boys and men would visit female members of their families, say a short, funny, sometimes rude and erotic rhyme, at the end of which they ask permission ‘to water’ the lady/girl. They get permission and in return they receive an egg. Traditionally these eggs would be dyed and decorated, the must common being a red one, but more often theyare now chocolate eggs and kids get money. All visitors would be offered drinks and food and it’s rude not to take any, so men would return home drunk and bursting at the seams 😅😅 ”

This fresh looking plate is the traditional Hungarian Easter Feast .

Boiled smoked ham with boiled eggs and spring vegetables.

From traditional food to Sam Fords Easter Feast in Lockdown . Sam is a long term friend and ex- neighbour whose honest approach to an Easter Feast suits us @theoldmortuary very well.

“Although it was a specifically religious feast the food itself signified nothing more than a love of kitchen work matched with pretentious tastes!”

“This is a (sort of) lamb shawarma from yesterday. I also stuffed medjool dates with walnut, coconut and cardamom powder”.

Sam works with a Bristol Charity One25.

Visit the charities website to see the amazing work this charity does.

This chapter is top and tailed by artist friends.

Check out this cake from Janet Brady.

Love in cake form.