Pandemic Pondering #142

Friday Feeling is the prompt word from the art group today. The Friday Feeling has always been more mythological in my mind than an actual sensation. I’ve certainly seen it and wistfully thought about it but it’s never been a massive feature in my life. I’m not sure that I am unusual either. Historically in Britain, Friday afternoon working was regularly slightly, or greatly abbreviated, compared to other afternoons. Friday being the gateway to the weekend there was a sense of anticipation that could be celebrated by either a scheduled or casual attitude to attending work on a Friday afternoon. Obviously Muslim or Jewish colleagues had their own reasons for Friday to be special. Class has also played it’s part. In the seventies, my summer jobs were manual or menial. Life on the factory floor was the same relentless, repetitive experience, on a Friday afternoon as it was any other day. Marked differently only by watching the office staff slip away to the pubs or cafes for Friday afternoon socialising/team building.Working in a 24/7 NHS environment made Fridays very much business as usual although Friday leaving parties or de-stressing sessions could mark Fridays out as special after working hours. In the 1990’s, Military hospitals closed and were merged into local NHS hospitals. During the early years the military staff were not available to be rota’d on Friday afternoons any time after noon. Administration apparently occured on Friday afternoons. 🍷🥃🍺☕. Pandemically speaking a Friday Feeling was lost in the blurr of either lockdown for most and overwork for essential workers. This particular Friday for me is a bit of a moment. A different sort of Friday Feeling.

Earlier this week I heard about pickled grapes, served with Pasta Carbonara. Pickled grapes is something way beyond my personal experience. Carbonara on the other hand is a favourite pasta dish.A recipe on the internet showed me that I had everything to hand.

7th August 2020My Friday Feeling.

So after all that pondering how is my Friday Feeling. This Friday I’m feeling like a woman obsessed by Pickled Grapes.

Pandemic Pondering #132

Another English Soft Fruit Drizzle Cake.

Today’s experiment Blackcurrant Drizzle Cake.

Once again using the trusty Lemon Drizzle Cake recipe.

I double the recipe and replace the lemon components with whichever fruit experiment I happen to be trying. Increase cooking time to an hour for the bigger version.

Todays cake is the most bodacious looking . Puce pink icing and deep blacky purple drizzle. It would be wonderful, but the small amount of blackcurrant juice added to the cake mixture has changed the colour of the cake just slightly bluey green. Useful for a sea monster but not so lovely for afternoon tea style cake.

I haven’t bored you with all the English Soft Fruit Drizzle experiments. The Jury is out on this one but the current favourite is Rhubarb Drizzle Cake. It was gorgeous, rather like a slice of jam doughnut which makes no sense. Next week might be Raspberry…

Pandemic Pondering #127

Moons- a step by step guide to making moon Sandwiches in a Pandemic.Some time ago we had a socially distanced picnic planned with VV our granddaughter and her mum and dad.Picnics when you are under two need to be exciting so we decided to make moon Sandwiches.For moon purists we make both waxing and waning crescents depending how you hold them and both waxing and waning gibbous moons.Full moons and quarter moons could be made, but they don’t have intriguing shapes for small hands.

Because this catering masterpiece was created during the pandemic there is a twist.We didn’t have a cookie cutter so had to make one out of a good quality tomato paste tin.Kyknos Tomato Paste is our favourite tomato cooking ingredient and the tin is very high quality, so robust enough to make a very fine cookie cutter in times of Pandemic resticted shopping.simply by removing both the top and bottom with a can opener. cheapest possible white sliced bread.ButterGood quality white cheese spread.’t be tempted to upgrade the bread , posh bread gives tatty edges.MethodButter 3 slices of bread.Spread cream cheese on 3 further slices of bread.Sandwich one buttered and one cheesed piece of bread together giving you 3 cheese sandwiches that are uncut.Stage one cut a circle or full moon out of one of the sandwiches, repeat as necessary with the other sandwiches……………………………Stage two, cut out two more crescents out of the remaining sandwich………………………..Stage three cut two more smaller crescents out of the full moon/ circle shape. This miraculously will leave you with a waxing or waning Gibbous…………………………………Pack moons into a sandwich box.Lunar loveliness for adventurous picnics.

© Wikipedia

These moons are made of cream cheese, nothing fanciful at all.For those with an interest in the real m🌒🌒n. Today is a waxing crescent kind of day.

Pandemic Pondering #116

Reflections on the first beer and other unplanned activities post lockdown.

Today’s walk was a familiar one to us, and to regular blog readers.

At weekends parking is free, in places, on Commercial Street. Giving the perfect opportunity for a circular walk. We do it so many times , and in particular in lockdown that it often gets a blog mention. Today, beyond the walk, we had no plans, we had VV with us so it was pretty much serendipity predicated by the whims of a 20 month old.

As usual, with a weekend visit to Plymouth, the first good coffee of the weekend was purchased at Hutong Cafe. Currently based at The Lord High Admiral.

Energised by a smooth Oat Milk Flat White we set off from Commercial Street.

Normally it is a two coffee walk with a call in at Jacka Bakery for coffee number two.

Today though we walked closer to the harbour of the Barbican.

Serendipity showed us an empty table outside the Maritime Inn. Time for the first beer since Christmas.

It was all the better for being unplanned. We carried on our walk, essential dog walking training is taking place.

Then serendipity struck again, Suphas, a Street Food Cafe also had a seat available out in the sun. Suphas has been on our radar for a while but time and a pandemic have made this our first chance for a visit.

Our drinks, snacks and the environment were vivid in every way.

One of life’s coincidences. Juice of the Day, Watermelon, exactly matched VV’s drinking bottle.

In addition to these visually vivid comestibles we also ordered Spicy Fruit Salad . As vivid in flavour as these pictures are vivid.

Three hours well spent wandering familiar paths .A Sunday walk in the sunshine.

Pandemic Pondering#92

This image of Hugo pretty much sums up my lifelong indifference to one of Britain’s favourite sports, football or soccer. As a blog that very loosely charts social history it seemed wrong not to mention the return of competitive sport to England.

Initially I didn’t give the cancellation of sporting fixtures much thought, but sporting events are, at the very least, background noise in the cultural life of a country. Significant events mark the gentle climb out of winter hibernation because they get media attention. The Six Nations Rugby tournament, The Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race and the Grand National are as much a sign of Spring in Britain as a Daffodil. Even if you pay them no attention they exist. Except this year they didn’t because of Covid-19.

I missed the sporting markers of Spring.

I must be one of the least capable people to contemplate writing a blog about sport. Pondering is exactly that sometimes . How does the return of professional football touch, however briefly, my Ponderings..

Words of course.

I do love intelligent conversation about any subject. In some ways it is relaxing to have no opinions on the subject being discussed.

Football my aural pleasure.

Quite a few years ago @theoldmortuary were in a Jamaican cafe, in East Dulwich. One of only two tables occupied.

The table behind us had three men on it talking animatedly but most importantly, intelligently, about football.

Obviously, we eavedropped a lot, our magical Harry Potter stretchy ears weaving invisibly onto the next table.

We remarked , once we had left, how great it was to hear football discussed so wisely. When we left we realised we had been listening to two retired players talking with the owner of the cafe. This was my late introduction to an interest in football talk and the seed of an idea to carry this blog.

Football is much in the news this week . Post lockdown the men’s professional teams have started playing matches in empty stadiums in order to complete their 2020 fixtures.

More importantly a 22 year old professional footballer, Marcus Rashford used social media to eloquently force the British government to perform a U-turn on policy regarding providing meal vouchers for the most vulnerable schoolchildren during the long summer vacation.

Thankfully podcasts have brought us as much intelligent football/sport chatter as we can handle since the ‘ East Dulwich Ear Incident.

Flintoff, Savage and the Ping Pong Guy accompany our long car journeys.

Just this week I’ve caught two football podcasts.

Gary Neville applies Sports psychology to real life on Out to Lunch with Jay Rayner.A fascinating natter over simultaneous take away food about philanthropy and football. During the pandemic Out for Lunch has become, in for a takeaway, on your own with a lap top.

Lame joke me would have preferred it if his brother Phil had actually discussed the same topics.

Then out of nowhere our favourite coffee shop launched their own football podcast.

Headphones replace Harry Potter Ears but the effect is just as pleasing.

Daisies growing in the penalty box lines on a disused football pitch.

So here’s the conundrum , we’ve really not missed sport itself in the last three months but it will be good to hear about it again,and for it to mark time through the seasons. For actual pleasure and also importsntly because Eating Podcasts have filled the void left by sport. That is not entirely a good thing.

Meanwhile Lola can also demonstrate sporting indifference every bit as well as Hugo.

This is not a football club bench!

This is not a sports blog.

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?