February 27, 2013

BAKING ALERT

I was unable to resist buying some lovely pink rhubarb last weekend, the sort that comes from the “rhubarb triangle” in Yorkshire.  With it I made something called a “slump”.

slump1

You can read all about it here.

February 18, 2013

SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW

Last week Nick and I finally bought the perfect piece of furniture.  We had had it in mind for a long time but never actually believed we would find it.

It’s something to perch the TV on and is big enough to house the TV recorder and also our ancient music system.  We’re not into technology that much, in the sense that we replace our TV’s when they finally conk out, not when new fangled models come on the market.  So we haven’t got a huge TV that you fix to the wall and we have resisted chucking out our old CD player because it still works perfectly well.

table

Once it was installed we found there was space on it for another piece of kit.  Our old turntable, which has been in the garage for at least ten years.  We very nearly took it to the tip several times but stopped when we thought if we did that, how would we ever play our huge collection of vinyl records?

So Nick dug it out from under piles of other miscellaneous stuff, plugged it in and to our amazement it worked, straight away.  Some may think there’s no reason why it shouldn’t but I was surprised.  The first album we played, to see if it worked, was Tumbleweed Connection. I haven’t listened to that for maybe 15 years.

Then I fetched, from the shelves in the study upstairs where all our old records are kept, the very first one I bought with my student grant in 1970.  The Turning Point by John Mayall.  I played it over and over in my grotty student bedsit for months – I only owned about a dozen records then – but haven’t heard it for probably at least 20 years.  It was amazing to listen to it again.  The quality of the sound was still great and there’s something special about vinyl.  Having the album cover in your hand, slightly tatty and complete with coffee stains, surely has to be so much better than looking at a computer screen while you download the tracks you like.

Listening to it took me right back to those student days, the winter of 1970, living in one room with only a tiny gas fire for heating, eating baked beans most evenings because I could only afford meat once a week.  Staying late in the library to save on the gas.  Then the summer of 1971, walking the nearby park in the evenings because it was so unbearably hot in my attic room. 

The next record we played was my Grace Jones album, the one with the astonishing cover.  I always thought it odd that she should pose like that but feel the need to stand on a mat!  More memories came flooding back.

There are probably upwards of 150 records in our vinyl collection, from the mid 60’s when we first started buying them, up to the late 80’s when we started buying CD’s.  A slice of our younger lives, and all the more interesting because Nick and I hadn’t met at that point – each half of the collection is different, reflecting our separates lives and tastes at that time.  Although there are two copies of a few classics.

It will be interesting to see how our friends react.  I don’t know anyone who still plays their vinyl records – most people seem to have fancy music systems that play chosen songs all evening using their computer.  I expect they’ll be quite envious ….. until we have to get up from the table and turn the record over every fifteen minutes !!

Have a good week !!

February 5, 2013

L’ESCARGOT DE PARIS…

…is actually a restaurant in Macclesfield and the waiter is the owner.

THE WRONG KIND OF SNOW

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The view from our window at 9am.

We were woken up at 6.50am this morning by Lulu, barking loudly.  This is annoying because we didn’t have to get up until slightly later as Nick is working from home today, but found ourselves leaping out of bed at pretty much our usual time to see what the commotion was all about. 

It was the milk delivery.  We don’t have a milkman as such, in the sense that nobody does a milk round in this area any more, but the nearest farm has started pasteurising its own milk and selling it locally.  Our neighbour who lives across the road collects it from the farm and delivers it to the few people on the road who want it, three days a week.  It’s not exactly a milk round as the time of day the milk arrives can vary from 7.30am to 4pm depending on when our neighbour has the time to do it, but it’s a good service and we appreciate it.

I’m also quite proud of Lulu, barking furiously having heard footsteps on the drive, being a good guard dog after all.

Unfortunately the reason for the unusually early arrival of our milk was another fall of snow.  I had checked the forecast and saw that we were due to have some, but didn’t think it would amount to much.  No doubt our neighbour decided to get the milk delivered while he could still get about.

At 7.30 Nick went out and cleared the drive so that I would be able to go to work.  Half an hour later bucketloads of snow came and all his hard work disappeared under another inch or so.

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The view from our window at 10.00 am.

For the view at 10.30 look at the first photo again, it was the same.

So this is how it’s been all morning, sunshine and blue skies alternating with blizzards.  And me fretting as to whether I should try to drive to work, phone calls being exchanged with colleagues to find out what they think and whether they would risk it, trying to find out if anyone knew how bad the main roads were.

All in all, it’s the wrong kind of snow.  Bad enough to make driving difficult, largely because of the huge volume of traffic that pours onto the main roads rather than use the hilly lanes.  Not quite bad enough to feel I can definitely pronounce it not safe to go out.  It’s not that we have six inches of it, just enough to make the roads very slippery.  Six inches would be better - nobody would question my decision not to drive.

Our new boss has little sympathy with our nervousness and would never declare the business closed as she only goes in one day per week.  (It never seems to snow on those days.)  It’s open if we get in and it’s closed if we don’t but then we have to take the time unpaid or out of our holiday allocation.  So on the one hand I feel inclined to try to get to work but on the other I recall horrible journeys when I have been stuck in a traffic jam in a blizzard surrounded by cars slithering around precariously, or sitting in a queue at the bottom of a hill, waiting for cars to take their turn in trying to get up it one at a time (getting down it is even more frightening).  In which case having to lose a day’s pay seems the better option. 

I really could do without this annual test of my bravery.  Roll on spring !!