Friday, 31 May 2013

All Wired Up

.... to my MP3 player. Yes, I know I am supposed to be cool and have an iPod but I am not that cool. I have a bus pass. I have an MP3 player.

OK. OK. It be also a longstanding PC Girl versus ApplePerson. I don't do much in the way of Apple stuff. This is why I am not cool.

Anyhoo... I have this little player what does radio as well. But I do not have music on it. I have books on it. I used to like talking books so now I get them via Audible and attempt to keep up with Mrs D and her crime reading.Tell you what, though. It do not pay to listen in bed. I do fall asleep and have to back-peddle until I find a bit of book I do recognise and start over again.

But it be ideal for stuff like ironing, mending, making, sitting sunbathing.... or like yesterday... when The Old Man (who be an old crock as you may know) has to get his annual check up at the Hospital. And this hospital be in the next county so that's a hundred mile trip to see the doc for ten minutes then a hundred miles back home. I do go to keep him company on the drive... and I sit in the sun listening to "Salvation of a Saint" by Keigo Higashino ( very detailed and precise and slightly off the wall Japanese police procedural. Very Japanese....) .....while he sits indoors in the waiting room for an hour.

The Old Man do stagger out with a clean bill of health on the cancer front and  it is indeed a lovely day. So we do go home via Tavistock for lunch. Not been there before. Nice place. May go there again.... Next Checkup.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Mrs D Ponders Crime in Cairo: Parker Bilal & "Dogstar Rising"

As I can tell you for a fact... Mrs D does all of her travelling in her armchair... courtesy of books, film, music, ... and the internet.

She do sit down... reach for that glass of red and see where she do go next.

She is very pleased to have read the second crime book by British Sudanese writer, Jamal Mahjoub who writes under the nom-de-crime of Parker Bilal. He sets his books in Cairo with Sudanese refugee private-eye Makana investigating. She do like Makana, an outsider with a dry wit  and a painful past .... she do like his run-down houseboat and in general she do like Bilal's books. She looks forward to more.

Here's the Euro Crime Post that links to the latest batch of reviews including Bilal's "Dogstar Rising"... You might find some more crime fiction you would like to catch ... Mrs D would like to get her hands on "Pierced"  by Thomas Enger  for a start.....

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Beautiful Day

A humdinger of a beautiful weekend in West Cornwall. I been watering my vegetable patch... which do mean a lot of trekking to and fro between rain barrel and patch. So all in all... what with weeding as well... I do sit down in the evening and find I have sun-burnt feet.

Today a walk in the woods where there is a bit of shade. Swifts are flying over the river.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Bluebells At Enys

I have wanted to catch the bluebells at Enys Gardens near Penryn for a year or so. Yesterday we manage it. They look magnificent spreading under the trees and through this open space called Parc Lye. Through some of the walks the bluebells are intermixed with ramsons or wild garlic which I haven't seen growing in such wide patches before either.

Enys is an old estate; the family supposedly establishing themselves here in the late thirteenth century. The Enys Gardens Trust is gradually conserving and restoring the gardens which are only open from April to September - and then only Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and the first Sunday of each month. Check the website itself for further details and directions. If you manage a visit very soon you may grab the last of the bluebell beauty. See them when you can. Such scenes could alter - not least due to the plant's threat from hybridisation with the cultivated Spanish Bluebell.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Sour Bakes As Sour Is: Bad Bagels And The Rebuild Of The Sourdough Starter

I now admit that I have been bereft of bagel-baking skills. Three ... yes three ... failed bagel batches what do sink to the bottom of the boiling pan like stones... and never do float. Yes, I do think you have to make sure you know your flour as I do say when the first batch fails but now I admit there is more to the problem.

With the change to warmer weather it appears that my "starter leaven" have just excelled itself in sourness and have become like over-excitable battery acid. The Old Man pronounces that this be the problem. My starter fails to "start" raising my dough... it do become so acid it be the death of it.

Solution? The Old Man starts by tiffing out good quantity of the leaven and feeding it with plenty more flour and water. I decide to keep it in the fridge rather than the kitchen porch. We do work like this for several days until the texture thicker and bubbly (it have gone thin and bubbly).

Yesterday I do make bagels again but do not worry about the overnight chilling of the shaped bagels in the fridge. I just do go for it and boil and bake when they do look ready. The Old Man thinks these are the best yet... though my confidence be shot and I don't know. But for sure the little darlings buzzed around the top of that boiling pan like water beetles... They ain't for sinking. Good news is we's back on track and a sharp eye will be kept on the starter during the summer.

I do wonder if I do curse my leaven with my constant current anger ... I have sometime said of people they be so sour they do curdle their milk. Well I think I may have become so sour that I have turned my leaven into acid and sunk me bagels!

Monday, 20 May 2013

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Dragonfly Time

Walking down the lane with The Old Man and see two dragonflies. Identical. Pristine. But not seen this type before. Do try looking 'em up and it seems they are Broad-Bodied Chasers ... maybe female... and are widespread in England and Europe.

The book I do check them in says the genders start out the same and the male develops a "pruinescence" that renders a blue appearance to its body. What a word.... "pruinescence".

Find a "new" dragonfly - find "new" word.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Mrs D Ponders Crime.... And Bunga-Bunga Parties

... by way of having recently read "Death of a Showgirl" by Tobias Jones. In which Mrs D be whisked away into a world of Italian celebrity sleaze as Jones' PI Castagnetti traces a missing girl through the streets of Rome in a story as old as.... Well.. isn't that part of our fascination with crime fiction? Largely the stories old as time... only the methods change.

Mrs D do say this be a calmly-paced book that provided a rest after some fired-up thrillers...She do enjoy it's precision as it unwrapped the tale.

You will find a review signposted in this post from the Euro Crime Blog... alongside reviews for more tales of crime you just may like to try.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Last Sight Of Shiver Me Timbers Salvo Yard At Long Rock....

Walking in Long Rock we do see the dismantling start on that wonderful reclamation landmark ...  Shiver Me Timbers..... A long battle lost.

Good news is that the stock and business is relocating to local industrial estate in nearby Crowlas.

Bad news... luxury property development taking it's place. 

Monday, 13 May 2013

Madame Deficit Considers ... A Man For Our Times

Bonjour, mes enfants! C'est moi .... keeping a finger on the pulse of your nation.

I observe that many of you have expressed your wish to be represented by UKIP in your recent local elections. By the way.... quelle jolie couleurs that UKIP logo, yes? Yellow and purple... yum. And that big "£" sign in the middle..... Myself I do sometimes mistake it for a sign advertising Poundland... Perhaps it is.

Quand même, I be impressed with the English path to political success via the media. I do myself most certainly know the power of Bad Press and do speak as a foreign immigrant who quite lost her head as a result of it. (Check my sad history if you do not know to what I do refer.)

But I am glad to see that not being a democratically elected Member of Your Parliament (as well indeed as being leader of a Party which have ANY elected Members of Parliament) is a bar to being asked for one's views on government policies by all the media - as that excellent UKIP leader Mr Farridge do demonstrate. (Il n'y a pas une telle chose comme la mauvaise publicité. Oui?)

A truly democratic way of gaining power and a skill to admire. Certainly he do receive the seal of approval of one Tory MP, Monsieur Jacob Rees-Mogg who do consider that most Conservatives would prefer Mr Fararge to replace the Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg as Deputy Prime Minister. Miracle des miracles. What skill that Faridge man have. Whoosh. Magic wand... Deputy Prime Minister. No need for a national ballot box whatsoever. By the way I believe you do have an elected Green Member of Parliament. But she (Yes... SHE..) be not asked much about anything recently. Quelle dommage and windfarms.  I also understand that UKIP have no representative in your elected House of Commons, but they do have several party members in your House of Lords (largely through Lordies changing their minds about which party they belong to).

I admit to being fascinated by this Party's logic in standing for election to a Parliament whose existence they do not agree with.... by this I mean the Horned One in Brussels... the European Parliament. If they get their way and you do leave Europe.... alors, all those poor UKIP MEPs will lose their jobs! Perhaps they will be only too glad to sacrifice their salaries and expenses.... throwing it all back in the faces of those dreadful bureaucrats as they depart Brussels en masse. A triumph for the logic of politics.

Mais.... la politique est le langage de l'émotion, n'est-ce pas?
Bye for now, mes enfants. I have sheep and goats to sort and bad cheese to make.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Surely There Is More To Life Than Making My Own Cheese?

Well is there?
It may be that viewing "Amour" (see Previous Post) be not a good idea, but it be a very moving film. And in this mood of contemplating my mortal future, I do wake up from a dream....
....... in which I do look out over the garden which is in a golden sunsetty light. And someone who is supposed to be The Old Man, but who is much, much younger... and rather good-looking now I come to recall.... tends the trees at the bottom of the slope. I do think of it as my old home in London though it definitely be my current garden... And I do wake up saying to myself... "I want to stay here."

What's that all about?
Mind you... the looks of the Dream-Life Old Man now I remember them... may account for at least one interpretation of my dream.... which in all honesty I thought be my-Self telling me that I want to end my days in this here house in this here locality.... (given the "Amour" thing and old age looming.... et-ceter-ra, et-ceter-ra...)

Anyway I do sigh and get on with real life and do make some cheese on the Paneer principle and flavour it with chives and pepper... and it don't taste of much, however kind I am to my own endeavours.... (and yes I know I should cook it in Indian dish but can't be bothered).... and we do eat it .... and The Real Life Old Man do manage to eat his hat strap at the same time.

Fleeting is the stuff of dreams.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Travels With My Film-Life: Paris... Facing Up To Mortality With "Amour" by Haneke

We do watch Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emanuelle Riva in Austrian director Michael Haneke's wonderful film "Amour".

It is the story of an elderly couple who live together in their Paris apartment. They both teach music and their only daughter lives in England. One morning the wife suffers a stroke. She makes her husband promise that she will not go into care... and we watch their relationship and their life together as her health declines.
"That's a barrel of laughs!" you do say. But do not forget this is the blog of an elder person. And one wonders....

It is a disciplined film with beautiful performances. I am deeply involved in their story.... as the story of two people and the choices they make.... not just the "plight of the elderly".

When it finishes I do sit there for a bit feeling quite objective about everything... then my eyes fill with tears. The Old Man looks unmoved. Though he do say that it is marvelous to watch a film where the only music is that which belongs in the story itself. .... and next day he do admit that the film has stayed with him.

It do knock all these cheery pieces about old people facing up to mortality and grief and joining a choir or having a sing-song.... into a cocked hat. And strangely it is not depressing. It is what it is and what it is... is very moving.

"Amour" official UK trailer - A film by Michael Haneke

Monday, 6 May 2013

Spring at Godolphin Woods

Catching the sun whilst we can with a walk down around Godolphin Woods. Blackthorn and gorse, willow flowering and trees breaking leaf.  See the first damselfly of the year... a Large Red Damselfly. The ponds are almost dried out. This is a first since we been walking here.

Birds are singing away for spring. Chiffchaff  sharing a tree for a singing post with a willow warbler .

The bluebells are breaking at last.... just in time for Helston's Flora Day on Wednesday. Seen a party setting out to collect them for decorating the town.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Beautiful Day: A Walk To Loe Bar

A sunny, sunny day this week and we do drive to Porthleven and walk to Loe Bar.

The coastal  path towards the bar is being eroded and The Old Man wants to see where the new one has been cut. Erosion has eaten into this route for some time... a friend remembers when his father could drive right down to the Bar but that's been impossible for some years.

The new path is wider and easier going but I can see that the surrounding blackthorn and brambles have been cut back and I can see no sign of the Burnet Rose I spotted growing wild and flowering here last year. Let's hope I'm wrong and it comes back.

It is beautiful here today. I can see the prickly leaves of Sea Holly coming through on the Bar. Later in the year there will be yellow Horned Poppies flowering on the sand.

On the return walk I look up the bank of the new path. Above me... at a field edge... against the blue sky... is a curlew walking through the grass... obligingly in profile and showing it's amazing down-curved beak. I am taken by surprise to see the bird so close, walking above me through the field grass.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Mrs D Ponders Crime: "The Woman Who Wouldn't Die" by Colin Cotterill"

Mrs D is very fond of Colin Cotterill's crime books featuring Dr Siri Paiboun.
Set in 1970s Laos, they feature the elderly Dr Siri who is both National Coroner and a late-onset shaman. As well as crime and resolution the books are witty, satirical and ... dare she say it ... have a supernatural element.

It do make Mrs D remember her librarian days in the "halls of academe" when her first humble post was as an assistant in the South East Asia Department.... long, long ago... This was not a supernatural experience in the main but ... come to think of it ... was prob'ly about the same time the admirable Dr Siri be operating.

You will find a review link to the latest in the series, "The Woman Who Wouldn't Die", over on the Euro Crime Blog.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

In Which The Old Man Takes Comfort In A Ken Loach Documentary

What with "The Funeral" and the upcoming local elections at which we have no candidate we can vote for .... The Old Man do grow increasing apoplectic.

Last night he do take comfort in his Ken Loach documentary - "The Spirit of '45" ... and do nearly weep he be so moved about it all.

Tis our generation that basked in the welfare state, I know. And what a fine thing it was. What a shame it is being buried as we speak ... and without benefit of a ceremonial "do" like the woman what broke it. There. Colours to the mast. Nailed.
For myself I shall be following columnist Owen Jones with close attention.