Monthly Archives: April 2021

Catching up with news. Or rambling on a bit. Whatevs.

Hah, well, that single portion of curry turned out to be enough for three. The remains of the curry and rice are now in the freezer. I’ll make an extra vegetable dish, add a naan bread and it’ll easily feed us yet again. Even the pie and vegetables defeated us – some of the pastry and veg went to the chickens this morning and I’ll fry the rest of the potatoes to go with our halibut tonight. Buying from a working farm means that you get farmer’s portions!

Blue Witch suggested that learning to draw from a book isn’t the best way of going about it and I do agree with her. Although it was the only way I’d have tried – even if actual classes were happening now, I’d have been too timid to sign up. It’s not impossible that I’ll give it a go in the future, though not terribly likely. Capacity to improve and wish to improve are both uncertain at present. However, I’m regrouping a bit and will think things through, skim through the rest of the book to see if there’s anything I might enjoy more (furniture and corners of passageways are just dreary) and otherwise I’ll do what I really want, which is probably flowers and animals.

In regard to the guitar, what I need is to find my way around the instrument. Tim plays by ear and can’t read music, but he knows the entire fretboard and he recognises intervals between notes, which is something you don’t need to do if you do read music and have a piano to look at. Not that I need to look at it when I’m playing, my hands automatically follow what my eyes see on the page, both on clarinet and piano. And in church, if I’m playing a hymn, I play the melody with my right hand and if I can’t always manage the right notes with my left, the chords will be in the right key and I’ll get away with it. I’m afraid that 30 years of unenthusiastic hymn playing has wrecked me as a pianist.

It’s Wink’s birthday this week and I’ve bought part of her present locally and part from Amazon. Sorry. But anyway, while I was ordering it, I decided to replace the sticky tape dispenser that has a bit broken off, so tearing the tape off is a two-handed thing. I ordered a heavy one and it was delivered, with the other items, today. But the box was oddly light – and, in fact, empty. The dispenser had broken through the tape, ironically enough, and fallen out, probably into the van. I had to go on the helpline to explain. I’m not sure if I’ve ever needed to contact the help desk before, but Chanelle was certainly helpful. My word was taken as fact and the money was refunded, and I’ve even been given a £5 gift voucher, which was completely unnecessary. So I’ve reordered and will be able to use it to wrap Wink’s presents. The locally bought part was plants for her garden. So I may not actually wrap them.

The Amazon assistant’s name reminded me of a piece I read in the paper at the weekend, about people who’d visited Windsor Castle or Buckingham Palace to leave flowers or messages. One family came from Basingstoke. I do hope they don’t mind me mentioning the little girls’ wonderful names. Caprice and Hosanna. Isn’t that marvellous?

Timbo and Zed

The local farm shop plus café has been offering Friday night takeaways for the last year. Normally, they’re open for breakfast through to afternoon tea and the shop itself stays open until six o’clock. It’s a lovely farm, with Jersey cows – the calves stay with their mothers – and pigs, goats, guinea fowl, peacocks and so on. The rare breed pigs are raised for meat and so are the male cattle, though they’ve never had goat meat for sale, so I think they must just be pets. Anyway, it’s one of our favourite lunch places when allowed, and we usually have the takeaway as a substitute. Portions are huge, however. Tonight, unable to choose – well, we could have, so I suppose that unwilling is the word – between a chicken and mushroom pie for two or a Goan pork curry, we decided to have both. A single helping of curry would feed two of us – and it turned out that the pie would have fed four. And there were twelve new potatoes, plus vegetables. I know that Rebecca, the farmer, works hard and must have an appetite to go with that, but frankly we don’t. So we’ll be eating all that for the rest of the weekend.

Wink is away for a few days, back to where she used to live, for various appointments and so it’s Derby and Joan at the Zedery. I’m happy to say that I have no plans. I have ordered a new drawing-tuition book, as the one I have has jumped too far ahead for me – as Tim pointed out, it’s based on a week’s intensive tuition in person at the writer’s studio, so she’d be there to ask for help. In short, I don’t find drawing my hand or a chair interesting enough to keep doing, the next chapter is too much and the one after is *really* too much. I’ve done a few sketches, but nothing worth showing anyone and I need to re-engage. At least I’m keeping up my daily guitar practice. My ambition is way ahead of my abilities, but if that means it’s painful for Tim to listen to, then he’s too polite to say. He’s going shopping at the Co op tomorrow – can’t remember what the vital things are, but there are some – so I’ll make a hash of it while he’s out.

Souper

The cooking obsession shows no sign of diminishing. Yesterday, we woke up to snow on the ground – several snow or sleet-falls the day before, but we hadn’t expected it to settle. So I spent the morning making soups. I’d already planned the French onion, because I’d made lamb stock, but I had various vegetables that wanted using. So asparagus, using the trimmings, leek and potato, and squash and fennel. Today’s effort is pea and ham, though the split peas are taking an inordinate time to soften and it’s just occurred to me that I should have cooked them in plain, unsalted water first before adding the ham stock. Which wasn’t very salty but probably has caused the delay in softening. I’m a fool, I know perfectly well not to add salt to peas or beans before they’re softened, but I didn’t actually add it so I didn’t think. I suppose it’ll be all right in the end and, if not, I’ll put it through the mouli and leave behind the hard bits. The flavour will be okay, anyway.

As the dinner was tonight. Tim cooked, it was monkfish in a tomato sauce. Tomato, shallot, garlic, vermouth and parsley, he tells me. Lovely.

A happy easter

It has been a lovely Easter. All the family visited and, in most cases, it was the first time we’d seen each other this year. Rufus is so delightful and helpful, at lunchtime he ate everything on his plate – first time he’d tried asparagus and he had a second helping – and he cleared the table afterwards, bringing every item out to the kitchen for me. His little sister Perdita is walking very steadily, at 14 months old – sensibly, she keeps her balance with her feet quite wide apart, so can bend to pick something up from the floor, stand upright again and keep going … well, just as well as her Granny, anyway. I hadn’t seen her since Christmas, so didn’t dive straight in to pick her up but let her get used to me first.

I’m not sure why I need to make a lot of work for myself, but I do, so made profiteroles on Saturday morning and bread rolls on Sunday morning, ready for the Alex gang. Pugsley has been vegetarian for a while, but he likes my roasted vegetables and halloumi and there was plenty of cheese. I also bought a veggie scotch egg from the deli, but it didn’t have a lot of flavour, to be honest. I also served smoked salmon pâté, salami and ham with salads and they brought home-made cakes and biscuits, which we ate as we played poker after lunch.

All delightful and we’ve had three happy family parties in a week. And I’m so out of the way of this that I’ve had an afternoon nap most days too. Although I’m lucky to get more than three hours unbroken sleep at night, so it’s not surprising that extra daytime stuff makes me tired.

I hope you’re had a good Easter and, maybe, a bit of socialising, if that’s your thing. I realise that, while I like being sociable, I can manage quite well without. Without family and hugs, not so well.