And so another week passes, as it will do, and I can hear you all clammering (is that a word? Oops, seems it should be spelled 'clamoring', neither of which look right....) for details of what has passed for excitement in my life as it is lived at Jones Towers.
Some things have been achieved - one of which I'm particularly proud of - and at least one thing I was very much looking forward to didn't happen at all, and one long-term project looks like it's going on the back boiler for now (if not permanently, but I hope not). But let's not dilly-dally, I know you're all desperate to read how I pass my fun-packed days. That last sentence actually reads sarkier than I meant because it has been a not bad week.
- I finished my third and, for now, final twirly scarf. I won't post details as it's going to be a christmas present for another member of my family and I'm not sure if she reads this blog or not. Probably not. Most people - in fact, I'd hasten to suggest practically all people - of my acquaintance don't. But I don't really want to take the chance so, suffice it to say, it's been made in a nice chunky wool in a lovely colour (one of her faves, so I've been told). So there.
- The Broad Bean seeds that I sowed in little pots about 10 days ago are starting to germinate. I start off all my vegetable plants at home and then transfer them to the allotment as it's easier for me that way. So as today was another gorgeous sunny one, I spent an hour sowing sugar snap peas (mange tout, by any other name) and beetroot. With a great deal of help from Bruno, the neighbours' young cat who has, rather suddenly, started licking his own fur off his back legs and is, consequently, looking a bit mangy these days. I hope his humans are doing something about it...
- I discovered the Polish chilled food aisle in my local Sainsburys! I have become a bit of a fan of Eastern European food since spending some time self-catering in Hungary a few years back - for example, I discovered that the chocolate you could get there was not only MUCH better than Cadbury's (sacrilege to say so, I know!) but also about half the price, their yoghurt was just all-around fabulousness in a tub and their version of Jaffa Cakes (which, instead of orange, had fillings of strawberry or cherry or peach) would make a saint cry, so I was more than pleased when I found the new chiller cabinet in my local store. Yesterday, for lunch, we had Pierogi (a cross between dim sum dumplings, ravioli and gnocchi) filled with cheese and potato. I boiled them in a pot of water for 3 mins, then transferred them to a large frying pan in which I'd melted a shedload of butter and added sliced onions. I fried the Pierogi in the oniony, buttery lusciousness until they start to take on some colour, then bunged them in a bowl, grated over some cheese. If I'd had soured cream on hand, I would have added that but I had full fat plain Greek yoghurt so a big dollop of that was added. It was very, very yum and incredibly stuffy. Today, I made a start on the Zawijaniec Sledziowy ze sliwka:
which is, as any fule kno, rollmop herrings stuffed with prunes. Much nicer than you'd think, trust me - the flavours go together well and the textures complement each other. But do bear in mind that it's helpful if you like rollmop herrings in the first place, which I do.
And after that, I opened the large pot of pieczone jablko-flavoured yoghurt:
This is Baked Apple yoghurt. It has pieces of apple and raisins and cinnamon and is one of the yummiest things I have EVER put in mah mowf. EVER. I had to force myself to put down the spoon and walk away from it for fear that I would just shovel the entire tub into my gaping maw in one sitting. It's. That. Good.
Next time I go shopping, i.e., tomorrow, I think I might investigate the various flavours of Kielbasa (smoked sausage) and attempt a small tub of sauerkraut. Oh, and perhaps one of the other pierogi varieties. Yum yum.
- So with all this additional calorific intake, it's probably a good thing that - ta-dah! - I completed my first ever 5km run last Thursday! This is the thing I'm most proud of. I wasn't quick, oh dear me, no - took me 57 minutes in total - but I did cover 5km (that's 3.8 miles in old money) and, I'm pleased to say, there was more running than walking. If you recall, I've registered for a 4km fun run at the end of April and, in an ideal world, I'd love to be able to get round that without stopping to do any walking at all so, hilariously, you could say I am now in training! I was hoping to get out today - Sunday - to do another 5k run but there were other things I needed to do first so I haven't managed to go (and probably won't now) but I'll try and get out tomorrow.
- Last night TLH and I went to the Guildford Civic to see that latest in our classical music concert programme, which was the European Union Chamber Orchestra with soloist Julian Lloyd Webber on cello. It was fantastic. A nicely balanced programme, they started with Handel's 'Entrance of the Queen of Sheba', followed by Elgar's Serenade for Strings. Then Julian came out and they played Haydn's 'Cello Concerto No. 1 in C Major' and I was left totally gobsmacked at his talent. Look, I found a youtube clip of him playing the last movement of the concerto with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra a few years back (please to be ignoring the frankly alarming shirt):
I played the cello for a year or two in my early teens and, to be honest, I think I prefer the sound of the cello to that of the violin, so this was just glorious.
After the break the orchestra then played Barber's 'Adagio for Strings' which was lush and utterly fabulous. Even if you're not familiar with the name, you'll know the music, it's been in tonnes of movies and was turned into a trance-house chillout tune by, I think, William Orbit. I found a youtube video of the entire thing (it's about 10 minutes long) that didn't have any adverts at the beginning. This performance was from the Proms, four days after 9-11 and was a tribute to the victims, so apologies for the quality but just bear in mind the emotional state everyone was in at the time this was played:
They finished with Mozart's Symphony no. 29 in A Major which I'd not heard before and absolutely loved. Sadly, I couldn't find a decent enough sounding vid on Youtube but feel free to have a wander over there yourself for a listen, if you fancy it - I recommend it!
- Add to all this, I finished reading Bram Stoker's 'The Jewel of Seven Stars' and enjoyed it far more than I thought I would. As compared to H P Lovecraft's 'At the Mountains of Madness' which I'm determined to finish even if it's like wading through treacle. Lovecraft was writing in the early 1930s and Stoker's book was published in 1903 but Stoker's is a much more 'modern' read than Lovecraft. And it's also easier to read than Thomas Hardy. I would almost describe it as 'rollicking' except that I thought the ending was a bit of a let-down. Briefly, without giving away spoilers (because I do recommend you read it, and it's a short book in any case!), it's the story of an Egyptologist who gathers artefacts together at his house in London in an attempt to resurrect the mummy of a dead Queen who, uncannily, looks exactly like his daughter. And, yes, it's the inspiration for every Mummy film you've ever seen.
- In general, there have been few minuses this week. The biggest disappointment is that the band I'm in, The Fugitives, was meant to be playing a gig at a Charity Auction Ball at Twickenham on Saturday (i.e., yesterday) but due to the unavailability of our guitarist, we couldn't do it. This was a huge shame as we've not had a gig since the wedding we did back in April last year. Oh well. The upside to this was that TLH and I were able to see Julian Lloyd Webber instead.
- Secondly, the plan that my friend Bev and I had to play gigs together as a duo to backing tapes is looking very unlikely to take off. At least, not in the immediate future. She's decided to go back to Cape Verde for a while, to see if she can find work as a musician there. She has other reasons for going back but I'm not sure how much of her life I should tell you about, let's just say there's a lot to pull her back to the islands. So on the one hand I'm pleased that she's being positive about where she wants her life to go, I'm quite sad that the resurrection of Casual Sax will have to wait a bit longer.
And that, in all honesty, are probably the only slight bummers to occur this week at Jones Towers.
It's not a bad life, after all, is it?
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