Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Next 10 Travel Memories

21. A sleepless-with-fear-and-excitement night or two before going to stay with family friends in Singapore in what would now be called a Gap Year. Then it was just waiting to go to Medical School.
22. Watching the Moon Landing in the middle of the day in Hong Kong, Granny stayed up all night to watch it at home
23.Falling in love with Hong Kong ( a place always sounding so exotic as to be mythical, like Kota Kinabalu and Timbuktu) and going back to study there for two months in 1974.
24. Wanchai at night, the lights, smells, sounds and trying the wok food on sale along the streets with a Canadian-HongKong-Chinese And Greek-Australian student, also both visiting Queen Mary's.
25. An epic journey in a 1950s Standard Vanguard in the first summer vac. Down through Spain, seeing cork-oak plantations, to Morocco (briefly), Algeria and Tunisia, then up through Sicily and Italy . The original plan was to go to the pyramids, but Gadaffi had just taken control of Libya, and tourists were not popular.
26. Being offered hedgehog cooked in clay by a local farmer, then missing a scorpion sting by 1/2 an inch, the firelight flared up just in time to see it.
27.Driving by night in starlight as the engine could not cope with day-time temperatures.
28. Having the "annulo pistone" replaced in  a tiny village in Italy, they were just the same size as a popular motor bike.
29. The car finally being scrapped a few miles after dropping me at home, the others didn't quite make it back to Bristol.
30.Fulfilling a lifelong dream of driving over the Alps in an open-topped car, although a 2CV wasn't what I'd imagined!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

25: Meal!

Today I cooked a meal in Middle Eastern style as another challenge, I think Amy suggested this, a new style from somewhere I've never been. I usually cook things I'm familiar with, and rarely follow a recipe apart from getting general ideas. I took the recipes from Claudia Roden's 'Middle Eastern food"
 We started with what she described as Moroccan 'boiled carrot salad', not a good description for carrots puréed in cumin, paprika, chilli powder, garlic, ginger,olive-oil & vinegar, with strips of pitta. It all went.
We then had chakchouka,basically eggs poached in a mixture of onions, peppers, tomatoes, aubergine and courgettes with potatoes simmered in tomato with onion, whole garlic cloves and chickpeas.
Pudding was sholezard, a very sweet saffron rice with almonds and cinnamon, it would have gone down better if we hadn't eaten so much before.
The carrot & main courses are worth repeating, not sure about the pud!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Enrolled! Count:24

I've done it! Enrolled on line, so I'm really going. 6/9 is the start date, enrol in person, then workshops & lectures for the next 2 weeks before the serious work starts. Really scary! I hope it will give me a lot of new things, I'm a bit behind, only 23 completed, although Emma suggested reading the Count of Monte Cristo should be one on its own, as it's so long. I'm happy to go along with that, but will still try to reach 60 books in total eventually.
I was delighted to hear from Vicky in S Africa that my book-travel is working. I have several more to leave, so we'll see where they go.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

next 10 Travel Memories

11. Getting on a train at Tunbridge Wells just with my brother, to be collected at Charing Cross by the fierce Aunt
12. Finding a tree frog & a praying mantis in Southern France.
13.Trying to walk up to the snow in the Pyrenees, finding it was too far in the thin air.
14. Choosing a trout in a large tank for the waiter to catch and take to the chef.
15 .Michael & I collecting sugar lumps in a variety of wrappers, One set, coloured dominoes, was particularly attractive, we had emptied the bowl before the astonished waiter’s hand left it.
16. Hunting for small coins in sand dunes in the South of France, hoping to collect enough for an ice-cream by the end of the day. I was misled into believing it was the Gobi Desert for several years.
17. Finding an octopus and little black fish with luminous blue stripes while snorkelling in the Adriatic.
18. The red soil in Devon, on the way to a favourite uncle whose sons played the “vile-din”
19. Collecting our own coloured sand at Alum Bay.
20. Bringing a white heather plant home in the remains of a broken Brownie Box Camera, it grew for many years in the rockery, may even still be there.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Haiku 25-31

These were, in good haiku fashion suggested by our recent visit to Namibia where the fragile life forces are just winning. It would be inspiring to visit at the end of the rainy season when life explodes briefly.

orangegrey skystripes
jinglejanglemorning gold
dustsand nightfootprints

scorchred dune lifemist
lizard beetle stoneytrees
delicate lily

sharktooth thorns brushbloom             
tiny pinkgreen buds foldcoiled
like stick insect eggs

chattering citytwitter
fluffy zebra wing

thousand yellow stars
desertgritsand thorny parched
unlikely survival

winter never rains
dormant grassland bluesunsky
small stormcloud rainbow

craggy islandrocks
flaxdrygrass-sea flaxblue sky
fragile lifebalance

Friday, 19 August 2011

23: Tea at the Savoy

I finally had my birthday tea at the Savoy today, it's taken since April to find a date they could fit us in when we were all free, so book early! A nice young man greeted us royally, & took our Snow&Rock & Cotswold bags, then gave us a low table with soft chairs & sofa next to the grand piano in a gazebo with giant Chinese vases.
Deciding on which tea was a major task, Laura went for a fruity-flowery red one, Amy iced tea with raspberry syrup, I had silver needle white tea, mild & subtle, and a small fortune to buy. Sandwiches next, smoked salmon, chicken&mango, ham, egg, cucumber.
 Scones, plain or fruity with cream, jam & wonderful pale creamy lemon curd, possibly even better than Auntie Ethel's. Pastries: the clear winner was the little round pink gooey-chewy meringue.

 After classics like the Moonlight Sonata, Bohemian Rhapsody & Pachelbel's Cannon, Happy Birthday and more cake for the half dozen of us celebrating, then the cake trolley with spicy carrot cake among others.

A million thanks L&A, what a treat. Please may I have a night & dinner somewhere like that when I'm 70 & you're rich&famous?

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Travel Memories 1st10

1. The rattly 1950s ferry from Sandbanks to Purbeck. It doesn't seem to have changed much.
2. Parents, 2 children, 1 aunt, 1 golden retriever + camping gear in a pale blue Morris Minor, OBP381
3. Mother, Aunt, aforementioned golden retriever & me travelling by sleeper, the "menfolk" driving, to Scotland, & seeing the car trying to race us.
4. Farmer McKenzie letting us camp in his field at Red Point, collecting water from the spring we had to re-dig each year. Giving us ALL whisky when it was horribly wet&windy
5. Getting salty milk from a farmer, the "coo" had been eating seaweed.
6. Pollock cooked over a driftwood fire minutes after catching them.
7. A campsite in Santa Maria Castellabata with unlimited fresh-ripe-succulent figs, never been able to eat dried ones since, nasty!
8. The Blue Grotto really being blue.
9. The smell of Solfatara & Vesuvius. I still use pumice from the beach.
10. All our holiday souvenirs and films being stolen in Domodossola.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Namibia. 20:Oyster 21:backpacking 22:60Afrikaans words

Careful watchers may have noticed a slight pause in posts, not total laziness, we have been in Namibia for 3 weeks, L&A filled in with posts I did in advance. Namibia is a wonderful place of contrasting landscapes, I'd love to go again just after the rainy season and see the full botanical glory. I will post some more pictures when they're sorted, all 2557 of them. How I love my digital camera!
When I was about 6 my father had a bad oyster and was ill for days, I've never dared try them until "The Lighthouse" in Swakopmund offered a special salad. The beast was not alive & wriggling fortunately, and was delicious
They also offered this rather decadent burger-variant
In spite of all the trekking and camping we've done, I've never done "proper" backpacking, carrying food & stuff until we did Fish River Canyon. We slept under the stars, but carried food, sleeping bags & all necessities. An experience to be repeated if the weather's equally dependable.
Finally, I tried to learn some Afrikaans words, just about got to 60, good ones included spruit: a usually-dry stream-bed, sounds like a cross between a spring & a conduit, tackies: trainers, no idea why, drankwinkel: a drink shop & bobalas: a hangover. I hope to remember them for our next visit.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Haiku 21-24

silent reflections
remember frogspring frenzy
hear bubbling tadpoles         

galey ridgetop
dewy cloudswirl window glimpse
evanescent world

primeval power
pregnantfat giving goddess
kindly mother earth

leafyfaced greenman
ancient earthing fatherforce
why so sinister

Friday, 12 August 2011

flowers, travelling

2 more of my suggested challenges are another list, this time travel recollections, and a portfolio of unusual views of flowers, inspired by my camera-with-magical-macro and Amy's suggestion of 60 single colour photos which was enormous fun.
Here are some previews:

Saturday, 6 August 2011


I posted a photo of an embryonic cucumber a few weeks ago, sadly the slugs had it, & the plant gave up in disgust and shrivelled. Laura, however has bright green fingers & her veg garden is most productive. I'm delighted she has such an interest, but slightly miffed that she does better, a bit like the first time she beat me in a friendly swimming race, proud but a bit sad that Mum no longer ruled supreme!