Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Raw Ribbon Salad

Raw carrot/courgette/cucumber sliced into ribbons with a peeler, mixed with toasted fennel and sunflower seeds, extra virgin, white wine vinegar and some salt and pepper.

Perfect for hurried folk rushing between work, bike and bed!

Monday, 25 July 2011

Bike Hangover

Well, we made it to Whitby!

Ten and a half hours of cycling. Mostly upwards.

Two days later I'm headachey, dizzy, nauseous, tired. Craving wierd food at wierd times (I woke up too early yesterday with a stomach screaming for food, ate some cereal and headed back to bed) and finding myself disgusted by the idea of other foods (I couldn't even manage a whole cup of tea, bleurgh!).

Wierd. It's sort of like being hungover.

If only I could lie in the dark with a bowl of cheesy chips and endless cookery programmes. But work calls. Sigh.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Things I'm Loving Right Now

1. Chardonnay

Normally I'm more of a sauvignon/chenin blanc sort of girl, but after a crisp glass of Chardonnay on holiday I've found myself craving more. So much so that, one day into my post-holiday detox, I headed up to our local Beer & Wine Shop to grab myself a cold bottle, which we promptly enjoyed al fresco with a vegetable curry.

2. Hydrangeas

At Yorkshire Sculpture Park, November 2009

I think this might be it - I think I may have finally found my favourite flower. Just as beautiful when dying as when blooming, with a fantastic variety of rich, sumptuous colours, this unlikely candidate has won my heart, and I've become almost obsessed with them. I find myself peering into gardens in search of the blues and purples that I so love, and I dream of plucking a few stems from my own garden one day to enjoy on the kitchen table.

3. Off-roading

Since my first fell run in June, I've taken most of my runs off the road and onto dirt tracks, which is much more comfortable on the joins as well as being much more of an adventure. Last weekend Daniel and I leapt through Hertfordshire fields and woodlands, sliding down muddy bridleways and edging around boggy corners of fields. A half-hour run turned into a one and a half-hour run, and we arrived back covered in mud and satisfied.

4. My tomato plants

At the risk of 'speaking' too soon, my tomatoes are popping up with vigour, and families of tomtoes are growing steadily in clusters around one another. Some of the bigger ones look ready to burst with green vitality (I'm hoping this means they might turn red soon), while the tiniest ones are still a very mild, pale green, which makes them look meek and shy next to the larger ones. This is my first attempt at growing my own harvest, so even enough for one small salad will satisfy my green-fingered urges.

5. Incense

I am loving the open windows and doors in the house, and the smells of incense and fragrant oils passing from room to room and mingling with the fresh summer air. Rather then stick to one smell in one room, I've been burning a whole variety of scents in different rooms all at once, and it gives a real sense of variety and magic around the house.

6. The smell of rain

Continuing the theme of smells, the rain, which has been in abundance over the weekend, is my favourite smell on earth, and the heavy showers mixed with the previous days' muggy warmth has released a smell of blossom and freshness into the world. The smells before, during and after rain always match my mood before, during and after the rain, and in summer this is at its most obvious. It's wonderful.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Moments, XI

A weekend that didn't quite go to plan, which much like a row of falling dominoes, had a knock-on effect that stretched right out to this moment here: me, sitting on the couch with a mug of tea after soup and a bubble bath, writing my blog; finishing the weekend in the same way I finish most weekends.

Trying to cycle to Whitby in torrential rain, water scratching my eyes as if it were sand,
Water gushing down the roads, overflowing the drains, making the hard decision to turn back too early,
A disappointed train ride with numb hands and shivering shoulders, finding warmth and comfort in an uneaten peanut butter sandwich,
A hot shower and hot soup, listening to Saturday afternoon radio in the kitchen,
A satisfying spring clean; clean linen, open windows and a new scent of jasmine in my oil lamp,
Meeting friends for a backyard barbeque, sharing news and stories, talking into the night,
Walking home in the early hours with a bright moon overhead, the river still and peaceful in the night,
Chunky porridge and Cerys Matthew's Sunday Breakfast show, large mugs of tea and a wonderful lazy morning,
Baking happily in the kitchen, a new creation which ended up a roaring success!
Running steadily in the rain, sliding through mud and enjoying my breathlessness,
Bubble bath, soup and ironing; the comfort of routine after three weekends of busyness.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Me at the Moment

Apologies for the silence. I was at a wedding over the weekend and other than that I have been exhausted and uninspired.

Right now I am lacking in and missing creativity. In the kitchen, in my notebook, even at work.

Work is currently crazy, and with the added aftermath of a whole week off I am finding myself drowning in tasks.

At the moment I am reading a fantastic book - 'On Beauty' by Zadie Smith. I'm wrapped up in its quirky style, the characters and the fantastic themes that dip and re-surface so subtly.

At the moment I am both fearing and hurrying along some massive changes. Changes that will literally rock us right out of our familiar lifestyles and land us somewhere totally new, and totally different.

Recently I have been making massive plans for the coming few years. Thoughts that sprung into my head unexpectedly during a delightful morning walk are looking more and more solid every day, and the plan I thought I had is no longer the plan. This is good news.

Lately I have been crying a lot. I'm not a cryer, I usually just love a really good, hard cry every now and then. But lately the tears flow inappropriately and whenever I let my mind wander even slightly in one direction. I think this signifies a shift between stages of grief, and so I'm letting the tears fall.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

"A castle in the distance and a mile of golden sand"

We have just returned from a heavenly week in Northumbria, where we spent our days taking deep gulps of salty sea air, sitting together in silence with our books, indulging in long, drawn-out meals on our cottage patio, long walks and bike rides through unfamiliar landscapes, and even an indulgent windy afternoon on the couch with some tennis.

It was a wonderful place to spend a week alone together, working through our individual troubles, making sense of what we have and how we can build upon it. Laughing, talking into the night, walking together in silence, drinking, sharing ice creams; being away from the chaos of real life gave us the space to find us again.

As soon as I faced the sea for the first time, which in the far North East of England looks so much more vast and endless than it does here on Yorkshire's coastline, a sudden river of grief poured over me and out into the blue ahead. There was a gradual unlocking and letting-go over the whole week, and passing a beautiful memorial bench on the final day, inscribed with the words "find me here, for I am not gone" allowed a couple of much-needed and unfamiliar tears to fall: slowly we move one step closer to what has to be the future.

There were endless empty beaches to warm our feet, moody skies and waves that curl into a scoop like ice cream on the surface of the water. The silhouette of one castle or another occupied every skyline, with towers to be climbed and ruins to be explored. Smoked fish, thick ice cream and local ale tempted us at every corner, and a fantastic rural folk night had us rollicking into the warm evening with satisfaction. A week just wasn't enough, but we continue to live it as we slowly return to our normal lives, and we try and try to hold on to that holiday way of living, where routing and order don't really need to exist.