the 31st May

Well, it’ s not that I have any particular fondness for this date. It’s not my birthday or anything.  But today I’ve completed the challenge I set myself.  Or will do as long as I get this finished and posted before midnight UK time.

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“yoo don’t look verry busy to me”

 

Earlier today an email  took me to this post.  And that set me thinking.

Have my posts managed to either “Entertain”, “Teach” or “Inspire” ?

Right then, entertain? Well if you like pictures of dogs or baking, then yes.

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“there be peoples who don’t like pictures of dogs???”

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Oops!, Guess who bought the wrong type of cream?

Perhaps that’s not your thing and you’d prefer some photos of nature?

Or a lovely travel shot?

 

Educate? Well I learned something from a blog I read today.  Two words “poop tube” .

Go and read it yourself.

But that doesn’t count. I have to do the educating.

So, here goes, some facts about May 31st.

On this day in 2017 a new word entered our world – “Covfefe”,

in 1911 the Titanic was launched in Belfast,

and in 1669 Samuel Pepys made the last entry in his diary.

He stopped due to his bad eyesight.    Insert your own joke here*

Inspire? Nope, I don’t think so.

But I was inspired to do this by my friend’s more physical challenge. She’s been successful and I so have I. Well I got here.

And now as it’s a lovely sunny evening, I’m going to enjoy a nice cool drink.

Cheers until next time,

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Marina xx

 

*perhaps only UK readers.

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Ile de Re

I must start with an apology, I’m getting a strong sense of Deja-vu with this post. I’m pretty sure I’ve written about Ile deRe before, but on a quick scan back through old posts couldn’t find one. It’s possibly on my old blog? If it does turn up it would be interesting to see if I’ve written the same things and used the same photos? A pretty high chance I think.

Why today? Well quite often on sunny days, and today had been very sunny, I’m struck by the similarities between  it, and “my” island.

We have the same sort of small white cottages, though ours were built to house slate miners. There aren’t miners anymore but you can find  fishermen (yes it is always men), here. We even have oyster beds, Ile de Re is famous for oysters.  But lobsters, crab and langoustines are dominate here.

Both islands have lots of lovely summer flowers.

And both  are on the Atlantic coast, connected to the mainland  by a bridge.

Our trip to Ile de Re was quite a while ago, 2013 and it was our first trip abroad with DogS. And because of that, also the first time we crossed the channel using Le Shuttle.

First impressions weren’t great. We couldn’t even see the island as we drove onto the bridge . There was a fog worthy of an Edinburgh haar*

Luckily the weather improved, most days were nice and sunny.   We had a lovely time exploring, eating seafood, shopping in the market, even the odd drink.

Oh and cycling. Well sort of I had a tricycle.

And though she wasn’t keen at first, DogS came to love the box. Specially when  I picked up speed, and she could enjoy the wind through her fur.

She made friends too

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DogS is the very hairy one on the right

but was less keen on “Les Chats”.

We were based in St Martin de Re which is the capital, and that’s where the differences start. There’s a fabulous local shop here,  but not the kind of designer boutiques you find in Ile de Re. None of our three villages could be called the “capital”.

And we don’t have donkeys, and certainly no donkeys in stripy pyjamas.

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this one is “au naturel” but traditionally they wear stripy PJs to protect their legs from salt and beasties when they work in the marshes

There’s no point in my giving names of bars or restaurants that we liked, seven years on so much may have changed. Even without Covid-19.

One recommendation, we visited in June and our accommodation was almost 50%  cheaper  than it would have been in the peak months (mostlyAugust when Parisians visit). And it was still a nice buzzy place in the slightly off season. It would be interesting to visit in the off season, but I imagine a very different experience.

Oh and a warning, it was the place I took this photograph.  While it was easy to eat out, visit the shops and even some of the monuments, many of the beaches were off limits for dogs

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So on  a lovely sunny day at home it’s been  nice to remember another pretty island and a happy holiday.

Until tomorrow

Marina xx

*Haar – a sea fog common on Scotland’s east coast, usually in Spring.

Feeling slightly sad at seeing my former favourite Sonia Rykiel top. Repurposed last year when it became too holey to wear or repair.

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a clean page

A new fresh notebook, filled with empty pages and promise. A new document, “open from new blank document”, and write.

And write….

And this time it’ll be different. The voices will stay. They’ll stop being shy, come out and tell their stories.

I’ll sit down and write or type until it’s done. No stopping to scroll through Twitter, or Facebook, check the mail, play Pokemon Go, or read that really interesting article.

And the words that are hiding in the corner of my minds eye, will shout “Boo!”  and let themselves be caught.

Why won’t they? Why don’t they?

Is it age, or worse? the menopause? I’ve  heard of “chemo” brain, is this “Covid”* brain?

No.

Back forty years.

In my Welsh bedroom. Light back on.  Writing with youthful pomp, about the cruel words evading me. Dreams of Dylan.

But never the singer

I though this might help.

Making myself write every day. What’s it meant to be? Practice for 10,000 hours and you’ll get proficient?

The wasted time. The times I’ve thought but not written, and then seen it written. Because among 7+ billion why should I have original thought?

The times I’ve thought and written, then seen it written elsewhere.

But better.

Because among 7+ billion why wouldn’t it?

And the person who writes it is.

Is?

Is a writer. Sits and writes.

Spends the hours.

Is known, has reach.

No! Chase away the resentment. It just curdles. Compacts thoughts into meanness.

I should keep trying. Ha!

But that’s so much more.

Something to read properly.

Another time.

Instead of scrolling. Instead of playing.

Until tomorrow

(When normal service should resume)**

 

Marina xx

 

*reaction to the Covid situation not suffering from it, as far as I know I’ve not had  the virus

** I did this more or  less stream of consciousness earlier, and lacking inspiration and nearing Friday night dinner time I pressed post. Hopefully back to armchair travel tomorrow.

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Meeting up with friends

And from tomorrow we can.

In small groups* and outside.  Nicola Sturgeon”s announcement today had been expected,  so we’ve already got an invite for coffee with friends next week. In their garden.

IMG_3896It’ll be nice to sit and chat with them. We’ve had conversations across the road when our daily exercise paths have crossed, and shouted from the garden when they’ve passed at other times. But yelling gets a bit tiring.

We’ll be hoping that the sunny weather keeps up, remember it wasn’t picnic weather  last week.  Sunshine and a light breeze would be ideal**.

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No catch ups with family for me yet though. The rules on travel haven’t  changed, and  even if they had I certainly couldn’t manage  the journey to  Wales or even to see MasterS** without a stop. And public toilets and cafes are still closed.

It’s welcome, but a bit scary too. And a long way from the life we were used to.

Baby steps.

Until tomorrow,

Marina xx

 

*In Scotland, groups of up to eight people but only from two households.

**weather conditions least attractive to midgies

***I’ve only once managed the journey to Edinburgh without needing a stop

 

 

Baking 4, Focaccia

Making those treats for DogS yesterday was fun, and it reminded me that baking doesn’t have to mean cake. So I had a rummage around in my recipe folder for this recipe from the BBCGoodfood website.

Focaccia.

I remembered it was tasty, not too tricky to make, and would be ready in time for supper.

 

ingredients

here are the ingredients*

*don’t hate me for having yeast, I had a pre-Covid stash.

It’s not always been the same story for bread flour, but our local shop has a good supply at the moment .

So dry ingredients first, mixing in the salt and yeast separately, before they all get mixed together. Then it’s time to drip in the oil, and add some water, to bring it to the right texture for kneading

 

Making bread is fun, and kneading the dough is soothing

And it’s a good lesson in patience, proving first for an hour in the bowl, then 45 minutes in the tray.

 

All puffed up and almost ready to go

second rise

 

A few finishing touches

and then into the oven it went.

And the finished article?

Baking 3

But with a difference, I’m baking dog biscuits.

MasterS gave us this book for Christmas

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it’s full of recipes for dishes you can share with your dog. Now we have a rule that DogS is not fed at the table while we’re eating. Ok, except for occasional* bits of cheese when she looks specially hungry.

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But I thought it would be nice for her to have some nice tasty homemade treats. Although I have to balance that with the knowledge that she will happily graze on rabbit poo**

I found a recipe that a) required only ingredients I had to hand and b) included some of her favourite things. No, not rabbit poo, tho’ I’ve access to a plentiful supply of that. Cheese and carrots. And had the added attraction of parsley, for fresh breath. DogS is mostly pescatarian which gives her a certain, piquancy around the mouth area.

Here’s the ingredients and the rolled out dough.

 

Now the book said to use a bone shaped cutter, but I don’t have one of those.

So I tried free hand

ready to bake

but quickly swapped to the star shaped cutter

And here they are all baked and ready to eat

all baked

that’s the most bonelike one at the front 

But as they say the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

So I’ll leave you with DogS,

Who I think approves.

Until tomorrow

Marina xx

 

*quite often

**and on one memorable occasion sheep poo. The outcome was not pretty, and smelled worse.

Sunshine

It was sunny this morning and  I retraced some of Saturday’s steps.

This rose had unfurled

rosa rugosa

the anemones seemed happier

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and the May* was definitely out.

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The lambs had left their shelter

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and this guy looked contented.

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Here’s that peony, even blousier than before

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There was even a breeze to keep the midges at bay.

Though that didn’t stop DogS picking up a tick snootering in the long grass.

tick.

When I got home, I put out the washing (MrS removed the tick)

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And  brought it in again**.

When the rain came back.

Until tomorrow

Marina xx

 

*I did cast a clout

**it was dry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

inspiration.

And today that is something I am most definitely lacking.

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Aaaargh!

I wondered about another baking post, they’ve been popular. But the problem with that is I’ll end up with cake. And I like cake. A lot.  Here’s one I “rescued” from the shops on Thursday. And ok  I haven’t eaten all of it, just most of it.

Never mind “The VeryHungry Caterpillar”  I’m the “always hungry and can usually manage a little something even when I’m not, Marina”

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he once had lots of segments and three more feet.

Compounded with that,  MrS made another batch of ice-cream and these!

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I’m pretty jealous, I’ve always failed with meringues

So so no baking for me, well unless it’s doggy biscuits

very cute Bramble pic

“sounds good to me”

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“fink we have all the ‘gredients”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know it probably only matters to me but I don’t want to repeat myself too much. And I haven’t been further than the shops since the middle  of March. So no travel nor days out inspiration for posts. At least last time I challenged myself,  I gave myself a theme. Although with 31 days perhaps I didn’t really think that one out…..

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I just went  off piste after “z”.

We’ve had horrible wet weather for the past few days too. So even though I’ve had my usual walks they haven’t been as productive.

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“Mmm, can’t say we’re too impressed either”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I’ve spent far too much time fuming at the news. Scrolling through Twitter, liking, re tweeting and searching for a pithy comment to make in my own tweets.  But mostly just sinking into an incoherent spluttering “Whaaaat???”, “Buuuttt” .

It’s all here.

As  I write it seems that our Prime Minister’s chief adviser remains in post.

Those incoherent splutters are threatening to overtake me again.

It’s such arrogance and disdain; for all the people who have died, have lost  family and friends, and have simply obeyed the rules to try and keep others safe.

I think I’m going to take DogS’s example,

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find myself a comfy chair, and my book.

 

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Until tomorrow,

Marina xx

 

 

 

The changing seasons

So I’m now 23 days into my #EveryDayinMay challenge to myself. And Spring is moving towards summer. Here are some photos I took around the beginning of the month

And now some taken on walk today.

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First I noticed these Hawthorn or “May” blossoms.

Do you know the saying “Ne’er cast a clout ’til May is out”? There’s often debate, disagreement even, over its meaning.

Is it referring to the month or the flower?

And what is a “clout” or  “cloot”?

Well in Scotland a “cloot” is a cloth, and can be used as word for vest. As in don’t stop wearing your vest until. ..

Well until when?

Until the 1st of May, or when the Hawthorn blooms?

Or perhaps the end of May? With May being “out” meaning over?

And then my mother used to say the same thing. In Wales. Where we didn’t use the word “clout” in the same way. Although it was usually a warning not to go out without a coat.

And  walking along I noticed the blossom wasn’t even at the same stage everywhere.

So:  “Don’t take off your vest/coat/make any rash decisions that it’s summer, until it’s May/May is over/Hawthorn starts to bloom/is in full bloom.

Is that clear now?

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this tree was absolutely covered in blossom

But everywhere I walked there were signs of summer, bluebells going over and being replaced by campion.

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Wild roses starting to bloom.

Ditches are filling up with irises and umbellifers,

anemones and peonies blooming in gardens.*

the trees in fare in full leaf and bloom.

Those lambs getting bigger. And wiser.

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No room for these guys  though.

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“just turn your back on it, and it’ll go away.

All topped off with beautiful summer weather**

 

Until tomorrow

Marina xx

 

*mine are still in bud and getting battered by the wind

**winds of 50+mph and a temperature of 9.9 degrees centigrade

 

Oh, and there are still plenty of rabbits, they were just a bit too quick to catch on camera

 

 

Salamanca

I’d intended documenting my walk today, but the weather was against me. It’s really wet and windy, more Autumn than Spring. So I’ve decided to focus on another city from our October trip.

Salamanca in Spain’s Castilla y Leon region. We treated ourselves in this city and stayed at the plush Hospes Palacio de San Esteban , converted from part of a Dominican convent and right in the old heart of the city.

outof windowThis is the view from our room, into the cloister. Opposite is still a religious building.

We all had comfy beds, 

and treats too but we ate ours up before I could take picture of them.  DogS was made very welcome and we were allowed to leave her in the room while we enjoyed our dinner.

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We had an afternoon and one full day to explore. For our afternoon we just wandered around getting a feel for the city. Next day we headed out for breakfast , where DogS made a friend.

meeting a daxieHe was a lovely wire haired dachshund.

We  gave her a good walk along the river Tormes, where we met another dachshund! A smooth, black and tan one this time*.  We’d decided that we wanted to visit the Casa Lis a gorgeous Art Nouveau, or Modernista as it’s known in Spain,  building housing the museum of Art Nouveau and Art Deco. So once DogS was happily tired we took her back to the hotel where she could enjoy her luxury bed.

Now, when I was choosing my photos for this post I was convinced that there must be some I’d not loaded from my camera, or accidentally deleted. I mean I don’t have any of the Plaza Mayor**, one of the main sights of Salamanca. But there’s a good reason why I have none of the Casa Lis collections, photography isn’t allowed inside. You’re encouraged to just look at and enjoy the exhibits.  To be in the moment with them.

There’s a cafe inside but we didn’t want to leave DogS alone for too long.   We collected her from the hotel and looked around for a nice place for lunch. 

Then it was time for more exploring. We spent a long time looking for the stone frog on the facade of the university , before we realised we were looking at the wrong building! MrS eventually spotted it with a little help from the guidebook 

exterior universityWe had time for one more visit and decided on the old Cathedral. So we followed the map and walked round and round looking for the way in.  No luck, we could only find the entrance to the “New” Cathedral***.  I can’t remember how we found out the truth, it’s a “Russian doll” type set up. The old Cathedral is inside the new one.  And we’d only had a glass of wine with our lunch. We had planned on taking turns on going in, while the other stayed outside with DogS. I went in first, it was about fifteen minutes before last entry. But then it took a while to find the old Romanesque parts. And I didn’t want to be scurrying through not looking at anything else. By the time I reached the old parts I realised that there wouldn’t be time for me to get out, again,  find MrS,  and for him to buy a ticket and visit. So I stayed until closing time, and it was one place where I did take lots of  photos. 

We only touched the surface of a lovely city and would like to go back some day.

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Until tomorrow,

Marina xx

*DogS has a “fur-cousin” Lemmy who is a mini longhaired dachshund – there’s picture of him here.

**It’s beautiful, with cafes and shops at street level and balconies above. Like many Spanish plazas it was once the site of bullfights. When we visited, the centre of it was full of stalls  being prepared for a fair or exhibition,  but it didn’t open while we were there. 

***the “New” one is pretty old too