Day 101

Well according to the recording in my diary.

101 days since the 17th March. 101 days of altered life.

Lockdown didn’t begin then. It started the following week, on Monday 23rd. But on the 17th I wrote in my diary , “Odd day. Sort of day one” .  The day before there’d been  a press conference discouraging us from all non essential social contact, recommending against visits to cafes, bars, theatres etc.

It wasn’t an order, not at that point.

On the 17th I had my hair done, by the 18th I began to hear of friends self isolating. Our walking group met for the last time on the 19th.  Instead of the usual groups of two or three people of the same pace chatting together, we were a long straggly line.  Friday the 20th we returned from the shops to find signs warning of Covid in the area*

And so it’s continued, through an often glorious Spring.

 

My May blogathon. Horrible word. Sorry.

Lots of baking

Many,

many,

photos of DogS.

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“you can never have too many photos of me”

And now things are beginning to change.

We’ve had drinks with friends in their and our garden.

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And we have plans to take our fortnightly quiz** “live” next time.

But it’s still baby steps, as it should be. And always with fingers crossed and touching wood. Though it’s science and hygiene that will guard against a second wave.

I’m looking forward to lots of things: travelling beyond the town to take DogS to the beach,  enjoying tea and a scone at the outdoor cafe afterwards, visiting a garden.               MasterS being able to visit. Meeting family and friends. Conversations that’s aren’t yelled.

I wish I could honestly say it’s all the simple things. But that’s not me.

I want to be able to travel further.  To sit with a drink as the sun sets***, hearing a language that’s not my own.

But I’ll wait. Keep with the baby steps. Appreciate what I’ve got.

Resist the temptation to rearrange the acceptance mantra  “it is like this”.

And now I’m off to bake.

Until next time.

Marina xx

 

 

* Yes, I have documented this before.

**We do this online with two other households, each writing a round of questions. For big money prizes. So weather permitting we’ll all meet up outside. And yell the questions at each other.

FLORA TOILET ROLL2

sometimes it’s veg from the garden 

***we’re just past the solstice, the sun sets at around 10pm.

 

baking some more

It doesn’t look as if we’ll be travelling abroad any time soon*, so I decided to partially make up for it by baking up another taste of Portugal.  I found this recipe for Bola de Amendoa on the Great British Chefs site. It’s a good resource for recipes and tips.

Anyway, I’d planned to make it a couple of weeks ago but had run out of ground, or indeed any kind of, almonds.  As had our local shop.  So I had to wait until we did our “big shop” (see* below) in Oban.  It was worth the wait.

I love almondy cakes, and gooey centred ones so this recipe promised a double treat.

dry ingredients

Here’s the ground almonds and butter ready to be pulsed together

 

sugar and spice

Sugar and spices

The sugar and egg yolks are whisked  up together,  salt, spice and lemon zest  folded in and then in goes the almond mixture.

all mixed up

egg whites whisked to soft peaks

Next  comes the trickiest part, gently adding in the whisked egg whites. Tricky because you have to mix it enough to avoid streaky white stripes of egg, but gently to avoid beating out the air.

Actually it can’t have been too tricky because I managed it quite successfully,  and into the oven it went.

My one mistake was using a baking tin which was a) slightly too small and b) a push rather than spring release. This meant I had a cuff of cake spilling over the side of the tin which I had to cut away to release the rest of the cake. This did mean I had a bit of cake to “test” – for purely critical purposes you must understand. So silver linings… But next time I think I’ll use my slightly bigger spring release tin, which might mean keeping a close eye on the last few minutes of baking, as the mix will be spread more thinly.

Anyway here’s a not terribly good photo of the finished cake

fuzzy finished product

I didn’t notice how fuzzy this was until it was too late

And once I realised,  I thought I’d take a picture of a slice.

But  I went to look,  and there was none left!  Cake thieves must operate in this area, who’d have thought?

I’ll just have to make another one.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and stay safe.

Marina xx

 

* Mind you it was a huge excitement the other day just walking in a different part of town. We went to the garden centre, along the esplanade, and then to the fishmonger.  Usually it’s the small supermarket, pick up our food hub  order and home.

Update!

I made another one,  and took a photo

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baking some more

Well it’s been nearly a week since I completed my #EveryDayinMay challenge. So it’s about time for me to post again.

June started out with sunshine, great for my daily walks and working in the garden.

Well, maybe not always working in the garden….

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MrS’s delicious homemade ice cream

But yesterday was a lot cooler, windier and rainier, just the weather for spending time in the kitchen.

I decided to try something new and flushed with my success making the Portuguese roulade thought I’d try this almondy version I found in Olive magazine. It’s more of a cake than the orange custardy pudding, so managing the rolling up would be trickier. But I have made chocolate sponge roulades at Christmas time so decided to give it a go.

That’s icing sugar lining the tin, and in the other picture ground almonds ready to be mixed into the flour, lemon zest and baking powder in the bowl. Eggs and sugar get whisked together.

egg and sugar mix

it doesn’t make for such a good photo.

And then the dry ingredients are gently mixed into the creamy egg/sugar mix, poured carefully into that prepared tin. Then baked for around ten minutes.

I was a bit worried at this point and kept a close eye on the oven. My mix hadn’t been quite enough to fill the tin so I was afraid it wouldn’t need as much baking as advised in the recipe.

After nine and a bit minutes it was ready to turn out and roll up.

all rolled up to cool

which was the part I was most nervous of.

Once it had completely cooled came more trepidation as I unrolled it for filing with raspberry jam and whipped cream, and yes I’d managed to buy the right type of cream.

filled and finished

Well I was mostly successful, only one crack. And those of you who’ve looked at the recipe  might also spot that those aren’t flaked almonds. I didn’t have any and only decided on this recipe after my trip to the shop. But I did have some walnuts which need to be used up, so on they went.

And as they say, and I think I’ve said before.

“The proof of the pudding is in the eating”

and serve

And though I say it myself, it wasn’t half bad

Until next time.

Stay safe,

Marina xx

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.

blank page

 

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

anemone

and the May* was definitely out.

hawthorn2

 

The lambs had left their shelter

big lamb

and this guy looked contented.

cow

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