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.

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sometimes it’s veg from the garden 

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

 

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

 

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?

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 

 

Towns that smell of chocolate*

To be honest I think I’ve only ever been to the one, although both Edinburgh, my home of nearly thirty years, and Carlisle, smell of biscuits.**

The chocolatey town? Oloron Ste Marie  in the south of France, where we visited the Lindt factory. Actually that’s a bit misleading, I don’t think you can take factory tours. What you can do is visit the FACTORY SHOP.

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chocolate similar to that available

A bit of a disclaimer, that bar of chocolate was not bought in Oloron. I mean really what were  you expecting? That I’d saved a bar of chocolate for over six months? I think I do quite well giving it up for the six weeks of Lent.

And I wrote about what happened to my virtuous plans of avoidance yesterday.

The pretty bag on the other hand is genuine. You can buy Lindor boules in a huge variety of flavours. More than shown in that link. Arrayed as a massive Pick’n’Mix. And then there were the boxes of chocolates, bars of all sizes, bags of rejected misshapes, and end of line flavours that didn’t fly.  I really was quite good, several boxes of chocolates and most of the pick and mix came home with us. And a fair quantity of that made its way to others as a gift. But I did enjoy a “lucky dip” into the misshapes as we travelled about.

There’s a lot more to Oloron than chocolate. It’s a pretty place to wander around with its two mountain rivers or “gaves” which merge to form the “Gave d’Oloron”.

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this is the Gave d’Aspe

And the church of Sainte Marie d’Oloron is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and well worth a visit when that’s possible.

 

It’s also one of the few places where traditional French berets are made. We found them in this beautiful traditional shop, Souviron Palas.

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I decided against a beret but we found some good Christmas presents there.

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The weather wasn’t so great on the day of our visit to Oloron-Ste-Marie,  but we did enjoy some Autumn sunshine while we were in the area. And glimpses of the Pyrenees.

 

A demain

Marina xx

*It really did

**Edinburgh’s Sighthill district is home to Burton’s biscuits and the smell of shortbread often fills the air. In Carlisle the scent is  Carr’s water biscuits