Sunday, July 06, 2014

No accounting for taste…

I visited a cousin of mine recently, so I thought I ought to take her a present. What better gift, I thought, than the spread illustrated below?

After all, it is, to say the least, unusual, and I was pretty sure that she would not have come across it before. And I also thought it would be a bit of a laugh.

snot “Oh wow!”, she exclaimed when she opened the wrapping. “My favourite!”

“Eh?”, I said. “You mean you’ve come across this stuff before?”

“Well, the stuff, but not called that.”

“It’s not really… well, that, you know. It’s lemon curd.”

“Yeah, I know”, she said. “I gotta show my family this!”

And then she proceeded to take a photo of it on her phone, and send it to her husband and kids.

I was disappointed that she didn’t express complete disgust. But I have to say I held a sneaking admiration for her unflappability.

It reminded me of a comment reported by a review of “Oh! Calcutta!”, a play designed to shock audiences with full-frontal nudity. Apparently, one teenager, emerging from the theatre, commented to his friend,

“I think my parents would like it.”

If he was correct, then that is unflappability!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A bad week for cafes

My favourite cafe when I’m away has huge windows which, if you sit near one, let in a tremendous amount of light. Light is good for creativity, I have found, and I am at my most creative when I’m in a cafe, so a cafe with lots of light is indubitably a winning formula.

This particular cafe also has reasonable food at reasonable prices, by which I mean they are less unreasonable, when compared to how how little the food actually costs if you have it at home, than a lot of other cafes. They do a nice latte too.

But this week the cafe is closed.

There was a sign up which said they are closed for staff holidays and would be open again on the 7th December. On the 7th December I raced down there — well, ambled along there at a snail’s pace if I’m honest — only to find that it was still closed. The sign had been replaced by one which said, less definitely, that they were closed for staff holidays. No hint of when they would end.

On Saturday I discovered that the cafe right at the end of the beach was actually open. Astounding! Chairs only, mind you. I asked what had happened to the tables and was told that they only bring them out in the summer. They did a very nice latte; cheap too. Sitting there watching and listening to the sea, and feeling the sea air, was pleasant indeed. But with no table to work on, creativity was, again, somewhat stifled.

It hasn’t been open since anyway.

On Monday I dithered outside another cafe, trying to decide whether the menu and the light would be conducive to creativity. Just as I came to the conclusion that they would, I was virtually knocked over by a horde of octogenarians. That settled that then.

Dunwich December 2013
The guidebook didn't tell me this!
According to my guidebook, there is a cafe not a million miles away where they do fish and chips to die for, accompanied by a hot steaming mug of tea. What my guidebook did not tell me is that it is now closed until March.

All is not yet lost: there are a few cafes in the vicinity that I have still not explored. Perhaps I will try one or two today.

But if recent experience is anything to go by, any surge of optimism is likely to be misplaced!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Knighton Wood

We discovered Knighton Wood by accident, just over a year ago. We’d visited Bancrofts School, and drove into a side road in order to turn round and go back the other way. That side road was Knighton Way, and at the end of it is the beginning of Knighton Wood. We promised ourselves  visit, and yesterday we fulfilled that promise.

Knighton Wood is an enclosed part of Epping Forest, and has some interesting history associated with it. Adjoining it is Lords Bushes, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. We happen to like it for its beauty and solitude, although that was marred temporarily by a couple of dog walkers shouting into their mobile phones!

You can read more about it on the London Gardens Online website, and see more photos in my Knighton Wood set over on Flickr.


Knighton Wood (23)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Seen on a t-shirt

I saw a great t-shirt today worn by a bloke in Romford, Essex, England. I should have taken a picture really, but wasn’t in the mood to have my face rearranged. It read, in huge letters:

I gave up fags, booze and sex.

And then, in tiny letters underneath:

It was the worst hour of my life!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Head in the clouds?

I do a lot of writing, but at least 50% of it is in my head. Like Borges’ protagonist in The Secret Miracle (though happily without the conclusion), I can write reams without putting pen to paper.
It’s quite handy to be able to do that, because it means I can “write” while I’m travelling or swimming or shopping. I don’t claim any great credit for this facility: it’s just something I have, not something I’ve worked at.
If you write in your head, deadlines are not a problem!
So, why not publish my mental efforts? Several reasons.
First, if I write a diatribe, I have to weigh up whether actually publishing it will have a beneficial outcome. It may help me to get things off my chest, but that side of things is taken care of by the act of writing anyway. There’s no point in fuming in public unless something is likely to change as a result. Much better, in my opinion, to weigh the pros and cons carefully, and then take the most cost-effective course.
Second, I would have to spend time writing it out properly, and that is usually time I don’t really have.
Third, a much more prosaic reason: by the time I put pen to paper, as it were, in all likelihood I’d have forgotten what I actually “said”!
Nevertheless, from a personal point of view, mental writing is good exercise, it’s enjoyable, and allows me to try out different beginnings and endings without going to the trouble of actually bashing it out.
It’s self-directed, in that doing mental writing means, in effect, that you have an audience of only one: yourself.
Nevertheless, I’d highly recommend it.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Visitor parking

visitor parking
I asked Elaine why anyone would want to park their visitors.
“So you’d know where they are?”, she said.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Dealing with temptation, Oscar Wilde Style

Chocolates, by Jonathan Reyes
Oscar Wilde, the Irish playwright, was right on the button when he said he could resist everything except temptation. I’m pretty much the same, which would be OK, I suppose, except that I’m trying to lose weight and we keep buying people boxes of chocolates and tins of biscuits for when we visit them over the holiday period.
But wait, you say. We are buying these things for others, so how can they make us put on weight? Because we – well I, if I’m honest – constantly say, “Look, we’re not going to X until next week, so why don’t we start those chocolates ourselves and buy them another box nearer the time?”
Last night I did the only thing I could think of to put an end to this: I threw away half a box of chocolates and half a tin of biscuits. I felt pretty good about myself, doing the right thing and all that.
But this evening, I suddenly thought: “What if someone pops round unexpectedly? We have nothing to offer them.”
You can’t be rude to one’s guests, so I put aside my own desires and goals in favour of a greater good, and bought this lovely big tin of biscuits….