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June, 2013
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Seals on patrol
8/18/2013 11:54:22 AM
Back in one of our favourite parts of the world for a few days - Norfolk. Or to be more precise, the north Norfolk coast, where the marshes meet the beach at Cley-next-the-sea. (Pronounced 'Cly', like 'by', and not 'Clay'.)

The horizons stretch away seemingly for ever, with huge skies and seas touching coast, marsh and moorland; perspective changing by the minute as the ever-present wind creates waves in the reeds and on the water, and the sunlight and shadows mix a palette of colours that artists strive to emulate.

Slice, dice or crush?
8/3/2013 1:39:51 PM
Some old friends nearly fell out once over the right way to prepare garlic: the question being whether the ‘correct’ method is to slice, dice or crush it. I seem to remember Elizabeth David being quoted (vehemently) by one of them. At one time, I had a garlic crusher, which did the job very quickly but was an absolute beast to clean. It was one of the must-haves of my first kitchen in the 1970s; we certainly didn’t have one at home. Eventually, it went the way of the fondue set and the pasta maker.
About 15 years ago, my German sister-in-law gave me a very simple, but ingenious, wooden mushroom for crushing garlic, after I had admired hers. I still use this occasionally, but most of the time I just chop and flatten the cloves with a knife. Then, when I thought the debate was fairly well defined, I recently came across ‘bash’ and ‘grate’ the garlic in two new recipes.

Does it really matter? Or does it make a difference to the flavour?
Today there will be weather
8/2/2013 7:03:26 PM
I awoke to a downpour this morning and, for most of the day, the sky has remained grey and cloudy, threatening more rain. But only yesterday we had the most astonishing clear azure-blue skies and at Heathrow the temperature hit 34°C. I still don’t understand how things can change so dramatically overnight (or by the minute some days). Intellectually I do, but emotionally that’s another matter – particularly if I’ve been penned up in the office on sunny days only to wake to rain on the weekend. Yes, that was me screaming!
I remember reading a report last year that declared UK weather as officially changeable. It’s all due to our location as a small island wedged between the Atlantic and the continental landmass. But surely it was ever thus. You don’t have to be a meteorologist: read Jane Austen or the memoirs of ex-pats. The British have always talked about the weather – because it is so changeable.
About 30 years ago, a Malaysian colleague on his first trip to England remarked how he’d found it strange that all the Brits he knew invariably included the weather in conversations. But now he understood why. Back home, there was just the wet, monsoon season and the dry season. Occasionally a little late or a little early; sometimes wetter or drier than usual – but then, end of conversation.
Keep your endorphins happy
8/2/2013 6:58:40 PM
Already the nettles are starting to die back and the last leg of my long run is a little easier; nettle-dodging is an exercise extra as you swivel your hips, slaloming side-to-side to avoid getting stung. Now there’s just to the brambles to contend with!

These seem have grown three- or four-foot tentacles with the mixture of rain and sunshine we’ve had over the last week. At least with nettles, everything is below knee height; with brambles you need to keep your wits about you as you cunningly step over one a foot or so off the ground but fail to notice another that tries to ensnare your hair as you pass by. Disentangling your locks, without inflicting serious damage from the barbs on the thorny stems, is no easy feat and plays havoc with the endorphins which were nicely chilled out from the run. 
I’m always put in mind of the Prince in Sleeping Beauty as he hacks his way gallantly through thickets and brambles to rescue the slumbering Princess Aurora. Well, I told you I had a vivid imagination!
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