Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dreams and food

Well I did dream last night, but I have no clue what about, so you don't get a recounting here today. I have been told that there is nothing more uninteresting than telling someone else your dreams (in a way so negative as to put me off ever mentioning them to that person again) but I like hearing about dreams. I like the way they weave reality with fantasy, and also a little bit of prophecy.

My friend Chris posted this on Facebook, a link to an interesting little story about dreams: The Timekeeper at the Way Out of a Dream which I enjoyed and hope you do too. Now, on to food...

The picture on the right features my very first paella! Made from a low fat recipe, it includes all sorts of lovely ingredients such as squid, chicken, bacon, prawns, peppers, peas and of course rice. I used a risotto rice which worked really well.

I volunteer to cook sometimes for the family (musician friends) who are kindly hosting my presence during the week whilst I am working far from home. I had never tried a proper paella before, but with the help of John (who just happens to be a chef), I think I did ok this time. He did some chopping for me and prepared the mussels. Before last night I'd only ever eaten one mussel, so I was hoping I liked them.

The family ate the meal and no one has complained of feeling ill today, so I think it was a success. I will try something different next week.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Along the Devil's Dyke

Yesterday I went with 12 others for a walk along the Devil's Dyke. It's a lovely old earthwork, one of the best preserved in the UK. The weather was mild and a bit misty (the sun came out after the walk was over). I didn't take any photos but I wish I had - the views over the fens were wonderful. I saw larks and some partridge, but not a lot of wildlife. I think 24 tramping boots probably put paid to any chances of that. You can see some really nice pictures here:

The company was good. We didn't set a killing pace, just ambled along really, changing who we talked to as we went along. I spent some time talking to a lawyer who travels 2 hours each way into and out of London every day. Not sure I'd like that commute. She keeps chickens and is automating their pen. A real mixture of high-tech and ... well, chickens! After the walk we had a convoy of six cars taking us to a restaurant called the Missing Sock.

The food was lovely, and a reasonable price and there was a dog in the garden to play with, ponies and rabbits! An interesting and unusual sort of restaurant, one which has live music (I will try and get to play there sometime I think) and a host of characters who run the place. I can highly recommend it. I went into the garden and threw the ball for the dog, and whilst feeding the rabbits a young lady came out (at a birthday lunch with her granny) and said 'I didn't come here to be sexually harassed.' - Oh my, what on earth happened? The young lady looked around 17, but was in fact 15. 'He asked me for my facebook' she said, shocked. Because, after all, the guy was 22!! I suggested she take it as a compliment and agreed that on no account should she give him her facebook. Ah, how times have changed. In my day 'sexual harassment' (if we'd had the term) would have been someone pinching yer bum.

The reason we were all there was for a friend's birthday. 14 of us sat down to dinner in a huge circle - it was a bit like King Arthur's round table.

That was a nice way to spend the first half of a Sunday. (The rest of it was household stuff, but the walk and meal fortified me for that.)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Letter to my brother

Hi Phil

Well, writing to you here seems a mad thing to do, but it's about the only way I can think of putting a message out there that you may get.

It's been a very difficult few years, and in the near future we will be selling the house in Royston. I don't know exactly where I'll be - at present I'm working in Colchester and spending the week staying with friends in Ipswich, but this job only lasts till the end of September.

So I'm going to have to job search again in the summer and who knows where I'll find work! It gets harder every time - and of course I am getting older. But hey, experience you know... well, it does count in some jobs, and in others I've been interviewed by folks so much younger than me I feel positively ancient.

Finding this job was lucky - I didn't really think about going back into higher education but when I saw this job, maternity cover at the University of Essex, I liked the description. And I love the job too; nice people, nice location and a great organisation. I'm getting used to the idea of having a job for a short time instead of a career move. It's ok really. I did a year at FFI and I'll be here for about seven months. That's long enough to make a difference. I might even look again at maternity cover work next time, because it is interesting to step into someone's shoes - knowing they are going to want them back again! Must remember to wash my feet more regularly...

Sally came round for late lunch yesterday. She's going to be 80 in January, can you believe it? She is starting, after all this time, to look like an old lady. Considering her age, she's been defiant to say the least. She's given up the Casa now, we go and clear out her stuff next month. Robbie and Carlota will take it over - there's lots of work to be done. It's still not on mains water or sewerage.

There's big stuff happening in my life and I worry that once we've moved, you won't know where to find us. We've been in Royston for more than 22 years now; it will be strange to leave (if I actually do - it is so dependent on work). Alex is at Uni, Mel at college and hoping for Uni next year.

I have to think sometimes who you know and who you don't - but I know you will remember Carol. She still lives in Royston and we regularly play Scrabble.

I hope you are well Phil, it would be nice to hear from you again one day.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Spring is in the air

The sun may take its time and the cars may still have frosting some mornings, but according to the ducks on campus spring is definitely here! The drakes are getting terribly excitable and the ducks increasingly irritated. It is amusing to watch though. There are more boys than girls - seems to be a typical problem.

The other morning I walked from the main campus up to the Constable Building. On the way back I took the scenic route via the (rather muddy) lake paths. To my delight I saw six tufted ducks. The main lake is a haven for the 'bully boys' of the water world - seagulls. They compete with the ubiquitous ducks and the hesitant but resillient coots and moorhens. The tufties are cute but I was completely 'made up' when I saw ten water birds I didn't recognise. Low in body, sharp in beak, they looked a bit like mergansers (but I kthink they are more of a sea bird). Making a hasty field note in my work notepad, I hurried back to the office to look them up. Goosanders. Hey, I was close!

The daffodils are starting to thrust their little yellow heads out of their green sheaths, pink cherry blossom is squeezing out its coloured tips and the birds are twittering even more energetically than usual. The ripe sun is streaming through my window and making my computer screen almost impossible to read.

Spring is here. I like it.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Back to food

Did you know it's Fairtrade Fortnight? I found out at work, because the students were promoting Fairtrade sweatshirts and had a stand with food on showing that - for example - in one cookie ingredients came from five different countries.

Check out - find out about Fair Trade food and why, more than ever, we should look at what we eat not just for the goodness (or, as in most of my favourite foods, badness) but for the environmental and social effect the whole chain of events has.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

The Jump

I dreamed about a post-apocalyptic world. This is not surprising as I watched 2012 the other day - but that was all the lead up to the latest take on a global disaster. Not asteroids, not climate change, not even alien invasion - 2012 was about sun spots heating up the earth's core. Oh, and that did cause a little bit of climate change.

So what was my vision of the aftermath? Well, the floor kept shifting, a bit like partly cooked pastry. There were rooms where we had sheltered, with old blankets and a strange colour to the atmosphere. And when the ground began to shake - we had to jump.

This jump in my dream struck me because it was so physical. Not the jump so much as the falling back down. We jumped straight up many feet - probably as high as a house. And I knew that the fall back down was straight down, onto the earth. But I also knew that the fall would be fine if I just relaxed.

The sensation of falling was very physical, I was extremely 'present' in this action in my dream. And after the feeling of falling, as I was relaxed, hitting the ground was fine. A gentle touch down.

I had not been drinking. I slept reasonably well, and the difficult dream world was challenging, but not frightening. I have no idea what it means, but I do now know that falling in dreams doesn't always have to end with waking up or hitting the ground dead.

This lovely picture was borrowed from: