Saturday, 30 June 2007


Saturday 10am

Autumn is my favourite time of year. I do not know if is because I was born in the Autumn but I love the slight chill in the air, the quietly dripping dampness, and the smell of woodsmoke in the evening. You could have a good conversation with Autumn. Spring would be full of ideas and plans, but Autumn has been there, done that, and you can see it in its face. And in my life ? . . . late summer I think. At the risk of sounding like an investment commercial ( you know, the ones with happy retired folk on a cruise because they saved their pennies wisely ), I still have plans and things to do but I notice I am not as fit or flexible as I used to be ( must exercise more ! ) and my eyes are slowly giving out. But it is a good time of life. Having spent most of my early days worrying about what other people think and mentally chastising myself over something I may have said or done or not done or thinking I was somehow not as good as other people, in my thirties I realised that it did not really matter at all. I have nothing to prove to anybody except myself. We are all just people with the same fears inside, but afraid to admit it.

My favourite song ? - One by U2, - " we are one but we're not the same,"

And another beautiful photo by Nicola, who may say she cannot draw, but can certainly see.

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Here is an idea

Thursday 4pm

While I was searching in the larder for walnuts I found a packet of dried apricots left over from when Nicolas mum visited. So here is an idea for a pasta dish. I quite liked it even though Nicola described it as " Christmas Pasta " !

- Cook some pasta, enough for one piggy person
- slice a clove of garlic, fry gently in olive oil until just browning.
- take off the heat and pop in a sprig of Rosemary
- Add a handfull of walnut pieces and a handfull of dried apricots cut up into fat matchsticks
- stir and leave to warm through
- slice up a courgette again into matchsticks and fry quickly so it speckles brown but hopefully retains some bite.
- add to the apricots etc and keep warm
- drain the pasta mix all together, discarding the rosemary, and eat.

slices of crispy garlic and a mild rosemary flavour seemed just right today, even though it is the middle of winter, perhaps Christmas pasta is correct.

When I am bored . . . I make soup

Thursday 8am

Soup is surely the ultimate food. From the poorest of the poor standing in the street beside a soup kitchen to the richest of the rich at a posh dinner party we can all eat soup. Be it a hot mediterranean summers day or a cold wet scottish autumn one, there is a soup that is just right. It will match your mood - comforting and warm or spicy and exotic, full of unknown promise like a first date. Feeling alone and miserable ? just cuddle up to a bowl of soup in front of the fire, watch the telly, and stuff the world out there. Or have friends round for lunch and do like Nigel Slater ( see my favourite books ) and put a panfull of soup on the table surrounded by bread, cheese and beer and let everybody help themselves. In a hurry ? Make it instantly from a packet, all glutinous and strange plasticky vegetables. Or take your time like I will today and make a big pan full of velvety pumpkin soup for the family tonight. It will bubble away quietly while I get on with other things and if anybody is late, no worries, it only gets better whilst sitting keeping warm. Forgiveness - a quality we could all use more of. I usually make vegetable soups, they are quick - twenty minutes prepare, half an hour to cook at the most - and there is usually something in the bottom of the fridge to inspire me. Open any soup cookbook and the first thing they say is make your own stock. But I don't. I think for everyday cooking it is not neccessary, I use an organic vegetable stock powder ( Rapunzel I think ) but always make it half strength so it does not overpower my ingredients. Anyway stock is boiled vegetables and soup is boiled vegetables so I miss out the middleman and get to the eating quicker ! If we have roast chicken on Sunday I will make chicken stock ( the easiest stock to make ) and the soup will then be plainer and simpler to make the most of the flavour of the stock. I also have a pretty basic recipe ( carrot and almond soup by Nadine Abensur ) that works for me and alter it as I feel, one of my current favourite ingerdients are nuts. Carrot and walnut soup, made with some walnuts given to us by Kerrian and Ian is delicious and reflects the autumn outside.

But today it will be basic pumpkin and tomato as below along with a flat bread with walnuts on top that I will make, and some crumbly feta to drop in. And if there is any left I will freeze it in yoghurt pots so it does not leak and take it to work for my lunch tomorrow.

(pic by Nicola, thanks again)

Sunday, 24 June 2007


Sunday 3.20pm

I am quite a visual person. I draw. I have always drawn - pencils, chalks, paints even scratched into stone, and I do not think anything about it, it is just something I do. But people say to me " you are lucky, I wish I could draw " But they can. Everybody can draw, you just look or think and make the marks. Really, you can. It is not the drawing that is the problem it is that your idea of what a drawing should be is out of step with what you can do. There is no point in looking at a beautiful painting, comparing it with your own doodles and giving up. You forget the hours, months, years of work that came before that picture, some artists paint the same thing over and over, think of Monet and lilyponds. At exhibitions I love it when the artist has their sketch books on show, I love to see how an idea developed and the work that went into the final product. And i bet you anything if you ask the artist they will not be completely happy with their creation that we think is wonderfull. Ok, some people will just pick up a pencil and sketch something wonderfull but it is like that in everything, some people are naturally skilled at some thing, the rest of us have to work at it. I play the guitar but I will never be a guitarist, I just do not have it, but it does not stop me - I like the sound of the notes and the way they fit together and follow one another and thats what makes me happy even though after 25 years of playing I cannot play a whole tune ! So if you want to draw, just do it. Don't be afraid of what others say, does it matter what issues they may have, and why should it affect you, drawing doesn't hurt anybody ( unless you stab them with a pointy pencil of course )

Confidence is the key. The older I get the more I realise this. My new motto - " Don't be afraid to fuck it up "

These thoughts were inspired by my lovely new header picture which is bases on a photo of the view from Perfume Point, Napier by Nicola.
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