January fails

So the thing is, its like this really, well it kind of happened sort of like that, in a way it did anyway. But it was a bit different than that, and then it just sort of….stopped. Really.

In a round about way, what I’m getting at , I mean to say, the crux of the matter is, the real issue I’m trying to deal with is … difficult to phrase.

You see it all started so well, the intention that is, I really meant to do better, there’s still so much to say, its just I’m having a few problems ….. saying it.

Yes that’s right I have hit the wall. Metaphorically of course. Literally it has been horrible.

Put simply, I just cant write.

I’ve been trying, Lord knows I’ve been trying, but whatever I attempt just seems to dribble to a unsatisfactory slush about half way down the page and just stop without ever seeming to finish. If you see what I mean.

Its very frustrating. Especially as writing is usually something which gives me such pleasure and satisfaction, now it has become an uphill struggle plagued with self doubt and massive doses self criticism. Not a very helpful attitude when trying to create anything.

I blame January.

I really don’t get on with January very well. In fact I would go as far to say that it is my ‘bogey month’. Nothing ever seems to work well for me in January.

As regular readers will know I have a few emotional issues with winter anyway, but January in particular just makes me want to hibernate. This January has been nothing short of dismal, with a few brief wonderful exceptions bright enough to pull my head up from the general air of gloom.

The fun and laughter of Christmas is already a fleeting memory, the decorations already hang limp and listless, the faded sparkle seems to mock you as you turn the calender and face a whole month of gloom and dismal weather to boot.

Then when the tired decorations come down they leave your walls bare and a gaping hole where the tree stood but a few moments ago. The glittering baubles packed away for another year leaving stark bare emptiness staring back at you from every surface. Its little wonder that home improvements come so high on the agenda for so many people at this particular time of year. Suddenly the rooms that looked so warm and pleasing all year round look forlorn and neglected.

And its just been so cold. Yes, I am fully aware that I live in northern Europe and it is winter and as such it is supposed to be cold, but I really don’t think I have ever felt it is as much as I have this year. It seems to have permeated my very bones, I don’t think my feet have been anything approaching warm since early November. Even in the midst of the flu with the rest of my body burning up with fever, my fingers and toes felt like icicles. And with two bouts of illness under our belts it has seemed a very long month indeed.

But, believe it or not it hasn’t all been doom and gloom. A perfectly timed and wonderfully spirit lifting few days with my parents, setting the world to rights and planning our various schemes for the future, were enough to raise my head from the gloom for a while. In between bouts of vomiting Moo has shown her passion and talent on the ice rink, so much so that we have decided to but her some skates of her own and save her feet from the leaden ill-fitting hire skates. We are eagerly awaiting their arrival with my February visitor who is due to arrive at some point early next month. (Skate asylum provide relatively cheap goods, but do not deliver to France and as we have an impending visitation by car I thought it best to combine the two events).

Another upside to my almost total lack of literary is that my culinary experimentations have reached (and breached) new boundaries. There seems no end to the variations of biscuits that have been coming out of the oven, but I’m bored with them now and as I have totally run out of usable jars for jams and preserves I have turned my attention to cake. Banana and kiwi, lemon and ginger, chocolate and lime and an unexpected favourite of mine avocado and buttermilk loaf. (I even managed to write some of the recipies down!).

But whilst I could happily bake for days on end there is a limit to how many the two of us can, or should, actually eat. My waistline has become another victim of my writers block and all the dietary work of gastric flu has been more than undone.

But as the month drags it’s lethargic heels to the finish line I can at last feel the rejuvenating effects of the watery winter sun as it struggles to penetrate the mantle of grey that January has worn, and it hopefully this effort, combined with the ever nearing calender page turning deadline, will go some way to restoring the flow of my literal lubrication.

Hopefully it will not be long before I am back at full strength and fulfilling my promise to write.

Here’s to February.

A Bientot.

Under the influenze…

Well first thing first, Happy New Year, Bon année.

And what a start to the year it has been. Mostly I have seen it from under a duvet, yes the far reaching influence of influenza has visited upon us and laid us waste. Moo started the sofa snuggle on the 26th of December and I joined her on the 29th after we had dropped Hubs off for his all to swift return to Macau, and barring a couple of trips out to the doctors and the pharmacy there we have stayed. There isn’t much to tell as I’m sure that most of you have your own tales of splutters and sneezes not too dissimilar to ours.

Before Hubs departure and before the bugs had us completely housebound, we did manage a dinner with friends when, despite a small confusion over the venue, a good time was had by all and my reputation as a ‘super chef’ was done no harm on production of the gastronomic marvel that is the humble Yorkshire pudding. It still amazes me that despite the closeness of our two nations the distance in the cuisine is vast. But if it keeps up my, slightly undeserved, reputation as a master chef then who am I to argue? I was still a little bemused at the astonishment that the humble puds produced, I mean I know that they are nice, lovely even when just right, but surely a nation so famed for its cookery has its own equivalent. Apparently not.

My education in French cookery is far from complete and really is something I should do more to appreciate and learn but, at the risk of being extradited, I do find the food a little on the boring side. The sauces are a delight and have incredible depth of flavour and interest, but the dishes themselves can be somewhat bland underneath the spectacular sauce. And despite my adventurous nature in the kitchen there are some things from the meat shelves that will remain there rather than being brought home. When they say that ‘the only part of the pig the French don’t eat is the oink’ they are really not joking.

The ‘spice’ of life is certainly not something that is embraced in the vast majority of local dishes I have tried. Whilst herbs are used extensively spices are eschewed and the thought of using MORE than 1 at a time is the stuff of a mad-woman’s dreams and certainly not something suitable for the purist’s palate. Fortunately most of the consumers of my sometimes experimental cookery are not purists and are more than happy to discover the novelty of my strange and often peculiar creations.

My ‘Christmas concoctions’ have become a bit of a hit with friends and neighbours and I have to keep thinking up new ideas to keep people guessing what on earth I will come up with next. And to be honest right up until the moment I start baking I’m never really very sure myself. But this year I surprised even myself with the addition of a small amount of chilli flakes to the mince pie mincemeat and I opened up a whole new world of possibility with just a hint of tarragon kneaded into the cookie dough.

The problem I have now is that people keep asking me for recipes. Its not that they are closely guarded family secrets handed down through the generations it’s just that I don’t actually write things down when I’m cooking, so not only is it darned near impossible for exactly the same thing to be recreated should it turn out to be a winner, but its also pretty hard to tell someone else how to do it.

For years I maligned my poor mother when she responded to my questions of ‘How much of this do you put in?’ with a vague ‘A bit’ or the equally frustrating ‘just enough’ rather than the precise measurement I was seeking. But here I am some years later responding in exactly the same way, (and incidentally being maligned in exactly the same way). So to my mother, and all of those who have asked me those same questions, I apologise unreservedly.

But as it is the new year I have made a resolution which is not something I usually do, and the resolution is this:

I hereby resolve that when I am cooking something new I will write down the ingredients, and quantities thereof.

Well I’ll try.

And try I must because along with my resolution to write down my recipes I have decided to collate then into what I hope will become a quite handy little cook book which might end up languishing on my shelf gathering flour dust , or it might just end up being my very first attempt at a proper kind of book.

Of course once the effects of flu have worn off completely I may decide that this is a silly idea borne from a high temperature and even higher levels of medication, but then again, maybe not.

Now what would be the exact measure for ‘the amount of champagne left in the bottle after couple of Christmas drinkies’?

A Bientot.

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 2,500 times in 2010. That’s about 6 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 69 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 93 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 42mb. That’s about 2 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was August 5th with 52 views. The most popular post that day was in the words of Columbo….

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, hillywillyworld.com, android-vs-ipad.co.cc, upstandinghommevert.com, and obama-scandal-exposed.co.cc.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for http://www.mumbaimadness.multiply.com, phiphi, house of dancing waters in macau, the world’s most beautiful pier, and bang pae safari.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

in the words of Columbo… August 2010
1 comment

2

Helloooo……. hello…. November 2010
14 comments and 2 Likes on WordPress.com

3

Remembering a legend. December 2010
10 comments

4

Reflections May 2010

5

Tears and sadness March 2010