Saturday, 28 July 2012

And we're off ...

If you're going to spend four hours glued to the telly you need something to keep you going.  And if it's the Olympic opening ceremony we're talking about, you could go down one of two routes - either something patriotic (roast beef, strawberries and cream, fish and chips, haggis?) or something ancient.  We opted (surprisingly enough) for the latter - a tray loaded with mezedes (taramasalata, tzasiki, humus, dolmades, olives and feta) followed by pork in an avgolemono (lemon and egg) sauce.  We rounded it all off with Greek yoghurt, honey and walnuts.

As for the opening ceremony.  Danny Boyle did us proud, accurately interpreting the British spirit - our rural heritage, ancient mysticism, industrial leadership, literary riches, civil rights legacy, cultural diversity, devotion to national institutions, our quirkiness and, above all, our ability not to take ourselves too seriously.  Highlights for me were Rowan Atkinson on the keyboard, the volunteers' faces printed on the dresses in the athletes' procession, Shami Chakrabarti and Doreen Lawrence carrying the Olympic flag and, of course, Heatherwick's exquisitely engineered cauldron.  There were a few naff moments and I don't know what the world wide audience would make of it but I loved it.  Well done Danny.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Barley Wood

I love walled kitchen gardens - fruit trees espaliered across weathered brick, seried rows of rainbow chard, cane wigwams buried under the weight of runner beans, explosions of rhubarb, the heady scent of culinary herbs.  A patchwork quilt of texture and colour.  I have fond memories of our visit to the Lost Gardens of Heligan and hope to reacquaint myself with them in the near future but meanwhile I have discovered an equally enticing kitchen garden a mere 30 minute bus ride from where I live.

Barley Wood is situated on a south facing slope overlooking the gently undulating Mendip Hills and on Wednesday evening the Malago WI saw it at its best, bathed in mellow evening sunlight.  We wandered at will before chancing upon the gardener who was more than happy to answer a wide variety of questions.

True to WI tradition the evening ended with a cup of tea and the opportunity to sample a variety of luscious cakes in the Epicurian cafe.   

Tuesday, 24 July 2012


Never say never.

This morning I went running for the first time.  Well, maybe it wasn't the very first time, but I can't remember the last time I jogged, which is pretty much the same thing.

The reason for this unprecedented burst of activity?  Well, last week I logged on to the NHS website and calculated my BMI.  You can do so for yourself (if you dare!) here.  Now I'm not going for full disclosure.  Suffice to say it was not within the acceptable parameters.  It appears (as if I didn't already know it!) that I need to lose weight.

So I'm going to eat more healthily ... and I'm going to exercise.

Fellow Scot, Claire, at Far From Harm Farm, alerted me to the NHS's Couch to 5K programme which does what it says on the tin, ie gets couch potatoes to running 5k in 9 weeks.  It's an audio plan.  Download it on to your MP3 player and away you go.  The lovely Laura tells you what to do and when and there's music to entertain you en route.

So far so good.  Tomorrow is a rest day.  Training continues on Thursday morning.  Wish me luck.  I'm going to need it.

Photo courtesy of NHS Choices

Monday, 23 July 2012

Summer Holiday To Do List

I love holidays.  One of the joys of working in a school is the long summer break - a full 6 weeks this year.  Yeah!  I am, however, prone to frittering away these precious hours so, in order to make the most of every last minute I have devised a list of things I would like to do:
  1. Eat a bacon butty at Brunel's Buttery
  2. Have a drink at The Grain Barge
  3. Have a curry at The Old Bookshop
  4. Visit Bristol Zoo
  5. Take a day trip to Bath to visit the Holborne Museum
  6. Take a day trip to London to view the Grayson Perry tapestries at the Victoria Miro gallery
  7. Walk the Bristol to Bath cycle path
  8. Visit M Shed
  9. Take a picnic to the Balloon Fiesta Nightglow
  10. Visit the Harbour Festival
  11. Visit Tyntesfield
  12. Visit Ikea to kit my daughter out for her next year and eat meatballs
  13. Bake scones for a cream tea
  14. Visit the American Museum
  15. Fill my South West Reading Passport with one book from each of the continents.
  16. Make a pizza
  17. Paint my toenails
  18. Picnic on Brandon Hill
  19. Visit the Arnos Vale Cemetery
  20. Bake a foccacia 
  21. Have a barbecue
  22. Make homemade lemonade
  23. Release a book!
  24. Start another sourdough mixture
  25. Catch a live performance in the Colston Hall foyer or at No 1 Harbourside.
I shall strike them through as I do them, so that you can see how I'm progressing.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Bristol Harbour Festival: Words not Pictures

Apparently 300,000 people visited what is claimed to be the biggest free event in the country.  We popped in on all three days, drawn by the sunshine and the lively atmosphere.

The Queen Square Stage - poor sound ruined an eclectic line up
The Continental Market - more variety and greater authenticity required
The Litter - how hard is it to ditch your litter in one of the dozens of recycling bins scattered across the site?

That the festival went ahead despite the fact that half last year's team were made redundant
The Happy City area with folk music, street art, local traders and eco stalls
The Circus Stage - breathtaking acts and hilarious compering
The Grain Barge Stage, which I wish we'd chosen instead of the Queen Square one.  Ho hum!    

Friday, 20 July 2012

Here Comes the Sun!

It's been a while since I last posted.  Circumstances have conspired to bring me low.  But there is a light at the end of the tunnel and I am determined to fix my eyes on it and take one step at a time.

One of the areas I have neglected over the past few months has been the garden.  Those of you who live in the UK will know that our weather has not been conducive to spending much time outdoors tending, let alone enjoying, our plants.  There has been growth but it's been random and disordered.  In short it's a jungle out there.

However today, when the sun came out to celebrate the first day of the summer holidays it spotlighted the flowers that have successfully blossomed despite all the odds.  I have taken it as a good omen.

I leave you with some of my flowers.