Girlfriends

Today is National Girlfriends Day and what a fantastic thing to celebrate. I personally think that friendship among women is something very special.

There are those friends who are only in your life for a short period. Perhaps it is during the school years or perhaps during various stages of one’s working life. They keep us going. When those friendships come to a natural conclusion that is fine. Life intervenes and to be honest I think it would be impossible to keep every friendship going.

There are the friends one meets during difficult times. They support you and then as those difficult times ease you both move on with your lives and again that is ok.

There are those friends which one meets through perhaps pastimes, hobbies, shared interest. Perhaps you only meet them during those shared interests, but they are an integral part of the enjoyment of those interests.

Perhaps you have some friends who are years or decades younger and their perspective on life adds to your knowledge as we are always learning.

I was listening to someone recently who looked on her local librarian as her friend as every two week she knows that there is going to be a new book waiting for her which will stimulate her, intrigue her or even get her riled. These books have been chosen by someone who cares and that is the definition of friendship for her.

Then again there are those friends who you may be privileged enough to have had them for twenty years or more. They have become part of the fabric of your life.  That is such a special blessing.

I have been blessed with so many gifts of friendship that I am humbled. Today I am remembering with great fondness but also with a heavy heart some friends who have died. I still go to the phone to ring them or I am just about to send them a text, or message them and even had a card made for one friend when I realise “No “they are no longer here. However, their legacy of friendship remains within my heart.

I have been privileged to have received the gift of friendship from so many.

Happy Girlfriend Day.

 

 

Friendship

Friendship is everything in life, 
Life without friendship is like life without air…
Life without friendship is like eats without food
And
Life without friendship is like body without soul…

(excerpt from Friendship by Qistina Zani)

Summer Hibernation

 

Yet another hot summer day is over.  It feels rather strange to be constantly seeing blue skies.  Eight o’ clock in the evening and the sun is not just shinning but still has heat.  I am glad of our shaded back garden.  Paper, pen and a glass of cool water is a nice novelty.

This afternoon I spent hibernating from the sun and totally enjoyed the time.  A beautiful lunch followed by the world cup in the company of my son.  Now I was sure that Germany was going to win and had a book ready to hand just in case.  The book remained where it was.

The game was great to watch.  Having German friends and just recently back from a short break in Wurzburg I was up for Germany.  In fact, I was sure they were going to win as I think most people were, except perhaps the Korean team.  Korea played football from the very first minute.  It was great to see.  They ran at the German team.  They played as a united team with the determination not to be intimidated by the World Cup holders.

At the same time Sweden were playing Mexico.  Until this tournament Mexico would not have been one of my favourite teams all because they put us out of the World Cup 1994 in the USA by beating us 2 goals to 1.  This year though, they have played great football especially in the match against Germany.

So today I have had mixed emotions while watching the football; sad to see Germany departing while at the same time admiring the way the Koreans played.  I was delighted to see Mexico through  though today they didn’t play well and if they continue in the same vein they will not progress much farther.

 

Image result for mascot of the FIFA World Cup 2018

 

Today’s hibernation took a different root to what had been planned but….

A Forgotten Memory

 

I have been experimenting with dairy free cake recipes.  Some have been successful and some not so.

My biggest problem is that I do not take note of ingredients I use, telling myself I will remember the next time.  Yes, you may laugh.  As I have a head like a sieve it is most unlikely I would remember a recipe accurately.

During the night when sleep once more eluded me I decided to read through some old recipes which I have collected over the years.  Some go back to the 1970’s some even further back.

Would you believe there in front of me, decorated with many spillages was a recipe for Sultana Loaf which uses neither dairy nor eggs.

It was given to me by my boss in my first “office ” job. She had had major surgery. Subsequently she had to adhere to a very strict non dairy diet. This was in 1975 when the alternatives to dairy was very limited. I remember her saying that her sister would send her the oil as she could not purchase it in Ireland.

I had totally forgotten about that job and the people who worked there.

 

Sultana Loaf

225g/8oz Self Raising Flour

75g/3oz Castor Sugar

125ml/4fluid ounces Coconut Milk

4 tablespoons of Orange Juice

100g/4oz Sultanas

50g/2oz desiccated Coconut

150ml/5fluid ounces Olive Oil or whatever oil you prefer to use

 

Set oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4

Grease and line a 900g/2lb Loaf Tin

 

Mix sugar and flour together in a mixing bowl.

Beat in milk, followed by orange juice until combined.

Beat in oil.

Fold in sultanas and coconut.  Mixture should fall off a wooden spoon easily however if the mixture is too moist add in more coconut.

Pour into loaf tin.

Bake for 45 minutes in oven until loaf is golden in colour.

Leave to cool in tin then turn out onto cooling rack. 

Enjoy warm or cold

 

Enjoy warm or cold.

Fountain Pen + Notebook =

Have you ever realised that having a pen and paper can be very rewarding?

It is amazing what is to be seen or heard and having that pen just enables me to remember those moments.   I have always thought of writing as being very solitary but I have learnt otherwise.

I was sitting recently in a restaurant waiting for my order to be served, took out a lovely small brown leather-bound notebook.  A great present from my son, as it holds my new fountain pen snugly in the spine and they both fit into my pocket.  Christl thanks for the fountain pen which goes everywhere with me.

My coffee arrived in a large bulbous mug.   The mug was so apt for a coffee.   It invited me just to wrap my hands around it and to savour that little moment.   And yes, the coffee lived up to expectations.

I drew my notebook to me and started to write just snippets, random thoughts.   I was soon lost to my writing and the thoughts which had been buzzing around my head.   I like to use word pictures as a quick way to get my ideas down before I totally forget.   Forgetting ideas seems to be happening more and more.

The coffee shop had got busier while I had been occupied and soon I was joined by two young ladies who turned out to be from Michigan in the USA.   After a brief conversation I returned to my scribblings but felt I was being watched.   It’s a feeling I don’t like so I quickly looked up to find one of these ladies staring intently at my fountain pen.  IMAG0940[1]

It turned out this young lady, had never seen a fountain pen.  She had heard about them but had never actually seen one.   Talk about being amazed.   I mean I know I was born in the last century but not to have seen a fountain pen!  Soon there was an engaging conversation on ordinary useful objects which had become obsolete or if not obsolete very seldom used.

To see their faces when they googled fax machines, 1970 computers, early mobile phones, telex,  their faces were a picture of total astonishment.   As for the Teas Maid the shrieks of laughter drew glances from a few other customers.

One never knows just where a pen, paper and a mug can lead one and what stories emerge never mind the memories which can be created or rekindled.  A simple fountain pen brought different generations together for a short while amidst much lughter.

Umbrella

 

Today is National Umbrella Day.

When I read this I was delighted.  I really enjoy using an umbrella.  I own a number of them.  Why I hear you ask?  Surely I only need one?

Rain Umbrellas

No not really.  I have a silver one which I purchased in Oxford while on holiday and the inside depicts the constellations of the northern night skies. I would never have chosen it myself but my husband found it and re introduced me to the night sky.

I have a red polka dot umbrella given to me as a birthday present and whenever I use it, which is often if you are living in Ireland, I always find myself twirling the umbrella and singing to myself.  On any grey wet windy day beside the sea it is a splash of colour.  The only draw back to this umbrella is that it doesn’t fold up.

So that meant that I had to keep an eye out for a fold up umbrella for my bag.  There are the basic ones which will do the job but…..A few years ago while on a visit to the National Art Gallery in Dublin, I came out to a down power.  The Gallery shop had umbrellas, books, more books so many items that by the time I had chosen and purchased the umbrella the sun was shinning when I came out.

The umbrella is based on a Monet design and I have to tell you that nine times out of ten when I have that umbrella in my bag it does not rain, but then again there is that one time when it is invaluable.

It was the Chinese who developed the waxed leather umbrella for use by the nobility to protect from the rain in the 11th century B.C.   While parasols were used in Egyptian and Roman empires the custom fell into disuse after the fall of the Roman Empire.  I was amazed to find out that the umbrella dated so far back.

 

25 de octubre de 2014

 

This painting by Des Brophy is one of my favourite paintings.

 

History Through Taste

I have been reading recently about food fusion and hearing about it on food programmes.  Surely this concept has been around since Adam was a boy.

Perhaps we use the style of cooking which we are used to, then move to a new location where ingredients are different but we use the cooking techniques we know, to cook with the new ingredients.  Surely people have been doing this for hundreds of years.

There are cook books abounding with the fusion concept.  The concept is not new but if it draws people into cooking for themselves I for one am all for it.

I really enjoy reading cook books especially second-hand ones.  I like to imagine those other food lovers who have read and used the recipes within.  However, it is the books which have been both loved and used which I cherish the most.

Some of my reading memories are to do with cook books and tonight not being able to sleep I started to read a cook book which had belonged to my mother-in-law Sheila and which was recently given to me.

The book is only 9 inches long by 5 inches wide with less than a hundred pages.    The cover is intact but the spine will need repairing and it is obvious that this book was used over and over again.    It is called “the Tricity cookery book”.    It is a very straight forward cook book with only 4 colour plates.    There are a few sketches but this book is all about the recipes.   Some pages were used more often than others and I love the fact that it isn’t in pristine condition.   It was a book which was used.

Right beside it on my cookery shelf, I found “A taste of Ireland in food and pictures” by Theodora Fitzgibbon.  A friend of mine Rhona, who knows how much I love cookery books, gave it to me prior to moving to Charlton near Banbury in the United Kingdom to run The Rose and Crown.  If you get a chance to visit just try the superb food there.

Again, this is a small cookery book but it has a wealth of history together with the recipes.  The edition I have ,was published by Pan in 1971.   One odd thing about the recipes is that the quantities are not only given in imperial measurement as was used in Ireland at the time but also in U.S.  cup measurements.   However, on the back of the book there is an endorsement by the Irish Tourist Board. Perhaps this book was intended for the tourist industry mainly and that would explain the use of U.S. measurements.

The black and white photographs which accompany each recipe give more information on the times and evoke a sense of times past. The recipes cover everything from toffee to cruibíns. If you ever come across this book it is well worth a read especially if you are interested in social history or cookery.

Gladden the Heart

 

I remember when I was quite young I heard the expression “to gladden the heart”.  It was years before I actually understood what it meant.  The first time I read this poem I was reminded of that expression.  When I came across the poem again this morng  it lightened my spirit once more.

 

 

Smiling is infectious

You catch it like the flu

When someone smiled at me today

I started smiling too

 

I walked around a corner

And someone saw me grin

When he smiled I realised

I had passed it onto him

 

I thought about a smile

And realised its worth

A single smile like mine

Could travel round the earth

 

So if you feel a smile begin

Don’t leave it undetected

Start an epidemic and get the world infected.

Spike Milligan