Showing posts from May, 2013

Breakfasting in cafes miles away

It is one of the oddities of modern life that you can wake up on a Welsh hillside and have your poached egg on toast and cup of tea for breakfast as you do on any other day.  That same night you can go to bed in a flat in central Munich on the edge of the Victualienmarkt with the unaccustomed light from a street lamp glowing gently on the parquet floor. A hundred years ago southern Germany was a train ride, a ferry journey and more train rides away.  If you had made this journey in 1913 it might have taken you two days from London, even if you had been travelling as fast as you could, or three if you were starting from here in North East Wales.  You would have marvelled at the speed of modern travel.  You would think yourself fortunate to be living in the railway age.  After all if you had done the journey in 1813 you would have had to go by horse and carriage.  That might have taken you about two weeks, maybe you could have cut the time a little if you had a desperate need to trave

Home and away

I love to go away and I love to come home.  A week in Devon, staying with my sister, helping to look after my brother and giving my parents a hand.  Being able to do this is one of the many reasons I gave up my big job.  When it works, and last week was a good week, it feels very right.  I know I am making a difference and to see the pleasure my brother takes in our company, to see my sister's children and stepchildren, to see my Dad smile with real happiness at a trip out he could not have taken by himself, to help my wonderful mum feel she is not alone, to chat with my sister and her partner when every one has gone to bed and to snatch an evening with my son and his wife, looking at the scan picture of their developing baby,  all of these things make me feel good, make me feel like myself.  But I missed Ian and I missed home and it was good to come down our drive, to see the view encircling me, to walk the garden and to sleep in my own bed with my own person. The garden is raci

Coming back to the garden

I never garden in winter.  I can't really see the point of winter gardens with dogwoods and snowdrops even though I have plenty of both.  In winter I come inside and read and knit and crochet and write.  I hate getting cold and wet in the garden and I quite like it every year when the time comes when everything stops growing and there is nothing I can do.  It is done for another year.  Close the door, light the lamps, pull your chair to the fire. This year however I have turned my back on the garden in a big way.  Usually in winter I do at least some thinking and dreaming.  By January I am starting to engage with the idea of gardening and I might read about gardens or spend time making up plant lists or musing about what to do in one area or another.  This year I did none of that.  I had lost my gardening mojo.  I had fallen out of love. I think there were two strands to that.  One was the extent to which over the late summer and autumn I had begun to feel deeply unsettled and

Living below the line - the final day (for me at least)

Somehow we have made it through to Friday.  I am torn between excitement at what I will able to eat tomorrow (shallow me!) and a strange feeling that I could carry on doing this for ages.  I eat my porridge made with water and carefully scrape out the last of the cheap pot of natural yoghurt to go with it.  I barely notice that my morning drink is hot water rather than tea.  Then I whizz out to yoga class, both as a distraction from thoughts of food and to share experiences with my yoga teacher who is the only other person I know who is doing this. Patty has eaten quite similarly to me but she has had chick peas as well as lentils and a small amount of nuts.  I think she has purchased these with the money I chose to spend on yoghurt, which has been my only dairy.  She had intended to make baked potato the centre of her main meals but found that potatoes are just too expensive.  It is interesting to see just how much conversation the whole challenge has produced, both in the class and

Living below the line - Day 4, a bit of foraging

A bit of creativity today.  Breakfast as before and it seems almost easy.  Reluctantly I have to admit that I feel better in the morning after a night without my usual glass of wine.  I wouldn't have said that I feel in any way bad normally.  I only have a glass or two.  I don't wake hungover or bleary eyed.  I get up cheerily enough and get on with my day.  But I do think that, whether it is the vegetarian diet or the absence of wine, I am bouncing up in the morning with foolish energy.  Something to think about. I worked all morning in the garden digging over the cutting garden.  The sun shone, the daffodils sparkled and all the trees seemed to have decided to burst into leaf, tiny and vividly green against the mostly bare skeleton of the tree.  Again I don't know whether it is the lack of protein in this very restricted week but I did find myself tiring quite quickly and developed a passionate yearning for a cheese sandwich.  I had a break from digging to help Ian move

Living below the line - Day 3 - not scavenging in bins

The morning routine is going fine.  Porridge and yoghurt and hot water seem perfectly ok for breakfast.  I do miss my lovely home laid eggs if I think about it but if I just get up and get on with it all is fine. Today I am going to meet someone for lunch.  I have explained what I am doing and we have agreed to bring a boxed lunch with us and to eat outside.  My lunch is the remains of my curry and rice.  I suddenly have an insight into what it is like to be someone whose relationship with food is simply that of "food as fuel". I know several people like that and I imagine it saves a lot of time, but because we love food in our house I have always been interested in cooking it, eating it, thinking about it, planning meals for special occasions and using food to bring people together around the table.  This lunch is pure fuel.  I don't enjoy it.  I don't not enjoy it.  I just eat it.  There isn't quite enough but I am not actually hungry.  I drink lots of water b