Saving For The Future – Yellow Gold

Daffodils remind me of my great-grandmother. She always referred to the golden beauties as Jonquils, a name you’re more likely to hear in the American south, and one which actually refers a variety of the Narcissus flower. I think she would have been very impressed with the mix of daffodils growing in and out of the Cornish hedges. For the longest time I thought that like many flowers they had hitchhiked their way to the hedges, forgetting that they are bulbs and as far as I know, must be planted.

John watched a television program the other night that explained why there are so many different types of daffs improving the views in our narrow lanes. Before WWII, loads of daffodils were grown in Cornwall and exported for sale with bright fields of different varieties harvested each year by hand.

The picture below is one from the National Trust website for Cotehele and shows the harvest.

Photo Credit - National Trust

From Field to Hedge

During WWII, Britain’s food was mostly homegrown so the daffodil fields were quickly changed to fruit and vegetables. When the bulbs were taken out of the soil to make room for something more edible, the farmers didn’t want to waste them so they put them into the hedges where many varieties from before the war still grow every spring.

While it’s not the kind of gold that can fund your retirement, I’m going to enjoy the blooms that much more knowing the history of how they came to be there.

Pub Crawl Failure – My First Taste Of Guinness

I’m a woman who believes in marking an occasion and while I’m not a big drinker, when I learned I’d be spending a weekend in Dublin, I decided it would be a perfect opportunity to have my first taste of Guinness in the place it originated. I spotted the sign above on the day we arrived and briefly and I do mean briefly, considered doing the tour, but decided since alcohol consumption was the implied expectation, I’d be a dismal failure.

We squeezed in loads of sightseeing during our Dublin experience, but it wasn’t until our last day that I had an occasion to make good on my plan to have a taste of Guinness. By Sunday afternoon we were trying to find a pub with live Irish music for David and a Guinness for me. Michael was happy leaving the choice to us and having read the reviews for the Oliver St. John Gogarty pub, we chose it for a late afternoon rest stop.

It was our only pub visit and as it turns out, the best choice I think we could have made. Having researched the man the pub is named for, I discovered Oliver St. John Gogarty was the contemporary of a many literary figures of his day and served as the inspiration for several important characters as this snippet from Wikipedia revels ” His most famous literary incarnation, however, is as Buck Mulligan, the irrepressible roommate of Stephen Dedalus in James Joyce’s Ulysses.”

I left the pub that evening assuming he’d been a publican, but discovered later that he was medical doctor, published author, playwright, and poet who was involved in Ireland’s fight for independence along with Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins. 

The Gogarty pub was so much more than I’d expected and the music and atmosphere alone would have made it worth talking about, but the fish and chips … were the best I’ve ever eaten! The tartar sauce alone was good enough to make a southern woman weep.

There’s a saying I’ve heard somewhere that goes like this, “Southerners like to think that God invented fish just so there’d be a vehicle to eat tartar sauce.” Can anybody help me out with the proper quote and the origin? It sounds like something Paula Dean would say.

You can see the musicians in the distance by the windows. They provided a perfect accompaniment to the fun we had and I was well pleased with the whole experience especially the one in the photo below.

You must know by now that I like to document a lot of my expat experiences and having a taste of Guinness in Ireland is worth a snap or two. I’d heard a great deal about the taste and what to expect and I was prepared to find it too strong based on its consistency and color, but I thought tasted a bit like coffee in a way only sweeter than the black coffee I drink. It was heavier than a regular beer and felt richer like a milk smoothy in a health food bar.

While I photographed a pint, I only drank a half. That’s me as you can see having my first taste. I look a little apprehensive, but I was all smiles later. Remember … I barely drink so a few sips in and I was feeling it.

There’s one last thing I wanted to share about Gogarty and it was one I would not have expected. When his return to Ireland was delayed by WWII after completing a lecture tour in the United States, Gogarty applied for and was granted American citizenship and spent most of the rest of his life in New York where he wrote for a living after giving up medicine.

So while we skipped the literary pub crawl and our consumption of Guinness was pretty limited, we still managed to choose the one pub with something for all three of us. Without knowing the history of the man that Gogarty’s was named for, it seems a happy coincidence that a doctor (David), a published author (Michael), and a (now) Guinness loving expat (me), chose this pub to round out our Dublin experience.

Until next time … Cheers!

A Table For Two With A Sea View

Watergate Bay, Cornwall - A Lone Cyclist - 2/2/2012

I always forget that our wedding anniversary falls on ‘ Groundhog Day.’ If you’re not familiar with this annual celebration where a groundhog’s behavior is supposed to determine how much winter is left, you can read about it here.

There’s also a film called ‘Groundhog Day’ where a TV weatherman has to report on the Groundhog Day festivities and finds himself stuck repeating the same day over and over. He’s fairly self-centered and repeating the same day causes him to reevaluate his life and priorities. I never cared much for it, but it is hugely popular with many people.

All that said, John and I did a sort of Groundhog Day yesterday when we went back to the restaurant Fifteen, at Watergate Bay in Cornwall. It’s a gorgeous location and the third year that we’ve celebrated our wedding anniversary with a tasty meal there and a walk on the beach afterward.

Fifteen - A Table For Two With A Sea View

We arrived for a 1:15 reservation to an almost full house and not long after we were seated, the table next to us finished and I was able to snap this photo before the next couple arrived.

I took this without leaving my chair. It was the kind of day that reminds you of why Cornwall is one of Britain’s top holiday destinations. I love living this close to the sea.

Fifteen has a special menu at times that you can choose from along with other more pricey selections. Today’s special included a 3-course meal for 19.95 BPS each. John started with mussels which I never eat, but he enjoyed. I had a had delicious butternut squash soup that was slightly sweet and very filling leaving me struggling a bit to find room for the main course.

He moved on to roast lamb with a potato something underneath and a spinach topping. I should have snapped a photo of the menu so I could review this properly. I’m sorry I can’t be more detailed, but most of what you need to know can be found in the sentence below.

Four words could easily describe our experience, ‘ Great Service, Great Food.’

Speaking of service, our waiter Nick, who I mentioned last year, recognized us right away even though it had been twelve months since our last visit. He said something cute when he asked about my apple/walnut risotto with gorgonzola cheese choice which was a lovely combination of taste and texture.

Nick said his granny Masie liked to say that ‘ An apple without cheese was like a kiss without a squeeze.’ This appears to be a variation of a popular old saying here that I had not heard before and I have to thank Nick for sharing it with me. I’m sure I’ll hear it in my head the next time I reach for an apple.

I wanted a quick photo of John holding my dessert before I dug into it below. Sorry about the woman growing out of his ear. I couldn’t discreetly avoid her and I didn’t want my ice cream to melt. Even a good photographer can have a shift in their priorities when there’s ice cream involved.

The service was excellent with the special message at the end making my sticky toffee pudding even more delightful. Nick is still teaching surfing and appears to doing a bit of modeling as well now. Click here to see him in a surfer shirt from the Fifteen shop.

I caught a quick snap of these surfers in the parking lot when I was changing my shoes for our beach walk. They were rubbing something on their boards which I assume was surf wax, but I’m sure I’ll find out when I take a few lessons this summer. I only have a three-quarter length wet suit not one of these full body ones and after our winter day at the beach, I’m content to wait for warmer weather.

I thought this family made for a cute photo. This appeared to be an outing to see dad surf complete with a sand crazed dog who was clearly happy to be running on the beach.

You can double-click on these to get a closer look. There were loads of surfers out which was brave considering the weather temperature and the amount of ice on the beach.

John took these four photos of me. I took loads of pictures of the ice from different angles never realizing most of the time that he was snapping photos of me. I managed to get some images that pleased me like the first one at the very top of this post with the beach cyclist riding into the sunlight and last two below.

Pieces of ice were breaking off while I was trying to get the shots I wanted and several times I had jump back to avoid being hit. John took this one of me the one below and I like the way the water droplets are blowing through the shot.

He shot this one after I climbed up on an icy rock to get underneath the hanging ice for a the last two images below.

He disappeared through the place in the rock above and I followed him later to see what he’d discovered on the other side.

There are loads of caves and carved out places on this beach and it’s a fun one to explore.

John on the other side.

Here’s a look at what I saw when I climbed up and shot under the shelf with the ice. Notice the water drop in the bottom right. Drops of water were falling constantly while I was shooting and it was fairly surreal having ice framing a beach shot with surfers and dog walkers in the background.

Having the sun sliding down towards the end of its day made for a nice close to another sweet celebration.

Thanks for all the good wishes on Facebook and for those on yesterday’s anniversary post.

It’s always fun to share special days with you.

 

 

Eating, Sleeping, & Walking On A Jersey Holiday

I’m back with a bit more about our trip to Jersey. Due to John’s daughter having moved last year, we stayed in a B & B this visit. Rachel has a loft/attic room that will eventually be added space she can use for company, but given she’s moved to a seaside location, I think a slightly smaller home is a good tradeoff for being steps from the sand.

The photos just above and below are pictures of Undercliff, the B & B where despite having the best bed ever, I managed to have busy dreams each night. John and I agreed that it was great value for the money. Our room very clean and spacious and only a short walk to the sea. With a tasty breakfast each morning and strong and plentiful coffee, we felt so well looked after by Ida and Richard Huson that we’d recommend Undercliff without hesitation.

Here’s a shot John took from a hill nearby of Undercliff now. It looks as if it’s grown some since the black and while photos below were taken. We had breakfast everyday in the room with the big fireplace shown in the bottom left photo of the four below.

These black and white photos were a series of framed photographs showing Undercliff during or shortly after WWII. As Jersey was occupied by the German military during WWII, John and I decided the terms below for staying at Undercliff were probably after the war because people were not coming to Jersey on holiday when it was occupied. Ration cards are mentioned in the terms below and John said they were using ration cards for some things as late as 1954 in Britain. We stopped rationing in the US in 1946.

This is what you see when you follow a path near Undercliff. It takes you right by the sea and onto the coast path.

John was standing on a rock trying to take a similar picture to the one I snapped just above this one.

There are steps in some places to help along the coast path, but sometimes they seem to go on and on making you wonder if you’ll ever reach the top.

If you look closely at this photo, you can see something that looks like a castle on the piece jutting out near the broken off looking point on the left. We explored the area on our walk and I’ll have close-up images of what we discovered in tomorrow’s post.

We walked about two and half miles to meet Rachel and Jersey Baby Girl for lunch in Rozel which is home to the famous Hungry Man! The food is great and mostly fattening, but a trip to Jersey is not complete without a visit here for lunch.

The best part of lunch was not the yummy bacon-burger I enjoyed, but having a chance to cuddle the little sweetie below.

Coughing, Sleeping, And Glorious Soup Eating

As you can see by my title, my activities have been a bit limited this week. I’ve been fighting a nasty bug that has taken me out of action in a way I’ve not experienced since meeting John and moving to England. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I felt this bad for so long.

The progression of symptoms has been interesting in the six days since I began to feel ill. In the beginning I felt as if I had one of my blog friend’s big dogs sitting on my chest. That’s how I described to John anyway and it was the first symptom I felt. No cough or even a runny nose, just a heavy feeling of weight on my chest. Everything else came later with the cough being the worst of it.

Being waylaid by a bug can be a time of discovery and now that I think I may be approaching the end of it (I’ve heard this one comes and goes) I can share a couple of things I’ve learned.

John is an excellent caregiver, bless him.

I’ve not had a lingering week-long illness before with him and he has been steadfast in making sure I was taken care of. When you’re used to taking care of yourself it can be difficult to allow someone to care for you. I’ve been learning how to do just that this week as I was too poorly to do much more than cough, complain, and sleep.

Next discovery, the right soup can be lovely anytime when you’re ill, even for breakfast.

I’ve been living on some delicious soup for the last few days. It tasted so good that I imagined it must have loads of fat and calories and once I was feeling a little better, I had a look at the new soup John brought home for me.

Glorious Skinny Soup Photo From Glorious Website.

To my delight, I discovered it was a Skinny Soup made by Glorious foods and it’s the best tasting soup I’ve had in a long time. It’s only sold at Sainsbury’s and even though we have to drive into town to shop there, we’ll be picking some more up tomorrow.

I’ve also been drinking loads of water and lemon-ginger tea to stay hydrated and I’ve tried to sleep as much as possible by napping in the daytime to make up what I miss while I’m coughing my way through the night.

A last thought is how true it is what they say about good health.

I can’t imagine feeling this poorly all the time. I know many people are living with illness and disease far worse than my brief bout and I’m grateful for what feels like the approaching end to this miserable flu.

Check out the Glorious Foods selections if you live in the UK and I wish you good health as we move into the new year.

 

Smoke And Fire – Letting Go And Staying Open

A few days ago I wrote a piece called ‘ Up In Smoke ‘ if you missed it, take a minute and go back for a quick read through. What follows will make more sense if you do.

Now that you’ve caught up, take a look the beach bonfire where the ceramic containers went into fire on New Year’s Day so the strips of paper inside could be turned to ash and the wishes and burdens released.

Here’s shot from a distance to give you some scale for the rockiness of the area.

Remember when I said there would be sausages roasted over the fire … well, that is Tina’s brother in the foreground with a sausage on a stick. He was there with his wife and daughter and wrote about his bonfire experience in the comment section here. I’ve included it below as well. (Thanks, Pablo)

” Ari, Amber and I really enjoyed the wonderful new years day bonfire on Baby Bay, watching the urns get hotter and hotter as we cooked hot dogs and sausages. After about an hour the urns got so hot that the wishes and burdens caught flame and made a whooshing sound as they exhaled fire and smoke from the egg like urns. It reminded me of the celebration of lights that signal the coming of longer days and rests at the heart of our solstice inspired christian midwinter festivals.”

Ahhh … Cornish sausages over an open fire. I have to eat them with American mustard though. I carry it with me when I know I’ll be eating some especially at our village pub. Nothing says American like pulling a BIG bottle of French’s mustard from your handbag.

Big thanks to Amyra Bunyard who documented the process and gave me permission to use her images here.

Full As A Tick And Other Thoughts About Food

Christmas 1960 - Elizabeth Harper - Looking Full As A Tick

It’s early 9:15 in the morning here and I still feel full from all the food I’ve eaten over the last few days. John and I may have had a quiet Christmas with just the two of us, but lord did we eat!

More than a time or two the words ‘ I’m full as tick, ‘ may have crossed the lips of one of us and you won’t need to wonder which if you remember I’ve got southern roots. Our different geographic histories were also clearly illustrated by the foods that filled our plates.

John made all of his traditional English side dishes and I made the ones that have graced my family’s southern dinner table for as long as I can remember so that in the end it looked as if we had both made a complete Christmas dinner with only a shared turkey and gravy between us.

While I’m talking turkey, I have to say that John’s turkey this year was amazing! On big holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving, turkey tends to be more as an accessory item to me, something I’m supposed include but don’t want too much of as there are more exciting choices to be had. This year the turkey was perfect in taste and texture and I stuffed down more of it than usual.

Speaking of stuffing, John made his in the bird and I did a cornbread dressing in a pan like my family does in Georgia. I used cornmeal carried over on my last flight since I haven’t been able to find any in Cornwall.

Have a look at our dinner plates on Christmas day, they may look like they have the same food, but if you look closely you can see the difference. John has more of the roasted root veggies along with his stuffing and the English version of a ‘pig in a blanket.’ Here it’s a sausage wrapped in bacon while in my family it would be a cocktail weenie wrapped in a biscuit.

John's Christmas Dinner

I had one chance to grab a quick shot of John’s plate as he had his knife and fork in hand and was waiting impatiently to begin. Multiple shots were not a possibility so this one will have to do. Notice all the plain ‘healthier’ veggies … there’s only a small dibble of my contributions seen at about 9 and 10 o’clock on the plate. He did compliment me on my broccoli bake (we’d call it a casserole) but that means something less special here.

My Christmas Dinner

My plate has a mix of both of our dishes. A good southern girl is raised to be polite and eat a of bit of what’s offered, but I focused mainly on things I made like my sweet potato casserole which is always heavenly and the previously mentioned broccoli which I successfully modified slightly by substituting regular bread crumbs with cornbread crumbs instead.

The pink stuff as John likes to call it, is what we refer to as a congealed salad and it’s made from a recipe Cullene has had for many years. I love this cranberry, cream cheese and jello concoction, and no holiday meal is complete for me without it. John likens it to something here called Blancmange which sounds as if he’s saying Blamonge.

The end result was the same for both of us with empty plates and overfull bellies. In a time where many people don’t have enough, I was acutely aware of how fortunate we are to have so much.

The taste of special dishes served only once or twice a year acts as a link for me and probably many of you too reminding us of past holiday meals shared with family and friends and perhaps, it’s the feelings triggered by memory along with a mix of sweetness and spice that makes us overindulge at times.

Here’s hoping your heart was a full as your tummy and that your meal was shared with someone you love.

' Cheers ' from John Winchurch At Christmas