Fairy Godmothers Inc. by Jenniffer Wardell: my next read.

Fairy Godmothers Inc.This, I promise, is my next read.

The blurb of Fairy Godmothers Inc. by Jenniffer Wardell reads fast and excitedly, as if the story’s coming out in a rush. If the rest of the book is written with that energy, then I want some.

It’s a Cinderella tale set in a modern world where “fairy tale situations are as much a fact of life as death and taxes”. Hopelessly romantic? Yes please.

I’m tantalising myself with thoughts of feeling uplifted and re-humoured.

Vista Veg Bags – A reason to celebrate well organised locally grown veg.

Just take a long look at this stunning veg. Vista Veg Bag!The fabuloso colours, the whiffs of freshness with an edge of soil; it’s homegrown veg and it’s available to everyone who lives in a sensible radius of Vista Veg, Crosby Ravensworth, near Shap, Cumbria. See their map below: vistavegmap2it’s a pretty large radius when you think that Penrith – Brough (pron.’Bruff’) is 29 miles, Tebay – Penrith is 17 miles, and Tebay – Brough 16 miles.

Their website is vistaveg.co.uk

It’s probably the most  organised veg box scheme I’ve ever seen. You place your order for a regular delivery (fortnightly or weekly), tell them your email address, your real address and your phone number (and name). Then the boss emails you with the delivery day, what you’re going to get in your bag, and asks you to let them know if there’s anything you don’t like.

Just under a week later, the picture above is what I received. On the doorstep, like I asked for. I’ll show you it again. I just love it. In there, I got some super vine tomatoes, a handful of pristine, white mushrooms, several potatoes, about 5 onions, a proper bundle of asparagus, about 5 beetroots, 10 carrots still on their stalks, and a nice fresh spring green cabbage.  I made this to eat with it. Vista Veg Bag!

I guess what me and Vista Veg are trying to say, is eat sustainably, where you can.

 

10 Gross Ingredients – It’s what the food thing is all about

Click here for a rocking post (The Guardian) about the things in food we’d rather not know about. Processed food, obviously. The basic message is that eating food we make ourselves, from scratch, is the best thing for us.

Just banging on that drum again.

My favourite was the chemical that’s directly derived from human hair collected from the floors of salons in China. That’s what keeps sandwich bread fresh.

PreCog …? A creepy short film about dreaming of the future.

Here is a copy of the short film I wrote and produced in 2007. It’s only taken me 6 years to get a version that I could share online. It takes 8 minutes to watch, but it lingers in your mind for a while, which is just what a movie should do.

This is reading like some kind of self-endorsement, but it isn’t that. No-one can make a sensible film by themselves. It takes a core team of people and a whole bunch of willing-and-batshit-crazy volunteers who are prepared to put their weekends on the line to help. Just the central crew of this film had around 150 years of television experience between them. That’s how lucky we were.

And I never realised how good it was, until I watched it today. The last time I did that will have been well over 4-5 years ago.

PreCog …? is about hysterical teenage naivety and that horrid way girl friends have of turning on you. It asks a chicken-and-egg question: whether dreams can create the future or if we would have created it anyway.  In this case, it’s also a question of who creates it.

Many thanks to Nige Cryer for sending it to me.

Goslings Rule!

Gosling pictures, now they have settled into their home.

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The world outside is terrifying, but once they’ve got used to my presence (it helps if you get down on their level), they relax very suddenly, pecking at my over trousers and the nearby new hay, chatting all the while.  Gander

Everybody pecks Sakina

If one shrieks a bit louder for some reason – someone pecked someone else – the geese start shrieking. They have been hanging around the trailer since the goslings arrived. I’m sure they know that the goslings are theirs.

 

They have antibiotics in their water because I was afraid they were starting with pneumonia – they were gulping a lot, but none are now showing any signs of that.

Madam in a sulk as usual

The pictures are terrible, but that’s because they’re taken in a trailer under a false roof. Not because I’m the world’s worst photographer. I just happen to be that too.

Celeriac Soup with Smoked Bacon

Boredom is one texture in a soup.

Admit it, cream of tomato, carrot alone, spicy lentil soup; none of these inspire after the first bowlful. I suspected celeriac would be the same, so that’s why the smoked bacon. They do go with each other. I think. Chorizo was rejected, although that goes well in a slightly spiced butternut squash and sweet potato soup.

celeriac and smoked bacon soup

Chop up half a celeriac in the food processor. Make gravel. Don’t even think about dicing it by hand. This mother is hard.

Dice 4 small onions and slice 2 smoked garlic cloves into hot oil in a stockpot and saute until translucent. Or until the sharpness of the smell begins to burn a nice hole through your sinuses.

Add the celeriac, and stir a few times, ensuring it doesn’t stick to the pan.

2 chicken stock cubes and about 1 litre of water into the pan, lid on, cook on a low heat for ages. When the celeriac gravel feels soft and mushy, blend with a stick blender until it’s as smooth as potato puree. Taste for salt.

Cut up three-four rashers of smoky bacon into very small pieces, fry with a slug of oil on a high heat until crispy and tip the lot into the soup (bacon fat and pieces).

Reheat. Eat*.

*with a ciabatta bread bun which had been briefly wetted and then crisped in the oven. The illusion of freshness.

Gentle Night Out in Lancaster

Last night was our first night out since the start of lambing time. Himself and I wandered late through the drizzling streets of Lancaster, marvelling at the drunken meanderings of scantily clad hen-nighters, and window shopping like country folk in the big city. Which we kinda are. I always have to put an extra layer of persona round myself when I visit a city. Some kind of protection.

Himself had said that he wanted to go somewhere that wasn’t home, so that he could be glad for home when we got back. Lambing time wears on you after a few weeks.

Lancaster it was, because it was 8:10 pm when we left. Way too late to be traipsing to Blackpool, although that town is usually the answer when he wants to remember why he loves his life as it is.

What a fun, simple night it was.

Saw a band in a pub called The Robert Gillow – the pub is up on its music nights, with live music on a Saturday and a live ‘piano lounge’ night on a Friday.

The atmosphere was happy, the music was rock, the Guinness was apparently good (the red wine was lovely), and the night was completed by a Thai meal (the name of the restaurant totally eludes me and there’s no sign of it on Google Streetview, only a steak house in the same location on China Street).

The prawn toast was divine (although I suspect it was frozen until 5 minutes before) and the prawn crackers … why do they have so much more flavour than Chinese ones?  I definitely preferred Himself’s Pad Thai to my hot type (Pad something Keow), but he left no opportunity for me to steal any. A Coke for him, jasmine tea for me, nice, genuine girls running the restaurant. It was a nice meal and we were both full at the end.

Simple things, done slowly. Some of the best meals are like that.

Juggling Goslings

The trouble with writing about animals this year is the lack of photos. People want pictures! Talking about how the goslings poured out of the side trailer door onto the ground while the four geese attacked us (not the goslings, thank goodness) isn’t the same without the visual images.

I‘ve got them in my head. Small yellowish birds scurrying through the door and landing or bouncing two foot down, then rushing away; rescued and thrown back into the trailer, only to come scuttling out again. A goose wheeling and flapping and screeching, dancing round a disorientated gosling, getting hold of my waterproof chaps and not letting go. Utter chaos.

Nothing seems to be physically hurt, but it remains to be seen for now. There are a few illnesses they can get very quickly after being stressed. One or two of them are gulping a bit, so it’s off to the vet tomorrow for me – there’s an antibiotic powder we can put in their water.

The goslings were transported together in two open tubs, in as unstressful a way as possible. When we tipped them gently into the trailer we didn’t expect them to come rushing back out through the door. We’ve now put a curved rubber ‘wall’ at both ends of the trailer which protects them from the doorway, and also helps to prevent them accidentally suffocating one another in a corner. No corners is apparently safer.

I suspect they’re afraid of the dark, so we left them a torch on all night.

And no, no pictures. Certainly not while juggling goslings. It wouldn’t be fair. You wouldn’t want your picture taken and flashing lights in your eyes on the most terrifying night of your life.

A Haunted Death, by Susan Dorsey

A Haunted DeathA Haunted Death is a book I know I want to read. You know that feeling when the characters of one book get under your skin and then a new one comes out? It makes my skin prickle.

In case you’re wondering, A Discriminating Death was the one that hooked me and my skin.

Lots of twists and twirls in the story; great characterisation and people observation; witty dialogue, and a decent ending.