On rain at lunchtime

The canteen at work is designed for people to go in, sit down, eat and leave again. It’s not designed for everyone to sit around talking once they’ve finished eating.

Today it rained. Very very hard. It started raining at midday, just after I’d got to a table and sat down. The people who had been about to leave, and the people who’d been eating when I arrived and had now finished, stayed put – waiting for the rain to stop. My ‘generation’ of diners also stayed put. The new arrivals had nowhere to sit and wandered about forlornly looking for an empty table..

Something like looking for a parking space in a carpark next to a concert.

On Perfect days

(Anyone who read my earlier posts – or spoke to me during May – knows I was invited to spend a week “messing about on a river” (and connecting lakes). This post should have been posted directly after getting back (mid June) but somehow wasn’t. I’m going to post it now anyway)

________________________________________________________________________________

Some days are just so perfect nothing could make them better. They’re even perfect in the moment you’re living them, not just in your memory afterwards.

They’re pretty few-and-far-between, but they do exist.

The first Saturday of the boat trip was one of them. The rest of the boat trip was fantastic too, but there’s something about doing things for the first time that makes them special.

This post won’t do it justice, but I’m going to write about it anyway in the hope I can convey a fraction of the amazingness to screen-paper.

______________________________________________________________________________

I arrived on Friday, was picked up from the station, fed, watered and sent to bed.

I woke to the promise of warm breadbuns for breakfast. By the time I was up and dressed the promise was reallife and waiting for me on the table.

We packed the car and after a brief detour to the workshop to do some last-minute finishing off, we found ourselves parked in a playground on the banks of a huge lake on the outskirts of the city looking at a row of motor and sailing boats, one of which was to be our home for the next week-and-a-bit.

We unloaded the contents of the car into a heap on the pier and I misused a kid’s trampoline while R parked the car where it wouldn’t disturb anyone. I love trampolining, even if the sign forbids anyone over 14 the pleasure of bouncing. Luckily the trampoline police were on duty elsewhere and I got off with being laughed at by R as he came back to start loading the boat.

The only way onto the boat was a thin wooden plank leading off the wooden pier and across the water.

The plank wobbled.

Also the boat rocked if you touched it. I don’t balance better when holding onto something unstable.

I’m not particularly scared of walking on curbstones, and the plank was considerably wider than a curbstone. However. Something in the knowledge that the plank was at least a metre above the water, whereas the curbstone is a maximum of maybe 10cm above the road, made walking along it that much more nervewracking.

Having made it to the boat carrying considerably less than I could carry along a curbstone, R wisely decided I ought to stay inside the boat. He fetched the rest of our stuff while I stowed it somewhere it’d be out-of-the-way yet accessible for the rest of the week.

As soon as the pier was empty we were off 🙂

R’s friend A and A’s nephew D were already onboard A’s boat and waiting for us to get our butts in gear and catch them up.

The first port-of-call was the filling-station.

Filling a boat is very strange. For starters you have to pull up alongside the fuel pump in your boat and then tie it up before you can fill it. I don’t drive, but I’ve never seen anyone tie their car up, and I don’t remember ever tying my motorbike up. I clambered out of the boat and stood on the ‘bank’ out of the way.

When the tanks were full, we untied the boats, moved 50yards up the river and ‘parked’ (involving more tying up) so we could go shopping. We didn’t want to leave the boats unattended, so A and D went shopping first, then it was our turn. The shop was a good 5 minute walk from the river so they brought the shopping trolley back with them. We laughed, took photos 🙂 and walked the empty trolley back to the shop. R refused to walk the trolley back after we’d shopped, so we left it in its trolley shed and carried our shopping back to the boat.

We now had food for the boat and food for us. We needed water. We stopped at a very small port, where a man threw the end of a hosepipe at us and wished us a good day when we threw it back to him.

All things being sorted, we were finally ready to go.

 

It didn’t take long before R suggested I drive. Drive? Steer? Whatever one does to boats to make them go where you want them to go.

As I said above, I don’t drive, but I was curious and 8km/h is a speed even I can handle, so I agreed and he set about telling me how it works. I slid onto his side of the ‘sofa’ and took the wheel. A drove in front of us setting both the speed and the direction, so I just had to follow him without ramming him, the banks of the river, the other boats, or anything else really. There’s also a guage to tell you how deep the water is. Running aground does you no favours.

It seems I am surprisingly good at steering a boat :).

Having discovered this, R relaxed and lay back in the sun. I can’t watch people being lazy if I’m not 😉 and I was supposed to be revising for my upcoming Glass-Theory-Exam, so I dug my 400 painstakingly written 13×7 cards out and handed them to R with the request to go through and ask me the questions. The rest of the day was spent with me behind the wheel and R behind the cards.

Turns out R is dyslexic and, apparently, my handwriting is appalling. Reading is something that came pretty naturally to me, so I don’t really understand how it must feel not to be able to, even if I can understand not making out other peoples’ handwriting. He stumbled through the question while I tried to work out what I might have written, then I answered and he tried to work out what I might have written and whether it coincided with what I answered.

R knows loads – often more than the teacher – and can [usually] explain it in a way that makes me want to listen, so each card became the starting point for a mini-lesson.

 

After a while we arrived at the lake. A threw the anchors out and R and D attached our boat to theirs and we all went swimming (very cold, but okay once you were in).

I lay on deck “to dry” ;). R brought me a Thermarest which meant I lay there a lot longer than strictly necessary.. 🙂

A started washing his boat, I can’t watch people being lazy when I can’t, but I can’t watch people being quite so active while I’m laying around doing nothing (actively watching them be busy doesn’t count) so I washed ‘our’ windows. I’d been irritated by all the dead flies and gunk on the windscreen while driving but hadn’t wanted to say anything… This was a fantastic opportunity to do something about it – and prove my year of washing school windows was good for something.

R sunbathed – apparently watching people clean stuff helps him sleep ;).

As soon as everything on A’s boat and the windows on ours gleamed and glistened (wonderful words :)) we settled down for a BBQ and an evening in. Our boats were joined together so that we were practically all in one ‘room’. The BBQ was on theirs, so we were able to relax (even more) and wait to be served :).

In our supermarket dash it seems R and I had stumbled across the best lamb ever. I wouldn’t recognise the packaging if I was looking for it, and I don’t even remember what the shop was called, which is a bummer, but maybe its bestness wasn’t entirely due to the sheep…

 

D is clumsier than I am 🙂 He was our dinner-entertainment, dropping and spilling things to the amusement of all (and he laughed with the rest of us, so either he’s a fantastic actor or he really didn’t care).

A washed up, R lit the oil lamps and anti-fly-candles and I sat with a Baileys-and-milk listening to the Irish country band giving a concert on the far side of the lake (even if I didn’t believe R had booked them especially) and watching the stars come out.

 

I don’t think anything could have added to the “idylle” (idyllic-ness).

On Jelly

I used to love jelly, still do I guess, even if I don’t eat it often any more.

German kids aren’t nearly as keen on it…

I have never seen so much jelly thrown away before in my life.

On priorities

I have a problem with priorities.

Take today for example.

I came home cold, tired and hungry. Also my hair was skanky and my house was a mess.

The Mental To-Do List said:

  • Sleep
  • hot bath (+wash hair)
  • cook+eat
  • tidy up.

However.

The main problem with this list was the order. If I went directly to bed, I would not only forfeit £200, I would also not achieve any of the other things on the list. The same risk hung over the bath.

Besides. I was hungry.

So I braved the kitchen.

Actually that’s a lie. First of all I sat in a heap on the sofa for almost an hour until I could work up the energy to brave the kitchen. If I’d had any milk I would have eaten muesli and ignored the rest, probably falling asleep on the sofa. As it was I emptied and filled the dishwasher and made the best easy-dinner I’ve made for a long time – not that I’ve really cooked anything in ages: Onions, Mince, Vap* and Fresh Tagliatelle. Frying onions has to be one of the best smells ever :).

Now that I’ve eaten (at the computer :S) I suppose I’d better tackle the rest of the things on my list.

But I don’t wanna.

I have 37 ideas for interesting writings in my head. And the computer’s on, and the keyboard’s warmed up. And my computer-blanket is good for snuggling into. And tidying up is dull.

Except I know I’ll regret not-doing-it tomorrow.

So I’d better peel myself off my rocking stool and get my cleaning hat on.

ARGH.

No.

I don’t really have a cleaning hat.

Sorry.

* short for ‘evaporated milk’

On mushroomsauce

Don’t try this at home.

It is a waste of time, energy, electricity, ingredients and willpower.

You have been warned.

I [re]started taking B12 supplements this week. They’re [supposedly] good against tiredness, grouchyness, depression, energy-deficiency and a whole load of other stuff. The catch is, you have to take then half an hour after eating. This means you not only have to eat, you have to finish eating at least half an hour before you go to bed. This means cooking it in time to eat, in turn meaning starting to cook in time to finish cooking, eat and still have half an hour before bed. I suppose the only options are get organised or cancel out the energy benefits by sleeping less. Unfortunately the second option seems most likely.

I came home from work late and tired as a tired thing. I would have gone straight to bed if it wasn’t for needing to eat and wanting to post. I took a bag of semi-posh frozen ‘forest mushrooms’ and a pack of minced beef out of the freezer on my way in (my freezer’s on the landing outside my second front door) dumped them on the counter in the kitchen and turned the computer on. I officially wanted to read my email and write a post for day-1-month-2. So much for planning. Instead I stalked the people who’d liked my posts, the people who’d liked their posts and some people who came up in a search including my post, and here I am 6 hours later wondering why I’m not asleep yet.

The seemingly only connecting factor between all these things is this saucepan of brown gloop resting on my knee.

I remembered I didn’t like the slimy texture of the forest mushrooms last time I ate them, and that I’d whizzed them into a sauce and mixed it in to… something. And there was the first hurdle. I couldn’t remember what I’d mixed it into. No problem I thought, I’ll make something different. Mushrooms are good I thought, I shall make something like bolognaise sauce but with mushrooms instead of tomatoes.

Famous last words.

Because I am lazy and it was late and I really need to go shopping, I limited myself to very few ingredients. I whizzed the mushrooms (probably waking up my neighbours – they must love me :)), fried the beef mince, added a couple of chopped onions, fried everything a bit more so I was sure the meat was done, and added the mushroom goo. So far so good.

Then I tasted it.

BLEUGH!!

That was something I hopefully won’t repeat too soon.

So anyway. There I am with half a saucepan of grey-brown sludge. I am a big believer of not throwing food away, especially if it’s got animal in it, and even more of a believer in my ability to rescuing things which go wrong. Besides. I had a B12 tablet and a ravenous stomach waiting for me to eat and not a lot more edible options. I looked around and opened drawers and the fridge and found the following things:

  • black pepper
  • 2 beef oxo cubes
  • a lump of cheese
  • a tin of kidney beans
  • 3/4 of a tube of tomato puree
  • curry powder
  • worcester sauce
  • marmite
  • cumin seeds
  • paprika

and maybe some other herbs/spices which I’ve forgotten about.

Half an hour later and with the help of these things, I’d created something slightly more edible than my initial creation. I am sitting here eating it as I write.

I don’t think I will make it again. I think by the time I’ve figured out how to trick myself into eating the rest of the saucepanfull I will be thoroughly cured of the idea that posh mushrooms must be better than normal ones, or at least as good as people say. Hopefully I’ll remember not to [ever] buy them again. I’ll stick to ‘proper’ mushrooms in future. By proper mushrooms I mean the sort you buy fresh, in blue (or black or green) plastic trays with cellaphane/clingfilm over the top 😉

Also, I shall aim to keep enough milk about the place, that I can eat muesli and go to bed without braving the weird world of unknown cuisine.