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Archive for April, 2005

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The Muntjak Deer

Monday, April 25th, 2005

As I said, I’m too busy to cook these days.

But needs must, so I defrosted what we had bought on the farmers’ market last weekend (in addition to another pig’s head): a Muntjak deer haunch and a packet of dry-cured streaky bacon. Oh jeez.
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Blogging break

Sunday, April 24th, 2005

Looks like I’m not going to post here for a while.

I’m currently caught up with other projects and travel isn’t one of them. I haven’t been on the boards for ages, nor followed my favourite bloggers (and, gosh, there are so many now! The Boots blogosphere is fairly exploding—and it’s great!). That is sad, but it is good to take a break sometimes. The blogs will still be there and will make great reading when I’m getting ready to go on that trip myself. By then it won’t be about running away from things any more. But it will be a while. Meantime, I’ll post occasionally when I have a story to tell (or perhaps a recipe to share, but I’m cooking less as well).

One thing’s for sure: I’ll be off on my Blue’s Cruise very soon. Fin whales and sperm whales have already been sighted in the Bay of Biscay in mid-April. That is unusually early and means I shouldn’t be waiting any longer to book my berth—although the weather is always a lottery when whale-watching.

I’ll see you then.

Wild garlic & nettle soup

Monday, April 18th, 2005

The season of bounty is here again! I remember back in Scotland we used to pick handfuls of sorrel and large bundles of wild garlic. Right in front of our door, a large morel mushroom used to erupt from the pink gravel! —Not that anyone picked it that close to drunken folk staggering past each night, but morels can fetch 300 a kg in London and their season is right now, which is a very good excuse to go for a walk. Tomorrow perhaps.

Meanwhile, here is an easy recipe to ring in the bounty of spring.
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Loser’s London

Sunday, April 17th, 2005

Thatcher used to say that anyone over thirty still taking the bus, is a loser. I think anyone over 40 who can’t afford to live in the capital is definitely a loser. Coming to London for the writer’s group yesterday, I certainly felt like one. I wondered how all the people that live in the tiny shoe-box flats south of the river manage to pay their rent, but one thing is for sure: I’d rather live in a hovel in Deptford than in a house in Hampshire.
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Story finished

Friday, April 15th, 2005

Phew, the first draft of my first ever SF story is finished.

It only took two months…and without John’s help I couldn’t have done it. And the writer’s group meeting is tomorrow. They have reluctantly accepted my attendance and send me three stories/excerpts to review. And boy, they are professionals. They are in a different league altogether. But stuff it, I’ll go. Having finished this story has filled me with a crazy, drunken confidence—even before I get to the pub where the meeting is held. Wish me luck…

Secret Flavours

Wednesday, April 13th, 2005

Every cuisine has its secrets—often some herb or spice that is locally common-as-muck but fiendishly difficult to find back home. Sometimes it is just the way in which things are cooked. And occasionally it is something that, in one way or another, is found in different cuisines the world over. Something that different cultures have learned to appreciate quite independently from each other. Something that lends a certain flavour.

No, I’m not talking about chilli or similar common spices.
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Mutton with stuffed vine leaves

Monday, April 11th, 2005

For the past month or so I had a big chunk of shoulder from a hogget (young mutton) in the freezer; bought at the last Basingstoke Farmers’ Market and kept in anticipation for my sister’s Easter visit. Alas, she never came so I decided to cook it for just the two of us.
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We’re in the money!

Sunday, April 10th, 2005

John’s inheritance money has arrived!

While most of it will be invested (and some is sadly needed to make up the shortfall resulting from John’s artificially low salary this year), he has promised me the funds to go on a trip. So now I’m in the enviable situation where I can jump on a plane and go wherever I want in the world (budget permitting) at a moment’s notice.

But outside the sun is shining and the long summer lies ahead and I’m quite busy with all sorts of little projects—in short, I’m in no hurry to leave. Dragging out the planning of this trip is in itself a delicious feeling; especially since at the end of this summer there won’t be another miserable, drizzly, chilly, dark and snivelly winter. Towards the end of the year, John will also be due to take some leave so he won’t wiggle out of coming along for a few weeks.

Meanwhile, it is high time for a tobacco run. And where better to go than the ferry to Bilbao, whalewatching in the Bay of Biscay! I could book the tickets right now—if I wasn’t about to go for a meeting with Genesis SF club in half an hours time.

Open Access Biology

Tuesday, April 5th, 2005

It looks like the Open Access movement is winning. Slowly but surely. —Finally!

A lot of (former) students will have shared the frustration of not finding an important article in the library. In my postgrad years, I have spent a sizeable chunk of my spare time running around the various libraries in London, trying to track down a list of elusive references often hidden in obscure specialist colleges or the dusty vaults of the Science Library, then secretively hidden in the West End and accessible only through an unmarked entrance and after a bag search—very James Bond.
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The Future Revisited

Monday, April 4th, 2005

In the ‘summations’ at the start of his annual ‘best of’ SF anthologies, the editor Gardner Dozois repeatedly comments that many critics, readers and even writers lament the ‘death of SF’ (he then goes on to show them how wrong they are with his intriguing choice of stories published in the previous year). The truth is that we now live in the ‘future’ that authors of classical SF wrote about in the 40s-60s and it is all rather a bit of an anti-climax.
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