Category Archives: 365

10 minute creamy mushrooms with cous cous

Chop up a few mushrooms, as many as you fancy.
Chop up finely, half a clove of garlic. Rub some sea salt on it to grind it up a bit.
Melt some butter in a frying pan, add a tablespoon of flour
add the mushrooms
fry a bit
add a quarter of a stock cube
add some cream. Bring to the boil and then simmer for a bit.

Voila.

Boil the kettle.
Put half a cup of cous cous in a bowl.
Add 3/4 cup of boiling water to the cous cous.
Add a pinch of salt.
Cover for five minutes.
Stir a bit.
Cover for five more minutes and then the food will be ready.

Add the mushroom mix to the cous cous.

Delicious and lovely.

A House in the Sky, A Memoir of a Kidnapping That Changed Everything

houseinthesky At 18, Amanda Lindhout moved from her Canadian hometown to the big city, saving tips as a waitress to travel the globe. In war-ridden Afghanistan and Iraq she carved out a fledgling career as a reporter. In August 200, she travelled to Somalia to report on the fighting – and was abducted.

Her story illuminates the psychology, motivations, and desperate extremism of her guards and the men in charge of them. She survived by finding strength and hope in the power of her own mind. A House in the Sky refers to the place Amanda went to during her abuse. A place of peace and happiness she built for herself in the sky and this story is a moving testament to the power of compassion and forgiveness.

Since her release after 460 days in captivity, she has devoted herself to the cause of the rights of women and girls in Somalia, founding the Global Enrichment Foundation charity which funds women’s education projections and offers support for survivors of sexual violence.

A House in the Sky has its opening pages set right in the midst of the kidnapping and the writing allays all fears of a story written for the sake of tearing at the emotions. The events happened and they were real and someone survived them. And then there’s life that comes after that and strength and determination.

“This is one of the most powerfully-written books I have ever read. Harrowing, hopeful, graceful, redeeming and true. It tells a story of inhumanity and humanity that somehow feels deeply ancient and completely modern. It is beautiful, devastating and heroic – both a shout of defiance and a humbling call to prayer,” is how Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love describes it and I couldn’t agree more.

A House in the Sky: A Memoir of a Kidnapping That Changed Everything Published by Viking Paperback on April 3, 2014

Inspiration for the year ahead, Sir Ken Robinson talking about creativity

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Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity.

Happy families

Facebook can be very useful sometimes. Life changing announcements are as simple as a quick notification which is what I did with my pregnancy – I posted the baby scan and then everyone who wanted to ‘liked’ and commented. Well, that baby’s father is now part of our family and has moved in to live with us. I’m no longer a single parent and neither is he.

I have a lot of attachment to the idea of single parent but I’m happy with how we are as well.

I’ve posted a fair amount about the pregnancy, about the baby stages and about growing up and co-parenting. I haven’t yet posted anything about a relationship and a family. Not until now and even now I’m not saying much. Let’s see how it goes.

Family photo

Se7en Dwarfs, Wardrobe Theatre

se7en dwarfs“Sner” White has lived her whole life in the shadow of her Disney namesake who for generations let down feminism with her weak behaviour. Kicked out of home at 16 by an evil stepmother she became a sexy and strong police officer who is just a little overemotional. This weakness led to her dismissal from the force while investigating the “12 days of Christmas” murders and shooting the suspect. But now the murders have started again and Detective White is needed once more.

While you might think that a production based on Snow White crossed with cult film Se7en is probably not quite easy on the stomach, the irreverence and humour of Se7en Dwarfs is beyond what you can imagine. The creativity of the production is brilliantly fun and utterly surprising when you consider the tiny theatre in which they are performing. (It’s very small.)

Emma Keaveney-Roys as Detective White is colourful and brash while sounding like a cross between a northern truck driver and a beautiful deposed princess. Adam Blake as Detective Bramley could have possibly carried off the whole show on his own but it was nice that he had the others with him too. Vince Martin did a beautiful job as musician and mouse. Oh and corpse.

The play is riddled with Snow White puns and pulls off some great genre-jumping with its Raymond-Chandler-esque Noir, Christmas movies, Leslie Nielsen-like deadpan ridicule and nursery rhymes combined with fairy tales. Definitely one for Jasper Fforde fans and for Prince ones.

Don’t miss it. This is the one Christmas show that should have its own feature film.

Se7en Dwarfs is Playing at the Wardrobe Theatre until 22nd of December, 2013.

24 Hours in Bristol, making the finals

I forgot to post that I was a finalist in the 24 hours in Bristol photography competition. This was my shortlisted entry:

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“Warehouses on the Welsh Back” taken between 4am and 5am.

Who feeds Bristol and what can we do about it?

Did you know that 10 in 35 Bristol wards don’t have a greengrocer? According to where you live in the city, this may or may not surprise you. I live in the city centre and while I hear of people selling fresh fruit and vegetables in the Bear Pit on Pero’s Bridge and on North Street, I can’t think of a single dedicated greengrocer near me. People in Brislington and Lockleaze have none while those in Westbury-on-Trym have four.

Nationally, 75% of food retail is controlled by four companies, collectively known as ‘the Big Four’ and in the city centre there is evidence that there is a higher concentration of supermarkets than in other parts of the country. The big consequence of this is that some people, usually in the poorer parts of the city, have little choice as to where to buy their food (see reports below).

Here are two reports which provide some more information about Bristol food and retail: Bristol Good Food Plan (2013) and Who Feeds Bristol? (2011)

The Bristol Good Food Plan was published by the Bristol Food Policy Council which was launched in March, 2011, at the Bristol Food Conference. It was based on a key recommendation from the Who Feeds Bristol report written by Joy Carey. Bristol is the first city in the UK to have a Food Policy Council.

We now also have a plan about what to do. Stay tuned.

 
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Cable knit scarf with country tweed wool

I have started my new knitting project with a speckly and silky wool called Country Tweed. I bought the wool in a few different colours and this is the one I’m using now.

My previous project was a handbag based on a Nordic pattern.

Nordic handbag

I used a round needle and had to carry a notebook with me everywhere to keep track of my rows.

It was lots of fun but a bit fiddly so I’d been looking for a project where I could just knit.

Well I’ve almost found it. I can mostly just knit once I get the hang of it all.

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There are only 16 steps to this pattern and it includes the bonus of a new knitting skill which I’ve wanted to try for a while – cable knitting.

The pattern I’m using is the Basketweave Cable Scarf but on 4mm needles (or number 4 needles, I can’t remember).

I had already cast on 40 stitches and knit one row of k2, p2 (knit x 2, purl x 2) so I kept that and added two stitches to the knit parts.

Harrow v Eton and the local boys

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An incredible picture that I just couldn’t help posting.

Jeeves and the Wedding Bells, Sebastian Faulks – a review

With a return to life anticipated nearly as much as Buffy’s, Jeeves and Wooster sprung back to action this month with a new adventure written by Sebastian Faulks  nearly 40 years afters creator P.G. Wodehouse’s death.

Due to a series of extenuating circumstances, Bertie Wooster, recently returned from a very pleasurable sojourn in Cannes, finds himself at the home of Sir Henry Hackwood. Bertie is, of course, familiar with the set-up at a country house. He can always rely on Jeeves, his loyal butler to have packed the correct number of trousers and is a natural at cocktail hour. But this time, it is Jeeves who can be found in the drawing room, while Bertie finds himself below stairs.

Those familiar with Jeeves’ and Wooster’s adventures will quickly find themselves in familiar territory as crazy caper follows seemingly clever but bizarrely amusing Wooster logic in a head-long rush into amusement. The humorous and wittily fast-paced writing for which Wodehouse was well-known is reprised quite elegantly in this revival by Faulks. The PG Wodehouse estate chose brilliantly in asking him to do the writing which the new author calls a tribute.

There is a slightly greater depth to Bertie which comes as no surprise from the author of Birdsong and On Green Dolphin Street. Jeeves is a dash muted and more in the background but not entirely noticeably so. Faulks’s influence seems to disappear entirely when in the most active parts of the story and it takes some remembering to realise that this is not the original author. Wodehouse was a prolific writer in life and Jeeves and Wooster have featured in many adventures. This could fit in and blend among any of them.

The writing borrows its style easily from the gloriously rich descriptions of which Wodehouse was well-known. Full of adjectives and words so round in the mouth that they make you want to spit them out as they are too big to chew. For example, see the description of Bertie’s friend Woody, below:

His features might best be described as craggy, with the old beak pretty prominent, the eyes on the hooded side and the hair generally in need of ten minutes in the barber’s chair, but the opposite sex were drawn to his scruffy figure as moths to the last candle before wax rationing.

This is a most splendid and entertaining story and it makes me sad and hopeful at the same time. I want the Wodehouse adventures to remain never-ending and can only hope Faulks picks up the mantle once again.

Jeeves and the Wedding Bells is undoubtedly my favourite book of the year so far.