Monthly Archives: November 2010

Savour – Illustration Friday – Caught with sticky fingers?

The topic for Illustration Friday this week is ‘savour’.  As many regular readers of this blog will know I have a penchant for a certain savoury spread called Marmite.  I was sure that there was too much savouring of the spread going on when I learned this week of the theft from a warehouse of £60,000 of Marmite and Marmite Christmas products including their Peculiar Milk Chocolate.  I haven’t time to turn this into a proper picture, so just my rough sketch for now of someone sneaking a jar of Marmite out from a hole in the fence.

I know that a lot of people come to these pages via Illustration Friday from all over the world where Marmite is not found.  It is difficult stuff to explain; a brown yeast extract goo.  Notoriously people either love it or hate it.


Training for the 2011 Grethathalon – and blogging for Janathon

Janathon is challenge to post daily in January, primarily aimed at runners (I don’t run) but any exercise will do.  I have decided that in my Several World, where I have my own language, I will coin a new form of exercise. I have invented the Grethathalon. In 2011 the Grethathalon will consist of completing the Dunwich Dynamo and the Great East Swim. Note: completing, nothing about times, just getting round is fine. Feel free to join in, there is no prize and I am fully expecting a field of one – me.  My training officially started today. Having used the Take to the Streets training in 2010 for the Great East I am going to try and weave together their swim training and their cycle training over the coming months to reach a point where I am fit for the roads and open water.  You are warned, expect much exercise related blogging in January, but otherwise it will still be a Several World here.

p.s.  If you’ve followed me since my #f450 campaign last January, you will realise that the exercise bug has well and truly entered my blood stream.

Sneaky – Illustration Friday – A Smuggler’s Song

Illustration Friday - Sneaky

Illustration Friday this week is ‘sneaky’. I have spent some time in Orford and the weather is thick and foggy at the moment. As I was taking pictures down at the quay the sounds of voices were carried across the water clearly. “Yew gotta go Kareful ther’ buoy, thas a lot of bewt yew gort there.” Reading ‘Ask the Fellows Who Cut the Hay’ by George Ewart Evans there is a fantastic section about smuggling. One Liney Riches referred to in the book kept sheep, he would run them over the tracks where the smugglers had taken their haul and prevent the excise men from tracking the route of the wagon. So my thoughts have been with sneaky smugglers, ancient or modern and I have cobbled together my impressions from the images and sounds around the quay. The light from the window might be someone shining a warning lamp or ill-advisedly looking out when they should know better. If you like poetry you might like Rudyard Kipling’s ‘A Smuggler’s Song‘.

Orford – an eastern food capital? Pump Street Bakery is open!

Orford is rapidly becoming a mini food capital of the East of Suffolk.  It has provenance with Pinney’s smokehouse and Oysterage  and a wide choice of pubs that have done good business for years. The Saturday market does a roaring trade and there is an award wining butchers. The village shop has had new life breathed into it too.  The latest addition is Pump Street Bakery, which has just officially opened.  I whizzed in at 10.15 this morning and they were already practically sold out of pastries – the pain au raisin, with my coffee was spectacular though.  The café element is one long table where you sit together with the other customers, a log fire blazing and enjoy the company.  Say hello to Jo (aka @pumpstbakery on Twitter and @PatOrford), if you read the journal on their website you will realise just how hard they have worked to turn a building that had been unoccupied for years into a business.

As I wandered around Orford I was struck by the architecture and the impact of competition in what is an intriguing little village. The bakery is one of the few Suffolk Pink plastered buildings, the predominant material here is brick. Houses range from the commanding to petite cottages, hunkering down to avoid the weather. This is a place of contracts, spitting distance from the sea, yet miles from it; protected by the Ness. This means a long river trip for anyone wishing to get out to open water by boat or in the season a ferry over to the Ness and a walk across the spit to find the sea.  The Ness itself has been a site of mysterious goings on for years.  The many eating places have their chalk boards outside ranging from the slightly intimidating “Smart lunches, more formal lunches on Sundays” (perhaps not the place for me to go after a long muddy bike ride or dog walk then) to the children horses and parrots welcome, humans by appointment. I like the bakery having no external signage at the moment, like a ‘best kept secret’; you feel as if you are wandering into someone’s house.

Part of the beauty of Orford  is that there is something for everyone. I hope the many people who stay in holiday houses there enjoy and make the most of the special treats on offer as much as the locals.

Movember – What’s all the fuzz about?

Supporting Facejunk in Movember

Movember is here, so what’s all the fuzz about?  You may have seen men’s profile pictures changing over the last few days, sporting facial hair for the first time ever.  They are probably joining in Movember; raising the profile and funds for the Prostate Cancer Chairty.  I have decided to support team @Facejunk, hence the change to my avatar (it would be technically difficult any other way).

To mark this momentous occasion here is a Spotify Playlist

Introducing the Bedroom Barista-Geisha

Last night there was a programme on BBC1 which mentioned the Teasmade. Now I think there was a problem with the old style teasmade in addition to its association with the Generation Game conveyor belt, there is also the whole issue of the name (worse still when made by Goblin, which just sounded wrong), they looked clunky and the need for UHT milk, lumpy milk or coffeemate just served to make matters worse.

There are some newer models available but they still don’t more things forward much. Above is my idea, along with a new name. The Bedroom Barista-Geisha, guaranteed to make you perfect tea or coffee every time. It can make coffee with hot or cold milk, tea or infusions.  For difficult couples (ie most) who can’t agree a double set up can be created.  In any case it has to be better than the little kettle beloved of motel bedrooms, that just prove to you how alone you are.

Oh – if this is a truly genius idea I reserve the right to be known as its inventor.

So votes please:

Illustration Friday ‘Burning’ – Aspire Cross Channel Swim – Finished!

Illustration Friday - Burning - illustration of I saw a peacock

The topic for Illustration Friday this week is ‘Burning’, I could not make up my mind what to illustrate, perhaps ‘burning a candle at both ends’, Tyger, Tyger burning bright, Matilda, Ladybird, ladybird or London’s Burning.

In the end I thought of the works of the great poet Anon.  I like to think of him sitting staring at the fire, watching the sparks make pictures on the chimney breast, as he sups ale or cider and creates his poems.  I decided to Illustrate this one:

I saw a Peacock, with a fiery tail,
I saw a Blazing Comet, drop down hail,
I saw a Cloud, with Ivy circled round,
I saw a sturdy Oak, creep on the ground,
I saw a Pismire, swallow up a Whale,
I saw a raging Sea, brim full of Ale,
I saw a Venice Glass, Sixteen foot deep,
I saw a well, full of mens tears that weep,
I saw their eyes, all in a flame of fire,
I saw a House, as big as the Moon and higher,
I saw the Sun, even in the midst of night,
I saw the man, that saw this wondrous sight.

In the meantime, for some reason the soundtrack to my drawing is this:

It’s been an interesting week.  Yesterday I finished the Aspire challenge of swimming the distance of the English Channel between the 13th September and 5th December.  Taking part in the challenge has certainly kept me going to the pool, on days when I might otherwise have backed out.  I am pleased to report that the swim was done in crawl!  If you were following me back in January when I first started this swimming malarkey you will remember at that stage I could not swim crawl at all and could not put my face in the water for breast-stroke.  When it came to doing the Alton Water, Great East Swim I had to complete it in breast stroke as I couldn’t manage it in crawl.  We’ll see if I can manage open water crawl next year.  If you are interested the Channel 4 programme on the Great East Swim is available for the next 28 days HERE.  You can sign up for next year’s Great East Swim on their site they now offer half mile, one mile and two mile swims.

Earlier in the week, on a thoroughly wet and miserable morning, I had a flat tyre outside the pool and wasted  my swim time trying to sort it, giving up and then waiting for Green Flag.  But every cloud has a silver lining.  Green Flag were great, turned up promptly and sorted things out.  Whilst I was waiting I was tweeting my minor trauma and ended with ‘send coffee’.  A sachet of Paddy and Scott’s arrived the next day.  By the time I was home from work I also had an offer of a half day at Ufford Park Spa; so by now I was feeling really spoilt.  So in my personal bubble, even the bad things were turning out well.

Out in the real world we have had the annual act of Remembrance, the release of  Aung San Suu Kyi and Paul & Rachel Chandler, and student riots to remind us of the values and risks associated with freedom, rights and what people believe in.

It’s a crazy world eh Arthur Brown.

Afterwards – Lady Denman Cup – What next?

Adapted from the WI short story competition

The topic for Illustration Friday this week is ‘Afterwards’. This is also the week I will be reading to our WI the story I wrote for the Lady Denman Cup. Actually, it won’t quite be the story I sent in, because I didn’t win. However, I was shortlisted to the level where I received feedback from the judge, which was very helpful and so I have made a few changes, based on the judges comments.

For Illustration Friday I have cheated wholeheartedly, I have taken the photograph that was the basis for the Lady Denman Cup story. It was selected by the WI nationally, along with the title ‘Every Picture Tells A Story’. I have recoloured it with pastels, I actually like the image and my story is to a certain extent about what happened afterwards…

If you would like to read the story it is only 500 words long. Below is the opening paragraph. If you donate to my Aspire fundraising page HERE and leave me an e-mail address I will e-mail you the story in pdf format. If you read the story you will see there is a connection.

“What makes a man? Clemmy expected the Welsh dragon to appear any minute, hoist high on the mast, proclaiming that Huw had reached the checkpoint. Whilst it was pleasant sitting in the shade, she was acutely aware that her heart was fluttering; two grown men fighting for her affections. When they stood at the start, touching the silver birch, scowling at each other, she had known they were serious and actually going to go through with their harebrained idea.”….


Shop Local with Social Media?

Today I have had fun shopping for food in Framlingham, Yoxford and the Sandlings. Yesterday, I had a mystery shopping assignment to a top four supermarket. What a soulless place it was; the assignment itself was interesting but above anything it restored my understanding of why I don’t shop in the big four often. Today was a wholly different experience. First I picked up from the Framlingham Market Facebook page that the lovely Darren, below, was doing a Facebook deal on sea bass. So I went along and ask for two Facebook, great success – apparently I wasn’t the first, someone bought their’s with the papers at 7.00am.

Then I popped over to see Roger Etheridge on his veg stall, I bought watercress which will go nicely with the bass and a few purple sprouting plants. There was a time when I bought boxes of fruit and veg from Roger, but now I grow more and buy less.

Next stop was to meet Twitter friend Carl, or as I know him @solebaycheese, another one of those introductions where I have to remember that most people only know me as a green blob and a dodgy twitter name. Carl has just taken over the Yoxford Post Office and is in the ‘soft opening’ phase. This allows for the Post Office training to be carried out by the previous Sub-Post Master; I dutifully posted a parcel to ensure the training was maximised. Carl served me the most gorgeously gooey piece of Vacherin cheese, whilst dispensing tips on how to prepare and cook; that’s service. Good luck to you Carl, I really hope the new business takes off and look forward to the coffee and free wifi once it’s up and running.

Next stop was Orford country market to test out @PumpStreetBakery’s bread. The market is run in the hall and is a delight. I also bought some sausages with caramelised onion and some potatoes. The Pump Street Bakery stall was being run by @patorford and there was a roaring trade. Some fabulous looking pastries, croissants and meringues too. I now have a huge loaf of crusty bread to enjoy with the cheese. Pat mentioned that the village shop in Orford is taking off. It is fantastic, full of local produce and with a small coffee area, I bought a beautiful Romanesco and some Marybelle milk.

From there a quick jaunt to Snape farmers market for High House discovery apple juice, perfect pale lemon pink in colour and Suffolk Blue cheese, piri-piri Sutton Hoo chicken and then off Friday Street market for some Paddy and Scott’s coffee and smoked garlic.  All in all, far more miles than I would normally do, but such fun and I have a tidy haul of food to serve over the next few days, topped up with some more veg and fruit from the garden, all will be well.

So what do you think – are we about to see a renaissance for the village shop or market?  It may never be able to compete on price but how about quality and friendliness combined with convenience, is it a price worth paying?  Vote below and add comments, for example should local shopping use social media more?

Spent – Over the Rainbow – Illustration Friday

The topic for Illustration Friday last week was ‘Spent’, I was away so have only just completed the IF. The little figures are cut outs from copies of English ten and twenty pound notes. Don’t worry no money was harmed in the making of this picture. I had in mind the spent athlete at the end of a long run, but also that we as a nation and others seem to be spent at the moment; chasing for the pot of gold at the end of the mythical rainbow has left nothing in our reserves. So like athletes are we exhausted yet exhilarated, or will this be our last marathon?

The picture also links to a Twitter discussion about mnemonics and how people remember the colours of the rainbow. I learnt “Richard of York Gained Battles in Vain” and never questioned that there were other versions. It seems many learned that Richard ‘gave battle’.  Others learnt the ‘I can sing a rainbow song’; this is a worry as it has pink and no indigo.  Top marks go to John Peel via @martincampbell2: who apparently learnt “Virgin in bed get your organ ready”.

Click on the map below to go to the version with detailed tags

And HERE is a Spotify playlist to go with this post, including the dreaded rainbow song, guaranteed to help you unlearn the colours of the rainbow.

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