Monthly Archives: December 2010

Seventh Day – Going Swimmingly

Sorry for the late posting, but I really had to get on with some overdue real work.

Today my true love has sent swans, swimming.  As many of you will already know swimming has become my great love. A twitter message from Stradbroke pool about this time last year led me to enter the Great East Swim and go from being someone who enjoyed swimming in all weathers but head out of the water to a regular open water swimmer and now able to swim crawl face down.  You will have seen on the fifth day that I have committed to do the Great East Swim in 2011 and 2012 as my Olympic pledge.  I am also hoping to do the Dunwich Dynamo for the first time this year. Somehow I need to integrate long distance cycle training with training for an open mile swim.

Time for me to talk a little more about Janathon. The idea behind Janathon is that people take exercise every day and blog about it, throughout January.  One of the things I have learned about myself is that having a target certainly encourages me to take part. I enjoyed the Aspire swim which kept me going through the autumn and early winter. I am hoping that Janathon will help me get into a training pattern for the Great east and the Dynamo, huge thanks to Cathy for coming up with the idea, organising the site and generally enthusing and corralling everybody.  When I last checked there were 170+ participants, which is amazing.  I fully expect the blogs to be brief but hopefully they will help me to keep track of my diary and progress too.

I had originally hoped to go for a New Year dip tomorrow, but the lass I was hoping to go with is poorly – get well soon Mrs Meramid.  Never the less I may go and throw some pebbles in the sea anyway.

A nice safe challenge for you all today (after all if you want to make an exercise commitment go back to Day 5) – take out your crinkle free new 2011 diary and set aside a date to spend time by some water, the sea, a lake, river or waterfall. It is good for the soul.  Come back here when you’ve been on your date out and let us know how you feel.

The clip below was my first effort at swimming in a wet suit, on Dartmoor in May.  The best bit was sitting in the water afterwards whilst the tadpoles nibbled at my toes.

Before your Russian roulette question here is a little game to warm up with – I quite like this one

Your Russian Roulette Question for today:  How did Peder Lykkeberg go about things the wrong way in the 1900 Paris Olympics leaving him with the bronze?

 

The Playlist for today is here

If you are new to this, a brief explanation.  The #12DCP is a virtual Christmas party.  A post a day will appear on the Grethica.  You respond by way of comments.  Each comment creates an entry into my prize draw, for a money can’t buy prize (because it’s mostly stuff that’s been given away by others).  The Russian Roulette questions are quiz style questions, the comments you leave to those will be posted at the end of the 12 DCP.  However the danger with a Russian roulette quiz is that if you answer a question wrong – all of your answers become null and void.  The good news is though you have time to go back and post answers to previous days, right up to the end of the 12th day.

Enjoy – thanks to those that have taken part so far… keep up the good work


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Sixth Day – Goose Bumps

The sixth day my true love gives me geese laying.  Geese = goosebumps in my mind and the short days and long nights of winter are natural ground for ghost stories.  So a longer post from me today as at the end you will find my ghost story.  But my challenge for you today is to create a ghost story or poem in any format – it might be a haiku, a 500 word story or one in the 2,000 word format.  If you are posting to your own blog you can link in the comments using this text swapping your blog address, note the space after the ” is important.

This is my link <a href=” https://grethic.wordpress.com/great-east-swim/”>here</a&gt;

The playlist for today is here

And the Russian roulette Question for today is:  Where would you find the Brown Lady?

If you are new to this, a brief explanation.  The #12DCP is a virtual Christmas party.  A post a day will appear on the Grethica.  You respond by way of comments.  Each comment creates an entry into my prize draw, for a money can’t buy prize (because it’s mostly stuff that’s been given away by others).  The Russian Roulette questions are quiz style questions, the comments you leave to those will be posted at the end of the 12 DCP.  However the danger with a Russian roulette quiz is that if you answer a question wrong – all of your answers become null and void.  The good news is though you have time to go back and post answers to previous days, right up to the end of the 12th day.

Enjoy – thanks to those that have taken part so far… keep up the good work


Cicero’s Hairpin

For Jamie, stepping in front of the train at Saxmundham station, on a cold October morning may have been a mistake.  It was typical that even that was a cock-up.  Cry for help, panic attack or a proper suicide attempt?  All he had to show for it was a twisted ankle, a graze above his left eyebrow and a killer headache.  Two weeks of psychiatric care, a further four months away from work and to external eyes he was mended.

The whole election period had been difficult; he was fraught with tension, a shadow minister who fully expected one of the top jobs.  For some reason that he never fully understood, he had an unstoppable, Tourette like tendency to talk himself into trouble.  He antagonised colleagues as well as opposition, making remarks that were later described as, ‘unfortunate’ by the new Prime Minister.  After his first year he discovered that the staff at his constituency offices had nicknamed him The Aldeburgh Ament.  Whereas Juliette his wife had managed to take a fragile majority, and turn it into a safe seat; he had taken a resounding majority and created the most marginal seat in the country.

This holiday was to mark a new start, Juliette’s birthday, a final rest before his return, a long weekend in Rome; just the two of them.  The journey had been unremarkable; the hotel was unspectacular, comfortable but crucially for them walking distance from the key sites.  As they arrived they threw their cases down on the floor and Juliette started unpacking.

“Prego, per Signora Jay,” a knock at the bedroom door had Jamie leaping up to answer.  There stood the receptionist, silver tray in hand, with an ice bucket, glasses and a bottle of fizz neatly jacketed by a white napkin.  Jamie took it, thanking the receptionist and sliding the envelope she handed him under the tray as he placed it carefully on the dressing table.

“You shouldn’t have,” said Juliette, “You old softy.”

Jamie poured two glasses, glancing at the bottle and realising that it was actually a fairly basic and worse, sweet Prosecco.  Why he didn’t own up straight away he couldn’t think.  Juliette believed it was from him, he chose to go along with her misconception.  They chinked glasses and he took a sip.  She knew he should not drink at all due to his medication, but one sip would be fine.

“I need a walk, just clear my head, before dinner,” Jamie glanced over at Juliette who was already settled in the chair with her glass in hand reading the novel she had started on the plane.  She had grown used to his wanderings.  Ever since the ‘incident’ he had tended to take himself out in the evenings, he might be gone twenty minutes, or several hours.  At first it had frightened her, worrying that he might do something foolish again.  But, as the months wore on and he always returned, she resigned herself to the fact that he needed the space alone with his thoughts.

“Let’s go to dinner at nine then,” she said, only half looking up as he left the room.

As soon as Jamie hit the pavement he knew he would find her.  He could smell roses, cinnamon and cardamom.  Subtle yet tangible the scent came to him and he trailed it assiduously across the streets.

It was always powerful women; the first time had come as a surprise.  Matron Emily Clarke, carbolic, wintergreen and hyacinth; she fussed around him whenever he entered the clinic at the hospital. He had tried mentioning it to Dr Frobisher, but when he saw the reaction it caused, he quietly forgot to mention her name any more.  It was only as he left the building and saw the memorial stone in the entrance hall, he realised that Matron Clarke had died some hundred years earlier.

The second; coming home to his house at Aldeburgh and finding Elizabeth Garret Anderson, orange flower, bergamot and rose, (specifically Briar Rose, by imperial Crown Perfumery, he had asked her); sitting at his study desk.  Elizabeth had not been such a shock; he had known that she lived at the house after she retired.  He had to prevent himself from reacting to her while his wife was around and he was amazed that Juliette never commented on the bouquet.  It was through Elizabeth that he learnt to talk to the women.  First taking in a deep breath to fully absorb the scent, then slowly as it filtered out through his nostrils transferring the miasma to his brain, letting the notes and chords, the composition of the oils and volatiles convert to thoughts synaesthesically.  He realised he could only talk when he was close enough to take a fully scented breath.  He also discovered that Elizabeth was often out and about in the town when he took his evening strolls.  He would detect her essence, percolate it through his system and then chat as they strolled around the town.  He often angered her when he let his underlying misogyny show in his clumsy descriptions of working with women in the Commons.  Elizabeth was remarkable though; she tried to educate him, and he liked her.  From there on he assumed all ghosts were benign and helpful.

Now in Rome he was tuning in to a new scent.  Rose, cinnamon and cardamom, it was delicate at first, just a hint.  He strolled past the opera house and down towards the chaotic roads surrounding the Coliseum, the smell intensified but not enough to really fill his lungs.  Through the ruins on the Palatine and then down towards the Circus Maximus, the scent started to build and finally he could feel the miasma beginning to form.  He took a long hard breath in and waited.  As he looked across the Circus Maximus he could see her, walking down in the central zone, where the Spina had been.  She stopped periodically and looked up as if viewing something, stroking the air at shoulder level.

Fulvia was completely absorbed.  She had wanted this place to represent the heroic acts of the charioteers and her last love, Marc Antony.  There had been improvements over the years, but she wished that in her lifetime she had been able to glorify his name.  Perhaps the addition of a new obelisk or a more ornate method of showing the laps that took place during the race.  It pained her to see it now, looking like nothing more than a barren grassy track with a mound surrounding it; trampled over by modern Romans and their dogs, only occasionally used for concerts and plays.   As she reached up a lock of her hair tumbled out of its arrangement.  She cursed the ornatrix who despite being beaten severely with a thong of bull’s hide, had used a broken pin and failed to fix the curls firmly enough.

“Language,” said Jamie, forgetting for the moment that he was probably tuned in to her already.  What came next surprised him.

“Roman of course,” said Fulvia sharply.  For a woman in her forties her voice sounded harsh and care worn, but more surprising was that he was hearing her in his own language.

“You can hear me?”

“Yes, what of it.  If you have nothing useful to say, remove yourself now.  Why have you come here?”  Fulvia had turned and was steadily walking towards Jamie at the side of the Circus.

“To rest and recover – You smell good,” he was always surprised that spirits quite liked reference to their odour, as if it reflected on their ability to truly exist.

“Ha, Cicero would have loved that, he spouted ‘The right scent for a woman is none at all.’”

“What are you doing here?”

“Mourning my dear husband Marc Antony.”

“But you’re not….”

“Cleopatra?  Why am I always forgotten by you tourists?” barked Fulvia angrily.  “She was a convenience; he was coming back to me, if only I hadn’t died.  What are you recovering from anyway?”

“I’ve had a tough time in Parliament; I need to think things through before I return to work.”

His fate, the fate which overcame Curio will be yours: for what brought death to both of them is now in your home,” she spat, “That’s what I call being given a tough time in Parliament, damn Cicero talking to my Marc like that.  I cannot be responsible for my first two husbands dying.  How much of your trouble did you bring on yourself?”

“Some,” he said, “Calling the Secretary of State for Health a fragrant whippet, was probably not my strongest point.”

There was a buzzing from his pocket.  He slipped out his iPhone and looked at the text message.  Don’t forget dinner in 20 minutes. As Juliette sent the message she felt despair, she poured a second glass from the bottle of Chianti she had bought in the mini-supermercato and ate some gorgonzola with Marmite crackers she had brought from home, to tide her over until dinner.

“What was it?” asked Fulvia

“A message from my wife, we are due to eat together later.”

“I think you should go now, she wants you.”

“She’ll wait, she always does.”

“Do you make a habit of ignoring the requests of women?  Be careful, I have a way to deal with men who are disrespectful to us – I need to go.”  With that Fulvia rushed up the hill, pushing past Jamie.  She brushed close to his arm and whilst she did not make contact he fell to the floor, banging his head as he landed.

When he came round Jamie looked at his phone, 9.20 and still a thirty minute walk back to the hotel.  He walked as quickly as he could, even breaking into a jog.  As he entered the corridor of the hotel, just outside the room, something hit him.  Scent; Dove deodorant and Mark Jacobs Daisy.  He threw the door open.

“Juliette, for Christ’s sake, what have you done?”  Her lifeless body was stretched on the bed; the last of the Chianti had spilled on the floor by her side.  He sucked in a huge breath, let out an almighty roar of a scream and then he heard her.

“What have I done?  What about you; where were you?  And, what’s that on your face, you look like a vampire.”

Jamie glanced into the mirror and could see two rivulets of blood trickling down his chin, one from each corner of his mouth.

“She came back to you then,” Juliette’s standing reflection smiled at him, whilst her material body remained motionless on the bed.

“Whoth?” Jamie lisped; he was finding it difficult to talk clearly, his tongue was swelling.  “Thsorry, I must have bithen my thsongue when I felth.”

“Fulvia, we’ve only just met, she came to see me as I passed over.  I told her about you and she told me what she did to Cicero.  Did you know she took out his tongue and stabbed it repeatedly with her hairpin when his head was displayed on the Rostra? ”

Jamie felt for the hole in his tongue and could feel a raised metal spike catching as he dragged it across his canines.  He looked down towards his feet and saw the litter bin; the empty blister pack from his Parnate and a birthday card clearly showing:

Happy Birthday to Sig.ra Jay,

The  Management.

Then as Jamie looked at the dressing table he saw the envelope that he had tucked under the tray.  He turned it over.  On the back of the envelope she had written in green ink, with the new fountain pen he had given her.  She had beautiful handwriting, he always thought so.

This was probably the smallest deceit of them all; a bottle of cheap Italian wine, but you couldn’t give the credit where it was due and accept that you hadn’t thought of it yourself.

No longer yours,

The Fragrant Whippet


5th Day – Rings and Pledges

The fifth day and the observant amongst you will have noticed that my rings are not all gold. I’m quite excited about the whole 2012 London Olympics; partly due to a sporting eureka moment last year when I discovered that by training for an event I could actually make a huge difference to the way I felt.  However, being British I’m also concerned; will it be safe, will we slate ourselves with ‘they’ couldn’t organise the trains, planes, weather etc, etc, etc you know the way it goes.  More recently I have also been concerned about sport funding in this country, will we manage the build up and the legacy so that everyone young and old can benefit. School swimming, sports fields, access to coaches for a wide variety of sports and access to non competitive but challenging activities such as fell walking are all important for personal well being and social skills.

So my challenge to you today is to make an Olympic pledge, if you live in Suffolk you can learn more here. Not sure if there are similar pledge sites in other counties/countries.  But even if it is to walk a mile a day can you commit to something in the lead up to 2012?

My own pledges?  Well formally I have pledged to do the Great East Swim for two more years – already booked into this years swim.  Adding to that I hope to do the Dunwich Dynamo this year and will be doing the Janathon (exercise and blog every day in January)

The Spotify playlist for today is here

Your warm up game is here

The Russian Roulette Question of the day is:  How many cats were rescued from the 800 acre London Olympic site?

If you are new to this, a brief explanation.  The #12DCP is a virtual Christmas party.  A post a day will appear on the Grethica.  You respond by way of comments.  Each comment creates an entry into my prize draw, for a money can’t buy prize (because it’s mostly stuff that’s been given away by others).  The Russian Roulette questions are quiz style questions, the comments you leave to those will be posted at the end of the 12 DCP.  However the danger with a Russian roulette quiz is that if you answer a question wrong – all of your answers become null and void.  The good news is though you have time to go back and post answers to previous days, right up to the end of the 12th day.

Enjoy – thanks to those that have taken part so far… keep up the good work


Fourth Day of Christmas – Calling Birds – Or Calling Guys

My beloved is poking fun at me this morning.  After all I know that despite twittering, facebooking, blogging and stuff the one thing I’m not great at is calling.  I find it difficult to sustain telephone conversations.  Was it growing up in the days of telephones on wires in a cold drafty hall, where people walked past and listened ? – or worse went to the ‘other phone’ and listened in!

These days despite my addiction to the iPhone I rarely use it to talk to anyone, signals are patchy out here in bow and arrow country.

My challenge to you today is:  Call someone, perhaps someone put their number in your Christmas Card, is there someone you parted with on uncertain terms or just could do with a good catch up.  Just report back with a comment; how did it go?

Today’s Russian Roulette Question:  – but you might want to warm up with this game first – Who made the first ‘official’ mobile phone network call in the UK?

The playlist for today is here

If you are new to this, a brief explanation.  The #12DCP is a virtual Christmas party.  A post a day will appear on the Grethica.  You respond by way of comments.  Each comment creates an entry into my prize draw, for a money can’t buy prize (because it’s mostly stuff that’s been given away by others).  The Russian Roulette questions are quiz style questions, the comments you leave to those will be posted at the end of the 12 DCP.  However the danger with a Russian roulette quiz is that if you answer a question wrong – all of your answers become null and void.  The good news is though you have time to go back and post answers to previous days, right up to the end of the 12th day.

Enjoy – thanks to those that have taken part so far… keep up the good work


Third Day – Second Boxing Day – French Hens Kissing

Is this Boxing day or was yesterday Boxing Day – one of those pointless discussions that ensue after Christmas lunch, when Christmas falls on a Saturday.  We do know it is the third day of Christmas and my beloved has sent me three French hens.  I guess I could make some French toast or an omelet however there is no suggestion that these hens are laying; I’m not sure eating the birds themselves would be civil.  Therefore I’ll let my mind wander to French Kissing in the USA or anywhere else that takes your fancy.

But where would take your fancy – what would be your most romantic location?…… actually if I can create a little map of romantic hot spots that would be fab.  I feel an Aardvark Map coming on.

Click on map to go to interactive original

Click on Map for interactive original

And as a second comment please your Russian Roulette Question of the day is (but you might like to warm up on this first) :

According to the Christmas Price Index what is the 2010 price of three French Hens?

The playlist for the third day is here

If you are new to this, a brief explanation.  The #12DCP is a virtual Christmas party.  A post a day will appear on the Grethica.  You respond by way of comments.  Each comment creates an entry into my prize draw, for a money can’t buy prize (because it’s mostly stuff that’s been given away by others).  The Russian Roulette questions are quiz style questions, the comments you leave to those will be posted at the end of the 12 DCP.  However the danger with a Russian roulette quiz is that if you answer a question wrong – all of your answers become null and void.  The good news is though you have time to go back and post answers to previous days, right up to the end of the 12th day.

Enjoy – thanks to those that have taken part so far… keep up the good work

The Second Day of Christmas – Sprout Chocolates Anyone?

Hello, excuse me whilst I walk over your sleeping bodies on the floor.  I’ll be round with bacon butties later.

This is the second day of Christmas, my beloved has sent turtle doves and if you scrutinised your invitation you will realise that is the train of thought I am following today.  Here I am picking through the leftovers from yesterday wondering what unusual food combinations I could come up with.  I have some once cooked giblets and a little Christmas pudding so perhaps a mock turtle soup.  If you have a strong stomach you might like to read the wikipaedia article on mock turtle soup – I wonder why it fell out of fashion?

On the topic of unusual food, whilst out to coffee with @josordoni and @flyingchef1 I  bought some Sea Salt Chocolate from Pump Street Bakery @pumstreetbakery– that was gorgeous, made by Rococo Chocolates and sadly I did not treat it with the respect the price tag demanded, it went very quickly. Whilst in Orford I also bought a smoked ham hock from Richardson’s smoke house and made Nigel Slater’s Elephant Stew.  The stew is not made with elephants but ham hocks; so perhaps it is really mock elephant stew. My friend @goodshoeday quite rightly pointed out who wants food that reminds you of eating ellies anyway.  The final thought on the stew was that it was ‘all-right’, but in conversation with @theflyingchef1 we are agreed it needs a little something.  I would a) partially precook the hock in a pressure cooker then b) add some Aspall Premier, the potatoes, carrots etc and maybe some veg that would thicken the sauce more like aubergine or FlyingChefs thoughts were butternut squash and c) would cook the last stage in an oven casserole so it dries out a little more.  The question is with all those changes would it still be elephant stew or would it be mock-mock elephant stew.

Do you have a classic ‘mock’ recipe – one that really works that you could share?

And as a second comment (so I don’t inadvertently publish your answer)  The Russian Roulette question for today; before I ask it you might like to warm up with this game……

Q2  What is the expected lifespan of a turtle-dove?

If you are feeling cruel you might like to make these ‘truffles’

And finally I leave you with Franz Ferdinand

A Very Merry Christmas to You – Welcome to the 12DCP

Welcome, here have a mince-pie, some cheese and pineapple on a stick maybe?  Dance floor is over there, chuck the coats on the bed upstairs.  Just enjoy yourself here is today’s playlist.  First day of Christmas and I have a partridge in my pear tree; how lovely.  For today just enjoy yourself, let your mind drift back to your youth – what sort of teenager were you?  Angsty, adventurous, risk taker, swooner?

Well here’s the Partridge that was on my bedroom wall – so I guess I was a swooner

Enjoy the party, we’ll make things more challenging as the 12 days progress.

The Russian Roulette (see yesterday’s post) question of the day:

What is the birthstone for December?

Eve’ing all – just tidying up a bit

Hello, great to see you here – how nice that you have arrived in time for the canapés. Well, its the night before Christmas and time to prepare for the party.  Those of you that were here last year, thanks for coming back; mawh, mawh, lovely to see you.  The rest of you mawh, mawh too here is how the party works.  Each day there will be a short post here, some recollections to share, challenges, quiz questions; different things on different days.  You join in by adding comments.  At the end of the 12 days I will add up all the posts and put the names in the hat – one person will win a money can not buy prize.  The more posts you complete the more chances you have of winning.

This year there will be a rolling quiz.  At the end of each post, in addition to that day’s challenge, there will be a question you give your answer and I publish it at the end of the 12th day.  One bit of bad news, because I’m not that nice a fairy, this quiz is Russian Roulette style – one wrong answer and none of your answers count.

So whilst I’m tidying up there is still time to add some more tracks to the party playlist.  Which can be found here for Spotify users.

Shhhhhh – Pop Up Occurring in Brandeston

I feel like I’ve held out on you. I’ve eaten out at the Queen’s Head, Brandeston and not posted anything. Mostly because I’ve been in great company, enjoying the conversations so much and because the food was so good I’ve been eating it not photographing much of it. Just as well I’m not a professional food blogger.

Now, I have a big secret to share.  Brandeston Queen’s Head is about to host a ‘pop-up’ restaurant, for two days only at the end of January.  David Williams @stillcooking has been working as a consultant for Alan Randal @queensheadbrand at Brandeston Queen’s Head. Knowing that David and his wife Susanne @susannewilliams are looking for their own restaurant eventually the idea of the ‘pop-up’ was born.  This will be run to their ideas, food and service ethos.  The team have worked hard over the last few months developing  ideas for the Brandeston Queen’s head and if this new venture follows on the high standards they have set so far things should be very good indeed.  For more information see their website here.

#12DCP – 12 Days of Christmas Party – You are Invited!

I thought it was about time to send out the invitations to the 12 Days of Christmas Party.  Like last year, everyone is invited to my virtual party; starting on Christmas day and carrying on for 12 days.  There will be a post a day with different ‘things’ going on – I promise no legs this time (honest!)  The tag for the posts will be #12DCP.  Above is your invitation; which fits nicely with this weeks Illustration Friday topic of ‘Mail’.  So pop back, see what’s going on, join in and for every entry you make that is published your name will go into the hat for a money can’t buy prize.

For now I think it is time to start putting up the trimmings and choosing some music – so what tracks would you like added to the playlist, what will be guaranteed to have you up on the dance floor bopping your heart out?  You can find the playlist here

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