Category Archives: life changes

Red Currents

The events of the last few days have left me, once again dismayed and confused about humans, life and how we interact with each other.  I cannot begin to imagine what it must be like to be close to events such as those in Norway, how to react, cries of ‘what must be done?’ – should anything be done, should we just try to normalise and move on?  Then there are the thoughts of hundreds of deaths around the globe which could be avoided, treated, prevented.  In the end yesterday evening I could not cope with all the confused thoughts in my brain.  I wanted to do something simple, I picked red currants, but even there the metaphors caught up with me – so I came in prepped the fruit for the freezer and listened guiltily to Mike Brearley, possibly England’s greatest ever cricket captain, talking from his autobiography about the 1981 test matches.  Memories of wandering around Torquay trying to catch up with the game; which as every bar and pub was crowded out with people watching and listening to the game was easy, people shouted out the scores as you went past. Of course nothing has changed in the world, but small moments of calm help.

A playlist here

Red Currents

Garnet berries,
Arterial blood, drips from bushes,
Gathering should heal,
Life and death are bitter-sweet.
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Pop-out, Pop-up

It’s been a while since I blogged – so some catching up to do. Let’s start with a playlist for those with Spotify – Click Here

This post is in three stages:

  • The Fantastic Truffle Pig Pop-Up in Brandeston
  • How do I give feed back when asked – “is everything OK for you” and whilst OK it’s not great
  • Why detox anyway?

The Truffle Pig Pop-Up

Way before Christmas, the delightful @suzannewilliams started mentioning the idea of a Pop-Up restaurant to be held at Brandeston Queen’s Head for one weekend only. I liked the idea; but from mid-January to mid-February I like to detox. For me that means no meat, wheat, dairy, fish, tea, coffee or alcohol. Now Suzanne’s other half is a great cook, I know because he has influenced the food at Brandeston Queen for some time now in his role as consultant, so I was rather sad to think I might forego the pleasure. However, quick as a very fast cheffy knife, they came back with ‘so? We’ll take you on, tell us what to avoid,’ thus a cunning plan was born.

A group of tweeting friends and other halves, six of us in all including @adrianmelrose, @fiswaff and @spudballoo decided to book. In the meantime Adrian experienced an epiphany (if that’s not too strong a word for it) and decided to become a vegan too, having read Eat to Live. Did Truffle Pig rise to the challenge? – You bet they did.

The aim with Truffle Pig was for Suzanne and David to run the show in their way, putting their stamp on everything from the food, suppliers to service and publicity. This is importantly different from acting as a consultant where you are influencing, advising and supporting others to develop their ideas. What a sign of a truly professional relationship though that the host location for this Pop-Up was Brandeston Queen’s Head who are current consultancy clients.

From the moment we walked through the door, coats were taken by attentive staff and we were directed to our table. The meat eaters had menus to select from but the detox two had each course introduced with due ceremony. To start was cucumber jelly with apple sauce and salad, delicate, colourful little roundels of jelly perfectly set and light on the palate. The main course included golden beetroot in a vegan consommé, rosti potato, with pak choi and tight spinach bundles. Desert was a trio of red fruit delicacies. For meat eaters there were such spectacular delights as pig’s head starter, pig’s trotters or blade steak for main course these of course were anything but ordinary. Every course created with the accent on flavour and beauty.

This was an evening to savour a long, leisurely meal with some absolute wow factors built-in. As if to prove that I’m not a food blogger, I failed to photograph anything as I went along; so many thanks to Suzanne for the photographs.

The extra good news is they are about to Pop-Up again. Follow @trufflepigpopup and register at their website to receive more information.

So half way through the detox and I was being treated like a queen – all good. Then came the end – time for a blow out meal but…

How do I give feed back when asked – “is everything OK for you” and whilst OK its not great

At the end of detox month, time for a meal out. I shan’t name the place (but if you think it’s you, ask). I have always said I’ll post the positives here and if there are negatives I’ll give feedback direct. First meat in a month, first wine etc, etc. I don’t think it was my palate being askew, if anything it should have been heightened and relishing good food. So how do I, or should I even, give feedback when food is OK, as in nothing to complain about (which I would do) but just uninspiring; the location hollow and empty and the whole experience leaving a feeling of – well we’ve tried it and now we know not to go back again? “Fine”. I would genuinely welcome your views. Since that meal another impromptu lunch date was totally unspectacular too – I swear, what gave the appearance of freezer sausages in freezer stew-pack veg with some watery stock does not constitute a sausage casserole in my book – “interesting”.

However I refuse to end on a down note – today I went to Marlesford Farm Cafe, squashed goat pie, mash and mushy peas – simple, fabulous in a deservedly busy, carefree atmosphere. p.s. no goats were squashed in the making of the pie, it is goat cheese and squash. When asked I was happy to say -“it was great thanks!”

Why detox anyway?

I promised Niamh a fuller response to her tweet to me (above). My version of detox might be more appropriately called a month’s rest. It is not intended to be a whole life change, but just to get me back on track after the Christmas excess, before you ask, I know I should just be less excessive over Christmas. It also is linked to dropping a few pounds in weight and getting out and active once again, fit and ready for the spring. It works for me. Basically I just eat super healthily for a month and then slide back into eating other stuff gently with the aim of being better with my self control thereafter. I am not trying to remove weird and wonderful substances from my body in weirder and wonder-fuller ways. I am more than happy to post Ben’s YouTube clip below, I don’t disagree with what he says, there is far too much hype about products etc., not sure that this clip is any more scientific than some of the things it is commenting on though. Many cultures, for many years, have had some period of abstinence, often fitting with religious festivals or timing that neatly fits with seasonal shortages or periods when eating certain foods might be more dangerous due to climate. None of this is new, a period of rest, a little pause, regroup and then off we go again.

One final comment:

RIP Broadhouse Hotel. Catering and hospitality is a difficult world. The Broadhouse Hotel recently announced its closure. It was a great place to stay. Sadly staff, customers, investors and suppliers will all have been impacted – it is such a pity, I can’t begin to understand the economics of it all, I hope others can and good will come of it in the long run.

Great East Swim – Thank You!

A huge thank you to everyone for their support over the last six months.  I did it; completed the Great East Swim and raised well over my £300.00 target for Water Aid.

In January, a tweet came through via the Stradbroke Web site, saying that the swimming pool had updated their page. If people wanted to sign up for the Great East Swim, they could do so and train at Stradbroke pool.  With an impending 50th birthday, it being winter and feeling like there was plenty of time ahead, I signed up.  At this stage I had no idea what I was letting myself in for.  Although I knew I could swim like a girl; head out of the water and was not afraid of swimming in the sea, lakes or streams; I had no concept of how far a mile is when swimming.  I walk and cycle, but at my own leisurely pace and have learnt that a mile is a very different thing depending on how you are propelling yourself.

A few days later I turned up at Stradbroke pool, bought an everyone active card and went into my first training session. Then the penny dropped. These people were very good swimmers, take part in competitions, do triathlons and there was me; never done crawl, never mastered face in the water breast stroke either. However, they were friendly, Len the coach was great at trying to turn my uncoördinated mass of wheeling limbs into some sort of stroke and steadily I started to make progress. Without the lovely James Zarro at Gilmour Piper, sorting my neck out, I may not have passed first base. Learning to breathe and turn my head, was testing parts that hadn’t been tested before.

A few weeks later, I signed up to use the pool at Framlingham College and started using the Take to The Streets website to provide training plans; which I followed religiously. From then on, I have swum three or four times a week, most weeks. Gradually building up my distance and stroke technique.

Then in early May, I swam at Spitchwick on Dartmoor and later in the month started swimming at Fritton Lake. I really wanted to swim crawl, having learnt how to; but despite changing to an Orca wetsuit from Wiggle I still struggled.

Along the way I have tweeted, facebooked,  blogged and foursquared my activities.

Yesterday was the big day. Walking towards the lake it was clear that the day was squally, lumbering clouds, gusts of wind, patches of blue sky that whisked away as soon as they appeared.

Watching the Yellow wave leave, gave a fair idea of the conditions and I was lucky enough to meet another newbie who happened to work for British Gas, the event sponsors. We teamed up to get changed and generally support each other going into the holding pen and acclimatization zone.

Once the hooter went it was each to their own. I had taken the advice of others, held back and to one side to enter the water so as not to be swum over by faster swimmers. The route out to the first three buoys (about 600m) was hard work, into the wind, very choppy and a couple of stern chats to myself about ‘not finishing is not an option’ were required before finally making it round the bend.

Once being chased by the wind, a different problem occurred, a feeling of overtaking myself as my legs were lifted by the following waves. Around about 800m, I was convinced someone was splashing me, it was a torrential downpour.

At the 1200m point, I was expecting us all to turn for the orange buoys at the shore as instructed when we left, due to the weather; but we were told to keep going to the next yellow buoy and actually by then I was feeling in my flow. This was the point when the best of the white wave started passing me and by the time I went through the timing arch there were a few whites coming through too.

My time was 53:17, I don’t think the elites who do it in 14 minutes need worry.  The light purples below are the sub 30 minute crowd.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me with chats and sponsored me along the way – you are great.

Would I do it again?  Well, in a moment of madness I made an Olympic 2012 pledge to do it next year and the one after.

There again I might like to try something new.  I am tempted by surfing the Severn Bore or riding Sustrans route 1.

What would you suggest?

Reflecting on the power of small things

This is stacking up to be an ‘interesting’ week.  Monday was a gorgeous day after the heavy rains on Sunday, we had clear air; the Suffolk landscape and particularly the skyscape was revealed in all its glory.  I took dozens of photographs of the skies reflected in the huge puddles I cheerfully splashed through on my bike to and from work.

Full of gusto on Tuesday I decided to cycle into Framlingham after work to do a spot of shopping, this being the first of the lighter, drier, evenings and trying to up my daily mileage to build stamina ready for the Great East Swim.  Then nearly into town, a puncture; the tyre went down almost instantly.  As I pulled into a driveway I went over the handlebars and landed on my chin; which is now 330066.  Five-to-five, so I attempted to push the bike to the cycle shop; which was closed when I arrived.  Then to Solar where at least there would be light and I changed the inner tube.  The new tube went flat as fast as it was pumped up; I had failed to spot the little bit of flint that had caused the damage.  In the end I was rescued by car and the bike is still in bits as I haven’t had the time to mend the two punctures.  Another 21 miles not cycled.

However, I am now reflecting on the power of small things.  That little bit of flint brought me down and changed my plans for several days.  Small things can make big changes after all.

What has twitter ever done for you?

On the one hand:  nothing – because it isn’t twitter it’s the people on twitter (as opposed to the bots and spammers) that really make it work.

And on the other hand: Let’s see – 

  •    Given me perspective, actually helped me to decide that it would be better for me to give up a senior management job and bike to a local job, working in the community
  •    Generated a fantastic design coming in from @flashmaggie for our Expo in Dennington on 20th June based on the sciapod
  •     Won a competition thanks to @penelopeelse and @cartoono The Dys-Artist’s Delight – 29 May 2009
  •     Led to potential involvement with @FoodSafariUK, thinking about cottage gardening, liquors, syrups and vinegars
  •     Free coffee at Suffolk Show by saying tweet tweet at the coffee stand thanks to the glorious @paddyandscotts
  • Encouraged me to take part in a script writting competition – but I will have to put stuff on paper rather than wake up with the plot rerunning in my head at 4.00 am.  thanks to @antoniablue

Actually it’s been a great week if you go to my ‘favorites’ list in twitter you will find many other super people


Please leave a comment – what has twitter ever done for you?  what about the foodsaffari idea?


Ohh and the pigs –  they were at the show and I just love pigs

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