Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Tuesday, 31 December, New Year's Eve 2013

The last day of December, the last photo in my month of recording each day, and the last day of the year, and I have been trying to think about the best image for today's post.  I decided that a candle would do very nicely.

A lit candle shines in the dark.  Its light shines in memory of those left behind during the year and, looking ahead, it is our enduring symbol of hope.  I think that we need hope, going into a new year. Hope that on a global scale the human race starts to behave itself a little better.  The hope that this new year will be a peaceful and happy one for as many people as possible.  I know that there will be millions whose fortunes will not change just because we tip from an old year into a new one, but hope springs eternal and my lit candle is keeping them, especially children, in my thoughts and holding them securely in mind.
I hope you will visit the running wave from time to time in 2014.  Please leave your comments if you feel like it.  I would love to hear from you.  Thank you for visiting in 2013.


Happy New Year

Monday, 30 December 2013

Monday, 30 December 2013

I got a new camera for Christmas.  It's a wizard bit of kit and my 2014 challenge is to learn how to use it properly.  I am not at all technical.  Working out how to use a new washing machine is a challenge, so, in order to get the most out of my new toy, I have downloaded the instruction manual.  On this horrid wet and dark, late December day, I am going to try and start the learning process.  
Tilly shows absolutely no sign of wanting to go for a walk in the driving rain, so I am safe from her bright expectant gaze - for the time being anyway.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Sunday, 29 December 2013

In these betwixt and between days of Christmas and New Year daily duties have to carry on! Bed linen washed and hung out in the fresh air .... and some lovely sunshine just about lifting itself high enough in the sky to touch the edges.
Meanwhile, indoors, the little lioness is getting some furry comfort from the grand old boy of her household.  Jo has nurtured four kittens in his time, none of them his own.  He is the most glorious cat and I think these two photos show what a tender creature he is.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Saturday, 28 December 2013

So, this is not Tilly sleeping off a lovely walk on the beach this afternoon.  She is just allowing the vet administered sedative to wear off.

Our Christmas visitors left this morning, the sun was shining and the high winds subsided so of course it was time to head for the beach.  Where else would a girl go with her dawg to enjoy some space and time to breathe.  We climbed to the top of the sand dune and there was the view I love so much.  The beach stretching away to the right as seen below
and ahead a couple of fishermen.  
We walked down on to the beach and because Tilly can't resist a little scavenge she made a beeline for the fishermen to check out their bait boxes.  I pulled her away once and then turned my attention to the waves which were particularly beautiful.  It takes a while to wait for the seventh wave to start to break.  It's bigger than the preceding six, and while I was waiting Tilly was back, tucking into the fishermen's bait which was complete with fish hooks.  She managed to get one stuck in her cheek.  We tried to dislodge it but with no success, so off to the vet we went.
The vet's examination, sedative, x-rays and out of hours 'call out' charge cost us £300.68!  But no sign of the fish hook!!!  Where on earth it has gone is anyone's guess. Those barbs are serious little anchors and it shouldn't have budged.  But it has.  The vet was thorough and satisfied that the x-ray shows it is not in her body and I couldn't see it there either.  A mystery and hopefully it stays that way!

Tilly will be wearing a muzzle next time we go out.  Enough is enough.  Sorry Tills!

Friday, 27 December 2013

Friday, 27 December 2013

The little lioness is doing her chocolate-box best to fit in to the household.  She is holding her own nicely with the other cats and the dogs who view her with a mixture of motherly tolerance and total disdain!

We have had sunshine over the three days of Christmas but today the weather is behaving in a very unruly fashion.  I've got the Scrabble box out and it's sitting on the table waiting for some players to come out of the woodwork, which they will in due course!

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Thursday, 26 December, Boxing Day 2013

We had a chilly Boxing Day walk up to Hopes Reservoir which is set into the Lammermuir Hills behind Haddington.  The sky was blue and the sun golden on the surrounding hills but in the valley the air was cold and the walk brisk!

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Wednesday, 25 December, Christmas Day 2013

A little sunshine on Christmas morning.
Merry Christmas everyone.  I hope you have a happy and peaceful day, once the flurry of presents and food has subsided!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Tuesday, 24 December, Christmas Eve 2013

It's not that I can't stand the heat, I just had to get out of the kitchen!  North Berwick beckoned for some last minute food shopping - due to a change of mind about what we were going to eat on Boxing Day, and I just couldn't resist taking a look at the beach.  I stayed long enough to take some photos of the sea. The wind is bitterly cold and extremely strong and with the cobwebs well and truly blown away I scurried back to the car and then the warmth of Tesco.
I am now heading off to the kitchen again.  There's still lots to do.  We have the children's Christmas play tonight, a Skype session with our son and his family in Australia and then our big feast.  

Monday, 23 December 2013

Monday, 23 December 2013

A must-have Christmas ingredient.  We enjoy cooking and eating in this household but we don't 'do' turkey.  Instead we tuck in to Beef Wellington on Christmas Eve and have a relaxing cold table of food on Christmas Day.  However I couldn't leave Brussels off the shopping list because we love them and they will feature at some point!

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Cooking for Christmas has begun.  Today I made Nigella's clementine cake and also a lemon version with a lemony syrup which came out well.  We've just had it for pudding with some Greek yoghurt.  I also put a piece of pork in the oven at 12 noon to slow roast for dinner this evening. The recipe came from a Hugh F-W recipe in the Observer magazine a couple of years ago and it was very good.  The house smelt wonderful all day and this is all that's left from a 2.5 kg piece of meat and there five of us at the table.  
The rub for the pork was full of fragrant flavours.  Here's the link to the article.  http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/sep/04/organic-pork-recipes-fearnley-whittingstall
Re-reading the recipe I realise I forgot to add the chilli flakes but it doesn't matter a jot.  It's perfectly delicious without.  I wasn't sure what to serve it with so I made HFW's Asian slaw dressing (freshly grated garlic and ginger, 1 tblspn runny honey, 2 tblspns each of toasted sesame oil, mild olive oil, soy sauce and wine vinegar) and grated up some carrot, golden beetroot, celeriac, chopped a bit of celery and some red cabbage and threw in a handful of salted peanuts and rocket for good measure.  I also made some potatoes wedges and the whole thing came together very well.  Could have done with some kind gravy or sauce though.  Pork can be dry.

I'm doing another slow roast pork on Boxing Day but that one will be with fennel seeds, chilli (won't forget this time) and lemon juice.  Yum.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Pic of day above!  Christmas shopping in Edinburgh this morning and it wasn't difficult to resist buying Jimmy hats for everyone, although it would have proved to be much cheaper!
In the midst of all the Christmassy stuff going on someone found time to sculpt a sand dog, lying on the pavement in Princes Street.  A bit random I thought!
The highlight of our shopping trip was Valvona & Crolla.  It's such an emporium of all things Italian and edible.  Always worth a visit.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Marrakech, Day Three

I was keen to take some photographs of some doors and details along the route to the big square. I snapped a few pictures as we made our way along the street. 


One of the favourite tourist destinations on a visit to Marrakech is Jardin Marjorelle.  The property was developed by Jacques Marjorelle, a Frenchman who came to Marrakech in 1919. Subsequently Yves Saint Laurent acquired the house and garden and it is now held in trust and its future assured.  We decided to walk there from our riad.  Once out of the Medina it was not a very enjoyable walk but it helped to work off some of the delicious almond and orange flower water pastries we had overdosed on the night before!
Jardin Marjorelle is planted up with a multitude of cacti, succulent plants, palms and bamboo.  All very structural but not pretty, except for the shocking pink of the bougainvillaea set against the wonderful blue.
We left the garden and walked back, using a circuitous route, to the Medina for a last round of Christmas shopping.  We ignored the road sign for Casablanca.  It was not on our agenda!
We got completely lost in the souk, ran around like a couple of headless chickens for a while but eventually found our way back to the market place where we had been on Day Two.  We had a very late lunch which was extremely welcome before setting off and getting lost again. 

By the time we emerged again into the big square it was dark.  My daughter was delighted!  The night market had been set up and whether I liked it or not, we were out after dark!  The twenty minute walk back to our riad along a dubious route was unavoidable so we shrugged shoulders and found ourselves sitting at one of the long trestle tables set up with small rounds of flat bread and bottles of Sprite or Coca Cola and ordered yet more food! 
We flew home the next morning.  Here is our last look at the street by the riad and then Morocco from the air on our way back to foggy Gatwick!  







Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Christmas Day is one week away and this is the time in my year when serious lists come into play.  Lots of them.  Most of them get left at home in the effort to get out of the door but just writing things down helps to lodge a few useful nuggets of information in the little grey cells.  So today I am going to be trawling through lists I have already made, tweaking them and re-writing so that they make some sense and become useful over the next few days .
And this evening I am off to the panto, Peter Pan, in Edinburgh.  Should be fun and a great start to Crimble.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Marrakech, Day Two

Day Two and my daughter had thought that a hammam experience might be worth a try.  Being plastered in black soft soap and then scrubbed ferociously didn't appeal to me but she was up for it.  The lovely lady who served breakfast, cooked dinner and generally 'did' in the riad was going to do the honours in the local municipal baths.  Our hearts sank a bit when we entered into this space through the door at the far end.  The slightly blurred photo was hastily snapped as they were not happy for me to use my camera here.
Here's what I wrote in my notebook.
Another cavernous building entered through an ornately tiled doorway straight into a slightly humid but still chilly echoing space.  The sound of water dripping.  Young children's voices echoing through the side spaces.  We were escorted there by the riad's helper.  She was wearing her hijab but she proceeded to strip off all her layers of clothing down to her pants.  My daughter had to do the same.  She was not happy about that!  She went off, nervously, with Naima.  I am sitting on blue slatted boarding.  The walls are tiled and the floors are marbled.  Watery patches and scruffy surroundings.  Life is full of new experiences!  The women arrive, lumbering in dressed in their traditional clothing.  They carry a large holdall or shopping bag in which to put all their clothes.  
They peel off the layers - like an onion, until they are down to bare skin.  They leave the bag with an attendant and then go across the floor to the hammam.

These ladies do this once a week.  They have no bathrooms in their homes.  Babies receive the hammam routine from the age of six months and judging by the yelling coming from within the building, they were not enjoying it!  I sat reading my book for about 45 minutes, not really concentrating.  To be honest I was worrying about my daughter.  I had no idea what she was dealing with, whether she was still there or had been spirited out of a back door.  What it is to be so mistrustful and fearful, but in a culture which is very different to my own I am afraid I struggled quite a bit with being out of control so completely.  Anyway, she emerged eventually, dripping wet from head to toe and not a little traumatised.  She had been expecting a room on her own, not a group of 20 - 30 women who were naturally curious about this blonde fair skinned young woman in their midst. They talked about her incessantly and she found the whole experience totally surreal. She relaxed a bit following a massage back at the riad.  We then set off for another dose of the souks. 
On Day One we didn't see the Atlas Mountains in the distance, so it was quite a surprise to see them there on Day Two.  The air quality is not great in Marrakech, particularly outside the Medina where all the traffic produces so many exhaust fumes that the atmosphere is grey and murky.  
One of the souks we enjoyed the most - the dyers' souk.
Naima, the lady who works in the riad, cooked a delicious chicken and lemon tagine for us one evening.  She showed me what she did using a mix of mime and French.  The method was more or less cooking the chicken pieces in a pan with sliced onion, ground ginger, black pepper, garlic and slightly less than a quarter a pint of water.  Then add some good sized chunks of potatoes, some green olives and pieces of preserved lemon and simmer until chicken and potatoes are cooked through.  Delicious!  She didn't cook it in a tagine although it was served in one.
We had lunch in rooftop terrace cafe in the Mouassine district.  This is my mint tea followed by a delicious Moroccan soup which was served with four dates and a wedge of lemon and then an orange salad sprinkled with cinnamon.
In the street below there were some great stalls.  Several with a multitude of woolly hats (they took care of a number of Christmas presents), baskets, carpets, and ladies pounding henna leaves which were then sifted to produce a fine green powder.
 The blue is indigo.  I bought a cube.  I thought it might be interesting to draw with.