Everything, except celery

I eat everything, except celery.

Category: Day to day

Flooded

Our landscape is changing

Right & wrong

A changing tide

Flux

Our landscape has changed

Weathered, worn

A rising tide

A raging storm

Dawning

Flooded

And so I go

Into the deep

To see what lies beyond

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Vulnerability

A vulnerability

That’s seldom seen

Unexpected

Lifting the veil

Unfurling, unknowing

Learning

Anew, afresh

Unvisited

A vulnerability

That’s sorely shared

Unwarranted

Lighting the way

Unaltered, uncovered

Feeling

Anew, afresh

Unbridled

A vulnerability 

That’s still surging

Unfolding

Lowering the guard

Untested, understanding

Lusting

Anew, afresh

Unrequited

Vulnerability

The path we take

I cannot write the path for you

Only be there, see you through

Your path is different than some might take

No rules to guide us in that we make

I’ll lend my hand each way I can

It doesn’t make you a lesser man

It’s sometimes difficult to say out loud

But feelings shared aren’t somehow halved

I’ve been here before, it was different then

Why do you keep me, why pretend

Those feelings raw, I’ve had them too

When you were there I lent on you

I cannot always be the cheer

To pick you up throughout each year

I cannot write your path for you

All I can do, is see it through

Where is the use?

What use is a kissing gate with no one to kiss
What use is a memorial with no one to miss
What use is a hill when you climb it alone
What use is it all when you’re all on your own
What use is a view with no one to share
What use is adventure when you are not there
What use is persistence when it falls on deaf ears
What use is the waiting when it goes on for years
What use is patience when it goes unnoticed
What use is affection when it’s not from those closest
What use is a life with no one to care
What use is a family when it is not there
What use is a voice when it is not heard
What use is ambition when it is not shared
Where is the use and what does it matter; why do I falter? 

What if…

I suppose being bombarded with advertising about Fathers’ Day is enough to make anyone think about their Father. But I hate myself for it. Years on and I still sometimes struggle to reconcile with the fact that my Father is no longer the Dad that I grew up with. I remember that Dad with love and affection, and then the lump grows in my throat with the knowledge that the person I remember isn’t there any more.

Years ago, before the anxieties of my teens had taken root, I remember a boat trip with my Mum and Dad. It was the 6th of January, in Tenerife. We’d taken a tourist trip to see the dolphins on an overcast and choppy day. The sky was blue grey, the wind was up and the spray was refreshing. Families, to the eye, not so unlike ours were sat in the covered cabin enjoying drinks and chatting away with little expectation of seeing a dolphin at all. 

It was the same trip they’d run in Summer, and the guide’s script was the same. The boat stopped and they asked if anyone wanted to get in, for the chance to ‘swim with the dolphins’. ‘Go on,’ my Dad urged, ‘you’ll regret it if you don’t.’ The bait was set. What if someone else got in, and actually got to swim with a dolphin; what if I was the only one who didn’t get in and I missed out on the experience; what if I spent the rest of the week wondering what it would have been like and wishing I’d taken the chance. 

I left my over clothes in the booth and made my way to the stern to climb down into the water. Half way down the ladder I still wondered if I’d made the right choice. It would be cold, I’d been eating snacks, what if my body went into shock and I froze in the water. I was nearing the splash of the water and the guide said to jump in. The water splashed my toes and sent an exhilarating chill of electricity through me. I let go and splashed back into the water.

The prickle of cold, salty water turned from shock to excitement. I was swimming in the Atlantic, in January. I was swimming in the sea in Winter. I cleared the boat and into the open water. A young couple made their way in next, the girl giggling as she shuddered in the icy water. Lastly, a teenager plopped in and waved to her Dad looking on. I looked for my parents but they’d stayed at our table. Although divorced, they enjoyed eachother’s company and these family holidays were their way to ignore the separate lives they’d chosen and just enjoy the time together.

Despite the other three swimming around me, I felt like the only one in the sea. I was going to be the only one at school who’d swum in the sea in their Christmas break. It bore no consequence that there were no dolphins. This was feat enough in itself. I had achieved. My Dad was right, I would’ve regretted not having this story to tell. But the cold was setting in and I made my way back to the ladder. Climbing back up and wrapping myself in a towel, the guide said I’d won a prize for my bravery, but they’d have to check with my parents if I was allowed.

Padding back to the table, the wooden floor felt warm and soft under my feet. I flung my dress on over my swimming costume and I squeaked along the leather seat of the booth to sit next to my Dad. The guide soon appeared with a cheap bottle of Cava and three glasses. ‘Well done,’ my parents cheered as the bottle popped, ‘but just a little bit of fizz for you’. I still don’t know if they were applauding my winter dip, or the free booze I’d scored for them. I began to shiver as the thrill wore off, the acidic tang of the cava warmed my centre but goose pimples formed on my arms. Dad put his burgundy fleece over me and the day continued.

I wonder what I would do if I was asked to visit my Dad in hospital again. The last time he asked to see me he was in Intensive Care. I went for him, not for me. He’d had a tracheostomy so there was no way of knowing why he’d asked to see me. Four years previous, he’d sent a text saying he’d see me when he was ready. Four years  on, I jumped as soon as he called. I went for him and all I came out with was the flashback to the room in which my mum died five years earlier. It is a small hospital; it was the same room. 

I had to go, because, ‘what if’ I didn’t. I’ve gotten much better at controlling my ‘what if’s’. Were he to ask to see me again, I would go, but it wouldn’t be for him it would be for my peace of mind. I’m okay, I don’t need  to show him the successes I’ve found. They are mine. But I’d go to still the ‘what if’ in my mind of not trying; what if a bit of my Dad is still there somewhere.

The biggest ‘what if’ will always remain; what if he didn’t marry a woman who hates me.

Stay with me

I rather miss you when you’re not there

We’ve been through this before; it’s hard to bare

Hold on please, a little longer

Stay together; it makes us stronger

I know the hurt I’ve put you through;

Perhaps not taken good care of you

To go without you causes pain

I need this from you; just once again

Just one more race, please don’t fail

My toe would miss you little nail.

A little wave

So, there’s the saying, ‘not waving, but drowning’. A wave can be a funny thing; a little hello; a please can you help me; an hello I exist(!); or a somebody please grab me before I fall down a very big hole.

The thing with a wave is, while you might think you are flailing, someone might just think that you’re passing the time of day. You’re holding out your hand for someone to stop you from falling and they carry-on about their day none the wiser.

Someone is supposed to notice when you wave at them, for them not to see is to be unacknowledged, ignored, forgotten. So when you’re flailing, not waving, you think they’d notice. 

No, just carry on, day to day and everything will be okay.

I’m going to carry on waving. My tired arms will find something to grab onto soon.  

Neglected

I’m afraid I cannot explain myself, Sir. Because I am not myself, you see?
Lewis Carroll

I’ve neglected this space. It’s a space I made to give myself a voice and to help me understand what I needed, but I neglected it. I’ve neglected myself. I think in having lost a bit of my voice I’d begun to lose the need to use it. If you don’t speak, then noone will listen, so why am I surprised that I’m not heard.

I go through periods of amazing self awareness and understanding my feelings, but I can just the same wake up one day and wonder who I am. Sometimes I am not myself, but another version of myself. It is a surreal feeling, sometimes poetic, sometimes terrifying. 

For a while I thought I’d keep a note of all the things I wanted to say, and then write a post for each, accurately chronicling the past to enable me to move forward. Fat chance. I kept the notes, but the times have gone, I’m not the same person who had those experiences so how could I recapture the person I was when I first experienced them.

I may yet recount some of the marathon running and crazy distance walking, but in the mean-time I’m back in real time.

And I might even have the guts to type up some poems.

As fussy as you like- Meatballs

There’s been a lot of hoo-hah in the media about the ‘meat’ content in processed foods. A lot of it has gone completely over my head. I don’t really comprehend ‘convenience’ food. As fussy as I am about most things I am especially fussy about how food is prepared and cooked. It’s the old addage of ‘if you want something doing right, do it yourself’ – I’d rather do it myself. I don’t find it convenient to compromise on taste and quality.

With meatballs under fire in the recent press I had a craving for them. Mention a foodstuff to me a few times and I’ll want it. Well, not the meatballs they were talking about, but ‘my’ meatballs. Quick, simple, cheap and wholesome. You can add to the recipe and make it your own, but for starters, all you’ll need is:

1 Small Onion
500g Lean Minced Beef
Salt & Pepper for seasoning.
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
Your choice of pasta

Chop the onion in half. Finely dice the first half and pop in a mixing bowl. Slice the second half into strips and add to a large oven proof dish.
To the mixing bowl, add the mince and some salt and pepper to season.
Using a firm spoon, work the onion into the mince until the mince breaks down and starts to stick together. Avoid over working the mince, the more of a paste it becomes, the denser your meatballs will be. Ideally the mix should just and so hold together when pressed firmly.
Now for the sticky bit! Get your hands in the bowl and roll your mince and onion mixture into around 20 balls of the same size (five per person to serve four people).
Lay out your perfect little meatballs in the oven proof dish on top of the sliced onions and pop in a preheated oven on a high heat (around 200c) for 10 minutes.
After the meatballs have been in the oven for 10 minutes and have just started to brown on top, take them out of the oven, pour over the tinned tomatoes and return to the oven for a further 15 minutes.
During this time, cook some pasta of your choosing (I like spaghetti with meatballs) and voila! A quick and hearty meal with no added blah blah blah.

This is the recipe at its most basic but…
Love garlic? Add 3 cloves of crushed garlic to your mince mixture and some sliced garlic to the onions in the oven dish.
Like it herby? Add some dried basil and/or oregano to the mince mixture and some fresh basil to the tomato sauce.
Like it spicy? Add some ceyenne pepper and/or paprika to the mince mixture and a chopped chilli to the tomato sauce.
Love your veg? Roast some peppers, mushrooms and courgette and mix in to your tomato sauce.

Basically, you can be as fussy as you like with this recipe; play around with it, you’re not going to break it!

Nutty Cookies

One of my go-to biscuit recipes is for Golden Oatie Cookies, a recipe from the Coupar Angus Abbey Cookbook, a collection of housewives’ favourite recipes that was typed up by my Great Aunty Anna many years ago. I used to bake these biscuits for charity cake sales when I was at junior school and then again in my teens when I was feeling low. Handing out biscuits at school always made me feel better about myself and the baking of them was very theraputic.

When I’m down I like to bake, but sometimes baking an old recipe can bring up old feelings so rather than stick to my tried and tested recipe I thought about adapting it and turning them into Nutty Cookies. If they’ve got nuts in them I can say they’re health food yes? I’m over the moon that, with a few tweaks to the original recipe, the biscuits turned out brilliantly and were a great success so I thought I’d share the recipe with you…

3oz Butter, 1oz Peanut Butter, 4oz Caster Sugar, 3oz Porridge Oats, 1oz Chopped Mixed Nuts, 3oz Wholemeal Flour, 1tsp Baking Powder, 1tbsp Golden Syrup

Cream together the butter, peanut butter and caster sugar until fully combined and fluffy.
Mix in the syrup and then add the oats, nuts, flour and baking powder.
The mixture should be slightly tacky and hold together when pressed, if not, add a sprinkling of water.
Roll the mixture into individual balls (around 20) and lay out on a baking tray, leaving plenty of room around each ball (you might need to do two batches as they will flatten and spread during cooking).
Pop them in a preheated moderate oven (around 180c) for 10-15 minutes.
Remove the biscuits from the oven while they are still squidgy in the middle.
Allow to cool on the baking tray for a little while and then transfer to a cooling rack as soon as they are firm enough.

If you’re anything like me, the lure of warm biscuits means that not all of them will make it to the cooling rack!

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