Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Me Evening

I love Wednesday evenings. That’s because I love Wednesdays in general, maybe because I was born on a Wednesday (yes, and I definitely am mercurial), but especially when Rick goes out pooling. He believes that I don’t like him going out in the evening without me, but the reality is, I love it. I love it because I love time to myself, and even if I spend my days to myself, I also love the weekly evening when I get to do exactly what I want.

Usually, this is writing which, really, give you an idea of how bloody dangerously I live these days, but no matter, because on Wednesday evenings, I also get to re-do my nails, to watch Hugh Grant movies (not that Rick doesn’t like them mind you, but I am sure that, deep down, I love Hugh more than he does) or maybe You’ve Got Mail and I get the bed all to myself. That’s where I am now and with all of the books on it, proofs, journals and an empty plate there would certainly not be space for a man.

Wednesday evenings are peculiar times also because it’s the only time of the week when I feel really utterly at peace. No matter how much I stress during the day, when I lit a stick of incense, sit back with the laptop and sip the tea, everything that aggravates me feels unimportant and irrelevant as I tell myself, what the fuck, tomorrow’s another day. There should be more Wednesdays in the week. Yes, definitely.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

At The Park

What I said yesterday was prophetic. William and Victoria went to bed at 8 pm and did not stir until 8.20 am. William especially looked particularly wooden, but I guess he seems to forget that he is pushing eleven and that he should give signs of some sorts when he wants to stop instead of cranking up the pace and scuttling ahead of the rest of us. In any case, he was pliable enough to hop into the car at 10 for a trip to Tatton Park. Tatton is flat and only gently hilly; I am sure both he and Victoria were grateful I didn’t think that another stop at Styal would have bettered their fitness. We had a really nice walk and then went around Knutsford too, where I took some pics of one of my favourite spots, the cemetery and the church. And now it is evening and I cannot believe that it’s Monday again tomorrow. Another five days to pretend I am working...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

In The Woods

Today I went back to Styal but instead of walking around the mill or the manicured gardens, I took William and Victoria around the so-called Northern Woods. We had been around before on a couple of occasions, but this time we pounded the stones steps, the slopes, the uphill inclines and absolutely everything in between for a good two hours. We were, eventually, all panting, even though I am pretty certain that tomorrow I will be the only one without wooden paws (thank you Tracy).

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Miracle

Yes, a miracle, I am witnessing a miracle-in-the-making, I'm telling you. Three weeks ago I started doing the Tracy Anderson Mat Workout, something I had been hankering after for a while as I was getting all nice and flexi with my yoga. I started yoga almost a year ago, doing it religiously most days and can now bend over backwards which, for someone with a spinal injury, is one heck of a big deal. But, you know, I am no different from the vast majority of women out there who aren't really after flexibility but the body of a goddess. I cannot expect ever to Look That Good, as not even sixteen hours worth of weekly gym turned me into the fleshy version of the Venus de Milo, but I think that thirty is a bit too early to jack it in and a wardrobe filled with clothes that cost more than an Aga is worth working (hard and out) for.

And now, I am witnessing a miracle: my body is changing and very rapidly to boot. I know that this Tracy Anderson has a reputation for knowing how to chisel a body, but I've often thought that it isn't her association with Gwyneth that makes her worthy of my stamp of approval, for Gwyneth has always been a weed and toning up as a weed is infinitely easier than toning up as a watermelon. The real poster girls for the Tracy Anderson Method are the women whom she puts through their paces on the lesser-viewed YouTube videos she's got and not the professional actresses or singers who are underweight by two stones as a matter of course.

I've done the whole programme fifteen times and, I kid you not, I can see side grooves running lengthwise by my tummy (never seen such a thing). My humongous bottom is being lifted from the middle, the top of my thighs is reducing in size by the day and I've even developed little biceps. I've never seen anything like this this fast. I need to warn you though: this isn't for wimps. For the first week, the gasps of agony (during and after) stirred my dogs, which is really quite something. They did not move from their beds but did look up at me on a few occasions looking more than slightly concerned. And with reason, I'd say, as walking around, getting in and out of bed, picking up my arms to reach the keyboard were tasks that brought grimaces to my face and little gasps of pain into the open. After a week it got better. After two weeks the agony disappeared. Now I work through it without making a sound, only leaving a small puddle of sweat at my feet.

But, dear friends, the results are outstanding. I cannot wait to see what I will look like by my birthday. You know what the say... lots of pain, lots of gain.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Porcini Sauce

Gosh I am slacking in tracking my modest life. I must confess that when my day is spent writing or editing, all I want to do in the evening is to flop in front of a DVD (and hopefully I'll flop on something soft like my bed, and not the floor). So that's my excuse today. Indeed it ain't an excuse at all but I hope that a little recipe will redeem me.

I've recently acquired a very generous stash of dried porcini (mushrooms) and I put that between brackets because porcini are mushrooms and that's it, there are no porcini apples or porcini pears and so it goes without saying that they are, indeed, mushrooms. Sorry, I digress all the time. So this stack of dried porcini makes one heck of a fabulous sauce which you can use for pasta or for polenta or even if you fancy a teaspoon on a chargrilled piece of toast (as I like mine... very, very toasted...!).

Today I am going to give you the recipe which is extremely easy in its execution provided you hover by the pan for two hours. Yes, that's right. Don't put this sauce on and go soak in the tub because you'll return to a pan which will require a pick to clean up. I put my phone on 10-minute alarm intervals and returned to check and add a little bit of water as the porcini were simmering. This is the method you should use and one that will guarantee a sauce with a delicate, subtle taste and a pan that you can wash off straight afterwards. And also, don't be fooled by the look of the porcini: they really are going to be ready after two hours and not before.

You'll need:

60g dried porcini
a fistful of flat-leafed parsley
a tiny garlic clove
a glug of olive oil
sea salt

You'll do it like so:

1- Weight your porcini and then put them to soak in tepid water for 10 minutes. During this time they will swell and will begin to look like slugs. Don't be put off (although I know you won't if you're French)! Keep calm and carry on! As soon as the 10 minutes have elapsed, rinse the porcini really, really well. This is vital because they can taste sandy if you don't wash and rinse well. Squeeze the extra water through a sieve, then plonk your porcini, the garlic clove and the parsley on a chopping board.

2- Grab your mezzaluna and attack the mushrooms and the parsley until you are left with very small pieces of the former and the latter has pretty much disintegrated under your weapon (NB: wonder why my mushrooms above look whole? Because I always leave a few).

3- Now coat lightly a small frying pan with oil, warm it up, add the mushrooms and swish around the pan for a little while, until the heady aroma of parsley (lovely) and garlic (yuk) hits you. Lower the heat to medium-low, add some hot water and a little bit of sea salt and be vigilant as I described above. The sauce must simmer gently for a couple of hours, during which you will check for salt. After the time is up, use it straight away or decant it in whatever container to be stored in the fridge for use within a week.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

After The Holiday

Ah to return to work after a holiday, however brief! When I used to hate my job, the Tuesday after was always traumatic. To wheel my computer bag through a carpark or up and down the Tube escalators was the epitome of failure. Here I am, returning to the same old crap, while I could have a parallel life, a happy working life. How well I remember. Now I am sitting here grinning ear-to-ear, as it is way past midday, I am still in my bed pants and I've ticked more tasks off my list in the past ninety minutes than I used to when I had to turn up on the job at 7 am for the ubiquitous, and much hated, conference call with the colleagues from Hong Kong.

Over the past few days, I've felt inanely serene. Yes, serene. I cannot say often to feel serene because I believe that a Virgo (or is it Virgoan? I don't know) is always a little anxious by nature. These days though, my anxiety is rooted in possibility, in creativity, in connecting and in The New. Isn't that what spring is all about, The New? I think this is the reason why I hanker after new clothes so badly, because I want to project this feeling of New to the outer world as well. Easter encapsulated The New like no other day of the year; the new life, the redemption, the novelty, the beginning, the rising from the ashes like a phoenix or from the dead like Jesus. It is a really fabulous message even when outside my pear tree is struggling to sprout the bare minimum as the sky stays white and low and promises all but blue, at least for today.

Still, the past four days weren't as ghastly as predicted by the Met Office, as you can see above, and I personally basked in a glory of chocolate, a bit of work, a bit of cooking and having Rick around all the time.

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