Archive for December, 2011

snapshot of loveliness

There is nothing more sure and more focused than a crowd of Cologne marketeers as they weave their unerring way towards a gluhwein stall in Cologne. We were there and we were borne along by that throng of happy revellers into the arms of the glorious and all warming mulled wine grottos. Yes indeed we have sampled the best and the worst of the Cologne tinctures and deemed them all to be perfectly acceptable as a christmas tipple of choice. It is all about the atmosphere isnt it .. the unending trill of the christmas songs , the ominous waft of the oil of a thousand Ribeskuchen (probably not spelt that correctly )but the gist of it is :potato grated into a glutinous flattened rosti which is then thrown into a seething boiling  bucket of hot oil and served with apple sauce) (despite the heartattack certainty , it does taste pretty delicious even though I say it myself and tastes ten times better in a cold winter setting) another important point to note is that Cologne is probably the only location where you can wear a Norwegian pullover and a down jacket and not swelter half to death with heat stroke . And then of course there are the hot pork rolls and thuringer sausages and a veritable cornucopia of  greasy , heartstopping fare coupled with the tooth aching gingerbread hearts slathered in tooth breaking icing in a multitude of unnatural enumbers and colour palettes. Love it !!

India , my India !

And I loved even more the quasi rajasthani tent set up near the Ludvig Museum serving all manner of tasty snacks.

Cosima von Bonin exhibit

Cologne was not all about eating, Paul and I also managed to grab some culture and two exhibitions “Me myself and I” an exhibition of photo potraits of Picasso  and Cosima von Bonin’s Cut ! Cut! Cut! for Museum Ludvig’s Sloth section Loop#04 of the Lazy susan series . Music stunning … could feature in Paul’s christmas stocking !!!

all about Christmas

Back to reality at home and the disappointing let down of an advent calender without any christmas puppies in santa hats, kittens in stockings or baby donkeys in the snow. I’m bored of bling and  baubles, tired of timeless tat and tinsel  and cursed corny crackers !tally ho for Christmas !

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Little Amsterdam

which is of course for gingerbread !

after an evening of hellish heat in the kitchen I am left with a motley assortment of pieces of gingerbread which I have to assemble Somehow into a sweet little gingerbread cottage. Alongside the cottage I was rashly encouraged by my new Martha Stewart Special Holiday handbook (thankyou for that Tara) to make some miniature dutch gingerbread house biscuits. Halfway through this enterprise, imagine trying unsuccessfully to download templates from Martha Stewart on a recalcitrant laptop balanced precariously on  a bag of flour and with hands covered in gingerbread.Not that good for the keyboard I imagine as I think there is something wrong already with the letter G.In the end I just improvised and the resultant biscuits look like some rickety old shanty town from a third world country and not the sharp, crisp upmarket town houses that would grace any dutch township. Maybe the icing will make it all better !! Anyway an inspirational picture attached of what they should look like !! Next letter I… for icing, icicles,igloos and incompetence !

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Have just enjoyed a super event organised by  the Mary How Trust  : Beyond Endurance : Shackleton South Georgia Expendition with Keith Young giving  an illustrated talk.

The Mary How Trust aims to spot the early signs of serious illnesses through health screenings for which they make no charge. They are an independent charity , receiving no NHS funding. The Trust have a very active and interesting calendar of events planned throughout the year in Sussex and indeed  Paul and I are very much looking forward to welcoming the Trust for  a special evening garden event next year on Friday 20th July 2012. In the mean time look out for their brilliant talks and slide shows which always feature extraordinary people telling wondrous tales and taking you way into other worlds.

Keith Young regaled us with tales of their daring recreation of the Shackelton expedition : a quite amazing tale of barmy british adventuring of the best kind.His accounts of their sail to South Georgia itself were the stuff of my worst nightmares .I suppose the sheer audacity and amazing courageousness of Ernest Shackleton  was summed up perfectly in the advert he posted in the newspapers when he was tring to recruit volunteers for the trip :

it read :

Men Wanted -for hazardous journey, small wages,bitter cold,long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful, honor and recognition in case of success.

and hearing the full story of his quite wonderful trip , his achievements and sheer dogged determination was inspirational as were Keith’s own adventure tales.

Shackeleton’s gravestone bears a quote from a poem, the Statue and the Bust ,  by Robert Browning,  which also should stand as an admirable motto for life

         Stake your counter as boldly every whit, Venture as warily, use the same skill, Do your best, whether winning or losing it,                  

        If you choose to play!–is my principle. Let a man contend to the uttermost For his life’s set prize, be it what it will!

so give it your all whatever you try to  go for ! which seems a good idea  to me !

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