Monday 30 June 2008

One Local Summer Week 5 - meal 1

Determined not to mess up a third week in a row, I hit two farm shops on the way home (and tried for 3, but it was closed) and came home with a veritable plethora of locally-produced foodstuffs, so we'll be eating local all week at this rate. Tonight I finally managed to have some of the salad with the flowers in it - it was very tasty, although at the end it all got a bit stalky and I came across something that had little bristles on it which I decided not to eat.

A simple ploughman's....some local garlic and herb cheddar, plus bread baked round Radstock way and butter from Somerset.

I was so in the groove tonight that I even baked these scones, using wholemeal flour I bought on my last visit, plus milk and butter from Whiterow, and I served them with Somerset clotted cream and blueberry jam, also made in Somerset. I am feeling very pleased with myself!

Who says scones need to be round, anyway?
(I know they look a bit shrivelled, but it's the first time I've ever made scones).

Incidentally, last year my work friend Amaryah and I had a long discussion about whether it is scone to rhyme with on - as I say it - or scone to rhyme with stone - as most other people say it (I think posh people say it like that). In the end, we decided to make up our own pronunciation, and call it a scone, to rhyme with done. Ain't the English language grand?

It's enrichment week this week. I scored myself Outdoor Frenzy - sitting around on a farm near my house watching the kids do things like high ropes and archery, joining in as I choose - for the whole week. I got loads of knitting done today, but I have some wicked sunburn. After years of carefully avoiding straplines and sunburn, I fear I've totally blown it for this year. I've spent the evening draped in a wet towel and slathered in Badger Bali Balm - the ultimate aftersun. Here's hoping it's toned down by tomorrow. Thankfully the BBSeaweed mask from Lush I had in the fridge has totally dealt with the (admittedly not as serious) facial redness. I should have layered it all over my shoulders and decolletage, as well.

One final showing off picture - here is a lily I have grown.

I planted it last year and it was immediately fallen upon by a pack of ravenous slugs and left for dead. As is our wont, we left it in its pot over the winter, outside, and in the spring it started to grow again. I reckon this is because Mr Z looked at it (he's very green fingered) - but either way, I planted it originally so I do get some credit for growing something for once (I am notoriously to speak). It has had 5 very lovely red lilies blossom on it in the past fortnight. I am quite delirious about how pretty they are, and fully intend to plant more outside to be similarly noshed on and then reborn.

One Local Summer Week 4 - epic fail

I can only blame not being at home for most of the week. After saying I'd go to the farm shops on Tuesday, too, I realised that I was driving past them all before 9am, so that was useless.

I did try, yesterday, to go to the Hicks Gate Farm Shop, as signposted from the roundabout - but it is most definitely not there anymore. It's just an overgrown cracked tarmac road to nowhere. And today we were going to go and Pick Our Own at Chew Valley farm, but it was a bit overcast and I had to mark about 400 GCSE responses today so it left very little time for actually, like, having a life.

GCSE marking is over on Thursday, Hurrah! Apparently I am accurate enough to have earned consideration for team leader. I knew it would all pay off eventually...although it has been absolutely beastly this year.

Just discovered I made a serious mistake with Marianne this week. I have not had much time to work on it, due to the marking, and I was determined to put a few rows on it during the year 9 conference....this culminated in me knitting during the presentation finals in the lecture threatre, which I didn't feel guilty about because none of my kids got through (they was robbed!). Anyway, one of the groups decided to turn out the lights, as I was part way through a row, and I must have had brain freeze or something because when they came back on, I started knitting again - only on a different row of the lacework. I righted myself without even noticing my mistake by the time I got onto the back piece, but 6 repeats of the lacework on the right front are not right, and because it was partway through and not the whole of the right front, I don't even have the right number of stitches anymore. It's a mess! Thankfully, the variegation in the yarn and the fluffiness mean that it doesn't really seem to notice, though I guess I won't be able to tell until I am a few rows past it.

There's nothing to be done. It won't take ripping back, and while I considered dropping the stitches back to fix them, that way lies insanity and blindness. It really just means that the diamonds in that section are somewhat oversized, but on the whole I don't think it will be too obvious a mistake.

I bet Rachel won't even give me a look :p

Friday 27 June 2008

"This society thinks teenagers are a mistake." Discuss!

I've spent the last 3 days on a conference for year nine gifted and talented students at Bath University. There are 6 pupils and me, so it's a nice little trip and has been a welcome break from the gruelling GCSE marking. During the conference, the kids pair up with 6 kids from another shcool to discuss whether they think education is working. They always produce an interesting set of ideas for their final presentations, usually something rude about teachers and banning homework, but also incorporating some quite innovative and exciting ideas about what schools should look like in the future.

The presentations go in heats, and the winners of yesterday's heats had a video presentation which I would describe as one long teenage tantrum. They backed it up with some great ideas, but there was a lot of "You think we're rubbish and then expect us to clean up YOURr (sic) mistakes".

That statement in the title made me think, though. Are teenagers a mistake?

(I might come back and answer this question when I'm not on a computer terminal in the 8W building of Bath Uni, after 2 nights of sleeping in a narrow halls bed with a thin halls duvet and 6 very loud night owl year 9s.)

Sunday 22 June 2008

Some yarn pictures

How mean of me, to talk about the new yarn I bought and not add pictures. This afternoon I made Mr Z take some - a job with which he did not seem as pleased as I thought he would be. I have to put up with him snapping me at all hours of the day and night as he tests out some new technique he's read about on www.I' - I imagined he'd been crying out for a new subject.

First, from my existing stash - Fleece Artist Super Kid, which is what Marianne is being made out of ....

He hadn't really got into his stride on this one, which is a pity because it is a display picture on the yarn's page on Ravelry now.

Second - a small portion of the vast quantities of Rowan Soft Tweed...

Third - the Lion and lamb. I already wound it into balls, ready for Clapotising it up at some point. I am determined not to start it until Marianne is a good deal further on, though.

And finally, a skein of the Mirasol Miski I have been hoarding. I have a pattern in mind for it now - several, in fact, and they're all clingy, low-necked sweaters with bell sleeves.

Mmmm, yarny goodness.

One Local Summer week 3

I was really rubbish this week, and couldn't get to a farm shop or even up to the green grocer, thanks to the GCSE marking and the lovely day I spent in London yesterday with some friends from uni, who I haven't seen for about 7 years. I think these excuses are good enough.

I managed to make myself a late night meal of West country chicken, from Sainsbury's - it's very handy that they sell locally produced food, though I have concerns that it is shipped to, hmm, I don't know, Aberdeen for packaging before being put in our local supermarket. I do, however, like the little Freedom Foods sticker on the packet, which assures me that, although the bok-boks are kept indoors, they have lots of room to run around, bales of straw, perches, and brightly coloured objects with which to play. I had a moment as I cooked the chicken, imagining it running around after a beach ball, trying to make it roll with its beak and popping it every time. It made me chuckle.

I combined that with some rocket which had been languishing in the salad drawer since my last farm shop visit, and some bread which was decidedly NOT local but the only thing on hand at 11pm on a Saturday night. At least the meal was slightly more local than the kebab Mr Z picked up for dinner on the way home from the bus station. But still, I think this meal gets a "Could do better" sticker.

Next week I am away from home for meals for 3 nights in a row, but on Tuesday I have a meeting in Devizes all day, which necessitates driving past a whole new range of farm shops - one of which, I noticed last week, sells its milk to Cadbury for use in Dairy Milk. Does this make Dairy Milk local for me? I had to drive around Wiltshire last week to drop off some application forms I'd forgotten to post (not for me...pupils) and was sorry I couldn't stop, thanks to being in such a hurry, at any of the half dozen places I saw advertising their wares. Mostly the signs mentioned free range eggs and potatoes, but I can definitely make a meal out of that. I think I might try making some gnocchi next week. If I am ever at home, anyway.

Also, I drive to work through a very woody bit of road, and the whole place reeks of wild garlic in the summer. I keep meaning to park and go and gather some, but I am afraid I might see an insect of some kind, get scared, run out into the road and be flattened by a tractor. Either that or misidentify the plant I pick and poison myself. I have been looking at wild garlic pictures online to help me, and have found a good recipe for wild garlic pesto. That would make a very local meal, with some gnocchi.

Oh, and just in case it wasn't really obvious - the reason I posted that picture of those cars is because of the number plates. These are a lot more clear if you click on the picture and make it nice and big.

Saturday 21 June 2008

In London today

I wonder if they would have bothered with these if they didn.t have a drive that backed onto a main road. Surely they don.t drive them around in the pair? On a side note, I am frustrated that I have to use old style texting to do these msgs, it makes my thumb ache and there is no apostrophe, bizarrely.

Posted by ShoZu

Friday 20 June 2008

Vast quantities of luscious, luscious yarn

My order arrived from Jimmy Beans today. It was worth the wait, even though the Parcel Force man happened to call whilst I was doing my lipstick in the hall mirror and made me jump so it was wonky for the whole day.

(It did last the whole day - it's a MAC Pro Longwear I bought last weekend in bright killer red (I think it's "Lasting Lust" but the colour representation on the website isn't good) and it is practically impossible to remove - when I trialled it for the first time I resorted to using soap and water and even that didn't's hardcore stuff. I dread to think what they put in it to make it stay so utterly put, but it's worth it because I've had lots of positive comments on it and I don't have to worry about getting that whole lipstick ring-round-the-edge-of-the-lips thing happening).

Anyway. The new yarn. I ordered some Lion and Lamb from Jimmy Beans in April, when I decided I was going to have to give in and finally knit a Clapotis because I was feeling left out, since everybody else in the knitting universe has knitted one, or a mini one, or a Clapotis hat or Clapotis mitts....well, what finally swung it was the ready-knitted one on display at Get Knitted. SO soft. I did exactly what they intended - looked at their colourways and then went home and ordered online from another shop *coughcough*.

So, since I was paying international shipping ANYWAY I decided to go and have a look at the sale section, and decided that $3.50/ball for Rowan Soft Tweed was a bargain I was unable to pass up. So unable in fact, that I bought 20 balls.

Yes, it's 20 balls. In fact, it's 1700 yards, of superbulky. I am intrigued as to my thought process at the time. What did I intend to knit with it? The only thing I can find in my Ravelry queue is the Drops jacket (almost as popular as the Clapotis) which I had already decided not to knit on account of how any sort of swing jacket, no matter how beautiful, now matter how bell-like the sleeves nor how perfect the seed stitch detailing, would make me look even more like a barrel than I do natually, and anyway it only uses 1200 yards.

It *is* very soft and I love the colour. But...srsly. What? It was very late at night when I ordered, and I hadn't used my credit card in a very long time. I can't think of anything else.

So, you might have noticed I ordered back in April. Right at the start. I am not so impressed with Lorna's Laces. Yes, your yarn is luscious. Yes, it is soft as the down on the underbelly of a baby chick which has been washed in a mixture of hair conditioner and Lenor. Yes, the hand-dyed colours are indeed beautiful. But they had ordered more stock when I ordered on April 4th, and were not able to ship to me until June 13th. Ten weeks? Really? I got so hissy about the whole thing that in the end Jimmy Beans gave me 10% off, and it wasn't their fault at all.

This week has been an absolute killer (I accidentally typed knitter there, instead of killer...).
I've fallen into GCSE routine - up at 6am, mark an hour before work, come home, mark an hour, have dinner, mark until 8pm, play on the Wii or lie on the bed and try not to go to sleep, mark for an hour, watch Big Brother, go to bed. This routine works for me.

Unfortunately I decided I would mess with the routine a bit by NOT going to bed at 11pm. Instead, I'd come back to the computer, read some fora, mark a few more responses, and generally ensure any winding down I'd done was undone. So, I am like the living dead tonight. Plus, I haven't done an OLS meal and I am away tomorrow. I also need to mark the book of roughly every child I teach and write 4 days' worth of cover for next week, and I am not clearly seeing how that is going to happen.

I might go and have a nap. Things often look clearer after a nap.

Sunday 15 June 2008

This post brought to you by the daughter of Peter Hand

The credits on Big Brother this evening all read "Son of..." or "Daughter of..." in honour of Father's Day, which I thought was a nice touch, and decided to copy. It made me feel better, after none of the contestants could figure out what the Queen's surname was and I started throwing things at the TV.

That's it, really. Oh, I unlocked the super advanced rhythm boxing on the Wii Fit today, which turned out to be fun; the Marianne cardigan is turning out to be a sweet little knit, and quick too (after a couple of mistakes which don't notice to the untrained eye); and we watched Team America and I failed to see what all the adulation was about (reminded me of South Park: the Movie which the Thug almost wet himself watching and I really just didn't get). Also I got clearance to mark all the GCSE questions on my paper, expect for the two easiest, because my team leader hasn't been able to access those and so hasn't got clearance to mark them herself yet, let alone clear mine. So, I have to mark 480 responses by Thursday, and it looks like I'm going to have to mark 480 of the essay questions.

Which leads me to wonder - what am I doing here?

Friday 13 June 2008

One Local Summer week 2 (and some ramblings)

I did a little better this week - I didn't burn anything, for a start.

(I love my plates too, though they don't go with anything in my house. I live in mortal fear of dropping one and no longer having a set.)

Here we have toad in the hole, made with beef and horseradish sausages which I bought and froze when the farmers' market was up the 'wood a couple of weeks ago, and also with milk, eggs and flour purchased from the aforementioned Whiterow Country Foods. I know I should really stop at the other farm shop on alternate weeks, for the sake of fairness, but they don't have the awesome salad Whiterow do. Today they had bags with actual flowers in. I was very excited, but also very skint, so I may have to have that next week.

I am quite proud of myself for even making sure the flour was local, and intend to use it later in the summer for making pasta...or, yknow, for making Mr Z make pasta. The broad beans are also from Whiterow. As I was shelling them, it occurred to me that I can't ever remember having fresh broad beans - only frozen ones, that are grey. These were vastly superior. I felt very stupid when I realised one doesn't eat the fuzzy pod as well as the beans, so we didn't have many - but those we did were very tasty.

And then for dessert, I had some raspberry and elderflower sorbet from Mendip Moments. Yum.Whenever I have their ice cream it reminds me of the cows surrounding the turbanned man who was sitting cross-legged on the top of Glastonbury Tor when Mr Z and I visited last year.

And here is the other video I took that day, just because it made me laugh a lot when I watched it again just now.

That's what that big, ancient, stone tower is for! That girl nearly got a big kick in the face because she wouldn't stop prodding.

Some ramblings for this week.

Crows are mean. Mr Z pointed a pair out to me the other day, hopping around the corner of the guttering of one of the houses that backs onto our lane. He told me they were after the eggs or the chicks. I was horrified and disbelieving, but the very next day, I saw a crow carefully extract an egg from under the eaves and fly off with it. Gits. The local robin has been sitting on our fence post chirrupping for days now, with increasing desperation, and dievboming the cat, and I am starting to worry that it was its nest.

Zoe's finished her degree. I was lucky enough to be in London for her art show yesterday and got to see her final film pieces. They were very good, but I maintain that nothing in this world makes me feel as stupid as art - most of the time I just don't get it. I got Zoe's alright, I think. They were quite personal to her. I can't believe it's been three years and she's finished already.

Hotels are strange places. I rushed and rushed across London on Wednesday night, trying to get to my hotel room in time to catch most of the Apprentice final. At first the guy on the front desk seemed unable to find my booking, so off he went and messed around with some papers, and came back grimacing, "It's not really a problem." "Good," I replied, with a bit of teacher-eyebrow thrown in for good measure. In the end, they upgraded me to an executive suite (still no fridge, but the bed was about 6 feet wide - I slept in a star shape, I think - and it had a sofa bed, a flatscreen on a swivelly arm and two sinks, and would have slept 6 if they were a close bunch of people).
Anyway. Rushing. Apprentice. I couldn't turn the TV on. I decided it must be broken but didn't want to look stupid, so I tried everything I could think of before ringing reception, only to be informed that the switch to turn the power on to the TV was on the headboard of the bed (which was on the opposite side of the room).
Of course! Where it always is...

Cowboy boots are in, in London. I saw 3 pairs before I even got to my hotel. And the next day, more, and on men too. Most of the men I saw were in pointy shoes. I like outfit spotting in London. It's so dull in Bristol - I feel guilty being mentally acerbic because it's so obvious that most of the completely random and unknown people I am dissing like I'm some sort of Vogue editor don't care what they put on their backs, and therefore it's not really fun. People in London make an effort, even when they want to look like they don't. Hence, dishevelled skinny model types with hair carefully teased and spritzed to look unbrushed, and about 5 layers of baggy jersey in an "I just tossed on clothes until I wasn't cold anymore" type arrangement - a look totally ruined, in my opinion, by flesh coloured tights: completely at odds with the overall effect, but subtle enough that they don't really notice unless you're hypercritical.

I might be hypercritical. But only of people I don't know. And a woman accosted me at Victoria station yesterday to ask me where I got my dress from (I neglected to tell her it was from ebay and gave her the original shop details) - so I may be mean, but I have a little bit of style, at least in the eyes of the odd person here and there.

I own red and white spotty shoes. It had to happen sooner or later. They're quite sensible, for me.

I'm marking. The examination season has begun. Bye bye to life for the next 3 weeks. It prompted me to open up my funnies file from last year and these seemed worth sharing -
  • They did not stop the death penalty because they are stupid and they piss me off, so I can't be arsed to write in more detail.
  • She wasn't a violent person - on the contrary, she was beautiful.
  • Trial by Ordeal was a system where God would decide your fete. ["Thou shalt have thy fete on the second Saturday of July, and thou shalt have bunting and balloons and raise money for cancer relief"].

Sunday 8 June 2008

One Local Summer week 1

Here is a dinner we had this week. It is quite simple and should bear the warning "do not put food in the oven and then fall asleep on the couch."

Everything came from Whiterow Country Foods, a farm shop near work; it's about 25 miles from home.

We had poached eggs, chunky chips I burned myself in the oven, a big pile of the pepperiest and most delicious rocket I've ever had, and a dollop of home made mayonnaise. I think I took the rules of OLS to the limit, here - the egg yolks are local but the oil is not, so it is within the boundaries. But I don't know if using half a pint of oil was quite what the rule makers intended.

It was good mayonnaise, though. I bet it would taste really good with some garlic in it.

Sunday 1 June 2008

Had a B makeover in Lush today

Apparently, red lipstick is the only colour for me and I should not compromise. I had better buy some lipcote or people will figure out it is me leaving half drunk mugs of coffee around the staffroom. Just kidding...I would never leave any coffee undrunk.

Posted by ShoZu