Monday, 28 January 2008

You Are Invited to the Third Annual Brigid in Cyberspace Poetry Reading

My dear friend Deborah Oak has once again put out an invitation to this annual event on her blog (which, by the way, I highly recommend).

Feel free to copy the following to your blog and spread the word. Let poetry bless the blogosphere once again!

WHAT: A Bloggers (Silent) Poetry Reading

WHEN: Anytime February 2, 2008

WHERE: Your blog

WHY: To celebrate the Feast of Brigid, aka Groundhog Day

HOW: Select a poem you like - by a favorite poet or one of your own - to post February 2nd.

RSVP: If you plan to publish, feel free to leave a comment and link on this post on Deborah's blog.

Deborah Oak says: "Last year when the call went out there was more poetry in cyberspace than I could keep track of. So, link to whoever you hear about this from and a mighty web of poetry will be spun. Feel free to pass this invitation on to any and all bloggers. Thank you, Reya, for beginning what is now an annual event."

Thursday, 24 January 2008

The Pleasure of a Blue Sky

Ah, the simple pleasure of waking up this morning and letting the animals out without getting drenched by rain!

The rain seems to have been pretty much non-stop for the last few weeks. But this morning there is blue sky! And sun! The birds are singing! And I am doing a little happy dance.

I know that Wales has a reputation for being a rainy kind of place, but the recent wet spell seems to have just gone on and on. I suppose we do have higher rainfall here than in many areas of the UK, but it doesn't usually continue for such a long unbroken period. It has been, frankly, depressing.

The ground is completely saturated, to the point that water squishes out with every step one takes. Our stream - normally a sedate trickle - has become such a raging torrent that I'm worried about the cats getting swept away if they venture too close. Hell, I think I might get swept away if I get too close. I still haven't planted my garlic as I'm afraid it will just rot. The chicken run looks like a re-enactment of the Battle of the Somme, and the path down to the goose shed has become a treacherous mud slide.
But no matter! For today I am just going to gaze at the blue sky and listen to the bird song. And dream of spring.
P.S. The forecast is for more rain tomorrow.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens...

Although I'm a girl of simple tastes, once in a while isn't it nice to enjoy a little luxury?

The thing I've come to realise over the years is that the key to a true luxury is keeping it a special once in a while thing. For example, every Christmas Eve, T and I enjoy what we call our 'feast'. We prepare a spread of special luxury foods that we rarely eat the rest of the year round (and certainly not all at once!) - smoked salmon, caviar, avocado & king prawn salad, crusty french bread, oysters (fresh & smoked) etc., all washed down with champagne and followed by a wickedly tempting dessert. We have maintained this tradition for 22 years now, ever since our first Christmas together. As far as I remember, we haven't missed a year - but it has been a strictly once a year thing. And for that reason it has stayed special, something we can look forward to and really enjoy without it becoming stale or boring. Dining on these foods all the time would rob the event of its magic - as well as being prohibitively expensive!

Recently I've been thinking about the little luxuries I enjoy and how keeping them as luxuries really makes them that much more enjoyable. Because of this, they never fail to put a smile in my heart. Here, in no particular order, are a few of my favourite things:

  • My subscription to 'Sagewoman' magazine. Sagewoman is an American magazine which is hard to find here in the UK. So I have a subscription and once every quarter a lovely thick, glossy new copy plops through the letter box and I find some me time to sit and enjoy every last delicious morsel of it.
  • My special coffee mug. This is a mug I found in a charity shop and just fell in love with. It's a handmade earthenware one, and whilst this gives it a rustic solidity, at the same time its graceful curves and pretty speckled glaze lend it an air of delicacy. This is my special mug, not used for day to day cups of tea and instant coffee. No, this is the mug I use when I have time to make proper coffee (sometimes vanilla coffee, or hazelnut coffee if I'm feeling really decadent!), with plenty of boiled milk - homemade latte, I suppose. Yum!
  • Although I can't often justify the time or the amount of hot water involved, I simply adore a long bath scented with something gorgeous from Lush. I often say I haven't yet found one of their products I don't like, so any of their bath bombs, bath melts or bubble bars fits the bill.
  • A bag of Whittard's chocolate covered cappuccino coffee beans - bitter, sweet, crunchy - scrummy!
  • 'Nest therapy'. This is the term I coined for some serious relaxation, when I'm absolutely exhausted and need to self-nurture. I simply pile up every pillow, cushion, blanket, duvet and eiderdown I can find, grab a stack of favourite reading material and a drink (perhaps cocoa if it's cold or home made lemonade if it's hot), and snuggle into my 'nest'.* I read if I want to, or snooze if even that's too much trouble! Nest therapy is cosy in winter and simply divine under a shady tree on the lawn in the middle of summer.

What are a few of your favourite things, your magical little luxuries? Do leave a comment letting me know!

* White peacocks are, of course, optional.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Giles London

If, like me, you find most newspaper restaurant reviews both pretentious and London-centric, then I recommend you check out this hilarious new blog:

I suggested a venue for Giles to check out for his blog and he has done a magnificent job of reviewing it. Bravo, sir!

Friday, 11 January 2008

Winter Senses

Five winter sights...
Bare branches silhouetted against the low winter sun... The robin waiting hopefully on the bird table for scraps... My breath made visible... Fake snow and fairy lights... The red kites coming down off the hills in bad weather...
Five winter smells...
Roast chestnuts... Pine needles... The welcoming spice of mulled wine... 'Snowcake' soap from Lush... The pungent rubber of a hot water bottle...
Five winter sounds...
The creak and tinkle of breaking ice on the goose pond... Judy Garland singing 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas'... Scraping ice from the car windscreen... The wind buffeting the house on a stormy night... Ancient radiators ticking and clanking as they warm up/cool down...
Five winter tastes...
Warm home made mince pies... The juicy citrus of satsumas... Sloe gin, sweet, strong and fruity... Brussels sprouts fresh from the garden... Christmas pudding and brandy sauce!...
Five winter sensations...
The frozen earth, rock hard underfoot... Cold nose, fingers and toes... My lovely soft mohair scarf, warm around my neck... The prickles of a holly wreath... The friendly weight of extra blankets on the bed...

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Chicken Out!

If you haven't already heard, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has started a campaign to raise public awareness of the horrific conditions under which cheap chicken meat is produced - and hopefully make people think twice before supporting the barbarism with their purchasing choices. It's called 'Chicken Out' and you can get further info and sign up to the campaign via the link to the website displayed further down on the right hand side of my blog.

I have signed up, and also made a belated New Year's Resolution to only buy and eat free-range chicken from now on. Until now I've bought it infrequently, partly due to the hassle of sourcing it, and partly due to the extra cost. I've now decided I'd rather eat chicken less frequently, but with a clear conscience.

On behalf of chickens the world over, Blanche, Blodwen, Bronwen, Bella and I thank you for your time!