Ninety Per Cent Vegan

“So what’s the other ten per cent?” asked Cousin’s Husband, “Do you eat sausages?”
I don’t think it was a serious question, and certainly he was quickly shushed by others in the room, but given the attitudes of some vegans, my other ten per cent might just as well be a love of rare steak.
It’s not though, it’s vegetarian. The odd bit of dairy, usually in the form of a hidden ingredient, still creeps into my meals. Then there are the eggs from hens kept as pets. I don’t have them very often, but they are there. A lot of my food is made from the same ingredients it always was, but used in different ways. I never used to eat butter beans in salads, or tofu in sandwiches. I didn’t have tahini spread on toast in the morning topped with fresh fruit, or with tomatoes, capers and olives. But the tahini, the tomatoes, the olives, the fresh fruit, the tofu, the butter beans were all staples.
The capers? I used to love capers, then suddenly, inexplicably, went off them. I haven’t eaten them in years. Then a neighbour brought some to our Equaliteas event, and since then I have eaten loads of them.
As I have said before, I don’t know that I shall ever be fully vegan. It is more of a lifestyle than vegetarianism. To reach nirvana all animal products including wool, leather and honey need to be excised. I still have quite a bit of honey inherited from Aunt. As I don’t eat it often, that statement will probably be true for some time to come. Equally most of my footwear is leather and unlikely to wear out overnight. Despite the best efforts of the moths (London has suffered a moth invasion this year) I still have some wooden jumpers. Now I am wondering about silk. I guess that might be on the forbidden list too. Maybe I am only eighty or eighty-five per cent vegan. Continue reading

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By Request

Cagey has asked for pictures of the cat that looks like Queen Victoria. She means Lily.

Lily


She settled well in the countryside after a lifetime just outside Belfast. Having watched the inhabitants of her new demesne from a high vantage point she finally descended among them to rule the space. She commandeered the dog basket, stretched out on the sofa, rolled on her back on the floor confident that none of her subjects would annoy her. Continue reading

Back in Co Derry Again

London was 32C as I trundled my bag up the road to the railway station and on to the airport. I’d packed a cardigan and a waterproof at the top of my bag for easy access. The forecast for Belfast was for 16C. It wasn’t supposed to look like this:

Touchdown

But it was cooler. Much cooler. For the first time in weeks I slept under a full weight quilt. Most nights recently I haven’t had so much as a sheet over me at night. It felt good.
It must have rained a little in the night as when I woke the flagstones were wet. More rain was forecast and the skies had a grey look about them. So when Westie Boy and I embarked on our morning constitutional I wore my waterproof. I was glad enough of it to start as there was a nip to the air, and for a few hundred yards I thought it would have been nice to have gloves too. But the rain held off, and the sun made fitful appearances through the cloud. Continue reading

Welcome Rain

Rain was forecast for midnight. I went to bed, but was still awake at 11.30, not because it was hot (it was still 29C) but because I was fizzing with excitement at the idea of rain. Once I realised this, I calmed myself down and went to sleep. I woke up at 2am. No rain. I looked out of the window at clear skies and a beautiful full moon and realised the rain probably wasn’t coming.

Rain was forecast for the morning. The skies were blue, with little white flutters of cloud high up. It didn’t rain. After work, in the afternoon, under skies that were still blue, I watered the garden.

A bit later I went out again with the recycling and some peelings to go in the compost. My downstairs neighbour M was hanging out her washing. She’s an animal lover, and we have been talking about her  possibly looking after MasterB from time to time if I have a long day, or if I’m away for a couple of nights. It seemed a good opportunity. I needed to do a couple of bits and pieces indoors, then some shopping, so we decided to liaise when I got back. Continue reading

No Wiser

It was hot today, with very little breeze. The streets were hot, the air was hot, the buses were baking. I was only working in the morning, and fortunately in a fairly cool (in all senses of the word) building so tucked my little TG3 into my bag and when I finished working trekked off to the West End and the camera shop where I bought it four years ago. I’m not going to name and shame that shop, but after today, it is not likely to receive more custom from me. I shall return to the London Camera Exchange on the Strand.

I’m not being entirely fair I know, but I was disappointed in the whole thing.

So. I trotted into the shop and was met with smiles. I got the camera out of my bag and explained that I was trying to work out what the problem was: a battery that had run its course; a poor connection with the charger; something more serious. I also explained that when plugged into the charger it lit up as though charging but didn’t.

I was therefore somewhat disappointed when the assistant plugged the camera into the charger and turned to me with a slightly triumphant look when the orange light comes on.

I was blunt, there’s no other way to describe it, but it was a long time since breakfast and I was hoping to get this sorted and have some lunch soon. “That proves nothing,” I said, “it’s doing what I told you, but either the battery isn’t charging or the problem lies somewhere else.” He looked more irritated than crestfallen. This continued as he searched for a charger case that the battery would sit in. “I didn’t get one of those with this camera,” I said, channeling Job quite successfully, “there was only the lead.” His irritation was now apparent.

I made an effort. “Do you have a charged battery we can put into the camera to see if it works, as if you do we can isolate that the problem is with the battery or the charger rather than the camera itself.”

He told me he couldn’t unwrap a new battery unless I was going to buy it. My smile became more fixed. “How about taking a charged battery out of the display camera?” I suggested, through not-quite-gritted-teeth. Continue reading

Oh Olympus TG3, Thou Art Sick

MasterB is fully recovered from his anaesthetic, and the fur on his throat is beginning to grow back.

Bare throat

He’s not so keen on the return of the hot weather. We enjoyed two days of lower temperatures and I assumed wrongly that summer would resume a more reasonable temperate course. The humidity builds up, and you think there’s going to be a storm, but then the winds come along and blow the humidity away leaving us with more temperatures in the high 20s and low 30s. Too hot for central London, and a country where we are ill equipped for extremes of weather.

I am starting to fantasise about rain; proper rain, though a good long shower to soak the earth and freshen the air would do. We haven’t had rain here since 28th May. And it would be really nice to have day off from watering the plants.

Guarding a watering can

Continue reading

Here Come the Hols

Two and a half weeks to go until I cross that little strip of water known variously St George’s Channel and the Irish Sea for my hols in Northern Ireland.
Can’t wait.

Oh hang on a moment, I need to sort out some photos first. Maybe I can wait.
The plan hatched earlier in the year, which i hope is still live, is to have a family day with Uncle Bill, with as many photos as we can lay our hands on, and have a good session of family stories. Continue reading

Bigotry and Beauty

You’d have thought that the political landscape couldn’t get more worrying or more bizarre, but in the last week it’s felt that this is the moment when our mouths are frozen open in a silent scream of noooooooo before the true scope of the horror is unleashed in tornado of biblical proportions.

Matthew Parris, the political commentator and former MP, just spoke on Channel 4 news about Brexit, saying if people voted that pigs might fly, and the politicians can’t get the pigs to fly, the politicians are in an impossible place.

In London we have cameras on every corner. It doesn’t take much imagination to understand what that info would mean to a malign administration intent on a Farage inspired future. people watch The Hand Maid’s Tale and are gripped, but still see it as fiction, yet when I read the novel in 1989 what scared me was how plausible the events described are.Even before the Internet, when I was watching and speaking out about the gradual erosion of our human rights under Margaret Thatcher, I was aware that if a more extreme bunch came into power my membership of Amnesty International, my signature on various petitions, could mean the end of me. All the more easy now if events come to their logical conclusion. We seem curiously unable to wake people up to the dangers of Trump, of Brexit, of people in India losing their citizenship.

Via Twitter, Speccy drew my attention to this piece in the Irish Times

But we can’t exist on a diet of gloom and pessimism, so here are some pictures from my little sojourn at das Boot last week. Some are of MasterB, who has not had the happiest day. He was under anaesthetic, having his teeth x-rayed, one removed, one had the tip cut off. A line of fur has been shaved from his neck, it’s not a great look. But here he is at das Boot. Most of the pictures took were when I was trying to tempt MasterB out for an evening stroll. I wasn’t entirely successful. Continue reading

the end of the day

I’m working on Monday so it’s back to the Smoke tomorrow. The forecast is for
a hot day, so I’ll try to leave in the morning. The evening might be cooler, but there’ll be lots of traffic with people returning at the end of the weekend.

I’d like to be able to stay on. Stay on until I become restless. Right now, being on the boat with some human contact and some internet access, but not too much of either, suits me down to the ground. I’m hanging out with MasterB. Doing a bit of gentle boat cleaning after the rigours of scrubbing the covers, eating lots of salad, drinking lots of water and a bit of wine. The pace is so slow you might not even realise I was moving. I am very happy to not do very much, to recharge my batteries by vegetating.

For the first time in ages I brought my Lumix camera with me. I haven’t taken many pictures, but just using it again reminds me what a different experience it is to my trusty little Olympus,.

I’d like to stay and let the sights and sounds of summer in the country sink into me, so that the big skies, the scent of lavender, the bees, the pennants moving in the breeze, the squawk of the moorhen, the swan dipping its neck into the sun reflected water, are all filling my senses, so that Brexit, Trump and all the other noise and nonsense dims into insignificance for a while.  Continue reading