VegFest 2017

This weekend I have tickets for VegFest, not a music festival with vegan bands, but a food festival celebrating vegetarian food. I can’t go to the whole thing as I am working parts of the weekend. I’ve been looking forward to it, but last night I saw a programme with a piece about vegetarian food and now I am a bit worried.

All the food they featured mimicked meat. There was the line about vegetarian food that could tempt meat eaters; a comment, based on the fact that so much of the meat mimicking stuff would have passed the blindfold test, that vegetarian food has come a long way. I wasn’t giving the programme my full attention, but my expectations of the weekend’s VegFest have abated. One producer who made veggie burgers that taste like meat listed the various ingredients she uses that give the taste, texture and whatever else of meat. In other words, the things I dislike.

So will VegFest be about what I think of as vegetarianism, or a prosletysing force for people who’d like to cut meat out of their diets but still feel like they eating it? The Linda McCartney form of vegetarianism. Fine if that’s what you want, but I’m beginning to feel it should have another name to distinguish it from vegetarianism that doesn’t have any interest in recreating meat out of vegetables. Continue reading


The Making of a Militant Vegetarian

I’ve been a vegetarian, the ovo lacto variety, for most of my life, since I was twelve years old. So that means quite a few decades.

Mother thought i should be a member of the Vegetarian Society. I don’t know why I resisted, maybe she was expecting me to stump up my own membership fees out of my meagre pocket money. I think that must have been it, or otherwise she would have just signed me up anyway. But whatever the reason, I never joined.

I had a look at their site a while ago and thought it looked quite good, but couldn’t see any advantage in becoming a member. That changed on Saturday evening. I’d been working in Westminster and at the end of the day I was in Parliament Square. So were lots of other people. There had been a demonstration that ended in a rally. Corbynistas, anti-austerity protesters, anti-Theresa May protesters, and probably people who regard themselves as affiliated to other causes and groups were, by the time I was there, singing and dancing along to Bob Marley songs. Good for them. It all seemed very good natured and well behaved. I am all in favour of peaceful protest, of people taking to the streets to express their views. Had I not been working, who knows, I might have been there with them. Continue reading

The Penultimate Leg part 1

I was going to call this the last leg, but that will be Heathrow to Home, and even this penultimate leg divides in separate parts however you look at it.

I was early to bed and earlyish to rise. With only five Singaporean dollars to my name this morning, the hotel blow out buffet was never an option. But I had a very good vegetarian selection at a nearby Indian café last night for a princely almost five dollars, and had the sense to ask if they did breakfasts. The answer being in the affirmative, once washed and my bags rearranged for the nth time, I set off.

It was obviously a breakfast venue popular with locals too.

You may not find Dynamic Dining in any of the eating guides to Singapore, but I recommend it for good food and friendly service. There was a slight hiccough with my coffee which was served already sweetened, but my food was great from the word go. It turns out one of the cooks used to work for P&O as a chef. The before and after pictures of my meal tell their own story.


This chap arrived by motorbike just as I was paying.

Then back to the hotel and a quick trip to the eighth floor for some last views of Singapore.


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Flora and Fauna in Melbourne

As the number of days I have left before I fly home drops to single figures so the temperature rises. Tomorrow it is expected to be 38c in Melbourne. We're planning a day in an air-conditioned cinema followed by an air-conditioned museum. I thought I might do another trail in Melbourne's arcades this afternoon, but the promise of Martinis at two has persuaded me to put that off. In the meantime I'm enjoying herbal tea at the kitchen table.

Hobarts's gardens were full of colour. I'd have thought that was normal, but we were told last year there was a drought and nothing was growing. People are making the most of the current lushness.

In Seddon, the flowers are also blooming. I am very fond of amaryllis, and this one is in a garden just round the corner.

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Perfect Tuesday

Just on four o’clock and as I don’t drink tea I decided to open one of my cans of weak lager. MasterB is stretched out on the bed, sleeping his way through the heat of the afternoon. I’d post pictures of him and the surrounding farmland, but for some reason my camera and my tablet are not talking. He’s a seasoned boat cat these days; he’s been coming here for five years now, the first time the day after he was neutered, which was also the day of the Royal Wedding. He’s had three lots of shore leave, though this morning’s was very short. Although eager to check out the world beyond the gunwale, he swiftly had second thoughts and opted to come aboard again after less than five minutes.

When I woke up I discovered he had been playing with the feathered toy in the night. I had hidden it away as I don’t want him to choke on it. He is getting too clever at winkling it out if the hiding places.

The morning was spent washing the boat. It is not yet finished, but I have done a good job on the starboard side and the roof. Unfortunately these are the areas where I always do a good job; the port side has green algae of at least two seasons on it. My excuse last year was that I was just getting down to work when with the hose and water pump when I realised the window seals were inadequate and water was pouring into the interior. My excuse today, when I eschewed the electrics and instead used mop, new broom which distressingly shed its bristles with abandon, and old toothbrush, is that older Nephew was coming for lunch and I needed to be showered and have said lunch ready to eat when he arrived. So shortly after eleven, when I had been diligently mopping and rinsing, scrubbing and mopping again for over two hours, I propped the mop in the flagpole holder, lined the broom up beside the landing net (which is not for fishing but in case MasterB falls in) and headed for the shower. Oddly, I was quite sad to curtail my cleaning efforts. Continue reading

Let’s Spiralise Like We Did(n’t) Last Summer

There’s a song that keeps springing to mind when I turn the handle and transform the courgettes, carrots and beetroot into curly ringlets. It is that stalwart of the sixties by Chubby Checker.

Regular readers of this page will know that Octavia and I often eat together once a week, drink her wine and catch up on our news. Last Saturday we did the wine but not the food. I raved about spiralised beetroot as we quaffed. Octavia laughed and took a photo of me which she sent to a non-mutual friend. Hmm. Not sure about that one.

I am one of those people who talks about the things that interest me to anyone and everyone willing to listen. One of these people is the man from whom I sometimes buy the beetroot. I told him about my spiralised beetroot recipe. I could see his mind working.
“No garlic?” he queried.
“I forgot to put any in,” I explained.
“Lemon juice?”
“No, but that is a key ingredient in my beetroot risotto.”

We were talking beetroot for ten minutes before being interrupted by another customer. I went home. That was a couple of days ago. Today I took him some spiralised beetroot. He’s going to put it with avocado, lemon juice and garlic. I’m looking forward to the report. Continue reading

Substantial Refreshments

After the burial it was time to head for the hotel for refreshments. I was going to be in the limo for this journey. Philip, the undertaker, said the car would take us wherever we wanted. Within reason, he added after an infinitesimal pause. I looked at him questioningly. The day before, he explained, one woman had asked if it could take her to the coast. Mind you, he added, if you promise my father (the driver of the limo) fish and chips at the end of the journey he’ll take you anywhere.

We settled for the hotel.

A few hours after Aunt died, Older Nephew looked at the will. Aunt had left instruction that *substantial* refreshments should be provided after her burial. This immediately made us want to know what had caused her to make this specification. Annoyingly, she had gone where we could not follow to find out. My cousin Tom, charged with co-ordinating the family in NI to come to the funeral (a task as easy as herding cats), and a clergyman, laughed when I read it to him. *Light* refreshments, he had seen specified often enough, but *substantial*? This was a first.

We speculated that she must have been to a funeral where afterwards the mourners were offered a meagre selection of crisps and a packet of iced gems. Of course, we shall never know what the real reason was. A death sparks lots of questions and topic of conversations you’d like to have with the person who has just died. In my case, being charged with the arrangements, I shouldn’t have minded a little more clarification about what substantial meant. A number of people have suggested it meant quantities of alcohol, but as Aunt drank seldom and little, and the family in Ireland is almost tea total, I didn’t think that was correct.

After much studying of the menus at the local hotel which was to host the post burial part of the day, I asked them if we could swap some things, exclude all egg dishes when they said (in answer to my question) that the eggs they used were not from range birds, made a decision, and then worried about if I had made the right one until last Thursday.

A quick survey of the mourners decided I had, and at the end of the day, when the hotel staff were clearing up around the family who were the only people left, gathered around two tables pushed together and sharing stories, we had the sense to ask for doggy bags.

If I were to do it again, and that’s not likely, I would say no to sandwiches. They were the only part that disappointed. They had been made slightly in advance of our arrival and refrigerated. The result was that they were a bit dry. Otherwise, the food was great, and people tucked in and chatted. Although I obviously knew my family, and some of the friends and neighbours, there were quite a few people there whose names were familiar but whose faces I did not know. I had had the bright idea of asking people to email their memories of Aunt so that these could be included in the Order of Service.

If you caught the whiff of sarcasm in the adjective *bright*, you were spot on. It was a good idea. The end result made me glad I had done it, and lots of people said how much they liked it, but it was a headache getting some people to write more than “she was a good Christian with a lovely smile”. I felt instances of her good Christianity would build a clearer picture. The ex-teacher in me came out, and some people received returned work, where I pressed them for particular memories, rather like the Point Example Explanation pupils need to remember when writing essays. I mean, saying Shakespeare was a good writer and he had a beard won’t get you many marks in the exam, mainly because it says next to nothing about him. Continue reading

Pomegranate Perfection

It’s pomegranate and fig season. Oh yum. I love pomegranates. I am eating one or two every day at the moment.

Some people don’t like pomegranates. They say eating them is too fiddly. Then it turns out they are removing each seed singly with the aid of a pin. You could die of starvation before you ate the whole fruit.

The pin thing was presumably invented by someone for whom gracious table manners were more important than enjoying food.

Pomegranates are made to be enjoyed. They are not fruits to eat in company.

They are certainly not fruits to be eaten with the aid of a pin.

Preciousness and pomegranates do not mix. Consider the name, well consider it in French: grenade, as in hand grenade. Certainly not delicate; definitely not polite.

Pomegranate on a plate

Pomegranate on a plate

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Nadiya Begum, Our New Sweetheart; Can She Save the NHS?

I caught up with the final. Someone I was with while working on Wednesday night knew in advance but had been sworn to secrecy. I didn’t want to know. But once home, and MasterB cuddled and then released into the night, I settled down and watched.

What a perfect end to the day. And in the next few days, so many many people, including Clive James, revealed themselves as Nadiya fans. Though not the Daily Mail. I always think the subtitle of the Mail should be Spleen, and carry a health warning. The mission in life of this paper seems to be to point accusing fingers, find fault, cause division.

Often I work with people from the US. I have been baffled by comments they sometimes make about the NHS, as though to be admitted into hospital here is a sure fire ticket to the grave. Now I find that NHS bashing articles from the Mail are routinely republished in the US.

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A Wonderful Day

I shouldn't like to live on das Boot all the time, and I can say with great certainty that neither would MasterB, but that doesn't stop me from feeling sad that I shall go home tomorrow, or from MasterB having a nice time now. He has commandeered my seat, a fold up director's chair of some vintage, rather as he commandeers the sofa. I am writing in the dark to discourage the ingress of insects.

I just tried to ring Aunt, but her number was engaged. It was similarly engaged half an hour ago, from which I deduce that she is relating our day to Uncle Bill.

As forecast, the day dawned bright and sunny. It got brighter and sunnier as the morning passed. And hotter. I should have mentioned hotter, some 30 degrees C, and hotter still in my car after it had sat in sunshine for a while with the windows closed outside Aunt's flat this afternoon.

Showered, dressed and breakfasted, and with my hair brushed and also washed, I headed off for Aunt's, only to discover when I stopped to buy the paper that I had left my purse on das Boot. At least I was able to offload the bags of used cat litter into the bin outside the newsagent's. I refused all Aunt's offers of cold drinks, biscuits, and goodness only knows what and hurried her out of her flat. My big fear was that we would reach the pub only to find the table she prefers, her table, taken.

So she got her vist to the marina, albeit briefly, while I grabbed money, a hat and sun cream, not realising Aunt had already put the latter two requisites in her bag in advance of my arrival.

We admired the poppies in the fields, the growth of the corn, the neatly rolled hay bales, and the rectangular ones. The sun shone. Continue reading