Thursday, July 28, 2016

Holiday Snapshots

Last week was a visit down south to see family. Although I took the camera down with me I took very few pictures. I used to be a keen picture taker and worked my way up through different cameras and their levels of sophistication. I stopped printing off pictures with the arrival of digital cameras. Anyway, rather than drag you through pictures of people you don’t know, I will highlights some of the events of the week.

Most miserable day

I know.  Holidays are not supposed to have miserable days. And most people wouldn’t classify this as miserable. Tuesday was a very hot day. It was the kind of temperature that was good for the Costa del Sol but not for Warwickshire. Temperatures peaked at 33oC which translates into the high 80s or 90s on the Fahrenheit scale. I have lived in Scotland too long and become acclimatised to cooler weather. By mid-afternoon, my body really didn’t know what to do with itself.  I am convinced I have more sweat glands than anyone else and every one of them was overworked. It was nice to sit in the shade, but even nicer to sit in a room with a few fans shifting air. It seemed as if every part of me was dysfunctional. I can’t believe that I lived in Cyprus for five years in similar and hotter temperatures! Is it an age thing? This intolerance of very hot temperatures?

Nicest niece or nephew

It constantly surprises me that I am related to so many beautiful young people. There was a newspaper article yesterday about the UK population being taller now than a generation ago.  I think that the niece and nephew generation on our family might not be taller but they are a good looking bunch! I was probably quite good looking too when I was their age but middle age spread happened and other aging events.

All of my next generation are nice, but I will highlight two of my nephews.

It’s not often when we go down to visit that we see my nephew Tom. It was really good to see him.  He has a wicked sense of humour. He seems to have reached a place of liking where he is at in life – not the physical place where he lives or the people that he encounters – but just being himself. I like him a lot!

The other nephew, Micah, I hadn’t seen since he was a boy. We lost touch when his parents were divorced and I miss not having a hundred photos of him and his sister, Melody, growing up. I apologise if I stared too much. I do that sometimes.  In my head I had all these deep conversations about his dad, Michael, and the last week of his life in Spain. I reality I talked about Brexit and Scottish independence. It was nice to be in his company and his wife Angela is awesome, confident and friendly.

Most interesting meal

Was the meal that great? The food? Maybe not to my taste. Richard and Linda, my brother and his wife, help out with a cookery club once a month. It’s a multi-cultural thing. Someone had funding from the council to buy half a dozen plug in induction hobs, half a dozen pans and chopping boards and kitchen utensils. The idea was to teach people to cook healthy food. A local church offered a room and the use of the kitchen. It is a great way to learn to cook meals from different cultures.

We cooked a stir fry. Everyone chopped and grated and sliced and quartered different vegetables, threw them into a hot pan with different sauces and sprinkles of spice. Joe is a purist when it comes to stir fries – the spices go in first.  They didn’t stir fry Joe-style. We got to taste one another’s meals. Linda’s chickens had an abundance of left over vegetables.

It was the desert which I really loved. Fruit salad with meringue and vanilla yoghurt. The meringue was vegan. I had no idea you could make a meringue without egg whites. I am wrong! Chickpea water! How would someone even go down that path of using chickpea water? Creativity at its best.

Best afternoon activity

I discovered a shopping gene one afternoon. Clothes shopping has often been a bit of a chore. What looks good on a coat hanger doesn’t look good on me. I also have a little voice in my head that reminds me that I possess knitting needles and a sewing machine and tells me “you could make that yourself!” Let’s not rake up the knitting and sewing days – yes, once upon a while I could have made things, and did.

Linda and I hit the sales one afternoon. She was looking for bedding for spare rooms in readiness for sons and families to stay.  She wasn’t hostile to dresses and other stuff. She collected dresses and skirts and tops much as a bee collects honey before heading off to the dressing room to try things on. She came away with a couple of dresses and ordered other things to collect later.

I caught the shopping bug. The hot weather helped in the sense that what we had packed wasn’t suitable. I bought a pretty top – sleeveless – I don’t really do sleeveless.

I suppose what made it so enjoyable was Linda. She took her time looking through the rails. There was no sense of urgency or hurry. Time was there to be spun out. I wasn’t hurried from one place to another. I wasn’t required to make snap decisions.

More vegan deserts

One of my nieces is vegan. She introduced us to vegan alternatives to some of the stuff we eat. I was just about to say I could become a vegetarian perhaps, but not a vegan, but I like meat too much. Bacon sandwiches – there are probably vegan alternatives.  A vegan lifestyle doesn’t sit well with my basically lazy nature.

As well as the vegan meringue, we also tasted vegan ice cream. It’s not made with the usual ingredients but tastes very much the same. I liked the vanilla ice cream, but didn’t like the chocolate one so much.  

The whole week was one of healthy eating and we have managed not to fall back into the fish and chip takeaway and cake and chocolate eating rut from before. So, although I am not about to embrace veganism or vegetarianism, or the two/five diet, trying to eat better is a good idea.

It was nice to see the family. I miss them. I admit to thinking often about returning to Warwickshire – but I love Scotland too much, and Nicola, and life in a slower lane.

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