Sunday 29 March 2015

My cup runneth over

Or bucket as one doctor on the net said.
What? You may ask yourself, is she going on about now . . .

A few days ago I made lunch for some friends - a rather nice fish stew with prawns, followed by some hyper-out of season strawberries (something I would not normally buy, but they were sitting in little wooden trays, all come-hither, and very cheap, etc).
Anyway we ate, chatted, people left and I took the runty dog to vet for the zillionth time. On the way home I started feeling itchy; got indoors and had a look under my shirt. I was rather startled to see massive red hives - which spread alarmingly with a bit of tentative scratching.
At that point I hadn't considered a food connection so assumed it was some flea type thing and it would go away. For supper we had salad featuring tomatoes, and chillies more strawberries, bread and cheddar, which I now know is a cocktail of histamine rich foods.
So, I spent an interesting night alternating between cold baths, reading scary internet stuff and trying not to tear at my angry skin.
The next day was worse as I hadn't mentally digested the info about all foods. So proceeded to eat what I thought would be ultra-healthy: sardines, spinach wholemeal bread, oats, washed down with a few cups of tea, oh and some rosé wine.
Ow. Terrible night with feet on fire and hives all over. As I woke with raging heartburn that felt like a heart attack, I decided to take an emergency appointment at the docs. He prodded me a lot and said everything was okay, but sent me to the pharmacist for a carrier bag of drugs (they do this here).
I also saw a much more sensible herbalist friend who gave me calm advice and some chickweed cream.


So, ate just quinoa and drank water the rest of the day.
Next day, still some hives but a lot less. More quinoa, mostly just water.
Today I ventured into millet and rice flour pancakes, celery, carrots and a micro portion of steak and still loads of water. So far so good.
Anyway, the thing about the cup . . .
Having done a fair bit of reading now, and listening to helpful alternative doctors on Youtube I think I understand the bucket metaphor.
Basically, my body had reached a point where it couldn't cope with the amount of histamine absorbed over time, and, as I was going through the dreaded menopause I had an increased sensitivity to potential allergens. She pictured as a bucket - or cup, if you like, that was filling up and it only took one drip too much and the vessel would start to overflow, resulting in the hives, in my case.
Looking back over the last few months I have been probably eating too much histamine rich foods: nuts, loads of sardines, citrus fruit . . . but had started to go off drinking wine, as if my body was trying to tell me something.
The list of foods you can eat is a bit sad, but reading on, it seems as if you can add things back in slowly and carefully. I certainly would miss tomatoes, oranges, chilies, and TEA!
Well, every cloud, etc. I certainly have lost weight which I was trying to do, and I feel oddly and pleasantly calm; I haven't kicked the cat once today, shouted at The Boy to get off the computer/put his dirty washing in the basket, or sworn . . . at all.


Thursday 26 March 2015

Down the plughole

Are we heading for it - the end of everything?
When I see things like this, I fear for mankind - well some of us. There are plenty just getting on with their lives, not taking too much, not willfully destroying everything for the sake of More Stuff.
Things Like This in this case happen to be plugs. Sinks come with plugs - on a chain, or the pop up variety, which do have a lifespan, true, but it's usually the mechanism that dies, not the plug itself. So it is unlikely that any of us really NEED a new plug with a cat on it.
I'm sorry, whoever had this terrific idea/designed them/manufactured them and then sold the idea to this particular DIY store, but I just don't understand.
Why not design something that would actually be useful like a traffic warden-detector, or a special gismo that you could put under a café table leg to stop it wobbling, or some sort of herbal drug that would make gardening fascinating for kids.
I held up people-traffic in the shop while I just gawped at these Things. I've been chuntering (what a great and seldom used word) on about wastage of world resources for some time now, and trying to make our own small changes - little packaging as possible, recycling furniture, clothes, food (soup just gets better and better the day after and the day after) but on sight of such utter non-usefulness, well . . . I just don't know. Blogger stomps off to make more tea (loose, with organic milk, in second hand mug) what is the world coming to . . . grr.

Sunday 22 March 2015

Songs of life: 2

Following songs of life 1, this has to be the sound of my early teens. (Sorry Mark!) I must have played this record about three hundred times on our old hi fi system. My poor mother was very forgiving, only occasionally sighing and suggesting we might listen to the other two vinyls we owned at that point (afore-mentioned Beatles album, and Bridge over Troubled Water).
All my friend's bedrooms were plastered with David Cassidy's simpering smile and Donny Osmond's gleaming grin; my posters were of Mud, and in particular Rob Davies. Yes, the one with the big hair, earrings, glittery cat-suits and, actually, brilliant guitar playing. I just loved him and no one else did seemingly. I suppose there must have been R.D fan clubs, but that was light years before Tumbler etc.
I can still listen to this with a big smile and remember the dance moves at our school disco (oddly on a Wednesday lunchtime - 200 kids with indigestion waving their limbs about before double geography.)

It's a classic bit of Glam Rock: fun, very catchy and to my mind - the best.
I'm having a deja-vu point here. If I've blogged Tiger Feet before . . . well it's too good not to.

Friday 20 March 2015

Carnaval du monde

Limoux is known mainly for it's sparkling wine - Blanquette, and Carnaval: three months of it. People tend to love it or hate it - us, the former. In fact we were in it for quite a few years.
I've now hung up my purple and orange satin costume and only occasionally remember to go into the square to watch the various groups. I still love it, but happy now just to observe.
About five years ago The Marie decided to add in a day showcasing other carnaval troupes from around the world, followed by a day of 'Toutes les bandes' - all the Limoux groups on one day.
Spectacular, except on this particular Sunday it rained keeping most people away, apart from hardened Carnaval enthusiasts. The groups from elsewhere were spared the precipitation, but it was bloody freezing and we all sympathised with the Samba girls dressed in little more than feathers, glitter and fixed smiles.

Preceding the frozen dancers were a troupe of lovely Italian men juggling with flags and dressed in far more sensible clothing for early March. Love the tights.

My favourite troupe were from Catalonia: two men pushing black wheely boxes with flame-like fabric billowing from them; a princess in a giant condom, a man with stuffed bats on stilts (man, not bats) a giant inflatable goat head, and a dragon with someone perched on top, waving like the queen.
Fantastic, especially when the dragon keepers steamed into the crowd with manic expressions - not quite as manic as the fire-wheelers. I must go to some more carnaval events in Catalonia and see what else they might bring out.

Monday 16 March 2015

Time passing

Mark in his eight-year old form playing the cello with great concentration at the little school of music (now long gone) in Ormskirk, Lancashire.
I took a picture of him this morning: same cello, same concentration and just a few wrinkles . . .
Listening to him re-learning this instrument is strangely moving, and quite extraordinary. All the knowledge seems to still be in his head alongside all the other music, notes and rhythms he stores up there, although he hasn't picked up the bow for . . . well, a very long time.

Friday 13 March 2015

Songs of life: No 1

Music pervades our lives, marking the stages, loves, mistakes, monumental moments, and small everyday routines.
Via my dear friend Penny, I learned that her Brother, Mr Robin Millar, has finally made it to the top of his world - he is to be on Desert Island Discs. Oh, such joy, and what a wonderful thing to be asked to do - compile that essential list. Actually . . . what a task. Where would you start?
Think I'll start right now - and continue over several weeks.
Okay. What song or music reminds me more than any other of my earlier years?
Mm. Probably the Beatles to start with. Mum had very little money - none really, and we had just a few 33s. The one I remember the most was this one:

I seem to remember her saying it had been left at her school, anyway we inherited it and I played it to a crispy pulp (I can't think of a more accurate description).
Roll over Beethoven was so thrilling when I heard it for the first time, and still holds that energy and excitement now.

So, back to our 1960's front room, and the crappy record player on . . .

Thursday 12 March 2015

Building No 48

Those were the days: days when something as simple as an air vent could be celebrated in decorative concrete and metal curly finials - well I assume it's some sort of vent as the construction stands close to the major (HUGE) train station of Portbou in Spain.
I should have walked around the other side to see if there was a door, or window, or a sign stating what its purpose actually was or is, but we suddenly realised that it was approaching eight o'clock and that restaurant doors would be opening - at last. (Had forgotten that everyone eats at least an hour later than Cerbère just over the border in France.)
It would actually make a fine centre piece to a restaurant terrace, thinking about food, again. A small bar? or tapas serving area; DJ-box, dumb waiter, ham-smoking room, squid-drying room . . .

Thursday 5 March 2015

Another cushion perhaps?

I've just had a follow-up email from the adoption place we got our Galgas (Spanish greyhound) from asking after her welfare, as they do from time to time.
I think this picture might serve to illustrate that she's having an okay time.


On our recent trip to London the mega-publicities of the moment were Fifty Shades of Grey - the film and this McDonald's ad.

The F.S of G one was fairly straight forward: bondage, fluffy handcuffs, brooding man looking out of plate-glass office window and blindfolded woman biting bottom lip, etc, etc - yes we got the message: sex, writhing, sweat . . . whatever. Anyway the ad works, whether you want it to or not, in that I gathered what the film was about (how could you miss the meaning unless you have lived in a yak-herders shed on a mountain somewhere without connection to the outside world.
But the Mc D ad . . . er, what?
A freshly cracked egg? What does this mean exactly? Cracked eggs to me mean when I used to work as a cook in an extremely disreputable nursing home, and trays of cracked eggs came in cheap from the supplier. They were fresh in that I had just cracked one into a pan to make an omelette, i.e the action was fresh, but not FRESH as in straight out of a hens behind.
Is this what they mean? A physical person cracking an egg on a hotplate? Or do McD eggs usually come glooping out of some massive egg holding container, ready cracked, days/weeks ago. Surely the last thing a fast food eatery wants us to do is think in any depth about where food comes from and how it is prepared . . .  Perhaps just a 'fresh egg' might have been better, or better still a free range one.
The word FRESH is wildly overused in advertising generally: fresh eggs, fresh milk, fresh fruit, veg, salad . . . I did once see a chilled goods lorry on the M1, its sides blazoned with the words - Beyond Fresh.
I wonder if the ad exec responsible for that gem is now considering what to with their redundancy payment.

Sunday 1 March 2015


I think they're called this - big bottles of fizz, (in this case, blanquette de Limoux)
We've had this one languishing in our front room (its wooden case had become a book depositary) for about five years now. Won in a painting competition, I had kept it for a suitable milestone; yesterday eve seemed a good excuse as we had planned a readings evening to mark my trilogy of books finally being out on Amazon, and new projects underway.
Mark prized the cork partway and it broke in half. He then pulled the rest out with a corkscrew as we all cringed, (especially the restaurant owners) waiting for something to be shattered. It sort of plopped out and I imagined sadly that Jean-Paul the chef's warning that it might be too old was probably going to be correct. In fact it was fine, and, like a bottle from a fairy story its contents lasted until the final glass was passed round.

The trilogy Going out in the Midday Sun is now out on Amazon in paperback and ebooks, which I have blogged before, and I'll now stop going on about it . . .