Sunny Sunday Musings

We finally got some of the Summer I was waiting for. On one day this week, I was actually uncomfortably hot! (Only becuase I was overdressed for the unexpected weather)
Not so great for Ollie of course, who spends most of his walk in and out of the river, cooling off. Also not wonderful for Hay Fever, which hit me hard on Friday. But I will take the tablets, and enjoy the sunshine.

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As most of you already know, I have the DVLA ‘Pass or fail’ eye test next Friday. If I fail, that’s it. No more driving, ever. Meanwhile, I have been driving at every opportunity, in case I have to try to remember the feeling of just driving down the road with the window open on a lovely day after next weekend.

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We went to a family celebration in Suffolk last night. It was a delight for Julie to meet relatives she had not seen (for various reasons) for seven years. We enjoyed a delicious meal in beautiful surroundings, and there was much laughter and catching up. This is where it was held. https://www.worlingtonhall.com/

As a result, we got home quite late, and stayed up to amuse Ollie who had been left all evening. That meant I didn’t wake up until 9am this morning.

Here we are at the dinner table.

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I have decided not to mention British politics or the war in Ukraine today. I am trying to keep a good mood going until next Friday.

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I hope you all have a wonderful Sunday, a relaxing and peaceful one.

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A Nice Surprise

Yesterday afternoon, we had been asked to go to a family gathering. Julie has two sons, and identical twin daughters. One of her daughters wanted to celebrate being with her boyfriend for ten years, and had organised a meal in a restaurant in Thetford, 30 miles south of Beetley.

The couple had recently returned from a short holiday in Cyprus, having arranged the family meal before they left. So we set off to see everyone, and joined the large group seated around two extended tables in one section of the restaurant. We took some flowers and a card, as well as Easter gifts for Julie’s chidren and grandchildren. After everyone had ordered food, the couple stood up, and said they had something to tell us. Unveiling a large framed wedding photograph, they announced that they had got married in Cyprus on the 7th of April.

It was a surprise to everyone there, save for the twin sister and best friend who had flown out to Cyprus for two days to attend the wedding. They had also managed to keep everything secret for the five weeks of the planning before, and the period since the wedding too.

Naturally, we were delighted, and it also explained why we had all been asked to celebrate something as relatively ‘minor’ as them being together for ten years.

Later in the year, they are planning to have a more formal wedding reception, somewhere in Norfolk. But they had wanted to save everyone trying to arrange to take time off, and having to deal with the expense of a trip to Cyprus to attend.

Then a large cake was produced, and we all enjoyed a slice.

The biggest surprise for me was that all those involved managed to keep that secret!

Delightful Dining

Yesterday was my wife Julie’s 61st birthday. She took the day off work, and enjoyed opening her presents and cards, chatting to family and friends on the phone, and replying to the hundreds of messages she received on Facebook.

I cooked her a late breakfast of traditional English fare. Lincolnshire herb sausages, unsmoked bacon, black pudding, mushrooms, and two fried eggs. The bonus was that the eggs had ‘double-yolks’, so you could argue she had four eggs.

I had already booked a restuarant for her evening birthday meal. We chose the pub The Brisley Bell, in the village of Brisley, four miles from Beetley. This well-known establishment has two big bars, room accommodation, and a large award-winning restaurant in a huge space at the rear. It is extremely popular, but I managed to secure a table from 18:30 until 21:00. As we had never eaten there previously, we had both checked out the menu online. However, I didn’t want to get too excited, as menus can change on the day.

After the short drive in very thick fog, we managed to get the last space in a very crowded car park. The bars were busy, but when we were shown to our table in the Library Room at the back, it was peaceful there, and very nicely lit and decorated. Over a drink, we perused the menu, unusually deciding we would both have the same first two courses.

The chosen starter was Pheasant Broth. This came with assorted wild mushrooms, and delicious small dumplings in a flavoursome broth that was served piping hot.

For main course we had Monkfish wrapped in thin smoky bacon, served with spinach and fresh gnocchi on a smooth white garlic sauce.

Both were absolutely delicious!

After a short interval, we agreed we would also have a dessert. Julie chose the Mango Pavlova, with mango ice cream on the meringue, and slices of mango surrounding it in a mango juice. I had something different, a home-made warm Bakewell tart, topped with a small scoop of pistachio ice cream.

They were good choices, and we were both very satisfied.

Driving home in even thicker fog, we both said it was one of the best meals we had ever eaten, and believe me we have eaten some good meals over the years.

I am not one to take photos of my meal, (Julie did, and posted them on Facebook) but here is a link to The Brisley Bell. If you ever find yourself in this area, you will not find a better place to eat. If you allow the header photos to scroll, you will see the ‘Library Room’ where we ate.

https://thebrisleybell.co.uk/

Halloween-Scmalloween

This is a repost from October the 31st, 2012. With everyone suitably seasonally excited today for Halloween, I thought I would offer an alternative view, somthing of a rant, for the benefit of any new followers since I last reposted this in 2014.

What is all this fuss about Halloween? Does anybody remember when it all started here? Shops full of pumpkins, devil-suits, and tridents; parties with fancy-dress themes, gangs of kids wandering about, begging for sweets. I certainly have no memory of it in London at least, until about 1990. It is yet another unwanted American import, alongside baseball caps, (Who knows the rules? Come on, tell me.) rap music, and McDonald’s. Driven by the Marketing men, Supermarkets, and Television, desperate to fill the gap between Summer holidays, and Christmas.

Why do we always fall for this rubbish so easily? Is there no tradition that cannot be sold on, re-packaged for British taste, and successfully marketed, until nobody remembers a time before it existed? What’s next, Thanksgiving? That would fit nicely into the space before Yuletide, and would increase turkey sales even more. We could all wear stove-pipe hats, and big Puritan collars, trying to pretend it was OK to swindle the Red Indians out of their lands for a few beads and trinkets. It wouldn’t matter that there were no Red Indians here, we could just make that bit up. Or maybe we could call them ‘Native Americans’, to make us feel even less guilty.

Nothing has value anymore. There is no special time left. Hot Cross Buns are available all year, pancakes can be bought anytime, then microwaved to save the effort of making them. Tangerines are no longer a Christmas treat, any Tesco will have them in, anytime you want. We have slowly removed everything that we ever had occasion to anticipate excitedly, and to look forward to as the seasons changed. Once we had lost all that, we had to search elsewhere for something to plan for, and along came Halloween. We can now arrange parties, or the appalling ‘Trick or Treat’ parades (Ask them for a trick is my tip!), and have everything from themed burgers, to pumpkin socks. How did we ever cope before?

I would love to take you back in a Time Machine. You would relish the prospect of Buns at Easter, delight at trying to make pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, and be unable to sleep on the night before Christmas. You would never have heard of ‘Grand-Parents’ Day’, and Halloween would be something that was ‘done’ in America. Brazil nuts and tangerines would appear in December, be enjoyed briefly, and would not be seen again until that time the following year. Baseball caps would be worn by baseball players, and some other people in The Americas, but not in England. If you wanted a snack, you would be happy with fish and chips, or pie and mash.

There is nothing wrong with American cultural celebrations. They even keep some European ones, like Christmas. But the newer ones should stay on that side of the Atlantic. That way those that seek it can travel there to enjoy it, and celebrate the differences in our societies and customs. We might even tell them that we used to celebrate All Hallows’ Eve as part of the Harvest Festival, and that Halloween is a Scottish corruption of that phrase. That would make it ours then, not American at all. Like most things, including many we have since discarded, they were taken to America by settlers. America is doing a fantastic job of re-exporting those traditions, whether we need them back, or not.

Surely it is enough to celebrate the difference in the various traditions and cultures of the many countries and societies in the world, without having to assimilate everything? As the French say- ‘Vive la difference’.

Canada Day 2021

I would like to wish all my Canadian friends, blog followers, and readers a very Happy Canada Day!

Here’s hoping you all have a wonderful (and safe) celebration.

Et pour ces francophones là-bas, mes meilleurs vœux à vous aussi.

Best wishes to you all over there, Pete. 🙂 X

Easter Greetings

I am not a religious person. Easter to me has always meant two extra days off, or double pay for a shift worked on a Bank Holiday.

Hot cross buns, perhaps a turkey dinner, and chocolate eggs as a child.

Over the decades, I have often associated Easter with bad weather too. Miserable weekends away, listening to the rain on the roof, then stuck in terrible traffic driving home.

Since I retired from work, I usually have to be reminded it is Easter, as I rarely know when it is approaching.

However, I know many people do celebrate it, whether for religious reasons, or to spend the extended weekend with family or friends. And I have just remembered that tomorrow is Good Friday.

So with that in mind, I wish everyone a very Happy Easter, whatever you will be doing.

Hanukkah 2020

As usual, I forget these religious festivals, and have to rely on Kim to remind me. So this time, I am reblogging her post.
Happy Hannukah, everybody!

By Hook Or By Book

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Tonight marks the first night of the Festival of Lights and I’d like to wish all my Jewish friends Hanukkah Sameach! I’m also turning this annual post in one a little more humorous this year so I hope no one minds.

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Too many candles

Today is my birthday. Regular readers will know that I always make a big deal about that. Previous birthdays have seen frequent trips to the seaside, or places of interest. I fear the weather is not going to cooperate today, so it will be a quieter celebration. I will restrict myself to opening my cards, and the few gifts I will receive.

Ollie thinks it is just another day of course. So his long walk will go ahead as usual, and he might be interested to sniff at my cards and parcels, hoping they contain unexpected treats for him.

We will go to the nearby Thai restaurant later. But it will just be a nice meal, nothing too celebratory.

And there will be no birthday cake.
I think that 67 candles is too many, for one cake.