Category Archives: Learning Stuff

The Goddess of Small Lost Things

Dawn in Pembrokeshire Cottage

 6th November 2013

Tales from Pembrokeshire

Dawn gushed into the dark spaces of the holiday house through the old tree window, shocking in its intensity and unbearably golden.

Cows walked up the field behind the mill stream, a robin sang sweetly, the corvids took off for their day jobs, the farmer hurtled down the lane and splashed through the stream, rattled over the grid and over the hill. Out to the west the shoreline beckoned as the tide dropped.

We ate toast and chatted about a little packing up to go out for the day. I struggled with Brian’s two slimline flasks but twisted them open, filled up with hot water, measured out instant coffee into tiny container and tucked it in next to Brian’s teabag collection,  all squeezed into an old fashioned toffee tin, remembered teaspoon, remembered biscuits for us and biscuits for dogs, apples, put a towel in bag to protect the flasks, in short tried hard to get my fraying act together.

We had a leisurely stroll up and down one beach,  admired a curious Atlantic grey seal fishing ten foot out in the surf, and then headed off to a point on the map that looked like it could be fun. We are very bad at reading tourist guides, so have the joy surprisingly often of stumbling on views which are (we realise with hindsight) famous and we think we have discovered them for ourselves.

We tried one way, Road Ahead Closed, so we went back and round the other way where there was also a Road Ahead Closed, but we carried on figuring out that it was one break in the road signed from two directions, either that or an MI5 safe house being camouflaged by signage in which case they would come out and shoot us.

Finally we got to Bae Ceibwr, walked down to the cove, played around and then up again to the car. It was long gone lunch time, but we would make do with a drink.

I had forgotten the cups.

I hovered on the brink of throwing myself over the cliff – how could I forget the cups? –  but decided that was a little hysterical even for me and so it came to pass that Brian performed the outdoor tea ceremony. First he found some ancient teabag, one which I hadn’t included, so he must have had it somewhere in a pocket, along with some green fluff, stale dog biscuits and a dog bag or two. He unscrewed the lids of our new slimline flasks. The  water was piping hot!

pouring tea

“We can drink out of these.”

I gave him a look.

He delicately poured two spoonfuls of water over the teabag, waved and dibbled it in each lid and passed me a lid with its miniature curl of steam.

We sipped it decorously, stared at each other and then grimaced: it was tasteless, nothing quite as dispiriting as a teabag which has given up the ghost.

We chucked it away, extravagant gesture of two people with tiny tiny cups maybe, but a necessary one.

Gingerbiscuit

Moving on, we went for the decaff instant coffee option.  Brian slipped open the tiny tin I had put it in, tapped a few granules into each flask-top and delicately poured the hot water over it. We repeated this exercise three times and ate our ginger biscuits, which as you can see, just about fit into the lid for a quick dunk. We discussed biscuits and agreed that ginger biscuits are the saving grace of the British Empire, without the ginger nut, civilisation would cease to exist.

Happy again!

We walked a little way on and stood on the cliffs admiring a group of young people diving off the rocks and swimming off round the coast, like water sprites.  My vertigo has got worse over the years and though I would have loved to have walked along the cliff path and stared into the Witches Cauldron we didn’t go, but by all accounts it is fantastic and a wonderful place to explore in a sea kayak.

I had a moment of memory loss compensating genius later that evening. Brian was looking for the dogs’ hair clips. Yes the dogs wear those hair clip grip things on their dangly ear fur to try and stop it getting full of bits of dinner. They look silly but a poodle is used to looking silly, they have a hard life, anyone with a pompom does. Back to Brian, man on a mission.   He couldn’t find them anywhere. I was busy trying to make a sort of soup thing. The dogs were crying because they could smell their food but they weren’t going to be allowed to gulp it down till the hair clips had been found.

Eventually his voice became more desperate, we get very hung up on small things like this,  and I said,

‘If you had them in your hand now, where would you put them to keep them safe?’

There was a slight pause, and I swear I could feel little sparkles of electricity as a neural pathway lit up a memory circuit Day-Glo yellow in the brain of Brian.

‘Of course, my special dog box!’  he said.

Apparently he had made one for this trip. We would fail miserably on that Mr and Mrs show I think. Anyway my Goddess mode was working well, and what was lost was found  and the prospect of dangly ears full of cooked cabbage and boiled fish receded happily into the distance.  Everyone was happy once more.

It reminded me of a long ago time when I had been out with family somewhere in central London. On returning to the car Dad couldn’t find the keys, we retraced our steps, returned to Tower Records, looked here and there, forlorn, suddenly tired and desperately wanting to be anywhere but the middle of the city at midnight.  As we debated going to the police station I contemplated Dad’s smart country walking and hiking jacket, bristling with useful pockets and toggles.

“You didn’t put them in your extra-extra-secret secret pocket, did you?”  I said. (I had no idea how many or what pockets he had on the damn jacket, he said he had already looked everywhere…)

I saw an embarassed grin and picked up some small nonverbal sounds – the gasp of the person who finds that there is in fact one more layer of chocolates in the box thought empty, the catch in the throat of the person who thinks she has missed the last train but it has been delayed so she hasn’t, those moments when the universe smiles sweetly and Lady Luck gives you a small tender kiss and sends you on your way –  and joyfully he rummaged in the dark recesses of his jacket and yes he did indeed have an extra secret pocket which offered up the car keys, which trilled triumphantly on being rediscovered.

All of which brings me to the title of this post, I think I have a raison d’être: I am going to be the Goddess of Small Lost Things.

Don’t ask me for reasons or hows and whys, don’t ask me what motivated the object to lose itself in the first place, nor why life is sometimes so hard and so random and capricious or why people go hungry, why people are cruel, why, why why, so many questions, a person can go mad looking for answers…. but finding small lost items that have a way of holding up your life till you find them – that sounds perfectly possible and like being an Automobile Association rescue person, you turn up, step one and then, step two, with luck you fix the car, everyone is happy, and even if you didn’t fix the car, hell at least you tried!

So tell me what you have lost and I will help you find it if my Goddess mode is operating on full power and if we don’t find it, hey it passes the time, looking for stuff you find all sorts of other things you have mislaid, which is pretty exciting too.

Just remember you always find what you are looking for in the last place you look. And..

..in a world full of crazy beliefs and unwarranted assumptions that is as good a thing to believe as anything else…

…and even if the Lost Thing stays lost a little longer, eventually the dawn will come again and life will go on.

dawn interior

Who is this? A little puzzle!

This is the trouble with hot nights. One reads one’s friends’ blogs. One wanders off across the internet to other blogs, and before you know it, you are making jigsaw puzzles.

Thanks to Time Thief and Panos and the jigsawsite (links below). You are so generous with your knowledge and make it easy for people like me to play and have fun late at night.

So just this once, here is a jigsaw puzzle on the blog, and it is not a poodle..

Online jigsaw puzzles from JigsawSite.com

and now the voice that speaks on the computer and calls out the half hour in an attempt to make me not sit here for too long tells me it’s 1 a.m. So hot or not I had better try to get some sleep.

… no spoilers…

Helpful tips (added following morning) : The puzzle has 25 pieces, is a square and the finished puzzle takes up maybe a 1/4 to a 1/3 of the frame and you can use the buttons at the top to stop and start and rewind I think. And I love you whatever your time or even if you don’t do it at all. It’s only for fun! PS It doesn’t work on an iPad, I don’t lnow if it only works on a desktop computer, sorry if you can’t see it. I will put the photo in a post tomorrow, Joanna

Twitter Tagliatelle Tutorial – almost as good as being in someone else’s kitchen

Tagliatelle making

For the full Tweety Conversation pulled together by Lynne using Storify click here :  Twitter Tagliatelle Tutorial

My abbreviated version with mainly Carla’s tweets and photos  – loads quicker or if you have a slow connection – click here) of the tutorial on Twitter that Carla gave us yesterday on making pasta with the Imperia pasta machine. I was given this wonderful gadget as a birthday present last year by my lovely sister and this was its first outing. I had borrowed one last year from Mitch who lives in Bristol but there was something lacking in our technique the one time we tried and we felt a bit out of our depth, so when Carla, expert chef,  (in Rome) offered to teach me yesterday, I jumped at the chance!

The Imperia

I could write it all out here as a post but that doesn’t give the feeling of the fun of doing this yesterday and this way you get to see all Carla’s wonderfully detailed photos and read her instructions. She is a fantastic tutor and I feel really confident now that I can do this again!

Freshly cut tagliatelle

Lynne, who tweets as @josordoni, another Twitter friend of Gibassier fame, has kindly spent some time to make the Storify story. I had a try at using Storify, but left out my own tweets.  Lynne joined in and made the noodles by hand, an act of great determination!

I served the tagliatelle with chestnut mushrooms, onion, parsley, and a sauce of Charvroux goats cheese and some Serrano ham

I served the tagliatelle with chestnut mushrooms, onion, parsley, and a sauce of Charvroux goats cheese and some Serrano ham

So thank you Carla and thank you Lynne so very much for the company and the joy of sharing.  You are both such kind and generous friends and I wonder daily at this world where one can be friends with people who one has never met in person and have such fun.

Have a lovely weekend!

Zeb Eats Tagliatelle and Dreams of Carla

My pasta was made with

  • 3 eggs weighing about 140g unshelled
  • 150 g of 00 Italian flour
  • 150g of Semonlina Rimacinata flour (the finely milled durum wheat, which has a fine slightly gritty feel)
  • 1 tbsp of water
  • and a lot of love from Carla