Last time I forgot to mention my first mobile phone, the size and weight of a brick, it lasted until it was stolen from the car. They were such unusual items in those days (before George was born). Here was me thinking you were my supporters, I now realise you are waiting for me to poison myself with the cocktails. You are my evil watchers! One day I’ll not post and you’ll know it was the last cocktail wot did it. Except you’ll never have that recipe. Just like McArthur Park.
Since I last wrote, JD has been travelling around the country (by car in splendid isolation) to see various family members. George was back on the water for a weekend, getting experience towards his Yachtmaster qualification, then jetting off to visit family further afield. He’s our guinea pig in terms of travel. I have been weeding, harvesting (not tomatoes yet), potting up, trimming etc in the garden, plus sorting my books. The lavenders were re-potted a couple of weeks ago and are going great guns (compare today’s header to the photo in Post 93 dated 25th May 2020).
In the ‘library’ are my first 1000 Penguins (all but 14 or so). I was careless enough to lose my external hard drive with all the information about them (which ones are missing, which edition do I have, what colour: orange for general fiction, green for crime, blue for biography etc) so I had to sort them all out and record the information again. Whilst doing that I decided to tidy up all the other books, these are alphabetical, science-fiction / fantasy by author, except George and I keep buying and reading more so they were totally in a mess. So much better now!
Last weekend we had a very special visitor, Adie’s son Clint. Oh, and his owner Rene. We went shopping, to our local “Designer Village” Kilver Court https://www.kilvercourt.com/visit-us and met another friend Victoria for a coffee! Just like normal life. Sort of. Later on, we had a barbeque so again like a normal summer. Not a typical normal summer, where it rains all the time, but the summers we think we had in the past.
Then, mid-week, when JD was off visiting, I and two friends went to Pallington Lakes to see the sculptures. https://www.sculpturebythelakes.co.uk/ (Sorry to my pals who live round there, in former times I would have called in). This is an amazing place, 26 acres of garden, lakes and sculptures. It was previously owned by the local water board then Roger Daltry of The Who (a rock band formed in 1964, for any youngsters reading this) who had it as his fishing lake. It was taken over earlier this century by a sculptor, Simon Gudgeon, and his wife, who have made an absolute gem of a place to visit. We spent about four hours there, I could do a Post just of the sculptures. Here’s one for a taste.
Over the years many parts of my body have been damaged: right hip, right shoulder, left leg, left wrist. Often as a result of my leg giving way or me tripping. The former is preferable as it can be quite elegant. In Sydney earlier this year (it feels like decades ago), I pirouetted to the floor, ending up sitting on the pavement facing back where we had come from. Last weekend I had a few falls and somehow seem to have cracked one of my left ribs. I have a pretty good pain threshold so according to current research I possibly don’t have any Neanderthal genes. https://www.upi.com/Science_News/2020/07/23/Neanderthals-may-have-had-a-weak-pain-threshold/5411595512792/ Luckily I have a Clipper medical assistant living with me so I asked for advice. Painkillers and strapping I was told (although strapping just keeps you from moving too much). Well, I’ve been wondering for years what to do with these WW2 bandages from my grandmother! (WOW stands for either white open weave or without woven edge).
Then I went onto the NHS choices website and they said do not bandage your chest, rest and take painkillers. Anyone know of a museum that might appreciate some old bandages? Oh well, back to the cocktails. Last weekend’s secret ingredient was Cynar. This is an Italian bitter, sort of like Cinzano, but made from artichokes (Latin name Cynar scolymus), owned by the Campari Group. It’s only been around since 1952, unlike some of the other drinks I’ve been boring you with. No monks or doctors this time. https://www.camparigroup.com/en/pages/brands (I’ve just found out they own Bulldog gin as well, which we should have been drinking in the previous cocktail).
This bottle was bought before 1996, when JD still worked for Sandoz, as he used to buy bottles from the Basle duty free, Switzerland being one of its main markets. We finally finished the bottle, only to have someone say they needed it in case they fancied a glass (sometime in the next decade?). However, to make up for an empty bottle, I bought both Benedictine and Amaretto. This causes me a problem as I’ve gone beyond them in the alphabet. In addition, I discovered I had mis-filed a bottle of local brandy (it is not cider brandy, as I thought, but made by Pilton Manor, a local vineyard which stopped producing decades ago. I don’t have the date but I know a man who does, so look at the comments to see if it’s added). Maybe I could put it under S for Somerset Brandy. I also ordered some wine and discovered that boxes of 15 are available! In Post 89 (22nd April) I said they come in sixes now. Little did I know. I can say I only drink a box a week and add nine more to my tally!
The Cynar cocktail we had was (need I say) not the classic one of soda, ice and a slice of orange. We had Trident, slightly adapted of course. Take 30 ml Cynar, 30 ml aquavit (see Post 88 dated 18th April for a little information on that), 30 ml dry sherry (but if you don’t have any, then Chinese cooking wine works!) and two dashes of bitters (I used the cocoa one from Hotel Chocolat as a change from Angostura, see Post 93 again). I think this picture gives you an idea of its popularity.
Then, midweek, I made a champagne cocktail because I had another visitor who brought supper. There is a lovely quote about champagne, attributed to Lily Bollinger (of Bollinger champagne): “I drink champagne when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company, I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it, unless I’m thirsty”. Do you think she ever longed for a glass of cider?
I made Midnight Passion, even though it was only seven pm, because I had a mango in the kitchen asking to be used. Mix 30 ml Limoncello (which I will tell you all about some other time), 30 ml mango (which I liquidised and estimated) in a champagne flute then fill up with champagne. What could be simpler? Apart from the mango, which separated out and looked like a dead orange aquatic creature. You can also see how the tomatoes are getting on.
Having had two cocktail events this week, do I give my liver a rest and deprive you of the next exciting recipe? What will I have to talk about? There’s nothing in the diary until next month. I’ll leave you with a picture of two champagne tops: I’ve kept every one since lockdown started, but these are the only pretty ones. Not even a bottle a week, honest. I need to buy some special champagnes to see what tops they have. There were quite a few for the Millennium.