Wednesday 28 November 2007

St.Albans Market and lunch

We drove off to St.Albans to visit the street market and buy some fruit and vegetables, and also to meet Tania and Robert for lunch. The weather was a bit cold, and some people were wearing their overcoats.

We got our shopping, and went off to meet our friends at the Thai restaurant that we often go to. As usual we had a very tasty meal, the generous owner bringing all kinds of things for us to try as well as the food we had ordered, she then decided she wanted a photograph of us, but when I returned the complement, she ran away saying she was too old to be photographed.

Our shy friend.

After chatting a bit longer we went our separate ways, planning to regroup, before we set off on our holiday, to finalise our plans.

Sunday 25 November 2007

Thanksgiving Meal

We managed to get the house fairly shipshape before people arrived, and had the meal under control. Tania, Robert, Diane, Poppy and Ben arrived, and Pete who had survived a difficult journey due to railway maintenance delays arrived a bit later. We all had a nice time chatting, and the conversations were interesting. The meal went well, and as I had bungled the pies I made some meringue nests with fruit and cream to offer as an alternative. It was a really nice occasion, despite the cooking, and we are lucky to have such good friends.

The next morning, on our second coffee Mas said he felt really relaxed, and I said I thought another word for it was tired, and we both had a good laugh.

Saturday 24 November 2007

Pumpkin Pie Peril.

My main claim to fame as a cook happened many years ago, when during a dinner party, one of the ladies began to cry, and sobbed that however hard she tried she would never be able to make such good pastry.* It has been all downhill since then.
Luckily, since marrying Mas I only cook if necessary, as he loves to do it.

As usual we planned to have friends over for a Thanksgiving meal, Mas would make the starter and main course, and I would bake pumpkin pies. The day before Thanksgiving we roasted the pumpkin.

I think last year I cheated on the pastry, but decided to do it properly this time, and make the sweet spicy pastry that is so fragile it has to be rolled between floured sheets of greaseproof paper, and then very carefully placed into an inverted flan dish.

Things got rather tense in the kitchen when I discovered that I had made the pastry too fragile, and that the flan dishes were the wrong size. At this point Mas made himself scarce and beat a hasty retreat.

Eventually the two pies were placed into the oven and left to cook. Looking at them a little later, I found that the top flan dish had cracked and was leaking into the bottom pie which had puffed up and stuck to the oven rack above it, and the top got torn off as I removed it from the oven. I resolved never to make another pumpkin pie at this point.

* possibly one glass too many of wine.

Friday 23 November 2007

Nighthawking and bombs.

It seems that there is a problem of nighthawking; this is when metal detectorists illegally remove and keep antiquities that they have found on archaeological sites, during the night, and sell them on to collectors. There are others who legitimately use metal detectors and have added to the knowledge of the past.

I have always wanted to have a go at metal detecting, but like a lot of other things, (white water rafting and riding a horse to name but two) I have never got round to it. Perhaps this is just as well as I would probably unearth an unexploded WW2 bomb of some kind.

This thought may be due to an incident when I was a small child. My mother and I were staying with my grandparents in Folkestone one Christmas. After breakfast my mother and I walked down to the sandy beach, which looked very inviting, and was covered with snow that had fallen the night before.

My mother carefully lifted the barbed wire that was blocking the way to the beach (it was war time) and we squeezed under it and ran across the beach, stamping and making footprint patterns in the unmarked snow, and laughing. We were stopped in our tracks literally when a man with a megaphone began shouting at us to get off the beach, or words to that effect, as the beach was mined.

My mother carefully explained to me to walk in the footsteps we had already made in the snow, and to leave the beach. At the time I did not know what mines were, but the man almost incoherent with rage impressed me a lot. I do not think this adventure was mentioned to my grandparents when we got home.

Sunday 18 November 2007

Béla Bartók puzzle

I love Bartók’s ‘Music for Strings Percussion and Celesta’.
I listened to a lecture about it, which said the music is constructed like a cut gem, so I thought it would be a good idea to try and paint this very precisely. The instructions are as follows:

In the first movement he makes a circle of arches, beginning each arch with a 5th…the second arch is a 5th higher and so on, then down the other side to make a complete circle. Bartók then goes back around the arches, climbing down the ladders? When they meet he crosses over using 4ths and 3rds which cross the original sound arches.

The second movement uses this construction which is varied throughout. Then passages of major and minor distorted scales are used, before moving onto the 8 note scale (as used by some of the Russians). All these are interwoven.

The third movement is atavistic in that the sounds seem recognisable, but they are not. He employs the folk method of playing a violin to make an open note drone. The celesta, piano and harp combine to make an unearthly trembling using a texture of fragments, with the intervals of the opening, using 4ths and then tri tone returns.

The fourth movement uses rhythm not linked to harmony; simple rhythms that sound complicated and complicated rhythms that sound simple. The string section is divided into two, one playing from the left, the other from the right. Each line is a mosaic of 2 and 3 beats, which fabricates the sound of the cymbeline with the celesta, violin and piano making a twanging rhythmic sound!

If there is anyone out there who can work this out, please let me know as it will stop me obsessively drawing spider web constructions on the back of envelopes……..HELP !

Monday 12 November 2007

Walking in Hertfordshire and an evening with friends.

My special walking friend Jana came for a brief holiday, she came over in the morning and we walked across fields from Elstree to Letchmore Heath by an indirect route. The day was sunny and bright and we had a lot to talk about as we walked. We stopped at the Three Horseshoes and had a coffees before setting off by a different route to return to Elstree again as it was getting dark and cold; we had walked for hours which was great.

The village of Letchmore Heath, and the Three Horseshoes were used when making the film The Village or the Damned ( John Wyndham's Midwich Cuckoos) and also for some of The Avengers series.

In the evening our friends Monika and Oktay came over with Milan, and we all had dinner which Mas had specially cooked for us, and the conversation ranged through all kinds of subjects. They all left around midnight, and we tottered off to bed having had a really nice day.

Below views of the Three Horseshoes, and the closest shot of Jana that I am allowed to show.

Sunday 4 November 2007

Evening sky

This is the view from my attic studio

Friday 2 November 2007

Linda Blackstone Gallery

As arranged, I visited the gallery, and showed some of my art work to Linda. She said that she would only be going to show art at the Art Fairs from now on, and not using her gallery anymore. She took four of my paintings, and advised me to independantly enter some of the painting competitions,and she would get the pictures framed up for me for this. I was sorry to hear she will be giving up her gallery as it is very nice place with lots of natural light, and Pinner is an interesting place to visit, and convenient for me . I will sadly have to make an effort and see if I can find another gallery who will have showrooms at their disposal.