Monday, 15 December 2008

Strange Phenomenon

I don’t know why it happens but it does. After years and weeks of managing to completely avoid the X Factor I always seem to end up compelled to watch the final. Is it because it is on a couple of weeks before Christmas and I am so knackered by the time Saturday comes round I just want collapse in a heap and be drip fed red wine and dross TV?

This year I have to be honest and say I did have a tiny motive. I had heard that Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah was to be the X Factor single. I guess many purists will be horrified, but poor Leo’s retirement fund has been ripped off so he needs the cash. This is one of my favourite songs and I was curious to see how brutal the murder would be. Alexandra, the girl who won with a little help from Beyoncé, did an OK job of the classic but it wasn’t a patch on the Jeff Buckley version.

I have been trying to play and sing the song since last week and have been failing at every F, it is full of them!

Leonard depends more on his songwriting skills than his singing style.

Guilty Pleasures

As the night progressed I threw out the last of my street cred (if I had any to begin with) into the recycle bin and watched and enjoyed The Girls’ Aloud Party. I had forgotten what a Saturday night was for, but I will make sure I have other plans organised for next week or I might end up watching the final of Strictly Come Dancing.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

The result of climate change or the return of winter?

Alpine glow on Bidien Shuish

On Friday we drove through scattered snow showers to reach Fort William before the big freeze happened. Our weekend with the Ochil Mountaineers had begun in seasonal style. The Àite Cruinnichidh bunk house at Roy Bridge was the perfect doss for a trip into the abundance of hills nearby. Saturday morning broke through with every drop of precipitation in evidence frozen white. Colin and I and one other OM decided the small Binnein Shuas (746) was a perfect excursion for our winter gear. It was so, so, so cold. What’s going on, November is normally the wet month? This was phenomenal, or maybe I had just forgotten. I certainly can’t remember the last time I donned my balaclava at the car park. We were like puppies let out in the snow for the first time. The three hours to the summit gave us plenty time to dawdle and snap the light.

Our return home on Sunday was just as incredible. At the summit of Rannoch Moor the car told us it was -8.5 outside. The landscape looked like a Christmas cake iced too early. It looked alien. Is this the beginning of the ice age we have been warned about or is it just that we have been due a good hard winter?

Judging from the number of businesses closed down in Fort William (not counting the troubled Woolies), it feels like the Fort could do with a bumper skiing season to pull the town back in full swing. Let’s hope this is the year.

Recipe for the birds

We arrived home with a bump from the dizzy clear heights of the high country to the fog bound Central Belt. The garden birds were down to their last few peanuts so I made then a special treat - Home made bird cake. This counts as a first because I made it first only a couple of weeks ago.

In a large pot melt half a packet of vegetable suet over a slow heat
Add a general wild bird food mix until the suet has been absorbed and all the seeds coated
Pack the crumbly mixture into half coconut shells or any other suitable container. It only takes a couple of minutes to cool and harden. Take outside and sit back to watch your afternoon entertainment; a feeding frenzy and a few spats too.

As I put the food out I couldn’t help worrying about the deer herd I saw down at road level hunting for some food. I hope they will not suffer too much with this early winter.

Just Read Barbara Kingsolver Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Barbara Kingsolver, author of the Poisonwood Bible, is famous for her novel writing but I suspect she is about to become the Al Gore of the literary world. This book chronicle the project she embarked on with her husband and two daughters; to live for a year eating only food sourced within a hundred mile radius of their home in Virginia. This fascinated me because it seemed impossible and I continually searched for holes in their theory. How would they manage without resorting to living through the winter months eating turnip and brussels sprout soup. They achieved it in style.

They did have the benefit of living on a farm and flexible jobs but it could not be denied that they worked hard at making this work.

I loved reading the book. At first I wished that I read it in February because I was itching to grow things but half way thorough I decided November is the perfect time because I now have time to plan how I can make a dent in our food miles.

While reading the book I dragged up a memory of someone trying this in Fife. Google brought me to the Fife Diet. I know Fife isn’t as exotic as Virginia but it is only fifty miles from me and I have to travel there anyway to visit my family so I found their resources most helpful.

Even if you don’t agree with Barbara’s view the book is worth a read for the exquisite and humorous writing.

I’m now off to order my cheese making kit. Thanks for the idea Barbara.