Tuesday 11 September 2012

Food, Glorious Food

I am convinced that Brighton's climate is the exception that proves the rule. As weather pundits across all the TV and radio channels were ruminating upon the demise of summer, the projected bad weather has failed to materialise down here. OK, so the sea's a bit choppy and the harsh north- westerly bluster constantly reminds me that I must get my fringe cut. Otherwise, September by the seaside remains hunky-dory. Long may it last. After the thrills and spills of the Olympics, the Paralympics and Andy Murray keeping us all up until 2.30 am, to be thrust into the harsh reality of dark teatimes and cold winter nights would have been cruelty indeed. Let us bask in the glow of a fantastic summer for a little while longer. I simply cannot remember another time during my life when the conversation was of sport and not the weather. In fact, I think that most people would struggle to remember what the weather was like at all.

Last Saturday, my daughter and I decided to wander down to 'The Mash Tun' for one of their fabulous paprika beef sandwiches for lunch. The term 'sandwich' does this culinary extravaganza a huge disservice, it is so full of wonderful things. The beef is meltingly medium rare. Our poor Charlie has to pull out all his doggie stops even to get the odd morsel, begrudgingly handed down when the pleading eyes and simpering whimpers become unbearable. We sat in the sunshine with our ciders and chatted to
the two charming young men who joined our table about how laid back Brighton is. And it is. One of the great joys of my new city is the warmth and camaraderie of its inhabitants, certainly in my bit, in Kemptown. Last weekend's Pride Festival was one big party and the village feels like home already.

But I digress. What I really wanted to write about was the Brighton and Hove Food Festival Market, which stretched all the way from The Mash Tun as far as the eye could see. As someone who has spent much of her adult life trawling French food markets, I love them and try whenever I can to support local growers and producers. This, though, in true Brighton style, was quite the most beautiful one I have seen. It was scintillating. Such an array of colours, aromas, textures and gastronomic temptations was a feast for all the senses, making one's endorphins jump for joy. It uplifted the soul and nurtured the body in such a way that one truly felt at one with nature and the world. Such joy just from a long, slow, leisurely walk through a market is hard to imagine but, if you haven't done it, you haven't lived. The following photos taken from my phone barely do the experience justice, but I really wanted to try to share such glorious food.

Wednesday 5 September 2012

A New Life, A New Blog

                                                                    "Adding another
                                                                       candle doesn't
                                                                      make you older
                                                                     it just makes your
                                                                         life brighter"

It was my birthday last Monday and, with each year that passes, I am grateful for the joy that such days bring. They are nearly always sunny and this year was no exception. My mother-in-law, an extremely young eighty-eight year old, sent me a gorgeous card with the above inscription. Inside, she had hand- written: "........and it gets brighter. I need sunglasses now!" Now that's what I call the right attitude.

Now that my little family are breaking out towards pastures new, the time had come for radical change in our cosy, complacent lives. We left London eighteen years ago [no, no, please don't mention London property prices!] and moved to sedate and seductive Salisbury, where we loved our life close to the cathedral. A sung Eucharist or Evensong lifts the spirits even more than a Bruce Springsteen concert, not as long and kinder on the ears too. You can be a total atheist like my husband and still enjoy the occasional musical foray into the liturgy, if you allow yourself to just 'go with the flow'. I shall miss the concerts and the wonderful Salisbury Festival, as well as the Playhouse and Anokka, our favourite Indian restaurant with whom I had done a cookery course. We have many wonderful friends there and I shall miss them dreadfully.....but not enough to make us want to change our minds about leaving.

No, I did not waver from my New Year resolution of last year, although there were moments when I thought that I might. Having put our house up for sale 'to test the market', we were thrown into the maelstrom that is moving with barely a moment to catch our breaths. We had thought that we had missed the proverbial and that the doldrums of the housing market would result in dreams being put on hold for a good while. My mother always used to say, 'Be careful what you wish for' and I could hear her voice ringing in my ears as I cursed the logistical nightmare that was beginning to unfold. How do you move a lifetime's worth of books, files, paintings, sculptures and furniture from a large family house into a maisonette by the sea?

Somehow, we managed it. Bubble wrap sales in Salisbury quadrupled and the charming staff in the charity shops couldn't believe their luck. Even so, it took three removal vans, a number of car journeys and a rental van to shift it all. Thank goodness for lock-up storage facilities. We have squeezed ourselves into our new Kemptown abode with barely an inch to spare. There is no place to hide. Apart from the reservation system for the bathroom, there is a great deal to be said for downsizing. With only one Skybox and one working television, we watch the news or Doctor Who together. I live in hope for the Proms, the men in our house for Match of the Day. The upside is that we have to keep everything in its rightful place. The downside is that we can never find anything that one of us urgently needs. Hey-ho. It's done. We're here.

So, after a lot of work and less than a dozen nights sleeping here, I need to get a life outside my newly painted green front door. There is so much to see and do here, I feel like a kid in a sweetshop. Today I bought a replacement, cheap, miniscule Lumix camera from Amazon. A new life and a new camera equals a new blog [sorry, dear friends, I am becoming a total blog bore]. I'm looking forward to charting life as a geriatric in trendy Kemptown, where I only just qualify, it has to be said! In between times, as usual, I shall be heading through the Tunnel to my beloved Bardies [there, in complete contrast, there is nothing much to do but write, cook and garden]. As a dilettante in Brighton, I shall be exploring all aspects of my new life here over the coming months and look forward to sharing my discoveries with anyone who wants to share them with me.