Sunday, 28 August 2011
As Nick and I don't own a car we rely largely on our friends to take us to any sights outside a 10 mile radius of Cambridge. So, it's lucky for us then that we have some good friends. Last week some of these friends took as to Suffolk for the day. First stop was Aldeburgh, a delighful little coastal town, for a beer, some fish n chips, some stone skimming and of course an ice cream. After we were fed we headed off to Southwold, via Leiston Abbey, another lovely coastal town, for a walk along the pier and an Adnams (the brewery of the region).
Wednesday, 10 August 2011
One of the things I love most about British living are the little 'pop-up' stores that appear outside people's houses around this time of year stocked with treats from their own backyards. The word store is probably not entirely accurate as it suggests that a transfer of money takes places. While this is true in some instances, most people generously leave their fruit and vegetable out for passersby to freely take.
And Nick and I did just that on Sunday afternoon. We were own our way home from a little afternoon coffee and cross-wording when we passed a house with a bucket of apples out the front and a sign saying 'Please take, excellent cooking apples'. And take we did.
We didn't have much in the way of ingredients to cook up anything fancy, but I did make what one might call (if you wanted to be pretentious) a 'Rustic Apple Tart'. To be honest the tart wasn't that great. But that hardly seemed the point to me. I love being able to grab somes apples (or courgettes or berries) from outside a neighbors house and cook with them. To me it is cooking at its most ethical and exemplfies the slow food movement (more pretentious terminology I know).
Nick and I, and our friend Kate, are learning Spanish so on Sunday night we decided to have a Spanish inspired evening. When I think of Spain, I think of food (to be honest this is not distinct to Spain) and when I think of Spanish food, I think of paella. Nick and I love paella, but we have never attempted to make it for ourselves. I guess I have always thought it to be a difficult dish to perfect. As I realised on Sunday night, however, paella is actually very easy to make. At least it seems to be. I took on the role of sous chef so my job was limited to chopping, but as far as I could tell, it was quite easy. At the risk of over simplifying the process, it seemed like all ingredients (once expertly chopped) were put into the pan, fried for a little bit, and then left to simmer with the rice and stock. We washed the paella down with a Spanish red, and got suitably depressed watching the Spanish film Beautiful - a real throat slitter.
Monday, 1 August 2011
... listening to live music sitting on a picnic rug enjoying good food with good friends.
Nick and I spent last weekend at the Cambridge Folk Festival (CFF) with the rest of the labor voting, Guardian reading middle-class. Each summer the UK hosts upward of 100 music festivals ranging from the iconic 'Glastonbury' to lesser known festivals such as the Secret Garden Party. Despite the myriad of options, for us the CFF has been our festival of choice for two years running and not just because of its proximity - the festival is literally within ear shot of our house.
I cannot imagine a more low-key, unpretenious festival than the CFF. This year, we did as last year, and took our folding chairs, a picnic rug and the weekend newspapers and sat soaking up the sun in front of the main stage.
Not surprisingly, the festival is an excellent showcase for British folk music and this year the likes of Bellowhead, Port Issacs Fisherman's Friends, Peatbog Faeries played as well as less traditional 'folk' singers including Rumor and Laura Marling. The festival also hosts a good array of international acts. This year our favourites were Justin Townes Earle and the Robert Cray Band and last year we saw C.W. Stoneking, Seasick Steve and Kris Kristophersen. Perhaps the best thing about the festival though, like any festival really, is the chance to discover new and up-and-coming artists. And the CFF does provides an opporunity like none other. If you can be bothered dragging yourself away from your rug infront of the main stage you will discover some real gems playing in makeshift venues around the festival. The best of these was the The Den which was a tiny living room, which showcased some wonderful acts. Nick gets the points for discovering Passenger - a UK-based singer/songwriter who has a sebatical each year in Australia. Think a slightly quiter version of Ray Lamontange.
The weekend ended far to quickly and as always, we are planning our next festival visit. Whether it will be in the Southern or Northern hemisphere is unkown.
|... in the sun!|
|One of the Guardian reading wankers|
|Nick's 2011 Highlight - Justin Townes Earle|
|Lemon for my G&T|
|I love these things. We try and take a picture in one whenever we can.|
|...in the sun!|