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North Sea 29: 25 – 31 March

Heb0331aIt’s never a good sign when anyone says “Oops”, but when it’s your optician and he’s holding a magnifying lens up to your eye and shining a searchlight bright enough to pierce the back of your skull and end up somewhere near Denmark, it’s especially disconcerting.

Heb0331bI don’t know if you’ve ever had an image taken of your eye? The picture is really weird, like something from the Hubble space telescope, as if say Andromeda was being attacked by a giant space squid with long veinous tentacles. Anyway, in my case, once you get past Squishy Sidney the Space Squid, there’s a patch at the back of right eye (the troublesome one) which is pigmented strangely, looking exactly as though the entire population of China had been dressed in black and deposited on Mars, and were now huddling together for warmth. So it’s back to the hospital for me (hurrah! My favourite).

Heb0331cJust a short blog this week—a blogette, really—which sounds like it should have a crisp, crunchy crust and go great with onion soup—to wish everyone a happy Easter. By the time you read this Margaret and I will hopefully be visiting my parents in their lovely old canalside house in Northamptonshire; they don’t have an internet connection, so we’ll be out of touch till later next week, making Northants seem curiously like travelling up the Congo, or something. It may even be colder down south than in Caithness.

The cardigan has been washed and is being blocked even as I type, pinned out like a torture victim on the rack, ready for the blade.

Finally, just a reminder that all my books are currently being offered free on Amazon till close of play Tuesday, including my latest, The World’s Midnight, part 2 of my Elfael trilogy. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

So all that remains is to say, Happy Easter everyone, and go easy on those Easter eggs.

10 comments to North Sea 29: 25 – 31 March

  • Sue

    Oh wow Gordon, it’s looking great! I don’t know where Margaret finds the courage to take scissors to such knitting – I’d be terrified of making a slip. And when I read the first line of the blog I thought that’s what had happened until I realised that you were only talking about the optician 🙂

  • =Tamar

    I hope the oops turns out to be something minor and repairable.
    The gansey is beautiful.
    The computer that has the Kindle-app is down for the count; I may have to miss your book this time.

  • Lynne

    I’m glad you get a break from the gansey and hope you enjoy your Easter break. Are you also having eye surgery while you’re in the midlands? Were the “Chinamen on Mars” holding up a sign with the diagnosis of your eye problem? I’m thinking good thoughts for 20/20 vision eventually.

  • Veronica

    I hope the two of you had a lovely Easter break.

    Like Sue, I had a mini-heart attack,thinking the steeking had gone wrong. Deep sigh of relief when I realized it wasn’t. (Followed by “Oh, no, not again! Poor Gordon!”) I’m starting to think that vicarious knitting is more dramatic than doing it myself.

    The cardi is so lovely it’s making me drool. I can see I’m going to have to make a scouting trip to Wick soon so I can figure out how to steal Margaret’s wardrobe. When did you say your next vacation south would be? 😉

    Speaking of crusty, Gordon, are you still making bread? Hubby and I have decided to (learn to) make bread again. We’re real neophytes: need the help of our bread machine, but have plans for advanced efforts (no machine) this summer.

  • Gordon

    Hello all, thanks for the good words and kind comments,

    Just back from our trip down south, which was really good, right up to 08.34 yesterday morning, when the car had a major aneurism and had to go to car hospital, leaving us 450 miles adrift of home. It’s still too raw to go into here, plus we still have to work out how to get the car back from Wigan (Wigan and Wick start with the same two letters, but there the resemblance ends).

    I may compose a song like the folk singers of old:

    Come gather round, people,
    I’ll sing you a song,
    Of a great trip to England
    And how it went wrong…

    The eye problems could be nothing, could be serious but treatable, or could be very bad. But it’s probably nothing. Before my doctors will refer me to the hospital I have to provide a “sample”, which, given the size of the container, will be an interesting test of my eyesight right there!

    Veronica, our oven here doesn’t get hot enough for bread, so I’m temporarily not baking, alas. We need a new oven! (It goes up to 220 C, but the moist, French-style bread requires a bit more heat so the water in the bread expands and rises—at our temperatures, it just sort of goes flat, like poured concrete.)

    Peter Reinhart’s books on baking are great—especially The Bread Maker’s Apprentice, and Artisan Breads Every Day—really inspirational (and they have some fabulous, mouth-watering pastries at the back, too!).

    PS – Margaret’s wardrobe is booby trapped with a variety of needles, all tipped with little-known asiatic poisons, and high explosives – so extreme caution is advised!


  • Sue

    I have no idea whether it is still available – I bought my copy some 35 years ago and it’s now falling to bits – but I owe everything I know about breadmaking to Elizabeth David and her book ‘English Bread and Yeast Cookery’. It’s so much more than just a collection of recipes. It assumes that you know nothing about breadmaking and has a whole chapter just on buying flour and the different types available. The first recipe appears on p256! It’s both a scholarly discussion and an excellent cookbook.

  • Gordon

    Hi Sue,

    The Elizabeth David book seems to be readily available on Amazon, so you can get a replacement copy should you so wish! It sounds really good, so thanks for the tip.

    I’d like to put in a good word for Daniel Leader’s “Local Breads”, which is endlessly readable, with descriptions of all the fantastic local bakeries he visited in France, Italy and Eastern Europe. I love the idea of a little old lady popping down to her local bakery and, in return for giving the baker an espresso, say, or a cake, she’s allowed to bake her dough in the oven. (Here in the UK we have supermarkets which get their dough ready-frozen in trucks from the depot so all they have to do is put it in the oven. No wonder we’re so unhealthy! Well, that and the lifestyle…)


  • Judit M./ Finland

    Good Morning Gordon,
    As you are so interested in bread, you may klick on this link : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finnish_bread
    Best regards !

  • Gordon

    Hello, Judit,

    Very interesting! I haven’t experimented much with rye bread—I read that they can be tricky, as they’re much denser and don’t rise the way the usual high-gluten flours do (though a well-made rye bread is delicious, I was always rather daunted). Though I do like the idea that you can leave them out and they turn into crisp bread!


  • Judit M./ Finland

    Gordon hello,
    Here is some more information on our rye bread:
    We eat much more rye bread as ” white bread”.


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