Saturday, 31 December 2011

Reflections at the foot of Slieve Donard

This week I spent a heavenly day relaxing in the Spa at the Slieve Donard in Newcastle. It’s been a long time since I stayed in the hotel, and as a child I remember loving going there because everything was so big and grand. I was looking forward to a distraction free day, but I shocked myself by how much I craved sharing what I was doing digitally!

So i got to thinking, how reliant am I on technology? I always was a pretty serious texter but I must admit, since I got a smartphone (something I swore I would never do) I am a Facebook addict. Not only that but I tweet, I check-in and I hashtag my #thoughts and #actions. As I lay in the darkened relaxation room after my treatment (an excellent facial) I was reading my new Kindle (which, by the way I am in love with) I had to resist the urge to check Facebook (because apparently you can do that on the new Kindle 3G, who knew?!) Why am I so obsessed with being connected? I was perfectly content in that room, reading my book, relaxing music in my ears. Why was I being tempted by Facebook? Why was I not content to live my life in real time? I wanted to live it online too- to share it with cyberspace

I think it lies in some of my own insecurities. I feel like I need others to give myself worth, but I have often felt like I am not seen. Not the funniest, not the prettiest, not the most intelligent. I think it’s the curse of being a woman, we all have our little insecurities that we know are completely unreasonable, but we indulge them anyway! It’s not as if i’m afraid of my own company. I don’t mind being on my own, in fact I actually quite enjoy solitude and space to be alone with my thoughts, however if life is not shared with others what joy is there in it? It’s like playing an award winning one man show to an empty theatre. Having an audience there doesn’t make the content of the show better or worse, but sharing it with others is what makes the performance worthwhile. The things that I do in my life aren’t going to be more spectacular just because there’s someone there to tell about them, but it does make life a bit more fun. And lets face it, a play of my life would be award winning!!

When I was in Ibiza with 24/7 prayer this summer I got to meet a lot of new and interesting people. As a way to get to know each other we each got to ask a question every time we were at the dinner table (mainly because that was the easiest place to get everyone together at once!) The questions ranged from silly things like your favourite colour, to the deep stuff like your greatest fear. My favourite question, which I still don’t really have an answer to was;
‘If you were a stick of rock, what words would be written in your core’
You see there are a lot of things I like; cricket, Holby City, cheese, violin, my friends, literature, skiing, chutneys, shooting, excellent food. All good things and all part of who I am, but I don’t think any of these things are what makes me ME at the core of my being.
Two things that make me tick are community and conversation. I love people, especially interesting people and save my old history teacher I have yet to meet an uninteresting person. I love hearing peoples stories and I love just being with people, it lifts my spirits and makes me feel like I belong somewhere, which I think is important.

I find nursing homes the most wonderful and depressing places on the planet. Wonderful because of all that life experience, all that knowlege, all those stories in one place and depressing because they are just sitting on wipe down armchairs with birds in cages waiting for the end. Whenever I think about how I would like my life to turn out, I never see the perfect house, the dream wedding, the wonderful husband and the 2.3 children and a dog. Instead I think about the places i'd like to go, the people I would like to meet and the things I'd like to discover. When I'm old and I look back at my life and the person i've become I want to think 'yea, I had a great time on this wonderful, awe-inspiring and diverse planet.'

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Spiced Parsnip Soup

My house smells divine! I have just made the most delicious spiced parsnip soup... If I do say so myself



300g of chopped Parsnips
150g chopped Potato
2 medium onions
2 cloves of garlic
50g butter
1 Tablespoon Curry powder
1.2 Litres of vegetable stock
1 block creamed coconut

1. Melt butter in a saucepan and add chopped garlic and onions. Cook for 5 minutes without browning
2. Add the stock, chopped potatoes, parsnips, creamed coconut and curry powder
3. Simmer for 20-25 minutes or until parsnips are tender
4. Blend the soup until smooth

I garnished mine with a little double cream and some tobacco onions (fry a thinly chopped onion coated in flour and paprika)

It was YUMMY! A real winter warmer treat!

Christmas Shopping

I like Christmas shopping- don't get me wrong. But sometimes It just feels oh so very monotonous!

I have had a ridiculously unproductive week this week. It's been awesome! I've been to some great local gigs, drunk mulled wine with good friends and had new adventures. I'm pretty happy right now sitting in bed, typing this! However, i'm simply delaying the inevitable. At some stage in the next hour I will get out of bed, brave the cold and the crazy shoppers and make my way into the city centre to do my last bits of shopping.

Wish me luck

Monday, 19 December 2011

The Global Coffee Establishment

On days when everything I love about this city vanishes, when grey skies erase Harland and Wolf, when Napoleon and his nose appear to never have existed, I like to go somewhere that feels safe. Somewhere that never changes, a place that appears in countries the world over. Indeed it is only when claustrophobic skies erase the identity of my city that I am happy to pay a visit to the global coffee shop.
Coming from the rain into the embrace of a myriad of roasting aromas is heaven. The finest Columbian and Ethiopian blends hang in the air, the familiarity of them like walking into a full bodied hug.

An unexpected but pleasant chat with friends reminds me of the warmth of the heart of this city, even on the very cruelest of days. When you consider it, this is really quite a homely establishment, once, of course, you see past the furniture and decor that is recreated in 17,000 stores in 55 countries. I am unsure if my rudimentary google on my smartphone has produced figures that would stand up in a court, but I am reasonably sure that they are more transparent than George Galloway’s quest to reinstate capital punishment. (A topic of conversation from earlier spontaneity.)
The music transports me to a Speakeasy in Chicago surrounded by a jazz band, friends sipping rum cocktails and ladies with pearls, possibly diamonds hanging from their necks. A burst of cold air from the opening door reminds me that I am not.
Behind the coffee bar Stu works his magic. The hiss and steam and froth transform solid and liquid into little drops of heaven poured from his hand. The green apron worn by thousands of employees the world over tries to hide his closet ghetto obsession, but it can’t quite erase the green in his eyes as he considers the feelings his girlfriend Emma holds toward Rihanna. Nor his conviction that all this country needs to kick start the economy are a few more R&B superstars annoying local farmers and filming in our ‘ghettos’.

As the minutes tick by people trickle in and out, a near constant stream of customers all escaping the driving rain. My coffee, now as cold as the rain outside, declares that it is time to move on. And as I step outside into my city again I leave the bustling coffee shop to it’s global work.

On my journey home I spy Sampson and Goliath peeking through a tiny patch of blue.

A welcome return

Over the past few years I have neglected any kind of regular blog. I've put things up on blogs here and there, and used 'notes' on Facebook a lot, but I'm going to try and make a return to regular blogging. Stay tuned for an assortment of oddities