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New things in May

June 2, 2013

It’s that time again. I’m very grateful to Make and Bake with Bert for inspiring me to do this. Sometimes I only manage a little new thing and sometimes I do something which actually pushes me out of my comfort zone. There’s been a bit of both this month.

So May!

I think I’ll begin with new recipes/ ingredients. I am once again embarking on a diet which is dull and means insufficient cake. If I baked I’d have no chance of sticking to the diet so mostly I’ve refrained. However there was another charity bake sale at work and once again I was called upon to bake. As it was for a very good cause (The MS Society) and for other people – no consumption on my point. I broke the rule I’d just set myself and baked.

I used the Primrose Bakery book I got for my birthday and tried the coffee cupcake recipe. I didn’t quite follow the recipe because I didn’t want to spend £5 on expresso powder I’d probably never use again and just brewed up some decent strong filter coffee to use instead. I also decided against the recommended butter icing which seemed to much of a good thing and made a coffee flavoured water icing instead. Finally I topped them with walnut pieces which I had in the cupboard rather than the chocolate covered coffee beans I’d have had to buy. I can’t seem to find any photos – must do better. Feedback from my colleagues was favourable I nobly did not even sample one and I’ve been told I should bake them again.

On the savoury front I also tried cooking with marinated Tofu. I used it instead of Quorn in a stir fry. It was edible but it needed lots of garlic, ginger and soy sauce to make it so. If I’m honest I wouldn’t be in a hurry to cook with it again.

New places – I’ve posted all about Slovenia already and that was clearly the biggest new place for me in May. However I also visited Polesdon Lacey and explored Dorking for a couple of hours. Polesdon Lacey is impressive but I found slightly too ostentatious for my taste. Certainly there was nowhere you could imagine being able to curl up with a book in peace even though there was a huge library.

I also took myself slightly out of my comfort zone and attended two new things. I went to a lecture on Collecting Children’s books at UCL. I was relieved to see someone I knew there as it was not really about the type of book I collect. It was children’s religious texts from 16th century onwards and so not my field – the advertising could have been better. It could still have been interesting had the presenter thought about his audience. He held tiny books up but no one could see the illustrations. I wish he’d taken digital photos and put them up as a slideshow then everyone could have admired the books without risking them.

Then inspired by “A Force to be Reckoned with” I went to a WI meeting. I did not know anyone there so this was far far out of my comfort zone but everyone was very friendly. I admit that I was motivated by the realisation that the WI has always been a feminist organisation and a thorn in the establishments’ side. (Tony Blair’s slow handclap in 2000…) However they are also a powerful force for change – lobbying in a civilised way to get things done. I choose a central London branch because the average age wasn’t eighty, it had evening meetings and a programme which looked interesting. The talk held my attention but I confess I’m still reserving judgement on Herbal Medicine – I’m not giving up on Symbicort just yet. There was also tea, cake and gossip this is probably the best part. I plan to return in June.

Knitting wise I have started three new things with the gorgeous skein of Arucania lonco multi Liz Makes It gave me for my birthday but nothing looks quite right so I’ve also frogged three attempts. I’m still looking for the perfect project for it. On the bright side I’ve been finishing things and not only have I finished them I have packed them and posted them to their recipients.

This jumper for M the small son of one of my friends. It had been sitting in my knitting bag because I hadn’t sewn the buttons on. I dealt with that and used a new to me technique of sewing the buttons on with matching embroidery silk rather than fighting to get DK yarn through the buttons. Doubtless the rest of the world has known this since forever.

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I also finished this jumper. This is for J – the small daughter of another friend. I hadn’t tried a lace edging like that before but as I cast it on April and used it then I don’t think I can count it for May too.

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That leaves me with new books/ authors. I read the previously mentioned A Force to be Reckoned With by Jane Robinson which inspired me to find a WI but she’s not a new author because Robinson also wrote the brilliant Bluestockings which I read a year or so ago.

I think the book for this month is “Medic: Saving Lives from Dunkirk to Afghanistan” by John Nicol and Tony Rennell. My brother bought it for my birthday because he thought I’d be interested in the Second World War section. I was but it was the section on the Falklands that had me equally gripped and appalled. In 1982 the military and the Government still thought it was acceptable to leave a wounded soldier on the ground in the cold and the mud for 26 hours – I was relieved the medics didn’t agree. I can only be grateful things have moved on since then.

It’s not a book for the squeamish I nearly jumped out of the seat I was fortunate enough to have on the 7:55 to Victoria when I turned the page and found myself confronted with a photo of a severed arm. Aside from that it was a fascinating book and really brought home to me what people are risking in Afghanistan but also the amazing advances they’ve made in battlefield medicine and how it is applied to trauma medicine back at home.

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