We had made good time to Chichester and turned off the main road heading for Appledram Marina. Dad inserted his card pass and up went the barrier in robotic salute. There were few people out and about, but the clubhouse seemed to be well patronised. “Would you care for a snifter after your ordeal, Son?”...read more
A short walk brought us to Room 7 and after the young lady pressed a button, Aunt Win’s Welsh companion answered, confirmed admission and the door opened automatically. Upon being ushered in, both dad and I paused in the entrance vestibule, shell-shocked by what was indeed a spacious fully furnished apartment. Aunt Winifred was barely visible at the far side of the room next to a panoramic window overlooking the rolling Sussex countryside and the Parish church... read more
Perhaps Dr Pickle’s throw-away remark about going to school in my father’s academic robes had gone deep inside my sub-consciousness. I admired my father and tolerated his personal idiosyncrasies but was determined to make my own way in life, without any hint of nepotism.
I am not quite sure how my father had been drawn into sailing...read more
Following the BBC programme, Trust Me, I'm a Doctor, shown on Wednesday 14th February, I thought I would re-post my recipe for Beetroot Leaves and Stalks Soup. In the programme, recent research has shown that nitrate-rich vegetables and particularly beetroot help reduce blood pressure and make physical exertion easier.
Those of you that have read my Cretan cooking blogs before will know that I love to twist Greek terms to something in English. I do this all the time to help me remember difficult Greek words. This time it has a connection with my novel, Discrete Reversal, because the Greek word for beetroot, παντζáρι, is pronounced 'pants Harry'. I leave it to you to decide whether 'pants' is a noun or a verb!
Unless you have an allotment or a farmers’ market where you live, you might be a bit stymied with this recipe because beetroot is mostly sold without the ‘tops’. However, as with much Cretan village cuisine, ‘waste not want not’ is a central theme. It is said that in wartime, Cretans survived on snails and horta, which is basically a dish of weeds much like dandelions. Here our markets and many ‘supermarkets’, sell beetroot complete with leaves and stalks and you pay by the kilo for the privilege. Nearly every week I buy eight small beetroot (I prefer the small ones for roasting whole) and of the 2kg total, more than half is leaves and stalks, much too valuable as a food and vitamin source to be thrown away.
This recipe is not a well-publicised Cretan dish in the usual sense of the term, but is more an adaptation of the principle of being frugal, something that modern society might wish to rediscover.
A word of advice (well, several words): A recipe gives the basics but the chef makes the meal taste good. Once you have the basic soup it is for you to add spices and seasoning until it is superb. Now to me, good food is a ‘whole tongue’ experience…all of it ideally should be involved, because without that balance, some ‘je ne sais quoi’ will be missing’. I am NOT a chef, but I am a glutton, so I add things until my glutton’s tongue is happy. Do not be afraid to add a little sugar, honey, lemon, or Worcester sauce for instance, until you like what you have made. If this frightens you, put a little in a bowl and try your additives. My Beetroot Leaves and Stalks Soup won’t be exactly like yours, but so what?
When our long-standing Headmaster, dear old Frobisher-James, retired in 1984, I was in what was still called the Lower Sixth. We heard on the grapevine that the Labour-run council had forced the governors to appoint a head-teacher of its choosing. He turned out to be a man with a social sciences degree from a red brick polytechnic in the back of beyond...read more
I was over the moon on reading my new school’s prospectus, which said it was adhering to its standards as a long-established Grammar School. I read up all about such schools and looked forward to my first day. When I asked my dad why he decided I should go there, he confessed he had planned to send me to boarding school...read more
I found my Christmas presents three years ago on the recessed top of my dad’s wardrobe, but the next Christmas, when I was coming up eight and growing taller, they’d decided to use the similar wardrobe in my mum’s bedroom. By the way, I had always taken their separate rooms as normal until I visited my school friends’ homes where games of ‘sardines’ or hide and seek revealed most parents shared a bedroom...read more
He’d kept a watchful eye on the bookshop for months so far, even though there was little of intrinsic value inside. There were very few rare items, most but not everything was replaceable. Yet he knew many pages on the familiar shelves contained valuable secrets.
Experience told him where the lady proprietor often tucked away the gems and unseen he would direct determined hunters to acquire them.
The last time he ventured inside he saw only potential but now he knew lady luck waited amongst the many volumes. One day he’d benefit from his endless vigil and she’d smile on him again.
This piece was entered in the Flash Fiction Competition at Eklektos Bookshop, Elounda on Sunday 17th September.
Although teaching us Greek, Nadine was really our housekeeper. At first I wondered if she might be the spinster from the embassy using a different name so I asked her outright one day if she was my real mother. She laughed at me and the expression on her face was enough but she felt the need to comfort me, “No Niko, I have no children but if I did I would have been proud to have one as handsome and bright as you.”
It was really just as well she cleared that up because I was feeling dreadfully guilty...read more
“Even at four I’d started to question how Santa could read a note that caught fire as it rose in the chimney. My dad said it was magic because the writing still showed and Santa had a special way to read it. I remember dad wrote ‘Nicholas’ on a piece of paper then burnt it to show me it was still possible to read my name. That pacified me for a while...read more
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