Friday, 28 March 2014

Dear Diary...Wednesday 17th July 1991. 150km from civilisation.

Mid morning, after a trip to the Super, a missed postal van (I'll have to wait another day now to phone Trine) and a chocolate binge!
I feel much better now - back to normal - despite being the lone gooseberry in a desert full of couples!
But this whole desert thing - it's not for me, I can't believe I ever thought it would be - Eilat is 150km away - and hitching is all a bit dodgy as the road is so isolated.
Beersheva is nearer, but what is there to do in Beersheva?

The Shack.
150km from civilisation.
I'm getting increasingly bored and frustrated with the whole thing - if you miss the postal van there is no way to phone anyone - there's one shop and a pool, but that's about it. How do people cope with the isolation?
And last night I was sharing Emma's abandoned, rickety shack with cockroaches.
I can't face cockroaches again tonight. They were scuttling round the sink!
Please, please, PLEASE let someone leave SdotYam soon so I can jump in their bed!!!

Helped Emma polish mangos in the morning, drawing in the afternoon and a party supper in the evening.
But - what has happened to Emma???
I've never seen her like this before.
Where's the girl who was always last to leave a party - larger than life and twice as loud, with an overnight bag slung over her shoulder ''just incase'' whenever we went clubbing!
She seems to have lost some of that confidence, and her mood swings are all over the place - one minute she's hyper, manic and bouncing, the next she's in tears.
And she's started taking lithium.
I'm worried about Emma.


Wednesday, 26 March 2014

I blame the marzipan. Absolutely.

Today has been one of those days.
Having woken up with birdsong and sunshine it was supposed to involve a camera, a boat or three and a vintage trawl.
Instead, I ended up unpicking the same seam not once, not twice but FOUR times!!! 
From vintage lace.
Time consuming, fiddly and incredibly frustrating.
I swore more than once and missed the bus.
So - no boats, no vintage treasures and a distinctly uninspiring fridge.
Hence the marzipan.

I have a particularly dysfunctional relationship with marzipan.
By nature I'm more savoury than sweet, but where marzipan is concerned - oh my goodness!!!
I'm not buying it anymore...
And it completely zapped my energy.

However, seam finally finished I did finish the offending article, which was a snoozy groovy dachshund sleeve for an ipad.
I love this riot of paisleys, which is pure 1970s vintage from Brick Lane.
As was the gorgeous crochet lace.
Brick Lane never fails to disappoint, and this particular shop is like stepping back in time.
Lace and haberdashery is housed in an antique cabinet with lots of tiny drawers and glass panels that wouldn't have looked out of place in a shop from the 1920s.
And the best bit?
You are encouraged to rummage!

Monday, 24 March 2014

Liberty Lawn - and a distinct lack of rugby paraphernalia.

It's been a very long time since I've childminded, and looking around I'm not sure a nine year old boy is going to be impressed either by my current obsession with Liberty Lawn or - more importantly - by my distinct lack of rugby paraphernalia.
But he may like the cats.
Who may or may not be impressed by a 6.30am alarm call.

I have a love/hate relationship with working from home.
On a cold and blustery morning I am grateful for my commute stopping at the sofa and my desk being my lap.
However, I struggle with a (lack of) routine and often find the whole front room workspace/rural village claustrophic, particularly in winter. 
And I continue to crave urban on the doorstep.
Preferably Brick Lane.
And with my last two orders being pure 1960s Brick Lane vintage I reckon I can justify a trip...

I recently inherited a big box of vintage lace from a relative.
So beautiful - and so different to the mass produced lace available on the High Street.
I love the contrast of vintage lace against linen in this ipad mini sleeve.
Vintage lace protecting modern technology.
There is something timelessly classic about Liberty Lawn.
The fine threadcount, the lightness - the delicate florals and vibrant paisley prints.
And I can never bring myself to use the very last bits, which remain on my overflowing shelves.
As an ode to Spring I have added lavender to Liberty Lawn with these snoozy owls, along with tactile velvet.

And staying on the Liberty theme with these mice pincushions....and ipad mini sleeve below, made from linen and vintage lace.

And with Spring comes carboot trawls for vintage gems - which this week unearthed these two gorgeous glass jelly moulds- and how perfect are they for holding soap!

Although peering through the window at icy grey drizzle and the ominous threat of frost it's beginning to feel more like mid winter.
And SdotYam is beginning to look very appealing.
Which must be why I appear to be carrying my passport around on a regular basis...because you just never know!

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Dear Diary...Wednesday 3rd July 1991. The Underground - it gets under your skin.

Day 2 in Israel, back in dusty old Hadera with a rucksack, a hangover and a ticket to SdotYam.
An apparently full SdotYam and a two hour wait, but I'm hoping to blag it through Trina.
How did that happen???  Last month I was set on Middlesex uni.
Oh portfolio was distinctly lacking in written work and the uni refused me. Ah well...

Yesterday Emma met me at the airport, new boyfriend in tow - at 3.30am!
They'd been waiting four hours and it's the first time anyone's met me at Ben Gurion, so I was really touched.
A sherut to Jerusalem where we managed to wake everyone up in my hostel room and the afternoon at a deserted village and spring just outside the city.
I don't remember Emma ever being so keen on hiking, but it's so good to see her again!

And the evening?
Back to The Underground, beers 'n' straws and seeing David again for the first time in a year.
Funny how you can just pick up where you left off.
We grabbed a jeep and drove round Jerusalem in his break, chilling, laughing - catching up.
It was good!

The Underground gets under your skin.
A club where cars and jeeps seem to magically appear when you need them.
A club with a long memory and Amadeus weaving his magic.
Where else does that happen???

I've missed Jerusalem!

Friday, 14 March 2014

Mosaics. The therapeutic quality of smashing china with a big hammer.

For the past month and beyond I have been full of good intentions to mosaic my paving slabs.
Have I started?
Not a jot!
But I should.
Is there anything more satisfying and therapeutic than smashing crockery with a large hammer?
And teapot handles look amazing in the grout.

This paving slab - now finished, polished and grouted - was once a teapot,mug and a couple of bowls.
The outside rim was finished with a second smashed teapot- a teapot with sentimental roots in Jerusalem, but apparently not designed for holding boiling water!
I love mosaics,but not the kit form or regimented square tiles bought in neat cellophane bags.
For me it has to be freeform...smashed china and cement based grout.
Twice I have tried to make a uniform, perfectly flat mosaic, and twice it has remained unfinished, languishing in a neglected part of the garden till it finally fell apart.

Children also love mosaics. and the mosaic below was made by a group of primary school children at an
Art Club I used to run.
Lesson learned....never give a child a hammer and a metal tray on which to smash tiles -particularly in a draughty village hall with a high ceiling and metal window frames - the noise was deafening!!!
However, the results were impressive.

This dolphin was made by a group of children at my now defunct Art Club.

And staying on the mosaic theme, albeit loosely, I stumbled on a facebook page today called ''BlueButterflyArt''which is so beautiful.
The page owner paints on concrete tiles, which have a lovely whimsical quality to them - well worth a visit!

Having had a week of Spring sunshine it was a shock to wake up this morning to a thick fog, so china smashing put on hold I have been sorting through cards and photographs.

This year it's urban, but last year was ducks,and I've just listed this set of three cards on Etsy.

 There is something very appealing about ducks.
  They have a whimsical quality and oodles of charm


Thursday, 13 March 2014

Rediscovering burekas. Nostalgia in a pastry puff.

The ultimate in fast food.
With my son temporarily home from uni, breakfast can no longer be a haphazard mix of nothing, chocolate or a large coffee. 
I lost my cooking mojo when Josh swapped rural Wales for Cheltenham three years ago, so when he comes back it's a great excuse to take baking to extremes.
And today is the long forgotten bureka.
Nostalgia in a pastry puff, bringing with it memories from Jerusalem in the fabulous 80s.

As a teenager in Jerusalem the bureka was the answer to everything.
Hungry?  Grab a bureka.
Midnight munchies?  A bureka.
Meeting friends?  A bureka and coffee in the sun.

I had a good teacher for bureka making.
She was a very strict, very talented matriarch on Kibbutz Maabarot, called Naomi.
And she ruled the kitchen with a rod of iron.
Being four foot nothing she would only work with tall girls, so being 5ft 8'' I was recruited very quickly during the summer of '88. 

Naomi, Queen of Burekas.

Her grasp of english was on a par with my hebrew.
If I did well,she smiled and kissed me.
If I did wrong, she would slap my arm.

I loved Naomi.
And the volunteers liked me working with Naomi too, as she would send me back to Boat People Straab with boxes of broken meringues!

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Grow, cucumber - GROW!

When it comes to the garden, I'm fickle.
Given that I'm prone to hibernation and shooting angry glares at the rain during winter, I crave urban on the doorstop and a six foot yard.  
With a high wall and patio heater.
However, one whiff of sunshine and I'm sifting through out of date seeds, impulse buying new and yearning for a chicken coop for the overgrown jungle that masquerades as a back garden.
Granted I've always wanted chickens foraging in the garden, love the idea of eggs straight from the chicken, bypassing the cardboard box and date stamps.

Chickens would definitely not feature if I lived in Brick Lane.
Not unless they were shrink wrapped in the fridge from Tesco.
And the garden would be a window box.
But I'd still plump for E1 in a heartbeat.
I can dream...

However, being anchored in rural Gower rather than urban E1 I am in love with my newly constructed greenhouse.
Suki may think of it as a feline playhouse, but to me it is going to be an oasis of tomatoes and cucumbers and peppers.
With a sprinkling of coriander and basil.

There is something very satisfying about growing plants from seed, particularly if they're going to end up as dinner.
And today I planted my first cucumber of 2014...grow,cucumber - GROW!

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Dear Diary...Sunday 25th March 1990. The jewel in Jerusalem's crown.

Oh my goodness...Jerusalem!!!
Spur of the moment, back to Jerusalem Wednesday night, with Christo.
Back to The Underground, the jewel in Jerusalem's crown, the bits they don't show in the guide books but should.
 That's twice this week.

Yoel Solomon.  
Heaving, buzzing, booming and young. 
Where else can you find clubbing soldiers with guns, dancing on tables with Mickey Mouse behind and Amadeus on the bar? 
I've never understood the cartoon thing.
But I love Amadeus.

It did cross my mind that David might not be expecting Christo aswell - but I knew Libby and Andy would be there...or so I thought, till we got to the hostel and found they hadn't turned up!
Luckily, they appeared at The Underground later, so leaving Christo in vaguely sober hands we borrowed a car and drove round for ages, ending up right the other side of Jerusalem, way past Damascus Gate.
Now that was a whole new Jerusalem. Damascus Gate has always been a boundary post...spectacular, but iffy beyond. 

Half hour turned into two hours and by the time we got back Christo'd disappeared, Libby'd disappeared and Andy was draped over a woman!

It was a good night.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Dear Diary...Saturday, 3rd February 1990. New year, new start. Healing wounds.

10.40pm, and for the first time in a very long time I'm feeling happy. 
I needed to get away from the airport and all it stands for - too many memories, too many mistakes.
I'm blocking it out and running away - back to Israel like a defective boomerang, but it's where I feel safe.
My emotional bolthole.

A new kibbutz on Wednesday, via Tel Aviv.

It wasn't a great start, as I arrived in the rain and it appeared to be a ghost town.
RAIN - I came to get away from rain!
How can it possibly rain so much???

A room of my own in Mexico City, but that first day...I've never seen such a quiet kibbutz.
Do people sleep all day?  I didn't met anyone at all till the dining room in the evening, but then I met some South Africans and a Danish girl called Trine, who seemed to have a thing about carrots and they were really friendly.

Yesterday I worked in the dining room and it was fantastic - I met so many people and today there was no work at all!
Which was probably just as well, as yesterday also involved a very drunk afternoon with Steve, Simon and a bottle of vodka, followed by the pub.

First impressions can be so wrong.
Thursday morning I was convinced it was all a mistake and was trying to phone Maabarot to blag my way back.
Now, I'm just glad I never got through.
And the beach - oh my goodness - the beach!
Went there with Brazil and Tokyo this afternoon, on the way back from Caesarea.
You can see the sun setting over the sea from the dining room.

And tomorrow - avocados.
I hate fieldwork but it doesn't look like I'll get out of this.
On Ginosar I only lasted two days in the bananas as I wasn't very good.
Oh, God!
What if it rains?
I've got nothing to wear!!!

Saturday, 8 March 2014

If there's a knack to the flatpack, I don't have it.

To start with an understatement...
I am not a great fan of flatpacks.
I really don't know why I buy them, just the thought of a flatpack fills me with dread.
It's the certainty of parts left over, missing, torn - bits the wrong way around and - worse of all - the indecipherable instructions.

But yesterday, waking up to the novelty of sunlight streaming through the curtains and a fridge depleted of all salad bar a floppy pepper, I was reminded of the still boxed greenhouse lurking in the coalshed.
Where it has stayed, well hidden, for nearly a year.

A day of sunshine to inspire battle with a flatpack.
Llanrhidian Marsh.

I think there's a knack with flatpacks, and I don't have it.
I know I SHOULD count the bits, read the instructions and organise, but what happens - without fail - is that I rip open the box, pull out random pieces and skim the instructions.
And end up with wonky bits, wrong bits and a bad mood.
And as for the instructions...oh my looked like a 3D science diagram!

I like my instructions step by step with pictures -and this had no written instructions at all.

And being a leftie, 3D scientific drawings are a definite no-no.
Like tying shoelaces.  
And knitting.

But, hours later and with my dad to help with the technical bits, I am now the proud owner of a greenhouse, albeit an empty one, which the cats seem to think is a feline playhouse.

Unlike the shoelaces, which I can still only do by tying two loops together.

Which is something only a fellow leftie will understand....

Helper and hinderer.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Dear Diary... Sunday 9th April 1989. The curse of Sicily.

...and I'm in Sicily!!!
It's what I wanted, it's what I've been looking forward to for so long.

 I knew there'd be problems  but I still had big expectations and now I just feel let down and pissed off and cross - very, very cross!

Because no-one speaks english? Nope, that's not the problem, his family are lovely
Because of THAT carcrash and a mouth like a balloon for three days? Nope, that's not the problem either.

The problem is Salvo.
Salvo, who forgot all his english the minute we landed at Catania.
Salvo, who leaves me in the house with his family while he disappears for hours at a time.
Salvo, who is currently out with his ex girlfriend after talking for hours on the phone.

And Phillipe. 
I don't like Philippe, he gives me the creeps.
And I don't like his driving either - or his car, which rattled and shuddered all the way to Catania, like a death trap on wheels.

Apparently,  I'm being ''unreasonable, crazy and insupportable.''
The word chauvanist pig comes to mind - among others....

But it hasn't all been bad - there have been some good times, like the second evening here, when we were alone together for the first time since arriving.
We went out and  got very drunk -  laughing, joking - he showed me Catania by night - and returned to see Mount Etna puffing out lava behind his village, which looked quite surreal with a spinning head.
And Taromina - beautiful, beautiful Taromina, with the crazy road, partying in the streets and  mountain sculptures.

But I'm worried.
He's different here, and he's not the Salvo I knew at Gatwick.

And there's a dark side to Catania.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Coffee and walnut ... heaven on a plate and an urge for chintz.

Coffee and walnut ... heaven in a cake.

Which in my head was going to be Mary Berry-esq in presentation, with the exception of the doily as I'm living in a doily free zone.

Do people still use doilies?
I think the last time I used a doily was to make a paper angel in primary school.
Whatever happened to the humble doily?

A quick search on google brought up a recipe - I don't know why I bother with cookbooks anymore, as for every spur of the moment forage into baking, no matter what the impulse ingredient, Google will perform its magic at the press of a button.

A Mary Berry recipe, but a recipe missing the basics, like tin size.
''Serves 4'' 

Well, that's a very small cake indeed, and certainly not standard tin size
Are we supposed to be psychic???

So although I would recommend the cake, I'd disregard half the instructions and make them up.
I used one 7 inch tin for all the mixture, turned the temperature down and cooked for longer.
And doubled the coffee, which was double strength granules and not essence.
Then I halved the icing, sliced the cake in two and stacked it up.

Maybe not Mary Berry-esq in presentation, but it tastes good and is all mine :)

And while my cake presentation may be chintz free,  my chicken certainly isn't.

Or the mouse.

One whiff of sunshine and it's away with the tactile wool and tweed and in with the chintz.
Call me fickle but - oh my goodness - how much do I love Liberty Lawn???
No-one does chintz better than Liberty - the delicate florals, the retro paisleys - the fine thread count.

Spring has definitely arrived!