Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Saturday, 23 February 2019

A Good Reason to Toast Again!

A choice of wines from local vineyards
This is a re-post from 2011, but as relevant today as it was then. I'm linking to this week's Sepia Saturday.  Originally the subject was ‘Drink Up’ for the Thematic Photographic challenge.  Of course we don’t have to be urged twice! I managed to resist the temptation to post pictures of family and friends raising a glass or two to the camera. Instead, I offer you a pictorial souvenir of a visit last month to the Monumento al Campesino, here in Lanzarote (Monument to the Farmer). The brainchild of visionary César Manrique, it’s a celebration of the resilience of the local farmers and the significance of agricultural life on the island. It’s situated in the geographical centre of the island in the heart of the beautiful landscape of La Geria, famous for wine-making. The vines are grown in the harsh volcanic landscape, protected from the elements by zocos, pits dug into the ground and surrounded by stone walls; a method unique to Lanzarote.

Examples of zocos
There’s very little rainfall in Lanzarote, and historically the islanders relied on rainwater or from supplies imported by boat from other islands. Until the sea-water desalination system was set up in the 1960s, farmers had to be very canny about their system for harvesting the little rain which did fall.

The ‘living’ museum has artisans practising their crafts, and examples of wine-presses and other agricultural and domestic implements. There was a wonderful restaurant, where we had a couple of courses. We couldn’t eat any more because, as you can see, they were very filling!  This was my starter, which at home would have been enough to keep me going all day. Patatas Arrugadas (sometimes called ‘wrinkly potatoes’ because cooking method, using a lot of salt, makes the skins crinkle), served with the traditional red and green garlic sauces (Mojo Sauce), dried dates, and slices of Canarian ‘Curado and Semi-Curado’ goats cheeses. The surprise was the dark slices in the centre of the dish. made with gofio flour. These were quite sweet and reminded me of a cross between a marzipan or truffle sweetmeat. I tried them to be polite, but they would have been just too much. The chickpea and fish stew which followed, was delicious, but again, very filling, and had I known the portion size, I would definitely nott have ordered the starter. It always seems impolite to leave food, but I really couldn’t have eaten another mouthful.

Starter: Canarian cheese, gofio, dates and Canarian  Potatoes with Mojo Sauces
The restaurant served a selection of local wines and of course, there was the  opportunity to purchase them in the shop. They were beautifully displayed, with information on each wine and the different vineyards and growers. It was difficult to resist and here’s one we managed to save from suffering the fate of the other bottle, which went very well with supper that night. Click on the link in the caption to learn more.

Malvaisia wine from El Grifo
Examples of the old wine barrels, housed in the converted farm. 
 In this poster diplayed there can be seen a typical Canarian farmer.  
The poster bears the following the legend:

"Francisco has been fighting for his land for over 50 years. It is to his endeavours and the warmth of our land that we owe the excellence of our wines.”

The headings says:

“Wines with the denomination of origin Lanzarote. A good reason to toast”

So “Cheers everybody!” and when you’ve drained your glass, totter over to Writteninc. to see what other TP participants have come up with.

I’m also linking this post to Weekend Cooking, which is Beth Fish’s weekly meme for all things food-related: book, movie reviews, recipes, anecdotes, quotations and photographs are all welcome. I’ve learned a lot from my visits there. Go on have a go!

And I'm re-posting this eight years later as it is the perfect answer to this week's Sepia Saturday image prompt. A Paris wine bar, from the George Eastman Collection on Flickr Commons. It's titled  Marchand de vin rue Boyer by Eugène Atget  (French, 1857-1927) in about 1910-11.

Saturday, 16 February 2019

More Fun Than Fashion

I took this photo as I walked past a fancy-dress shop in Nottingham's Victoria Centre in 2015. The strange assortment of outfits, and the way they were displayed, appealed to me. Mannequins (or dummies) are usually draped in the latest fashions in department store windows, and it made a change to see something promising more fun than fashion. We are coming up to Carnival time here in Lanzarote when outfits just like this may well be on show.

Two years ago, on a visit to the Elder Museum of Science and Technology in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria (another of the Canary Islands), we saw some of the fantastic costumes that had been used in that year's carnival.

Here in Playa Blanca, where I live, I saw this shop in the Marina, The mannequins were outdone by the painting on the wall outside.

In this 2011 photo my sister-in-law feels somewhat overdressed next to these shameless mannequins awaiting the opening of a new shop, also in our local marina.

This week's  image prompt came from the Eugène Atnet album of the George Eastman Collection on Flickr Commons. Why not see what other contributors made of it by visiting the Sepia Saturday page.

Postscript. If you put the word 'mannequin into Google and hit the 'News' tab, all manner of quirky stories appear. More naked mannequins were seen from the Nottingham Wheel this week, and a dry cleaner in Worthing bids a sad farewell to 'Serena' after years of faithful service.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Plenty To Go Round

These photos date from August 1968, when I was on a return visit to the family of my Austrian exchange friend. Her father was a forester and they lived in village not far from Vienna. The dish was called 'Zigeunerpfanne' - literally gypsy pan, and it was a stew of delicious meat and vegetables, with spices, such as paprika and cayenne if my memory is correct (after more than half century, who knows?).  I guess the idea was that the cooking was done as the gypsies would have done in the days of old. 

I look a little apprehensive as my friend's younger brother stirs the pot, whilst his mother and and older brother sit back.

The other dish probably contained rice;  her older brother's friend already served, and her father just behind him, enjoy a beer, as they wait for the addition of the stew.

I remember this time reasonably well, as her brother and his friend were on leave from the army, where they were on National Service. Her parents were quite anxious as it coincided with the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Soviet troops (21st August) as the culmination of what was known as The Prague Spring.  Following this we awoke one night to hear tanks rolling into the village, fortunately they were Austrian, not Soviet, and we were then to have soldiers billeted with us. By this time my parents had also joined us for a few days, and my friend's mother would always prepare a little more than was necessary for this 'family' to ensure that the soldiers had some home-cooked food. She would have preferred to have her own son and his friend there, but that was the next best thing. There was always plenty to go round.       

I was reminded of these scenes of outdoor cooking by this week's Sepia Saturday prompt. The image is from the George Eastman Collection on Flickr Commons, and titled, 'John, the cook, baking slapjacks' by William Henry Jackson (1843-1942). Click the link to join other contributors and see what they made of the prompt.