Sunday, 3 August 2008

A few updates

● Re last Wednesday's post: you can hear Katie Hafner talking to James Naughtie about her book A Romance on Three Legs: Glenn Gould's Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Piano here .

● Re Race for Life - thank you, thank you to all my very generous sponsors - so many of whom this year have been blogging friends I've never actually met. Which moves me more than I can say. I received another unexpected donation this morning and some more cheques are, I'm told, in the post, so I'm expecting to meet my £500 fund-raising target quite soon. In the light of some news received during the week, I've decided to abandon the wimpish idea of hanging up my trainers after all. I'm going to be running Race for Life every year until I have to walk it, and then walking every year thereafter.

● Listened to a deeply affecting programme on R4 yesterday - Leonard and Marianne - a poignant celebration of a great but ultimately lost love, which D at 60goingon16 has pipped me to posting about - you can read all about it on her blog here.

● In response to the comments on Friday's post: I've long considered that a view of the sea is well nigh essential when eating fish and chips. One of my earliest memories of sheer foody bliss is eating chips in the pouring rain in Polperro aged 7. I was a skinny, picky child, not given to associating food with pleasure, so this vivid recollection of overwhelming sensory delight is definitely one of life's Proustian moments. (For readers outside the UK, I should add that rain is an integral feature of the Traditional British Seaside Holiday, so one learns from an early age to accept that being cold and damp is All Part of the Fun.)

As a student I lived for a year in an insalubrious shared flat in Westgate-on-Sea - a dismal small town then populated almost entirely by pensioners and students. It was a year given over largely to Chaucer and the major works of nineteenth-century fiction, so, for me, the expression 'beach reading' conjures Middlemarch or Little Dorrit, rather than a bit of fluffy nonsense.

I must go down to the sea again,
To the lonely sea and the ships,
And there I'll sit on Westgate sands,
Eating fish and chips.

Other classic coastal fish and chip memories include: the spray-drenched Cobb at Lyme Regis as the tide came in; perched on the jetty at Tobermory, feet resting on one of the fishing boats which landed the very fish I was eating (from the famous Fish and Chip Van); gazing down at Whitby harbour from a precariously high vantage point (slippery cobbles in the inevitable rain); and at Seahouses, following a bracing boat trip to the Farne Islands.

● The plant I photographed on Friday, Kim, is sea holly (Eryngium maritimum) now beloved of florists, once prized as an aphrodisiac (you can read more about it here).

● There's a great book giveaway happening on Random Distractions this week. For your chance to grab one of a selection of interesting titles, all you have to do is a spot of Latin translation and/or demonstrate your innate sense of humour. (My own scant reserves of scholarship and wit have yet to throw up anything worth posting, but I'm working on it.)

● And finally, happily recovered from her recent operation, Jane is back at Books, Mud and Compost, with some evocative thoughts on childhood winters in the 1960s. If you're of a Certain Age, and you live in the UK, you will 'relate bigtime', as they say.


Louise Bolotin said...

Oh no, I'm going to have to beg you to stop posting pics of fish and chips. I can feel my hips expanding just from looking at your photos, while my tumble rumbles and I'm 20 minutes walk from a chippy.

I grew up by the seaside although fish and chips was a rationed treat. Now, I live a way from the coast but you are reviving long-forgotten memories for me!

60 Going On 16 said...

My favourite f&c memory? Tucking in by the harbour at Padstow in Cornwall, long before it became Padstein.

Anonymous said...

Latest f&c experience was an 'amuse bouche' in a Cornish hotel.Fish the size of a thumbnail with six tiny stringy chips and half a teaspoon of tartare sauce!!! Actually it was really nice, if not exactly traditional.
Good luck with the diet - remember guilt doesn't make you thin!

KSV Woolfoot said...

Hello J -
Just catching up on your last few posts. School holidays or no it must be peck, peck, peck at the old keyboard for you! I esp. loved your Sunday post and the shame scoring. And this one is also great, making me think I need to find a way to get back to England many times to see all these wonderful things (and eat f&c). Is "the cobb" featured here the one we saw in the movie version of the _French Lieutenant's Woman_? I am still not sure what is meant by "cobb" in this context. It obviously has one "b" too many and is not covered with corn and so I am defeated. Must google it. Thanks for enlightening me on the sea holly.

Juliet said...

Hi Kim - yes indeed, this is the Cobb you saw in French Lieutenant's Woman, and it also features heavily in Jane Austen's Persuasion (and the various film versions thereof). For some good pics see

Juliet said...

Hi everyone else - I promise to stop writing about fish and chips (at least until Friday!)