We do love to live beside the seaside

Blogger by the sea

Blogger by the sea

We do love to live beside the seaside

Recent Posts

Turkey (or chicken) Fajitas

Turkey (or chicken) Fajitas

I love Mexican food, and this dish, made with turkey (or chicken), makes a nice change from Chilli con Carne (literally, Chilli with beef). I’ve used turkey here as those thin, quick-cook turkey steaks slice very easily into thin strips. Combine with my beef or […]

Happy 4 month birthday to my blog!

Happy 4 month birthday to my blog!

It’s a special day today. Flowers? Why, thank you, but hold the hearts. While the world celebrates being hit by cupid’s wily arrow, I’m jubilant too, as it’s 4 months today since my blog went live last October. It’s certainly been a rollercoaster of ups […]

Gin & lemon pancake glaze

Gin & lemon pancake glaze

I’ve literally just thought of this, done some experimenting – and here it is. Boozy pancake glaze. It is boozy, too, because there’s no cooking or heating involved at all (thus the alcohol is not destroyed – yay)! 3 ingredients – squeeze, stir and spread on. Pancake day might be a little merrier from now on…

 

Makes enough for 2-3 pancakes. Simply multiply the quantities, and follow the same steps, to make more.

 

  • Lemon juice, freshly squeezed, 1 tbsp
  • Gin, 1 tbsp
  • Icing sugar, 4 tbsp

 

  • Put the lemon juice and gin into a bowl. Sift in the icing sugar, and stir well. (If small lumps appear, don’t worry; they’ll soon disappear again once the juice and alcohol get to work.)
  • That’s it! Spread a thin layer onto a pancake, roll it up – and watch it disappear.

 

Serve with a gin and tonic on the side

 

 

‘Cheesy peas’ curry

‘Cheesy peas’ curry

Yummy, meat-free and really easy to make, this uses paneer – a firm, white Indian cheese (a bit like Halloumi), which makes a welcome change from vegetable or lentil based curries. It has a kick to it, so add less spices if you want a […]

7 reasons to love Waitrose

7 reasons to love Waitrose

And I do LOVE Waitrose. Supermarket-topia, I call it. Yes, the green shop has a reputation for being Britain’s ‘poshest’ supermarket, and there’s even an infamous Facebook page ‘Overheard in Waitrose’ which gently pokes fun at it (like the cover photo caption asking, ‘don’t we […]

Your name tastes of…

Your name tastes of…

I’ve just posted my ‘Versatile blogger award’, and one of the facts about me that I listed has inspired me to write a post about it – well, that and the fact that it was a topic on my rather convoluted to-do list, anyway…

It’s all down to ‘Derek tastes of ear wax’, a Horizon documentary aired in the UK in 2004. In all my 30 years, as I was then, I didn’t know until that programme was shown that I had a condition called synaesthesia. Not only that, but I had a very rare type, that causes me to ‘taste’ words. Until this was discussed on TV, I didn’t even realise that this was unusual. I just assumed everyone experienced words and names in the same way. (I mean, why on earth wouldn’t I, right?)

In my case, the sensation is particularly strong when it comes to names; everyone I know, or come across has an associated flavour, if you like. It does sound weird, I realise, but to me it isn’t, as I can remember the same associations from childhood. In fact, it is apparently in our younger years that us synaesthetes form these odd associations.

In layman’s terms, I understand that people with lexical-gustatory synaesthesia basically have crossed wires in the brain – connections between areas that aren’t present in most of the population. When I hear or read a word or name, my sense of sound or sight is stimulated, yet I experience a taste, too. These links are there in childhood, but in most people, they vanish over time, during development. For some reason, in synaesthetes, the connections remain, and last a lifetime.

So what is it like to live with? I have read about folk for whom it causes problems – a complete sensory overload, which is overwhelming, reportedly causing panic attacks in extreme cases. Happily for me, it isn’t like that. It’s usually just a bit of fun, something of a party trick, really. Mister has tested me over the years, trying to catch me out, and looks at me in baffled bewilderment as I state, yet again, that Dave tastes of custard, and always will…

One study I’ve read about states that it’s the meaning of the word that matters, and determines the flavour. Not so in my case, I’m afraid. Often the word’s sound can influence how I experience it, though. Now, I’m sat here trying to think of an example, but that’s really difficult. You can’t give me a flavour and ask me to match it with the word – unless it’s one that I’m extremely familiar with and I therefore can instantly remember, off the top of my head. In general, I have to hear the word or name first, then I can immediately match it to the taste sensation I experience. Not vice versa.

So your name’s Peter? Hot dog sausages. Paul? Tinned potatoes. Susan? Tinned rice pudding. Same for Sarah, with an H. Sara, though, tastes of school dinner, semolina pudding with some sort of golden syrupy sauce. Melanie? Melon – that is the perfect example of what I was just saying about the sound, in some cases, matching the flavour. Susannah is similar to Susan – rice pudding with apple sauce; an apple Mullerice, in fact. It is always as specific as that – although sometimes I can’t decide between two very exact, but different, flavour options. Does James taste of Weetabix (mashed up with milk), or of Raspberry Ruffles? There’s that sound thing going on again with the latter, because the company who make those particular sweet treats are called Jameson’s. James would never, ever taste of Irish whiskey, however.

‘Full of Eastern promise’ said Fry’s of their Turkish Delight, back when I was growing up, yet the word ‘promise’ is strongly flavoured with Fry’s Chocolate Cream, not their Middle Eastern chocolate-covered confection. The word smart tastes of – Smarties. Just as you might expect. If you promise me something, just don’t be surprised if I get a craving for a Fry’s Chocolate Cream. That does happen. A lot.

Another strange twist lies in the assumption that if I don’t like the flavour, then I don’t like the name. That can be true, but not always. The sound and look of the name can play just as big a part. Having said that, I doubt that I could call my child by a name I didn’t like the taste of. My daughter’s (whose name I don’t want to reveal) name tastes of frangipane, even though there is a more obvious flavour option for her moniker, if you looked at it logically.

There’s certainly no logic in my form of synaesthesia. Apart from Melanie tasting of melon, and James of Jameson’s chocolates, that is. Mike tastes of pineapple, yet Michael’s flavour is some sort of meaty pie filling that I can’t quite put my finger on. What is common to me and other synaesthetes, I’ve found, is that words can taste of things that you wouldn’t normally eat. Polly tastes of pollen (and hey, there’s that sound association again, just as Kerry tastes of cherry, and George, of fudge). Thus, you’d think Doug would taste of earth, not choc ice. Which takes us right back to Derek and the ear wax. Except in my case, Derek definitely tastes of tinned chicken soup.

Polly x

Names & what they taste of – a few examples

Anne – Apple pie
Brian – Campbell’s meatballs
Charlie – Bounty bar
Diana – Digestives
Elizabeth – Tinned ravioli
Fiona – Fish fingers
Grace – Grapes
Helen – Tinned pineapple
India – Vegetable curry
Jack – Sage & onion stuffing
Kay – Chocolate cornflake cake
Lottie – Spaghetti hoops
Maria – Jam tart
Nicholas – Cola cubes
Oscar – Tinned peaches
Poppy – Boiled fruit sweets
Rachel – Liquorice comfits
Sophie – Drifter bar
Tim – Evaporated milk
William – Fried onions

My ‘Versatile Blogger’ award

My ‘Versatile Blogger’ award

It was a hard week last week, in some ways, so it was a nice little pick-me-up when I got a Twitter notification, saying that I’d been nominated for the Versatile Blogger award by @cookwithkids1 (whose 5-minute fudge recipe, incidentally, is both on my radar […]

The best place I ever… TRAVELLED BY

The best place I ever… TRAVELLED BY

Cycle Center Parcs, Longleat, Wiltshire, UK The absence of cars (and tutting dog-walkers, some of whom seem to think that cycle paths are for their sole use, even though I’m very careful, I promise) elevates cycling to a whole new level. I’d live like this […]

Pasta al Forno

Pasta al Forno

It’s really easy to convert a yummy pasta sauce into a pasta bake (or al Forno, as they’re usually listed on the menu at pizzerias). I often make double of whatever pasta sauce we’re having and freeze or chill half of the sauce. Then, we have it again a few days or weeks later, reborn as a delicious pasta bake. I’ve even done the same with chilli, too; mixed with cooked pasta and topped with cheese, it makes a lovely, spicy oven-baked pasta dish. In the photo, I’ve used my Pepperoni sauce, with very large pasta shells (which we were given at Christmas; I’ve seen similar in T K Maxx).

 

Serves 4

 

  • Pasta, 400g
  • Cheese, cheddar or similar, 100g, grated
  • Water, 100ml
  • Pasta sauce, or chilli, of your choice – here are the links to recipes that work well:

 

Meat-based:

 

http://www.bloggerbythesea.com/2017/11/21/spaghetti-bolognese/

http://www.bloggerbythesea/com/2018/01/20/pepperoni-pasta/

http://www.bloggerbythesea.com/2017/12/13/chilli-sausage-pot/

http://www.bloggerbythesea.com/2017/10/09/slow-cooker-meatballs/

http://www.bloggerbythesea.com/2017/12/07/beef-chilli/

Veggie:

http://www.bloggerbythesea.com/2017/10/30/lentil-bolognese/

 

  • Cook the pasta as per pack instructions, then drain well.
  • Put the cooked pasta into a large ovenproof baking dish. Add the sauce you have chosen, plus the 100ml water and mix well.
  • Top with the grated cheese, then bake at 180 degrees fan for around 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese topping is golden and bubbling.

 

Serve with salad or vegetables, &/or…

…if you add ciabatta, focaccia, garlic bread &/ chips, it will easily serve 6.

Why I’m worried about UK property prices

Why I’m worried about UK property prices

Ah, property prices. Allegedly a favourite topic of conversation at dinner parties (although I don’t know anyone who either hosts or attends those; these days it’s simply known as ‘dinner’, isn’t it?) Dinner or no, it’s definitely a hot topic. The point of view, though, […]


HIGHLIGHTS

Missing George Michael – can you mourn someone you’ve never met?

Missing George Michael – can you mourn someone you’ve never met?

I recently went to see a George Michael tribute act, and doing so really got me thinking – about the artist we’d lost, and about death in general. More specifically – can we truly mourn someone we’ve never met?

2016 was a vintage year – I can’t remember a year quite like it. Just ten days into the new year we lost David Bowie. A huge loss and a big shock, yet we’d never have imagined then just how many famous folk the Grim Reaper was to cull before December was done. Within 4 days of Bowie’s demise, we’d also lost Alan Rickman (who to me will forever be Severus Snape.)

Over twelve months we said goodbye to Terry Wogan, Harper Lee, Paul Daniels, Ronnie Corbett, Victoria Wood, Prince, Muhammed Ali, Caroline Aherne, Gene Wilder, Pete Burns, Leonard Cohen, Robert Vaughn and Andrew Sachs to name just thirteen.

Four months into the year, news articles were musing on the loss of so many celebrities, yet the year was far from over.

By Boxing Day, when we heard that George Michael had passed away on Christmas Day, we thought surely that must be it. Jokes circulated on social media about locking up David Attenborough, but we didn’t really think we could lose any more. The force was strong, though – we lost Carrie Fisher on 27th, and still Grim wasn’t finished; Carrie was tragically followed by her mother Debbie Reynolds the very next day.

Debbie will forever be remembered as dying of grief, the loss of her daughter simply too much to bear. Which made me think about the frequent news footage of mass outpourings of grief, particularly for David Bowie, Prince and George Michael, whose fans seemed inconsolable. Was this ‘normal’ behaviour, I wondered; why did people feel so keenly the loss of someone they’d never met?

Then the Brits were on. I didn’t even watch them, the TV was tuned to the awards for a few minutes before we switched over to whatever we’d put the TV on for. I came into the room and Andrew Ridgeley, Pepsi and Shirlie were on stage, giving a tribute to their clearly very real friend George Michael, before Chris Martin sang “A Different Corner’. I was transfixed – and felt, for the first time, the stirrings of real emotion.

Something in the power of George’s voice has the power to make me feel very strong and genuine emotion, but I’m not sure why. Is it a quality inherent in the late singer’s voice, or more personal than that? Is it because I grew up with him?

I remembered playing ‘Wham: The Final’ on vinyl, singing along whilst admiring (or rather, drooling over) the glam cover shots of George and Andrew. The album was released in 1986, and I hadn’t even clocked up my first snog by then. Slow-dancing with George, aka ‘every little hungry schoolgirl’s pride and joy’ would have been more than enough for me.

I Googled the word ‘Mourn’, and found that it is described as feeling, or expressing, sadness or sorrow over someone’s death. If it’s as simple as that, then yes I was sorry, and sad, about George Michael’s demise, thus I could be described as mourning him.

It felt a bit of a stretch, though. I mean, I’d never met the guy, I’d never been in the same room as him, I’d not even been to one or his Wham or solo concerts. I was only twelve when the band spilt up, and was yet to go to my first gig. Which, incidentally, turned out to be Bros in 1988 – one of Wham’s successors in the ‘pretty-boy-pop’ category.

That got me thinking, though, about how deeply we feel things as teenagers. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I felt, then, that if I didn’t meet, marry and live happily ever after with Matt Goss, I might as well die. To my eternal embarrassment now, I do – really clearly – remember thinking that (*hangs head in shame*).

Our teenage years are when we grow, when our strongest memories are formed, and arguably, when we feel things the deepest. As yet unencumbered by adult worries such as bills and school catchments, we were free of dilemmas such as Center Parcs or All-Inclusive to Gran Canaria, one child, two, or three? More? None? Pasta for dinner again or pub?

We had the luxury of time, a veritable surplus of it, in fact, to casually squander on being a hormonal layabout, lazing on the bed and trying to work out who ‘Careless Whisper’ might be written for. Time to stare into the unseeing, glossy eyes of our latest poster-boy crush and daydream.

These days, I don’t have the time or grey cells (or perhaps, neither) to remember what I left the room for, let alone to spin endless fantasies about some blond, blue-eyed young gun. No wonder our teenage memories are so many and so clear in comparison.

It wasn’t all rosy then though. Ah, teenage angst. I wouldn’t want to be there again, back when no-one mattered but myself and my adolescent peers, when all I wanted was to fit in, just by being myself, as long as I was prettier, cleverer and wittier than everyone else. Is it any wonder that we found solace in song lyrics and the soulful eyes of the latest pop sensation?

The bottom line is, we can’t help the way that we feel. Music soothes the soul so supremely, and musical preference is probably one of the most personal thing about us, marking us out as individuals. I’ve been married for nearly fifteen years, and Mister and I can still surprise each other with our song choices.

Whether we met them or not, our pop idols in some way smoothed our transition through our teens. They were the harmless objects of our first all-consuming crushes, and spoke to us through their music when we felt like no-one else was listening.

Is it any wonder that we feel so deeply for those we lose, particularly who were such a huge part of our formative years? We may never have been less than hundreds or thousands of miles apart, but we were singing from the same song-sheet. Those that came with every album you bought, way back when. How I miss those, how I mourn their loss in the age of digital downloads.

Polly x