One of the minor problems of Layfe at the moment is the collision between two important factors: the Two Nice Girls’ vegetable collection, cheap, nourishing, local, fresh, etc., and on the other hand, the general boost to one’s spirits, morale and so forth induced by the Asian Home Gourmet and sundry suchlike packages from the (Straits Chinese) local oriental supermarket. Hence, looking back a blog or three, the Spud Problem. I await correction from Godmama, but to be honest, I can’t see a natural interface between curry laksa and parsnips. Carrots, yes. But I scored a bit of a triumph this evening: a splendid, inky-looking Indonesian black pepper sauce, which I had some of the other day with some pork stirfry strips, didn’t half perk up some beetroot when I used up the other half of the packet. It also looked rather good in a sinister sort of a way.
We had the most beautiful Day Out yesterday. Off to Cromarty with a friend: some warmth in the sun but along with that, a pellucid light like North Norway, water and sky clear as crystal, sky bright, bright, blue. The sort of winter day with a hint of spring which reminds you why there are compensations for not just moving to the tropics and staying there. We stopped at Aberlour to meet up with friend and get a picnic from the deli. Since Miss Dog had by then had an hour in the car, we thought she had better run up and down a bit. Let her off her lead on the walk along the Spey, whereupon, being a labrador, she went in. But she is, unlike Miss Best Friend or the previous Miss Dog, not a swimmer. She likes to paddle and get muddy. The Spey is fast (more than walking speed, I’d say 5-6 mph) and it was absolutely freezing cold — too fast to freeze, of course — and it goes straight down, without a shallows, to a depth of about two and a half feet. So with intention to paddle, she went headfirst into this fast, freezing cold river, and scrambled out again as fast as she could manage — the expression of disgust and outrage on her face was a sight to see. But after a refreshing zizz in the car, she cheered up again at Cromarty. The light, a delicate silvery gold, sky delphinium blue, the pretty little town, viewed from the vantage point of a long walk along the shore then up onto a ridge which overlooked it, harmonious, with its eclectic buildings, crowstep gables, wood siding, rosy sandstone, painted corrugated iron. We went of course to see the Queen of antique dealers, fended off the offer of a bottle of Veuve Cliquot, and accepted strong tea. She has been adding to a locally available range of mugs, expressing on the whole wholesome sentiments (’I'd rather be bagging a Mundro’) in decent Roman capitals, some lines expressive of her general philosophy: ‘Carpe Diem’. ‘If not now, when?’ ‘Will show knickers for chocolate’. We had a terrific afternoon and Miss Dog was as good as gold. Then we went home through a strangely beautiful twilight, because it was full moon. We ended up at one point pulling in and turning the car lights out so as to appreciate the greenish-blue sky, the black silhouettes of the pines, and the great silver disc of the moon. So Kaspar David Friedrich it was eerie.