Monday, 9 September 2013

Sweet Potato Falafel...

I have become addicted to Sweet Potato Falafel. They are delicious and they do not only have sweet potato-yummyness in them, but also carrot, chickpea and raisins. I like a good raisin in an semi-savoury dish. You can also have lots of fun with falafel as illustrated below:

Falafel + Bill Clinton Plate = unintentional hilarity. Okay, so slightly intentional positioning of last two falafel.....

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Tokyo 2020!

Well done Tokyo! The capital of Japan won the bid to host the Olympics in 2020 last night and there was footage of elated and ecstatic Japanese citizens awake at 5am (Tokyo time) hugging and embracing and crying.

Years ago on 6th July 2005 when London won the bid for the 2012 Olympics, I was not so ecstatic, but I do remember feeling a sense of quivering excitement. I had lived through various Olympics and seen them on TV, but never in my own home city. I was working in a big bookstore in Central London at the time and we announced the news of the win over a large tannoy system and cheers went up throughout the store. Of course the next day four Islamic extremist terrorists boarded tube trains and a bus and killed 52 people and injured hundreds more with suicide bombs in their backpacks. So any jubilation we might have felt as Londoners was quickly replaced with horror and then deep sorrow (and a fair share of anger).

Seven years later, the Olympic Park, Olympic Stadium and other sporting venues throughout London were finally finished and the Olympics in London began with a bang and a fantastic opening ceremony that truly represented our Sceptred Isles. And what a fantastic two weeks it was and then it was followed by an amazing Paralympics! I will never forget watching some of the events I went to see and walking around the amazing Olympic sites and feeling the energy from the volunteers. One of the most memorable moments was sitting in the main Olympic stadium and cheering with 80 thousand people all at once as David Weir crossed the finish line in first place during the Paralympics. The noise was deafening, like engine of jumbo jet suddenly roaring to life, the heat from the Olympic flame was flickering up towards the stands and people were rising to their feet shouting and clapping in excitement. I went silent with surprise. (I often go quiet when I feel overwhelmed or experience sensory overload) My husband laughed at my shocked face and clapped and cheered. 'Look! Look!' He shouted, 'Look, he's done it! He's done it! He's got the gold!' The city felt positive then, we all felt like winners and nobody felt scared anymore.

People in Japan have had their fare share of sorrow in the last few years what with their flagging economy and the earthquake and subsequent nuclear leak in Fukushima and it would be ridiculous to imagine that hosting the Olympics could erase all the pain and solve all their problems. But I can safely say that for those two weeks when the host city is staging the event, everything feels new and possible and the optimism is infectious. So well done Tokyo, get ready for a cultural adventure!

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Post August Break Day 21: Something Old

The August Break 2013

The photo subject for Day 21 was Something Old.
It was a hard challenge, partly because I have so many old things knocking about my flat. Do I photograph the old typewriter I bought from an antiques shop in South London on an impulsive whim? Do I photograph the fossil in a tiny stone that I brought back from Cornwall after a particularly life-changing holiday when my husband proposed to me atop a small cliff? Or do I photograph my collection of old biscuit tins that said husband despairs of me ever getting rid of? How old should I go? I have an 1883 copy of a collection of Keats' poems and I have a Dr Who annual from 1980. The possibilities are endless!

After some serious consideration, I decided to use an object that also reflects the instrument of the challenge, ie. a camera of some kind. So here it is, my photo for the August Break Day 21 - Something Old (including my rather unwilling model):

This old Kodak camera came from the loft of one of my in-laws. The unwilling model was plied with beer to pose with the object. I enjoyed looking at it because it reminded me of my grandfather who worked for Kodak for most if his life. That is the beauty of an old object. It is infused with meaning and memory and can often make you think or reminisce.

August Break Delayed Response...

So I was doing so well with the August Break challenge and then as usual my day job (University Administrator/Communications Officer/Photographer/Social Media expert/Student Agony Aunt) took over and I lost track of the blogging. I have still been taking the photos this whole time, just not posting them online. The last three weeks have been a flurry of work, coming home and eating dinner and then sleeping to try and recover from the 10 hour days at work. I feel just like that Beatles' song 'Hard Day's Night.' It has been a hard days' night and I have been working 'like a dog.'

But this morning I awoke and realised that although I still a heavy month of massive work ahead of me, the main event of Orientation for my new students is done! The sun was shining this morning and I felt all inspired to do something creative. I ate a crumpet with butter for breakfast, had a cup of coffee and sat down and promptly wrote 8 letters to friends and family (complete with decorative envelopes and washi tape) and then decided to attack the blog!

Blogging and snacks go hand in hand. You can't really spill your random thoughts on to a online journal without having a cup of tea to hand and something yummy to eat (normally something sweet). Today my choice of accompanying snack is: Rose Tea infused all butter shortbread and a coffee with milk in my favourite mug.

So now that I am all caffeinated up, I am going to finish the August Break Challenge! Better late than never...

Here is August Break photo no. 20 - Taste.

I wonder if Susannah Conway, when posing this challenge, accidentally included 'taste' twice or she did it deliberately to get bloggers to think about different ways to interpret the word 'taste.' Unfortunately I only really think of one thing when I read 'taste' and that is FOOD. Lots of food. My favourite food. And all the different tastes available....sweet, salty, savoury, umami...etc.

The last great meal I had that tasted amazing was a traditional English summer pie with a glass of cider. I was having dinner with a friend on the Southbank and we went to the British restaurant Canteen. I have had really good meals in Canteen and some bad ones too, but they do cook a good pie and I can't resist a pie. Even in the heat of summer. So here it is, a photo of a tasty summer pie:

Of course I did get a fair number of funny looks from diners as I whipped out my digital SLR camera and started intensely snapping at my meal, but hey, lots of crazy hipsters photograph their food in restaurants nowadays. The cookbooks in Waterstones bookshops are littered with photos of 'food porn,' so I don't feel that out of the ordinary....