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danouche
danouche
danouche
Monday, December 8th, 2014 07:30 pm

yeah so I'm pretty much gonna hammer lj tonight...

so here's a couple links to things that have realy resonated with me....

1. Why dinner parties are important to me. Spending a day or two sourcing food and cooking, the hosting friends.
http://time.com/42206/how-can-you-make-your-weekends-more-awesome/

2. The Artistic Process
https://www.ted.com/talks/michael_moschen_juggles_rhythm_and_motion#t-2204687

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danouche
danouche
danouche
Monday, December 8th, 2014 07:02 pm

This is probably going to be a pitiful little entry to record what was actually quite a big trip. At the end of October, I flew to Australia to spend two weeks visiting friends. It is unfortunate for me that several of my friends whom I hold close have moved so far away. Some of them have started having children, and with my newly divorced priorities, I thought it would be a good time to head down and see them all.

I know a few more people down there than I ended up being able to see, but I managed to spend quality time with everyone I really needed to. Counting it, that's 13 friends in all. In Sydney I split my time between three couples, and in Melbourne I stayed with one couple the entire week but several of my friends had time off and we had many outings together. What struck me was how for some of them it seemed that no time had passed at all, when in reality it could have been 3 to 5 years. The trip felt like an extension of my current life, rather than an escape. Continuing on from one of my goals for the year, it was 10+ days of doing things I enjoy, with people I care about.

Food and wine is generally a highlight of any trip for me, and this was no exception. Not leastwise because my friends there have very similar interests. Foodwise nothing fancy or terribly expensive, but the Aussie palate prefers freshness and is influenced from all over the world, but especially southeast Asia. There were a few dinner parties as well, which I very much appreciated. As I say, everyone was very welcoming and most had some time off. The coffee is indeed the best in the world, or at least that was my experience. The scene is crazy, places having entire coffee menus, several origins, several preparation methods, attention to detail in the taste, temperature and look of the coffee. Three of us did a trek through Melbourne visiting four of the best cafes. A large group of us also visited a couple wineries in Mornington, and mostly all the wine I had was very much to my taste all of the trip; it's not all big styles anymore. We spent a good afternoon in a brewpub and in general I tried a fair amount of local beer, though much of that was less to my taste. Besides the eating and drinking, events wise there was time on the beach -- very welcome relaxation and connecting with the Pacific -- as well as time in an animal sanctuary checking out all the crazy critters native to their land. Amongst all this, I managed to squeeze in a day of a summit of Australian companies in my industry.

As I said at the beginning, this post does not do justice to all that we did, and the scale of the trip. However, the important point is covered. Mainly that I have some good friends and they are important. That and there are worst places to visit friends than Australia (particularly if you like coffee, food, wine, and crazy animals. And nice beaches.)

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danouche
danouche
danouche
Thursday, October 9th, 2014 08:19 pm

So much I've been meaning to write, but for the moment I just relay that I'm having a 'classic' night in for me....

As the nights start to draw in, I'm in my flat, eating something comforting (baked potato with cheese), chatting to friends online, listening to music, and drinking a lovely and inexpensive red from Minervois.

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Current Location: sofa
Current Mood: content content
Current Music: the national-trouble will find me

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danouche
danouche
danouche
Tuesday, August 26th, 2014 06:03 pm

Very good weekend indeed, a little of everything.

Friday night at the proms to see the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. The Schumann Piano Concerto is a lovely piece. The new works were also both enjoyable in different ways.

Saturday I was up early doors to get all my chores and shopping done. Then a mooch around Camden with a friend, visiting some old haunts, then seeing the London Contemporary Orchestra at the Roundhouse as part of Reverb, curated by Imogen Heap. Very contemporary, mostly quite interesting. My friend had 'never seen anything like that, and may never do again.'

Sunday up early again to start a cook-a-thon. Homemade veal stock, taking all day, to be used in making a demi-glace Monday. Later in the afternoon a friend came to visit and the two of us did a mini crawl of the nice new pubs in my area, then home to a lasagna.

Finally Monday, a lazy morning followed by lots of cooking (will post on danouche_palate) and making of the table nice (polish the big wine glasses, iron a tablecloth), culminating in having a youbg woman over for dinner. Meatloaf was happily a success in taste, texture and presentation. There was also a nice Rioja and lots of talking.

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danouche
danouche
danouche
Thursday, August 21st, 2014 11:16 am

My friend who booked the cottage and I are crossing in terms of lifestyle. Before it was me with the happy marriage and disposable income, going out and buying nice things and generally being care free; he had a child having problems in school causing stress in his relationship, single income feeding the family, and generally all around in more a providing mode.

In the last year or so, he has had a couple very large increases in his pay packet. He works bloody hard, and is now the guy they send in to fix the problem operations. As a result, his lifestyle is changing. He's got a nice car, a Mac at home, buys his meat from a farm shop and takes his wife out to nice meals. His son is also doing better in school and the combination of it all means his marriage feels very secure. I, on the other hand, have not had a change in grade for years and have had three years of frozen pay. On top static pay faced with inflation, I'm divorced and now paying for everything myself. My standard of living has gone down, and at the moment it feels like it will maintain -- at best -- for the foreseeable future.

Let me be clear about something first, we are talking about material things. No one has been in danger of going without a meal or losing a house. It's the fancy stuff on the edges that our consumerist culture tells us we need. As much as I rail against it, I still cannot help but to succumb at times. And I have felt small pangs of jealousy. It's horrible, because it is so unnecessary.

To start with, I am genuinely happy for the guy. Jesus, he deserves it. He's been through a lot and he works hard. As for me, I've got what I need and I'm patently not in competition with anyone. I'm in a completely different situation in a city with no car, providing for no one but myself. I tend to prefer fewer things but higher quality, and I like seeing my friends experiencing what others have to offer. I don't have the need for constant foreign travel to see the world, but I do need to eat and drink well. I have grown accustomed to a certain standard of living, but I also fully appreciate that it is a standard of considerable comfort compared to many. Basically, if my mortgage goes up a half point it means less fine wine, fewer dinners out and less expensive travelling. Priorities.

So what is my point (to myself)? Well 2014 has been a good and busy year. Forcing myself to be out, experience things and see people has given me the opportunity to compare and prioritise.

There is no need for resentment or jealousy. Ugly, base emotions. Particularly towards people I care about and have earnt what they've got, going about it the right way, who have always treated me with respect and kindness. What there is a need for, is a continued focus on what keeps me content. Even in the niceties of living, choices will be made.

So for me, eating/drinking well, in or out. Not the prestige/price of wine, but whether it gives me pleasure (in learning, collecting, sharing). Not whether a restaurant is the place to be seen, but whether the food is interesting, the atmosphere is convivial, and there is passion (rather than profit) behind it all. Putting effort into my own cooking, trying new things, feeding myself well and sharing it with friends. And music. Not the hardest gigs to get to, but performances that stir the soul or mind, with audiences that care. Interspersed with this is getting better at physical activity and putting an effort in to how I look/dress (but not flashy). Last but not least, being with people I care about and bringing out the best in them, not putting others down to make myself feel more important.

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danouche
danouche
danouche
Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 07:56 pm

Just had a very lovely weekend away with friends. Better than expected. Ex's oldest friends and her ex-bf's husband (who's marriage is on the rocks). On my anniversary. Yeah, but it was relaxed and calm. Enjoying the moment. Classic British holiday. Not the best weather, not much to do. There's a lot that can be learnt from not worrying about the next exciting thing and just enjoying where you are and who you're with. The steam train was surprisingly exciting.

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I seem to have moved into a space where I'm no longer dealing with being a divorcé and now dealing with being a single man. In terms of social circles, it is different. And a bit scary / worrying.

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The cooler weather and/or looking at my bank balance is making me feel like getting my hermit on. I've got something interesting already booked for Sept, Oct and Nov, so the whole going out thing may start to fade for a bit.

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Speaking of being out and about moving from the cuckold role, my focus (and maybe social media output) may change going into next year. It was part of the plan already, but it feels right at the moment.

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danouche
danouche
danouche
Thursday, August 7th, 2014 10:16 am

Last night on the way home a dog ran out from between parked cars right under my bike and I went flying over the handlebars. Bruised back/ribs and hip as well as scraped arm/elbow. The hospital is near me so I stopped by A&E on the way home. Apparently they don't x-ray ribs for fractures since there isn't much they can do anyway, so I went home with the advice to take some pain killers and take it easy.

Getting out of bed was a real struggle this morning; bending down, turning my torso, even walking can be an effort. I considered not coming in and I may yet work from home tomorrow, depending on how I feel.

I'm sure I'll be fine, it's just more annoying than anything else. I'm no gymnast, but I have put effort in to being active and nimble, and having such restricted movement is very frustrating. I also have plans over the next week or so, not to mention keeping up with my cycling and Pilates, and this will just put things back.

I know, it could be loads worse. Actually if I let myself think about it too much, it could be very scary. I have had some very nice sentiments sent to me from some of my female friends, reminding me how girls are naturally more caring in these sorts of situations.

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danouche
danouche
danouche
Sunday, July 13th, 2014 06:06 pm

The company did well last year so I had a decent bonus. With what was left over from paying off my debts, I had enough to buy a new suit from this tailor that comes in to the office from time to time.

All the suits are made to measure. I wanted something very plain but with a nice fabric; back to basics. I chose an super 120s Italian fabric made from Australian morino wool in light navy. Three pieces, but all very modest detailing. I love it. It is soft, it drapes well, the jacket has structure (half-canvassed), and the trousers are perfect.

So nice having a new suit, and MTM is a treat. I mean, I always kinda want more suits, so it is good to finally get one. This replaces my previous navy suit which was one my mother gave me from my stepfather who never wore it (and despite being altered, never fit perfectly).

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Current Music: Miles Davis - ESP

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danouche
danouche
danouche
Sunday, July 13th, 2014 05:53 pm

So one of my goals for the year was to get out and do more. I've captured most of the big things up to my trips to Paris and Amsterdam. Here's what I've done in and about London since.

Patience by Gilbert & Sullivan at the King's Head, and old theatre pub in North London, with a gay couple, one of them an old and good friend (of both myself and my ex wife). Small cast, literally in a room in the back of a pub. Very well acted and sung, tiny venue so everything was up close, and a really good time. I don't get to see my friend very often, so it was a good chance to catch up. I also don't get to see enough G&S; I've enjoyed every production I've ever been to.

Skylight at the Wyndham Theatre, starring Carey Mulligan & Bill Nighy. I don't normally splurge on top seats, but with the chance to see Mulligan on stage, I got row K in the stalls. Brilliantly acted by both the leads, and a thought-provoking play (David Hare won the Olivier award when it debuted at the National Theatre in the 90s). I took a date, who appreciated it for very personal reasons, relevant to her. Again, more theatre would be good.

Striking Matches at the Borderline. Booked by a friend who loves this almost unknown band, who has written 6(!) songs for the TV series Nashville. Boy/girl duo with acoustic guitars absolutely killed this great, tiny venue. Sam Palidino (an actor in Nashville) opened, and he is also quite the songwriter. There was a guest appearance by another member of the show for one tune. A great evening. More of the same, please!! You cannot beat one or two people singing with a guitar when they are good. Music in pure form.

Joey Defrancesco at Ronnie Scotts. Another date, she apparently loves the organ and had never been to the icon Ronnie Scotts; as for me, I used to listen to him as a teen. Such mastery, it was crazy to see him live. Yet again, more jazz needed.

Wine dinner at the Jugged Hare with a couple. First wine dinner in a couple years, this one featuring a 1982 Champagne and a 1961 St Emilion. So yeah, that was a rare opportunity.

Daughter at Somerset House with a friend. Always good to see something at Somerset House, definitely part of the summer social calendar. I have not stopped listening to the album all year, so I booked these tickets when they came out, went with the friend who recommended them to me. Great atmosphere as usual, but they band were excellent live. The frontwoman is English and was very self-deprecating, which I enjoyed. I never saw her face, the band being backlit the entire time. They were very clearly in awe of playing their largest headline slot ever. I listened to the album on the way to work the next day and got chills as I remembered them live. I'd have seen them again the next day if I could. Yes yes, more live music!

There has also been my annual pilgrimage to the White Horse for their American Beer Festival and a dinner party at mine, cooking a jerk style roast pork shoulder. And the World Cup, Wimbledon and Glastonbury (on TV).

The summer is going well.

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Current Music: London Grammar

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danouche
danouche
danouche
Sunday, June 15th, 2014 10:07 pm

DIdn't hang any pictures today as planned, but it was a needed day in. Groceries for the week, laundry, cooking, and the afternoon watching the Queens Club tennis final.

I did move things on a bit though. Yesterday I spent the Heals vouchers I got for my birthday last year on bed and bath linen. I'm throwing out the old towels we bought for the house and have replaced them with white Ralph Lauren Polo ones with a little trim that match my bathroom. I had one cheap bottom sheet, stained pillowcase covers, and my duvet cover was ripped. I now have all nice new stuff on my bed, of a quality that I probably wouldn't have spent the money on myself.

I still need a clearout. Not sure how to get rid of stuff, but I don't need all this crap. Admittedly, I like a few nice things, but I don't need lots of everything. Particularly living alone in a one bedroom flat with not much space for entertaining, I think I'd prefer things to just fit.

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You know what else? There's some benefit to living on my own. If I want to watch 2.5 hours of tennis, followed by an hour of youtube, then 3 hours of world cup football.... I can. No problem.

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