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Cultural Concubine Blog

Neither here nor there…

Tag Archives: experience

Fresh, one hour and some scratches later...

Fresh, one hour and some scratches later…

Yes, I know… it has been almost a year. So about time to get back in the saddle.

In the meantime I have been pretty busy.

There are many things to learn in the countryside.

But the most important is simply to live, but more importantly to live simply.
Quite some time ago I wrote with great pleasure about growing up, loving to drink Roosvicee.

Today I made it myself. For free.
(well ok, if you discount the oil used in the AGA, the sugar from the jar and the cost of the water…)
It is nice how the online recipe for Rose hip syrup looks so simple, but isn’t.
It leaves out the experience of one hour or so, picking and cleaning the hips. (if you can find any at all!)
Then to boot, at the bottom of the comments, a reader lamented the poor advice, explaining that temperature and cooking pots had to be significantly different.
(no metal with acid, no boiling vit. C.) Pfff. Fussy.

In a way, the way I made the syrup today shows exactly what I have learnt in the country this year.

It is so important not to leave out the experience and value of actual handy work. (the hour of picking, thorns, fresh air.)
And instead of getting lost in the very exact details (see comments) and ‘have to-s’ you just follow your gut feeling.
Everyone, sing along with me: 
… The cold never bothered me anyway…

Rose syrup done... Fruity and warming. Bring on the zing.

Rose syrup done… Fruity and warming. Bring on the zing.

In the end just I simmered the chopped rose hips in an enamel pan. Strained it once, none of this double filter nonsense… Left it to cool. And have been drinking it all day. Wonderful.

Simple.

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My concoction…

Some people just can’t help but get their hands dirty. As do I.

Instead of just talking about how lovely Elderflower cordial is again, I actually got stuck in and made one.
I was surprised about how easy it was.

We had cut back a long branch off the Elder, so the initiative for this event was mostly due to the lovely scent of the severed flowers.
Picking the small flowers off the corymbs takes a little work, but eventually it is quite satisfying to find yourself surrounded in the sweet smell and your hands covered in pollen. (so this is not for the pollen averse, drinking the home made brew might have the opposite effect though…)

Pity the flowers are only around end May, early June…

For the recipe:

1. you add equal measures of sugar (preferably raw cane) and water (half a cup each ~120gr.) and boil it up to a thick syrup.

Then pour the hot syrup over the plucked flowers (about 1 ounce of flowers ~28gr.) and leave to steep, over night outside of the fridge, or 3 days in the fridge.
Most people add lemon or citric acid at this point, as a preservative and to add some zzing.

Just pour through a fine sieve or piece of cloth and keep in a nice bottle or jug in the fridge.

One table spoon is enough for a large glass…

I just wanted to try mine pure before diluting the flavour… I found the plain stuff on its own or with a slice of lemon most refreshing.

Whether this is really the most powerful potion the druids wrote about, I am not sure.

But it surely works like a tonic on me.
It is always such a pleasure to have a new experience… learn a new skill.

Now all we need is a sunny day so we can drink the brew in the shade.

Summer and a slice of lemon, do we need anything more?

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Riddled and wrinkled...

When I visited Jackson Hole, Wyoming I got these incredible second hand cowboy boots. (or Western boots – depending on where you come from)

They are an authentic pair, originally hand made in the US of A.

Apart from the fact they are the most comfortable thing in the world, I must add they truly are the toughest pair of footwear I have ever encountered.
They carried me through African camel rides, horse trails through the American outback, New England snow storms and now Dutch autumns. And that is only after I got them!

The best thing about them is that their exterior leaves nothing to the imagination. They are just what they are. Wrinkled and riddled through actual life and experience, authentic, proven and tough as old boots…

This is why I found it so strange to meet people in Newport who choose to erase this kind of experience from their own faces.

Yee-haw!

Could you imagine to live without your own authentic face…
What would you have left?

(PS Actually my boots might not be as tough as they look anymore. Last week I bought some sheep skin boot liners, so now when I wear them it feels like puppies are licking my soul/soles!)

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Annabel's famous painting collection

Annabel’s is for everyone… was the quote I got from my flat mates regarding the music type of this club.

Little did I know…
Until one unfortunate and late night when one of my friends invited me along.
Quite honestly I can’t remember much of that night, apart from going down the stairs into a basement, seeing a dance floor that was lit up with hundreds of tiny lights and the fact that the staff kept telling us off for having glasses on the dance floor.

Indeed the music was ‘for everyone’ and very easy to get swinging, while the rest of the guests were polite and mostly let me alone.

It took me a second visit to actually learn more of this club.
There are some lovely comfy corners (with brilliant paintings of whippets) when you come in, with the dining room/dance floor in the back.
What I didn’t remember from my first visit, I could now see very clearly…
The room was filled with a strange variety of business men, or at least their tailored suits wanted me to think so, while the female attendance varied from well but scantily dressed ladies from Russia, China and any other origin you can imagine.

(regretfully I never made pictures of these people, but I guess you know what to expect)

Colourful like the locals...

The ladies’ powder room was quite an experience for a provincial simpleton like me.
Never had I seen women in such expensive, but somehow tasteless dress…
The more experienced amongst you probably already know where I am going with this: Most of the ladies were there on a professional basis.

Somehow this makes going to Annabel’s quite an experience.
The slightly Gauche people, mixed with celebrities and high rollers, makes for great entertainment.
As long as you do not stand and stare too long at the bizarre combination of couples…
The elderly gnome like with the obviously bored looking Natasha is enough to make any sense of party disappear.

So I guess my first experience is the best way to enjoy Annabel’s.
Just put yourself on the dance floor, marvel of the women who dance like they are on TV (ie not like no one’s watching) and groove the night away.

I will miss this particularly odd gem of London society…
But I will take the lesson of this dark underground with me on my travels.

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Queen Anne's Alcove

Yesterday was the first day it was light enough for me to go running after work again.
So I made my round through Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, along the Palace and the Serpentine and  up to my favourite building in the park:

Queen Anne’s Alcove.

The proportions are truly lovely, it is classical yet elegant.
And with the high wooden paneling it almost becomes like a comfy chair. It is nearly impossible not to resist sitting down in its arch, take up your book and lean back.

Crowded gardens...

In its present location it suffers a bit from its surroundings, while also benefitting…
Firstly it is stuck behind a large Victorian confection (pump house for the Italian Fountain Garden) and then there is an enormous high rise office block that looms over it behind it.
Quite a pity for such a pretty and elegant design of 1705 by Christopher Wren… Originally this building was located to the south of Kensington Palace. With the present plans to change the entrance to the Palace they might consider putting it back… But then again, it would lose its marvelous views.

The view...

On weekend runs I always have a little break and sit down to listen to the water and look at the people milling round the fountains. There are children who are trying to pet the Swans (while the parents are not aware of the danger and smilingly take pictures) and I saved a Labrador once from the handsomely shaped deep ponds. Only when I dragged him out by the collar, did I find out he had only 3 legs…

Anyway I digress… I am wondering if the States will have an equivalent elegant surrounding to run and relax in. Everywhere in London there are little sites, buildings, arches and funny architecture to entertain and surprise you.  They date back from Tudor times, the elegant Regency or over the top Victoriana. (There you go Albert!) It is all these things that makes London such an inspiring place to be.

My original home town of Amsterdam also had a similar scenery, even if we called the eras differently and made everything out of bricks…

I wonder what awaits me in the States…

Same proportions...

So far I have seen very green and pretty areas of Cambridge and Boston. Including the impressive Mount Auburn Cemetery.

But what about the living and daily life?
I bet you wont see many children playing around here…

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London's fleet

The first and main thing I will really miss from London are… The cabbies.

Even if it took me a while to get to grips with their accent, I really will miss the chatty and knowledgable lads.

Trips would range from private historical tours and facts of London (did you know all of Nelson’s fleet is assembled on all of the lanterns between Buckingham palace and Trafalgar Square?) to occasional pesky requests for my phone number…

Nelson's fleet on the Mall

But still I really cant imagine living in a city without the occasional friendly chats and the feeling you know where you’re going…

Cheers, I will miss you and your London lads…

F.

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