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Who's gonna drive you home - shadows of echoes of memories of songs
j4
j4
Who's gonna drive you home
Sorry I didn't make it to s's party. Feeling too anti-social for partying, and far too tired to sacrifice all Saturday night's sleep.

Decided to go and visit my parents instead. It's a 2-hour drive, nearly all A14 and M1, first time I'd driven that far on my own (and first time I'd done motorways on my own). I didn't get lost, I didn't do anything stupid, and I did get a chance to listen to lots of tapes (The Shamen, "Boss Drum"; Alisha's Attic, "Alisha Rules the World"; Mary Chapin Carpenter, "A Place in the World"; Kate Bush, "The Kick Inside").

As always, I felt my spirits start to lift a little as the landscape started developing contours. Cambridge's flatness really does depress me; I need mountains in my life! In the meantime, though, even the rolling Wolds country helped a little bit, especially with the setting sun pouring red-golden light over the fields and hills.

My parents fed me nice food (tuna steaks marinaded in lime & ginger, with new potatoes, asparagus and broccoli) and lots of wine. We watched "Who Wants to be a Millionaire", and bits of the Old Grey Whistle Test on DVD; and we talked, and generally just relaxed. I got plenty of sleep, and then spent Sunday sorting out Stuff in my room. Sifted through heaps of paper and threw out loads of rubbish: council tax bills from rented house in Oxford; letters about fire extinguishers in College; heaps of random crap from St Aldate's, etc. Also put aside piles of books to go to charity shops.

Most of the stuff I've got rid of was Oxford-related -- papers from my time as a student, or books that I bought because I thought they'd come in useful some time while I was studying English. Somehow I feel as though I don't need to hang on to it all any more. I'm still hoping to go back Oxford in the not-too-distant future, but if I do it'll be on different terms, for different reasons. It won't be to reclaim the opportunities I missed as a student, but to start a new chapter of my life.

Current Mood: quietish

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sion_a From: sion_a Date: March 8th, 2004 05:35 am (UTC) (Link)
A14 and M1

Recognise any of these?
j4 From: j4 Date: March 8th, 2004 05:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Hah! Yes. Though the account on that page doesn't really do justice to the whole "oh shit, it's a roundabout... no it's not, it's a... um, so I turn left here... oh, hang on, turn right... what the fuck?" shenanigans.

Wonder if hoiho's enjoying this one. Looks almost as much fun as the Girton interchange.
bellinghman From: bellinghman Date: March 8th, 2004 08:50 am (UTC) (Link)
As always, I felt my spirits start to lift a little as the landscape started developing contours. Cambridge's flatness really does depress me; I need mountains in my life!

I know what you mean. I grew up in north Bucks, where there aren't any mountains, or even large hills, but where the landscape goes up and down all the time. (It's where the Thames and the Great Ouse both have sources.) At least here on the Cambs border at Royston, we've got some decent ups and downs behind us - you can supposedly see Ely Cathedral on a clear day from the top of the Heath.

But it did feel weird coming back from the week in Switzerland to suddenly not see snow-covered peaks any more.
vinaigrettegirl From: vinaigrettegirl Date: March 9th, 2004 03:43 am (UTC) (Link)

Go mountains

Quite right. Girls With Altitude. Mountains, or even hills, are necessary for sanity. I gather that there are some gentle sloping valleys in Suffolk which give one the sense of not living on the Great Hungarian Plains, but Cambridgeshire...

May I ask you a cake question either here or at your e-mail address? It's doubtless a no-brainer to a Cake Guru but I am a novice seeking enlightenment. Which I realise is true in several senses. Oh, deeur.
j4 From: j4 Date: March 9th, 2004 04:13 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Go mountains

Suffolk isn't too bad; on the other hand it seems a bit pointless to go to Suffolk for sloping valleys when it'd only take four hours or so to get to the Peak District. Or, of course, an hour and a half to fly from Stansted to Geneva ... would it be silly to go to Switzerland just for a weekend?

As for cakes, ask away (either here or on email, whatever's easiest) but I can't promise I'll know the answer!
vinaigrettegirl From: vinaigrettegirl Date: March 9th, 2004 04:28 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Go mountains

Switzerland... well, if you can afford it and like it, then why not? I haven't been; everything I have ever heard about it makes me think that if I were honest I would find it insufferable. On the other hand, I would like to know more about why my grandmother and her father and mother did like it.

Does the idea or experience of Switzerland appeal to you? V curious and a genuine question.

Re cake: I tried to make a butter + egg sponge. It came out rather creamy in taste, holey in texture, and rose high in the middle of each tin. I confess to adding more milk than the recipe called for, because I simply didn't believe that I would get a cake batter as I knew them out of the mix of butter, sugar, egg yolk and flour which I had creamed together. I didn't over-beat the egg whites, and I thought I was using tins of the correct size but now am not 100% sure...

comments...? It tasted OK, more or less, but wasn't really the ticket, especially with the Swiss cheese effect!

thanks!

j4 From: j4 Date: March 9th, 2004 05:21 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Go mountains

Does the idea or experience of Switzerland appeal to you? V curious and a genuine question.

The experience -- I've been there lots of times before. (My maternal grandmother is Swiss & owns a chalet up in the mountains, which usually helps from a 'where to stay' point of view ... but that's a bit far for a weekend, since it takes a fair few hours to get there from Geneva.)

I love the landscape passionately; the first time I saw the mountains I honestly felt like I was coming home. I'm sure I could bore you half to death with rambling about the mist rising from the pines, or the last scraps of sunlight glowing golden on snow-capped peaks; or the tiny paths between chalets in the old-style villages, all dark wood and crazy angles; or the mountain paths with cool shade and rippling streams alongside them...

Having said that, I'm not sure I'd want to live in the areas I like to look at. The mountain villages are still very, very traditional -- national flag and canton flag on every house, no hanging washing out on the Sabbath, that sort of thing. If I was going to live in Switzerland I'd want to live somewhere a wee bit more cosmopolitan -- though definitely not Geneva, ugly great soulless pile of banks that it is.

Montreux would suit me nicely, I think -- plenty of culture, fairly lively but not too big, on the side of the lake, within sight of mountains, easy enough to get from there to other places. (To be honest, though, I've yet to find somewhere in Switzerland that isn't well-connected by public transport ... I know it's a terrible cliché to go into rhapsodies about Swiss public transport, but honestly, I've never yet found it lacking. Maybe I've just been lucky.)

Re cake: no idea, I'm afraid. The sponge cake recipe I always use is this one, which doesn't use any milk or butter, so I haven't a clue whether too-much-milk would produce the effect you describe.

I would say that having the right size tins or not shouldn't make any difference, though; I've done the recipe above in everything from muffin-trays (for fairy cakes) to an 11" square cake tin, multiplying quantities as necessary, and the only thing that changes is the cooking time (which I just regard as 'cook till done' anyway)!

Um, sorry I can't be more help on the cake front.
vinaigrettegirl From: vinaigrettegirl Date: March 9th, 2004 07:19 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Go mountains

Ah, now I get it. It's easy to visualise the landscapes you describe, at least, roughly: they sound similar to the Tatras and to the mountains at the current Czech-Polish border. But having family connections undoubtedly give you a very different take on Swiss culture; my experience of the Swiss doesn't let me generalise validly and otherwise I know some traveller's tales from various sources, and some easily-acquired history of beta-query-plus quality.

I had a friend in Berne who was visited by the police one Saturday morning because whilst washing his car he had permitted excess water and soapsuds to flow down the gutter and another car had splashed its mudguard as a consequence - and the driver had reported it. But that was Berne. I am sure there are many stories involving camaraderie and conviviality which just don't make it to the ears of outsiders!

Sounds to me like Switzerland for a weekend would do you a lot of good - now that you're earning could you manage it and still put other money into the long-term stuff (like the debt reduction which was eating you up last autumn) which you also value? Nothing like mountains to get rid of stale air in the heid. :-)

I actually looked up your sponge cake recipe but didn't dare to turn it into a marble cake, as I had no confidence in stabilising sth so reliant on egg alone. O me of little faith! :-)

There's always next year.
j4 From: j4 Date: March 9th, 2004 07:41 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Go mountains

my experience of the Swiss doesn't let me generalise validly

Oh, nor does mine. Particularly since I've stayed mostly with family/friends while I've been over there, which is always Different.

Also, different areas of Switzerland seem to vary wildly -- there's virtually nothing in common between the little mountain villages and the big cities -- and that's only what I've seen in the Swiss-French areas, I don't really have any knowledge of the rest of the country!

Could possibly manage a weekend over there financially, but the main problem is that I don't want to go on my own, and I don't really have anybody to go with at the moment. Mountains would help, but even mountains are better shared.

Sponge cake -- not sure what you mean by a marble cake -- just sponge cake but marbled choc/plain? If so, make two lots of cake-mix, one plain and one chocolate (the only difference is substituting cocoa for cornflour) and swirl (I would say 'fold' but I have no idea how to 'fold' properly, 'swirl' is more like what I do!) them together into the cake tin. Bake as normal.

You could even divide your (plain) cake-mix into several parts and add different food colouring to each one, and thus make a rainbow marble cake...
d_floorlandmine From: d_floorlandmine Date: March 9th, 2004 07:19 am (UTC) (Link)
Does reddragdiva know everyone I've ever met? [grin] Hello there! How the devil are you?

And a fine choice of music, as well - 75% crossover with my collection ...
j4 From: j4 Date: March 9th, 2004 07:54 am (UTC) (Link)
I get the impression that RDD knows everyone, for mostly fairly high values of "knows". ;-)

(Hello there yourself! Will now go and read your LJ...)
d_floorlandmine From: d_floorlandmine Date: March 9th, 2004 08:17 am (UTC) (Link)
for mostly fairly high values of "knows"

[grin] And I wasn't going to pry that far ...

Louise is also on LJ as well - littleangel_103 ...
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