Monday, 24 September 2012

High Tide05:20 (2.30m)
Low Tide11:54 (0.90m)
High Tide18:47 (2.30m)
Sea temperature: not taken - too rough to hold on to the thermometer
Sea conditions: ROUGH
Weather: Weird post-storm warmth
Joined by: Mertz (Sara and The Poet joined again yesterday)
Topics of conversation:
The storm - it had started in the afternoon with "lashing", as DK now calls all rain, even drizzle. This was not drizzle, it was stair-rod rain accompanied by winds from the north. We'd been down to the beach at about 5 and the sea was the roughest I've seen for a long time, currents coming from all directions and the waves crashing over the harbour wall as the tide rose. The new wall on the north side is finished and gives a sense of security but also seems to visually amplify the high water as the edge is now so straight and clean. A couple had come down to see if they could surf, but the water was too lively and the wind too strong to lift their boards, so they were just throwing themselves into the water and rolling back. By the time it was dark trees has started shedding smaller branches and this morning the roads in the village are littered with twigs. It's really hard to tell how safe the water is from the shore as we can't gauge the height of the waves or the current properly. The Pirate sent Mertz in to test the water (rather than trusting him to tell us if it's safe we've found it's easier to just watch). As soon as he'd lifted his feet for a moment he was 100 yards down the beach and under water, so The Pirate and I stayed out whilst DK bobbed in the shallows. I'm particularly aware of the Undertoad at this time of year.
Deceptively calm looking

The storm had eroded the beach
Further up the beach we could see a large black shape, which had been washed ashore so went to investigate, it was a decent sized lump of sea peat, with all kind of 'matter' encased in it. At least it's unlikely to float down to the swimming area. Usually it breaks up and I've read that it's popular with anglers for keeping lugworms in as fishing bait, so perhaps they will come and help themselves.
Sea peat pretending to be a seal

DK's buptidoo - he'd been out in the storm last night to retrieve Mabes, who was shouting at the hedgehog again and forgotten that they have foundations for their kitchen extension dug but not covered... luckily he's fine.
Jackpot - we'd seen it last night and as the cast are nearly all in Lilyhamer I thought DK and Legs might enjoy it but Mertz reminded me that I have a sick sense of humour and that not everyone finds nail guns in the forehead and bodies being recycled into Christmas trees amusing. 

Friday, 21 September 2012

High Tide02:26 (2.50m)
Low Tide08:27 (0.70m)
High Tide14:48 (2.60m)
Low Tide20:57 (0.80m)
Sea temperature: not taken 
Sea conditions: Still calm, it can't stay like this for long...
Weather: warmer, less of a breeze but no sun.
Joined by: no one
Topics of conversation:
The sky - and no, I didn't get pictures as my phone was at home, but it was stunning. East Anglian mountains out to sea and the most wonderful blue glow and that sand was peach coloured.
Mabel's starring rollMabel has a new career in film, DK is making another short for his website with a local girl singing one of his songs "Christmas Every Day" and Mabel is the real star. I was concerned about her welfare, but apparently Mabes did well - Legs mailed me to reassure me: "She did extremely well, having never acted before. Stayed on Olivia's lap while she sang (Livy, not Mabes), even kissed her. Mind you, we are all covered in honey and bacon grease now and needs baths but still. She's now in her winnebago recuperating." The bacon grease was a crucial incentive, not part of the plot.
When will The Poet and Sara return? They are back from their family holiday in Wales but we all know how hard it is to take a break at this time of year and then come back. Hoping to see them at the weekend.
Hedgehogs - The Vicar's Wife has a nest of baby ones in her garden and yesterday evening one made a foray into the neighbour's garden, i.e. Mabel's domain, and she was not best pleased. She shouted at the intruder for 20 minutes and DK was very concerned that this might become a regular occurrence if the small spiny creature decides to move permanently. I want a hedgehog. I've wanted one since we moved. We had one at our old house and never has slug problems. DK promised that if it's big enough I could re-home it, but I've since seen The Vicar's Wife and she doesn't think they are old enough to leave home yet, but she's promised me that she'll take care of the family till they fledge and then I can see if I can persuade the rest of the household to let it move in. We don't all have the same feelings about critters here, especially not the four legged friends or my Mother's handyman, who is a strimming fanatic and regularly massacres areas of wildlife which have been left to grow, so it won't be easy, but I'm nothing if not tenacious.
To The Town - my very dear friend Stephen Wolfenden (Wolfie) is launching a new book today. He has taken affectionate and historic photographic records of Southwold over the last 20 years and this is the third of his beautiful books. I'm really looking forward to seeing him and his wife Anna this evening as it's the first time I've seen them together since they got married, a year to the day since they met on a blind date. Congratulations, on all fronts, are in order!

We also discussed the Salman Rushdie programme at length and The Pirate's informed views on The Satanic Verses, but as I am not informed, nor clear on the fatwa rules I'm not writing about that.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

High Tide01:44 (2.60m)
Low Tide07:43 (0.70m)
High Tide13:59 (2.70m)
Low Tide20:14 (0.60m)
Sea temperature: 15.6
Sea conditions: even lower tide, calm 
Weather: still cold, in fact much colder out than in
Joined by: No-one
Topics of conversation:
bare footprints
Running barefoot - I'd never done this before, I don't know why, but this morning as I came over the dunes by the marsh on my way back to the beach the sand strip was fully exposed so I took of my trainers and ran the rest of the way barefoot. It was almost a spiritual experience. I'll try again tomorrow but this time just run as far as I can along the sand southwards and back again.
The tides are a constant source of confusion for us and we have only just worked out that our tables are all based on Southwold and that we are behind by some time. I confirmed this with a friend this evening, she rides on the beach a lot and says she's often caught out by following the table. The one copied above is therefore wrong, but I'm sticking with it as a record.
Mabel's desire to play and run with the others in the morning is curtailed by her refusal to return when called so we are going to have a go at coming down earlier on Saturday and giving her a run with my dogs and me after we swim, I write this by way of a reminder to DK and I...Legs is notifying coast guard, RSPCA and Air Ambulance.
The fast - The Pirate and I are both on a food day today so we were very excited. We'd both tried eating the majority of our calories at lunchtime yesterday and so I'd gone to bed last night with hunger pangs, having had my 82 calorie miso soup for supper. I know it's said that you always want what you can't have but going without got to my subconscious last night as a friend had shared a photo of a sumptuous hot dog with all the scandinavian trimmings yesterday and I dreamed of ‘pølse’ all night. Delicious dreaming...
Lillyhammer - DK and Legs are loving it, she's trying to find a way of getting it over to her Pa in the States as he'd love it too. I've not seen this week's episode, it's tonight's viewing, but we discussed the production and Steve Van Zandt's involvement. I have been reading about Steve Van Zandt's musical career and I'd assumed DK knew all about it. He's a musical legend, (Van Zandt that is, although DK is also of course) but what I didn't know was that he was responsible for Artists United Against Apartheid
How we got on to The Pirate's teacher's dresses I cannot remember - he told us about her ability to control a class of 13 year old boys despite wearing not only a different dress every day, but also a different wig, and not just slightly different. Apparently she would be blonde one day and brunette the next. Maybe that's what I should be suggesting to the teachers I work with who find classroom management an inaccessible a dark art.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

High Tide01:04 (2.60m)
Low Tide07:01 (0.70m)
High Tide13:15 (2.80m)
Low Tide19:34 (0.50m
Sea Temperature: 15.8
Sea conditions: Very low tide and calm
Weather: sunny but REALLY cold - 6 degrees - the wind was bitter 
Joined by: No-one
East Anglian Mountains in the background

Topics of conversation:
Our attire - DK told me I was mad to be standing on the beach in just my costume and towel when he arrived (what he didn't know was that I had just been running along the beach in my costume with no towel) and he was in second layers, including a proper wooly jumper type thing. As The Pirate hadn't arrived we speculated, even placed bets as we do when we guess the water temperature, as to what he'd be wearing. I won - he's still in his dressing gown but after our walk home again I suspect he'll be digging out the track suit. The wind was blowing his gown as he arrived and we joked about his posing on the brow of the dunes with his chest out like Magnum PI, he said all he needed was a medallion. Should have got a shot of that... damn.
All in all The Pirate was on flying form, whether this was due to his recent cleansing lurgie or the new food regime wasn't clear (to him or us). He certainly looks well and this morning he RAN into the sea! We are all intrigued by the ADF (alternate day fasting) diet. The Pirate and The Pirate's Wife are experimenting with this hardcore technique, as seen in the recent Horizon Programme "Eat, Fast, Live Longer" and I'm attempting a softer approach, which involves 2 days a week of restricted eating. The theory being, broadly speaking, that your body goes into repair mode if it thinks it's not going to be fed regularly, more importantly so does your brain and it starts to reform connections once lost. The research is fascinating but of course the biggest down side (other than not eating very much on the fast days) is that we will probably never know if it's doing us any good. It's also having an interesting effect on the way we see food, Even though I'm eating much less during the week I'm back into cooking in a major way. I'm also delighted to discover that the sweetcorn, grown from seeds smuggled out of the US (I couldn't possibly tell you who by) is not only the best corn I've ever grown, but is only 85 calories for the biggest cobs - I could eat 6.
Peaches and cream corn just harvested
The Pirate's No.1 son is having a field day with calorie calculations and has a new game involving working out the best use of between 500 and 600 calories a day, so far we agreed that 50 pontefract cakes is the most bizarre. This one has legs though.
Talking of legs I have discovered that the secret to life, the universe and everything is squats. I finally plucked up the courage to ask Legs where she gets hers and she looked at me as if I was quite dense and said "50 squats a day.." So now I know. It still doesn't explain why hers start under her armpits though.
Jo's drama - I had this message from her last night, so now we know the full story: Thanks for this morning's support, I have now worked out by what and why I was bibbed and shouted at.....There must have been someone in a vehicle behind me and when I hesitated too long at the junction before crossing to dirt road, he (it has to be a he) probably nearly went into and up my exhaust PIPE! Why anyone would actually hoot at someone in this sleepy village at 7.15am on a road the leads nowhere is a mystery.
The Hawaiian war chant was sung on the beach this morning! As it was just the three of us for the first time in months DK treated us to a rendition and I realised that is not just the words and his delivery that make me crack up, it's the thought of the three little Catholic boys on stage with their leis that does it. When he sings it now he looks about 12.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

High Tide00:26 (2.60m)
Low Tide06:20 (0.70m)
High Tide12:32 (2.80m)
Low Tide18:54 (0.40m)
Sea temperature: not taken and some dispute between DK and I about whether it was warmer or colder than yesterday, I certainly felt it was warmer yet he felt the opposite.
Sea conditions: ripply waves
Weather: Sunny but with a very cool breeze.
Joined by: Jo and Mertz
Topics and conversation:
Had Mertz been fired? DK and John were surprised to see him this morning, it being a Tuesday. Normally he's gone back to his office by now and it's totally thrown us all, especially me. As this village has  an older population than most it led to various anecdotes about how the hell people cope when they retire and find themselves in the same house ("a wife/husband's for life, but not for lunch" being one friend's mantra). DK has always worked from home, since he stopped touring, so it wasn't an adjustment they had to make. I can't see me ever adjusting as we are so used to being apart.
Are we all better? - I had swum alone yesterday as I had an early start teaching in deepest mid-suffolk but today we were together again and all seem to be 100%, except The Shaman. I'd swum for ages, loosing track of time without the others, and only got out when I saw her on the beach. She's just back from Nepal, where she's been learning all kinds of wonderful paint and gilding techniques, but she has returned with the dreaded Katmandu chest. We were due to work together today but I'm not sure she'll be well enough, she's almost see through.
Jo's morning drama - she arrived late as she'd been blinded by the sun driving down the street and as she turned into the car park she been hooted at and this had upset her concentration, leading her to drive into the bollards. She was shaken yet retained her sense of humour, asking if someone could go and see if she'd left a body on the road "I don't think I hit a person as there wasn't a dull thud" she said reassuringly - she clearly knows the signs. She was shaky but determined to swim and had a quick dip. I'm amazed and awed by her on a daily basis, she's got 30 years on me and yet has the energy and enthusiasm (as well and the style) of a twenty year old, despite having been really rather unwell over the last year. The only thing she doesn't have is spare flesh to keep her warm and this caused some squealing this maybe it is colder.
Sadly DK's No. 1 Son didn't get the job on the West End musical, but the MD was VERY complimentary, he needed someone with experience at that level but said that if they were taking it on tour he'd have been the man. Maybe they will one day. As always DK was very philosophical about it, I hope No. 1 son will be too. At least it means he's free to get on with his own music. 
Whilst this was not on the topic list today I realised that I didn't print my exclusive, which I gained access to by sneaky means. Last week a friend and I went on a pub crawl on our bikes (she said she wanted to get fit - hence the bike part of the evening - not sure the 3 pints of cider helped) and we ended up at The Anchor at the end of the evening, where DK and legs were propping up a table. I don't know how we got onto the subject of Hawaiian war chants but we did, and as a result my side ached for 2 days. I print below, with permission, the words he sang in the pub that night with their context by way of an excerpt from the draft autobiography. Legs even joined in gamely, only to be corrected by DK "It's not ah-too-ala-ho! It's ah-too-ala ah!!" but she got the last line right. One day I'll get him to do a sound file for me...

CHAPTER  9    “The Singing Group That Sizzles!”

When we weren’t on the road doing summer seasons, Variety tours, concerts or TV appearances, The King Brothers could usually be found at home in Essex rehearsing new material in our parents’ front room. Prior to our first recording contract, we chose our repertoire ourselves, usually standards and current hits like “Rock Around the Clock” but also the odd novelty song like “The Hawaiian War Chant”, which in fact none of us now remember choosing, or at least will own up to it. It began like this:
Ta ah-too-ala ah-too-ala ah-waheela
Ah-oo—wana-la ah-pee-lee-co ah-loo-ala
Ta ah-too-ala ah ah ah-too-ala ana-la po-wee-a
Ooo! Ooo! Ooo!
...and continued in much the same vein.
We had no idea what we were singing about and having just Googled the song, it appears we might have been singing the wrong lyrics anyway, but the audience at the Sheffield Empire certainly never noticed and according to the local paper “went berserk” when we launched into it, especially when we donned crepe paper leis for the second chorus. I might run through the number for Michael Palin one day just to see his reaction, he’s from Sheffield.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Low Tide04:56 (0.80m)
High Tide11:11 (2.70m)
Low Tide17:31 (0.50m)
High Tide23:49 (2.50m)
Sea temperature: 16.8
Sea conditions: Calm
Weather: autumnal
Joined by: Jo and Mertz
Topics of conversation:
The poorly Pirate - he's not been well at all, a couple of days ago he came for a swim and really didn't look right and by the time we got back to his house he was even worse. Later in the day The Pirate's Wife rang to say he'd been in bed most of the day - most unlike him - and had finally gone to the surgery, where he'd been diagnosed with a nasty stomach virus. We'd been teasing him about the excessive marrow diet and it came back to bite us on the arse as this morning Jo, DK and I were all feeling 'crook' although that may not have had anything to do with the poorly Pirate. (DK had been experimenting with a recipe I'd given him, so I hope that had nothing to do with his malaise either...) Get well soon everyone.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Low Tide02:51 (1.10m)
High Tide09:06 (2.40m)
Low Tide15:21 (0.80m)
High Tide22:03 (2.30m
Sea temperature: 17.4 yesterday
Sea conditions: rolling calm, a bit tricky at the water's edge
Weather: chilly but sunny 
Joined by: Jo, Sara and The Poet
Topics of conversation:
The weather - we are making the most of it in our various ways. I've taken to getting up early and going for a run through the marsh (which is much more practical now that I can change in the swimmers' hut) so that I can watch the sun rise and get back to term time fitness. This morning I was struck, as I passed Sara and The Poet's house, by their view - but didn't want to stop there to take a picture in case they saw me - so I took a few a further down. They're a bit shaky, but I was supposed to be running...

Mabel - she's been a bit sniffy about coming back when she's called recently (actually that's quite an understatement) and DK and Legs are going to take their life in their hands this evening and let her off the lead on the beach, I had an email from Legs earlier today warning me that I might never see the three of them again - we're all on standby...
The new academic year - which brings challenges for quite a few of us on the beach this morning. The Pirate has just marked the last papers for a course which is closing down and he said it felt most peculiar after such a time, Sara and The Poet have assignments, which will be consuming them over the coming months and I'm currently teaching GCSE maths for the first time and loving it. Today we addressed stratified random sampling, rounding to significant figures, means/median/modes and looked at geometry in nature. My student is a geometry fiend and likes to spend time on intricate drawings like this.
She's also making lovely music at the moment so I gave her a subscription to NME for her birthday this weekend and made her a cheeky card. 

Marrows/courgettes - The Pirate has a glut and has been asking No. 1 Son and his girlfriend to do imaginative things with them (them being professional chefs and all) so we pitched in with recipes, suggestions and comments. Having heard that last night the family dined on marrow soup, followed by stuffed marrow The Poet, in his usual droll fashion, told The Pirate that he was being very marrow minded about it. My Mother sent me some recipes for him, but as he is "not technically literate" his words not mine, he wasn't able to open them so here they are, along with a link to this marrow curry, which I haven't tried (hey, not all of us like marrow or even see the point of using part of the allotment to grown them) but I trust the cook: Traditional marrow curry recipe

Mother's Marrow and Ginger Jam

3 kg marrow
4 lemons
250 gms crystalized ginger
50 gm dried root ginger
3 kg sugar
Peel the marrow and discard the seeds.   Cut into cubes and steam until tender.   Drain well and mash.   Grate the lemon rind and squeeze the juice.   Finely chop the crystalized ginger.   Bruise the root ginger with a hammer and wrap in muslin.  Put the lemon rind and juice and the crystalized and root ginger in a pan with the mashed marrow.  Bring to simmering point, add the sugar and stir until disolved.   Bring to the boil and boil for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally as the pulp thickens and setting point is reached.   Pot into warm jars and cover.

(I find this one sometimes difficult to set as some marrows are wetter than others – the way to solve this is to use the jam suger which has some pectin in in – cheating, but better than wasting the other ingredients.)

Mother's Marrow Lemon Cream

4 lb Marrow
8 oz Butter
3 and a half lbs Sugar
6 Lemons
Peal and deseed the marrow, cut into pieces and steam until tender.  Leave to drain for several hours or overnight if possible to ensure that the marrow is completely dry.  Mash into a smooth mixture or  puree in a food processor.   Place in a pan with the butter, sugar and finely grated rind and juice of the lemons.   Cook over a low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.   Bring to the boil and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20-30 minutes.  Pot into warm jars and cover.
(This is a favourite recipe, the result is rather like a light lemon curd and it keeps for longer as it has no eggs in it.   I have even used it, folded into cream, as a sauce for puddings.)

It's all a futile waste of time though, marrows should be treated like Samuel Johnson treated cucumber. "A cucumber should be well sliced, and dressed with pepper and vinegar, and then thrown out, as it is good for nothing."

STOP PRESS!!! Mabel returned to the fold safe and sound and when called. Result.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

High Tide03:51 (2.30m)
Low Tide09:40 (1.00m)
High Tide16:19 (2.20m)
Low Tide22:01 (1.10m)
Sea temperature: not taken
Sea conditions: the clearest any of us had seen. 
Weather: sunny, still, warm.
Joined by Sara and The Poet, Mertz
Topics of conversation:
The water and its clarity - standing in the water, up to your neck, you could see your feet. It might help that the stone in my toe ring was catching the light but I really could see my feet for the first time. Ever. We tried to convince ourselves that we were in the Caribbean but neither the water temperature nor our lack of tan would let us get away with that. 
The Pirate's trip to the Paralympics today, they are so excited that it wasn't till yesterday evening that I got the call to ask for dog sitting services (well not sitting exactly - just walking and feeding). I hope they've travelled light, it has turned out to be one of the warmest days of the year.
As it was so warm and clear and calm we all decamped to the beach hut for coffee and fruit after our swim, except The Pirate - busy busy. Mertz and I stayed till 11, soaking up the totally different atmosphere, now that the schools have gone back. A fishing boat was slowly making its way across the bay with the seagulls flying after them as they gutted the fish, but as they got parallel with us I noticed that the seagulls had all landed in the water and were hanging about by the boat with less interest, so I got the binoculars out and saw that they had weighed anchor and were having breakfast too.

Friday, 7 September 2012

High Tide03:09 (2.30m)
Low Tide08:55 (0.90m)
High Tide15:27 (2.30m)
Low Tide21:19 (1.00m)
Sea temperature: 17.4 - weird
Sea conditions: calm, strong breeze whipping up tiny ripples
Weather: sunny, crisp
Joined by: Jo, Sara and The Poet
As promised for Sara, a piece of prose from the leaving performance by my first class at school, echoed by the Out of Water experience (more of this later) which came up in conversation:
Yesterday morning

A Sense of a Goose
Next autumn when you see geese heading south for the winter, flying along in a “V” formation, you might consider what science has discovered as to why they fly that way. As each bird flaps their wings, it creates uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in a “V” formation the whole flock adds 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own.
People who have a common direction and a sense of community can get where they are going more quickly and easily, because they are travelling on the thrust of one another.
When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go alone…and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird in front.
If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay in formation with those people who are headed the same way we are.
When the head goose gets tired, it rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point. It is sensible to take turns at demanding jobs, whether with people or with geese flying south.
Geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.
What message do we give when we honk from behind?
Finally…and this is important…when a goose gets sick or is wounded by gunshot and falls out of formation, two other geese fall out with that goose and follow it down to lend protection. They stay with the fallen goose until it is able to fly or until it dies: then and only then, do they launch out on their own, or with another formation to catch up with their own group.
If we have the sense of a goose, we will stand by each other like that.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

High Tide02:01 (2.40m)
Low Tide07:45 (0.80m)
High Tide14:07 (2.60m)
Low Tide20:15 (0.70m)
Sea Temperature: 17.4 dropping...
Sea conditions: calm, low clear
Weather: Sunny but with a definite chill in the air
Joined by: Jo, Sara and The Poet
Topics of conversation:
Autumn - The Pirate actually raised his voice at me this morning, Sara and The Poet heard it from afar! He was very cross that I have painted my toenails 'autumn colours' and requested that they change gradually, like the leaves. Whilst I am not adverse to a bit of pedicury, I think that's a step too far.
The Pirate really doesn't care for autumn and it brings out his melancholy side, but this was one of those perfect between season swims, calm, sunny but freshening. We all agreed that the water felt colder and this was confirmed by DK and his trusted thermometer, but there were pockets of cold and warm as we swam about. Sara is threatening to bring back the full wet suit already.
Privates on Parade 
DK had been in London for auditions for his collaboration with Peter Nichols, which is being directed by Michael Grandage and staged in the West End. The auditions went well - I shan't give anything away - but the train journey did not. Tickets are selling fast and it got 'pick of the theatre' or something similar in The Times last week so hurry and book! 
My new role as Governess. I start one to one tuition with an ex-student today and am really looking forward to helping her with her maths, spanish and photography as well as encouraging her musical interests. Both DK and No. 1 son are to be instrumental (pardon the pun) in this, although she is quite capable of recording stuff in her bedroom using Garage Band and getting You Tube followers on her own, as her voice is wonderful:

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

High Tide01:28 (2.40m)
Low Tide07:13 (0.80m)
High Tide13:30 (2.70m)
Low Tide19:45 (0.60m)

Sea temperature: 18.2

Sea conditions: calm, very low and extremely clear
Weather: Air temperature was also 18.2, sunny, a light breeze, both sun and moon up
Joined by: Jo, Sara and The Poet
Topics of conversation:
It's good to be alive and to have the village back.
The Pirate - or is it a merman?