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Refraction

The well was dry beside the door,
And so we went with pail and can
Across the fields behind the house
To seek the brook if still it ran;

Not loath to have excuse to go,
Because the autumn eve was fair
(Though chill), because the fields were ours,
And by the brook our woods were there.

(From “Going for water” by Robert Frost)

Travelling round Europe in our camper van, much of our time was spent in search of clean drinking water. Sometimes our quest brought us to the most beautiful places – mountains, woods, fountains, streams. We found so much more than water. Read more

A bit about writing

“It’s all a bit beige”, Mrs Weaver concluded as she surveyed my plate. “We eat with our eyes”, she said over her shoulder as she walked on to the next student having barely tasted a bite. It was our end-of-term exam and I had been practising each element of this dish for weeks. I had proudly served a crisp vol-au-vent (made from scratch) filled with chunky morsels of monkfish and prawn smothered in a creamy velouté sauce, gently spiced roasted cauliflower and duchess potatoes, impeccably piped and toasted to perfection. Every element looked and tasted as it should but, now that I reviewed it as a whole, I had to agree with Mrs Weaver that the colours were all a bit similar and, well, beige. We eat with our eyes and this dish looked distinctly unappetising, despite the expensive ingredients and the care that had gone into the making. Mrs Weaver had 18 plates to get through and if I wanted her to stop and pay attention to mine I needed to make it beautiful as well as delicious. Lesson learned. Read more

Dreamy

The evenings are getting shorter, there is a distinct chill in the air and golden trees are rapidly giving way to bare branches. After a mild and sunny September winter is suddenly closing in here in Lithuania. Much as I love warmth and sunshine I am very much looking forward to winter. We have a warm and cosy home. We have a wonderful new kitchen where I will make comforting stews and slow roasts. We have a stock of homemade wine and beer which we will sip curled up in our panoramic conservatory, looking out at the dreamy winter landscape. We will read, write, savour, enjoy. We are ready. Bring it on. Read more

Help! My chickens are sick!

My poor girls. They’re just not well. A few weeks back we noticed that one of our grey marans had started to develop a bit of a cough. None of the other birds seemed to be affected so I wasn’t overly worried. Not wanting to rush to the vet with every little sneeze I googled to see if there was a natural remedy I could administer. Read more

House Hunters

We were the talk of the town. Probably still are. I mean, who do we think we are? Adakavas is about the size of a teaspoon and very little out of the ordinary happens here, so when TV cameras roll into town it gets everyone’s attention. It wasn’t enough that we bought a house out from under a poor 94-year-old woman, then tore it down to remodel, but now we were making a TV programme about it – sacrébleu! Read more

Signs

Signs. That life on earth has existed for a very, very long time. While on tour last summer we visited my cousin in Antequera, Spain. He brought us to see the stunning limestone landscape at El Torcal de Antequera. El Torcal is over 150 million years old and is home to some fascinating records of marine life during the Jurassic period. The chubby little finger belongs to my cousin’s young son – a sign that human life is set to continue for at least one more generation. Read more

Nighttime

Before we set off on our great adventure around Europe we lived in a top floor apartment in suburban Dublin. Our high vantage point gave us a glorious view. The apartment buildings were set around a courtyard and the fact that you could see into the lives of others in their apartments always reminded me of Hitchcock’s “Rear Window”. Beyond our complex we could see the ruins of an old castle and the glittering city lights, and all with the calming and imposing backdrop of the Dublin Mountains. I loved it. Read more

Zucchini Bread/Muffins [Recipe]

It’s feast or famine with the self-sufficiency malarkey. For months on end you produce hardly any food at all, then come the end of August you have fruit and veg coming at you from all angles. There are wild mushrooms to be foraged, apples and damsons to be picked and vegetables to be harvested. Read more

Endurance

There’s nothing like testing a marriage right at the very beginning. These photos of us white water rafting on the Zambezi were taken on our honeymoon. I had recently recovered from a serious back operation and was clinging to the raft for dear life. Arūnas was a little braver, resulting in him being thrown into the rapids on more than one occasion. At one point he grabbed my arm just as I was about to go overboard, saving me from almost certain injury. We endured the rapids and the marriage is still going strong. Read more

Apple & Anise Jelly [Recipe]

There is something incredibly autumnal about the smell of cooking apples. The sweet, caramel smell is as comforting as the blanket you might throw over your knees now that the evenings are getting a little chilly. It is a smell that immediately transports me back to my youth, when stealing apples from an orchard near our house was an autumn tradition. We had plenty of apple trees at home, but somehow the stolen apples were far more enticing. Read more

I’m a Finalist!

Holiest of molies! There I was, quietly enjoying my holiday back in beautiful Ireland, when a fellow blogger sent me a message saying only “Have you seen the finalist list!!!” I could only assume that she was talking about the Blog Awards Ireland & was hoping from her tone that I was on the list. I opened the page & quickly scrolled through the list, then literally leaped for joy when I saw “My Food Odyssey” listed. Read more

Adventure

Somehow, in the chaos that was the last few weeks (which I will tell you about anon), I completely forgot to tell you that one of my photos won Photo of the Year at the recent BlogHer annual conference. I was completely blown away when I heard the news. Who, me? (Looks over shoulder for the “real” photographer.) I won the “Nature Big and Small” category with a photo taken on Mont Blanc last summer. Read more

Into the Woods

I went into the woods because I wished to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to put to rout all that was not life, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

I first encountered this quote from Henry Thoreau’s Walden in Dead Poets Society, one of my favourite films during my formative years. It struck a chord with me at the time and perhaps planted the seed that has led me to the life I live today. Read more

Dialogue

Sometimes silence is golden. I love these two photos taken on our tour round Europe last summer. This was about 2 months into the trip and, being cooped up in the van for several hours per day, we’d had plenty of time for chatting. Here we are taking a well-earned break from conversation. My mind is probably still on our wonderful trip to Porto a few days earlier. Arūnas is fiddling with his phone, sneaking first a picture of me and then a picture of the tree we’re sheltering under. A wonderful little moment of calm – no words needed. Read more

I made the Shortlist!

This morning I was absolutely thrilled to discover that My Food Odyssey had made it to the Shortlist in The Blog Awards Ireland. I’ve been continuously trying to improve the blog since I launched it early last year. It is such a nice feeling to have that hard work recognised by a judging panel of your peers. There are some great blogs in my category (the Diaspora category) and I know that everyone works really hard on their blogs, so massive congratulations to those who make it through to the next stage and genuine commiserations to those who didn’t – I know how that feels as I didn’t make the cut last year. Best of luck to everyone, but those of you in my camp can keep your fingers crossed for me to make through it to the final! Read more

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