Thursday, December 22, 2005


This article says that prolonged silences on blogs are usually the result of bloggers getting disillusioned with the process, or lazy, or affecting a writerly repose. That’s not the reason for the latest silence here — and I apologise for it — which has instead been caused by a mixture of work, work, tiredness, more work, The Lord of the Rings DVD set, and most recently a week without a wireless router.

However, all of that is now solved. Today I was pointed towards an excellent blog about cooked breakfasts to be had in London, and reminded, with the arrival of a Christmas card from Jonathan, that I haven’t followed through with my cunning plan of actually writing cards to people this year and including little haiku in them. Oh well. *blush*

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Sunday, December 04, 2005

Ice wine

If you are at all excited by food and wine, the approach of Christmas, the excitement of shopping for increasingly special food and drink as this month progresses, you need to read this article in today’s Observer Magazine, in which Nigel Slater is educated by Tim Atkin:

As I bring in the long, thin mincemeat tart straight from the oven, Mr Atkin produces a glass of Riesling from the most elegant bottle I have ever seen, long and slim like a Giacometti sculpture. The contents are the colour of purest acacia honey. This is Tim's ‘navel’ wine and I see precisely what he means, though he declines my suggestion of a hands-on demonstration. He passes me a glass of garnet-red Port.

We take a mouthful of hot mince pie, followed swiftly by another of the chilled Riesling ice wine. ‘Look at the legs on that,’ says Tim, pointing out the rather beautiful pattern of streaks and dribbles trickling slowly down the sides of the glass. ‘The Germans call them “Cathedral windows”, the French call them “legs”.’ Their presence is a big clue as to the viscosity and richness of the wine. I’m listening, but it is difficult when you are eating a mouthful of food and wine that is so utterly, gloriously sublime. Soft, honeyed, sweet, hot, icy, intensely fruity and buttery — a mouthful that tastes like all your Christmases have come at once.

The wine, by the way, is this and is buyable here. You will have to make your own mincemeat and apple tart. And it will be a pleasure. Trust me.

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Friday, December 02, 2005

Of waking from dreams

A few nights ago, I went to bed feeling not exactly anxious about the morrow, but aware that I would have to uncurl myself from my warm cocoon at an obscene hour and drag myself, defenceless and half-asleep, into an alien world. The following morning, I woke of my own accord a few minutes before the sterile bleep of the alarm.

For all of you who have done the same, here’s why. Absolutely fascinating.

When the volunteers knew they would be woken at six, levels of the central stress hormone adrenocorticotropin began rising around 4:30 a.m. But subjects expecting to wake at nine and rudely awakened at six experienced no such hormonal surge. Our bodies, in other words, note the time we hope to begin our day and gradually prepare us for consciousness…

The next question to be answered is: how is it that we are able to start the process of waking ourselves up, about an hour before a set time, while we are unconscious?

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