Fish of Joy, French Cricket & Who’s in the Hat?

It’s rare that you come to the end of a holiday and genuinely feel that you got it all right.  It helps, of course, that whoever is in charge of weather-based karma decided that we’d earned seven days of The Good Stuff.  But we also made some first class decisions.

Special mention has to go to the delicious goodies we ordered from The Handpicked Foodstore (a whole side of smoked salmon and two pots each of smoked salmon paté and smoked mackerel paté), which made for a fabulously decadent breakfast and a few highly tasty lunches / snacks.  Yum.

 

Having fuelled ourselves with such an incredible breakfast, we hot-footed down to the beach to make the most of the sunshine.  After a slice of left-over birthday cake (more on that later), the pleasing sight of two usually desk-bound Londoners conquering the waves with the help of body-boards, and some slightly disappointing sandcastle/sandpenguin attempts, we broke open the cheapo cricket set and played French Cricket on the sand.  It’s no secret that my interests are far more inclined towards making (and eating) baked goods than partaking in sporting endeavours, but this was smashing giggly fun, regardless of my sporting ineptitude.  (Sadly, there’s no photographic evidence of the cricket, but I rather enjoy this shot of the pre-cricket gathering, and the following one of the body-boarders.)

 

 

Though our calorie intake was fairly extreme throughout our seven-day Cornish jaunt, I like to think we burned a handful of these with some breathtaking belly laughs, regularly resulting in tears and substantial abdominal pain.  Recounting these moments here would only result in the gross overuse of the line “I guess you had to be there”, so I shan’t even try, but many of them popped up in the unlikely setting of the game “Who’s in the Hat?”.  If you aren’t familiar, this is a team game in which each player writes famous names on 3-5 small pieces of paper and throws them in the hat, then takes it in turns to help their teammates guess as many as they can in a minute.  You go through the entire hat’s worth of names three times in total: in the first round you can describe or act as much as necessary; in the second, you may use only three words; in the third, you may only mime.  It turns out that I’m unexpectedly good at this game and I found my friends clamouring to be on my team – as my previous statement regarding my sporting prowess will attest, this was a novel experience!

Breakfast canapés, sandy walks & five o’clock fizz

Holidays are good for the soul. Fact.

I write this post from a beautiful house on the side of a Cornish cliff, overlooking a beach, surrounded by good friends. Foodie friends, to boot. Disclaimer: My holiday lexicon is limited at best, so I hope you’ll embrace the simplicity of this particular post.

Newly created holiday rituals include breakfast canapés (the piece of toast that keeps one going until everyone in the house is awake and ready for proper breakfast), four o’clock gin and five o’clock fizz, followed by a delicious dinner of some description, cooked by one of the many foodies in the house and consumed in view of a stunning sunset over the sea.

One particularly memorable dinner was the result of an afternoon fishing trip, which yielded more than 50 fresh mackerel. After a reasonably gruesome but impressive gutting process, they were gently barbecued and served with sautéed new potatoes, salad and horseradish crème fraîche. Mm-mm-mmm.

With three birthdays this week there is cake aplenty, but I’ll save the baking commentary for a later post. For the time being, I’m just going to be smug about the wonderful sandy beach on which I have walked barefoot every day.

The Paralympics, London 2012

Admittedly, this subject doesn’t fit in to my vague, ill-planned notion for this blog, but I feel compelled to write about it, so I hope you’ll indulge me.

Yesterday evening, I was lucky to be given a ticket for the athletics at the Paralympics at short notice. I was slightly dismayed not to have time to gather patriotic paraphernalia (I stopped short of painting my face with biros and Tippex from the office stationery cupboard) so I decided to make up for my lack of red, white and blue by being as vocal as I physically could be. As it turns out, I’m not sure I could’ve held back my cheers if I had tried.

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We were fortunate to have quite a few finals in our session, each of which was inspiring and admirable in its own way. Highlights for me included Fiji’s first EVER medal in either the Olympics or Paralympics, courtesy of Iliesa Delana, who won gold in the high jump, and gold for Great Britain’s Mickey Bushell in the 100m T53. How proudly (and loudly) I sang the national anthem in that magnificent stadium.

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Perhaps my favourite feature, however, was the incredible support the crowd offered to the underdog of the 5000m, Argentinian José Luis Santero who ran determinedly with his wonderful guide Jorge Luchik, despite being lapped by other runners. As the pair travelled around the track, the roar from the crowd preceded them by approximately 100m, and all 80,000 of us went absolutely nuts when they finished. For this, and many other reasons, I do love my fellow Brits.

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