Proust Book Group Meeting 5

Proust Book Group Meeting 5
Proust
Proust

‘Un livre est  le produit d’un autre moi que celui que nous manifestons dans nos habitudes, dans la société, dans nos vices’.

(A book is the product of another self than the one that we show in our habits, in society, in our vices.)

Discuss with reference to ‘Combray’.

‘Combray’. Again.

It’s been a delight to read and re-read the same piece of writing. And this is particularly the case with Proust as the writing is so very dense.

At this week’s meeting we tackled the difficult question about the idea of the creative self. The quotation  that makes up the title is from a work by Proust entitled ‘Contre Sainte-Beuve’, a work in which Proust attacked the notion expounded by Sainte-Beuve that the person who creates should not be distinguished (or distinguishable) from the person as they present themselves in society.  Proust clearly disagreed with this, hence his writing of ‘Contre Sainte-Beuve’.

He then went on to challenge Sainte-Beuve’s supposition further in his writing of ‘A la Recherche du Temps Perdu’. And nowhere is there greater evidence of this than in Combray where we are presented with the great composer and musician, Vinteuil,  who is seen in society as someone to be pitied.

One specific example : Vinteuil

In his devotional duties as father his attention to his wayward daughter is considered misplaced. Even in a detail as slight as adjusting his daughter’s shawl to prevent her from feeling cold he renders himself ridiculous seeking to protect a daughter who seems to grow in strength on the condition that he diminishes. The assumption is obvious – a seemingly weak and blind father cannot be capable of great artistic achievement. Oh how wrong this is and when we read ‘Un Amour de Swann’ we see Swann’s surprise, and downright denial, when he discovers that the ‘phrase musicale’ that he so loves is by Vinteuil.

-Je connais bien quelqu’un qui s’appelle Vinteuil, dit Swann, en pensant au professeur de piano des deux soeurs de ma grand-mère.

– C’est peut-être lui, s’écria Mme Verdurin.

-Oh! non, répondit Swann en riant. Si vous l’aviez vu deux minutes, vous ne vous poseriez pas la question…mais ce pourrait être un parent …, cela serait assez triste, mais enfin un homme de génie peut être le cousin d’une vieille bête. …

-I know someone called Vinteuil, said Swann, thinking of the piano teacher to my grandmother’s two sisters.

-It’s perhaps him, exclaimed Mme Verdurin.

-Oh!No, Swann replied laughing. You’d only have to see him for 2 minutes to know not to ask that question…but he could be related…, it would be quite sad, but then a man of genius can be the cousin of an old fool…

one general observation

Ironically, Swann, as an artist ‘manqué’, is also presented as a fool in love in ‘Un Amour de Swann’ . This contrasts with the Swann we see in ‘Combray’, where Proust also hints at another Swann, the one interested in art and ideas yet who conceals what he really feels.  Personality itself is seen as multi-faceted where the facets are sometimes contradictory and this informs Proust’s notion of the artist.

one real-life example

And who better to provide us with this than Proust himself?  Turned down for publication by the very eminent André Gide because he deemed that the Proust that he had met was too lightweight to have written anything of particular merit, it was only later, when he had actually read Proust’s work, that Gide realised the magnitude of the mistake he had made.

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Now, I’ve never been to a book group where the start of a novel has been discussed with such enthusiasm nor indeed at such length, nor indeed read and re-read so many times.

And it’s been a joy. 

And so, it’s with a mixture of regret – at leaving Combray behind – and excitement – at what’s to come –  that  I have to say that, at last,  it is time to move on…

Next meeting : ‘Un Amour de Swann’ – love and jealousy

Worlds Colliding

Worlds Colliding

Over the past two weeks I’ve had a fair bit of experience of 2 worlds colliding.

On a serious level, the holiday Gabriel and I just had in Budapest and Vienna thrust us up against the reality of a displaced people. As we walked through underpasses full of sleeping families and walked through barriers, desperate refugees made to wait on the other side, we couldn’t have imagined a more surreal situation.

And then there was yesterday. We had gone to watch the Oresteia at ‘The Globe’.

The Globe Theatre
The Globe Theatre

The first clash was between ancient and modern.  As we sat listening to Katy Stephens’ powerful Clytemnestra, her black and white dress now black and blood-red, I found myself distracted by helicopters and planes flying overhead, drowning out her anguished cries. I half-expected her to stop and wait until the interference had passed.

However, not all unexpected distractions were damaging to the performance as when a pigeon flew into the crowd providing the sign from the gods that Electra, Agamemnon’s loyal daughter, is waiting for. Right on cue.

And then there were the deliberate distractions, with actors appearing up from amongst the audience, pulling your eye away from the stage to the crowd, as if reminding us of our shared, fragile humanity.

Note the natural light...
Note the natural light…

 

Open to the elements and overhead distractions old and new
Open to the elements and overhead distractions old and new

And perhaps, most amusingly, there were the Italian teenagers on a school trip standing just in front of us. Bored beyond belief. Until Cassandra tore off her dress. Then they could barely stifle their giggles causing them to let out even more uproarious snorts of hilarity. When they started to froth coca cola through their nostrils it was time for them to go. They exited stage left on the advice of a very vigilant attendant.

As for the Oresteia itself, played out in the midst of the many and varied unintentional sideshows, I loved it, expressing as it did that collision between the will of  the gods and the will of man that constitutes Greek tragedy.

And there was blood. So much blood, underlining what it is to be mortal and giving visceral meaning to the report that ‘They found the house dyed red’.  Agamemnon returns victorious from Troy, Cassandra in tow, his throbbing limbs covered in the stuff. Clytemnestra appears drenched in his blood after she kills him, his butchered limbs piled up high in front of her, dress sodden, face and arms dripping.

In some ghastly parallel scene Orestes too later stands before his mother’s dismembered torso, his own bloody duty, to avenge the murder of his father, done.

All this viscerality was shrouded in the haunting and melancholy atmosphere created by Mira Calix’s music (expressed by a saxophone, horn and clarinet), which at times of dramatic tension added a dolefully discordant edge to the action.

You are made painfully aware that ‘Nobody is innocent’,  and certainly not in this most accursed of families. You have pity for Agamemnon. Then you listen to Clytemnestra and have compassion for her.  As for Orestes, torn between his duty to a dead father and confused hatred for a living mother, we feel for him. Even the loathesome Aegisthus, son of Thyestes and lover of Clytemnestra, wine glass in hand, has a story to tell so vile that it cannot fail to move you (Atreus, Agamemnon’s father and Aegisthus’ uncle, served up his brother Thyestes’ children to him to eat, sparing Aegisthus).

Family ties and betrayals fuel the endless crimes of revenge. It’s all in the blood. A bloodline that is thus tainted -‘cursed’- demands loyalty, vengeance, justice. The tragic paradox demands that blood destroy blood. The gods will it so.

The final play, Eumenides, is where the gods grant absolution and the spectators experience catharsis. The tone changes from tragedy to… well, you’ll see. Mercy is meted out to Orestes by a magnificent, gold sequin clad Athena, goddess of wisdom and daughter of Zeus. Then, ‘dove-from-above’ -like, a strange winged giant golden phallus descends on to the stage (presumably that of Zeus), only to be feted in a conga-style procession, with gold confetti. Dazzlingly, farcically patriarchal – order is thus restored to the world. Huge golden phalluses were often paraded round at the end of Greek plays. Apparently.

Oh, if only those Italian boys had stayed! Titter ye not…

Large enough to grace Phidias’ statue of Zeus at Olympia?

Up with the Patriarchy...
‘Oo missus!’

FACTFILES

2015/Globe/Theatre/Oresteia

The Oresteia  comprises three plays by AeschylusAgamemnon, Libation Bearers and Eumenides and is on at The Globe Theatre, London until October 16th.

Ticket prices : standing £5. Seats £17 – £43.

MUST GO – if you love the theatre. If you love/study literature ( in particular European 17th century drama/tragedy) or Ancient History.

MUST NOT GO – if you suffer from a bad back. If you don’t like tragedy as a dramatic form. If you don’t speak English. Although, as my little Italian friends can testify, there is something to entertain everybody in the Oresteia. Shame they didn’t stay until the end…

Less Cher more Frankie Howerd

Running time :  3 hours with two breaks.

To get the most out of the performance :

Book a seat. Front rows  are best and restricted view really does mean restricted view here so avoid if possible. To give yourself the best chance of hearing the actors when the planes fly above go for the seats facing the stage.

Hire cushions. The slatted wooden seats with backs are even better (a fact I discovered when an early leaver kindly bequeathed one to me when she left midway through the performance).

Familiarise yourself with the story so that you know what’s going on. The story http://www.ancient-literature.com/greece_aeschylus_oresteia.html

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Seen this and are now hooked on Greek tragedy? Go and see Oresteia at the Trafalgar Studios, London, showing until November 7th : http://www.almeida.co.uk/whats-on/oresteia/22-aug-2015-7-nov-2015

£29.50 – £45.50

Sunday Lunch at The Ram Inn, Firle, East Sussex

Sunday Lunch at the Ram Inn, Firle, East Sussex

After a visit to the lovely Charleston (home to Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, key artists within the Bloomsbury group) this Sunday, Gabriel, my mum, Tom and I went in search of a pub.

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As Vanessa Bell’s sister, Virginia Woolf, had lived in the nearby village of Firle it seemed only sensible to look for one there.

Firle itself was a delight, tucked away in the beautiful East Sussex countryside. Pretty and oozing a sense of community, with its Arts Trail in full swing and residents’ gardens opened up as impromptu cafes, all fluttery bunting and clinking tea cups, it revealed an identity many of us only get a chance to experience in books. And when we saw the pub with its red brick and flintstone walls , offset by the colourful flower baskets and tastefully cream and brown sun umbrellas and dark green paint work, we knew we’d made the right call.

Nestled within the space created by the L-shaped red brick and flintstone building was a large outdoor seating area which on this surprisingly still and warm Sunday was buzzing with life and colour, people constantly coming and going, and so we got a table quite easily.  Excited by the menu we only hoped that we hadn’t cut it too fine to order lunch.

When the waitress emerged from an interesting side bar (‘The Farmers’ Bar’ decorated in a Farrow-and-Ball-Does-Muddy-Walking-Boots style which was rather wonderful. Dark walls, sparkly chandeliers, rustic barrels, deliberately aged ram painting, spit and sawdust floor), we knew that we had not.IMG_3227[1]Although not usually one for a starter for a Sunday lunch, I agreed (big of me…)  to share a cured fish and shellfish board. Mum was paying. And it did sound good. Delicious smoked salmon, smoked haddock, prawns…looked and tasted good too and the sharing board for two was more than enough to take the edge off the incredible hunger that the four of us had built up after walking round the small but perfectly formed Charleston garden…

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As main course, three of us ordered roast beef, only Gabriel lured away from the charms of  the traditional in favour of a Mediterranean tart. Must have been due to the surprisingly warm and sunny weather.

The drinks order came quickly, as did the starter.

Yet somehow the main course seemed pretty damned elusive for more than an hour.  And we didn’t mind. Making the most of the sun and red wine, we people-watched, marvelling at the intricacies of the tattoos sported by the bearded young men on the table next to us, learning that the Cotswolds were not, contrary to what we had previously believed, the exclusive habitat of the pink trousers brigade, and enjoying the sight of so many dogs attached to serious walkers (sun hats, shorts and walking boots – had to be).

The atmosphere was friendly and relaxed with most dogs sleeping peacefully under their owners’ seats, occasionally giving each other a gentle nuzzle before being roused to carry on their blissful country walk. Happy. Companionable. What an advert for having a dog of one’s own!

And this picture of a rural idyll just got even more idyllic when two riders ‘parked’ up their trusty steeds and came over for a drink.

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‘A beef and a chicken?’ A young waiter asked shyly. We said that we hadn’t ordered the chicken causing him to scurry back in with both plates and us to realise that we’d been waiting for over an hour.  Thankfully a mere ten minutes later two beefs appeared. When it was clear that the remaining two plates weren’t going to be appearing any time soon mum and I reluctantly started to eat.

With no staff around Gabriel went in to find out if there was any problem with the order. There was. They had forgotten about it.  With a party of 30 inside, the warm weather, not to mention the village art trail, attracting a never ending flow of customers looking for that perfect Sunday lunch in a quintessential English village, chaos had descended on the kitchen.

Thankfully Gabriel and Tom got their lunch. And they enjoyed it. As mum and I did ours.

The beef was pink and soft and served with a mustardy cauliflower that was not overdone and a delicious chunky home-made horseradish sauce.  I don’t know if it was because I had to wait for so long, my senses thus heightened, but even the kale, not my favourite vegetable, had a depth of flavour that married well with the meaty gravy. And Gabriel loved his little tart…So, fab food.

But we declined the pudding. This time.

And inspite of the long wait we’d had a magical afternoon in a bustling pub in a charming village.

FACTFILE

Address: The Ram Inn
The Street, Firle
Nr. Lewes
East Sussex
BN8 6NS

Tel: 01273 858222

http://raminn.co.uk/

The bill came to £84 for 4 people. Great value given the quality of the food and wine.

Service: Despite the pressures of an incredibly busy day the waiting staff remained polite and accommodating throughout. As did the customers when left waiting for their food. Good, kind people, mistakes and all, on both sides.

Walks (which I will definitely fit in next time – and there will be a next time – I visit Firle)

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Firle circular walk : a six and a half mile walk that takes approximately two and three-quarter hours.

http://www.theargus.co.uk/magazine/sussex_walks/10591895.Firle_circular/

*

Firle and fine downland views walk : a 4 mile walk that takes two hours.

http://www.theaa.com/walks/fine-downland-views-over-feudal-firle-421096

*

 

Firle

This hidden gem of a village has no road markings, streetlights or through traffic which contribute to its calm and timeless feel.

http://www.firle.com/residential

To find out a little more about Virginia Woolf’s association with the village click on http://www.virginiawoolfsociety.co.uk/vw_res.firle.htm

Puppies

Puppies

After bonding with the cat formerly known as the Devious Defecator, I am now attuned to all things pet-y.

IMG_3086[1]When my good friend Pam calls and tells me all ( and I mean ALL) about her dog Honey’s hilarious exploits (‘Oh she’s a hoot!’), I no longer zone out, wander off to the kitchen to fetch myself a coffee, to return in time to pick up the receiver and say, ‘Oh yeah?’

Image result for honey labradoodle

Although zoning out has often brought with it its own unforeseen  consequences…such as unwittingly subjecting myself to Pam’s favourite Honey-rings-the-doorbell trick ( imagine the scene : door bell rings, I answer. I look down, I see Honey framed in the doorway. Alone. Muddy front paws already up on the doorstep. Seconds later, attempting to hide the horror in my eyes, Pam’s head pops into the frame – ‘We’re here!’ If only I’d  paid attention on the phone…).

Once in, the funniest, most beautiful and tallest labradoodle in the world continues to delight and entrance…Pam. Oh how she laughed when Honey went into the kitchen, and helped herself to a lasagne I’d made for tea.  ‘She’s such a hoot!’ ‘Isn’t she!’

Then there was the time when ‘My lovely little funny Honey bunny’ sat in my postage-stamp of a pond while Pam sat and watched her. Chortling away. As for me, I was transported back to a time when friends (probably Pam) would allow their toddlers to crunch their biscuits into my carpets or wave their wax crayons scarily close to my newly painted walls. And I couldn’t do a thing about it.

But now I’ve changed. Or at least I’m changing, after the cat (formerly known as the Devious Defecator) experience. Take last week, for instance, when Pam and I left Honey home alone. Even I felt a strange tugging on the heart strings  to see the oversized puppy, huge muddy paws up on the sofa,  beautiful face tilted beseeching to the right, watching us walk away. Without her.

And I didn’t even think, never mind say ‘Why?’ when an old friend bent her head forward and whispered confessionally into my ear, ‘I’ve got a puppy.’  As she waxed lyrical about her lovely, funny bichon frise  her face took on a beatific glow.  ‘It’s like having a baby! Oh my word! It really is.’ 

Then it hits me.

I gasp as I foresee a future full of wellies, pooper scoopers, Pedigree Chum and a faint wet dog smell…

Now there’s no frock for this Friday just a pair of jeans and a top from Marks and Spencers!

                    Straight leg jeans £22.50 M&S Indigo Collection

Pretty, flowing pull-on top £29.50 M&S Limited Edition

Lovely delicate blouse. Fewer ruffles on the sleeves would make it perfect. Dresses up jeans a treat.

Time to get myself togged up for all those dog walks. I’m just going to phone Pam to see if I can tag along.

 

Waiting for the Mailman

Waiting for the Mailman

..to arrive with my parcel. And I have been for hours. I’d forgotten just how frustrating that can be.

My wait so far

7 a.m. Got up.  Showered before Gabriel left because, as everyone knows, the moment you decide to take a shower when you’re in the house alone the doorbell goes.

Sods Law.

And I know this from bitter having-to-wait-in experience.

The time when I tripped over the towel and hit my head on the side of the wash basin  only to drag myself to the window and see the delivery man speed off in his van springs to mind.

shipment%20clipart

As does the time when I made myself a cup of tea. As the kettle clicked off so the delivery man rang the bell. Once. As I walked past the front door, ever-vigilant, cup of tea in hand, I saw him through the frosted panes post the ‘called-but-you-weren’t-in’ card. I  opened the door in time to see him running off at speed, seemingly unable to hear my hysterical cries of ‘Wait! I’m in!’  Perhaps he’d exceeded his 1 minute per delivery target time. Or he just wanted to piss the hell out of me. As I watched the delivery van zoom down the road I can safely say he succeeded in doing the latter.

delivery%20clipart

7.30 a.m. Up and ready. Checked outside for signs of van. Coming. Or going. Opened all doors in the house and turned off the radio which Gabriel had left on in the kitchen. All for optimum hearing-the-bell conditions.

9.00 a.m. Decided to load the dishwasher and the washing machine, thinking may as well while temporarily captive.  So much for optimum hearing-the-bell conditions…The whooshing and gurgling of the water pipes  made me beat a hasty retreat to the living room where I remained on guilty look-out for a while. Felt bored and tempted to chance it back in the kitchen to make a cup of tea but the thought of a note with the details of a collection depot in the middle of nowhere which I might have to go to in 48 hours stopped me.

10.00 a.m. I tried to read the Guardian online.  Found a very silly cat quiz  and some even sillier pictures of famous paintings where the key figures have been turned into cats. Really. Funny how, when you tune in to something, you suddenly start noticing them everywhere. The Meowna Lisa…who would have thought it?

A van pulled up outside. Promising. I hovered in the hall waiting for the doorbell to ring. Which it did. I experienced a peak of exhilaration. ‘Would you mind taking this for … next door?’ Followed by a trough of disappointment.

Nearly.

 

11.00 a.m.  Got bored. Moved to the bedroom. Made the bed. May as well. Caved in and switched on the radio. Heard something ringing. Couldn’t have been the doorbell but I went downstairs to check. Just in case.  No tell-tale ‘we’ve been’ notes on the doormat. Phew! Returned to the bedroom and  fluttered around, picking up socks and other articles of clothing, one at a time, and putting them into the wash basket.

11.30 a.m. Machine noise finished in the kitchen. Was it too early to have lunch? No. Heard that strange not-the-doorbell ring again. What was it?

It took me a while to figure out that it was a What’s App message from Tom, my son who’s not a child any more (although he does a mighty fine impression), informing me that he’s arriving at Bristol airport tomorrow at 5.

Tom: ‘Any chance of a lift?’

Me: ‘Of course.’

Tom: ‘i’m off to london at 8 that eve so will be a pretty quick turnaround – actually don’t  suppose i could ask another favour – would you be able to wash my pink shirt and the blue and white small checked one?’

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With the midwife’s words ‘rod for your own back‘ ringing in my ears (and that was when we took our first baby home ) I checked the front door and looked out of the window -all clear – before rushing upstairs to Tom’s room, a maelstrom of emotions and thoughts eddying around in my head.

‘Shouldn’t do it.’

‘Happy to help if I can.’

‘Is it good to make things too easy?’

‘He’s off to his girlfriend’s graduation, don’t want him to turn up looking a mess.’

‘But perhaps I’m not helping her – or him –  by doing his washing for him.’

‘But I have the time.’

‘He should have done this before he went away.’

‘He would do this for me.’

And that final point was the clincher, the one that if it didn’t erase all others, it certainly put them into perspective.

It wasn’t about gender inequality, and it certainly wasn’t all about point-scoring. As for his washing, I don’t ever do it, thus explaining the carpet of clothes on his bedroom floor while he’s staying with us (which makes me feel vaguely hypocritical to mention as I’ve just spent quite some time this morning trying to separate the pants from the shag-pile in my own room). Clearly, he rarely does it either. But that’s up to him. No, it was about helping out someone you love if you can. I love him and, trapped here in my own house with nothing to do but wait, I certainly could.

Now: Still waiting BUT the doorbell has just rung as  I’m putting Tom’s shirts into the washing machine! My wait could soon be over. Need to get Tom’s shirts in first. There. Done. It’s ringing again. For the second time.

‘Mrs Morgan? A delivery for you!’

It’s arrived. And as I close the door I reflect on what a great morning I’ve had.

And on all the jobs I’ll be able to get him to do when he does finally make it back home for a week or two.

Did I say that it wasn’t all about point-scoring? Well, it isn’t. Not completely…

Image result for gender inequality clipart

And as for gender inequality, worry not as I’m looking forward to re-dressing the balance and preparing him for the outside world.

He can do it. And he will!

 

Cats

Cats

Just looked out of my window  to see a cat, asleep on the bonnet of my car. IMG_3089[1]

And not just any cat. It was HIM. That cat.  The one that torments the frogs in my pond and poos all over my lawn. We’ve got history DD and me.

I raised my fist to rap sharply on the window to shoo him off.

But then I stopped. And I looked at him. Really looked at him. What was I thinking? He wasn’t pooing on my lawn. He wasn’t doing anything devious or dastardly at all.

He was asleep.

IMG_3088[1]Curled up and  vulnerable, I saw the Devious Defecator in a new light.

My fist relaxed.  A strangely beatific expression came over my face (so it made me look simple, but we won’t dwell on that…), and a sense of serenity flooded my very being.

Gosh! Who needs Mindfulness?

 

I’m going to have to change his name…

LINKFILE

Ever seen the Meeowna Lisa? Nor me, until I stumbled across this very silly (and really very lovely) cat quiz   http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/aug/24/tails-of-the-unexpected-the-craziest-cat-quiz-ever

And what about this?

http://www.thamesandhudsonusa.com/books/cats-galore-a-compendium-of-cultured-cats-hardcover

Surely the purrfect present for a catlover…

(Cats! What’s happening to me?)

 

Mexican Celebration Cake

Mexican Celebration Cake : Tres Leche(or Leches)

In this, my birthday week, it seems only fair to share a celebration cake recipe so rich that you should have it no more than once a year. Indeed, this recipe should really come with a government health warning.  I found it when trying to decide on what to take to a Mexican food evening and, no matter how hard I tried to find an alternative, all internet roads led me to this.

So, here goes!

Brace yourselves. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. The scariest but probably not-that-surprising truth is that it tastes so delicious that you just want to eat more and more of it. Think White Witch, Turkish Delight and Edmund in ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’…

IMG_2924[1]

 ingredients

for the cake

  • 6 3/4 ounces plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter or margarine, room temperature
  • 8 ounces caster sugar
  • 5  eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the glaze:

  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup full-fat milk

For the topping:

  • 2 cups whipped cream
  • 8 ounces caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 Method

For the cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and line a cake tin and set aside.
  • Sift together the plain flour, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl.
  • Using a fork, cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until fluffy.
  • Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix to thoroughly combine.
  • Add the vanilla extract.
  • Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter, sugar and egg mixture.
  • Pour this into the prepared cake tin.
  • Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cake is lightly golden.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes.
  • Poke the top of the cake all over with a skewer or fork.
  • Allow the cake to cool completely and then prepare the glaze.

For the glaze:

  • Beat together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and the full-fat milk. This makes up the glaze.
  • Pour the glaze over the cake. This needs to be done slowly and I only used half the creamy mixture because a) I didn’t want my cake to turn into mush and b) all that rich, creamy, sugary mixture? Really?

Refrigerate the cake overnight.

Topping:

  • Place the whipping cream, sugar and vanilla into a bowl and whisk together until mixture becomes thick.

Spread the topping over the cake and allow to chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.IMG_2923[1]

Looks very milk-y.  As ‘tres leches’ means ‘three milks’ that should come as no surprise.  When you tuck into a slice of this cake, the sugary, whipped cream shell seems strangely light when contrasted with the rich, unctuous creaminess of the cake within, a creaminess created by steeping the simple sponge in whole milk, evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk  …

You could try to redeem yourselves, and add colour (and something healthy), by serving it with some raspberries, strawberries and blueberries.

And there you have it – a celebration cake that really is deliciously moist, creamy and sweet. What more could you ask for from a dessert?

Viva Mexico!

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NB Don’t consume before you go for a blood sugar test at your local surgery…

The Lion, Cliftonwood, Bristol : where to go for the perfect Sunday Lunch

The Lion, Cliftonwood, Bristol : where to go for the perfect Sunday Lunch

by Isabella Morgan

 

lioncliftonwood

 

It was one of those rare weekends when we were all together. Me, Gabriel, and our 3 grown-up sons. And I could tell that I wasn’t going to be able to get away with a bag of kettle chips sat in front of the TV on a Saturday night, or a  ‘Lovely! Here’s a bacon sandwich for you’ on the Sunday morning to celebrate. Oh no. They’d come home. Together. And they’d come home expecting the red-carpet treatment.  Pressure on.

Not that they intended to stay around for long on Saturday evening. No, after filling their boots they all disappeared to the outer reaches of Bristol. Which left us with Sunday.

Sunday lunch.

And so I booked at table at ‘The Lion’,  a lovely, pretty little pub in the heart of what has to be the hilliest area in all of hilly Bristol, Cliftonwood. ‘The Lion’  itself is charming, tastefully decorated and strangely homely with enough bunting to satisfy even the most ardent of bunting enthusiasts.

IMG_2993[1]‘The Lion’ looking uncannily like my home

IMG_2998[1]Duck egg blue, tongue-and-groove, gilt mirrors, bunting, fairylights…

And the welcoming, homely feel just kept on coming at this family-run pub, with an uncle taking our orders, a nephew behind the bar,  a mother bringing out the food…

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As for the menu, it offered the perfect Sunday lunch. I’d heard this was the case and I wasn’t disappointed. Just take a look –

IMG_2982[1]‘The Lion’ is oft described as a gastro-pub and so I did worry about what that might mean for ‘Sunday lunch’ as we know it. But, with the exception of a little polenta here and a creamy dauphinoise there, the Sunday lunch had not undergone excessive gastro-fication. I just wanted Sunday lunch. A traditional Sunday lunch. And that’s what I got here.

looking happy with the menu despite being  hung over from the night before
looking happy with the menu despite being hung over from the night before…

And that’s what we ordered. I had the roast beef and yorkshire pudding and it was heavenly. As for the dauphinoise potatoes, they added a good, creamy taste to the meal and worked perfectly, making me think that perhaps we should make them next time we make our own Sunday roast.

We drank, we ate, we talked, we laughed.

We drank and laughed. And ate some more…

As for the puddings. Knickerbocker Glory. What can I say? Even the name’s great. And there was custard with the bakewell!  We were all in Sunday lunch heaven.

As we left, looking forward, sort of, to a long walk back across Bristol to walk off all the food and drink, I started to plan our return visit.

And now I’m on a mission to tell all my friends about it. There’s nothing better than spreading the word about a great place and ‘The Lion’ really is a great place. Can’t wait to go back.

LINK and FACTFILE

address :19 Church Lane, Bristol, BS8 4TX
telephone number: 07867 796961

website: http://www.thelioncliftonwood.co.uk/

Advisable to book in advance. ‘The Lion’ is not a huge pub but it is very popular.

Get ‘The Lion’ look : make some bunting using multi-coloured tiny polka dot  fabric, paint your walls duck egg blue (Fired Earth paint collection), put up some tongue and groove and paint it off-white, put fresh flowers in a jug on the table, put up a large gilt mirror, string fairy lights generously around the room! Ta dah!

Serves food all week, not just on Sundays!

 

 

 

The Selfie Generation

The Selfie Generation

Some developments are worth keeping abreast of. Others are not.
Like the ‘selfie’, that worldwide phenomenon made possible by the wonder that is the mobile phone.
What is it with taking photos of yourself?  And why is it that, every time I take one, I look like , well, not myself? A selfie with the self taken out. Or, at least, I hope that’s what it shows…
The alternative isn’t worth contemplating. Features out of proportion, double chin, looking older than my years…So, that’s what I sometimes see in the mirror, but I’m sure that I suffer from body dysmorphia! Must be something wrong with the camera on my phone.
So, this morning, imagine the scene…
It’s my birthday,
birthday breakfast in bed
birthday breakfast in bed
Gabriel spent hours baking, icing and making praline. Contrary to it’s rough finish this cake really did taste heavenly. Hold that thought.
So, cake eaten, time to get dressed. I chose my cotton chambray two-piece, made without a pattern! ( I mention this with pride. You may think ‘It shows’ – and indeed it does –  but believe me, this without-a-pattern project is far superior to my other no-pattern attempts…)
As it is my birthday I thought it would be a good idea to record what l look like now for posterity, and possibly for my children (who knows, perhaps one day they will want to look at photos of me when I’m not here. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not planning on going anywhere, but birthdays do make me sentimentally morbid, and, when you do go, you don’t usually have a say in it…).
With Gabriel now at work I resorted to ‘the selfie’. Oh dear.
surely my arms aren't that flappy in real life?
surely my arms aren’t that flappy in real life? Not to mention long?
And my no-pattern two piece, the sewing project of which I’ve been so proud, doesn’t look that good either.
I think of Gabriel’s cake. So, it looked as though a cat had been sick on it ( Gabriel’s words, not mine. I graciously disagreed.) But it did taste so very good. Very, very, very good. Its taste, essence, soul, was beautiful…
See where I’m going with this?
As I look at my selfie, I tell myself the same holds true for me. Probably. Hopefully. Surely my children will remember the inner me, not the superficial, flabby-armed shell.
I manage to delete the worst selfie offenders ( the one here is the best of an ‘I -can’t-bear-to-look-at-them’ bunch). Better to get rid of the evidence, just in case. Hopefully their memories will embellish reality!
And so, the next time I do a selfie I’ll wear long sleeves, slap more make-up on and don sunglasses.
Or, better still,  perhaps I’ll get Gabriel to stand quite a distance away from me and take an ‘impression’ shot.
Lesson learnt on my birthday : I am definitely not part of the selfie generation.
Who says that wisdom doesn’t come with age?