Last Saturday, and for the second weekend in a row, we found ourselves at Mount Stewart. Thankfully, unlike the previous week when there was a big thing on, it was quiet. Slightly over cast, quite still, not many people around. Lovely.
Their was only a small thing on. The NT Education Team had set up a kids TV nature show tie-in trail thing: a Deadly Scene Investigation. So the boys each adopted the persona of a Nature Detective. The crime: stolen blue tit eggs. The suspects: Fox, Sparrow Hawk, Squirrel, Stoat. We scoured the estate for the clues.
To cut a long story short, it was the stoat. The thieving fury bastard.
The trail took us in a direction we wouldn't normally go. To the left. Passed the walled garden and into the woods. It was cool. And damp. Perfect conditions for a little fungi growth. Now mushrooms fascinate me. And the idea of foraging them for a tasty lunch or supper is hugely appealing. Some (the slimy, turdy ones) you wouldn't touch with a forty foot pole. Others clearly shout, "Eat me and you die ignorant human fool!". But there are many that look quite appetising.
I, however, is ignorant. I don't know my edibles from my deadlies. And when I have researched these matters, I've found my findings inconclusive - quite unsatisfactory. But I'm determined to learn the ways of the mushroom. So I've ordered another book.
Spent Sunday morning in City Picnic, Belfast's (probably) newest city centre lunch bar on Castle Street. And we had a great time. They've just started a cup cake baking thing for kids, to encourage people in at what is, I guess, a reasonably quiet time. We really enjoyed it, so thanks to Arthur for hosting and Mark for baking. Would definitely do it again; it's a great way to lose a couple of hours with the kids.
Hat's off to my old stable HBD for the naming/branding. And to Soon for the interior. It's all really nicely done.
And look, as if Instagram's photo-fakery wasn't enough for me, I've discovered Analog (via a Frank tweet). Putting aside the uncanney similarity between its branding and that of the other Analog (who've been around for some time…I'm not saying anything) now that I've shelved my purist sensibilities it's another pile of app (this time Mac) fun. I might even suggest it does the pseudo-vintage thing a little better with effects varying each time a specific filter is applied.
We all love our coffee, don't we? I love my coffee. I don't drink tea but love my coffee. I love the ritual of making coffee. Favouring the stove-top method, epitomized by the classic Bialetti Moka Express coffee maker, every morning I love the process of emptying, rinsing, filling, waiting...pouring and of course, drinking. Black, one sugar please.
I believe IKEA to be a pretty ethical company (do correct me if I'm wrong) so I assume that that price is rock bottom for a sound reason (perhaps because it's got no handle, for example). But it's a beautiful cup. Well proportioned and exactly the right size for the amount of coffee my "everyday" coffee maker makes and it sits perfectly in my hand. "But it's got no bloomin's handle!", I hear you cry, "what good is a coffee cup without a handle!". Well, you see, I think that's exactly what makes this cup so beautiful, so very well designed. Because you can only hold it comfortably when the coffee is exactly the right temperature to drink. There's no sitting around, holding your cup, waiting for it to cool down; it's too bloody hot for that! And when it's ready, it nestles in your palm so not only do you experience your perfectly brewed cup of the black stuff at the optimum centigrade but you get the added comfort of a warm cup in the hand. And the value of that on a cold winter morning is not to be under estimated.
So whether intentionally or not (and I suspect the "not" may be more likely) the cup is more than a mere vessel for your essential AM caffeine fix, it amplifies the morning coffee experience. Which is pretty good going for a 25p cup*.
* Although technically, I think it's a beaker, if you want to be pedantic.