Sunday, August 19

A playlist for driving west

Tomorrow I'm setting out on a trip around Dorset, Devon and Cornwall. There'll be camping on the coast, a private beach to explore in the early mornings, waking up to fresh sea air and sizzling bacon. Taking in the sights of Chesil Beach, Corfe Castle, Durdle Door, Lulworth Coast and beyond. Drives along coastal roads with good music playing. Living in my dungarees, Breton tops, Converse. Bike rides, fish and chips on the beach, belly boarding, lots of fresh air.  Cornish pasties! And maybe even a meal at the River Cottage canteen.

I can't wait. Lots of photos shall be taken.

We make the drive down from London to Cornwall every summer as it's where we have family. And every summer we hire a car (because our own car is twenty years old, with no electric windows, no cd player, a very dodgy radio and a driver's door that doesn't open) and compile a playlist for the trip. Here's the one I've made for this year.

1. Everybody's Talkin' - Harry Nilsson
2. When You Were Young - The Killers
3. Land Of Hope And Dreams - Bruce Springsteen
4. Wouldn't It Be Nice - The Beach Boys
5. A-Punk - Vampire Weekend
6. Atlas Hands - Benjamin Francis Leftwich
7. Free - Dexys
8. Runaways - The Killers
9. Sweet Home Alabama - Lynyrd Skynyrd
10. Midnight Train To Georgia - Gladys Knight & The Pips
11. Gold On The Ceiling - Black Keys
12. I'm Getting Ready - Michael Kiwanuka
13. Gumboots - Paul Simon
14. Don't Think Twice, It's Alright [Bob Dylan cover] - Johnny Cash
15. Charlie Brown - Coldplay
16. Love Generation - Bob Sinclair
17. Drive In Saturday - David Bowie
18. Hoppipolla - Sigur Ros

It's a bit eclectic, to cater for our different tastes, but the essentials - sunshine music for sunny moods - are all there. These are the songs that represent the summer holidays, the beginning of some much needed rest and a change of scene. No stresses allowed. I wish I could have made a playlist you can actually stream, but I'm not au fait with Spotify and couldn't find another way of doing it!

Like the first song says, I'm going where the sun keeps shining through the pouring rain. Going where the weather suits my clothes. See you in a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, August 14

Apples & lavender

We have a gnarled, ancient dwarf apple tree next to a long clump of lavender and I can't get over how nice the two look together when they're both in bloom. The plumpest red and green apples bending branches so low they skim the grass, against a backdrop of purple lavender brimming with honey bees and bumble bees.

(I sound like an old lady.)

The apple harvest is going on and on this year, every evening we come in from the garden with a few more handfuls. There are more apples than we can store or eat, more than we know what to do with. I already have plans for apple and blackberry kuchen (a Nigella Lawson recipe found here), apple pies, crumbles, stewed apples with yoghurt for breakfast, baked apples... Apparently the blackberry crop this year is going to be huge too - go for a ramble and you're bound to find some, even in the most un-rural of towns. I still can't believe people actually buy those expensive punnets of blackberries from the supermarkets when you can fill up a few Tupperwares for free!

I planted some wheat just for fun in the spring and it's finally gone tall and swishy and gold. Reminds me of going for walks across fields in Devon and Cornwall - which is where I'll be this time next week, at last! I'm in desperate need of a change of scene. Fingers crossed there's not too much rain.

Tuesday, August 7

Olympic spectating

Last week we went to Bushy Park again, to see the men complete the Olympic cycling time trials. The park is looking beautiful this time of year - waist high golden grasses and glimpses of antlers between the dark green horse chestnut trees. I didn't have much time to appreciate it because we were convinced we were too late and power walked all the way across to Chestnut Avenue (exhausting). Somehow, however, our efforts paid off and we managed to end up right at the front of the barrier.

The atmosphere was great. TV copters circling above, people everywhere enjoying the spectacle and the sunshine, balloons, flags, picnics, Bradley Wiggins supporters with their trademark fake sideburns, and a crackle of anticipation as each cyclist whistled past. London should be happier more often.

I still don't get the whole sports patriotism/Team GB thing - when Wiggins cycled past the hysteria grew so loud my ears were ringing - but I am proud of London for hosting what has been so far a really successful Games. My mum's a cancer nurse and one of her Jamaican patients was just so cheered up and enthused by Usain Bolt's 100m win the other night. If you're ever wondering what the point of the Olympic Games is, I guess that's one answer.