These Recent Things (Donuts, Chickens & Cars)

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I’m writing this from my sofa, propped up on cushions. Don’t I often seem to start like this? Maybe it’s the only time I get to sit down and share.

Yesterday I made a quick dash to the doctors to show him my double-sized left ankle, as I felt the sickness and shakes of cellulitis kicking in. I’d like to think I’m pretty hardcore, but I wanted antibiotics and quick-smart.

“If you don’t take your tablets and rest it well, you could end up in hospital,” he said with a warning tone. I know, I know. (Years ago I spent several nights in hospital because of cellulitis. They said I could have lost my leg, and they tried to feed me a curried egg sandwich. I don’t know which was more shocking). I was willing to be a good patient and follow his instructions.

“Just remember,” he said, as I stood to leave the room, “you’ll not be able to go out in the sun, and you’ll have diarrhoea!”

Welcome to my bank holiday weekend!

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Let’s think about the good times, hey?! Earlier in the month I filled my birthday present flask with ginger cordial, and headed off to the Norfolk coast.

There’s not much better than the sound of the sea. The sun shone and it was wonderful, I searched for beach treasure and meandered. My birthday party snacks got a bit warm – the teacake was a melted mess, but my drink, in it’s special shiny Hydroflask, stayed perfectly chilled. (I guess that’s why they give it a 100 year guarantee!)

I really wanted to show you this lovely black recycled sari silk necklace that Harjit gave me for my birthday, I wore it with glee, but I just couldn’t do it justice in a self portrait. (If you want to, you can look at her whole collection here: Jewelled Buddha).

A week or so later I had another lovely seaside day out, this time with Aoife. I ate that doughnut with whippy ice-cream (top) at Hunstanton, had a sausage roll and saw the most magnificent memorial at Houghton Hall,  and watched Aoife swim in the sea at Wells… whilst I held her stuff and didn’t let her pants blow away. I’m a good friend.

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I’ve mentioned it before, and I will mention it again (and again), because I’ve been really pleased to have the chance to play around with the new CAT S60 phone. It’s super strong, the battery lasts for ages, and it’s waterproof to five metres. It’s also got a built in thermal imaging camera, which I’m a little bit obsessed with. It’s been labelled the ‘ultimate construction phone’ and used by extreme sportspeople. It’s supposed to be a ‘rugged’ phone for those working in more hazardous situations. I was most definitely the first person to use it for a nighttime chicken hunt.

It’s like a cross between Predator vision and a Global Hypercolor sensation, and I’ll never get bored of that!

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We launched the Shutter Hub BRIGHT exhibition at St James’s Institute of Oncology in Leeds. I had this idea that the exhibition could bring colour and light to what might not be such a bright day for it’s viewers, and was hopeful that it could have some kind of impact, however small. It’s already surpassed my expectations, and I couldn’t be more pleased. You can read some of the special stories that have come to light, here – please do. If you are in Leeds and can pop by for a look, it’s really worth it, there’s some fantastic work on show, and 25% from all sales will be donated to the Yorkshire Cancer Centre Appeal.

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You know that Adam accidentally put the Elise in the wall at Hethel earlier this month? (He’s since become a fibreglassing expert).
Well, luckily that didn’t stop Jaguar lending us a new XE R-Sport to have a play with.

I really liked the R-Sport styling. It wasn’t as fast as I had hoped, but it was very refined. The car handled incredibly well, and coped with the bumpy fen roads beautifully – which was a huge relief for me as I spend most of my time being thrown off the drivers seat in a lowered  old Golf GTI Turbo… got to mention the turbo! Good job I didn’t take the XE to get fuel though – what felt like a petrol engine was actually the 2.0 180bhp turbocharged diesel!

I’d normally go for a much more subtle interior but I did really like the contrasting black and oyster, especially with the perforated leather. I would have liked to accessorise the passenger seat with a punnet of strawberries, or a perhaps a chicken, though.

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Sandra was very ill. She has since become very well, so don’t worry, but she was in a very bad way. One morning Adam went to let the hens out, they came bustling through the door with their usual gusto, but Sandra took one step and just fell to the floor. She couldn’t get up, she couldn’t do anything. Adam brought her into the house, and I hoped that a couple of hours in a blanket might perk her up. It didn’t. Her body was all twisted, her head tilted as if she was trying to turn it upside down. I thought she was bound to die. I kept her with me most of the day, and made her a cosy nest in the back hall that night.

The next morning she still seemed disoriented, she couldn’t stand or eat, so I bundled her into the car (the Golf, I hasten to add!) and off to the vets. She was a very good passenger. A man in the waiting room made a ‘joke’ that his dog would eat my chicken if it saw her. If Sandra was on good form she would have kicked that dogs arse.

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Any way, I suppose I felt better for visiting the vet, but Sandra seemed indifferent. We think she’d had a stroke, or some kind of nervous issue. She took bed and breakfast in our house, and every day she improved a little bit. She drank loads of water, ate a diet of bananas and meal worms, and managed to take a few steps. 

One day I was working at my desk and got the feeling that someone was watching me – it was Sandra – stood, peering round the doorframe, just looking, for ages! For a couple of days she seemed weirdly intrigued by me, she just wanted to look at me, with her wonky sideways head. I think she knew I’d helped her, but it was a bit freaky!

After seven nights in the house, she was well enough to go outside into a small run on her own, and now, now she’s back out with the gang. The hierarchy has changed, Sasha thought she was in charge whilst Sandra was away, she got annoyed and formed a breakaway gang – just her and Margaret. The other four hang out together – yes, Patty Slipper now has a gang of friends! She also doesn’t smell so bad anymore (but she is still sleeping in our house every night!)

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I’m thinking Australia must have a different fathers day to us? I got asked by an Australian magazine to contribute to finishing their sentence, in honour of dads, and I did, but I’m really not sure it was what they were after.

The best thing my dad taught me was… if you pick up a bad passenger you can always drive them into a lamp post.

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I’d never visited Ickworth House before, but I met up with photographer Jayne Lloyd there, wandered the gardens (they have a Stumpery – sounds better than it is, but still, Stumpery!) and had lunch at the Ickworth Hotel. There was this amazing plant growing in the conservatory, and I am now on a mission to hunt one down for myself.

Someone (it was Sandra) laid a giant whopper of an egg on the lawn. I’ve not dared crack it yet, but I am hoping for a triple yolker. The one on the right is a normal large egg.

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I’ve been working hard, and enjoying it. Getting all my ducks in a row, so to speak, and getting ready for a busy couple of months coming up.

You know how nothing happens all year, but then you get asked to all the things at the same time?

Renaissance Photography Awards champagne reception, leaving drinks for Jack from Metro, a trip to Birmingham with my friend Ryazan from Two Monkeys Travel, reviewing portfolios for photographers in London, the launch of a new ethical food store, Cambridge School of Art’s MA private view, the Good Funeral Awards, and a fun instagram walk in Cambridge with Claireabelle Makes… I think that’s all!

But I’ve got other plans. I’m off to see the wizard (wizard/surgeon, whatever) for a minor operation (it’s okay, I’m actually looking forward to it!) to remove a couple of lumps from my head. One of them might be my brain, or a pea, the other one is definitely the remains of my unicorn horn.

Lotus Cup UK Speed Championship 2016 – Hethel (Round 7)

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Last time we were sprinting at Hethel I had a bit of a bad experience with a small but angry man. I was put off. I did think about not doing this round, but I really do love the track, and I didn’t want to miss out. I’m also now prepared with my windscreen washer jets ready and aimed, just below waistline for the embarrassment factor.

Back into Norfolk we headed, through villages with funny names, passed fields of free-range piglets. We arrived in good spirits and drank milky tea, stood in the warm wind.

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One of the organisers asked if we had our club trophies with us, I wasn’t sure, but, remaining positive, I said we could always make some. I reckoned I could find some old half eaten sandwiches later on, and they’d do the trick. I once got stuck on the M6 for four hours and fashioned a birthday card for Adam from rubbish I found in the footwell. Crafty.

We were soon underway with the first practice. Adam did an incredible 140.46, the fastest practice in class, and I did an embarrassing 150.10. Not really a terrible time, but seriously, almost 10 seconds behind Adam… come on!

Returning to the paddock we heard the scream of tyres and a loud thud. Clouds of gravel dust filled the air, and as it settled we saw that Simon Foley had hit the barrier. It felt like ages before we knew that he was okay, he seemed to be in the car forever. At first we thought he was in there, then we thought he must have got out, then we wondered if he’d got bored and jogged off.

They pulled his car out of the barrier and back into the paddock. Simon was fine, his car was a mess. Adam, Duncan and Mark took the under tray off, and other things, and everyone chipped in somehow. I stuck extra large googley eyes on the back of the car, and Martin Scarfe stamped on a wasp.

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It was soon time for the second practice, and I stood waiting with Jill at the driver changeover point on the pit lane, watching the cars go by. Adam was going well, he really was. ‘Wow!’ I thought, ‘Adam’s really going for it!’ as he whizzed past and spun into the pit wall, hitting the large painted Lotus emblem with the hind quarters of the car, like a big-butted target practice. He dragged the car off, finished his lap and came back in. We took the car back to the paddock, pulled off the loose bits, and asked the scrutineer over to check he’d be happy with us going out again. The consensus was gaffer tape, and a lot of it.

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There was too much taping to be done, and not enough time, so I had to forfeit my second practice and get the cake out instead. A nice old-school sponge, with raspberry jam and buttercream. (Later on Xav said the cake was the highlight of his day. I had to agree, and I didn’t even have a slice!)

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Mark and Phoebe headed off to Waitrose and returned with a haul of ice creams for everyone. I had a Fruit Pastilles lolly and it was rather nice, but very difficult to eat in the hot sun.

Back to the sprinting, Adam’s first timed run was over 3 seconds slower than his first practice… I wonder why that was?! Mine was 148.98. Parp.

Swiftly, or not so, onto the second timed run, and Adam managed 141.75, which was damn good. Putting him just 0.43 seconds behind Xavier Brookes who ended up taking first. Eventually!

I did 146.74, which is not my fastest time at Hethel, but it was still not bad, and enough to gain me 4th place, which I do believe is the highest position I have achieved in sprinting (unless you count ladies trophies, of course).

Some drivers got called back to have another go because there had been a fault with the timing gear. They rushed their race suits back on, and rolled their cars off the trailers, heading back to the start line.

Somehow something went wrong with the timing gear again. We waited patiently. And then we went home. The guys from Borough 19 must have had some serious number ninja-ing to do, because it wasn’t until four nights later, that the result arrived.

What’s this? Oh yeah! It’s the results from Hethel…

Production:
1st Xavier Brooke, 2nd Adam Ruck, 3rd Phil Stratton-Lake

Production Modified:
1st Martin Scarfe

Supersport:
1st Stuart Cheshire, 2nd Andy Hughes, 3rd Jill Cheshire

Supersport Modified:
1st Duncan Fraser, 2nd Nick Emery, Jason Weatherall

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I was sad about the car, Adam was sad about the car. But, let’s look at the positives – it’s all about the experiences, and about learning news things.

So, here’s two top things I learnt from the experience: however good my mum is at knitting, she still can’t be persuaded to knit a new rear clam for the Elise, and, however much suncream you use, sunburn can still have a debilitating effect. I couldn’t lift my left arm for three days.

These Recent Things (Thoughts, Fir Cones & The Sea)

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Amidst the busy busyness of recent times, I still managed to find time to go to the sea. Houghton, because Aoife had reminded me how good it is. With Jackie, because she likes the air too. We saw cows that looked like Oreos, sea lavender and fir cones.

It was a welcome escape. We all need to make more time for the sea. Jackie made a little mention of me here and I felt very pleased. (Hey, that’s my kitchen Jackie!)

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Last night Ruth Sultana came home! After almost five weeks of living away, and only visiting on a rare occasion, she has returned and spent the night. Patty Slipper is elated.

April took the spoils, again, at the local village show, with her eggs of glory. I’ll pick the trophy up next week. I really wanted to enter the ‘hedgerow harvest’ category too, but I threw the bouquet from the car window on the way there because it smelt too bad.

I got cocky about April’s excellence and entered her eggs in another show. We ended up with third place disappointment. They didn’t even crack the eggs to see if they were good. The judging was based on the appearance of the eggs and the photograph of the hen. They didn’t like the look of her, or her goods. I won’t tell her. 

Sandra’s been helping me with some admin. She doesn’t get much done, but to be honest, she’s pretty efficient in comparison to some people I’ve worked with!

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MoJo has been being his usual beautiful self. To see his face I sometimes forget how old he is, he’s got to be nearing 18 now. I had to give a urine sample at the hospital the other day (interesting!), and for some reason I felt compelled to tell them exactly how I test my cat’s urine at home! I guess it’s just as bad that I am telling you now, really, but you’re used to me, you expect it!

A few years ago MoJo was really ill. He had a blockage in his urinary tract and he couldn’t pee, not only was he distressed and absolutely full to bursting, the bacteria had gone back into his system and given him blood poisoning. The only option was an emergency operation, but they thought his heart was too weak to survive it. Of course he made it, thank the cat Gods, but it has made me super observant of his movements. Being a house cat he has to use a litter tray, so for me that’s handy, I can keep a check on if he is going to the loo regularly and if I am concerned about anything I can easily take samples (he is ever so good!) And I make sure there’s plenty of fresh water for him to drink, in different places around the house. He prefers to drink from a wide brimmed floral patterned mug. He’s a gentle beast.

I’m telling you all this because, although MoJo is lucky to have a cat-specialist-vet-nurse on speed-dial 24/7 (hello ‘aunty’ Rocky!), not everyone is. It was only the other week that Lucy, Queen of the guinea pigs, was messaging me at midnight about a friend’s cat and it’s limpy leg. I gave good cat help. We all need help sometimes. There’s a really good guide to all things ‘Cat’ over on the RSPCA website, here, it’s worth a look.

Rocky is going to build a Cat Museum and I am going to be a patron. Oh yes.

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It seems like a total age ago that we were in Mumbai, but Glorious! published a few posts last month about our trip, and I wanted to go back immediately.

They opened with, “Karen Harvey, creator and writer of top UK blog ‘I Don’t Like Peas’, is an award winning photographer, writer, creative director and self proclaimed cat whisperer! She has great influence within the online food community, and picked up the UK Food Blogger of the Year Award in 2015!”  Which sounds pretty fancy and you’d think that I’d at least try and do it some justice, wouldn’t you? No. “What’s your favourite cuisine?” they asked, ‘Buffet!” I replied.

There’s a kind-of write up of our meal at Masala Kraft here, but my favourite bit is the little video they put together from some of Adam’s footage. I’d like to go back now.

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Aside from all the other excitement of the month, the biggest thing I worked on was the Shutter Hub OPEN. I’m still exhausted, but I’m also pretty much overjoyed. The whole thing went amazingly – the exhibitions, private views, meet up, talks, workshop, portfolio reviews… all of it, amazing!

I wrote a mega round-up of the OPEN over here, on the Shutter Hub blog, and if you have just a moment to skim over it, I’d really love to share it with you.

I don’t know who this lady is (above), but she was just too beautiful to ignore. After Sara’s wonderful workshop we went with Ali Dover to have dinner at The Old Bicycle Shop. I think their fabulous energy rubbed off on me, because instead of just looking on tiredly, I was compelled to take a photo.

Have you read my interview with Sara (Me & Orla) on the Shutter Hub blog? I keep calling her a tiny powerhouse, because she is, and also I kind of hope that if I say it three-times-quickly she might appear.

I’ve not really shared many food things lately, and I should really. I have been very much enjoying gingery drinks still. This Belvoir Ginger Cordial in particular. (You say ‘Bell vwah’ I say ‘Beaver’).

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We did a sprint at Blyton and it bloody rained. Gutted, because I was going to be a total track demon. Then I did a track day at Hethel and broke the car. Jordan bought me a pink bun though, so it wasn’t all bad. Fingers crossed for this weekend!

Are you using the new instagram video thingy? I don’t like it yet. I like stills. I like preserved memories with intent, finished and thought out photographs. I never got into Snapchat, so I am not sure what the insta version is for, but so far I have used it to announce that I stopped off at the motorway services to use the toilet and the door fell off it’s hinges. I’d stay tuned for future updates if I was you, it can only get more exciting!