Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Now, although this is being posted on New Year’s Day, I severely doubt whether anyone will see it for a few days.

So – are you the first one to read this?

Ooh! A challenge!

As soon as you read this, why not leave a ‘hello’ in the comments and see who’s the first, and how long it takes!

I know how much you lovely humans love your challenges… Stoptober, Movember, Dry-whatsit. So let’s start as you mean to go on – Beganuary. ‘Cause once you begin the New Year with a challenge, why not carry on?

Cue quotes about always doing what you’ve always done; anecdotes about comfort zones, etc.

Resolutions or revolutions?

As I think I probably said before, New Years Resolutions were traditionally made on the Winter Solstice. Perhaps they lasted longer that way. Perhaps they should call this month Janu-wary, because we’re all a bit sceptical about anyone who announces a resolution and says ‘but this year, I’m sticking to it!’

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So how did this month get its name?

Well, blame it – not on the boogie – but on a Roman god called Janus. He was a two-faced god, with one face er, facing the past, and the other, the future. So in terms of reflecting on what’s gone before and looking ahead to new possibilities, he’s the perfect guy for the job. Well, perfect something. Essentially, a two-faced god of transitioning.

So be very Janu-wary if you catch anyone calling themselves a ‘god/goddess-in-training’ – they might be fashioning themselves after Janus!

What does the new year hold for you?

For me, it’s actually putting together everything I was half-heartedly doing last year. Getting more organised, planning stuff like fitness, and so on and so forth.

But looking on the bright side… I’ve always said that I have the hearing of a bat and the eyesight to match… this is the year that I get 2020 vision.

I’ll get my coat.

Christmas grEATings

And how are you all today? Ready for the annual festival celebrating new hope and over-indulgence?

Or is that Easter?

Anyway, it’s getting close now – only a week away.

Shopping to do…

Shelf elves to coerce…

Frantic buying of reindeer food.

Batman psyching himself up for comments about his personal hygiene.

And of course, trying to remember the actual words to Christmas Carols and not the versions that involve the three kings and various forms of automotive transport.

But this year is going to be interesting in the Everyday household. As you know, my vampire constitution, despite being ox-like, means that eating/drinking animal products is a no/no.

This is why vampires in the movies stick to blood – it’s just easier.

That’s just plain lazy if you ask me. I know you didn’t. But those ones are fictional, so I can be a bit cheeky if I want.

And I want.

Back in the day, I’m guessing finding suitable food – or any food – might have been tricky, but these days we’re spoilt for choice. Need to find something dairy/gluten/sugar-free? There’s an app for that.

But finding it back then? Here’s your turnip, madam. Boxes ticked.

Ah! This Christmas. Right. That’s where I was. Yes. This year, Christmas is going to be a bit different. And Christmas dinner will be unrecognisable.

The hubster has gone vegan. He made the change when he did Veganuary – in February. It was only going to be a month until he looked into it a bit further…

It makes my life a lot easier, I can tell you! Nothing in the fridge, freezer, bathroom can now send my vampire immune system into overdrive.

But Christmas dinner this year? No cooking two different meals.

When does the whole turkey thing come from anyway?

Blame Henry VIII.

He started it. Normally beef or chicken would be eaten, but farmers needed the cows for milk and the chickens for eggs. Did you know that over 80% of humans believe that Christmas wouldn’t be the same without turkey? I don’t think anybody asked the turkeys.

If you watch/read/listen to A Christmas Carol, the Cratchits have a goose, while Scrooge spoils them with a massive turkey. Thanks to old King Turkey Leg Henry, Turkey became the thing that rich people ate. Goose was for the impoverished masses. But nowadays, I’ve noticed that turkey is considered a bit meh amongst humans. Onwards and outwards with different, better birds, it seems. Goose seeming to be a particular favourite.

Except for turducken.

I don’t know how anyone can eat something that has ‘turd’ as its first syllable.

So the whole point of the Cratchits being so poor that they can only afford a goose is a bit lost on modern audiences/readers.

Therefore, is turkey the be-all-and-end-all of a Christmas dinner? Apparently not.

I think we’re having some kind of plant-based roast, with all the trimmings. Stuffing (it’s bread, herbs, onion – nothing dodgy there). Pigs in blankets – now there, there will be a concession. But it’s still just (meat-free) sausages wrapped in (meat-free) bacon. Sprouts (I love ’em, the hubster hates them), carrots, cabbage, peas (did you know peas are a good source of protein?) and of course… roast potatoes.

Actually, just give me a plateful of them babies with some gravy and you probably won’t see me until Boxing Day. The trick is to use floury potatoes that, when they’re boiled, get kind of crumbly on the outside. Once you’ve drained them, rough ’em up a bit by shiggling the pan. Put a couple of spoonfuls of oil in a roasting pan and heat it up. I like rice bran oil, but anything with a high smoking point works.

Then put the potatoes in when the oil is hot, get ’em coated and blast them in the oven for about 30 minutes. Basically however long it takes to get them all golden and crusty and now I’m starting to drool.

Anyway, on that note, I’m off to find a mince pie or piece of stollen. I’m hungry.

What will be on your table this Christmas? I’d love to know!

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Bonfire Night – a season for treason?

Are we sitting comfortably?

No?

Good. Then I’ll begin.

Let’s start today with a little bit of etymology. No, not the online study of people called Tim. That’s called cyberstalking. Quite a different thing.

Etymology = study of words

You see, yesterday, in the UK, we celebrated Guy Fawkes Night, aka Bonfire Night.

And here we go.

Bonfire.

bon=good. Did they think this through?

I guess if you’re throwing a few baked spuds on, or toasting marshmallows, or what are they called in America – s’mores?

But… people?

So, this is a whistle-stop bit of background to Bonfire Night/Guy Fawkes Night. Basically, this is what I was taught about it. Apologies for the inevitable oversimplification and probable inaccuracies. For a more accurate description, click here or here.

Remember, remember, the Fifth of November
Gunpowder treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

Back in the 1600s, England was predominantly religion A. Then the place was under new management and became predominantly religion B. So much so, that you became pretty much a second-class citizen if you were an A-ist.

The B-ists dominated government. Like the popular kids at school nicking all the best tables in the lunch hall. The A-ists felt they were not represented fairly in government and in the end, drastic action was decided upon. Something big. Something really big. Something that would shake everything up.

Blowing up the Houses of Parliament.

But they needed someone to help. Enter one Guy Fawkes. Long story short, he got caught. Whether he got ratted out or whether it was just plain bad luck, I’m not sure. Anyway, he got caught and the plan to blow up Parliament has passed into legend as the Gunpowder Plot.

Cutting to the last page – he ended up being burned on a bonfire. These days, we’d call that a wood-fired artisan barbecue. Apparently, he was hung, drawn and quartered first. And no, that’s got nothing to do with those four-panel Andy Warhol portraits.

So there you go. Capital punishment as national holiday. Although I’m not sure how many people actually know the full story behind it…

As I’ve said before, I don’t do Guy Fawkes Night. And neither does the furball. But that’s another story. It’s the fireworks. Did you know you can actually get quiet fireworks? Worth a look.

Stay safe.

 


 

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Pleased to eat you

We have a lot of indoor markets here. It’s kind of a thing in these parts. Amazing places. Looking for something? Go to an indoor market. If you can’t find it, you probably didn’t need it. They have everything. One stall that I never, ever shop at (you’ll see why) has this brilliant slogan – ‘We’re pleased to meet you and we’ve meat to please you.’ Clever. I don’t eat meat, but dang, I can appreciate a good play on words.

To each, their own. Live and let live. That’s my motto. It kind of has to be, really. Just let me get on with my life, and I’ll return the favour (for some reason, the predictive text suggested ‘book’ rather than ‘favour’). As I’ve said before, I have multiple allergies to animal-based products, so I’m vegan by default. Although, I have gradually made it a principle thing too. At least that way, I can pretend I had a choice.

I don’t even bother explaining anymore. The few people in the past I’ve tried to explain it to think I’m just being awkward. The number of comebacks I’ve had… look, you can give me all the anti-plant-based rhetoric you like, chum, it’s not relevant to me! Why do people want me to eat something that’s going to make me ill? And why do you think the legends all bang on about vampires not eating? Here’s a couple of the top irrelevant statements…

“Animals in the wild eat meat!”

Well, when was the last time you saw a lion picking up its weekly shopping in Tesco/Walmart/Aldi? I tell you what, they’d be absolute nightmares at the till. A coupon for everything and guaranteed they’ll want an assistant to pack for them. Plus they can’t park for toffee. They always end up taking up two spaces with their customised jeeps.

“Where do you get your protein from?”

Try asking a gorilla that question. Go on, I dare you. I double dare you. Just be grateful that I tend to avoid blood which, ironically, is the one thing my tummy is happy with. Well, human blood, at least. I can’t remember, to be honest. It’s been so long. Surprised? Shocked? Hello..! Vampire… Nah, we’ve covered this before.

”But it’s what our ancestors used to eat!”

Tricky. And do you know why? Because it kept running away from them. Now I don’t know about you, but if I’m about to have lunch, and my food runs out the door, I’m guessing that stuff ain’t cooked properly. I’m letting the sucker run.
I prefer food that doesn’t have the ability to run away from me. Take a potato, for instance. And when I say take, of course I mean ‘get your own’. You come anywhere near me with the intention of nicking my chips/roast potatoes/mash, I will stick a fork in your hand.

And sometimes, it didn’t run away. Sometimes, you would have been the one running.

Anyway, the potato.

So versatile. So tasty. And they just wait there for you to come to them. In the soil. All nice and cosy. Flash a little bit of skin in the autumn. ‘Ooh, give me a bit more soil, you bad bunny.’ Let’s face it, the potato is a multitasker par excellence. It’s given us mash, chips, crisps, hasselbacks,  those twisty fried things (apparently they’re called Tornado Potatoes? Makes sense), even vodka. It makes the other veg look like total slackers. It doesn’t even brag, does it? It’s always referred to as the ‘humble potato’.

Have you ever actually come across a conceited vegetable though? I’ve often thought asparagus had ideas above its station, but then I realised that’s just a defence mechanism. Rocket/Arugula is another misunderstood plant. I mean, imagine being named after a starship or the sound a klaxon makes in an emergency.

But, our ancestors…

It can’t have been much fun, knowing your food had the capacity to chase you. I mean, certainly nowadays, food choices can kill you but in this case it was literal. ‘I’ll rip off your head and poop down your neck’ – said no veggie burger ever. Okay, so I imagine the animals that our ancestors hunted never said it either, given that they didn’t have the power of human speech. And the fact that they were too busy dealing with indigestion while also trying to find the loo roll.

These days, of course, too much of the wrong food will still kill you. But it’s gotten sneaky. Rather than going with the whole head-biting thing, it’ll do it from the inside. ‘You just wait. I’m gonna fur up your arteries. I’m gonna fix your gut so you can’t be trusted in a crowded lift.’

Seriously, though, I’m plant-based.  Because I am one of those people who can’t be trusted in a crowded lift. I’ll only eat stuff that grows in the ground. Let’s face it, we’re all going back there someday, so I’m getting to grips with my potential neighbours now. Good thing is though, potatoes, carrots etc aren’t known for their revenge tactics.

Hollywood has never made a film called ‘The Usual Saucepans’, or ‘Kill Dill’.

You get what I’m saying.

When I used Google Maps, got lost, and met some nice people along the way

Actually, that’s pretty much the whole story – right there.

You’ve probably heard the saying  “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Well, in this case it was true.

Okay, so it wasn’t a step, it was a crack.

And it wasn’t actually a thousand miles – it just felt like it at the time.

Let me explain.

It all started with having chips for tea. I broke a tooth. Right there and then, I made an emergency appointment for the next day. I’d wanted an excuse to go into town – that wasn’t the one I expected. I get there. It’s over in 10 minutes. It’s a very common thing, apparently.

Being a vampire, I’m a bit paranoid about my teeth. There. I’ve finally admitted it. But another part of the vampire package is the empathy & being able to read people (hence the myth about us being mindreaders). That all leads to stress. And that leads to bruxism (that’s the fancy word for teeth grinding). It happens at night, so I can’t control it. This puts pressure on fillings, which in turn can pop the side of the tooth off. It hurts when it happens, but the pride is the thing most damaged.

I decide to make the most of my enforced trip out. Earlier that morning, I had some time to kill before I left for my emergency appointment. Where else can you successfully waste a few minutes, but on the internet? I had noticed on social media that a new vegan supermarket had opened in the same town (I’m sure I’ve told you how my vampire gastrointestinal tract throws a diva-like hissy fit over animal products). I decide to walk there after my appointment (as long as I’m not off my face again after the anaesthetic). Apparently, it’s only 10 minutes away from where the dentist is. I tried Google maps. He tells me it’s 40 minutes away.

(no anaesthetic was needed in the end)

Oh well, the walk will do me good and I’m sure the shop will be amazing when I get there.

I basically end up halfway back home. I follow the map rigorously. After over three-quarters of an hour walking, I reach an apparent hill. It seems Figs Road leads to Kumquat Hill, at the end of which is my destination. Now there’s a thing – Figs Road is a hill, but Kumquat Hill is actually a Road (how does that work?) Anyway, having gone up the road and along the hill, I find myself somewhere completely deserted.

Luckily, I hear two men at work. I ask them where such and such address is. At first, they weren’t sure but I told them the sort of thing that I was looking for. The younger one said the only one he knew of was this new vegan supermarket that was opening that day, to which I probably got a bit overexcited and exclaimed, “That’s it!” and then we got into a discussion about how much such a place was needed in the area.

I dropped into conversation the fact that a well-known celebrity vegan chef would be there later and a separate conversation ensued between the man and his older colleague as to who this celebrity actually was, and what he’d ‘been in’.

They then gave me the most amazing, clear instructions of how to get to this place which I duly did in about 10 minutes. And guess what? The place was amazing. It had everything imaginable in there. I told them my plight and they were very friendly – even offered to drive me back into town. I declined, determined to discover the correct route between there and the town centre. As long as you’re sure, hope to see you again. After my impulse purchases (I may have gone a little crazy), I decided to head back into town.

And guess what? (again)

The chap talking in the social media post had been correct. It was actually only about 10 minutes from the centre of town. I had indeed walked so far out of the way that I was in danger of being close enough to just walk back home instead of taking the train home. So glad I didn’t.

I went into the shop the following day with the hubster. The nice men I’d talked to the previous day had actually popped in! They’d mentioned bumping into me, and the chap in the shop had remembered me from the day before… Now that’s customer service!

And the moral of the story?

Be careful what you wish for.

Every cloud has a silver lining.

Bad days and good days have one thing in common – they’re both only 24 hours long. And sometimes, you have to wait a bit for good to come out of the bad and sometimes, you don’t have to wait long at all.


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I never drink… wine

Sorry, I just had to use that classic quote.

Just a short one today. Ever wondered why the majority of movie vampires have such a restricted diet? But why some do eat? I’m thinking wonderful things like deep-fried onion ‘flowers’… (Name That Fictional Vampire!)

I probably should have mentioned this just after Christmas, when everybody’s motto is  “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we diet.”

So…

Food.

I know I have briefly talked about this before. But looking back, I realised that I never explained it properly. Well, guess what – today is your (un)lucky day.
I have talked about allergies and sensitivity to certain foods. I have not gone into detail about their effects on my vampire metabolism. Nor will I. Some things you just don’t talk about. Nor would you want me to talk about them.

It’s really quite straightforward.

But first, I’ll go off on one of my infamous tangents. Well, I say infamous…  the truth is nobody cares. Like when some brand/store/restaurant claims that something of theirs is world famous, you can be pretty sure that it’s probably not.

So, here’s my tangent. Mostly to try to key into your human sensibilities by sharing an incident that actually happened to a human. A rather cool human, to be honest. One of the few friends I had growing up. But that’s a tangent on a tangent.

Anyway!

This friend… let’s called her Persephone. Mostly because I wanted the excuse to use that name somewhere. Persephone was not a ‘look-before-you-leap’ kind of human. She was always an ‘Ask-questions-after’ kind of person.

One day, Persephone was thirsty and wandered into her kitchen and saw a nice glass of lemonade sat there. Thinking it had been left sitting there by one of her flatmates, she glugged it back, making a note to replace it later. She also ended up needing to replace her lunch, and the kitchen mat.

It wasn’t lemonade.

It was cooking oil.

Her flatmate was baking and couldn’t find the measuring cup for the oil so had used a glass instead.
And if that wasn’t enough to make her check first, a mere few days later, she pulled out a chunk of cheese from the fridge and dived into it. She carved herself a big chunk and scarfed it down. Only it wasn’t cheese. It was butter.

As you can imagine, it put her off oil and butter. She dry-fried her food for the rest of her life. Her relationship with lemonade and cheddar was also touch-and-go for a long time. Now imagine if you actually were allergic. Imagine how put off you would then be if you tried a food and it made you feel ridiculously ill. Even seeing it would set you off.

Makes you wonder what must’ve happened with the garlic, doesn’t it? It’s a classic thing that vampires are utterly revolted and repelled by the stuff. Think about it. That’s got to be the most traumatic garlic bread ever.

And so that’s why you see so many vampires that just stick to good old blood. It’s just easier. Beats all the hassle of –

But I said I wouldn’t talk about that.

And the ones you see eating? We’re the ones that got past the knee jerk reactions and worked out what we could eat.

Simple, really.

Summer’s here! No it isn’t… Well…

People always joke that you can tell it’s Christmas because Easter eggs are in the shop. Well, we’ve just done with Easter (there are still loads of eggs in the shop, mind you) so, one could be forgiven for thinking that it must be summer now. Is it just me that gets confused by this, or do you humans have a problem with it too?

True, it rains all the time here, so it could very well be summer and nobody has told me. But the rain slamming down on the conservatory roof feels at odds wth the flip flops and picnic paraphernalia I saw half an hour ago in the shops.

The clocks have gone back. The body clock however is having slightly more difficulty adjusting. I’d hate to wake up late one morning and realise that I’d missed summer. It is, after all, the best day of the year. Yes, I know. I don’t like sunshine. It hates me back. But a summer’s day is delightful, if confusing in the wardrobe department.

Sunhat and wellies?

Scarf and sandals?

Waders and sunglasses?

Oh, the combinations are endless.

The furball continues to take me on long walks (she’s currently mapping the local area in her little doggy brain, and enjoys knitting places together in the oddest combinations). She also continues to try to drag me into the sea after her. And all the while, she still refuses to stick her nose out of the door if it’s raining. Consequently, she’s in the conservatory, surveying her kingdom from the warm, dry safety of her sofa. And while she’s out there doing her ‘Mistress-of-all-she-surveys’ routine, it’ll hopefully give me the opportunity to squeeze in some yoga without her

a) giving me an impromptu face wash

b) mistaking my ‘downward dog’ for me wanting to play with her (that often ends up with a rope toy swung into my face)

c) showing me up with how weirdly bendy she is

Our earlier walk was, surprise surprise, on the beach, which this past week has been increasingly populated by tourists with their free-range mutts. Next week, she’s got a shock in store. I’m starting running again. And she’s coming with me.

Ah! I know what the giveaway thing is. I’ve remembered why I keep thinking summer might be on its way.

Endless holiday adverts and people bashing on about being “beach body ready”

Huh?

The beach is ten minutes down the road.

I have a body.

Boom.

Job done.

Oh! You mean the body has got to be perfect?

And by that, you mean so skinny that I could snap in half if caught in a high wind?

Well, that’s going to take a bit longer.

Because I refuse to be told what to look like.

Because even if I did, the vox populi (which thanks heavens, is not vox dei) would still find something to binch about.

Because I prefer to be strong than skinny.

And because, in order to fulfil this impossible and fake ideal, I’d probably have to give up chocolate.

And I’m no quitter.