Monday, 1 June 2009

My Wonderful Week Off, Part The First

Before I start, I love my job, I really do. I love the bustle of working in the county library, and I love the responsibility of running my own little branch library. I love the staff, the customers, the books....but it has been a long time since I had a proper break. I don't think I have had a whole week off since Christmas...and as it is now June (how I love starting a new month on a Monday!) I am really ready for a break.

And how scrumptiously it has started! Now summer is not my favourite season- I burn easily, wilt in the heat, and find myself longing for the crisper days of autumn. But the sudden glorious sunshine and excellent clothes-drying weather we have been enjoying has been a balm to my spirits. I find I have a spring in my step, and an overwhelming urge to wash everything I can get my hands on, and put it out on the line to blow dry.

This Saturday (to labour a point, my first Saturday off in three weeks!) I was not initially thrilled to hear that we were going to spend it with dear Carl servicing our car with his Dad...but it turned out to be a wonderful day. My lovely in-laws live in the middle of the countryside in a tiny village, surrounded by green fields and other little villages...you could be in the middle of Midsommer Murder country! We took our washing with us, and I pegged everything out to dry in the warm breeze as Carl and his Dad saw to our car. I sat and sipped tea and chatted with my Mother in Law, and then we shared a lovely lunch in the conservatory (she does a lovely thing where she puts out salads and dressings and french bread, crackers and cheese, pate and ham, and other such goodies from the fridge, then lets everyone help themselves). The afternoon disappeared as we caught up on family news, planned gifts to take to an up-coming family wedding, talked about outfits and so on.

When the men came in, rather tired and hungry, a plan was formed- to the pub for a quick drink, then off to get a Chinese takeaway, then home for a film. The local pub is in the next village, and is called The Swan. It is a lovely little pub, all oak beams and cask ale, and the very essence of what a country pub should be. I sipped half a perry, as I am not much one for drink, and we spent a happy hour listening to some music they had playing, and trying to remember who it was. (No, not Michael Buble...the one that is like him but not....has brown hair...YOU know, the one that isnt Buble....oh you do know, you DO....) As we drove to the next little village (dear Carl never drinks and drives...his tipple was a grapefruit juice!) it suddenly came to me, and I shouted 'Jamie Cullum' which somewhat startled everyone else in the car!

After our Chinese dinner, we watched Red Eye together (I should have spent more time enjoying the tense atmosphere of the film, but I was actually wondering where the lead actress got her gorgeous cardigan from, and which brand of eyeshadow she was wearing, and which shade of lipstick!) and then Carl and I left for home....tired but happy.

Yesterday seemed to just fly past. We went into town together, and had a picnic lunch in the park. I am amazed still at how summer seems to be winning me over. I love how the dappled shade of the trees shifts and shimmies in the breeze. We purchased a wedding gift and the newspapers, then returned home where time just seemed to slip away, and suddenly, it was time for bed....

Today has been blissful. My lovely friend Anna came for the morning, and we chatted nineteen to the dozen, exclaiming over the loveliness of Miss Pettigrew Lives For The Day which we had on in the background, ate lunch, and I unwrapped some utterly delightful birthday gifts. Amongst them was a red and white polka dot oven glove- I hadnt mentioned it (but Anna and I share such close taste, we always seem to be in synch!) but I have a real thing for polka dots recently, particularly red and white ones! I have been coveting a toadstool money box that I spied in town a while ago, and have an urge to make fairy toadstool salds, like my Mum made for me when I was a little girl.

Fairy Toadstool Salad

Tie on a polka dot pinny, and flick on some toe-tapping music

Pick out a pretty vintage plate for each person

Boil one egg for each person

Hopefully you will be having 2,4,6 or any other multiple of 2 guests for lunch, as you will need to cut a tomato in half, and use one half for each guest.

Shred some lettuce finely, and strew over the plate to be the grass (you can dress it before you strew it should you care to)

Peel the hardboiled egg, and slice a tiny bit off of the fatter end, so that it will stand up on the plate.

Make a little clearing in the salad 'grass' and place the egg there.

Squeeze some tiny dots of salad cream, mayonnaise, or primula cheese over the tomato half

Sit the spotty tomato half on top of the egg to make the toadstool

If you like, you can make a little clearing from the toadstool to the edge of the plate, and fill it with grated cheese to make a path

Depending on how much time and inclination you have to play further, you could make cucumber flowers or radish roses or carrot curls to sit in the grass.

Enjoy!

I have to confess that I did not serve up Fairy Toadstool Salads for lunch today, instead I whipped up a little lunch dish of my own invention, and was rather pleased with how it turned out:

Summer Salmon Lunch Dish To Share With A Good Friend

Tie on a pretty apron, and play some Harry Connick Jr

Put a handful of Jersey Royals on to boil, until they are just tender. I like to rummage through the bag and pick out the tiniest ones.

Meanwhile, lightly poach a little salmon fillet in a pan of simmering water

Finely chop one spring onion, and mix with the cooled potatoes and flaked salmon

In a blender, mixer, or food processor (or you could use a bowl and fork) mix together a big dollop of cottage cheese, and a smaller dollop of mayonnaise, and several sprigs of parsely. You want enough to coat the potatoes and salmon, but not so much that it is swimming in it, so use your own judgement here.

When it is mixed together, fold into the potato-salmon-spring onion mixture, and put in the fridge to chill

I served this with a serve-yourself salad of watercress, cherry tomatoes, cucumber and celery.

Enjoy with a friend, serve with several cups of tea, and lots of gossip!

I hope that the first of June brings you sunshine and happiness and the start of many happy summer adventures!

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I just love your blog and the way you describe everything. I can just picture those wonderful little villages in my mind. I am in the US and have always wanted to visit England. Keep up the good work and enjoy your vacation!

The Vintage Kitten said...

You do egg toadstools too? When I was a child in the 1970's I was given the Good Housekeeping childrens cook book (which I still have) and they are called 'eggomaniacs' I used to make them for the children I childminded. I made them for Mr Kitten once and I think he thought I had been taken away by the pixies!!! Now I can tell him Im not the only one, Hee Hee X

The Vintage Kitten said...

Your week off sounds wonderful, I cant wait for part 2. Hope you had a lovely birthday X

Yvonne said...

Mimi, It must me "all librarians take a vacation week"! I have been on vacation and took a relaxing trip to Florida. Lots of sunning on the beach and I read five books to boot!

Hope yours was fun.

Now I'm back and getting organized for our annual "Summer Reading Program". Do you do long term reading programs at your library? Maybe we could exchange ideas?

Yvonne
a librarian in Indiana, USA

Dinah Soar said...

Ditto for me on what anonymous said above!

I love Great Britain and especially enjoy reading British blogs like yours.

Mimi said...

Yvonne- just in case you read this, and I hope you do, I would love to talk summer reading for kids! Oh yes, we do it in a big way over here, and I am really excited as although I have done it for the past 9 years, this is my first time running it from my own library! We have a great theme this year- Quest Seekers, it is a bit Harry Pottery, a bit Dungeons and Dragonsy. It would be wonderful to compare notes! Hope you had a great week off!