*Japanese poisonous fish also known as blowfish. A delicacy.

Don’t just stare at it, eat it. Go on.
Do not be afraid.
It lies there in that perfect handmade bowl
yearning to be eaten.

That is its purpose.

It is why someone went out on a grey morning
and fished on the wild water,
enticing it to bite with a flick of a line.

It is why it was left to die gasping on the deck
seeing the unfiltered light of day for the first time
through a single upturned eye.

It is why it was stored in ice colder than the Siberian sea.

Brought from the market it warmed by day until its flesh softened,
its glassy eye melted, and it lay on the slab
under harsh electric lights,
waiting for somebody to fillet it with sequinned hands,

discard the poison,

cube the soft pale flesh, toss it into hot oil, fragrant
with garlic and spices, then gently lift it from the pan
and place it into this handmade bowl.
Garnished with herbs and a little black pepper,

it is a work of art

you must eat.

Place your life in that artists blade.

Grip hard with your chopsticks the flesh will try to slip
your grasp. Bring it to your lips,
accept its threat like a kiss.
Trust it.
Savour its sting on your tongue.
Feel the warmth of the melt and the release of juices.

The morsel will not last long, but the taste,
well, the taste will linger in your memory

for as long as you might live.

Why so glum?


DSC_0411 (2)

Just a quick ‘hello’ from one of my gorgeous goldfish, who despite the chilly weather are still up and about and enjoying this morning’s sunshine.  They seem to think I should be feeding them, though you are really not supposed to when the temperature is less than 10 degrees, which it most definitely is now.  I do usually keep some ‘winter’ food for days like this, but sadly I’ve run out, so they’ll just have to forage, perhaps that’s why he’s looking so glum!

By the way, no one can convince me that my fish don’t know me.  They always come to the surface when I go out in the garden, and congregate around the area where I usually feed them.  They are tame, and in the summer, I’ll sit for hours while they feed from my hand and swim around my feet – yep, I paddle in the pond even when it’s at it’s murky worst. I love them all, but now we have over 60 of them it’s sometimes hard to remember all their names!!

Have a lovely day all x

In memory of Bet

She never lived to experience the new water feature in the pond, which makes me sad. She would’ve liked it, she always enjoyed a shower under the old one…

Bet Lynch

Bet Lynch

Bet was one of our first goldfish. Brought home in a plastic bag with 16 others and placed proudly in the brand-spanking new pond that we had dug out with our own hands. We called her ‘Bet’ after Bet Lynch, the brassy barmaid from Coronation Street (see pic), because she was a white goldfish with just a smudge of bright red, much the colour of her namesakes lipstick, across her mouth (actually, when I looked for a pic, I was struck by just how much like her she looked – Bet Lynch’s hair looks positively scaley).

I named them all at the time, and many since, but now we have some sixty fish it is a bit hard to keep up. But I’ve still got Bob, who has red eyes and looks like he’s been on an overnighter; Squiffy, who’s got a dodgy mouth; sixpence, who’s only got one red eye so is half of bob (you have to be a certain age for that one!); Alice, who appears to be wearing a dotty headband; Jaffa, who’s scales look like orange peel; Bullet, who’s head is a bit of a strange ermm bullet shape; Big Red, who’s got a big red patch on his head; Splosh, who looks like he’s been dripped on with red paint, ….well, you get the picture..

Yes, sixty odd fish, in our little pond, interbred and jostling for position. We never meant to have sixty fish. Seventeen seemed about right. But they would breed, and now it is a tad overcrowded. But they seem ok. As indeed, do the frogs and toads that co-habit with them.



When we built the pond and brought those little fishes home we had no idea of the pleasure (or the stress) that having that little microworld would bring. I can spend hours just gazing into the water watching the fish busily going about their business, the waterboatmen skidding about over the surface, and the huge, exotic, damselflies swooping down for a sip of water. We worry endlessly about the clarity and condition of the water, whether or not the pump is blocked, whether it’s leaking, and we spend god knows how much hard earned dosh on different types of bacteria to keep the water balance right.

Now, the landscapers have changed it’s shape, from being hexagonal it is now circular, and in the process they managed to make a hole in the lining – fortunately only quite near the top. However, it let enough water out for our Bet to get stranded, and we found her lying caught in one of the plants, above the water on Saturday. Poor Bet, not a nice end.

We buried her, wrapped in a paper towel shroud, in the front garden (we’ve no longer any room for a goldfish burial ground in the back – the men haven’t mentioned finding any remains but there have been many burials over the years, not only of fish, but all the other small friends we once had too…mice and hamsters who died with what seemed quite alarming regularity).

Anyhow, our original little ‘Heath Robinson’ waterfall has today been replaced by a cascade around the pond’s entire circumference. And as I type I can see them laying paving slabs around it. From a distance it looks more formal. But don’t be fooled. That little microworld will still be the same. A playground for the fish and wildlife, and a beautiful distraction from the real world for us.

Well, I am English…

We are known here in England for talking about the weather.  A lot. Well, there’s so much weather to talk about. It’s perpetual change.  Today has been beautiful.  The sky an uninterrupted blue, and the sun warmer than it should be for mid-November.  We have been out in the garden most of he day.   Well, it was a case of having to be really…

Last night the rain hammered on the windows, and a 60mph wind howled.  So much that it brought one of our old trees down.  To be fair, it was a pretty dead tree and we had talked about taking it out at some time, but it felt like an enormous job – it was a big old tree.  We never knew what type it was.  Just a big old tree.

We heard the crash, and when we went out in the dark, and wind, and rain, we saw that it had landed in my beloved pond.

My pond is my pride and joy.  We fuss over it endlessly – checking the filter, clearing out the waterfall-y bit, scooping out leaves that get blown in despite it being permanently covered by a net to stop the Herons.  Having started with seventeen fish, we now have around 65, although many of the original seventeen did get distressingly gobbled up by said Herons.

Since I was so worried about the fish, we spent an hour or so in the rain heaving the heavy fallen trunk and branches out onto the grass.  It was a filthy job, in filthy weather.  This morning, on inspection, the fish were all fine and still begging for food, so no harm done, and we had to set about the exhausting task of breaking up and disposing of all that dead wood.   Thank goodness it was sunny.

It has to be said that English weather, on the whole, despite it’s changeable nature, is pretty tame.  We rarely have hurricanes, or earthquakes.  Though of course, they do occur from time to time. I will never forget the Hurricane in 1987 which brought winds of nearly 100mph leaving me and my six month old twins with no electricity for over a week, and stranded in our home as the roads were impassable.

Since we have moved North we have felt the earth, not quake exactly, but shiver, twice, the only noticeable indication being the rattling of hangers in the wardrobe.

We’ve been lucky.  Some folk’s homes in the south are flooded today, and at least one person lost their life to the storms last night.  And of course, we can never forget the appalling devastation that happen’s in other countries as a result of fierce forces of nature.

They say we are due for high winds and rain over the coming weekend, but at least, here in England, we know that it will pass, and before long, we’ll be blessed with winter sun again.

Keep safe.