Archive for the 'food' Category

01
Oct
13

I kissed a cod and I liked it

First off, let me just say that I am not a fisherman.  Stick a fishing rod in my hand, plunk me on the dock or in a boat, and the fish just know it’s time to head for the farthest shoreline.  So this isn’t about fishing, lures, or where the best spots are.

Newfoundland dead capelins beach But in three months of traversing Canada from Cape Spear and Bonavista to Courtenay on Vancouver Island – with a little hop between Toronto and Edmonton to skip the uninteresting parts –  we’ve seen a lot of fish.

Our piscatorial perambulations started at Twillingate, Newfoundland.   On an early-evening outing to a cliffside lighthouse we ran into a couple from New Hampshire who casually asked us if we’d seen all the millions of capelins on the shoreline a mile or so back.  Nope.  Never heard of capelins before, actually, but we were intrigued enough to tear ourselves away from the lighthouse and dramatic coastal views to go have a look.

We parked beside a beach and made our way the short distance through the grass to the Newfoundland capelin eggsbeach.  Right away we were struck by the strange, spongy feel to the sand, but thought nothing of it as we walked along the shoreline to some people with buckets and nets gathered by some rocky outcroppings at the northern end.   We passed by a few dead fish the size of large sardines or small herring scattered here and there – nothing approaching millions – but by the time we reached the end the fish were piled up six inches deep in places, and with every wave more were being thrown ashore.

These were capelins, which do indeed arrive by their millions in Newfoundland every June to spawn.  The females leave their eggs in the sand and the males come by to fertilise them.  Then they all die.  Keeps the divorce rate low, I guess.  Anyway, that spongy feel underfoot all along the beach were, in fact, the eggs.  They’re pin-head tiny, but there are billions of them, so they pile up thick on the shore.

Kissing that cod.

Our next fishy encounter was a few days later in Trout River, a former outport town on the western shore of Newfoundland just west of the Gros Morne National Park boundary.

Newfoundland Trout River north

Trout River wasn’t the prettiest town we visited, but in true Newfoundland fashion the people were very friendly and the more you hung around, the more you learned from them .  We talked to a Fisheries and Oceans Canada fellow staying in the cabin next to us about his life and work, how he goes out on the fishing boats monitoring catches and making sure they’re keeping within pre-set guidelines.  He suggested we drop by the local museum for their traditional codfish salt preserving tour, so we headed over there one rainy day and got the full face of it.

In a tour halfway up and down the shoreline boardwalk our guide described how Newfoundland Gros Morne Trout River gutting fishNewfoundland life was back in the old days before TV and roads and a way out, much of it dedicated to the harvesting and preservation of fish.  Salt was what they used to preserve it back in the day before refrigeration, so after letting us try our hands at splitting – what we call gutting – the cod – she let us carefully scoop a half-bucket of it over the filets we’d managed to carve out.

Newfoundland Gros Morne Trout River kissing cod

Then it was time to kiss the cod.  This ritual is only one of about three – some say there are up to eight – hoops you have to jump through – be you a tourist or recent immigrant – if you’re ever going to be a Newfoundlander.  Others involve drinking Newfie Screech, parroting back dialectical utterances to a Newfoundlander after having downed said Screech, and other stuff we won’t get into.

Up she held a fresh cod, out puckered our lips as we took turns smooching the dead-eyed creature.  I can’t say it was the most enjoyable kiss I’ve ever had, but to reveal how bad back in the day some of my dates were, it wasn’t the worst.

Giving it away.

After Trout River we had plans to head north to l’Anse-aux-Meadows to the world-famous Viking archaeological site, but didn’t want to put ourselves through yet more driving, so we headed back west and pulled into Elliston, a village a few minutes down the coast from Bonavista known for a rather large colony of puffins.Newfoundland Bonavista Elliston puffin

The puffins were cute and fun to watch as they waddled about on the grassy rocks and dive-bombed for fish, but what I’ll always remember about that place were the cod.

Newfoundland used to be the world capital of cod fishery, but over-fishing and gross mis-management led to a collapse of stocks and a complete closure more than 20 years ago.  Today the stocks are still low, but there are enough out there to allow your average joe and jane fisherperson an inland cod fishery two or three weeks at a time twice a year depending on location.  One boy in another town said, “we were supposed to catch 15, but only got nine,” when asked how the day went, humourously confusing their daily limit with obligation.

Newfoundland Bonavista Elliston splitting codEarly one morning I got up to look at the puffins, then kept on walking down the path to a nearby bay just to watch the waves roll in and maybe spy one of the many whales plying the Atlantic coastline.  I saw three men in a small boat heading for shore, and by the time I reached their tiny cove they were already onshore splitting their catch.

I headed down there with my camera and was immediately assaulted with the stench of old fish obviously discarded over days past.   Some were crawling with maggots.  Stepping over and around the carcasses I went up to the men and asked for a closer look at their catch.

Newfoundland Bonavista Elliston trio splitting cod

“Ya just missed tha biggest one,” said an elderly gent who must have been in his late seventies.  I would have liked to have seen the size of it, because the ones still in their buckets waiting to be split and thrown in coolers still looked pretty sizable.

“My wife and I were in Bonavista yesterday looking for some cod to buy on the docks,” I told them.  “My wife can’t understand why there’s no place to just pick one up from a boat.”

“Can’t sell’em,” the youngest one said, “but you want some cod?”

He pulled a couple of filets out of the cooler and threw them in an empty bucket.

“Here ya go,” he said.  “Ever had cod tongue?  How ’bout britches?

We’d heard about cod tongue, a tender, almost jelly-like part from the underside of the head, and britches turned out to be the roe, but we’d yet to try either.

They threw in a few of those for good measure and after a few more minutes’ gab sent me on my way.  Though it was barely past 10 they were finished for the day, and getting ready to pull the boat above the high-tide line for the night.

Mashed-up fish on Mashiter Creek

A month later clear across the country – it would take you 96 hours to cover the 7,402 km from Bonavista, Newfoundland to Squamish, BC according to my GPS thingy – we drove over a tonne of pink salmon without even knowing it.

Canada British Columbia Squamish Garibaldi Elfen Lakes trailThey were thrashing like crazy under a bridge we’d driven across one morning to reach the Elfin Lakes trailhead 14km up a winding road through the forest, but we had no idea they were there until many hours later on the way back down when we met a man from France in a hiking shelter.

Well, we didn’t know he was from France until he oPENNed his mouse and started struggling to talk like ziss…

So we got to chatting in our sadly little-used French and he said he was amazed at how so many fish were crowded into so small a creek, you could have walked across on their backs, and it was just down the hill a few kms away.

“Is that bridge just after a golf course on your right and a bunch of industrial buildings on your left?”

“Yes, that’s it.”

“Mashiter Creek,” I said.  “That has to be it,” realising I was about to have another experience in this town that I’d heard about all my life growing up but never bothered to have: see the fish spawning.

Once there we got out and stood on the bridge at the spectacle below us.

“We’ve got to go get the red-haired teen and show her this before the light’s gone,” I said.

So we headed back to our place and I hauled her back to show her the fish.  We didn’t just stand on the bridge and take a couple of snapshots, though.  We headed through the bush on the east side of the bridge to the water’s edge, marvelling at the sight of it all.  And up close, the stench.

Feeling the need to go see the fish as they turned off the Mamquam River up the Mashiter British Columbia pink salmon maggots roeonly 30 or so metres downstream, we walked through the sand and scrub to the confluence.  The salmon were thrashing like mad to fight the flow of both rivers, one after the other, a seemingly endless supply of them.  Along the way I stepped on a dead fish and got a footload of stench and maggoty goodness, but that only added to the fascination.

I suddenly realised that all this dead meat lying around might be a good place to see eagles and bears feeding –  the former majestic, the latter potentially dangerous – but surprisingly, we didn’t see either.

Nevertheless, we didn’t linger, even if the smell in our nostrils did.

30
Apr
13

Vaginal cream chocolate bar. Yum.

For readers with small children in the area, this post contains words and pictures which acknowledge the existence of sexual organs, so you might want to make the print really, really small.

The red-haired girl has a job for a few months now.  Up to three times a week you can find her at a local pharmacy picking up prescriptions for delivery to customers in the broader neighbourhood.   She gets eight bucks an hour plus tips, which sometimes can be substantial.  I call her our drug-runner.

Yesterday she came home with a package I’m still puzzling over.  Take a look at this:

Vaginetten Myko Kombi chocolate bar Vaginalzäpfchen suppositories

What do you first think of when you see a chocoate bar named Vaginetten?  I know what I think.  Ewwwwww……

Especially when the translation of that fine print at lower left sinks in:

White Chocolate, tenderly melting like Vagisan’s Cremolum Myko Kombi.

Vagisan Myko Kombi white chocolate yumUh, now I get it.  The creamy-white anti-yeast-infection cream suppositories Vagisan vaginal suppositoriesthey’re pushing melt in your hoo-ha just as smoothly as this creamy white chocolate melts in your mouth.

Only people who graduated in the bottom half of their marketing class could have come up with this.    Seriously, what were they thinking?

“I know!  We’ll package up white chocolate bars to give away at pharmacies.  People will pick them up and wonder who could be dumb enough to market vaginal cream with white chocolate, they’ll take it home, take a photo and throw it up on social media.  Voilà!  Free advertising!”

They’re not so stupid after all.

09
Apr
13

how to bake bread on one leg

Hobbling around on crutches means you can’t do much of what you usually do, but as long as you have a bit of balance and are organised, you can still pivot on one leg in the kitchen.

The other day I made what around here will forever be known as one-legged bread.  

To make one-legged bread, you first have to rip your quadriceps tendon, get it sown back to your kneecap around three permanently installed screws, spend nearly a week in hospital, and still be a week or so away Ian knee post-op front x-rayfrom being able to walk without crutches or ankle-to-hip leg brace.

If that step sounds like too much hassle, I fully understand.

But since making bread of any kind means going slow, being patient and taking long pauses, your mindset is already there if you’re approaching it on one leg.

And because your muscles are wasting away immobile while the tendon heals, you should be eating a lot of protein – like steak!  That is a tip from my old friend Vreni in Vancouver at Wellness Works.  And I’ve recently discovered an ancient whole grain called Kamut that is not only very tasty, it has more than twice the protein of run-of-the-mill whole grain wheat.  So in this recipe, that’s what I use.  It grinds up well in a grain mill if you have one.  Thanks again, Vreni – for that and your advice on how to best recover from my injury.

The first step is to make a thick, awful-looking batter called a sponge that will serve as the basis of the bread dough. In this recipe you use white flour, kamut flour, dried yeast, honey and lukewarm water.  Ingredient list and details at bottom.

Mix that up with a whisk until it has the consistency of thick pancake batter.

Then mix well together some more white flour, yeast and salt, and pour all that over the sponge.  Cover and let sit on your counter for an hour, then put it in the fridge overnight or up to 24 hours.  Or if winter is still lingering, stick it out on the balcony if it’s not too far below freezing.

When you get up the next morning, the yeast will have bubbled up into the flour mixture and look like this:

one-legged bread sponge mixtureYou can see how the sponge has bubbled up from below to mix on its own with the flour mixture on top.  This is perfectly OK.

Now get a good wooden spoon and mix it all together, then knead the dough for about 5 minutes.

Then go give your leg – and the bread – a rest!   Stick a bowl over the dough and let it sit for 20 minutes.  That allows the dough to expand a bit, making the rest of the kneading easier.

ian in hamburg one-legged bread rising

While you’re letting the bread rest or during one of the risings, maybe you can do an exercise you learned in physio: lie flat on your back, and try to raise the injured knee off the ground by sliding your heel along the floor toward your butt.  I get about this far until it hurts like a bugger and I can raise it no more:

Quadriceps tendon ripped bending knee

Back to the bread:

Knead it for about 10 minutes more after it rests, then put back in your bowl, cover and set in a warm place to rise.

It should rise about double after about 90 minutes.

Punch it down, fold it over a couple of times – but don’t knead it – then put it back into your bowl to rise a second time.  It won’t take as long this time to rise.

After it’s risen a second time, punch it down again and shape to an elongated form and place in your bread pan.

bread dough in pans before final rising baking

Leave it uncovered somewhere warm to rise to about an inch or so above the loaf pan rim, then stick in the oven at 240 degrees C or 475 F for 10 minutes, lowering the temperature to 215 C or 425 F and baking for another 25 minutes or so.

Take it out, let it cool on a rack a bit, slice off an end, put on a bit of butter, enjoy!  Then hop off to rest while it all cools.

Ingredients and method:  I have two huge loaf pans, so I multiply by FOUR the recipe listed below.   Splitting the huge mass of dough into two, each loaf should weigh about 1600 grams before you bake it.   I usually cut the loaves in half and freeze what we don’t eat right away.

Putting the sponge mixture overnight in the fridge is not really necessary.  You can mix it up into dough after a couple of hours if you like, but leaving it overnight makes for a more full-flavoured bread.  Just make sure you let it warm up again for an hour or so after taking it out of the cold.

For the sponge:

All-purpose white flour (in Germany 405): 1 cup / 155 grams

Kamut or whole wheat flour: 1/4 c / 36 g

Honey: 1 1/4 tsp

Dry instant yeast: 3/8 tsp  / 1.25 g

water 1 1/3 cups:  / 320g

DO NOT ADD SALT TO THE ABOVE MIXTURE.

Flour mix:

White flour: 1 3/4 cups  / 290g

Dry instant yeast: 1/2 tsp

Salt:  1 1/2 tsp

Enjoy:

ian in hamburg one-legged bread kamut

This recipe I’ve adapted from The Bread Bible, eliminating all the fancy stuff like throwing in ice cubes into the oven before baking to provide moisture.  She also recommends pre-heating the oven to 475 F ONE HOUR BEFORE BAKING!  I suppose in a universe of infinitely free electricity this might not be such a bad idea, but around here our light bills just jumped another 10 percent, so lady, forget it!

23
Jan
13

Grinding it out with a grain mill

Germany HaWo Kornmühle grain mill wideOne of the first things I noticed about my wife K’s kitchen in Hong Kong was this big, blocky wooden thing in the corner near the back door leading out to the terrace.

“What’s THIS?” I asked, flipping a globular wooden knob back and forth.

“It’s a grain mill,” she said.  “A friend brought it from Germany for me.”

That really floored me.  Her flat was actually quite spacious by the cramped standards of Hong Kong, but the kitchen was little more than a narrow corridor wedged between an oversized living room and the tiny, windowless room we stored stuff in, but was designed as the maid’s bedroom.  We may have been cooking with gas, but you had to be really organised or you’d quickly run out of counter room.  You could stretch your arms across and touch both walls it was so small, so this glorified hunk of wood seems like the last thing you’d need.

But she swore by the results she got by grinding her own whole wheat flour, and I couldn’t much argue after she served up some Kaffee und Küchen for the first time. 

In Hamburg we have a much bigger kitchen, so the mill seems to take up a lot less room on our counters, and after 22 years it still gets used a lot, especially the last couple of years or so that I’ve been baking bread regularly.Germany HaWo Kornmühle grain mill cleaning

It’s a German product, dependable and built to last out of solid beech, but you have to take it apart once in a while to give it a thorough cleaning or it starts to look a little ratty.

On the inside you’ll find a powerful motor and millstones made of a hardened ceramic.  The first time I turned loose all the bolts and separated the parts to clean was after it hadn’t been used in a few months.

There were a few bug skins clinging to the walls of the flour chute and around the grinding face, which was a bit of a YUCK moment, but once it was scrubbed clean, put back together and burnished with linseed oil, it looked good as new.

For grain I head to the organic food store.  I’ve ground a variety of grains over the years, but usually stick to wheat because that’s what the bread recipes I use call for.  The only thing I’ve not tried is corn, because I’ve never found corn kernels that specially say they’re for making corn flour, but what I’d love to do is grind some corn to see if I can make some whole grain polenta from it.

Germany HaWo Kornmühle grain mill settingsThe manufacturer’s website has a variety of mills to choose from, and I like the fact they still make the exact model we own.  Their website gives you a bit of sticker shock, though.  Our model will set you back €454, but they’re guaranteed for 10 years.  Like I said, they’re built to last, so you should have it at least as long as we have with regular care.

If you want to see it running in this video, turn your sound down!  It is a bit of a noisy thing:

27
Sep
12

The Bread Bible: Mantovana Olive Oil Bread

This post is by special request from Cliff, whose Regensblog is so rich with recipes it could be tweaked to that of a 100% foodie if he and Sarah wanted to.  I make their Dutch Apple pie at least a half-dozen times a year.

I haven’t done a recipe post since my televised pizza fiasco a few years back, but now I’ve got two lined up.

First: the Bread Bible, pictured at left.  I hope the author Rose Levy Berenbaum doesn’t kill me for reproducing her recipe and thereby breaking whatever copyright she has over it.  As compensation she gets free publicity and a raving review from this one very satisfied bread baker whose undying loyalty to her methods will surely …. OK, you get the point.

This olive oil bread I’ve now made three times and always as a double batch.   The ingredients are really easy to work with and can be bought at any store.  Don’t go all organic if you don’t want to.  I use normal unbleached white flour – the cheap stuff they call 405 here – mixed in with organic whole wheat.

Here’s the shopping list for a single batch:

Sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sunflower seeds: 28 grams or 3 tablespoons each

Cracked flaxseed: 27 grams or 2.5 tablespoons.  You should toast these seeds a bit in the oven.

White flour: 250 grams or 1 and 2/3 cups.

Whole wheat flour: 88 grams 2/3 cup.  (She says scant 2/3 cups, whatever the heck that means.)

Instant yeast: 2.4 grams or 3/4 teaspoon

Water at room temp: 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons, or 266 ml (grams if weighing)

Extra virgin olive oil: 1/4 cup or 54 grams

Salt: 1 and 1/8 teaspoon, or 7.4 grams.

I do everything by hand.

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and gather to a ball and start kneading for five minutes.  It will be very sticky, but try to resist the urge to add too much extra flour.  You should have a decent dough scraper to work with.

Then let the flour “rest” for 20 minutes under an inverted bowl.  That helps make it less sticky, and easier to work with.

Knead about five more minutes, then set in a covered container big enough to allow to rise, then let it rise for about 90 minutes.

When doubled, pat it down gently but don’t knead the heck out of it.  Just turn it a couple of times and put it back in the bowl to rise again.

When it’s risen a second time, shape your dough into the pan – I butter mine first – and let it rise uncovered.  When the dough has risen about an inch above the rim of the pan, put it in the hot oven – 230C or 450F –  for the first five minutes, then lower it to 200C or 400F for about 40 to 45 minutes.

You don’t even need a pan.  You can prepare a pizza stone and bake it like a country-style round loaf.   I don’t bother to do that because I like even slices.  So boring.

A thing about salt and yeast: they say that salt coming into contact with yeast will kill it.  To be extra sure this doesn’t happen, I always add the salt after the first rising.  You might have other ways to add the salt.

One thing you may have noticed about the measurements given is that the author of the Bread Bible is an incredible exacto-nut.  She has her weights and measures down to the last gram and 1/16th of a teaspoon.  All well and good, but it’s a wee bit too stressful for duffing it in the kitchen like I’m doing.

Still, I try to get the measurements right, and if you’ve already got a decent digital kitchen scale, it pays to use it for baking bread because the volume of one type of flour is going to be different from others.   Weighing your stuff takes out the guesswork.  For really small amounts – like measuring the yeast – I use spoon measures and that works out fine.

Berenbaum also recommends getting see-through containers so that you can gauge exactly when the dough has doubled in volume.  Again, I just give it at least an hour, check it, if it looks like it could go a little more, then give it 15-30 minutes more.  If you have a bread-rising setting in your oven, use it.  Makes a nice, warm place for the dough to do its thing.

If you do get the book she also recommends a slew of things I don’t bother with.  For example, she’ll tell you to pre-heat your oven an hour before putting the bread in.  WTF?  We actually pay electricity bills with bite here in the real world.  I don’t know about you in North-America la-la-land, but there’s no way in hell I’m going to pre-heat an oven five minutes longer than necessary.

She’ll also say to throw in a few ice cubes in the bottom of the oven when you put the bread in.  I guess that’s for some added moisture, but I’ve never done it and never felt my results were lousy.  I’ve nothing to compare with of course, but we’ve been happily eating her breads without the fancy extras, and will keep on doing so.

Anyway, this is what it should look like sliced open:

I’m sure I’ve forgotten a step or there’ll be a question or two, so if you have any, fire away.  Please don’t be bothered if I don’t respond right away, as this bread, native to Tuscany, gives you a broad hint as to where we’ll be over the next couple of weeks.

21
Sep
12

The blueberry jam backstory

Three humble jars of homemade wild forest blueberry jam sit in the coolness of our apartment thanks to a clash 300km east of here between a bridge construction crew and technology gone wild.

We were staying for the weekend near a lake in a small corner of eastern Germany because an old friend from our Hong Kong days was celebrating his 60th birthday.  It was a huge bash.  He’d invited his whole extended family and everyone he’d known from those days, so there was a good crowd of more than 120 people.  We were all crammed into a discotheque in this tiny town that didn’t seem to have much else going for it aside from being surrounded by wonderful rolling countryside of forests and farms linked by shady roads lined with thick oak trees centuries old.

The party got off well and people danced and sang and talked and drank a bit so that most everyone was well-oiled by the time it was to take our leave.

The next day I had to be at work at 4 in the afternoon, so we tried to time our departure so that we’d be back in Hamburg with not too much time to spare.

We were using our GPS to find our way through the back roads of the former East, but after a half-hour of driving, we’d run into a problem.  The GPS gizmo was telling us to take a turnoff to a road that was blocked for construction work a little further on.  Unable to take the turnoff, we kept driving straight, but after five minutes of the machine blabbering on about how we really must turn around and plow into that construction crew, we turned the thing off, eased to the side of the road and found crammed in the glove compartment one of those things that in the past always proved useful , even if you could never fold them back up the right way.

A map!

TURN HERE! my wife said almost as soon as we got up to speed again, so I turned sharp right onto a narrow, one-lane road leading into a pine forest.  It was paved, with wide shoulders, so we were making good time, but after a few minutes we came upon a couple of cars parked off to the side, so we slowed down.

There were people off in the forest bent over and looking at the ground.

“Hey, I know what they’re doing,” said my wife.  “They’re picking BLUEBERRIES.”

So we parked the car a bit further along and rummaged around til we found a couple of containers, and got to picking some ourselves.  After an hour we’d had enough – about a pound and a half as it turned out – and headed out on our way again.

The whole time I was telling myself I should stop the berry-picking and go back to the car to get the camera, because the scene was so idyllic.  A forest thick enough for shade but leaving dappled noonday summer light on the carpet of berries, stillness except for the buzz of the occasional bee… to heck with it, I said.  Sometimes you just have to carry on with what you’re doing in the moment you’re doing it.

As we got going again I did take the opportunity to teach my wife a word she’d never heard before.  That’s rare, because her English is very good.

Serendipity: the happy accident that happens when you find something good you weren’t even looking for.

18
Sep
12

The quick weight-loss biking diet

Starting weight: 77Kg, the stubborn remnant of a two-week trip three months ago back home to British Columbia, during which I made too many visits with mom to White Spot and other fine purveyors of fat.

Achieved goal: 74Kg.

Diet: Two all-natural peanut-butter-and-honey-sandwiches on homemade seed bread, two generous slices of Panforte made from a recipe by David the American pastry chef in Paris, two dozen dates, two slices of dense, home-made apple cake the recipe of which I do not have because my sister-in-law offered them to me and I didn’t ask, two generous handfuls of mixed nuts, or what they call here in Germany: Student Feed.

One 500ml bottle of Weizenbier.

Six litres of water.

12 and a half hours’ worth of fresh air

Biking: Pump your tires to maximum recommended pressure.  Check and oil the chain if need be.  Wear bike shorts!  If you’re setting out to ride 185Km in one day – about three times what you’re used to –  you want your tush to be comfy.

Have a blinking light for the rear to display even during the daytime to turn on for those portions of the trip you’ll be riding along roads with no shoulder and traffic screaming by at 100km/h.

Bring toilet paper.  Beware of stinging nettles.

Get up at daybreak and have a couple cups of coffee, then get going.  You want to arrive before sundown.  It might help to bring a map.

Ride along a set path you’ve studied carefully both online and in various maps from just north of Osnabrück to Buxtehude through farmers’ fields, moorscape, beech forests, pine forests, along narrow paved roads lined with centuries-old oak, past cornfields, tobacco fields, ancient barns, haystacks and wedding announcements made of haystacks.

You’ll also be greeted by great, gagging waves of concentrated, liquified pig manure as you continue through the endless green and over railway tracks, six-lane Autobahn and bridges great and small, get lost a couple of times, curse under your breath at the uselessness of viamichelen.com which recommends you take a right down Doktorstrasse in some Hintertürverkehr town that ends in a cul-de sac blocked by a 150-year-old building, find your way again, get lost again, finally get on the right track and continue through ever-changing landscape dotted with pheasant, deer, hare, birds of prey, herons, dairy cows, sheep, horses, chickens and many, many cats out on the prowl for that elusive rodent.

Give up trying to count the number of wind turbines you pass.

Curse once again viamichelin.com for listing streets you must take, when, in fact, the street either does not exist or is not posted on any sign.

Ask locals for directions.  They are friendly and helpful!

Thank the fact you’re travelling northeast and getting pushed the whole way with prevailing winds, without which the trip would be unthinkable.

Curse yourself for having left your camera’s memory chip in the computer, so all you have is 8Kb of internal memory with which to take a few incredibly crappy photos for this post.

Thank that you had the good sense to buy a new mountain bike to replace the one you rode to Bremen in the opposite direction.

Stop and have lunch on a bed of dry, crackling beech leaves looking up at the blanket of foliage blocking out the daylight and marvel that in only a few weeks it will all be gone and the long northern winter you’ve been trying so hard not to think about will surely be upon us.

Ignore pains in the knee and the feeling you might be developing a Charley horse in both thighs.  Breathe deeply.

Call your wife and ask her to take that bottle of beer out of the basement and stick it in the fridge because you want to think about it sitting there waiting as a reward for your day’s efforts.

Don’t tell her your legs hurt.

Ask yourself just how many kilometres getting lost and having to swing around to find the proper route added on to the official total of 185km.  Arrive at a round number of 200km, give or take five.

Ask yourself if cycling so far in one day is that much of a good idea.

Weigh yourself the next morning.  Voilà!  Three Kg. lighter.

This diet is not recommended for anyone over the age of 3 unless accompanied by a desire just to find out if you really can do it.




The banner photograph shows the town of Britannia Beach, BC, Canada, where I grew up. It's home. But I don't live there anymore.

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britbeach / at / yahoo dot ca

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A few reasons why I sometimes get homesick

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1oo% Blogthings-free since January, 2007

and one last factoid about me: according to these people, i can type per minute

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