The Magic of Mushrooms

Normally, grocery shopping is not a highlight of my week. Occasionally, however, I stumble upon a bargain that makes it altogether more pleasurable. Today I found some button mushrooms going for about a third of their usual price, as they were approaching there sell-by date (but still looked in pretty good condition). Needless to say, these came home with me and were cooked up for my tea with garlic, olive oil, butter and a bit of salt and pepper. Very tasty and a great way to show I can write short blog posts if I put my mind to it. ūüôā


On the fundamental interconnectedness of all blog posts

Okay, so the title is probably exaggerating slightly (and yes, in case you were wondering, it is somewhat inspired by Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency), but I noticed just after I posted yesterday that it was my second consecutive post to feature the word “sweet” in the title.

Not only was the last post connected by its title to the post before it, but it was connected thematically (albeit loosely) to the post before that because they were both more or less about cheese (mascarpone – one of the major ingredients of my newly discovered pasta sauce – being a type of Italian cream cheese).

I’m sure if I didn’t have better things to do with my time I could probably discover a connection between tomatoes and Welsh grannies or Navajo rugs too!

Short and sweet

My latest category on this blog is apparently going to be a particularly short-lived one.

I set up a knitting & crochet category a few weeks ago as a result of my renewed interest in these (and related) crafts, which was a mainstay of my previous blogs but had waned by the time I started this one.

My interest in them is still going strong (at least for now – past experience suggests it will probably continue to be somewhat up and down) and I’ve decided to set up a separate knitting blog in order to be able to post as much (or as little) as I like about knitting and other fibre crafts without drowning my main blog.¬† I’m also intending to repost all the knitting-related articles I can still find from my previous blogs, so that I have them all in one handy place (this was prompted by the recent realisation that one of the old blogs no longer seems to be online – fortunately I have an offline backup of the text).

As a result, this blog will probably feature few, if any knitting posts.¬† I’m planning to keep the category open, though, just in case.¬† If there’s anything particularly notable – like my cunning new Firefly hat – I may put a note up here to direct you to the other blog.

The new blog is called Ar y Gweill (Welsh for “On the needles”, though the blog itself will be written, at least mostly, in English).¬† Unlike this one, posts won’t be automatically published to my Facebook wall.¬† If you want to follow my knitting posts, that blog (like this one) has an RSS feed available – or you can follow it directly on WordPress or just bookmark the site in your browser.

One of the reasons for keeping my knitting blog separate is so that I can link my knitting posts to my Ravelry profile.¬† Ravelry is a pretty big online fibre arts community, of which I’ve been a member for quite a few years.¬† It’s free to join and well worth checking out if you’re at all interested in knitting, crochet or similar crafts.¬† To see anything there (apart from a login screen) you’ll need an account.¬† On my knitting blog, I’m making the assumption that anyone sufficiently interested to want to see the details of my Ravelry profile or project pages etc. will either have an account already or be willing to get one.¬† If you are a member of Ravelry, feel free to give me a shout on there.

Another blog is born

Just over a year ago, I started a second blog. ¬†The purpose of that one was to enable me to write in Welsh (mainly for the sake of practicing my written language skills) without cluttering up this blog with posts that most of my readers couldn’t follow (I’m assuming that most vistors here can speak English but not that many will know Welsh).

As I expected, my writing on that blog has been much sparser than on this one. ¬†In fact, I only wrote my 5th post there yesterday, after a gap of over a year! ¬†Still, it’s nice to have the blog and feel I’m doing a little bit to increase the amount of Welsh in cyberspace as well as keeping my own language skills reasonably rust-free if not exactly finely honed.

Last week I had my second ever visit to Spain – a lovely week in Catalonia with some most excellent friends (including some I’d never met before I went there). ¬†In preparation for this, I’ve spent quite a lot of my linguistic energy over the past few months on trying to brush up on my (woefully limited) Spanish. ¬†I got plenty of opportunity to speak Spanish (and learn a few words of Catalan) while I was there, and this has fired my enthusiasm to keep working on the language, partly in the hope that I’ll be visiting the area again before too long; I also hope to be able to visit other bits of Spain and perhaps Latin America and to continue to explore Spanish literature and films, as well as being able to talk to Spanish speakers who cross my path in North Wales or elsewhere.

I was very conscious while I was in Spain that, although I could understand a reasonable amount of written and (to a lesser extent) spoken Spanish, I was severely limited in what I was able to say (or write, not that I had very much occasion to write while I was there).

Therefore, I have just started yet another blog. ¬†This one is similar to the Welsh one but in Spanish and purely to give myself *cough* regular practice at actively using the language. ¬†Since¬†I speak a lot less Spanish than Welsh, the posts are likely to be fairly short and I’ll try to keep them simple. ¬†I’m hoping that I might get some useful feedback from Spanish speakers but even if I don’t, the simple act of forcing myself to write (and as far as possible, think) in Spanish on a fairly regular basis should be immensely helpful in my efforts to learn to speak and not just vaguely understand it.

As with the Welsh blog, this is actually my second attempt at a blog in Spanish. ¬†(One of my first posts on this blog was a potted history of my earlier blogs, including both of these, if you’re interested.) ¬†Similarly, the posts on the Spanish blog, like the Welsh ones but unlike the posts on this blog, won’t be automatically publicised on Facebook or Twitter but can be accessed via an RSS feed if you want to be able to follow them.

A blog is born

You may have noticed that I occasionally like to write blog posts in Welsh.

Since I’m aware (if slightly surprised) that several people follow my blog and that not all of them speak the language of heaven, I have generally tried to¬†refrain from writing too often in Welsh and, when I do, to¬†provide an English translation or at least a summary of what I’ve written.

However, I have for a while been considering the alternative solution of setting up a separate Welsh-language blog, to enable me to keep writing stuff in English for the benefit of my family, friends and other random blog followers and also to write a bit more in Welsh without having to worry about translating stuff.  To that end, having discovered that I can register multiple free blogs at WordPress, I have now set up Gofod-M Рthe Welsh M-Space blog.  Of course, any Welsh-speaking members of my family, friends or other random blog followers are welcome to follow that blog as well as this one.

I may well continue to write occasional snippets in Welsh on this blog (with translations) and I’ll probably occasionally cross-post between the two blogs, although I envisage them having quite separate (though probably equally random) content.

If this experiment goes well, I may think about (or actually do, since I’m clearly already thinking about it!) setting up one or more further blogs in other languages so I can practice writing in those too.

NB: Unlike this blog, I’m not planning to automatically publicise posts on my Welsh blog on Twitter and Facebook, so if you use one of those to get updates on my blog and want to follow my Welsh blog too you’ll probably want to explore alternative means of doing so. ¬†I recommend the RSS feed.


On a roll

This is my fifteenth consecutive day with at least one blog post (actually my sixteenth post in this time span, since there was one day I posted twice).¬† This represents a new record for this particular blog and, as far as I can remember, for all my blogs, since I’ve generally been a fairly sporadic blogger.

I’ve just about managed to keep up with at least one post per month since I started this blog last January (or the January before last, depending on how you count), which is an improvement on my old blogs, but I think my previous longest run has been only about 10 consecutive posts.

I wonder how long it will last?¬† Probably not very long, although there will probably be at least one or two more posts before this run reaches its end and I’ve got a few ideas for things I want to write about soon.

What’s in a name?

A few months ago, I referred to Shakespeare’s famous quote “What’s in a name?…”, in a post on the subject of roses in literature.

More recently I had cause to dwell once again on this particular question as I listened to my favourite album of English madrigals.¬† The name of the album is Madra, which is neither particularly weird nor very informative (although I suppose it does sound a bit like the start of the word “madrigal”, so perhaps it does hint at what the album contains).

What is rather more surprising than the album name is the name of the group performing the madrigals: Miranda Sex Garden.¬† This London-based group was extant throughout the 1990s and for most of this time blended “their madrigal-styled vocals with sounds reminiscent of gothic rock, darkwave, ethereal wave and industrial music” (to quote from the Wikipedia page I’ve just linked to).¬† Even having listened to some of their later work, I’m not entirely sure what some of those terms mean (and I must confess that I’m not absolutely wild about the blend either, although I certainly don’t hate the sound).¬† For their first album (Madra), however, they were¬† a pretty straight-up trio of madrigal singers.

Although I had previously heard of Miranda Sex Garden (after all, it is a fairly striking name), I didn’t really pay any attention to their stuff until I was getting into the music of the Medi√¶val B√¶bes (another group with a perhaps slightly surprising¬† name, although as female performers of early music the name is actually quite apt) and discovered that their leader, Katherine Blake, was also the leader of MSG and that the latter’s¬† debut album was actually a collection of a cappella madrigals.

I must confess that, in addition to wanting to bring to your attention a fine album that may be in danger of being overlooked due to the improbable name of the group performing it, I have another reason for writing this.¬† Not long ago, my brother wrote on his blog about posts that appeared to be particular spam magnets, with particular reference to an earlier post entitled Reflections on Birdwatching.¬† It occurred to me that possibly the references to birds were being picked up (and taken completely out of context) by automatic spam bots, causing the post to receive more than the usual amount of spam.¬† My scientific instincts kicked in and the obvious experimental way to test this hypothesis would be to write a post containing out-of-context references to sex (and if I’d mentioned babes instead of b√¶bes earlier, that would have been another potential spam bait :)).¬† It will be interesting to see what happens…