Friday, September 24, 2010

Save the newts, frogs, salamanders and toads!!!

After visiting Lisbon's breathtaking and eye-opening Oceanarium, it got me thinking a bit more about the Amphibian crisis...

We've all been one at some early point in our lives... safe in the protective waters of our little womb-world and making that billenial journey from water to land...

These embryo-like creatures, and ultimately us as well, all share the same water-world of seas, rivers, lakes, clouds and ice... the water that gives us all life... the world is 70% water and as newborn babies we start off as 75%! But when water suffers from contamination, the most vulnerable are always the first to die...

The Greek origin of the word amphibian means "double life" and they play an important role in the mythology of many cultures. How on earth the idea that kissing a frog will change it into a prince came about, I've no idea! However, I'm aware that kissing a small Amazonian frog could kill you, or at least send you on the hallucinatory journey of your life!

If we can't act like Prince Charmings and save the little critters for their own sake, at least some might think of doing it on a more selfish basis - the biochemical contribution they can make to medicine is believed to be considerable thanks to the protection some have made for themselves against more obvious enemies.

On the other hand, they play an important role eating my favourite enemies - mosquitos and flies! And of course other creatures also get to have them for dinner (and I'm not just talking about the French or Spanish!). Unfortunately, I imagine there is no such thing as organic/bio frog's legs!

Here are some links (there is sadly not a lot out there) with more information for Princes and Princesses who want to be even more charming than they already are:

Friday, February 19, 2010


Your breathing is like the swell of the ocean
and we´re drifting away on the tilt of the night
our warmth in the comfort of the lighthouse light
it´s beam sweeping over the ebb of our dreams
the whispers of the wind, the creaking grain
we need to go so we can return again

the ocean´s dunes
shifting and changing
the same yet never again
the fathomless sky
of stars and moon
setting the scene
for eternity

by our transience we are defined
travellers over the deserts of time
pilgrims on the oceans of life
swelling from big to small
on the wave of existence
an impression of scale
or an expression of spirit?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Carrot, Fennel, Chob and Rocket Soup

As the UK (and much of the rest of Europe and Spain) experiences a Scandinavian-style winter, Barcelona is having a British winter: rainy, overcast with the fleeting respite of a couple of sunny days, now and again. So, lots of cups of teas and hearty soups to shake off that all too familiar bone-chilling, depressing dampness!

With a pressure cooker, who needs ready meals or take-aways? Soups are so. wonderfully. simple. Roughly chopped onions fried for a bit, roughly chopped whatever you want to chuck in, a good pinch of salt, herbs or spices to season and water - as much as you fancy - transparent and brothy or chunky and stew-like. It goes without saying that fresher ingredients are better, but soups don´t suffer greatly from throwing in whatever non-descript left-overs you find gazing forlornly out of the fridge at you.

So, here I chopped up and finished off an older bunch of carrots, a cauliflower chob (what´s left after you cut of the florets!), some fennel stems (the bulbs are too fresh and crunchy to be pulped to death now!) and what was left of a packet of rocket - lush! 5-10 minutes in a high pressure sauna, a quick whizz with a hand blender, fennel fronds piled on top, homemade bread crusts chopped into croutons and yum yum - rain? what rain!

I´ll never buy a packet or tinned vegetable soup again - it´s a crime against the palate!

Friday, February 5, 2010

school blues

the essay I so enjoyed writing
failed to make the grade
"the oldest mistake in the book", he said.

and I´m left with a mirror
to write teaching reflections on
but after everything I see
am I really so dumb?

No pain, no gain, they say
as they convince us
our students need chill-out grooves
and a friendly, safe cocoon

for us a bed of sharpened pencils
a pillow made of books
paperclips grip our eyelids
information overload

when is a student not a student?
or is it just professional contempt?