I’m in a dark mood

I’m in a dark mood this morning, brought on by

  • a mild hangover
  • a feeling of being fed up with things always going wrong
  • listening to dark music
  • pondering the fact that no matter how shit things are, someone always has to deal with worse shit
  • the thought that I have to do something today I’m not really in the mood to do, but might possibly enjoy once I’m there (at least it isn’t work)
  • the continuing silence of the telephone
  • a dark book (slightly spoilt by this passage:
    I took the fifty out of the change Albert stacked on the bar, then wandered over to the piano, where I stuffed it into the tip bowl, which caused a momentary silence.
    “Play something you really like ma’am,” I said, then drifted back to the bar.
    “Righto, old chap,” came a voice from the couples. “A delightfully wonderful notion.”
    What the hell was a British accent doing in Kerrville, Texas? I asked myself, thinking I’d probably find out as soon as the camel-hair sport coat made it to the bar.

    Say what??? I mean, even reading this sounds ridiculous. Clearly the author has never actually spoken to an Englishman in his entire life.)

So, it is out into the day, to tackle chores and obligations, delicate emotions and, quite possibly, another skinful of beer later.

Another night of beer and

Another night of beer and silent telephones. guh.
Anyhow, beer in the splendid company of Jo and Wanda (so good to have everyone going “blimey – there’s Graybo with two stunning girls!”), followed by more beer with Arron, Tim W, Sal, Anne, Trev, Simone and other assorted miscreants. There was another plan for tonight (for once *not* involving a woman!) which didn’t come to pass (blame Paul F), but it wasn’t such a bad night after all. Add in long AIM chats with Marcia and Meg, and the whole evening just zipped by. Considering the crap going on, I’m in a surprisingly voluble frame of mind.

God help us. The 24

God help us. The 24 hour blogathon is tomorrow. Very worthy and all, but I can just see the Blogger server collapsing under the strain. I think I’ll sit this one out in my exploding-server-proof shelter.

Japanese green tea junk mail?

Japanese green tea junk mail?

Thank you very much. We were delighted to receive the numerous ice-tea recipes that you sent us after the last Venalicia magazine. One of the most interesting with green tea came from Noriko Gen in Japan. That is the reason why we would like to take you into the “Kingdom of the Rising Sun” today.
Whenever I step into Fujiko’s office I an overcome by a feeling of peace and calm. Fujiko Kinugawa, our Japanese Marketing Manageress, was a long-term pupil of a well known Tea Master in Kyoto. The principals of the “Chado Path of Teas” are still noticeable in Fujiko’s charisma, work and lifestyle even here in Europe.
So what is “Chado”? Where does the strength and secret of this philosophy lie? That is why I asked Fujiko to give us a small insight into this fascinating foreign world:
“In the beginning was the search for perfection. In Japan this path always led to the west – into the “Central Kingdom”. From their study trips in the 6th century, Japanese monks brought a wonderful herbal remedy – thea sinesis. At that time tea was prepared as a soup. The cultivation of tea bushes in Japan however began only after 840. So, this is how tea made its entry into Japan. However the actual breakthrough happened 400 years later. This time it was Buddhist monks seeking enlightenment who, on their return from China, brought a wonderful green powder with them which stimulated concentration for study and meditation: Matcha – pulverised green tea.
The preparation of Matcha Tea became an aesthetic procedure that deeply influenced the life and thinking of the Japanese. In the 16th century the most important tea master, Sen Rikyu, elevated “Chado – the path of tea” to a work of art.”
But more on this subject in our next Venalicia Magazine. For now you can get a small insight into the unique varieties of Japanese teas at http://www.venalicia.com/?nl7
Since Fujiko moved in we have been enjoying our tea-time a little more intensively and taking our strength for the day from this – how about you?

ok. So it is hot.

ok. So it is hot. “Hotter than the holiday island of Hawaii” according to the prissy news presenter on low-brow ITV news at lunch time. Not only that, but I’m male. And single. And English. And still young (30 is young, dammit!).
But the good news is that, in spite of all those things, I am not likely to strip down to a pair of naff baggy shorts and horrid filthy trainers with no socks, and then walk around swigging beer and shouting “OLAAAAY OLAAY OLAY OLAY, OLAAAAAAY, OLAAAAAAAAAY!”
Ah, the English in summer. Is it any wonder that the rest of Europe looks at us and gets embarrassed?

(Actually, the beer swigging part is tempting.)

Book review: River Horse –

Book review: River Horse – A Voyage Across America by William Least Heat-Moon.
You may have noticed that this has been in the “current reading” list in the navbar for ages. I bought it a long time ago, a souvenir of what was, ultimately, a fruitless trip to London. It has taken me a long time to read for several reasons – partly due to distractions (work, other books, marketing studies and exams, beer) and partly due to the fact that it is not a slim volume that you can polish off during one train journey. But it is an excellent book, which I highly recommend.
Heat-Moon recounts his journey for New York to Oregon by boat – going across rather than around the lands of America, by riverboat and canoe on river, lake and canal, with minimal overland portages. For anyone who has read his classic work, Blue Highways, which recounts the story of a journey by road around the US, this journey is far more ambitious and challenging. The account not only covers the simple act of travelling, but also the people he meets, the places he visits, the country he passes through and an insight into the state of mind of the traveller. His tendency to use flowery and archaic language actually enhances the book rather than making a barrier to enjoyment, drawing the book closer to the journals of the pioneering explorers of the American west such as Lewis and Clark, who Heat-Moon clearly hopes to emulate. In many ways it reminded me of the writings of Ernest Wilson and Reginald Farrer, plant hunters of central and eastern Asia who documented their journeys so well.
You actually do feel involved in the journey, such is the intimate and personal style of storytelling employed by Heat-Moon – he manages to convey the exhaustion of the journey, the disappointment when a problem is encountered and the elation at journey’s end. Certainly, I think this book will do more to discourage anyone from following in his wake than encourage copycat travellers – the arduous nature of the trip is clear.
If you enjoy travel writing, read this book. If you enjoy reading about people and culture, read this book. And, if you read blogs and journals, then you should read this book also – many of the sentiments will be familiar.

Haven’t done beer reports for

Haven’t done beer reports for the last couple of days: Wednesday was beer with Arron. Thursday was beer with Arron again. And last night was beer with Paul F, Brenda, Greg, Paul C, Kearn, Matt, Helen and Steve, with sightings of a whole bunch of other people. But my mood was far too dark to really enjoy it. Sorry guys – didn’t mean to be a downer.

OK – so yesterday I

OK – so yesterday I was grouchy. Then, later in the day, I got depressed. Today I am depressed AND grouchy. So tread carefully.