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Posts Tagged ‘2018’

What has happened to table knives? 

When did they begin to lose their function?

blades

Function

The purpose of a knife is to cut, slice and chop – surely?  Yet, I’m not sure that table knives are designed to do that anymore.

Several times recently, especially in restaurants, I have been frustrated by having to use the knife provided, to ‘tear’ at the meat (etc.) on my plate, instead of actually cutting it.  I occasionally have had to retrieve a more robust vegetable, such as new potato, from wherever it has landed on the table after trying to cut it with my knife.

2knivesI’d be better off using a spoon!  

And, don’t even try to cut the nicely cooked almost al dente broccoli stem! Even Yorkshire Puddings fight back.

Design

Modern tableware is blunt.

It no longer serves its purpose and it’s probably down to some caring soul somewhere, thinking that we might cut ourselves. I do have sharp knives and the ones I use at the table, whilst not AS sharp, can at least cut whatever is placed in front of them.  However, not everyone has such knives anymore.

Some folks also (however), have ‘handed’ knives.

These are designed to make cutting easier for right-handed people.  Because there is a chamfer on one side of the blade, it allows the knife to have a sharper edge, but not one (apparently) that will allow the right-handed person to cut themselves.  However, unless this type of knife is specially designed for left-handed folks – they become impossible to use when in the hands of such southpaws.

See also Fish Knives why?.

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I recently spent an exciting, adventurous and exhilarating day, canyoning with Ultimate Rock Adventures.

James, the proprietor, has been a friend for many years and this is his second year of business.  The activities and services he offers are steadily gaining the kudos they deserve and despite my fears (e.g. I’ve never abseiled before – but I trusted James implicitly), I secured this opportunity to join a group going down the river one Saturday in June.12D6108E-4ECC-4700-BE55-CBDC3B7E1589

Based in Gibraltar, the adventure activities can take place pretty much anywhere, but mainly in Spain. The group I joined, completed the beginner’s route at Rio Guadalmina, close to Benahavis.

We met at the Gibraltar-Spain border and set off towards Benahavis at 08:00am. We stopped for breakfast on the way and began to mingle.  The group consisted of Keith and Lorraine, with their two children, aged nine and twelve; James’ nephew Daniel with his friend Denzil, myself and James. So, three generations really, with myself as abuelo. Lol.

We parked close to what would be the end of our journey downriver, on a site that holds the Sunday Market there (no parking on Sundays!).  Here, we were kitted out and given our first instructions.  We were provided with complete wet-suits, harness’ and helmets. We were shown how to attach the carabiner required for abseiling and what the emergency procedures were, should there be an accident.

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We began then by walking up the road a short way and crossing the river via a wooden footbridge.  This took us across country for a short way, before we clambered up and into an ancient aqueduct. This would now lead us directly to the start of our canyoning experience.

James chooses to use this particular route because it is shaded and the water is particularly cooling – which is of great benefit when kitted out in full wet-suits and helmet, in the blazing summer sun of southern Spain.  Along the way he told us something of the history of the aqueduct (now used mainly for watering the golf courses down closer to Marbella) and about some of the flora we were encountering. [Link to video]

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We eventually came to a fairly tall rock on our left and climbed out of the aqueduct and up on to the rock.  This is where it got really scary for me.  By the time I had got to the top, James was already over the top of it, fastening safety ropes etc. to the rock itself.  

This would be our first abseil.  Seeing him there, on a slight ledge just over the pointed top of the rock and looking over the precipitous drop into the river (the drop was much, much deeper than the height we’d climbed from the aqueduct) made me feel ill.  I was terrified.  There really was no way I would be able to accomplish this!

However, I didn’t fancy trying to climb back down to the aqueduct and didn’t want to wimp out at this first obstacle. Only Daniel had done anything like this before, so he went first to demonstrate what James was telling us.  He made it look so easy!  Therefore, I let nearly everyone else go before me, so that I could watch their various techniques and listen to James more closely (and repeatedly).  I came to realise that the tools being used, as well as the science behind them (levers, pulleys etc.) were to be trusted and that my only real fear was climbing up and then slightly down, to where James waited with the safety ropes and equipment. Link to video

I’d already enough spent time looking down and thinking ‘oh heck’ (or words to that effect), so I didn’t do that, I simply lowered myself to the (tiny!) platform of rock and looked inland as James fastened me up and gave me my instructions.  I’d seen that an angle of around 45o would be the correct stance and then James told confirmed that by saying:

– “it’s pretty much the same angle you would be in if sat on a public toilet, where there wasn’t a lock on the door…” –

So, I was ‘off’ with a laugh and felt really quite confident now.  Feeding the rope from one hand to another seemed to come naturally, as the rope took all of my weight and the way it had been fastened by James allowed it to become a brake too.

With a few small mis-steps and splash at the end I was down! Link to video (same as the one above)

If they read this, I must thank everyone in the team again, for the confidence they gave me by being so brave themselves. Thank you all.

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We then did a variety of jumps, high and low, as we meandered down the river.  Even the high jumps did not look bad from water level, but sometimes, once you were up on the ledge, they looked enormous.  I only wimped out on one, mainly because the way up looked difficult (via a pull rope) but also because everyone looked terrified when they got up onto the ledge.

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We had one final abseil close to the end, much smaller than the previous and, again after Daniel, I was first to go.  Abseiling? Sorted!

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I think that it has been a good job that I’ve been able to top up my fitness by completing a number of walks [see other blog] and scoots over the two weeks prior to the canyoning, because I was completely drained that night and I ached all over the day after.  I developed cramp in the hamstrings of both legs towards then end of our trip and overnight they made me wince. However, I wouldn’t have missed the day for anything.

Thank you everyone for your help.

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Picture Credit

Aqueduct: By Tanja Freibott [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons

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Sadly, I forgot to take photographs of all the ‘free’ food we were presented with in Spain this year.  Furthermore, I only remembered to photograph some of the food we ‘paid’ for.

However, all of the food was delicious.

picture of tuna steak - a la plancha

Sharon’s tuna steak

Whilst holidaying on the Costa Tropical, in the Granada region of Andalucía, we encountered much in the way of free food; we’d buy a drink … and we’d get a free tapa! This doesn’t happen everywhere in Spain, but where it does happen, you feel welcomed and that your custom is valued.

We’ve had such tapas before further inland, and there the price of drinks compares well (often cheaper) with those prices charged on the big ‘no-tapas’ Costas.  In Salobreña and thereabouts, the prices for beer and wine were ever so slightly dearer (perhaps €1.70 – €2.00 each as opposed to €1.40 – €1.70), but every drink came with food.

Your first drink would come along and be accompanied by a particular tapa, e.g. Spanish cheese and olives. Then the subsequent order(s) would each be accompanied by different tapa, e.g. Croquetta with salad leaves or a small plate of jamón.  Even when we went somewhere for a meal, some small thing would be presented to us with our first drink.

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There are a couple of places too in Los Boliches (near Fuengirola), where such treats can be had – the difference here being that the drink doesn’t always come with a tapa. But, there are deals to be had.  A caña (small beer 15cl, 20cl, 25cl) can be had without food, but you can also order a tapa (of your own choice, not just presented to you) to accompany the drink for a combined price of (e.g.) €1.40 or €1.60. 

Often, this will be for the smaller beer, but not always.

Other cafes locally (Los Boliches) sell tapa separately for anything from €2.00 (these are usually slightly larger portions and – for me – often big enough to be called lunch) and in the main they are home-cooked and delicious. So far, our favourite is Bar Pepe in the Plaza Carmen.

We’re learning to avoid the places where cheap frozen ‘stuff’ is served.

I guess that all of this illustrates some of the differences between the Spanish and UK drinking cultures. In Spain, food and drink are inextricably bound together, whereas we see them as two different entities. In Spain, a workman will finish his day (or begin his midday break) with a beer and a tapa, whereas here in the UK I see all the local bars full of workmen finishing their day by quaffing pints and eating nothing more than a packet of crisps.

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A simple ‘starter’ of tomato, oil and garlic.

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What is it about a cup of tea that separates the ‘Englishman/English woman’ from the rest of the world?

[Beware – there are some extreme personal tastes and opinions below.]

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Sharon and I have spent some time in the past, driving around the U.S.A. 

We would end each day desperate for a cup of tea, after driving for hours on end. Or, having woken in the morning needing our ‘morning cuppa’, we would find the only thing available to us was coffee. For those of you who have not travelled there, what I mean is ‘there is no kettle!’, only a coffee machine of some kind or another is provided, along with coffee creamer (yuk).

640px-Mug_of_TeaHere in Spain, it is a similar situation, as hotels do not provide cups or mugs, or indeed any means of making water hot at all.  At least in France you can boil water.  It’s of no use either, trying a nearby restaurant or café as there is nowhere else in the world that knows how make a ‘decent cup of tea’.

So, the trick in those places where hot water can be had, is to take your own teabags.  The ones available locally might say ‘English Breakfast’ or some similar untruth, but they will not have the strength or depth of colour I (we) expect.

There is nothing like a good cup of tea. (I hear both sisters in law suggesting the opposite however.)

Having said all of that, when I am out drinking coffee, I’d rather be in any other place than the U.K. because the coffee we serve at home is nasty.  Nuff said.

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