Category Archives: Ramblings

My (rather uninteresting) musings

Guess who’s back, back again?

Mel is back!  Tell a friend.  And yes, I’m totally paraphrasing Eminem (13 year old Mel would be soooo proud – that song was the shit).  So anyway, hello there.  If anybody’s still there?  After six months of silence, I doubt anybody still follows Sharky Oven Gloves, but hey, one never knows.

Just in case somebody is still hanging around, desperately hoping that I might rock up again (because obviously, why wouldn’t you?), I do apologise for my abrupt and unexplained disappearance.  I wasn’t planning on taking such a massive blogging break.  Actually, I wasn’t planning on taking a break at all…

I started Sharky Oven Gloves because I wanted somewhere to gather together my favourite recipes, as well as an outlet for all my food chat.  Along the way I discovered the food blogging community.  And it was wonderful.  For a while.  About a year ago, I began to notice a few bloggers with a bit of a toxic attitude.  And I ignored it.  But that attitude began to permeate across the “blogosphere” and I became increasingly dispirited by how out-of-touch certain food bloggers sounded and by the number of reviews that were beginning to appear that were clearly just an avenue to get further freebies or of products completely irrelevant to food blogs (like… holidays or ferry routes, excuse me what?) that were beginning to appear.  In fact, it made me angry.

Quite frankly, I became so completely disenchanted that I decided to step away for just a week or so and take a few deep breaths.  But as more and more of those suspiciously-positive (a cynic might even say PR-arse-licking…) reviews clogged up my Feedly, my short break of a few weeks turned into a month… two months… and suddenly six months.  Oh.  Woops.  But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been spending time in the kitchen – meals were still cooked, cakes were still baked and jam was still made.

Summery stone fruit cake

I just didn’t have the enthusiasm to blog about any of them – between taking photos, editing them and writing up posts, blogging eats up a lot of time.  And because my heart wasn’t really in it anymore, blogging became a chore.  Taking full advantage of it being summer and living in a coastal idyll was a much more inviting use of my time.  Also the whole PhD thing.

Surfing in Waipu Cove

Over the last few months, I’ve made some changes – I’ve unfollwed those toxic bloggers, which I should have done sooner.  Way sooner.  For some reason, I felt that I should follow the big bloggers because they were important in some way.  Well guess what?  They’re not.  I’m not saying that because I’m a tiny little blogger, but because following a blog that irks me is not healthy, and I don’t gain anything good from it.  At all.  (Rocket science, I know.)  Consequently, I’ve been looking for blogs written by lovely, genuine people.  I’ve found several really great NZ-based blogs, but all suggestions of other blogs to check out are welcome!  I also feel revitalised, and once I’m back into the swing of things properly, I’m going to try to get more involved in the NZ food blogging scene.  Because it just makes sense – lovely people in the same country as me = no-brainer.

So there you go, a little explanation of my sudden disappearance.  No recipe today, but look out for one next week.

In the meantime, enjoy the rest of your day, wherever you are in the world!

Pancakes!  Brunch for the win.

 

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Tuesday Tutoring… on a Wednesday

Just a quick post to say that the lovely Javelin Warrior has featured me as his Tuesday Tutor today.  Which is Wednesday, I know, but yay, time zones, it’s still Tuesday in the US.  Anyway, I digress.  Javelin Warrior is one of the genuinely loveliest bloggers out there, so I was delighted when he asked me to get involved with the series.

I feel a bit sorry for the tomato with no stem - it's the odd one out.  But it's not like tomatoes have feelings, so it's all good (in the hood).

He decided to try out my baked beef-stuffed tomatoes which is one of my favourite savoury recipes ever because A) my mum always made stuffed tomatoes in the summertime, so they remind me of growing up and summer holidays, and B) they’re super delicious.  Simple as that.  It’s not quite tomato season here yet, so I have to wait a little while longer to make my own, but I’m starting to grow rather impatient!

Anyway, you can read Javelin Warrior’s thoughts on and step-by-step guide to the recipe here.  I love that he used different coloured tomatoes – so pretty!  And I’m intrigued by his suggestion of adding cheese, because, well, cheese.  Enough said.

Enjoy the rest of your day, wherever you are in the world!

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Cherries, champagne & comedy. Mostly comedy

Hello!  I’m alive!  And back home from my trip to Edinburgh.  I’ve spent the past month busily working my way through a slightly mammoth To Do list, trying to make the most of the Fringe and overall having a thoroughly marvellous time, and consequently, as predicted in my last post, blogging took a bit of a hit.

Hey! Hi! Hello!

How splendid are these “HELLO” flags that are fluttering all over Edinburgh by the way?  I’ve never seen them before, so I presume they’re new for this year’s Fringe/Festival.  I thought I’d just recap a few of the highlights of my slightly whirlwind trip:

  • Summer fruit – I scarfed an awful lot of summer berries whilst I was taking a break from the NZ winter.  And cherries – I love cherries!

Cherries!

  • Only having to use a raincoat four times – this might not sound like much to those of you who have proper summers, but in Scotland, this is a major achievement (although lack of rain doesn’t necessarily mean sunshine).  The last few Augusts that I spent in Edinburgh, it rained. Every. Single. Day.  (I wish I was kidding.)
  • St Andrews – Kat and I went up one afternoon.  Some things have changed (why is there a Nando’s?) and some things haven’t (those 500 year-old cathedral ruins aren’t going anywhere any time soon).  My love for that wee town remains unchanged.

St Andrews Cathedral, looking suitably dramatic and moody

  • The St Andrews Wine Company – My friend Pete opened a bottleshop in St Andrews at the beginning of the year and I’ve been dying to see it.  So we obviously stopped by whilst we were in St Andrews.  And it’s amazing.  I wish it had been open when I was there.  Oh and there’s always a bottle open for tasting (maybe it’s not such a bad thing that I don’t live there anymore…).  We also happened to coincidentally visit on a day when there was also a champagne tasting…

Champagne tasting at the St Andrews Wine Company

  • Reunions – Kat, Craig and I were all in the same place for the first time in 18 months.  There was gin, food, wine, some James Bond and much laughter; all the best things in life.

As I mentioned, I tried to make the most of the Edinburgh Fringe as well.  The Fringe is always a mixed bag (which is half the fun), but here are a few Fringe-specific highlights.  If you’re in Edinburgh, you still have a week to try and fit these in:

  • Jollyboat – Their set started off with a medley of pirate-themed songs.  And then it got better.  That was a terrible description, but trust me and just go see it (although probably not ideal for anybody who is easily offended).  Oh and it’s free.
  • Shit-faced Shakespeare – Literally what it says on the tin.  One Shakespeare play (Much Ado About Nothing), one shit-faced actor, and all the other actors trying to keep the play together. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much.
  • Omid Djalili – Slightly pricey, but worth it in my opinion.  Smart comedy which makes you laugh but also makes a point.  He’s also brilliant at accents and works them in marvellously.  My mum and I were in fits.
  • Inspector Norse – It’s described as a “self-assembly Swedish crime thriller […] featuring a knitted set” and I can’t think of a more apt description for this wonderfully middle class comedic thriller.  And the set is actually knitted and self-assembled.  It’s amazing.
  • The Jeremiah Weed Cow Shed – This isn’t actually a show, but it’s Fringe-related.  We stumbled upon this  formerly empty space on the Cowgate which been transformed into a Kentucky-themed cowshed bar for the duration of the Fringe.  It sells Jeremiah Weed cider (it probably sells other stuff, too, but we went for the yummy cider) and there’s live music.  There are hay bales, plastic cows and wheelbarrow seats.  It’s so hipster it hurts, but it’s also rather brilliant.

So there we have it, a not-so-brief recap of highlights over the past month.  Blogging will resume properly soon, once I’ve settled back in, but in the meantime, here’s some proof of the Edinburgh sunshine:

Sunny Edinburgh (yes, really!)

Enjoy the rest of your day, wherever you are in the world!  And if you’ve been enjoying the Fringe, feel free to leave some show recommendations.

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Happy New Year 2013!

Guess what?  I’m back!  I know I said Sharky Oven Gloves would be on a break until just after Christmas, but life happened (in a good way, don’t worry!) and I really just wanted to make the most of the last few days of my mum’s visit, and then Kat arrived for her visit (yay!).  And now suddenly it’s next year already.  Woah.  How did that happen?

I’d really just like to thank you all for reading Sharky Oven Gloves throughout 2012, sticking with it through its ups and downs (or perhaps I should say despite some really dull posts).  Even though some of you are still counting down the hours until the end of 2012 (catch up already – we’re 13 hours into 2013 here in NZ), I’d also like to wish you all a Happy New Year!  May 2013 be filled with health and happiness for you and your families, wherever you are in the world.

Fireworks off the Sky Tower – a fabulous combination of two of my favourite things to take photos of.

Sharky Oven Gloves will be back to normal soonish, but in the meantime, enjoy the rest of your day!

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Sharky Oven Gloves goes on holiday

Signs of life have been rather limited on Sharky Oven Gloves over the past ten days or so, but don’t worry, I’m still very much alive and kicking.  I quite simply haven’t had time to blog – I mentioned in my last post that my mum is visiting me, and we’ve been too busy having a generally marvellous time and enjoying the fabulous weather (sorry if you’re reading this in the northern hemisphere and having to make do with sleet/ice/snow/rain/all of the above).  Anyway, we’re off on a little ten day tour today (in fact, as this post publishes, we should be enjoying a hāngi – the traditional Māori way of cooking meals) and since I’m unlikely to have proper internet access and don’t really feel like attempting to blog from my phone, Sharky Oven Gloves is taking a little break until just after Christmas.

Of course, if I’d been super-organised, I’d have had all my recipe challenge entries sorted and a whole series of posts lined up ready to publish, but the key word there is if…  My general lack of organisation shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to most of you though.  On the plus side, at least you’ve got one less blog clogging up your Reader, vying for attention in the run-up to Christmas…  Silver linings and all that.  Speaking of Christmas, have a great one, and stay sane in the final stretch of the run-up!  Unless you don’t celebrate Christmas of course, in which case, carry on as usual!

Anyway, on that note, I’ll leave you with the sunset over the Waitakere Ranges seen from the top of the Sky Tower on Friday evening.

Who doesn't love a sunset?

Enjoy the rest of your day, wherever you are in the world!

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Sharky Oven Gloves turns two!

Guess what?  Guess what?  Today is Sharky Oven Gloves‘ second birthday (in case you haven’t read the title of the blog post…).  Exciting stuff!  And what the blog title doesn’t tell you is that this also happens to be my 200th blog post.  I can’t quite wrap my head around both of those facts.  Two years’ of blogging and 200 blog posts.  Goodness.  That’s a fair bit of procrastination…

A fair bit has happened since my first blog birthday , so here’s a little re-cap:

One tamarillo & walnut cake.

  • I managed to make some rather spiffing stollen, which I must admit is my only ever successful foray into baking with yeast, so I’m still pretty chuffed about that.

Drip drip drop, little caramel… uhm… drips.  Uhm, ya…

  • One of our technicians doesn’t eat egg, so I’ve ventured into occasional egg-free baking over the last few months, which is not something I’ve ever actively done before – most of the egg-free baking I’ve done before has been by accident more than an actual decision to make a recipe egg-free, so it’s been interesting.  Learning about the banana substitution trick certainly helped.
  • I won “best-tasting” in a baking competition with some “radioactive” lemon macarons (ok there wasn’t a great deal of competition, but still…), which was totally exciting.

The irony of a French person bringing in nuclear-themed baked goods to a baking competition in New Zealand is not lost on me.

  • Something I decided to try for my Kir macarons ended up sparking a minor obsession with swirly-shelled macarons, and I’ve since tried the effect out in my Mojito macarons, the non-radioactive version of my lemon macarons and my Leiter Fluid macarons.  So basically all of the macarons I’ve made since arriving in NZ.  Perhaps I should calm down on the swirly shells a little.  (But they’re so pretty…)

When you've run out of wine… fill the glass with macarons.  Sorted.

  • A few months ago I started my weekly Sunday Smiles feature, a weekly recap of things that have made me smile or laugh through the week.  It’s something a little different and all about focussing on the positive things in life.

Drinking gin out of an Edinburgh Gin glass is as close as I can get to real Edinburgh Gin here.  Sad times.

Now, today is also St Andrew’s Day, which I feel is largely eclipsed by Burns’ Night by Scots actually in Scotland, but celebrated by many Scots abroad (at least that’s the case based on my experience – it’s funny how as an expat you suddenly latch on to any excuse to celebrate your home country).  So to celebrate Sharky Oven Gloves‘ second birthday and 200th post and St Andrew’s Day, I decided that I’d post a Scottish recipe but with a Kiwi twist as a nod to my current home.  Hokey pokey is a crunchy butterscotch honeycomb type thing and very popular here apparently (especially in ice-cream it seems), so I thought it would be a fabulous idea to make hokey pokey shortbread.  Now, if I’d thought about it, I’d have realised that putting hokey pokey, which mostly consists of sugar and air, in the oven was not a good idea at all, but I went full steam ahead (I hope I get points for enthusiasm).  Result: the hokey pokey melted in the oven leaving unattractive cavities of caramelised sugar all over the shortbread.  Bugger.

Oh…  101 Dalmatians-themed shortbread anyone?  Ahem.

Of course, I could have just glossed over this particular experiment and pretended that it never happened, but you know, I figured I might as well give you a laugh.  And hey, sometimes I have kitchen failures.  Well ok, the shortbread wasn’t a total failure because it still tasted good, but it certainly wasn’t presentable…  Anyway, I even made a shark fin-shaped shortbread biscuit especially for the occasion, which sort of morphed out of shape a little – perhaps failed shark fins could be a theme for blog birthdays.

So I fed the failed shark fin shortbread to Toothy.  Obviously.

Anyway, giggle away at my recipe mishap, and here’s to another year of blogging, of both successes and failures (but mostly successes).

Enjoy the rest of your day, wherever you are in the world!

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Bond… James Bond

Fun fact: Dr. No was released 50 years ago today.  That means that the James Bond film franchise is half a century old (holy shmoley).  That also means that today is James Bond Day.  How awesome is that?  (Correct answer: something along the lines of oh-my-gosh-so-awesome.)

I had intended to make James Bond-themed cupcakes for today.  In fact, I had a truly smashing idea for Bond-themed baked goods but had to put it aside because as much as I’d love to, I can’t really take an entire day off just to bake.  Even if it is for something as fabulous as James Bond Day.  In the end though, I didn’t even have time to make the cupcakes.  Gutted.  They’ll have to wait until the release of Skyfall, which apparently won’t be released in New Zealand until the 22nd of November.  Excuse me, what?  We have to wait a whole month after its release in the UK?!?!  Not on, chaps, not on.

So, no James Bond cupcakes today, but I’ll leave you with this utterly appropriate “James Pond” cartoon from one of my favourite websites, Shaaark!  James Bond and sharks.  Clearly a fantastic combination – what more can one ask for?

Have a marvellous James Pond Bond Day, wherever you are in the world!

Cartoon source

PS – I wanted to pepper this with awkward Bond quotes, but there were just too many to choose from.  I struggle to even pick a single favourite.  Do you have a favourite Bond quote?

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Where’s the click-foomph?

A few days ago The Daily Post at WordPress.com asked bloggers to ponder the importance of sound in blogging as part of their Weekly Writing Challenge. Their suggestions include writing about one’s association of certain sounds with specific memories or favourite sounds. Now I’m not part of Post A Day and I’ve never taken part in the Weekly Writing Challenge, but I started thinking about sounds whilst I was having a staring competition with some sugar whilst it was taking forever its sweet time to dissolve and turn itself into caramel. Actually I started off my chugging train of thought by contemplating cookers. We’ve always had gas cookers – actually, I think our cooker in Louisiana might be an exception to that, but since we left when I was 5, I don’t remember it particularly well so I’m not counting that one. My kitchen here in New Zealand has an induction cooker though and it seems to take so much longer to heat things up.

I miss how immediate gas cookers are – turn it on and boom there’s your source of heat ready to go. No twiddling one’s thumbs whilst the induction plate gradually brings itself to the right temperature. Turn the gas up or down and the change in heat is instant. Switch it off and it can be used as a trivet straightaway. No waiting ages for the induction plates to cool down before being able to set anything down on them which can be very frustrating in a small kitchen with limited counter space. I also miss the sound of igniting a gas cooker, the click-foomph. Or click-click-foomph in my mum’s kitchen. Or click-click-click-click-pause-click-click-click-click-click-pause-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-kafoomph in the case of my grandma’s cooker (uhm, I think it might need replacing…). It’s such a reassuring sound. For starters, it means the gas has been ignited rather than just dissipating into the kitchen, but it also means that scrumptious food is in the process of being cooked or baked. And I’m always a fan of that.

The dull thrumming buzz of the induction plates as they switch on and off to heat up just doesn’t quite compare. It just doesn’t sound as exciting as a foomph, and there isn’t the added bonus of accompanying fire. I like fire (when it’s contained and I can cook on it). But whilst my kitchen here doesn’t have that satisfying click-foomph, it has other little sounds that makes it comforting to be in. The oven makes a distinct humming sound as it heats up. My fridge makes that usual fridge-y murmuring noise (you know the sound I mean, right?), but it also gurgles from time to time. And not just any gurgle, it’s like a gurgling giggle. I have no idea why it does that but now that I’m used to it (it creeped me out a little when I first moved in), it gives a sense of home to my kitchen. Every kitchen has its own unique sounds. Whenever the boiler in my mum’s kitchen in Edinburgh switches on it sounds like a small grenade has exploded in the cupboard. Visitors can get a little disconcerted by it. But all those random noises are what makes that particular kitchen unique. Getting used to them is part of the process of feeling at home in a new place. And once your kitchen feels like home, anything is possible.

Well, except Frangelico caramel sauce in my case, because although I won the staring competition with the sugar (dissolving obviously results in an automatic disqualification), the caramel didn’t come out how I wanted, so the recipe is still a work in progress. Which I’m currently blaming on the induction plates and lack of click-foomph rather than my actual cookery skills.

What noises make your kitchen feel like home? Are there sounds from an old kitchen that you miss?

Gas flame image source

1 September 2012: I woke up this morning to discover that this post had been Freshly Pressed, which was a lovely surprise and a rather smashing start to the weekend! If you’ve found your way here through that, then welcome (and if you haven’t, then welcome to you, too) and thank you for clicking through! If all this cooker-talk has made you hungry, do have a poke around the recipe index (in the tab at the top) – whether you ‘re lucky enough to have a gas stove or not!

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Something a little different for Random Recipes #18

For this month’s Random Recipes challenge Dom has changed things up a little and asked us for “something a little different.”  The whole concept of Random Recipes revolves around every participating blogger’s respective collection of recipe books, and whilst there’s no cooking involved this month, the recipe books themselves get to be the stars of the show post.  Dom wants us to take a photo of our cookbook collection, perhaps feature a couple of our favourites, or share the stories behind some of them.   I think this is an excellent idea, mostly because I’m rather nosy and I like knowing what the homes of bloggers that I follow regularly look like, so then as I read their posts I can picture them in their environment and better imagine the stories they tell.  Is that creepy weird?

You won’t be surprised to read that I’ve enjoyed seeing other bloggers’ entries pop up.  Not only because of my general nosiness but because I’m pretty sure this is the first time that I can describe myself as ‘restrained.’  (Anybody who knows me in real life is probably laughing at the idea of me showing restraint.)  Whilst I frequently browse the cookbook section in bookshops, there’s such an overwhelming choice that I can usually never decide on just one and end up going home empty-handed.  My single shelf of books probably makes me a contender for the smallest collection of cookbooks amongst the Random Recipes participants.

Here are a few of my cookbook statistics:

  • 23 cookbooks, 3 recipe folders (plus a tonne of recipes saved on my laptop from blogs, books I’ve borrowed and magazines – I type up or photograph the recipes that interest me rather than write them out) and 3 reference books (one about wine, one about cheese and the Flavour Thesaurus)
  • 13 of the cookbooks (that’s 57%) are in French
  • 16 of them (70%) were gifts, and 12 of those are in French – clearly my French family and friends know me well and have the right idea
  • 25 magazines waiting for me to file away the recipes that interest me…  I should probably get onto that.

I’m terribly OCD about alphabetising things (having a librarian as a mum probably had an impact), but cookbooks are my one exception – I organise them by height, because it’s more aesthetically pleasing.  And some don’t have named authors, so then it all gets terribly complicated.  With only 23, it’s pretty easy to find the one I’m looking for anyway.  Incidentally, a word about the rest of my bookshelf – aside from my cookbooks, I left most of my other books (fiction and other non-fiction) in Edinburgh and since books take up a fair bit of space are thus expensive to cart around the world, I’m trying to avoid buying any whilst I’m here (thank goodness for libraries!), hence the dearth of other books.  As well as that, a lot of my uni-related books and folders live at my uni desk rather than at home.

I think my favourite book has to be my copy of Larousse des desserts, a (brilliant) gift from my French aunt and uncle and a bible of all things dessert-related.  I frequently turn to for tips, techniques or just simply ideas, as well as when I’m unsure about a recipe from another source, and aside from the caramel sauce saga, it has never let me down. If you’re looking for an all-encompassing dessert book that ranges from pastry to cakes to pastries to chocolates to elaborate desserts, and speak French, then I highly recommend this one!

I was given several student cookbooks before I went to uni, and since they were from my mum and my French aunt and uncle (they give the best gifts), they’re all French.  I’ve flipped through various British cookbooks aimed at students, but they really don’t measure up – as a general rule, they all seem to be over-simplified and aimed at students who can barely even cook pasta.  Books for students who already have some cooking skills and are just looking for cost-effective but tasty and, importantly, healthy meal ideas seem to be pretty few and far between.  Student cookbooks in France, however, suit me perfectly.  I still regularly refer to these books for meal ideas, as well as simple and straightforward everyday desserts.

I also have to mention my well-thumbed and slightly batter-splattered copy of Mad About Muffins.  I’ve tried over half of the recipes from this book, most of them more than once, and I’ve yet to be disappointed.  If you’re looking for a dedicated muffin book, this one is definitely worth consideration.

I’d actually really like two comprehensive books about meat, one in French and one in English because the cuts are different between the two countries and so is what you do with them.  The same goes for fish.  I’m also looking for a good vegetarian cookbook because I struggle to come up with interesting main courses when inviting vegetarians over.  Any recommendations are welcome!  Since I really enjoyed the TV series and the book seems pretty comprehensive, I’ve requested River Cottage Veg Everyday from the library to give it a test-run, so we’ll see how that goes.

Whilst we’re on the whole behind-the-scenes thing, for those of you who are as nosey as I am, I thought I’d include a photo of my little kitchen here in NZ, complete with totally pointless dishwasher (although I guess it does make a pretty good drying rack).  I’ve probably moaned about not having much counter space…  I haven’t been exaggerating.  At least I have a fair bit of cupboard space, although one of the cupboards is taken up by a microwave, and the rest are full.  I might not have that many cookbooks, but I have a hell of a lot of kitchen paraphernalia.  I don’t, however, have a proper utensils pot, because I have yet to find one that jumps out at me.

So there you have it, a little sneak peak at my cookbook shelf and kitchen.

Enjoy the rest of your day, wherever you are in the world!

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A stressed-out postgrad’s Diamond Jubilee weekend (or lack thereof)

For the last month or so, the blogosphere has been littered with Union Jacks and blue, white and red baked goods in preparation for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.  Well, the part of the blogosphere occupied by Commonwealth citizens anyway.  Sharky Oven Gloves, I’m afraid, has been bereft of any Jubilee-related baked goods and blog posts though.  Not because I don’t want to celebrate, or I’m anti-monarchy (quite the contrary), but I quite simply haven’t really had the time to do anything special.  I don’t think that the Jubilee has been that big of a deal here in NZ – the shops certainly haven’t been plastered in bunting and full of Union Jack-themed everything as they seem to have been in the UK.  I may just be out of the loop, but I don’t think anything in particular was organised for the occasion either, aside from lighting a beacon in Blenheim (at the top of the South Island).  Incidentally, it seems that every single other Commonwealth country had flaming torches to light their beacons with, whilst NZ made do with one of those standard gas lighters that you use to light the cooker (if you have a super old-school cooker).  Something tells me that the Jubilee isn’t that huge of a deal here.  Perhaps there will be more excitement when Charles and Camilla visit in November as part of the Diamond Jubilee tour.  At least it’ll be summer (and thus hopefully sunny and warm), so that’ll probably help enthusiasm levels.

The Sky Tower was lit up in blue over the long weekend – I don’t know if it was supposed to be royal blue in honour of the Jubilee or if it was just a coincidence.  Let’s go with the first option.  If they light it up in green for St Patrick’s Day, I think they can make the effort to honour the Queen’s 60 years on the throne.  Whatever your views on the monarchy, you have to admit that’s a heck of a long time to unrelentingly dedicate yourself to your country and be in the public eye, always expected to behave impeccably, not express any personal political opinions and represent not only the UK but a number of other Commonwealth countries, too, some with vastly different cultures to the UK.  And apparently not to express any emotions except when it comes to corgis and horses (I love the monarchy, but I find that a little odd – keeping a stiff upper lip is all well and good but seriously, a little genuine emotion now and then wouldn’t hurt, would it?).  Of course, it’s a role that she inherited, but over the last 60 years, I think she’s shown her aptitude for it.  Which is lucky – imagine having a monarch that clearly didn’t give a rat’s bottom for 60 years.  I don’t think anybody can fault the Queen for taking her duty very, very seriously.  And for that I congratulate her – she is truly admirable, even if I find the non-emotion thing a little disconcerting (perhaps that’s just my French side shining through…  Awkward).

I would have liked to throw a Jubilee party this weekend, but I don’t really know enough people here to do so, and even if I did, I wouldn’t have quite had the time to prepare for it.  I’d have probably organised an afternoon tea – because you can’t possibly do anything more British than that.  A proper afternoon tea, however, requires a heck of a lot of preparation, so it wasn’t really an option.  If you’re going to do something, do it properly, particularly if you’re celebrating somebody who has been the epitome of doing things properly and with great pomp and circumstance for 60 years.  Last year, despite being within days of the deadline for my dissertation (of doom), I still managed to bake up some Pimm’s cupcakes to nibble on in the computer lab during the Royal Wedding.  This year though, whilst I don’t have any impending deadlines (that I’m aware of…), I feel like I’m slowly sinking into a quagmire of physics that I don’t understand.  Physics which happens to be crucial to my thesis (despite it being a Marine Biology Masters) so it’s really stressing me out at the moment.  And impinging on my baking creativity, too, it seems, as I couldn’t come up with a straightforward recipe that I deemed suitably regal for today’s post.  Yesterday was a public holiday for the Queen’s official birthday in NZ, so I gave myself the day off and we went to see the Degas to Dalí exhibition at the Auckland Art Gallery followed by a trip to the cinema, but most of the rest of my weekend was spent reading about electromagnetic fields and electroreception, rather than throwing a Jubilee party.  Usually when I say that I have my priorities right, I mean it ironically (because I usually don’t), but for once, I actually did get them right (sorry Your Majesty – I hope that doesn’t make me a traitor or something).  The most Jubilee-related thing that I did was to drink tea out of my Jubilee-themed mug (don’t judge the mug) and eat a couple of scones.  Which isn’t as sad and pathetic as it might sound – it’s just the life of a postgrad student.  Don’t worry, contrary to what the photo might suggest, I did not lose the plot and plaster my flat or desk in Union Jack tissue paper.

So even if I didn’t do anything special, I hope that you were able to and had a wonderful Jubilee weekend!  Or a wonderful normal weekend, depending on where you are in the world and whether Queen Elizabeth II is your head of state.

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