Thursday, April 29, 2010

Our weekend in Cheshire

Showing Jake the house where Daddy was born.

Doing his Bobby Hill impression...

At Lakemoor Farm.  Without being told, Jake went straight up
to the donkeys and decided to feed them.

He was totally unafraid.
And all was well until one donkey chomped on his finger by accident.
Not the one in this photo, I might add. 
There was a lovely vibe between the two of them.
Both donkey and boy were gentle with each other.

It didn't deter him from trying to
feed this pony some invisible grass.

This is just before the pony licked his nose. 
Jake didn't mind one bit!

Surveying the pigs and sheep and goats and
spitting llamas from Daddy's shoulders.

In the play area.

And, walking in the woods near Grandma & Grandpa's house.

One small boy enjoyed himself very much!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

What we've been up to this week...

Dressing up

Jake got a sand & water table!

If only we had some paint...

What do you mean they're not straight?

I can cook better than Mummy!

Artist at work....

Will I ever be appreciated in my own lifetime? Sigh!

Daddy helps.

The first to get soaked in the fountain at Coram's Fields the day of the weaners' picnic.

He was doing fine... was even warm enough to take his shoes off!
Then he decided to sit down in the water.

I wanted to take more photos and spend a lot more time talking to everybody
but was too busy running after Mr Jake shouting "Daddy!!, Daddy!!" as soon as he lost sight of me.

It's been a great week, and I haven't even mentioned the Sunday we spent at Kew
and the weekend we're about to have in Cheshire.

Long may this gorgeous weather continue.

Monday, April 19, 2010

How to eat a Cornetto

Plead with Mummy to please stop
"just taking the nuts off the top"
of your Cornetto. 
The nuts disappeared a long time ago and she knows it.

Go ahead and stick it on your nose. 
Inhalation of ice cream does no harm whatsoever.

Tease Mummy every now and then by standing still for minutes
at a time without even looking at your Cornetto,
holding it at funny angles so that it might
just drip all over the carpet.

Eat very slowly so as to maximise the application of
Cornetto beard and 'tache.

Then you know you've done it right.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Tastes from my Childhood

Inspired by this post on my daddy cooks

1) I'm Thai, so eggs and rice is number 1 for me. Fried eggs with a runny yolk and crispy on the white bits, fried in hot oil in a wok, and omelettes seasoned with fish sauce and msg (eek!).

2) Peking Duck - On our summer holidays "back home", we were always treated to Peking Duck – crispy slices of duck skin rolled in thin pancakes. No pieces of meat stuck to the skin, just the skin itself. It’s probably not served this way anymore, but that’s how we used to eat it. We were supposed to have cucumber and spring onions and plum sauce with it too, but I used to eat mine without.

It was a family tradition to visit a certain restaurant in Bangkok to have this dish. Certain people had to be invited. The meal had the feeling of a religious ritual – with the same sense of reverence.  A hush did fall over the room when the servers brought the platters of food in. The elders were allowed to pick their morsels of duck skin first, which always made my brother and I squirm in our seats. We were always afraid there wouldn’t be enough left for us, but there always was, though usually not for seconds. Other dishes were made with the duck meat for later, but nobody ever ate much of them.  Sadly this tradition was stopped when the cholesterol levels of many of the adults was unable to deal with it!

3) There's a Thai chicken dish (khao man gai) which literally translates as oily rice chicken except it tastes better than it sounds. The dish is served with cucumber slices and a light clear broth. The broth could also be served with cubes of pork blood, which I always declined, but which my brother loves. It's something that's never on the menu of any Thai restaurant I've ever been to outside of Thailand. It's very much a street food sort of dish.

To see a photo, click here:

4) There are these things called "patongo" - more street food - a flour concoction which puffs up when deep fried. We (my Dad) used to have to get up really early to buy them from the guy who sold them off the back of his bicycle stall up the road. We used to love dipping them in condensed milk. The disappointment when he'd already sold out could ruin our whole day. 

For a photo, click here:

5) My aunt used to work near the President hotel in Bangkok where they made the most delicious bread rolls. Sometimes she'd bring some home for us, put them in the freezer overnight and put them in her toaster oven the next morning. They were crisp on the outside, soft on the inside and lush with butter. No bread roll I've eaten anywhere else has ever lived up to the taste of those ones.

6) There's a Thai drink (olieng) we were allowed to have as children which was sweetened iced coffee. I can't believe we were allowed it, and it's weird that I liked it cos I really dislike coffee as an adult. It was probably heavy on the sugar and light on the caffeine.

Those are all good tastes. The one absolutely disgusting taste is something my Mum used to force us to eat on weekdays before going to school. She'd drop a raw egg into hot ovaltine and stir it up. That was breakfast and it was supposed to make us strong. YUCK. I'm amazed I never puked it up.

There are other tastes from the countries we lived in.  Like the kosher roast chicken my Dad got from a certain supermarket in Jerusalem, grilled goose liver from an out of the way restaurant somewhere near Jaffa in Israel, the first hummus I ever had in a hotel in Syria, the first kebab I ever had in Damascus, souvlakia and souvla in Cyprus, the chappatis our landlord used to make in Pakistan - I can still remember exactly how all of these foods tasted.

Less happy memories arrive when I had to fend for myself during my first years in the UK as a university student - tinned 'happy shopper' potatoes, Smash (reconstituted potato powder to which you add water / milk / margerine to make instant mashed potatoes) frozen pork chops and packets of savoury rice mix. Unfortunately, I can also remember exactly how all those things taste! 

But the foods from Thailand listed above were the tastes that were the constants throughout my childhood and the ones which I yearn for most, especially as comfort foods.

What are the tastes of your childhood?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

My nature lovin' hoodie

Spot the blossom that Jake found and placed next to the dandelion flowers.

I'm not sure whether I should ink & colour this drawing, what do you think?

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Shelving the people project

I'm putting an end to the people project.  It has been feeling not quite right but I couldn't tell why.  Then a friend sent me a link to Alison Bechdel talking about how she drew her wonderful (tragi)comic memoir, Fun Home, which is one of my favourite books.  Watching the clip I realised what's wrong with my people drawings.  They are too flat and lifeless.  It's more or less copying and not terribly exciting.  If all I want to do is copy photos, I think I've proven I can do that to a certain extent, so the project already feels defunct.

What I really want to do is start putting together drawings for my own graphic memoir.  I didn't think I was ready or had enough experience, but I just have to start.  And doing that is a lot more meaningful to me than copying faces from photos for the next three months.  I'm not going to put a time limit on this - it's going to be a huge effort.  I'm just going to work on it as and when and I may or may not share what I'm doing here.  But I will continue to draw whatever I like, whenever I like and post drawings here when I fancy it.  No artificial deadlines or undue pressure. 

I do have other project ideas though, projects that are not related to drawing, things I've been wanting to do for ages.  Now I can finally start!  I won't put a time limit on it either, unless it makes sense to do so.  I think I was trying to recreate some of the atmosphere of the original 100 days project with the whole 50 faces in a 100 days thing, but it didn't fit, and not only because I was the only person doing the project.'s to doing things that fit.

More days like this please!

Jake went to nursery this morning and I had about 3 hours to myself.  I had a really good think about my drawing project (more on that in another post), spoke to a friend and made a picnic lunch to share with Jake.  It's such a beautiful day, even warmer and sunnier than Tuesday - cloudless blue skies, budding trees, soft breezes, and the promise of abundance - of sunshine, of long warm days, of good times.  So after nursery I took Jake to a park we haven't been to for a while. 

On our way there he kept going in and out of everybody's front gardens, looking at their flowers and pot plants and letting me know which gates were closed and which gates were open.  Much to my amusement, he couldn't walk by an open gate without shutting it.

Then we found a sunny spot in the park and ate.  He wasn't too keen on the tomato risotto balls, but he did love the tuna and egg mayo sandwiches.  I don't know how long this phase will last but one of his favourite games is running towards me or Paul, asking for cuggles and giving us big hugs complete with pats on the back.  I LOVE this game!  We did that for a bit, and played up and down and he chased dogs around and pointed at planes and wandered off every now and then saying "Bye bye Daddy!" to me. 

Then he asked to sit in his pram and we walked up the lovely tree-lined gravel path and he asked to get out again and stopped to play with dirt and gravel before declaring that he wanted to go home and listen to Ghost Riders in The Sky (his favourite song at the moment), walked to the pram and asked to be put in it.  On the way home, he fell asleep and he's still napping now.  Bliss!!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

And here's one I made about two years ago...

A journal page I found from when Jake was still a tummy bump and we still had both our cats.

Flowering tea

Couldn't decide which version to post, so here are both.

No. 3

Since the 1st of April...

I was going to do a people drawing every other day (should be up to at least 3 by now), and produce a comic strip a week, and keep a written journal (to keep the insanity in check) and of course look after a small person and cook and occasionally clean myself.  I was sure the 4 day weekend would give me lots of time to do most of the above.  But this is what happened instead...


At the Museum of Childhood



His new old doll pram. 
He disappeared into the kitchen with it, followed by a long silence,
a whimper and a cry of "Toes!".
I walked in to find him trapped in it.
I couldn't help but laugh (and call for Paul to fetch the camera).

Things should ease up a bit now that he's well enough to return to nursery two mornings a week.  But we still haven't been able to break him of his going to bed at 11pm since the clocks went forward and I have no idea what's been happening during his naptimes.  Last night he didn't get to sleep till 11:45pm!!!!!  I know I should have tried putting him down much earlier, and I meant to, but Masterchef didn't finish till 10 I was on my own last night and it took me twice as long to get anything done and then he started being all lively and cute and singing uncle, uncle little star. 
Crafty monkey.