Simple View, Utter Beauty

At the moment, I’m reading Bill Bryson’s The Road To Little Dribbling, and as always I’m torn between helpless nostalgia and loud laughter — my general reaction to Bryson.  But the reading has pushed me into homesickness for Britishland, the feeling all the sharper because under current Chinkvirus restrictions, I can’t go back there and do all the things I love doing, such as driving through the countryside and marveling at the towns and villages as so memorably described by Bryson and embedded in my own memory from countless trips past.

I don’t often do this, but I thought I’d share with you the picture that’s currently my laptop’s wallpaper (right-click to embiggen to its original 1920×1200 size):

I don’t know if I’ve ever driven through this particular village, but I’ve driven through so many like it that it doesn’t matter.  Frankly, after a while they all become a blur, another “OMG that’s-so-beautiful-I-want-to-live-here” moment.

Of particular interest, nay even alarm to my Murkin readers would be the fact that despite the single tire-tracks in the road, it is in fact a two-way street which leads itself to moments of sheer panic should you encounter, for example, Bob The Plumber’s oversize Ford van coming the other way.  Such a situation requires either

  • pulling to the side (left) as close as possible to the walls / hedges and hoping that Bob will be able to get past without scraping the side of your (rental) car, or
  • driving on regardless while hoping that he will squeeze to the side leaving you enough room to get past without scraping the side of your (rental) car, or
  • pulling into a driveway — which action is inexplicably frowned upon by the householder
  • or else in the final resort, reversing back towards a “wider” portion of the road so that both you and Bob can pass by each other with a friendly wave from Bob at your patience and good manners.

When Mr. Free Market sets out for a destination outside his own village, he as often as not takes a completely different road each time, just to take in the exquisite countryside.  I once asked him if he’s ever got used to, or even bored with the countryside he drives through every day, and his answer was succinct:  “Never.  Not even close.”

I can see why.  Scenery such as the above plays a huge part in my laptop wallpaper selection — I don;t change it because I’m sick of it, only because I hanker after another scene.  Here, for your delectation, are a few others (ditto the embiggening):

(that’s a giant pic;  allow some time to load)

More, upon request, if like me you’re a fan of the English countryside.

Singular Beauty

Whilst wandering around and getting lost in the Dark Forests of Internet Car-Dorkery, I stumbled on this vision, the Maserati A6/54 2000 Zagato Spyder:

It’s not too horrible from the rear, either:

And its interior is blissfully simple and devoid of modern geegaws, like airbags and seatbelts.

It was made in 1955, and even if you were to win the biggest lottery around, good luck finding it.  “It?”

They made one.  One.

Boxing Day Cheer

As I may have said before, we don’t have Christmas Dinner on Christmas Day itself:  Christmas Day is devoted to a Full English Breakfast with the kids (this was ours yesterday;  bangers, beans, back bacon, mushrooms. eggs and tomato all  fried in boerewors drippings and hash browns, also — not pictured — French bread toast, and cinnamon rolls made by Daughter)

I should point out that this was my plate:  the others had portions essentially double that of mine, because I can’t take that much because of gastric surgery.  I made up for it by drinking more Mimosas than everyone else.

We save the roast beef dinner till the day after Christmas:  Boxing Day (a Du Toit family tradition):

I cook the roast, New Wife does the potatoes, parsnips, asparagus and other veg., and Daughter makes the Yorkshire pud.  Dessert is generally peach cobbler and / or fruit cake with icing, but this year there’s a Yule Log like this one, compliments of Daughter.

Mostly because nobody in our family can handle a Full English and Roast Beast on a single day, we’ve turned Christmas Day into a two-day family affair.  In American terms, it’s like having two Thanksgiving meals in a row.

We like it that way.

Lockdown Partner

Forget for a moment that we’re mostly all Old Married Pharttes, and imagine that you’re going to be in lockdown with a hottie — to be more specific, a hottie chef, because regardless of how hot she is, at some point you’re gonna have to eat, and you don’t want to be stuck in that situation with Jennifer Aniston, who can’t boil a lettuce.

So here are the contenders, in no specific order:

Nigella Lawson

Rachel Allen

Rachel Khoo

Giada De Laurentiis

Lisa Faulkner

Marcella Valladolid

Rachel Ray

Ingrid Hoffmann

Cat Cora
Okay, Cat Cora is probably disqualified because sadly, she’s a lesbianist.  In her place, therefore:

Mary Berg

(That’s for my Canucki Readers…)

As an aside, three of the above are named Rachel.  Coincidence?  I think not.


And for my long-suffering Lady Readers, who are always being left out of these things:

Curtis Stone(I know, Australian therefore should be disqualified.  Shuddup or I’ll add Guy Fieri.)

James Martin

Jean-Christophe Novelli

Phil Vickery

And in the interests of good taste and such, I haven’t bothered with Gordon Ramsay, because I would refuse to pay your hearing-aid bills after you’ve been in a three-week lockdown with him.


Feel free to add your favorite chefs in Comments.