Cheese and Caramelised Shallot Soda Bread

It was a nice spring day, the sun shining in through the kitchen window as we sat there having breakfast. It was hard to believe that there was a different world on the other side of the glass, thanks to COVID-19 and the changes it has imposed on the way we live. Pictures on the news at midday today showed empty, almost post-apocalyptic scenes, of many of the major cities here in Spain. There were few people to be seen anywhere.

One of our Plum Trees in Flower

Schools are closed, sporting events have been cancelled, and travel restrictions are in place. Bars and restaurants and the like are closed, even the shops are closed, except for chemists and those selling food. The only places doing any real business are the supermarkets and toilet roll manufacturers. If it reduces the spread of the virus it will have been worth it, but the repercussions for society will be profound. 

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2020 Lincoln W. Betteridge

Aceitunas Caseras

23 Aceitunas Caseras

Over the last couple of weeks a number of main roads have been cut here in Spain by arable farmers looking for better prices for their produce. According to the figures published, there is indeed a big difference between what the farmers are paid and the final prices in shops and supermarkets. They are also having problems competing with foreign imports. They are looking for the government to take fast, remedial action.

We went into one of the larger local supermarkets just recently. They had bananas on sale, one lot was from the Spanish Canary Isles whilst the other was from the Ivory Coast. The Spanish ones were twice the price of the Ivory Coast ones, and were also far less prominently displayed.

01 Olives - Collecting

Harvesting Olives

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2020 Lincoln W. Betteridge

Stuffed Pendle ‘Taters

18 Stuffed Pendle 'Taters

I was born in Pendle, almost on the border between Lancashire and Yorkshire. It is, in its way, a beautiful part of the country, with rugged, barren uplands cut by green fertile valleys. Miserable on a wet winter’s day, yet truly wonderful on a summer’s day with the upland heather in bloom. It is a land of sometimes gruff but dependable, down-to-earth people. There is nothing better than their friendly banter over a good pint of ale in some hostelry’s snug. They are strong people with even stronger dialects and accents!

1987 04 Pen-y-Ghent

Pen-y-Ghent

Just north of where I was born are the three mountains of Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough. One can do the “Three Peaks Challenge” which involves climbing each mountain and walking the distance between each, and all in one day. Before flitting to Spain, I completed the challenge several times. There is also a cyclocross bicycle race, which a cycling friend of mine competed in. He unfortunately didn’t have the gumption to fall off his bicycle in a secluded spot. His double somersault with twist was captured on film by national television. The clip is dusted off and re-shown any time anyone talks about the race. I guess he’ll get jip for it ’til the day he kicks the bucket!

1987 14 Whernside

Whernside

Whilst away at university, probably sat in some tavern and supping a pint of ale or two, a couple of friends showed an interest in attempting the Three Peaks Challenge. Having done it before of course, I’d allus known that it was a long way. As it was winter, it was bound to be more difficult as well as a bit parky on’t fells too. Nevertheless we decided to give it a go. 

 

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2020 Lincoln W. Betteridge

White Chocolate Natillas

10 White Chocolate Natillas

I am a member of the high intelligence society called Mensa. There, I have said it. Few of my friends know, some of my immediate family don’t know. I can’t recall ever mentioning it in a job interview or indeed writing it on my curriculum vitae. Nevertheless, here I am proclaiming the fact for all to see on the Internet. So why the change of heart?

But before I answer that question, perhaps there is a more important one we need to answer first. Just what is intelligence? My Collins hard-backed dictionary states that it is an “inborn quickness of understanding”.

As for why the change of heart? Well because I think the idea of intelligence is being diluted and devalued. In a world where mediocracy is god, I felt someone ought to stand up for those who are anything but mediocre.

99 IQ_distribution.svg

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2020 Lincoln W. Betteridge

Coney-A-Leekie Pie

36 Coney-A-Leekie Pie

Well Christmas and the New Year has come and gone. Life has returned to “normal”, and here I am with the first real article of the year. Over the last couple of weeks my wife and I have enjoyed the bright lights of the big city. We have been out for meals and seen friends and family. Our son came to visit from the capital city, with tales of city life and some well thought-out gifts, that are only available in the bigger conurbations.

Yes a good couple of weeks, but as I sit here writing and looking out over the mountains, I can’t help thinking that in spite of all the above, I am very happy in this little village nestled in the mountains. Unfortunately the village, as many others in Spain, is in decline.

Today my thoughts are on the customs and knowledge we are losing, something that often goes hand in hand with the loss off population. Village life is one that is closer to nature. Here, being continuously on-line would be considered an aberration, and the idea of going shopping is more about chatting with the neighbours than actually buying anything.

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2020 Lincoln W. Betteridge

A Year in Review IV

2019 Image

As is my custom, this last article of the year will be a review of the last 12 months. For those purists out there, it is really the first post of 2020. As a large part of the content are the statistics for 2019, I have to wait until the year has ended for them to become available.

For me, 2019 has felt like a year wasted, let us hope it has just been a break whilst humanity catches its breath to head into 2020 with renewed vigour. In both Spain, where I live, and England, the country of my birth, it has been a wishy-washy year. In both countries it has been due to political ineptitude. Spain has been unable to establish a formal government and Britain has been in political rigor mortis over Brexit. If they had been directors of a private company they would have been fired by now.

There are of course people out there making a difference, but I would challenge anyone to identify significant change in any of the major issues facing civilisation. Is the world a safer place now than it was 12 months ago? Are there fewer starving people? Are we taking better care of our planet? Is there less injustice, less inequality?

 

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2020 Lincoln W. Betteridge

Vanilla Extract

02 Vanilla Essence

As I write this article, the big news item is the UN Climate Change Conference in Madrid, and the participation of Greta Thunberg. Both seem to have moved the masses, with large numbers of people demonstrating against the lack of any real action by many of the world’s leaders. In particular, it is interesting to note that many of those demonstrating are our youth. Hardly surprising I guess, the future after all belongs to them……..

I am not deriding in any way their activism and vocalism in these demonstrations, but I suspect that many haven’t taken their own messages to heart; they seem to think that marching with their friends through our cities is enough.

At the aforementioned Madrid conference, the Fiji Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama, said that “we’re all in the same canoe…… but currently the canoe is taking on water from nearly 200 holes”. This was in reference to the approximately 200 countries taking part in the conference and that they all had to do their bit.

 

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2019 Lincoln W. Betteridge