Share Your World: 2014 Week 43

What is your favourite time of day?

Early morning, especially when I’m the only one up πŸ™‚

What’s your favourite charitable cause and why?

Amnesty International – we live in a country with a relatively good human rights record, but not everyone is so lucky…

How do you like to spend a rainy day?

Curled up on the sofa with a book πŸ™‚

When writing by hand do you prefer to use a pencil or pen?

I tend to use a pen, because as I tend to lean on my work, with a pencil things can get pretty grubby..

Share Your World

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Weekly Writing Challenge: Nighthawks

For this week’s challenge write a poem, a short story, a vignette, a scene, or flash fiction based onΒ  ‘Nighthawks’ by Edward Hopper…nighthawks-edward-hopper

Sitting in the diner, late at night, Dolores was lost in thought. Jack sat next to her, shooting the breeze with the blond guy serving behind the counter. There was only one more customer in the joint, and he’d had his head in his coffee cup since they arrived, hardly acknowledging them beyond the obligatory tip of his hat when they first came in.

They were just passing through town, with an hour to kill on their way from nowhere to somewhere, waiting for the last train to take them on to who knows where. The coffee was good, hot and black and strong. Dolores decided she would use the rest-room to freshen upbefore they returned to the train station, but for now she was happy just to sit quiet, letting Jack fill the silence.

The skirt of her red dress was looking a little wrinkled from sitting on it for too long, but she knew she still looked good. Her mama had taught her well; looking good was proving to be her ticket through life. Womanly wiles were a necessary accessory to success; hair, make-up, clothes all working hard together in creating the feminine mystery and beauty men looked for. It was a man’s world, after all – always had been, always would be.

Jack checked the time – Drink up, kiddo, time we were gone, he said. Dolores picked up her purse, whispering in his ear – Just off to powder my nose, baby, as she sashayed away, smart and sassy and always ready for whatever this crazy, transient life of theirs was going to throw at her next…

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One Word Photo Challenge: Scarlet

I know I’ve already posted several images from my visit last week to the beautiful art installation progressively being created at the Tower of London, called ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’, but I’m adding just one more picture, in response to this week’s One Word Photo Challenge: Scarlet. Each ceramic poppy represents one British miltary fatality during World War One, and by 11th November 888246 poppies will have been planted by volunteers πŸ™‚

scarlet-poppies

Pleasure in Perfume…

I love perfume: I wear it all the time. It’s my little luxury – or one of them at least. I seem to be quite a sensory person; I like things that smell good, taste good, look good, sound good, feel good – things that please my senses. All my perfume choices seem to be variations on a theme – somewhere along the continuum of fresh to floral to fruity – depending on my mood. I don’t like anything too strong or heavy or cloying; those kind of pungent, heady scents quite literally get right up my nose.

Firm favourites over the years have variously included both Eternity and CK1 by Calvin Klein, Romance by Ralph Lauren, Femme by Hugo Boss, and on a sweeter, more youthful note Baby Doll by YSL and Dolly Girl by Anna Sui. I absolutely adore Chanel Allure, although the Eau De Toilette version is about as strong as I can get with perfume. Scent-wise it sits on the outermost edge of my usual preference but there’s something intoxicating about the way it mellows and lingers on my skin and clothing throughout the whole day and beyond that just works beautifully. I wore it daily for several years to regular compliments, but although I always have some in my collection I’m finding that as I’m getting older, it seems to have become a little too rich a scent for everyday use, so sadly I wear it far less nowadays.

My perfumes, though, whichever one I’m wearing at whatever point in my life, all have that warm olfactory familiarity about them that act as a kind of grown-up security blanket for me – their smell comforts me, soothes me, helps me feel good in myself. I have some friends who never feel dressed until they put on full make-up, some who always have to have their nails or hair done, and others who are never without matching jewellery, but for me it is always perfume that gives me that little personal lift to help see me through the day, wherever I am and whatever I’m doing… πŸ™‚

The Art of Pulling a Perfect Pint…

I’ve been working part time in a local pub for the past six months or so, working the floor – serving food, keeping front-of-house clean and clear, chatting to customers – pub waitressing, I guess is the best way to describe it. But this weekend I’ve been learning to work behind the bar as well as cover the floor, and so far I’m finding it great fun, if a little confusing at times… there are just so many different drinks to learn to serve correctly.

One of the many new skills I’m in the process of learning is how to pull a perfect pint – and there’s a lot more to it than I’d thought. It’s nothing like serving draught soft drinks – glass, ice, hit the correct button, dispense the correct amount, serve. Instead each beer/ lager/ cider seems to have its own little set of peculiarities and peccadilloes when it comes to the perfect pour, and there seems to be a knack in knowing how to handle each individual situation as it arises.

I’m discovering variables I didn’t even know existed – whether the pint is hand-pulled or on tap; which glass is used, and the angle at which the glass is held; spout under the liquid or spout over the liquid; glass held high or low; tap pulled forward or pushed back. How much pressure is available, is the barrel nearly full or almost empty, is it the first pint of the day – and if so, expect it to be quite ‘lively’. It’s a good word, lively – it seems to be pub-speak for frothing all over the place as it pours.

It’s important to get each pour right, aiming for the correct amount of head on the pint – not too much, not too little, with no wastage (for the pub’s benefit) but no shortage (for the customer’s benefit, and of course for meeting licensing requirements). Achieving that aim seems to be more about getting a ‘feel’ for how that particular draught alcohol is behaving in that particular glass on that particular pour and adjusting your approach accordingly, than following a fixed set of instructions to the letter every time.

Understanding the science behind it all is definitely a big part of it – knowing the difference between cask and keg ales and the different methods involved in transporting the liquid product from the cellar to the bar, from barrel to glass. But I’m also finding that there’s a distinct art in pulling the perfect pint, and however hit-and-miss it may still be for me at the moment, so far it ‘s proving to be a surprisingly satisfying challenge to be learning to meet. πŸ™‚