Sunday, November 11, 2007

a weekend in the country

I'm up North this weekend, and reveling in the space of a large house and garden. Something about fresh country air and wide expanses of space that instills new spirit in me. Hopefully it doesn't dissipate on the train journey back to London...

The only downside to being here this weekend is that I'm not in New York at the Chocolate Show. The fact of having a job as well as the tours and booking all my holiday to visit the family later in the year. It's too hard to go to New York for just 48 hours! Being here means I'm not even at the Spirit of Christmas show where lots of lovely chocolatiers are showcasing their wares. My friend called last night to say he had just had a hot chocolate from Bill (McCarrick). Jealous, me? Never. Well, maybe a little. In the New Year I am definitely going to Surrey to visit the Hans Sloane Chocolate studio.

We spent the afternoon yesterday raking up leaves. We didn't bring the appropriate cord with us so I can't upload the before and after photos until we get home. I found, surprisingly, it was fun! Plus, really satisfying. This was the same experience I had a few weeks ago on an outward bounds course where we had to build a barn, and spent the day outdoors climbing and lifting and drilling. Perhaps there is yet more of my father's characteristics in me? I was quite the little tom boy when I was younger and loved climbing trees and building animal sheds and fence. Then I started to realise it was exploiting child labour and did my best to rebel. Suddenly it's become fun again to be outdoors accomplishing something with physical effort.

It certainly hasn't been all hard labour. I picked up the book, The Undercover Economist, from the window sill and managed to get through a few chapters already. Most of it so far is familiar, but a nice refresher on my university subjects. It made me glad I chose the university I did (or that my mother chose it, I might say). Most of the universities offering business studies has a long list of compulsory subjects but the one I went to had only four: Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Statistics 1 and Statistics 2. Interestingly, I think perhaps only one of these was on the compulsory list at the other colleges. They have absolutely been the most useful to me in the outside world. Sometimes I wonder what value I got from university, save for a huge amount of experience running committees and things as part of my extra-curricular activities. Then I read a book like this and realise how most of us are so ignorant to market dynamics and why the world works as it does and I'm grateful I had an introduction to it before I joined the real world (ahem!). Though, frankly, even the best economists struggle to exlain the whole picture. Reasonably so. My father always said that the more you know the more you realise you don't know. Is that a way to make the stupid feel smart again? Well, if that's the case, the further I get into this book the more grateful I am for this comment.

I think I'll revert to what I do know: chocolate. (Though even here there is surely much more to know.) Specifically, Sinking Currant Cake. It doesn't have chocolate in its name but it has chocolate in the icing. It started as mocha brownies when my man was small but his mother decided to adapt it for little people's taste and removed the walnuts and replaced them with currants. The currants always sank, hence, Sinking Currant Cake. I'll see if I can get the recipe and put it here or in one of the newsletters (next one coming soon!). It is the only cake he admits to liking, and I just like making cake so better I make one that he will eat too! On second thoughts I might have to make two, to save any arguments!

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