Skip to main content


Showing posts from May, 2012

Size matters. And writing prompts.

The lizards are bigger. Okay, it’s been nearly 18 months since we were here, on Hillsboro Beach, FL, but they seem to have been the same size for the two decades we've been coming here so it's a bit of a surprise, this year, to notice they've jumped from the size of an average thumb to the size of a small rat.

They still skitter away from the sun-baked paving stones when they hear you approach but they make a lot more noise in the undergrowth when you pass the hedges that surround each villa. And they don't puff out their little red neck pouches anymore either. I'm not sure what that puffing really meant but I always liked to think it could have been the reptile equivalent of 'Hey, how you doing?' The big ones still make way for you, but rather more slowly which, to me, suggests resentment. It might only be a matter of time before they're as big as the monster we saw a few years back stalking the deck along the Intracoastal Waterway. It must have been f…

Florida calls. And writing prompts.

We're flying to Florida on Sunday. We'll land in Miami around 5.30 in the afternoon, pick up a rental car and head north on I95 to Hillsboro Boulevard then turn east for the A1A and Royal Flamingo Villas on Hillsboro Mile, in the town of Hillsboro Beach. We'll drop our bags and go out for steak. Not any steakhouse and not any steak. It'll be Outbacks in West Boca and we'll both have the Victoria Filet, 'Pittsburgh' medium rare. ('Pittsburgh' is a steak cooked with a seared crust.)
There are a few branches of Outbacks in the UK. We've tried a couple but they're a completely different species to their American counterparts as far as quality of food and service are concerned. It's a chain restaurant with chunky wooden tables and no ceremony but I have yet to find a steak that's better. I've eaten ones in London, other parts of Florida, and Manhattan that have been equally good but at two, three and four times the price. So when we w…

Feasting on the past. Living in the present.

'Was there something you specifically wanted to do in your life?’ I asked my mother, a couple of years ago when I was back in Wales. She was still recovering from her hip replacement earlier that year; problems that should have been resolved were refusing to go away. We were sitting in the little conservatory extension at the back of the house drinking tea and looking out at the rain. ‘Not that getting married and having us three wasn’t worth it,’ I added, smiling, ‘but I just wondered what else you might have done.’

She thought for a moment. ‘Probably nursing’, she said.‘That really did interest me. But things were different then. You got married…’.

This is a photo from March 1949 of my mother and her best friend, Faye. She is 16, before she met my dad, before her life had started to lay down marks on the page ahead of her.
How many of our mothers sacrificed their dreams and hopes for a husband and family? Was it sacrifice or choice? Although it is historically true that women had l…

Continuing the search for the best custard slice. And what I think I believe.

Regular readers will remember this post on custard slices.And I’ve remained impressed enough by Greggs to keep my banner photo on Facebook: it’s a snap of their cake box. Until today. Today I managed to get to Jenkins Bakery in Station Road, Port Talbot, shortly after midday and there were still half a dozen custard slices left. And they were on special: 2 for £1.50. How can a girl resist?
So, do they live up to my mother’s recommendations and my Aunty Marie’s yearning for a Jenkins custard slice when she takes a trip back from Hemel Hempstead to her home town ofLlanelli (home of Jenkins Bakery)? I’m not sure. It’s difficult to remember tastes with any measure of precision.But I don’t think there's really any difference in the custard at Greggs and the custard at Jenkins. And, comparing the photos, Greggs has more of it. Where Jenkins does gain brownie points is in the pastry crust: it was still crisp (but thin and flaky) six hours later.

The local elections in Port Talbot yeste…