stone-dusted-chilli-smoked monkey

it has been a real long while since i posted anything. i feel somewhat guilty about it. it's a similar feeling to having a plant then forgetting to water it for couple days. you come back and expect... well, rather pathetic and wilted plants i suppose. bad me.  i had all intention of writing, i swear! hahaha. anyways.  i suppose the absence of monkey trails could mean several things. the fact that i am happy and well-occupied (hence finding the time is difficult). the fact that i felt really silly about some things and had to really think about: am i really going to go public with such dumb facts about me? (i suppose that's vanity.)  there are many things i want to do, many people i feel as if i need to catch up- one never has to catch up with other, but it feels incredibly important and dear.  so here i am, at backyard at home-chinley, with airing duvet and lawn chairs, life is okay.

last week was a rainy week. the entire wk was drenched in wet grey british blanket of moisture.  with little sheeples scattered around the gentle green background, not unlike the little eraser dusts on the green cutting board, i was busy- reacquainting self with the world that i have left couple months ago. with epic-ish stories of past while, monkey was eased into getting back to a different tempo of life.  slow. open. vast skies. gentle rolling hills. absence of the crazy neon lights and bustle of the city.  

i certainly plan to recap on several silly things that have occurred since then- the first memorable point was learning to cut stones and dress the edges, getting them ready for the patio laying.  mr. salamander immensely enjoy the noise and power of the angle grinder and it's been on to-do-list to learn how to use it.  gyroscopic in its design, it's got a plenty of kick start, where it twirls and do a figure of 8, banging its end into the unsuspecting rookie wielder.  the immediate concern that was presented was in relation to my fingers.

concerned cellist: have you done it before?
monkey: ah- no, it's my first day i suppose-
c: i would be so scared for my fingers-

well, yes, except i figure that since you have to hold the machine with both hands (right hand trigger, left hand guide), the safest sets of fingers would be mine actually. and the stance you hold it (knees bent, folded over the stone one is cutting), along with the fact that the blade is parallel to your spine, to cut one's knees, one would really have to make sharp turns (at least 45') which means... well, i am safe. 


hahaha,. anyways. so that was the day full of angle grinder, dust, rubber mallets and mortar. i fed the mixer with cement and sand, gently wet them with soap water (i never knew but apparently it loosens the surface tension, making it easier to mix).  i dug the ground and broke the old foundation of the ww2 air-raid shelters to put int fresh soldier stones.  i banged away from my shoulder and back with rubber mallet with a wood beam, to level the new stones with others so no one will trip.  and at the end, we finished the end of the stone-laid patio, consisting mosaic of 4 inches deep yorkshire stones.  awesome.  this particular day concluded with a generous helpings of bangers and mash and balloon playing with little boy named archie.  and on top, we even had enough time to go pick up tasty things from the turkish supermarket! score!

and then there was a day of lofting as well at the friend's house.  loft = attic.  it has to do with putting in new joists on top of the old (as they were all crooked and uneven.  one cannot lay a leveled floor on it, nevertheless the pain of cutting pieces to meet the annoying seams of the old joists. so the new pieces of wood beams will be nailed onto the old joists on equal heights.  then goes on the insulation layer.  after they have been stapled, one lays particle-board-zigsaw-puzzle floor pieces.  it was a rainy day and all so it was not so unpleasant to work in the loft, but i must say, i rather prefer working outside.  luckily there's a bit more left on the previous garden to finish (the other corner of the garden) and pointing (filling up the gaps between the stones) (and this also applies another garden).  so perhaps we'll get to finish them next week when the orchestra's having their week off.  with keeping everyone's finger intact, of course.

then there was also so fancy bits of cooking in the kitchen. with lots and lots of smoke- chili smoke that make everyone cough.  hand trimmed baked rainbow trouts with lemon-caper sauce.  roasted new potatoes in home grown thyme-garlic butter with maldon sea salt..  spam noodles (you laugh but it's crack-addictive) with 5 pepper sauce and lea-ferrins. beurre-monte poached scallops on top of miso couscous.  iranian fesenjann, laced with pomegranate syrup and rich walnuts.  pink-centered lamb burgers atop union ciabattas with home-grown mint-yoghurt.  it's always such a pleasure to make such things- the local produce here, especially butchery goods, are amazing and the fact mr. salamander takes food with great enthusiasm makes it really easy to enjoy the entire process. we now have a small wee garden patch of herbs.  still looking for spear mint though.  and i was much appreciative of mr. salamander's lamb tikka with dark saag curry. yum.

so hopefully that gives a short update on monkey journey at this point.  there are may post cards to write and people to be in touch with. and also... well, life!  so please excuse this lazy monkey with a wink of an eye, and i swear there are more exciting news on the way. including a first car crash and all that jazz.  love to you all, from the green hills and finally with hint of sun, monkey reported from uk.


  1. hmm yes, admittedly there was a bit of a pause in the british summer. three cheers for its return. (if you visit a drizzly cold and grey scotland, the locals will say "och, ye should hae been here last week, it was glorious". hmm.)

    respect for stonemason apprentice monkey, you're a natural. stone dressing, salad dressing - such multi faceted talent.

  2. OH, I miss you.
    And I recant previous claims to my improved cooking skills after reading your "set list" for dinners...I have a long way to go yet! :)