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Home Sweat Home, uni-style

(Cat not included)

Welcome to my Blog at The Lair Of The Camrose


It’s my bespoke stomping ground in the Intermatrix. You are very welcome, and thanks for stopping by…

This time, an episode of Studenthouse CSI


I want the best for my kids, but sometimes it’s confusing as regards what that really is.

They are now suitably installed in their second year houses off-campus, but waiting to be properly Locked Down when the inevitable happens and there’s a Surge at their respective uni.

On that, I’m not clear in the now of COVID why students have been mustered on site at their temples of learning and social enrichment when the learning can be done online using that wonderful Internet-thing that has just been invented; and the social part is looking increasingly like a mini-Lockdown for them in a damp house with people they don’t know very well. It’s good for the landlords (including the unis), I suppose, so we can all be happy about that, right?

Delivering my son to his sparkly new house which he’s going to share with three other guys – grunge alert – WHOOP! WHOOP! WHOOP! – was a splendid way not to worry about Corona for a bit. But not for good reasons.

Alert! Alert!

He and his mates chose the house after as much research as you can reasonably expect from nineteen-or-so-year-olds…

Can we get Virgin Media? Yes. Tick.

Does Deliveroo come here? Yes. Tick

Is there a bedroom for me? Yes. Tick.

Where do I sign?

Last weekend was the first time that we’d seen it when we delivered him there. Mother muttered that it needed a little TLC from the outside. For that I assume she meant Take Loads of Care when walking round it. It has a gas oven where the oven knob boinggged off when turned, inviting an inspection of the rank interior of the appliance. We politely declined that invitation. Especially with a lit match. We are ordering crime scene tape – DO NOT CROSS! – from Amazon to stick over the doors and an electric oven from Amazon. He is studying History, not Bomb Disposal.

The encrusted smoke alarms provided extra excitement – Amazon will be as delighted as the Science Museum.

Then a trip around the fluorescent pink tiles of the kitchen for the kitchen-diner experience, followed by the Laundry Room – a space which has an ever-flowing tap like a permanent water feature, and a carpeted downstairs loo that doesn’t bear thinking about. As bedrooms go, his is fine, the only limitation being the black curtains with a yellow flower pattern that looks like coven meetings are held there for right-on Satan worshippers, standing room only.

Don’t get me wrong, the house is big, airy and fine when the booby traps have been de-fused – it was equally fine back in the 1960s when any maintenance work was last done to it. If this is approved or recommended by the accommodation people at the uni, they need to run the odd check every decade or so to ensure the place isn’t life-threatening. Just a thought.

So, just to be clear, I don’t expect my offspring to live in a palace for uni, but I do expect the place of their first real full-on contact with the Real World not to conspire to blow them up, smoke them like kippers or drown them. And yes, voting with your feet is a way of dealing with it, but when accommodation is difficult to get, that’s going to fly a lot less well than those witches…

Cheers,

Alan

Alan Camrose

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Putting the band back together

We drove down to the South Coast at the weekend for a concert. The last time was for Mark Knopfler, this time it was for the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

Glyndebourne, not the Brighton Centre. A stretch for the coast, I’ll grant you. An afternoon of sitting in the gardens, eating a picnic, drinking mocktails and listening to classical music in a COVID-secure way. Not far off normal life (I’m not referring to the mocktails as the aberrration), but with the new-normal tweaks of a one-way system around the premises, two metres between each pod of audience members and far enough away from the end of the woodwind instruments to settle the nerves. No need for black tie since it was an afternoon concert; awkward for the token wearer but he seemed fine with it.

And to the orchestra. A palpable feeling that the band was back together, that they had been let out to play and would have lashings of ginger beer later and party games. Sheer relief at being able to sit in front of a crowd of people again albeit some the size of a Twitter thumbnail in their line of sight.

Sweet Home, East Sussex

A tight eight-piece band with periodic light aircraft accompaniment. It was like the Buena Vista Social Club with a bassoon. Their black suits, a couple of them in black hats, white shirts for the men, it was like an audition in the grounds for the next Blues Brothers film:

“It’s 49 miles to Glyndebourne, we’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes and some clarinets. It’s dark and we’re wearing sun glasses. Hit it!”

Elwood (and Jake) Blues,
musicians

For me, the music proved to be a mixed bag, Beethoven’s go at an opera – Fidelio – plus some crowd-pleasing Mozart, and some Jonathan Dove (the mixed bag). Short pieces, like flash fiction: a conversation, a Countess interrupting an argument, dancing in the dark (not Springsteen). Seven pieces inspired by the Glyndebourne gardens, with – I very much liked the image – the inspiration of Mozart rippling through the trees into the music. A faintly jazz-like feel to some of the pieces, a sketchy slightly repetitive feel to the rest. Overall, a brilliant way to spend some time, COVID or not.

Why in particular? The relief in the orchestra was mirrored by the joy in the audience. My feeling is that they could have played Mahna, Mahna by the Muppets and we would all have felt great and applauded loudly; sadly, Animal wasn’t there on his crazy drum kit. We were determined that it would be great, and happily it was. The rustling of the trees in the breeze and the twittering of nearby birds beautifully complemented the music and the feeling of being OUT. Something that was not a compromise, something that we wanted to do, something that looks like we’d wandered into another drive-in by mistake. Not that last bit.

What time does the movie start?

A festival without the mud and with a selection of cheeses. We all need to find those moments of escape, however they come packaged.

Cheers,

Alan

Alan Camrose

The Blues Brothers' 40th anniversary — read all Sun-Times coverage of 'the  best movie ever made in Chicago' - Chicago Sun-Times

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Leaving the nest – again

Welcome to my Blog at The Lair Of The Camrose


It’s my bespoke stomping ground in the Intermatrix . You are very welcome, and thanks for stopping by…

This time, the Offspring are about to return to university with their magic self-cleaning bedding and renewed thirst for knowledge vodka…


The Offspring completed their first year at uni in the chaos of this summer, the 2019/20 academic year ending in a morass of will they / won’t they have exams, hand sanitiser and no 2020 Euros.

A few months on and there is a feeling of them starting all over again but they will have some herd memory of big nights at the Students Union Bar from a strangely familiar yet brand new place. I suspect that is fuelled by both of them moving out of hall and into their respective Student Houses: the place where vodka flows like water and Wet Wipes fear to tread. The place that is disturbingly like real life but with seminars. Life with stabilisers.

They are not only required to tackle the uncertainties that lie ahead at their Ivory Towers but in a place where they need to do dangerous things like cooking and cleaning without parental back-up…Happily, Offspring 1 has some brand new kitchen paraphernalia to play with, brand new because none of the items came out of the shrink-wrap packaging the first time around. You know the sort of ting, obscure artifacts like saucepans and chopping boards, ones that will one day be described as “Mint” on Ebay. So, no need to stock up for him; we did need to re-kit Offspring 2 because we abandonned most of her things at uni during the retreat in disarray in the summer, courtesy of That Bloody Virus.

Either way, our hall is now stuffed to the brim with boxes and bags full of, well, stuff ready to be transported to the next staging post of their journeys…It looks like the store at a frontier post in the Old West, but with more charging cables. A combination of essentials like asparagus dishes, snow shoes and supplies of gin (infused, of course, with craft botanicals).

total chaos packing for university
Packing for uni

They are the lucky ones in terms of the relentless workings of the academic life calendar.

They missed the horrors of the GCSE / A-levels debacle, the students for whom we should all spare a thought. The same with uni students last year either set up to go on life-changing years out in industry or just in other institutions, all swept away by the virus. The same for final year students robbed of what in a non-crazy world would for most have been the formal recognition of their path to graduation.

In an albeit small way, I’m in the same boat. I was awarded my MA for Creative Writing from Surrey this summer, which seems to me epochs ago. That moment has passed now. At least there’s no need for me to wear a funny hat and trip up the stairs to a rickety stage to receive my presumably blank certificate (I already have the certificate somewhere or other at home). Now it feels like a dream, all those workshops and seminars, wondering whether that all really happened or were a sneaky part of my creative writing process.

There are many much worse things that have come out of COVID than academic inconvenience, but just sticking with that for now the combination of awkward drifting and confusion/frustration among many students has been palpable. Hopefully most have, like ours, at least been able to tap back into their school network friends to sustain them, with gatherings and shots games as Lockdown has eased; while in the best of all worlds for our Offspring they have ideally retained a grip on budding friendships made in their first year at uni…That has been made easier by social media, of course; the world in COVID 1970 would have been a much darker and more lonely place.

Nine days to go before launch for Offspring 2, for Offspring 1 we’re not so sure given the quarantine situation for some of his housemates. But it will happen and they will make the best of it, hopefully not resorting to cold macaroni cheese out of the tin with the remaining dessert spoon as I remember doing my first time around.

No conferring , except at a safe distance…

Welcome to Universities Challenge, this is your restarter for 10

Cheers,

Alan

Alan Camrose

Alan Camrose with beard
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When sloth is not a deadly sin

Welcome to my Blog at The Lair Of The Camrose


It’s my bespoke stomping ground in the Intermatrix . You are very welcome, and thanks for stopping by…

This time, the joy of creation, if you get my thread…


Just a quick post to show that not all things coming out of Lockdown are bad. This is my daughter’s beautiful piece of embroidery of a sloth hanging about. It’s a piece of work that I have neither the patience, the dexterity or the eyesight to achieve.

sloth eating his or her breakfast in leisurely style
Relax, have a bite…

Cheers,

Alan

Alan Camrose

Alan Camrose with beard
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Diet Hard

Welcome to my Blog at The Lair Of The Camrose


It’s my bespoke stomping ground in the Intermatrix . You are very welcome, and thanks for stopping by…

This time, tackling the unthinkable…Yippee-Ki-Ay! Relax, take off your shoes and crinkle your toes, rip open a very small pack of low calorie popcorn.

Warning: Mixing blockbuster references, the need to have seen Die Hard is strong in this one…


Die Hard movie the terrorism of dieting and diets
We have fizzy water, cucumber and everything

Buying a new outdoor pizza oven probably wasn’t part of the ruthless unified direction of travel needed for the Family Diet, but hey ho.

Lockdown has proved to be a challenge on the dietary front, ranging from asking when will our next Waitrose Essentials Lobster be available in those dark early days of uncertainty to: did we really have that extra bottle of wine last night? When I say last night, I’m talking 2:12 pm AND NOT A MINUTE LATER…

Eating and drinking became the new leisure activity to while away an hour between repeats of Line of Duty. It introduced the concept of Zoom Dinners and Skype Snacks, afternoon tea from the early part of Lockdown made from lentils and 2016 gooseberry jam, and pasta for every meal.

Something had to give, and it was going to be either my waistband or my liver or both, hence the New Regime, a group of thieving terrorists locking down the fridge, or at least nicking all the snacks.

Slimfast shakes, bars and snacks, gimmicky but very calorie-controlled and not too horrible. Eight pounds lost in two weeks. Not spectacular but I don’t want to push it too far, especially with a periodic pit stop for a glass of Sunday Bay. The cheeseburger at the drive-in didn’t help. Baby steps, right?

Carrot cake – carrots, part of my five a day.

And then there’s the exercise, in a string vest for authenticity.

We have an exercise bike (low-slung with one of those annoying counter-thingys that tell you how much you’ve done and whether you stopped for a cheeky Latte). and my favourite piece of indoor gym equipment, an individual trampoline. That doesn’t have a counter thing but does require me to be careful not to bounce up and hit my head on the ceiling while running on the spot, so I need to concentrate exactly half the time. Life’s a compromise.

Jasper’s my favourite outdoor exercise provider, my personal trainer. Always available, has low rates (a periodic Bonio) and will retrieve until he falls over. See below…

golden retriever worn out by too much retrieving, cute puppy
Nothing left to retrieve…

Other integrated exercise systems include carrying the Sainsbury’s delivery to the fridge, extreme plant watering and UFD: Ultimate Fighting Draughts.

My plan is to do what I can, because I’ve still got to live in this thing going forward. Being Draconian seems like as bad a place to be as hitting the emergency slimming gloop…

If this proves to be too relaxed, then there’s always Diet Hard 2: Diet Harder.

Cheers,

Alan

Alan Camrose with beard
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Pizza the action

Welcome to my Blog at The Lair Of The Camrose


It’s my bespoke stomping ground in the Intermatrix . You are very welcome, and thanks for stopping by…

This time, the Siren’s Song, preferably not the Fire Engine siren because of the new pizza oven …


pizza oven, showing the heart of the flame for outside living

We decided to buy a pizza oven.

Why? Because it would provide a Family Bonding Expeience during the long hours of Lockdown and demonstrate that something fundamentally basic like a pizza can be elevated into a whole new stratosphere of culinary wonderment with the addition of 900 degrees of firepower. The gloves for handling the hardware would grace any firefighter’s tool kit, thick and protective and, JESUS CHRIST, THAT’S STILL HOT!

At that point, due respect was due to the martial artists who pick up a pot filled with burning coals to brand pictures of dragons onto their inner arms. For that sort of thing, the Epsom Tattoo Parlour seems a less lethal way to go, social distancing permitting.

As an initial victory, I managed to avoid setting fire to the owner’s manual. This is not Fahrenheit 451. A bit of kindling, some charcoal, some accelerant borrowed from the neighbourhood pyromaniac and we were up and running, clean burning fuel with a judicious eco eye firmly in place.

The first one proved to be sensational in the middle but usable as replacement charcoal on the outside all the way round, or as a (very) burnt offering. When I say round, I refer to the irregular dodecagon that threatened to turn into a mind-bending Mobeus strip of gooey Mozzarella.

The second proved to be more cooperative and the third (pictured above) a wonder of modern pizza technology, the pizza slices starting to resemble a leaning tower. It made me think of the various other flavours and toppings that would lend themselves to the Fire.

This was not one of them – no cat was festooned with chorizo and artichoke hearts for the creation of this Mighty Furry:

So, when the carbo-loading devil next sits on my shoulder and whispers Hawaiian, extra-thick crust in my eager ear…

Fire up that NOS because it’ll be time to don the asbestos apron and iconic gloves once more and kick off with at least Three Degrees…

Only 897 to go…

before heading into the heart of the Flame.

I’ll be in the Cal-Zone, baby!

Cheers,

Alan

Alan Camrose

Alan Camrose with beard
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Groundhair Day

Welcome to my Blog at The Lair Of The Camrose


It’s my bespoke stomping ground in the Intermatrix . You are very welcome, and thanks for stopping by…

This time, the Strimmer’s Revenge…


rusty hacksaw
A little bit more off the top, please

32 degrees C and six months since my last hair-cut: a true Lockdown moment.

Should I:

a) go to the barber and wear a mask, and the barber a visor and mask, to feel like I was having my hair shorn by the riot police;

b) leave my hair to carry on growing until I could play tug-of-war with Rapunzel; or

c) give myself up to the mercy of my wife to satisfy that crazed look of anticipation as she held the tiny scissors to the industrial-sized whetstone.

I woke up shackled to a small plastic chair, my knees around my ears, providing a sight-line for the first cut. Vrooom! The sound of a chainsaw engaging, snippety-snip the sound of garden shears approaching me from behind. The glug of Agent Orange shampoo being rubbed into my ends which were about to be split with an axe.

No mirror to protect me, and as Meatloaf nearly sings:

Hair in the rear view mirror may recede more than you think

(especially when attacked by Mrs Scissorhands).

My chainmail suit at the dry cleaners, the Jaws soundtrack thundering in our bathroom, reflecting off the tiles – duh DUH dur DUHDADADADADADADA

The feel of a swathe of hair sloughing off my head and crashing to the bathroom foor like the calving of a huge iceberg, a sinister chuckle from just behind my left ear, sending a chill down my spine as I stayed rooted to the spot in terror.

CRASH!

Another copse of mountain trees swept away in the avalanche.

Bit more on the left to level it up, bit more on the right to level it up, bit more on the left to level it up…How much was left? Would my parting eventually amount to a thin Mohican on the crest of my head where the furry tectonic plates lurched together…?

And then it was over as the massed jungle foliage that that rooted itself in my eyebrows was chopped away with a machete – what proved to be Nicola’s weapon of choice in the Hairena of Doom, or WWFluff…

Then the clouds of hair blew away revealing a work of art – more a rough sketch than the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, but Michaelangelo had more promising contours to work with. A pretty good first attempt on the back of a three-minute YouTube coaching video (half of which consisted of ads for FIFA 21 – she snips, she scores! – and following a suspicious recent interest in regularly brushing our golden retriever as a way of limbering up).

The exciting thing is that in another few months time, unless I’m ambushed earlier at the top of the stairs with a suspiciously glinting blade – like Norman Bates with a detailer trimmer – it will be time to

DO IT AGAIN…

fluff ball resisting a hair cut
Snippety-snippety-snip

Cheers,

Alan

Alan Camrose

Alan Camrose with beard

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Roquet Man

After our recent short trip to Marlow for the drive-in movie, we went on a much grander adventure last week. An extra twenty minutes in the car.

The Road to Aylesbury…

Take it away, Elton:

...We packed our bags last minute pre-drive
Zero hour nine AM...

In fact, it ended up being after lunch.

We stuffed the car with garden games, a blow-up giant avocado (with accompanying blow-up stone) and, in a fit of optimism to defy the British climate: multiple pairs of shorts and our swimming costumes for an outdoor pool. No rooftop box, in case we took a wrong turning and ended up in Cornwall. A dizzying drive along the myriad motorways of Britain (well, the M25 and the M40), around 60 miles for the family staycation, to be fair less Easy Rider than Herbie Rides Again.

Can’t help thinking of Elton again for the are-we-there-yet journey,

...I think it's gonna be a long, long time...

Arrival at the cottage was straightforward, meaning no need to get within two metres of any other human being before being given sanitised keys. And so it proved for the rest of the week.

This guy in the grounds was firmly told to stick to the distancing limit:

Statue in the grounds
It’s OK, I used a telephoto lens to maintain appropriate social distancing.

We experienced an odd sense of timelessness and falling out of the world for a while. Ask him, he even has a very natty Lockdown beard.

The cottage is attached to a hotel with an entrance door retro-fitted with a motion sensor, and a thermometer able to take my temperature automatically before the laser cannons activated. A sign of the times, and lucky that no facial recognition was required for registration. My chin-to-nose face covering made it look more like I was there to commit armed robbery than check in.

Aside from a food delivery to the cottage and the usual dance to keep everyone’s distance, that was it, a week of more isolation but with unfamiliar kitchen devices and a real garden. Bliss. No air tickets, knackering plane rides, all the stuff that makes a holiday generate a need for recovery time when arriving back home. Just Aylesbury for the week.

Not a holiday destination that any of us would ever have particularly considered – no offence – but it proved to be awesome. Not that we saw anything of Aylesbury proper, but that didn’t matter, we were Oooh! (Out Of Our House) for an extended period of time, somewhere unknown, somewhere DIFFERENT. OK, no beach parties, lingering sunsets over an azure sea, blahblah, but peace and quiet, and time to kick back with the family.

Aside from one game of footie and University Challenge, no TV for the whole of the week, and – shocking news – it was not missed. At all. I’m not going to suggest there was no social media stuff going on, but it was at a much reduced rate. And there was the allure of not having to open post. Remarkably liberating. Also, my position as Bin Tsar was furloughed for six splendid days…

We played games, all four of us – Father, Mother, the Offspring – not just taking advantage of the lawn with a croquet set that we had finessed into the car. The kids thrashed us. They were also better at Funny Bunny (a family favourite board game for ages 4+ – improved by combining with cocktails). And a card-based Mahjong without the incessant clickety-clack of frenzied tiles that I remember well from Hong Kong – the police station on Lamma Island has always been a particularly loud venue for that sort of thing.

The other thing that we did, courtesy of BBC Good Food Magazine, was a stay-at-home (in Ayesbury) European Tour of Cooking. The kids joined in and we were each responsible for dinner on one night, travelling by food to Portugal, France, Spain and Italy with matching cocktails for each country. A touch of the exotic, albeit in Buckinghamshire. Fun for all the family.. We didn’t manage to persuade the Offspring that loading/unloading the dishwasher would be an exciting first-time novelty fest of fun, but we were on holiday rather than totally delusional…

Anyway, my point is that the little things matter. I think just switching off from mundane household tasks as far as possible, even if you haven’t gone anywhere, doing different stuff at home or wherever you are, seems like a breath of fresh air. That didn’t really impress itself upon me in a practical sense until we got back home and Life re-started in that inexorable way that it does, with a jolly round of car servicing/repairs, acquiring a replacement microwave, the trepidation before a new diet starts…

A re-start. A new paragraph.

'Till touch down brings me round again...

Cheers,

Alan

Sangria, jug of drink on our staycation in Aylesbury
Solid serving of our five-a-day…
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We’re gonna need a bigger car

Welcome to my Blog at The Lair Of The Camrose


It’s my bespoke stomping ground in the Intermatrix . You are very welcome, and thanks for stopping by…

This time, just when you thought it was safe to go back in the drive-in….


drive-in movie, view of the big screen for Jaws
Man-eating shark spotted in Marlow

Drive-in movies. Pure American, right?

No! A beautiful Summer’s evening on a showground on the Marlow-Henley Road for an early evening movie on a massive outdoor screen.

We were half an hour early, third in line to get in (can’t trust the M25), it was like arriving four hours early at the airport for a holiday flight, but this time Lockdown-style. Four of us in a reasonably large Volvo SUV, three of us pushing 6′ 3″. What could possibly go wrong?

We were excited to be out out, albeit in in a car-sized bubble, about to be fed and a classic was waiting for us, brooding in the shallows, filing its teeth.

Jaws was on the menu.

I lined up the car within our parking space, a safe distance from the screen: a perfect view for the driver (me) and Mother. For Twins 1 and 2 in the back? Not so much.

Volvo hadn’t really legislated for this cabin configuration. We adjusted the seats, the rear-view mirror and the passenger-side wing mirror; lived with the passenger-side windscreen pillar and non-detachable head-rests, not having packed a chainsaw; slid the back of the driver and front passenger seats down to about 35 degrees each; worked the front seats far enough forward so that the blood supply to my legs started to flatline; regretted – again – not having a convertible.

Perfect.

Food was courtesy of Tom Kerridge / Pub in the Park: cheeseburger and cheesecake. So ethnic, I nearly wore a cowboy hat. Glad I didn’t, it would have blocked more of the screen.

Fortunately, the food was a manageable size…

Yum yum

After that, time for a fun game before the movie started.

Over six foot driver (me), over six foot nineteen-year-olds in the rear passenger seats; less tall Mother in the front passenger seat. Cue an expert session of a combination of Twister and Rubik’s Cube to position all of us to best advantage to watch the movie out of the available windows.

Bonus sessions of movie re-enactment (feeling like we were trapped in a small shark cage) and Ultimate Fighting Yoga in the back were available at no extra charge.

Duly installed, we attacked the food with the enthusiasm of a Great White vieiwng a tasty boatful of humans. And when it came to the line in the movie,

…what we are dealing with here is a perfect engine, an eating machine. It’s really a miracle of evolution. All this machine does is swim and eat…and that’s all.

Jaws (1975)

it gave me a vision of the kids standing in front of our open fridge.

And of Jasper, our eternally hungry golden retriever with his latest helpless prey (above)…

The burgers added a 4-D effect to the chomping sounds coming out of the in-car speaker.

The experience was brilliant.

And I love Jaws.

It’s good that it’s so topical, the tension between keeping stuff open and fending off a dangerous threat.

All thanks to the magic of the movies; and a film that contains one of the best ad-libs in movie history.

Roy Scheider's ad lib when he sees the shark...

Cheers,

Alan

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Cuban Cool Cats

Welcome to my Blog at The Lair Of The Camrose


It’s my bespoke stomping ground in the Intermatrix . You are very welcome, and thanks for stopping by…

This time, some Cuban reflections.


We were in Cuba in February 2020, a lifetime ago. The sun was out, the sky was blue, the cocktails flowed like, er, wine. Like Freddie, we were Havana good time, Havana ball… Far away from where we are right now after these dangerous months.

When I think of Cuba, I think of cars, cocktails and – slightly strangely – cats. At times, they blend together: when we first arrived in Cuba, a 1958 Plymouth ride back in time to La Guarida restaurant in the heart of Havana, its feline guardian in the entrance hall large enough to hold a dance floor, a rooftop terrace housing the open-air Mirador Bar dispensing life-giving Negroni Habanero cocktails – a mixture that includes aged Campari, red vermouth and the perfume of orange rinds. Plenty of ice.

I thought I would share a few memories like that of our trip to bring a little salsa (and, as you will see, heavy metal) back into life for a few minutes as we mingled with the cool cats of Cuba.

La Guarida restaurant in Havana, Cuba
Paladar La Guarida, Havana with a bonus game of Spot The Cat

More cool cats at the Buena Vista Social Club.

You have to smile when you see this much joy

Music is an enduring part of the place. Take a look at a few moments of this street sweeper practising asome moves to the beat of a nearby bar.

A brush with Cuban music

And in Varadero, a table band in a restaurant playing the final notes of some AC-DC…It’s a matter of great regret that I didn’t hit record sooner; too busy head-banging with the rest of the restaurant-goers…

Definitely not A Touch Too Much…

In addition to hearing some heavy rock on a violin in Cuba, I have also been lucky enough – quite a few years ago – to hear Jingle Bells on a sitar in an Indian restaurant in Sri Lanka to get us in the festive spirit.

But it’s best to leave the last words to the cats and cocktails of Cuba:

Please do not park on this cat

The cocktail below is an El Presidente (there are numerous variations, but this one works a treat):

  • 25 ml Bacardi
  • 25 ml White Vermouth
  • 5 ml Grand Marnier
  • Dash of Grenadine
  • Beautifully cut Orange Peel, preferably sliced very thin and in one piece – the one below was from the maestro who served us at El Floridita in Havana

Shake with ice. Pour into a Martini glass.

Glorious

Harking back to AC-DC, this cocktail is perhaps a Highway to El…

Cheers!

Alan


Alan Camrose with beard

Alan Camrose writes books and a blog:

www.alancamrose.com

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