Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Where Has The Time Gone?

Eight years! I have to say it again to make sure I haven't got that wrong......eight years!!  Plans, hopes and dreams that seemed so alive and raring to go last time I wrote disappeared into the pending file of life.  The metaphorical inbox became overstuffed with the care of elderly parents and, in the end, the painful grieving process of their passing.  The ups and downs of changing jobs (3 times!) in that period left me feeling bruised and exhilarated in equal measure and at different moments.  A son leaving home and starting to pursue his own career and all the reassurance, support and mentoring that takes from a parent, passed through our little world.
Why now? Why this point in time to re-kindle the dormant flame of writing this blog and turning my attention again to Secret Stirrings?  Answer - a world that has turned itself upside down and made, I believe, every being on planet Earth re-evaluate their lives.  A pandemic called COVID-19.  I have no doubt that history books and medical journals will explain all you need to know about the gorey details of this shock to societies the world over; so I am simply going to say that the 6 weeks (with possibly more to come) of a nationwide lockdown has allowed me time, without distraction, to think about the priorities in my life and what is REALLY important to me.
As the opportunities to travel, visit, socialise and have access to all the amazing physical and social attractions of the environments around us has been limited to an essential trip for food or medical needs and 1 hours' exercise a day, so I have begun to assess what the things are that I am missing the most from my life "before."  I have narrowed this down to just 3 things - socialising with friends and family; being able to be in, on or near the sea and being able to access cultural events - theatre, galleries etc.  I'm going to take these in reverse order and try to express how and why I will value these things more than ever when the restrictions begin to be lifted:
Access to cultural events - I had not appreciated how much visits to these places influenced and directed my thinking.  Without the input of stunning art, music, dance and theatre my reserves of inspiration for my own projects in textiles and other creative forms are running very low.  Every tiny detail I brought away from one of these events in the past had been filed away in the back of my brain and has provided starting points and direction for some of the projects I have made in this period stopping me from being bored or going mad!  I am thankful for the Herculean efforts that museums, galleries, theatres and cinemas have gone to on social media to continue to provide artistic input to a remote audience.  I will NEVER take these things for granted again or become laissez-faire about their production and availability - they filleth my cup to overflowing.
Visiting the sea - it is no coincidence that the first ever Secret Stirrings Blog was written (yes! I know it was a long time ago!) sitting overlooking the sea - I love it!  The constant change in colour, pattern and mood fascinates me.  The never ending horizon makes me feel that the world is open and ready for me to explore.  Being able to return to enjoying the smells, sights and sounds of the ocean will be incredible and I will more thankful than I ever was before that I live close enough to be there in 15 minutes.
Socialising with friends and family - Laughter! Creating shared memories; letting your guard down and completely being yourself; sharing tips and tricks and offering support.  Once again, social media has come to the rescue here but you can't reach through someone's screen (yet!) and hold a hand or pour someone a glass of wine.  This is an aspect of my life I would like to get going again as soon as possible.  As a nation we are awaiting the Prime Minister's speech on Sunday, 8th May when he is expected to announce the "road map" to begin lifting lockdown restrictions.  It is hoped that as part of these measures he will announce that groups of up to 10 friends/families can socialise.
This is where I hope Secret Stirrings will rise again like a phoenix from the ashes.  I have dusted off and swotted up on the plans that had been consigned to the back of the kitchen drawer.  I have a new energy to expend and now understand that all the results of the time and effort that running a supper club will take will be more than worth it - making those treasured shared moments and memories together again.  These two things have more significance than ever before. Who knows if, when and for how long another attack on humans by a virus will occur.  How long will it be before Mother Nature sends us back to our rooms again to consider what we've been doing wrong?  We must make the most of now.  Now is the time for me to start "stirring" again.
See you soon!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Moo has delivered!

Great news..my business cards for Secret Stirrings have arrived and Moo has not let me down.  Beautifully presented in a glossy black storage box the cards are exactly as I had designed and finished to a high standard (considering I went for the "basic" package)  What's more, they delivered a week early...fab!  Now in the process of starting to leave them strategically around and handing them to people I think will be as excited as me about my new venture.

One more step in the right direction has come in the form of a "WC" sign ! (I never thought I'd hear myself say that!)  Very "French" in style in blue and white enamel to go on my downstairs cloakroom door so that secret supper club guests will have no problem in identifying the smallest room in the house as opposed to the broom cupboard!

Coat pegs for guest's rainy day apparel (especially after the hail and storms witnessed today) are next on my hit list.

Happy Wednesday...remember............half past through the working week! Yipee!  Fiona

Sunday, 22 April 2012

A Vintage Visit.......

What a week!  Even though it was a 4 not 5 day week for the first week back at school it was full-on!!  Just re-training the body clock was enough to wear anyone out!  The week ended on a high for me though; yesterday I had extremely inspirational day out in Frome, Somerset at a Vintage Bazaar.  I managed to doze on the way courtesy of a First Great Western Railways and arrived not knowing what to expect (a virgin in this area!) but full of anticipation.  I was not let down.  In the Cheese & Grain building just by the town's main car park were over 100 stalls brimming with every conceivable aspect of vintage living: clothing, accessories, textiles, toys, books, wallpapers, gardening paraphanalia etc. etc. I paid my £1 (what value!) admission fee and set forth.  After half an hour I decided I need a strategy to get the most out of the next few hours so ordered a latte and piece of cake in the pop-up cafe to consider my plan of attack.  All the stalls were wonderfully presented and full of charm and character.  To add to the atmosphere the organisers had arranged for a 1940's band to play and sing their way through the day; lots of singing along going on (not too loudly though, I didn't want to empty the place!|)  How did I get to hear about this event....;a regular at Friday's Totnes Flea Market (when on hols obviously ) I often have a rummage on a stall called "Shabby Chick" (a play on the Shabby Chic style).  She stocks beautifully refreshed and restored table linens, bed linens, tea cosies, nightdresses, little bits of china and some children's pj's and dresses.  You can have a look at what she gets up to at www.facebook.com/shabbychick   Anyhow, when I was at her stall a couple of weeks ago I picked up a flyer advertising this vintage bazaar as she was due to have a stall there; so I planned it into my diary.  You may ask what all this has to do with a supper club. Well I think they all stem from a certain type of mindset.  Break away from mass marketing and media pressure, try a different approach to some of the things in your life; fill your life with interesting things and interesting people; get out of the habit of doing what everybody else does; focus on life's simple pleasures. Some of the utilitarian, yet characterful and charming items I saw (and maybe purchased!)yesterday I hope to incorporate into the way I prepare and present Secret Stirrings events.  What could be more lovely than reusing serving platters, candlesticks and the like at my tables...imagine the scenes they've witnessed in their lifetimes at dining tables through the generations...if only they could talk!


Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Moo Cards!

One step closer today - have designed and ordered my business/calling cards from moo.com.  This site was recommended in The Supper Club by msmarmite.  Usually I am not great at this sort of thing on the internet but this site is so intuative and fun to use; another great tip from the doyenne of supper clubs!  Needless to say the card features lovely graphic illustrations of spoons which can be used to stir up all sorts of fun and flavours!  Can't wait to see them in the flesh!  Moo also offers stickers and postcards for your personal or business use; check them out at www.moo.com.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012


As I sit here pondering how on earth you start to write a blog I feel a sea breeze on my face and the sun on my back.  It beats a stuffy office or dark study any day!  I am at a wooden table overlooking a receeding tide at Bigbury on Sea, South Devon.  This is my "back yard". Yep! I'm lucky enough to live here.  I'm not trying to create any green-eyed monsters out there in the blogosphere, I simply want to give you a taste of the wonderful area I'm fortunate enough to enjoy every day....and I mean "taste" in every sense of the word.
I dream of setting up a Secret Supper Club.  As far as I know (and I've searched long and hard) I will be one of the first in South Devon to take the plunge into the pool of "underground" and "pop-up" restaurants that is flowing through London, Bristol, Paris and Buenos Aries (to name but a few)!
My inspiration behind getting this particular pot of ideas boiling comes from many quarters.  Here, in the South Hams, (an AONB) we are so fortunate to have amazing farmers markets and fish producers. (I can go to the pretty port of Salcombe and buy beautifully sweet crab and lobster direct from the boats).  Friends of mine that care greatly about the provenance and preparation of food dive locally for scallops, create amazing fudge, boil up clotted cream with the milk from the dairy herd they can see from their kitchen window and grow delicious (if not sometimes oddly shaped!) fruit and veg on their allotments.  This is just the tip of the food mountain of deliciousness surrounding me.
Food aside, I would love to encourage those who maybe haven't yet experienced the continental, kicked-back lifestyle of this area to give it a go.  Walk, kayak, surf, cycle, paddleboard, swim, explore, dive, climb, sail, waterski, fish, shop, relax and, above all else, eat and drink in the beauty it has to offer.  Then maybe, just maybe, you'll have worked up enough of an appetite to come and enjoy supper at "SECRET STIRRINGS".
Secret Stirrings is the name I've chosen for my foodie venture.  "Secret" because it ties up with the exciting, clandestine and anticipation-filled mysterious air of the underground restaurant movement; "stirrings" because of the little ripple it may cause in the sometimes mundane sands of life. Plus, everyhting I make, bake and create involves a spoon of some description to stir things up a bit. So, "Secret Stirrings" is conceived and about to be introduced to the world.  So far, it's been a relatively pain-free labour in the process of giving birth to my new "baby" (although I am ready for it to get worse before it gets better)!
I am, however, not alone in the delivery room.  I have been given a shot in the arm of self-belief and strength of spirit from one of the pioneers of underground restaurants in Britain - Kerstin Rodgers; aka msmarmitelover.  Her blog, website and recent book "The Supper Club" are full of thought provoking and encouraging tips.  My hand is being held by my ever patient, hard working and social stalwart husband of nearly 25 years.  All techno support is provided by our 19 year old son - also chief taster and demolisher of anything I put on a plate, in a dish or fill a sandwich with (my biggest competitor in this area is Mr Kellogs)!
Secret Stirrings will be, by no means, the only thing that will fill my days or occupy my thoughts (for the moment at least).  I teach full-time at a local Community College and waitress part-time at the best seafood restaurant around "The Oyster Shack", Bigbury.
My interests are varied and I will expand on these another time.
For now, this is YOUR invitation to share the joys, ups and downs, twists and turns of nurturing my ideas into a fully fledged Supper Club that can stand on its' own two feet and toddle around.  I hope to update the blog at least a couple of times a week with everything from foodie anecdotes, recipes and the progress of my venture to links to favourite sites and blogs of mine for you to take advantage of.  As soon as we have an opening date you'll be the first to know.
In the meantime I've put a few links on today's blog for you to check out. If you feel inspired to do so please leave me a comment with some feedback or ideas (but please be gentle - I want to try and avoid the "baby blues")!
Right now I have a latte to finish and some seafood to serve.........
Enjoy your day and thanks for reading. x




http://www.emilianaunderwear.wordpress.com/ (I hope to collaborate with Emiliana in the future and do a workshop/tea party or supper...watch this space).