POINTS AND VIEWS

Standing a loved one or a friend, or even an animal before a fabulous vista is a cultural staple of the holiday snapper. For me, apart from the “I/we was/were there” element, the juxtaposing of a human and or animal before vastness simultaneously humanises and accentuates the majesty of the given panorama. Painters have been doing the same thing since the days of the great Dutch and British landscape painters of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, from Van Ruisdael to Caspar David Friedrich.

Presented here are sadly no Friedrich’s, but this set of enhanced-photos from all my years of travel do nevertheless express something of that dramatic relationship between “us” and the landscapes we move within…

Fellow Worker at Yiftach - Israel
In 1978 I was a volunteer for the summer on Kibbutz Yiftach on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon. This is the view from the north east corner of the kibbutz towards Mount Herman…

Simon at Slee Head - Kerry Coast - Ireland

This dates back to the late 70’s when my old mate Simon and I drove around Cork and Kerry in his old orange Datsun. This is Simon peering over the edge at Slea Head near Dingle on the Kerry coast (famous for being the location for the movie Ryan’s Daughter)…

On Gilboa - Israel

Taken around 1981, this is the summit of Mount Gilboa. The field of boulders could seem to bear witness to the power of David’s curse in his great lament for the fallen Saul and Jonathan that nothing should ever grow upon the mountain’s slopes again…

Friend above Ein-Kerem - Jerusalem
In 1980 I spent the summer with a friend in west Jerusalem. Every day for about a fortnight we walked into the forest above Ein Kerem to draw and paint. the scent of pine needles roasting on the ancient terraced slopes was intoxicating…
Les 2 Alps Bench
One my first trips abroad with my then-girlfriend Dido was a skiing trip to Les Deux Alpes. The skiing wasn’t up to all that much but the walk into the neighbouring valley was some compensation…
Dido by San Pedro River (Chile)
Walking back to San Pedro de Atacama after visiting the pre-Inca ruins of  Pukara de Quitor – the mighty Volcan Lincancabur stands proud in the distance…
Friend Marvelling at the Atacama in Bloom (Chile)
Later during the same 1991 trip we were privileged to witness the first serious rains over the the southern Atacama desert in 40 years. The subsequent desert blooming  was regarded by some Chileans as nature celebrating the beginning of the post-Pinochet era…
Dido and Friend on Road to Santiago (Chile).jpg
Santiago’s de Chile’s curse and glory are the walls of mountains which surround it; a pollution trap on the one hand and on the other – as can be seen from this picture taken on the road back from Valparaiso – beautiful on the eye…
Coursegoule - South of France
Coursegoules in southern France…
Dido at Point Sublime - Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia
We started travelling to Australia regularly from 2007 thanks to Dido’s work. Here she is at the aptly named “Point Sublime” at the edge of the Blue Mountains in New South Wales…
Dido at Cardona (Catalonia)
And here’s Dido at the castle of Cardona (now a delightful parador) in the Catalan countryside…
Dido Approaching the Small Crator
And, from some 30 years after my stay on Kibbutz Yiftach, a set of images from Israel taken in the early 2010’s. Here’s Dido again approaching the edge of one of the Negev craters…
Dido at the Great Crater - Negev
And sitting at the edge of that crater…
Timna - Negev Desert
The Wilderness of Zin…
Golan - Above the Yabock Valley
And finally, from the “biblical south” to the “biblical north” – Hereford cattle notwithstanding – looking down from the Golan Heights (biblical Bashan) towards the valley of the River Jabock, of Jacob and Esau fame.

BOULOGNE BLUES – The story of how we became stranded for six months in the famous French Channel port

For reasons which will no doubt form the basis of a separate post, about six months after completing our house in southern Spain (https://adamhalevi777.com/2017/03/01/the-folks-who-would-live-on-the-hill-the-story-of-the-building-of-our-home-in-southern-spain-in-pictures/) we found ourselves living in a shabby rented apartment in a rundown part of Boulogne sur Mer on the north eastern tip of France.

Virtually penniless, we could not afford nor did we wish, to place our Maremma Sheepdog, Aura into the-then obligatory six-months of quarantine in Britain. We were in a pretty desperate situation, and if desperate situations require desperate measures, then the one we came up with was a genuine peach, although it did not seem so at the moment we conceived it.

Firstly, Dido took a job managing a paediatric occupational therapy department in Folkestone on the Kent coast, just a 40 minute Seacat (hydrofoil ferry) hop across the English Channel from Boulogne. Traveling as a foot passenger was cheap, and with a health-authority car provided at the English end, the daily journey would be both inexpensive and quicker than most commutes from the London suburbs into the City. It appeared to be totally reasonable solution to a tough problem; six months living frugally in a tatty loft then once we were more comfortably off, moving into a nicer flat in the charming old citadel above the port. Aura our dog was already 11 years old and towards the latter end of her life expectancy, and who was to know? Two or three years living in the charming quarter of an historic French town might actually be rather pleasant. The plan even seemed sufficiently fool proof that Dido need not disclose to her new bosses the fact she was living in France and risk their disapproval(the requirements for the post were that she lived within 30 miles of work… there were no stipulation as to whether the miles were measured across dry land or water).  But then, to paraphrase a famous remark of a late British prime minister, “events” intervened to devastate our plans.

Having committed ourselves to the minimum six-month rental contract, we moved into our dingy lodgings the week before Dido was to start her new job. The flat was unfurnished, without even a kitchen, and so we spent the whole of the first few days madly rushing around in a rented van, using our credit cards to purchase the basic essentials to make the place habitable. Amongst other things, we got a type of sofa-bed (known as a clic-clac in France) and a tiny Baby Belling oven with a double hob. We couldn’t afford luxuries like refrigerators then, and still couldn’t afford one by the time we eventually left the flat at the end of the six months. Nevertheless, by the time we had scrubbed the flat half-a-dozen times and got our few pieces of furniture set up (including a table improvised from a lacquered MDF board) the place seemed habitable. That, in addition to the fact it was only a five minute walk from the Seacat dock gave us reason to think the next six months would be reasonably tolerable. However, it must have been the Thursday or the Friday when we made that walk down to the port for the first time since settling in that the bottom fell out of our world.

Without notice of any kind the Seacat company had cancelled all runs to Folkestone with immediate effect. Dido had talked to the ferry people just a week earlier—days before we had signed the contract on the flat—and they had made no mention of their plans to cut back their service. It seemed like a sick joke. We were now tied into living in Boulogne for six months, and the only morning and evening transport across the Channel anywhere near practicable for Dido’s requirements was a 40 minute drive up the coast at Calais. Moreover, the only affordable foot passenger service was on the regular ferry boats, which took-one-and-a-half- hours to Dover. Suddenly, Dido’s easy two-hour daily return journey, now with the commute to Calais and the 20-minute drive from Dover to Folkestone added to the mix, had mutated horribly into a return journey taking five hours—on a good day.

But, with no money, and Dido’s job  starting on Monday she had no alternative but to do the Calais crossing.

As it happened, the commute turned out to be just one of the many grim and farcical components of what was to prove the most miserable period of our marriage—the details of which will be the subject of another future blog. Enough to say for now, that the France most people experience as tourists has little in common with the dingy, rough, criminal-infested street we inhabited during our sojourn in Boulogne sur Mer.

The origins of the pictures below lie in my numerous walks on Boulogne beach with Aura and apart from being a modest nod to great Dutch painters like Jacob van Ruisdael, express both the blueness of my mood in Boulogne, and my ever-growing yearning to cross that 20-mile strip of water back to England…

Boulogne Beach 1Boulogne Beach 2Boulogne Beach 3Boulogne Beach 4Boulogne Beach 5Boulogne beach 6Boulogne beach 7Boulogne beach 8

THE FOLKS WHO WOULD LIVE ON THE HILL The story of the building of our home in southern Spain – in pictures.

We’re often asked by people we meet, and who are familiar with our life story, if we watch the TV show, Grand Designs (on the UK’s Channel 4). For the uninitiated, in 1993 Dido and I together with a small team of local builders and on a limited budget built a house on a rugged hilltop in the south of Spain. Grand Designs is a program which follows people – often young to middle aged couples (as we then were in 93) – as they undertake unusual and ambitious house-building projects similar to our own, with much of the drama emanating from all the trials and tribulations of the process. Invariably dreams turn into nightmares and then finally – though not always – the original dreams are more or less attained. And perhaps because there was so much pain, mental and physical, during our building experience my answer to the question is that I rarely watch the program. The few times I have it usually culminates in me experiencing a mild form of post-traumatic stress disorder, especially when the subject suckers – I mean subject couples – go through their own darker moments and mini-disasters.

Nevertheless, at the risk of sounding clichéd, for us, as with most of the Grand Design people, it all worked out in the end and we now have an extraordinary house and home. The question of whether or not it was worth it, and if, given the choice we would do it all again is something of a moot point. Certainly, we wouldn’t do it the same way again. We wouldn’t restore an existing ruin and tie it into a new additional structure – a process that doubled both the time and cost of the project, and necessitated Dido and I becoming labourers on our own build to speed things up and to save costs. No, if we did it again, we’d do what the locals here do – bulldoze the site into a flat platform and build a completely new structure.

This is something of a second installment to an earlier post called Walking over Almonds (https://adamhalevi777.com/2014/10/26/walking-over-almonds-2/) and some of the background, including what the original semi-ruined cottage looked like can be found there. Suffice to say here that with one or two expedient modifications from the original plans the build took around six months, beginning in the summer of 1993, and used up every penny we had (although at least we didn’t go into debt). Our architect was the gifted – Bartlett trained – Seattle-based Mark Travers (who we paid with one of my huge oil canvases of the Atacama). Between the three of us (with some help from a structural engineer friend of Mark’s) we came up with a well-built house exactly suited to our needs and passions, and, for a contemporary Andalusian dwelling, unusually sympathetic to its immediate environment.

This is an unavoidably larger post than usual and the photos of the build, being from (crudely ) digitally converted old film, are not up to my usual standards. Regardless, I hope there is much of interest here, for those who know us as well as for those who do not, and perhaps even one or two useful pointers for those thinking of embarking upon a similar project…

1-oily-dog
Our hilltop property was only accessible by a goat track so the first thing we had to do was get a JCB to cut us a drive. For some reason, our beautiful Maremma Sheepdog Aura liked taking naps underneath it and getting covered in grease…
2-our-new-driveway
Said driveway…
3-first-bricks
The first priority was to build our main water tank. Until it was completed we had to schlep over to the local spring three or four times a day to provide the builders with water for cement etc. It took several weeks to finish…
4-tank-of-steel
The tank progressing. With all its steel it was the most expensive element of the build…
5-bye-bye-pig-stye
Here’s the JCB just about to demolish the old pigsty…
5-old-house-east-side
The water tank and bodega were excavated beneath the east side of the old cottage. They would eventually become the ground story of the east side addition, comprising our bedroom and library (I think that’s Dido getting lunch ready)…
6-watertank-nearing-completion
That’s me inspecting the completed water tank. With its 38,000 liter capacity (designed to capture rain water from the roof and terraces) its completion represented significant progress…
8-my-first-pick
It didn’t take long for us to realise that we would have to get involved physically in the building. This was my “first day” and I’m using a pickax to make a pipe channel for the 5,000 liter grey water tank…
10-cleaning-roof-tiles
Here’s Dido cleaning hundreds of roof tiles reclaimed from the old house…
11-cement-delivery
A cement delivery…
12-resurection
We had to remove the old wooden roof of the original cottage then rebuild the tops of half-meter thick walls. This entire process was hugely time consuming…
13-trussing-rods
Mark and his engineer buddy (who had also worked on the Seattle Space Needle) came up with this trussed roof solution for preserving the old walls and making sure they could tolerate the weight of the new steel and and concrete roof. The rods were meant to be temporary, but we liked them and kept them. Dido is standing in our front door…
14-siesta
Southern Spanish builders work long and hard, but their one hour lunch and snooze siesta is sacrosanct. Here you can see Aura getting more into the siesta spirit than Dido…
15-sheltered-lunch
Baldomero (our foreman), Paco and Pepe eating their lunch and taking shelter from a sharp north wind by one of Dido’s dry stone redoubts…
16-leveling-off
Two thirds of the house beginning to take shape – looking across the main room (the restored old cottage) towards the library and main bedroom…
17-library-construction
The library and rods…
18-dido-hall-window
A beer break – Dido up an almond tree, as usual…
19-reinforced-skirt
The skirt on the restored walls being prepared for the rods…
20-trussing-rods-set-in-and-vigas
The east addition roof taking shape…
21-form-work-old-spanish-style
All our form work was done the old way, with wooden struts…
22-studio-roof-screed
The north addition – now our lounge and guest room – was a victim of our financial “rationalization” – hence the more typical Spanish style single sloped roof…
23-roof-tiling
We loved seeing the tiles go over the screed – real progress at last (one in three tiles was from the original house). Incidentally, Dido was on hoist duty, and we later estimated that she winched up more than 2,500 buckets of cement and mortar all told during the roof construction…
24-roof-interior
The trussed roof allowed us to have very high ceilings without the need for supporting walls or pillars. This is the restored main room. The original cottage was a warren of four tiny rooms…
25-library-living
Fortunately the library was sufficiently finished for us to move into it by the autumn. The stove in the background (christened Dalek) was a reclaimed bbq and it doubled up as our oven…
26-library-shelves
These gesso’d book shelves looked great, but during the wet winter months they absorbed moisture like a bath sponge, ruining hundreds of our books into the bargain. You live and learn I guess…
27-main-room-floor
Aura loved lying on the cool sand, much to the annoyance of the builders trying to finish our floors…
28-kitchen-bar-construction
Our kitchen was constructed entirely from local materials including a fine wood-burning stove from Asturias, only cost us about £450 with labour!!
29-bar-building
We had to have a bar…
30-new-oven
Here’s the oven – does the best roast lamb (and cholent) ever…
31-cementing-over-the-bricks
Rendering the outside walls…
32-library-shaping
The restored south terrace redoubt wall and the new library…
33-new-with-old
The east addition nearing completion. Here one can see how the library and bedroom form an upper story above the bodega and water tank. The little window is our en-suite bathroom…
34-dining-section-and-bar-of-main-room
This is how the main room looks today…
34-library-with-new-shelves
And the library, now with wooden shelving…
35-south-outlook
The south terrace and garden a few years ago, with its summer shade…
36-december-2016
The house this December, gradually disappearing into the surrounding garden.

WALKING AWAY – or the ephemeral nature of being

The image of someone walking away into the distance has stirred my artistic sensibilities since early adulthood. I’ve returned to the subject photographically and in paint pretty regularly since about 1979, from when the first picture presented here dates (Astrud at Tel Hai).

Several of these pictures are of loved ones, past and current, walking into a variety of landscapes, urban and open, and I guess that with them in particular, powerful feelings of vulnerability, both as a partners and individuals are aroused.

Two of the photos here have special poignancy: The one of my mother Hannah with my grandfather Harry was taken on a stroll in my home town of Edgware in the early 80’s when they both still had many years to live. I took the photo on my old Cannonette camera by accident. I was meaning to line up a shot of the lake we were passing when I must have clicked the shutter too early. It was only when the film came back from the developers that I saw the photo, and even then I instantly realised that it was a happy accident in that it had somehow captured the essence of them and their relationship in a way that no face-on portrait ever could have matched. The fact they are both now dead has made this image increasingly precious to me as the years have passed. The picture of my wife Dido walking her old and frail father into his house in Little Rock is even more poignant in that it represents the last photo of them ever taken together. About an hour later we returned to the airport, never to see him again.

All the pictures here, even those of total strangers, like the chap on Hampstead Heath, have a quiet melancholia about them in that they share a sense of our human transience.

1-astrud-walking-away-tel-hai-israel-19792-p-walking-away-ein-kerem-israel-19813-zaida-hannah-edgware-19834-f-walking-away-amir-israel-19845-dido-on-boulogne-beach-19946-dido-in-oxford-20077-dido-in-kovno-lithuania-20098-dido-and-david-little-rock-usa-20129-man-on-the-heath-hampstead-2016

MY GAL’ – THE FELLOW…*

One of my most visited posts was “Before We Met” ( https://adamhalevi777.com/2014/12/23/before-we-met/ ) – a photo record of my wife Dido’s career as a professional ballerina and model. Dido was injured out of the ballet in 1985, about four years before we met, and so very sadly, I never got to see her dance.

Nevertheless, I was privileged to witness Dido as she utilised the single-minded commitment and personal discipline she learned as a classical dancer to retrain; firstly as an occupational therapist (OT) and then later as a scientist specialising in the development of children’s brains. These qualities combined with her intelligence, imagination and wit meant that ballet’s loss has been a considerable gain for countless numbers of children with a range of conditions from autism to hemiplegia.

Seasoned readers and followers of this blog may already be familiar with our trip to Chile through my series “Our Real Cartoon Adventure” (https://adamhalevi777.com/2014/12/31/chile-our-real-cartoon-adventure-part-1-of-10/ ). But, for those who are not in the know, I should explain that in that in 1991 Dido – then starting out as an OT – was awarded a generous Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship to go to Chile to study the role of folk dance as a therapeutic tool to support social integration and participation for children with learning problems. As we had only been wed a few months, and as Dido would be gone for several months we decided that I would travel along, ostensibly (and actually to a significant degree) as her cameraman (still and video) and thus provide a visual record of her work.

All but one of the photos below are recreational however, and provide a happy record of our travels through that wonderful country, from Lago Chungara in the extreme north to Lago Llanquehue in the southern Lake District. What I particularly love about these pictures is the way they illustrate Dido’s adventurous spirit, her sense of fun, her incredible toughness and her beauty – inside and out. Moreover, they provide compelling evidence that there’s lots of life to be had beyond showbiz!

1-san-pedro-de-atacama
At San Pedro de Atacama
3-calama-atacama
A huge pipe-like thing outside Calama (Atacama)
4-cerro-unitas-atacama
Ballet in the Atacama
5-cerro-unitas-atacama
Glyph and Lady (Cerro Unitas – Atacama)
6-chungara
Altitude break at Chungara (alt 4517 m)
7-coquimbo
Lying down again at Coquimbo
8-la-serena
Racing the tanker…Pacific swim at La Serena
9-la-serena
Mi bella esposa neuva en La Serena
10-lago-llanquehue
Emerging from a near-freezing Lago Llanquehue
11-after-lago-llanquehue
A happy swimmer with Volcan Osorno in the background (Llanquehue – Chilean Lakes)

 

13-lago-todos-los-santos
A seriously cold Lago Todos Los Santos (Petrohue – Chilean Lakes)
15-hogar-in-santiago
At work with the kids in Santiago.

*In addition to being a Winston Churchill Fellow, Dido was recently made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts for her contributions to Neuroscience, Occupational Therapy and the Arts.

 

 

MOODY GIRLS – in tone and colour

Here is a sample of my latest digital reworkings of some of my most commercially successful old library and sketchbook images.

More beautiful girls, fully clothed (more or less) and in regular – taken-from-life (also more or less) poses.  The girl in the polka dot dress is an obvious homage to that famous Athena tennis girl poster (from my back garden in Edgware in 1979) and there are also two of my wife Dido (one in Chile – 1991 and the other in the gardens of the Alcazar in Seville – 1988). The other two are of a girl on a trip to Israel from around 1980 (one at Ramon Crater in the Negev and the other at Rosh Hanikra).

I’ve had a few queries regarding the “validity” of these works in comparison to actual paintings, drawings and lithographs etc. Well, all I can say – at the risk of sounding hubristic – is that it takes not a little skill, and an intense amount of work to produce each and every picture. To all intent and purpose I am painting and drawing with the mouse in a way remarkably similar to using pencils and brushes. Often, a digital picture can take longer to execute than one of my old gouache paintings, and the results, for me at least, are just as satisfying. I love the contrast of the natural lines and edges containing pure and clean blocks of tone and colour. The level of satisfaction at completing one of these pictures is likewise, at least as complete as I used to feel after a day or so working on a gouache.

But, as ever, this is only my opinion. See what you think…

STOCKHOLM’S INDIAN SUMMER

I get the feeling that a warm, sunny September in Stockholm is rarer than a hen’s tooth, and judging by the way the locals were eagerly soaking up the precious UV, like squirrels frantically collecting nuts for winter, this was an extremely welcome climactic anomaly.

In any event, the low-slung solar disc  was a tremendous bonus for me as it cast a magical golden light and long shadows on a city even more handsome than its inhabitants. In the images presented here I’ve tried to encapsulate the experience of  seeing colourful Stockholm bathed in that extraordinary light and contrast.

Mind you, rarely have I gone anywhere for a first visit with more preconceptions, and the sight of so many impossibly good-looking, blonde, bronzed sun-worshipers fulfilled two of those on a very long list. (The rest of that list, in regards to preconceptions both confirmed and shattered is a definite subject for a future post).  Enough to mention here that something I wasn’t expecting was the apparent identification many men of a certain age in Stockholm seem to share with Jeremy Clarkson – I’ve never seen so many men, in one town, of 50+ years of age, in white shirt, sports or leather jackets and tight jeans…

 

 

 

 

DANCERS

Having had such a positive response to my earlier post “The Morning After…” I’m now following that up with another series of images which have done well for me in the past, having given them a similar treatment to the nudes.

These originate from studies I did of my wife Dido and a girlfriend of hers – another ex-Royal ballerina – as they kindly posed and pranced around for me one evening here on our terrace in southern Spain many exotic moons ago.

Enjoy…

Ideal Beach Hotel LIME CHICKEN CURRY

 

IMG_3515

Yesterday afternoon I was pouring through my collection of Indian cookery books looking for something different to do with a chicken breast languishing in my fridge. As often happens on these occasions, after ten minutes or so of not finding quite what I was looking for,  I was about to revert to my trusty old Madhur Jaffrey butter chicken when a piece of paper being used as a bookmark caught my attention.  Frayed and food-stained, it turned out to contain a barely legible biro-scrawled recipe for a chicken curry. After further examination, I noted that it contained some unusual culinary bedfellows for an Indian chicken dish – things like  olive oil, ground caraway seed, lime juice, and most particularly, both bay and curry leaves. Then suddenly I remembered a swelteringly hot and sticky afternoon spent in a hotel kitchen in southern India in the autumn of 2003.

IMG_3513

We were guests at the aptly named Ideal Beach Hotel, in Mahabalipuram, on India’s Tamil coast, resting up for a few days before travelling inland to Coimbatore (where my wife Dido was to help in the establishment of a clinical education centre for children with autism).

I think it was on our first evening there, during supper, we got chatting with a very affable American couple at the next table who turned out to share our enthusiasm for the delicious local cuisine. At some point during the meal the four of us were invited by the maître d to visit the kitchen the following lunchtime to watch our food being prepared. Cathy – the lady of the American couple and a veteran of the Ideal Beach Hotel – chose the menu, including the lime chicken curry which turned out to be as delicious as it was unusual.

The rare blend of ingredients and spices was explained by the fact that our young head chef, although a Tamil, had been trained in Bengal and enjoyed fusing the two distinct culinary traditions.

2003 India Lunch with Cathy & Richard
Cathy, Richard, Dido and yours truly enjoying our curry lunch

Fortunately Dido had the presence of mind to record the preparation of the curry and – albeit thirteen years late – I was able to decipher the recipe and apply it to the chicken breast in my fridge.  And, it was absolutely delicious! The caraway, lime, bay and curry leaf are a group marriage made in heaven – a complex and unctuous harmony of savoury, fragrant bitter sweetness that transforms humble white chicken meat into a thing of olfactory delight.

There are two ways to sample this fabulous curry – either follow the recipe below, or better still, go and visit the Ideal Beach Hotel. I can recommend both.

(Chapatis and a hot lime pickle are excellent with this curry also, if using fresh curry leaves, add at the same time as the lime juice.)

 

RECIPE

Ingredients

¼ cup:                             olive or coconut oil
200gm / 8oz:                       diced chicken breast

SPICE MASALA I 

5cm / 2” stick:                                cinnamon
2 – 3:                                           cloves
2 - 3:                                    cardamom pods
1:                                             bay leaf
1:                                onion – finely grated
5cm / 2” piece:    ginger – peeled and coarsely chopped
6 cloves:          garlic – peeled and coarsely chopped
2 tbsp:                                           water
1:                           large, ripe tomato chopped

SPICE MASALA II

½ tsp:                                        turmeric
1 tsp:                                    chili powder
1½ tsp:                          ground coriander seed
1 tsp:                                     groud cumin
1 tsp:                                    garam masala
1 tsp:                             ground caraway seed
1 tsp:                               whole fennel seed
1 tsp:                                            salt
3:                                        curry leaves
½ ltr / 1 pint:                                  water
To taste:                                         salt
¼ cup:                                      lime juice

METHOD
  1. Blend the ginger, garlic and water into a paste
  2. Heat the oil in a kadai or a heavy skillet on a medium high heat
  3. Brown the diced chicken thoroughly, then remove from kadai and put aside (retaining the juices)
  4. Add masala I to the kadai and sweat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly until well browned
  5. Add onion to kadai and stir-fry until browned
  6. Add the tomato to the kadai and fry for 2 minutes until oil separates from the masala, onion and tomato paste
  7. Add the ginger and garlic puree to the kadai and stir for 1 minute
  8. Return the chicken and its juices to the kadai and stir well
  9. Add masala II and the curry leaves to the kadai and stir well, making certain the chicken is well coated
  10. Add the water, making sure to deglaze (scrape) the bottom of the kadai
  11. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for half hour
  12. Remove cover and cook over a high heat for about 10 minutes, until the sauce begins to thicken
  13. Add more salt (if necessary) and the lime juice, stir well and remove from heat
  14. Remove cinnamon, cloves and cardamom pods before serving

    Two Chefs
    Our chef (right) and an assistant

THE BIG WHITE APPLE 1

If Claude Monet had been walking through Manhattan during the second greatest blizzard in history to hit the city – with only an old Nokia phone camera to record what he saw, then perhaps – with just a little help from Photoshop – he might have ended up with a set of pictures like those displayed below.

These photos were taken by my wife Dido, on her aforementioned Nokia, on the evening of Saturday 23rd January during our walk back from Madison Avenue to Broadway.

We were in NYC to celebrate our silver wedding, and although the snow disrupted much of our planned itinerary for the trip, this walk, down the middle of almost-deserted, iconic streets, blanketed in powder snow turned out to be one of the most enchanting experiences of all our years together.

I think that these images get some of the magic across…

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