Shirley’s blushing

This evening, we took a rather late walk at Frensham. It wasn’t exactly intentional, it was just the time Mirinda finished work and, therefore, the time we left the house. And, while we saw a few people, the place was pretty close to empty. By the time we started back, the sun had set and half a moon was in the sky. The pond looked lovely yet not very inviting.

Both of us acknowledged it was the darkest we’d ever been there. Which was great because we like seeing old places in a new light…or dark. Best of all, though, it was very quiet.

By the time we returned home, it was all hands to the pumps as I hurried to make dinner. ‘All hands’ there indicates me in the kitchen and Mirinda feeding the girls.

Mirinda couldn’t decide between having fish or meat tonight, so I opted for both and made cod and chorizo parcels. Which was delicious. There’s something creamy and luxurious about a big old Icelandic cod loin.

I bought it from Pamela at the Fish Counter, who I hadn’t seen for ages. I was a bit distressed to see her wearing a mask but that’s the new rule, I suppose.

Speaking of which, I didn’t go to Starbucks today and probably won’t for a very long time. Mirinda said it was like having broken up from a love affair (Lockdown) then deciding to give it another go (July 4) before realising why you broke up in the first place (pandemic).

Shopping aside (and there was a lot of shopping to be done today) the day was basically spent doing housework and feeling completely overwhelmed with the problems at the cottage. The former helped ease my mind while the latter kept it on edge. Mentally, not a good day.

However, there was a very bright moment when I went up to the greenhouse and discovered that, finally, after what seems like years, the Shirley tomatoes have started to redden. They were even slightly soft to touch. They may be eaten yet.

The above photo may not look like much, but they have been a deep, deep green for so long I was beginning to wonder whether the photo on the plant label was wrong. As far as I’m concerned, they are now red.

Actually, given the successful tomato jelly I made yesterday, it’s a pity it wasn’t using my own grown Shirleys. Still, you can’t have everything.

Here’s a final photo of Frensham at the beginning of our walk. I was trying to get the setting sun shining behind the dogs but realised the limits of my phone camera.

Today, this happened

Anhui opera is a Chinese local form which was presented to Beijing in honour of the Qianglong Emperor’s 80th birthday today, in 1790. I haven’t found anything to indicate how he felt about the performance or the opera. At 80, he probably slept through it.

Anhui opera was influential in the creation of Beijing Opera a style that combines music, vocal performance, mime, dance and acrobatics. It became very popular though was exclusively for the well-to-do back when it started. Ordinary people would never have seen a performance.

Dowager Empress Cixi was a huge fan. Mao, however, clearly was not. Or rather, his actor wife wasn’t keen. I have no idea whether she was knocked back for a role and that may have been the reason, but she declared that it was not in keeping with Maoist doctrine.

During the Cultural Revolution, performances of Peking Opera were banned and replaced by something a little more in keeping with the ideals of cultural purity. In other words, it was really, really dreary and, presumably, the ordinary people were forced to watch it.

Eventually, Mao’s revolution ended and the people could eat again and choose whether to go to the opera or not. And, it seems, they don’t seem to like it. So they don’t go.

The popularity of Peking Opera (or Beijing Opera…the names seem interchangeable) has been waning for some time. Attempts have been made to ‘jazz it up’ a bit with improved presentation and new plays but the audiences are not improving.

Mind you, you can watch it on TV if you like. Chinese TV channel CCTV-11 is dedicated to broadcasting classic Chinese productions which includes Beijing Opera. As long as it’s on the telly, I guess it will never really die out.

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