Deep-fried balls of dough dipped in honey, anyone

Nature, Holidays and Coffee with Cruella

And finally, yourLayeredLife is on holiday this week. Now obviously, I’m still typing this newsletter, so it might look as though I am working; but writing to me is pleasure first and foremost.

Hello darling!

The team has kidnapped me and dragged me to Nature.

People who know me only moderately well are under the impression I don’t enjoy Nature. That’s not strictly speaking true. I love to visit Nature. I derive little pleasure from exchanging my shower, flushing toilet and a kitchen with unencumbered access to Fairy liquid, truffle oil and Hattori steel, for a Japanese futon in a yert.

Unencumbered access to mosquito spray somehow fails to sell the experience to me.

Coffee in Nature

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that on the whole, the history of humanity has been a concerted effort to move away from Nature and towards ever more complicated coffee options.

Speaking of which, I must confess that I did throw a Mistress fit and insisted that the Nespresso machine was joining us in our moderately abandoned adventures in the realm of Nature. Sure, they laughed, but they have all been swirling ice through their espresso shots since we arrived. Alex/Alice is brewing some more now. Help yourself to a highball and join me in the conservatory.

The current kidnapping is on my terms – of course. I was given at least two weeks notice and I gave my kidnappers a list of packing essentials. The team and I are hiking through Troodos mountains this week but there will be no camping.

We are renting a little stone chalet in the village of Platres, just big enough for Alex, myself, Photo-Princess and Coffee-Boy. It is neither fancy nor too basic. For one thing, the sauna isn’t big enough to fit two belatexed subs, never mind all three, even if you stack one on top of the other. But I am anything if not down-to earth. Over all, it is comfortable and I wouldn’t dream of complaining. As I always say, balance is key in everything.

During the day, we walk through the forest nature trails around the mountain range looking for Venetian stone bridges dating back to the middle ages and ancient trees with wooden signs that proudly brag about their length and girth to the world. (That’s right I did just use the word girth in reference to Ents. But I am the Lord of the Cock Rings so don’t complain too loudly).

We walk many miles every day and I do love every minute of it. However, we then return to the cottage in the evening where I orchestrate a hot evening meal that we eat sitting around a simple oak table. That does not wobble because it stands onto a solid, tiled surface rather than in a field. It’s the little things that matter, darling. More importantly, at the end of the day I get to wash off Nature with a refreshing, cool shower. I do believe faucets are not given the respect they deserve.

Nuts for Nature

When I realised that our cottage has a yard with a walnut tree, I could barely contain my excitement. They are pretty common up here at 2000 feet from sea level but I am sure they would prove challenging to grow where we live. I certainly don’t have a walnut tree in my garden at home, but I am tempted to bring a few branches to hone into canes and add another type of tree to my home-made cudgel collection.

I love all nuts and walnuts are not an exception. Sometimes I use walnuts in pesto when I fancy a change to pine nuts. One can stir them into softened garlic butter and use them as a quick crust over salmon fillets. And my walnut shortbread cookies would have anyone begging for more as effectively as any kinky punishment.

Did you know that walnuts are in fact drupes not nuts? The walnuts we buy at the supermarket are the meat within the wooden stone of a fruit, except that in the case of walnuts, unlike other stone fruit such as a peach or a plum, the flesh isn’t really edible. Currently the walnuts on this tree are green. As they mature, the fleshy exterior darkens and falls off to reveal the wrinkly wooden case that is more familiar to us. This wooden shell needs to be cracked open for the two brain hemisphere look-alikes to be liberated.

The first day we made the tactical error of parking our car right underneath the tree. Throughout dinner we kept asking each other “Did you hear that?”, “What’s that tap-tap noise?” Eventually, we put our wine glasses down and went out to investigate. It wasn’t Freddie Krugger. It was the walnut tree dropping fruit, which then landed right on top of the car, like an ironic mid-summer hailstorm. The car didn’t sustain too much damage though to be honest my car is used to far greater abuse. As an owner, I am every car’s nightmare. My vehicle mainly gets washed when I allow Coffee-Boy to hold the key long enough to drive it to the nearest garage.

Nuts for Nature
Nuts for Nature

Lost in the Nature of Holidays

Getting here was a wonderful adventure. It always is when Alex drives and I navigate. I don’t know what stereotypes I may or may not be confirming here but I cannot read maps. And I don’t mean paper maps; they are so far beyond me that when I lift that 16-fold from the passenger glove box it will either disintegrate in pure terror as it progressively fails to deliver on my expectations or it will get itself all tangled up and too confused to fold itself back into shape. So it is digital maps all the way. Unfortunately, I am also that user that the Google Maps team never believed could exist.

I spent half an hour guiding Alex through a particularly convoluted short-cut. He is currently out of his cage so he rather insolently started calling it a “long-cut” after maybe the fourth time we found ourselves trapped in the church square of a random mountain village faced with the option of either going up a one-way street or down a dirt-road a goat would fear to tread.

When I said “Turn left onto the blue road and it will take us right there” he stopped the car, cried and begged me to drive.

Did you know the blue lines are rivers? Oh well. Live and learn, I say. Or purchase the hydrofoil package at the Honda garage. It’s under the James Bond options.

You are Here! Where? There!
You are Here! Where? There!

Honey Balls!

His little moment of rebellion must have been weighing heavily on his mind while he was driving because when I clapped my hands excitedly and said: “Let’s do that: Honey-balls!” he looked rather petrified. Eventually, he asked softly, “Mistress, is this an endearment or a threat?”

It was neither, I had just spotted a sign for lokoumades (λοκουμάδες). They are donut-like sweets, in that they are made of deep-fried yeasty dough and dipped in honey. And they are ball-shaped, which is why my non-Cypriot subbie was struck by a moment of crippling panic. As if I would ever deep-fry anyone’s balls without consent! (Yes, of course I am kidding. I never deep-fry anything.)

Lokoumades: Deep-fried balls of dough dipped in honey
Lokoumades: Deep-fried balls of dough dipped in honey

Going Commando

I do love my little military one-piece but a mountain village waiter made me laugh really hard yesterday. He was being attentive and complimentary so I wouldn’t hold anything against him but we all enjoyed the pure comedy moment of him serving us spoon sweets – walnut, as it happened – and turning directly to me to transliterate, “So, today you decided to go commando?” It took a moment for me to realise he was referring to my outfit. And I am glad I stopped myself just in time before confusing the hell out of him by proudly and unaccountably telling him that I was wearing boxer shorts.

Going Commando
Going Commando

I simply have to run darling. What? Question of the week? Behave. I am on holiday. The only question I will be asking this evening is, should we be opening the second bottle of wine.

Till next time…

Cruella de Winter

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