Monday, 19 March 2012

Venus and Jupiter

Last night at 6.30pm I looked out of my west-facing first floor kitchen window and saw the once-in-a-generation conjunction of Venus and Jupiter. These two planets are millions of miles apart, but for a week or so they have appeared extremely close in the sky. If you look this evening, Venus is the brighter of the two, higher in the sky, with Jupiter - also brilliant - below and slightly to the left (last night anyway). Talking of generations, it was Mothering Sunday yesterday so three generations of our family ranging in age from 68 (me) to rising 1 (Olly) set off in the sun for a very festive lunch at Moffat House hotel. I have developed a passion for beetroot in my dotage, so chose a salad containing same for my starter. Not content with having had beetroot for lunch, I made myself another beetroot-based salad for supper. Russians use beetroot a lot, and I made a mixture from memory: hard boiled egg, chopped raw onion and beetroot - flavours that go together surprisingly well. There is a widespread belief in the West that Russian food is vile - derived from experiences in Soviet hotels run by Intourist. In fact, Russian food is absolutely delicious, made from fresh local seasonal or pickled ingredients, far better than French to my taste. For lovers of the word, may I commend a blog by Ian Mitchell, an Old Etonian Scot who spent his childhood in South Africa,now resident in Moscow: English Language Etiquette for Russians ( Ian is the author of three remarkable books: The Cost of a Reputation, concerning a libel case harking back to the controversial repatriations of combatants at the end of WWII and two thought-provoking, funny books exposing the activities of the RSPB and other wildlife and 'heritage' organisations on the west coast of Scotland Isles of the West and Isles of the North.

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