Dear reader, you may have noticed that it has all gone quiet on the McIntosh front of late. So brace yourself. Here it comes. Another patented James apology. You know the type: the ones where I talk about how busy I have been, how many miles I have clocked up, how many motorways I have traversed and how many one-way conversations I have had with a turkey slowly defrosting in a bucket of ice. Continue reading
Three years ago a married couple I know back home in Northern Ireland moved house. They swapped their maisonette for an old, charming semi-detached with a long, overgrown back garden. Since then they have renovated the house and transformed the jungle out back into a pretty, flower-filled plot with vegetable beds. They recently dug up their recent batch of new potatoes: beautiful, golden nuggets of nature’s goodness which, so I’m told, taste amazing. They have tried to harvest carrots with less success, however. They came out not as straight, fat veggies, but as corkscrewed, little piglet’s tails. Continue reading
As you probably already know, I try to return to Northern Ireland as often as I can. It’s the ideal opportunity to mix business with pleasure. The former most often involves cookery demos at the AGA Shop, Belfast, where the staff strike the right balance between discreet professionalism and good craic, as we say back home. I know that I will be in good hands when I receive a call to present there, that the staff will without fail supply the correct ingredients and utensils, so I don’t end up attempting to make a peach clafoutis with some baking soda and a packet of dried raisins. Find yourself in that situation at home and you can laugh it off; do so in a room crowded with potential customers and it is rather embarrassing. Continue reading
Yes, I know.
I’m sorry. I know it’s been a long while since I last checked in. A long, long while. I’m loathe to check the date tag on my blog post to confirm just how long it has actually been. The reason that I’ve neglected this site, as you might expect, is that I’ve been travelling, partly for work purposes and partly for a much needed rest. I recently inspected my passport, which isn’t as egocentric an activity as you might expect, and was delighted to see just how many stamps and visa slips are included in there. Not all airports in the world will mark your passport, so I am always pleasantly surprised when they do. If I’m feeling bolshy, then I will ask them to do so, but that very much depends on how fierce the officials at the passport desk look.
Looking back through old blogs, and reflecting upon the thousands of words scribbled here, I’ve begun to realise something. There are two recurrent themes in my writing: food and travel. These, one could argue, are your most basic human imperatives. I might complain about it, but I’ve always felt the need to go exploring, to discover new worlds – brave or otherwise.This urge gives my life a strange, often frustrating propulsion: I get twitchy if I stay in the same place for too long, yet I get homesick when I’ve been away for too long. And I’m away from home a lot. Continue reading
Just popping by with a quick update. No need to put the kettle on or fetch the French fancies from that biscuit tin you keep for special occasions. Continue reading
Determined to clock up more air miles than Richard Branson, I recently embarked on yet another whistle stop journey. This time it was Toronto for the Canadian launch of the AGA PRO+. I also had to do some promotional work for AGA MARVEL; the North American side of AGA, Marvel being refrigeration and AGA being cooking. All I could hear in my head was Katy Perry singing, “You’re hot and you’re cold…”. I’m proud to say that I have been chosen to be the AGA Brand Ambassador for North America, so it falls upon me to fly all over the world speaking about their products. It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it. Continue reading
A constant thorn in my side is my inability to speak French. Or at least speak it correctly. This is partly due to the fact that the delicate poetry of the language and the Northern Irish accent do not make for good bedfellows. You can imagine my embarrassment when, during another intolerable school lesson, I opened my mouth to hear, “Bonjurr, juh muh-pell James” clunking out. It was as if someone else was speaking. But there was not. It was me, rolling the words around my mouth like acid-flavoured gobstoppers. Continue reading
As I type this, I am on a work trip to France, where I am trying my best to disguise the fact that, when it comes to speaking the language, I am about as useful as a glass trampoline. Last night, I found myself positively ravenous, and ended up in a quaint back street restaurant. Not wanting to appear to be an idiotic British tourist, I amazed myself by confidently ordering a duck dish. The most amazing thing was that a deliciously cooked portion of duck arrived on my plate – the waiter had understood my mangled voyeelles françaises, after all. Continue reading
Where does the time go? My life seems to be speeding up at an alarming rate, as if I am sitting in a car with no brakes hurtling down the side of Mount Everest. It seems that I have not sat down to have a cup of tea with a biscuit and it’s over month since Christmas. I blinked and we’re already more than halfway through January. I coughed and it was a new decade. By this rate, I’ll go to the shops for some groceries, return home and it’ll be time to pick up my pension. Continue reading