Way back in the olden days I used to have a feature here called J'Adoring - ok, yeah - it had an exclamation point after it. Hmm, even the thought of that title seems so pre-recessional/Carrie Bradshaw. It suddenly seemed woefully crass to be getting excited about things you could buy in that exclamation point way, so I ditched it. Looking back at it, I don't know why I felt so guilty - I never proposed anything that was wildly extravagant or expensive. I leave that for the imaginary wishlist.
So - a new, not necessarily shopping related type of list of things I like each month - can I just call it that? Who needs fancy titles anyway.
Oven roasted asparagus
I was always a bit take it or leave it with asparagus (you know when it's over boiled and goes all slimy and limp) until I saw somewhere (and I cannot remember where) about roasting it. I break off the tough ends one by one (instead of cutting them - then they break off in exactly the right place), line the stalks up in a baking tray, sling over some olive oil, a bit of sea salt and loads of pepper and put it in a medium-hot oven for 10 - 20 minutes, depending on how thick the asparagus stalks are. My new favourite dish. I'm not joking when I say I've eaten this almost every day this month. Variations are to add sliced garlic or crack an egg over it or crumble feta cheese over the top a few minutes before taking it out of the oven. It's a revelation. It's not like I invented it, but I'm glad someone did.
I'm still in that 'I'm not allowed to buy anything, ever' mode, but after a while only spending money on council tax, dental bills and grocery shopping becomes mildly depressing. What is not depressing is this clutch bag. I was in love with the blue pebble leather, but deliberated for ages over which clutch to get. The blue sort of glows from within - the pebbled leather is just gorgeous and I love the way you can sort of slouch it under your arm like a cat, like I'm not doing here by cradling it awkwardly to take a photo. When you take this bag out and about this is what happens: someone is talking to you, but they keep glancing at the bag. You put it beside you, they keep looking at it. Eventually they break down and say, "That bag! What, where, I...can I see it? How can I get one?" It also goes really well with dark grey English summer skies.
I know it sounds weird, but being English it's often easy to overlook the aspects of England that make it English and that are...good. June is a good time to remember, even if it has rained every. single. day. I've been appreciating the lush green countryside, enormous roses everywhere, little lambs that run up to you and baa at you like you're their mama, weird little old fashioned shops that have somehow survived cultural homogenization, even the bizarre obsession people have with their lawns is quite amusing; Antiques Roadshow, a new found love of Victoria sponge cake, the above mentioned Kent asparagus, a nice cup of tea and just observing people in all their funny, weird, usually good humoured English-ness. Summer is a good time to do this, as there are loads of open gardens, open studios and open house events. Of course I could write a list ten pages long about all the stuff that pisses me off about England, but I'm trying to stay positive while it's midsummer and I've just turned my heating up another notch so that my hair dries out from the rain faster.