Posted in The Quarantine Diaries

The Quarantine Diaries: Wins

As much as I want to cry myself into oblivion for all the things I’m not getting to do, I figured a better use of my time would be to look for the positives, no matter how small. I have a home with a study and lots of books, I have no children, I have wine, I have food and I have internet.

Bringing Italy Home

I resurrected my old espresso machine. I’ve had it for maybe a decade and never really used it; it was long before I was a barista so I wasn’t too sure how to use it properly. It was a happy prop. I dug it out of the shed at mother’s house and brought it home and I finally got round to ordering a milk jug from Amazon. I already have a few different coffee syrups so it was time to set up my home coffee shop!

Espresso machine
My wee espresso machine

I can start my morning in true Italian style with a milky soya cappuccino before switching to espresso or black americano for the rest of the day.

Foamy Cappuccino
A very foamy cappuccino

Or when it’s late and I’m feeling chilly I can have my winter speciality of a Cinnamon steamer: steamed soya milk over cinnamon syrup and topped with a generous dash of cinnamon powder.

Ha! Just saved myself £3 a drink. I’m having fun getting to play barista again, and once it’s all over I can serve my guests proper hot drinks. I used to get compliments on my hot chocolates and mochas, not that I could drink them… But that’s something to investigate post-Corona, vegan hot chocolate powder!

What’s the cost to you?

Now that I’m master of my own coffee again, and that I haven’t overpaid for coffee in about 9 weeks, I’m honestly doubting whether I could ever go back to that. In the olden days when we actually left the house in the morning and took public transport to work, I used to make a large coffee in my reusable coffee cup and chug dark perfection awkwardly while I read about the destruction of Carthage. If said black magic hadn’t woken me sufficiently by the time I got off the bus, I would be tempted as I passed Caffè Nero en route to work. Really it depended on just how exhausted I felt and at what point in the pay cycle I was at. On the times when I did purchase said coffee, it was rarely worth it. Don’t get me wrong, I love Caffè Nero for the most part, however considering they charge £2.70 for an Americano it only seems right to pay the extra 50p or so to make it a latte instead. But then I ask for soya milk and they groan, and find the old yellow stickered jug and steam whatever is left in it and after a good long while of waiting, they pass me a scalding, burnt-tasting, toffee-coloured drink and I feel instant regret.

Filter for life

Say what you will about Starbucks but every store has a filter coffee machine, plus it’s only around £1.55 for a small, sorry, Tall filter coffee. They’re always very sweet about it, especially if they say it might be a wee wait because they’ll brew me a fresh pot, or if they’re out for the day they’ll make me an Americano for the same price. (The filter truly tastes better though). And if you get the drink to sit in, refills are free for filter coffee, which is perfect for a day of studying.

Some of the larger Costa stores have a filter machine, but I’ve never actually been in when it’s worked or when they can be bothered using it. My own local Costa is a moderate size and I can see they really don’t have space to put in a filter machine, but I’m probably going to be suggesting this when everything goes back to ‘normal’.

If I can make fancy coffees at home, can I ever go back to paying nearly £4 for one? Filter coffee is cheap to make and if even Starbucks can give free refills then I think every chain can recognise the benefits of offering a cheaper, equally tasty, alternative to people who’ve learned they can survive without the unnecessary expense, though who may miss the atmosphere and social aspects of being around people.

I’m curious to see how we will go back, we’re all creatures of habit. I miss hanging in Waterstones and going to the pub for a drink and a chat, but it’s not clear yet how we can return to jam-packed bars, suffocating concerts and busy rush-hour public transport. But I’ll be drinking cappuccino until then. (And I wholeheartedly advise anyone who can and is interested into purchasing a wee espresso machine.)

And on that happy note, coffee hours are now over; it’s wine o’clock.

Moscato Bianco

e x

Posted in Books, Films, Musings, Outings

Chill Time

Went into town yesterday to run a few errands and hit Starbucks because I wanted my free, extra stars they offered bribed me with. Cover photo is of my yummy soya latte and I started reading Robin Lane Fox’s book on Alexander the Great (which provided the context and inspiration of the Alexander film by Oliver Stone). I’m loving the book thus far and I have loved the movie for years, despite the naysayers. Ultimately, Alexander lived so long ago but left little primary sources behind and much of what we have to read about him was written by people centuries after him and cannot be held as wholly accurate. But neither can all the stories be dismissed, something had to be true. So in this book Fox is giving his own understandings of how things might have gone down, including all the sordid stuff.

Obviously every time I read about Alexander the Great I picture Colin Farrell. Not a bad thing at all.

Starbucks was really warm, which was a welcome respite from the freezing, icy, winter weather which seems to be staying. Couldn’t help overhearing the loud conversation next to me, most of which was boring and inaccurate, but it’s not proper to jump into someone’s conversation to correct them. Most painful part was when one girl gave her friend a bunch of presents (late birthday, I assume?) and then proceeded to ‘giftsplain’ every single present as she unwrapped it while the other girl had to feign interest. Eek!

Hasta luego!

P.S. I got a brand new copy of Robert Graves The Greek Myths for a fiver! From WHSmith in the sale section. So jazzed!

e x

Posted in Education, elearning, Food, Japanese, Languages, Musings

Of all the gin joints…

Today was horrendously wet. No surprise to anyone who lives in Scotland but I think this is a sign that Summer and Frappuccino season is over.

I got up fairly early this morning and definitely slept better than the previous night (no more talking about work in my sleep), so I was more focused with what I wanted to do. Let’s just acknowledge now that my plans never always go exactly the way I want them to. I started with some more Gilmore Girls then studied a unit of Italian on edX (a great course if you are interested) though I’m doing the Advanced class as a recap before I start on the A.P. Italian program they’ve launched. It’s no end of amazement to myself at how quickly I am able to slip back into Italian… and have it make so much more sense than Spanish. But the years speak for themselves, 11 vs 5 🙂

After that I got ready and packed for the gym but also with a plan to hit a few shops in town for various things I have no time to pick up because of working at prime hours. And a stop to Starbucks to chill for a bit and read my book.

I also read on the bus. Didn’t notice a certain person getting on said bus, was hardly halfway through my journey. I’m not going to go into it much but let’s just say #awkward plus I didn’t get to read my book the rest of the journey 😦

Despite that, I got into town otherwise unscathed and managed to get the things I was looking for, necessities are expensive these days, aren’t they?! Ended up treating myself to Ichiban because I was suddenly starving and needed the carbs.

chickenyakisoba
Delicious Chicken Yakisoba!

The meal helped a lot and it’s quite inexpensive, even at the weekend. Next stop was Starbucks for what is probably my last Frappuccino until next summer – too damn cold to be drinking ice! Back to Caramel/Cinnamon Soya Steamers. My own creation way back when I was a barista.

The gym was fun, I managed a standard 15 minutes on the rowing machine that passed quite quickly and not as painful as before… I guess this means I’m getting fitter? I’m still taking everything slowly though, up to 15 minutes of various machines so I don’t snap, crack, or damage anything again. A couple of years back I had awful pain below my shins in the tendons that no one could explain, they were red and burning from the moment I woke up as well! Turns out my beloved zombie boots were too wide around the foot and the tendons were trying to hold my feet in place. Ick! Few months after that I ended up with Achilles Tendinopathy which I still haven’t managed to rid myself from, but I do enjoy the classical allusion. Then, of course back in April, I blacked out on my way home from work one night and landed full force on both my knees. They were black and blue (and agony) for months and are actually still quite tender on the knee caps.

I’m a walking disaster!

Weekend is over, time for bed! Work tomorrow…

e x