Saturday, 29 August 2009

On My 5000th Tweet

This week I reached a bit of a milestone in my online life. I tweeted for the 5000th time!

As I’m a bit of a fan of nice round numbers, I wanted to mark the occasion with something special, rather than just going on about what I’m having for supper, or complaining about the weather or exclaiming LOL, which seems to be what I usually do on twitter! Those of you who were here at the beginning may recall that I used my 2000th tweet to announce the arrival of this blog! Then again, you may have better things to use your brains for!!

So, here, in all its glory, is my 5000th tweet:

TWEET 5000 fivethousand cinqmille funftausend cincomil cinquemila pěttisíc pięćtysięcy pettisuća piecitūkstoši ötezren viisituhatta beşbin

I thought I might just say a few words here about the languages I chose to express my 5000ness, and why I chose them.

Cinq mille is French. I love France very much, and, although I’m not exactly fluent in the language, I can generally get by reasonably well. The Wonderspouse and I spent our honeymoon in France; we had a week in Bordeaux and another in Perpignan. In fact, not a year has passed since we were married that we have not been to France, even very briefly.

Funftausend is German. German was the second language (after French) that I learnt at school. I also had to use it quite a lot when I worked on my (sadly, unfinished, after finance cut out) D.Phil. on Mendelssohn’s String Quartets. These days, however, I’m less likely to be reading the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung from the 1800s and more likely to be asking for Wurst!

Cinco mil is Spanish. My Spanish is pretty atrocious really, but I adore Spain. I first went there when a college friend of mine married a Spanish girl in Segovia – their wedding was absolutely stunning. The Wonderspouse generally reckons Spain is his favourite country, particularly the area around Granada. We’ve had several memorable trips there.

Cinquemila is Italian. Italy is so lovely. I first went there with a boyfriend many years ago, and was utterly charmed. I took my Mother to Venice a few years ago, and was charmed again. The Wonderspouse and I have also visited both mainland Italy, and Sicily, where we fell in love with Taormina and were fascinated by Etna!

Pět tisíc is Czech. Czech is another language that I have, in fact, been able to have extremely basic conversations in. I set about learning Czech about 10 years ago, partly because I was interested in Janáček’s music, but mainly because my boyfriend at the time promised to take me to Prague if I did!

Pięć tysięcy is Polish. We first went to Poland simply because the flights were cheap. However, we quite fell in love with the place. I still have ambitions to learn more Polish. We spent some time in Warsaw, some in Katowice, and a magical winter weekend in Gdansk, where we toured the shipyards in freezing conditions – magical and very moving. We’ve also developed a taste for bigos (a kind of stew), and are delighted by the number of Polski skleps now around in Britain.

Pet tisuća is Croatian. Croatia is the location of one of our absolute favourite hotels, the Regent Esplanade in Zagreb. We have been there a couple of times, once for New Year. The hotel is magnificent, the city is delightful – just beware if you are out in the centre of town at midday because they fire a canon each day and the first few times you hear it you jump right out of your skin!

Pieci tūkstoši is Latvian. Latvia to us means Pelmeni, fabulous little dumplings that can be bought in Riga for almost nothing. It also means Rīgas Melnais balzams, one of the most fabulously unctious drinks known to humankind. We spent an increasingly merry evening in the bar of our hotel drinking the delicious blackness, which I swear could cure any cold that ever dared come near!

Ötezren is Hungarian. Our Hungarian adventures got off to a precarious start – the Budapest police tried to fine us a large number of Euros for driving a Czech hire car on the wrong bit of the road! However, we then went to Szeged, which is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. I kid you not. It’s lovely: beautiful fountains, strolling around, sitting on the banks of the Tisza. The language is fiendish difficult though – we never managed more than a few words.

Viisituhatta is Finnish. Believe it or not, I have actually written a letter in Finnish! My cousin married a Finnish girl, and I responded to the wedding invitation in Finnish. Her family were really impressed, but at the same time highly amused, since I had got the cases muddled up and said that my cousin was married to my husband or some such error! Fantastic wedding though, and we enjoyed Finland so much in the summer that we went back in the winter – it was pretty chilly!

Beş bin is Turkish. Turkish makes me think of Istanbul, and an amazing weekend we spent there. Easyjet took us to an airport in the middle of nowhere, and our first challenge was actually to get to our hotel – an amazing journey, which finished by sailing across the Bosphorus. The whole place was magical – we were awakened by the call to prayer each morning and the hotel gave us Lokum (or Turkish Delight) for breakfast. How fabulous!

So that is what my 5000th tweet meant to me. Those are just a handful of the images that those languages conjure up for me. I adore languages, and I adore travel. I certainly hope to write more about my love of both one day.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

On Why I Am Lucky

Two things have prompted this post. First, the Wonderspouse has recently blogged about luck with regard to “making it” as a writer and nearly caused a fight. Secondly, I’ve been reading 59 Seconds by Richard Wiseman, who is well worth following on twitter if you don’t already!

I have long had plans to do “a proper blog post” on luck. I get intensely annoyed by people who say “you make your own luck”, because, as far as I define “luck” it is the one thing you cannot make. Usually, when I get annoyed by these people I think of all the bad luck that life has thrown at me or my loved ones. The fact that I am unable to have children is not my fault – it’s bad luck. The fact that my best friend from school got cancer and died when she was 33 was even worse luck for her – she didn’t smoke, eat badly, drink excessively or have relatives who died prematurely, she was simply VERY unlucky. Those who say “you make your own luck” are clearly defining the word very differently from how I define it.

However, since I am not really in argumentative mood at the moment, and am generally feeling reasonably good, I decided that what I’d like to do is list some of the ways in which I feel I’ve been really lucky in life. Richard Wiseman’s book suggests that this might make me feel happier, and I am also acutely aware that although I have, at times, felt terribly unlucky about many things (I do not currently have a career, I have never owned a house, I have no children, and so on), I am in fact very lucky in very many ways. Here are half a dozen of them:

1. To start at the beginning. I was born to parents who, although they had not planned to have me when they did, loved me very much and took great care of me throughout my childhood. I was always warm, clothed, well-cared-for, educated, and loved. My family have also, generally, accepted the choices I have made in my life and taken some interest in them.

2. I was also born into a society where I am relatively free to live as I choose. Many people constantly moan about governments, jobs, houses, and lives. However, I feel very lucky that I live in a place where I am free to study, to work, to vote without fear of bombs, to practice any religion I choose (or, in my case, none at all) and to dress pretty much as I wish.

3. I am incredibly lucky that I have never in my life gone really hungry. Yes, I get a bit peckish if I haven’t had enough breakfast, but I have never known real hunger or real poverty. I have also never been without SOMEWHERE to live even though I have never owned property, and throughout my life I’ve had access to clean safe water, basic medical care, and many other such creature comforts.

4. Life has certainly thrown a few trials at me: mental illness, infertility, financial difficulties, and, at one time, an abusive boyfriend, to name a few of them. However, I’ve always been lucky enough to have family and good friends around me to pick up the pieces, by offering either practical help or emotional support.

5. I also count myself lucky in that I can derive huge pleasure from music, intellectual work, reading, art, food, and other such pursuits. I feel lucky both that most of the time I have the mental capacity to enjoy those things (I know what it is like to be without them when I am severely depressed), fully functioning senses with which to enjoy them, and that I live in a world where they are freely available to me.

6. I am very lucky to have a husband who adores me and puts me at the centre of his world. Many people never find such a person, and not for want of trying. As a couple we are also lucky that our parents were all happy about our choices of partner, and that we have not had to cope with either cultural or religious issues within our marriage. Furthermore, when we do encounter difficulties in life, we seem to manage to cope much better as a couple than either of us did before we were together.

So, those are just some of the reasons why I am lucky. All of those pieces of luck were happy accidents, things that I did not “make” for myself. I just got lucky. I’m not saying that life is all about sitting and waiting for happy accidents to happen – I certainly do believe that putting some effort into life can often reap very great rewards and that being able to take advantage of opportunities when they arise is fabulous. However, as I define the word, “luck” is the one thing that cannot be made. To me, luck is the hand that is dealt by life. The bit that can be “made” is the way that hand is played!

Thursday, 20 August 2009

On Simplifying Goals

I love lists. I love making lists; I love organizing lists; I love making lists of lists. In fact, I can spend so much time making lists and setting goals that I actually run out of time to DO anything. Although sometimes my goal-setting and list-making is really useful and productive, sometimes it turns into the most massive procrastination exercise ever!

Most months I make a list of goals I hope to achieve, and a little chart with boxes to colour in when I have achieved those goals (yes, I like colouring in little boxes in felt-tipped pen, so that’s what I do – I am still motivated by stickers and colouring books even though I left primary school decades ago).

However, the goal-setting has recently reached a point where it is totally unmanageable. I cannot walk daily, go to the gym, swim, do yoga, mend all the ailing clothes, figure out what a possible future career could be, read all the books on my list, do every question on my maths course, learn French, Polish, Finnish (and a whole host of other languages), learn bass guitar, improve my piano playing, practice my viola regularly, organize the house, read all the blogs I want to read, file the zillions of e-mails that seem to appear, write my own blog posts, set up databases for all my correspondence, etc. etc. etc. while still going to work, maintaining my (slightly dodgy at the moment) mental health and doing all the normal things that a human being has to do in the course of daily life.

Furthermore, I have reached the point where I’m spending more time colouring in little squares on my progress chart than I am doing the things I’m charting!

So, this week, I simplified my list. I filed all the complicated charts away neatly in a nice stripey ringbinder and have stuck my new, streamlined, list on the wall above my desk. It reads:




That’s it! Just four little words, rather than a whole page of text referring to hours spent, lengths swum, words learnt, e-mails sorted and so on. So, for the next couple of months I shall try, each day, to concentrate on these four things only.

Maths will probably be quite easy, since I have an exam to work for in approximately 2 months time. Instead of my usual “panic as the assignment becomes due” way of working, I shall try to work daily on my two remaining assignments and exam revision. I shall also keep reminding myself that it is more important to do some work than to do all work perfectly. A maths degree with a 2:1 result is much better than a maths degree I have abandoned because I’m not 100% confident I shall get a First!

Viola will also, I suspect, not be too difficult. I am currently working on several new pieces and also revising some old favourites, so I feel quite motivated in the viola direction at the moment. Fortunately, I also play the viola well enough that I can get satisfaction from playing it quite quickly – unlike the piano, which constantly frustrates me because I am such a poor pianist.

Yoga will, I suspect, be the most difficult, but probably the most “good for me”. I used to practice regularly and liked very much being able to stand on my head and touch my toes (neither of which I can currently do). I never reached the “putting my left leg behind my right ear while chanting ‘om’” stage, and don’t anticipate being able ever to do so, but it would be quite nice to be a bit bendier again!

Admin will probably be the easiest of all, since I have a reasonably good system set up. I shall focus on the day-to-day admin tasks rather than getting sidetracked into building elaborate databases and spreadsheets – that sort of thing can wait until after the maths exam!

So there we are. Simplified goals with a simplified colouring-in chart to match. Just three boxes per day: maths, viola and yoga (admin is its own box). The colouring in will be quicker, I shall (maybe) be less distracted by other things if I focus on these four, and I might actually make some significant progress towards my long-term goals over the next couple of months!

Of course, if I fail, then I will have failed at only four things, unlike the twenty or so on the previous lists! That, in itself, will surely be a success!

I think the glass must be half-full this morning!

Friday, 14 August 2009

On Getting A Bit Muddy

In a recent article, the Wonderspouse described how, as a result of reading a second-hand newspaper, we became fans of The Boxer Rebellion, a rather fabulous indie band and their amazing music. Most of the time, being a Boxer Rebellion fan is not especially difficult: downloading albums and listening to them involves spending a small amount of money and a large amount of time; and travelling to gigs, buying merchandise, chatting to the band, and having an AWESOME and BRILLIANT time involves a slightly larger financial outlay and a little bit of driving. However, just over a week ago, being Boxer Rebellion fans led the Wonderspouse and me into an entirely new, and much muddier, world.

Like every good fan, I like to follow the band on twitter and facebook and check out their website from time to time in order to see what they’re up to at the moment. A while ago I noticed that they were playing at a festival in Derbyshire called Y-Not, and, since we were getting Boxer Rebellion withdrawal symptoms, having had a whole month pass without seeing them live, I booked us a couple of day tickets for the Saturday. Day tickets are wonderful things for those of us who are not into camping!

When Saturday morning dawned, we became even more certain we weren’t into camping. We headed up the M1 into torrential rain, which, admittedly, eased as we arrived at the site. However, it was replaced by a soupy mist, almost concealing the entire festival. The car park didn’t look very inviting either, but, when we said we weren’t staying overnight, we were directed to a small bit of road by a hedge, which was a relief.

And then the mud began. Because of an absence of wellies in our lives (did I mention that we’re really NOT outdoor people?), we were wearing very old shoes, which instantly became saturated with mud. We slithered into the main festival site, where we collected programmes and t-shirts, before peering through the mist to see what might be going on.

By this point I was experiencing quite severe culture shock and wasn’t terribly sure what to do with myself. So, for an hour or so we wandered between the main stage and the acoustic tent (partly dependent upon which band was playing and partly upon the intensity of the rain). On the stage we heard SOS, Zambula (whose African sound and cheer were in stark contrast to the surroundings), and The Moutown Project, and in the tent we listened to Rugosa Nevada (who we really enjoyed and are delighted to have discovered), Cara Roxanne (charming, with beautiful guitars) and This Town Needs Guns. Rather charmingly, a man in a kilt came on between sets, provided friendly banter and encouraged us all to take care of each other since it was a bit slippy outside!!

At some point we took a short break to eat jacket potato (me) and burger with chips (him). I bought a warm hat and the Wonderspouse bought a couple of shirts from one of the stalls, and it was at this point that we ended up in the tent described in my previous blog post. We also had our photo taken, and the girl with the guillotine made it into a keyring for us. Then we did a trial run of our walk back to the car (in preparation for making the same trip in the dark later) leaving our t-shirts in the boot, and called my Mum (at whose house we were staying that night) to warn her that we were a little bit muddy and she should leave us a towel on the doormat!

We were back in front of the main stage in order to see first Max Raptor (who were really cool), Tellison and then Esser. I’d already become interested in Esser after checking out the myspace site, but was totally unprepared for the impromptu entertainments during the set.

First, there was the fancy dress. The festival had a nautical fancy dress theme, so there were many people dressed as boats, sailors, jellyfish and the like. There was also a lovely couple who had come as “Port” and “Starboard”: she was wearing a dress with a bottle of Taylor’s on it, and he had a cork noticeboard with sparkly stars on it hanging round his neck!

Then there was the mud. There had already been a lot of mudsliding going on, but by the time of Esser’s set it had turned into full-scale mud wrestling. (Ben) Esser, who had stepped off his tour bus about 15 minutes prior to appearing on stage went through a brief period of the same sort of culture shock that I had experienced earlier in the day before incorporating the whole thing into his set, commentating on the man trying to have his wicked way with a giant, mud covered, inflatable whale, and urging a group of gents dressed in immaculate white sailor uniforms (how DID they stay so white for so long?) to wrestle with a completely mud-covered man wearing the remains of a cocktail dress!

In addition to the commentary, Esser gave us a brilliant set, which I very much enjoyed. The next set, by the Bombay Bicycle Club, was also fabulous – I would have danced joyously to both sets if I hadn’t been standing up to my ankles in mud!

The period between those two sets took on a slightly surreal air. The night was cooling, and many had, by this time, lost their clothes. An extremely drunken young man ambled aimlessly around, shivering a little and wearing only boxer shorts and a plastic bag, before staggering off to meet his comrades. Another was going round trying to hug anyone and everyone while his (much more sober) mate ran after him shouting “Josh, Josh, don’t do it! He’s a stranger and he might not want to get muddy!” At this point we decided a little supper was in order so went off to discover some sausage and chips (both of us). I was quite impressed with the standard of the ketchup!!

Then, as darkness fell, the star attraction (with apologies to Noah & The Whale) arrived on stage. Just before the set began we bumped into a man who also unzipped his coat to reveal a Boxer Rebellion t-shirt!! The fans were there! Like us, he’d been at Scala, and his female companion had come over from Germany for the festival. We suddenly felt very at home.

As “Flashing Red Light Means Go” started up, I forgot the mud, the cold, the state of my feet and knew that it had all been well worth it. By the time Todd started the fabulous guitar part of “Semi-Automatic” I was totally lost to the world of mud and instead tuned my ears into the 3-bar structure of the riff. The familiar sounds, the magic combination of the four of them, just BRILLIANT!

After the set, which, for us, WAS the headline, we chatted again with our fellow fans before they headed off to find a tractor to tow them out of the car park. We moved away from the stage up the hill and stayed just long enough to hear the opening of Noah & The Whale’s set – I might have stayed longer, but we were ready to get going by that time. The set was clearly audible as we walked back to the car to start the journey back to my Mum’s house (where the hall was lined with newspapers in anticipation of the mud we would bring, and a bubble bath had already been run for us – thanks Mum!!).

So, that was how we got a bit muddy! We’ve now lived the festival mud experience and survived to tell the tale!! Furthermore, Y-Not turned out to be a great festival overall: really friendly with some fabulous bands. We’ve booked to see The Boxer Rebellion again – but I’ve researched the venues thoroughly and I don’t think either of them is likely to be muddy! Only two more things remain to be said. One is that the Wonderspouse has written up his own account of the day – shorter and more amusing than this one – you can find it here! The other is that although while we slept that night the washing fairy sorted out our muddy clothes, it took 3 days and a lot of scraping to remove the last remnants of Derbyshire field from under my toenails, and both pairs of shoes were declared beyond help, having met a noble end in the name of excellent music!!!

Monday, 10 August 2009

On A Bizarre Situation

I gratefully squelched into the largish tent. Absolutely everything was damp and steamy, and the atmosphere smelled strongly of straw. As I leaned against the metal bar in front of me, I took in my surroundings.

To my left, a man dressed as a giant banana was dancing enthusiastically to an African drumbeat performed by a group in colourful clothing. To my right, an assorted group of very muddy people were taking part in a “circus skills” workshop, hula-hooping, juggling and doing things with sticks. Straight ahead, a girl was tapping away at a laptop and using her sweater to wipe mud and condensation off a guillotine.

To be quite honest, if I had read those words two weeks ago I would have imagined they were describing a dream caused by a severe overdose of Cheddar, Stilton and Brie. However, no amount of pinching would have woken me up – this was real!

So, how did I find myself in this somewhat bizarre situation?

All will be revealed in the next blog post! Watch this space!

Thursday, 6 August 2009

On Bedspreads and Whizzers

As those of you who read the last post will know, this week it has been our seventh Wedding Anniversary, so I thought you might bear just a little more blogging on the subject of marriage (it is in the subtitle after all). This year my Mum gave us the most marvellous present – a bedspread she had handmade for us, using fabric left over from making my wedding dress and the dresses of my six bridesmaids – so, seven colours in all. Here is the bedspread, installed and looking very splendid!
However, as most of you reading this won’t actually have been at the wedding since I didn’t even know many of you back then, I thought I’d fill in just a little background for you. What follows is an edited extract from an article I wrote for our wedding brochure.


“Oh, how marvellous, a rainbow wedding!” exclaimed one of the guests when I told her what my wedding colour scheme was going to be. Indeed, the colours you see before you are the colours of the rainbow (as close as I could get them in readily available fabrics and ribbons), but my reasons for choosing these colours go beyond simply wishing to create a joyful and flamboyant effect with lots of bridesmaids!

First, red is not the traditional colour for a wedding dress. However, I have never even considered getting married wearing white (or ivory or cream or magnolia etc). Those of you who know me well know that I have always loved red, that I feel comfortable wearing red, and that red is the typical ‘Me’ colour. Furthermore, a red dress is infinitely more practical than a white one – it will cope with beer, red wine and general grubbiness much better and, once the train and sleeves are removed, will be a super concert dress and ball gown for many years to come.

Red is also the colour of the ruby in my engagement ring. Just as I was always going to have a red wedding dress, so I was also going to have a ruby engagement ring (the ruby in this case is flanked by two diamonds). Ruby is also my birthstone.

Furthermore, I have always loved the different colours of the spectrum (the rainbow) and spent many hours as a child colouring in rainbow patterns and making ‘whizzers’. Whizzers were discs of card, divided up like a pie, with each slice coloured in a different colour of the rainbow. When they were spun very fast on a piece of string, they looked (almost) white. Amazing!!!

The mystery of how whizzers worked was solved when I did O-level physics. I learnt how a glass prism splits white light into its constituent colours (in just the same way as rain splits up sunlight to make a rainbow). The different colours that make up white light are refracted (bent) to different extents as they pass from air to glass (or air to water). Incidentally, if you ever need to know which end of the spectrum is refracted most on passing from one medium to another, remember: ‘red refracts rubbish’ and ‘blue bends best’!

So my second reason for the colour scheme comes from my interest in the colours of the spectrum. Although my dress is red, my bridesmaids are wearing the other colours of the rainbow. If we could be made into a ‘whizzer’ we would indeed create traditional wedding white!


And here we all are, not being whizzed round (thank goodness) but posing for a photograph!

Monday, 3 August 2009

On Potted Meat

Yesterday there was a lovely aroma penetrating our house all afternoon. It was the deliciously tasty aroma of meat cooking. Not only were we roasting a joint of lamb for supper (well, when I say “we” I mean the Wonderspouse – I don’t really cook), but the Anniversary Potted Meat was simmering away on the stove.

Today is our seventh Wedding Anniversary! Seven years ago about now, I was watching my newly-married Husband and my Mother throwing bits of salmon across the marquee so that the ever-social Ivory, who joined in happily with our wedding celebrations, could have a snack. I, meanwhile, kept sneaking off, borrowing my viola player’s instrument and joining in with the general chamber music going on in the corner. It was definitely a day to remember – and one day I’ll get round to writing a full blog post about it! For the time being, here is a picture of us with Ivory:
So, why do we have Anniversary Potted Meat? And more to the point, why do we always eat Potted Meat for BREAKFAST on our Wedding Anniversary?

Well, this most unusual tradition really started with a very usual tradition – the one that says that it’s bad luck for the groom and bride to meet on the morning of their wedding (or something like that). Our wedding was a sort of semi-traditional one and this was one of the traditions to which we stuck.

However, since neither of us had any beliefs that precluded it, and since we were way too broke to pay two lots of rent simultaneously, we had been living together for several months before our wedding since the leases on our previous flats had expired. And we rather liked it. In fact, we so liked waking up and having morning tea & coffee together that we really weren’t looking forward to the wedding morning terribly much. He would be in a budget hotel on the outskirts of Doncaster on his own and I would be dealing with hordes of relatives & bridesmaids, having spent the night on the sofabed in my Dad’s study.

So we decided to do something about it. If we couldn’t have breakfast together, we would at least have the same breakfast at the same time, and imagine we were together. After a fairly short discussion, we decided upon Potted Meat, partly because it’s absolutely delicious, but mainly because it was portable, kept well for a while out of the fridge, and was something a little bit different and special.

The Wonderspouse-to-be made one batch of Potted Meat, divided it into two, and we had a jar each. We also bought a few bread rolls and divided them into two batches, then set off for Doncaster (my hometown, where we got married). We then parted, having set a time for breakfast the next morning.

And the next morning, at the appointed hour, in the midst of bridesmaids, relatives and goodness-knows-what-else going on, I sat down with a slightly squashed bread roll and a jar of potted meat and proceeded to eat my last breakfast as a single girl. Delicious it was too, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Granted, two out of my six bridesmaids were vegetarian and couldn’t quite believe what I was up to. My Mum worried that eating such a breakfast on the morning of my wedding would “make me poorly”. But, oblivious to all of this, I sat, probably the calmest person in the room, eating my Potted Meat, knowing that the nearly-Wonderspouse would be doing the same.

Needless to say, it didn’t make me ill, and I was, in fact, grateful to have had a substantial breakfast, especially as we later had to stand and smile for photographs so had limited opportunity to get our hands on the nibbles our guests were enjoying.

So, every year, on our Wedding Anniversary, we have Potted Meat. He makes it, to the same, now traditional, recipe, and we eat it for breakfast. That is how we celebrate our Anniversary - no cards, no flowers, but, for us, the most romantic breakfast we could possibly imagine! Here is the recipe, in the Wonderspouse’s own words, followed by some pictures of this year’s batch in its various stages of preparation and eating!

In a saucepan, fry smoked bacon in duck fat until crispy, then add diced beef, crushed juniper berries and a bay leaf. Put the lid on the saucepan and leave for about two and a half hours, after which time the juices from the meat will have reabsorbed. At this stage, take out the bay leaves and crush the meat with a wooden spoon until the fibres pull apart. Add a small amount of high quality homemade stock every half hour for the next hour and a half, then leave for a final half hour until the filaments of meat are moist but not swimming in liquid. At this stage, transfer the contents to a jar and leave to cool.
Happy Anniversary Wonderspouse, and thank you for all the Potted Meat!!