Sunday thoughts

As our holiday begins to draw to a close, on our penultimate day I have managed to catch just a little too much sun. As always. I’m not burnt, really, but have brought back just a little red glow from poolside. This is the first day that unadulterated sunshine has carried through into the mid-to-late afternoon, hence why I was able to spend more time in the sun after my swim (read: after my suncream had washed off) than I normally would. Luckily, it just makes it less difficult to be sitting out of the sun on a laptop!

Not that writing my Sunday thoughts is ever a tedious endeavour, mind, and this week I have plenty to say

New things I have learnt this week

Almost halfway into Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything, what haven’t I learnt would be a better question. None of my new favourite facts are sport and fitness related, but I think they more than make up for it in their wonder:

  • It is actually impossible to draw a diagram of our solar system to scale, as the distances between planets in relation to their size are simply too vast. Thus, if you were to draw the Earth at the same size as a pea, Jupiter would be 300 metres away and Pluto would be 2.5 kilometres away. Even then, Pluto would have to be shrunk to the size of a bacterium so we wouldn’t even be able to see it. I found out that our nearest star is Proxima Centauri and on the same diagram, it would be 16,000 kilometres away.
  • Another one of my favourites (I really do love analogies), is related to Avogadro’s number. Avogadro’s number, which I had also never heard of, is the number of molecules found in 2.016 grams of hydrogen gas or an equal volume of any other gas – which is the same number of popcorn kernels that you would need to “cover the USA to a depth of nine miles”, or of evenly stacked soft drink cans needed to “cover the Earth to a depth of two hundred miles”. Other examples here. (Turns out, Avogadro’s is also a vegetarian, and vegan-friendly, restaurant and music venue in Colorado. Weird.)
  • One last one that made me interrupt whatever Ben was doing to read it out to him (actually, he was sleeping, and didn’t hear a word of it but that didn’t stop me), was that when radioactivity was first discovered it was imagined that something so “miraculously energetic” must be beneficial. So it was introduced into such things as toothpaste and mineral springs – and not banned until 1938. Makes you wonder what else we are slathering ourselves in that will one day be unthinkable… As Ben points out, they used to “cure” migraines by drilling holes into people’s heads.
  • As Ben is studying for a scuba-diving qualification, I have a few interesting breathing-related facts from him too. To pick one, when you are 20m below the surface of the water, there is only a third of the volume of air that there is at the surface, but it is three times as dense and therefore three times harder to breathe. Basically, you really don’t want to get panicked and out of breath under water.
  • Last, but certainly not least, among the Vegan MoFo posts in my reader popped up a post from my friend Vivien. Over the past couple of months that she has been out in Ghana, and reignited her blog, Where’s Viv?, I have come to get genuinely excited when I see a new post from her. I won’t say any more about her latest entry, penned in her distinctively elegant and articulate style, as I highly encourage you to read it for yourself. It’s not long and it is more than worth it.

New things I have eaten this week

Obviously, I have eaten in new restaurants all week, which you will see in my Vegan in Gran Canaria posts. As for specific items,

  • Papas arrugadas: Canarian potatoes, or rather the “Mojo” sauce that makes them distinctive. Tangy, garlicky, with a slight warmth and plenty of sunshiny tastes, it is a hit with me!
  • Bällis provencalPadrón peppers, simply roasted and served on their own as a tapas dish.
  • Soto’s vegan “provencal balls” (which had travelled from Luxembourg to France to UK to the Canary Islands, possibly some of the most well-travelled vegan convenience foods!) – soft and moist yet slightly chewy and occasionally crunchy, dare I say they have just one-upped the humble falafel?
  • Gran Canaria chocolateOf course, I couldn’t leave here without sampling two types of chocolate, both 70% dark chocolates. One was by Valor and one by Tirma, and both were surprisingly sweet and cheap-tasting, though the latter more so, with no discernible cocoa richness. They both tasted more like a 50-60% dark of the likes of Cadbury’s Bournville. “Proper” reviews to follow on my dedicated Chocolate page.

Other highlights this week

  • Although it was last Sunday, after I had already posted my Sunday thoughts, I can’t ignore the wonderful evening Ben and I shared with a mutual friend, Steph, at Azou. Already one of my favourite restaurants, my simple dinner of (shared) hummus and pita and root vegetable tagine was delicious and intensely flavourful as ever – I actually can’t explain how their hummus is better than any other hummus I’ve had, but it is – but I left having almost forgotten that we’d even eaten anything, as I had been too engrossed in the conversation. It was such a great evening.
  • Being on holiday, obviously, and everything it entails: guilt-free late and lazy mornings, courtesy of proper shutters on the bedroom windows that actually keep the sunlight out, leisurely swimming in the pool, hours of reading, even more hours of sleeping, discovering new eateries, and sunshine!
  • Specifically, the evenings have been great, whether we’ve been dining with Ben’s family or just the two of us. The food has been surprisingly good, and the service even more astoundingly helpful and attentive to my alien dietary requests, and the company and conversation always enjoyable.
  • Receiving an encouraging message from my friend Aoife, who wanted to congratulate me on my interview on Viva la Vegan!, which my friend Eilidh had retweeted the link to, telling me I came across really well and that she is proud. I always worry about how I sound in writing – am I saying too much? Too little? Being too aggressive in my opinions? Too non-committal? – so to hear that from someone who knows me so well means more than I can describe.

And with that, I wish you all a very pleasant end to the week, and thank you so much for stopping by amidst the tidal wave of Vegan MoFo blog posts adorned with the most beautiful photos. What have your highlights been this week?