The five best… things I tried this week


In no order whatsoever…
Les Amies, by Ishbel MyerscoughFriendship portraits
Sometimes you stumble across good things while you’re looking for something else. I was in the National Portrait Gallery hoping for a last-minute entry to the Audrey Hepburn exhibition (on until October 18 so plenty of time). No joy, but had a great time dipping in and out of the Tudors, the BP Portrait Awards, while enjoying music from the DJ who plays on Thursdays and Fridays, when the gallery is open until 9pm.

What really touched me, though was the Friendship Portraits by Chantal Joffe and Ishbel Myerscough, who’ve recorded their friendship in their two very different painting styles – one hyper-realistically detailed, one more abstract – since student days at Glasgow School of Art, with their changing bodies, and the birth of their children. It’s on until September 27.

‘Chocolate milk’
I love chocolate but I’m aware I eat too much sugar and avoid cow’s milk, so picked up Chi 100% Natural Chocolate Coconut Milk, a mix of coconut cream, coconut palm sugar, fat-reduced cocoa powder, inulin (natural fibre), at 155 calories per 330ml carton. Some lumps had formed so it needed shaking. It’s not too sweet, like many chocolate drinks are, and nor is it too thick and claggy. Best of all, the slightly tangy taste reminded me of the chocolate yogurt I used to love as a child. Haven’t seen it for years…

The Apartment
Sometimes it’s hard to agree on a film choice with your OH, but often a classic film will hit the spot. (We recently both loved Roman Holiday, from the Audrey Hepburn box set on the narrowboat we rented.) The Apartment is set in 1960s Manhattan, in an insurance company with the biggest open-plan office ever, starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine. Our viewing involved a lot of shouting at the behaviour of some of the male characters. Directed by Billy Wilder, it won four Oscars, and it’s on Netflix.

Dragon fruit
Wrapped in scaly bright pink scales with green tips, the flesh inside the dragon fruit, aka pitaya, is dotted with black seeds and creamy-sweet and quite bland. Not the tastiest fruit I’ve ever eaten, but up there with the prettiest. Health-wise, it’s high in vitamin C and is believed to lower cholesterol. It’s worth buying for how it will look in the fruit bowl.

Wearing more of my clothes
I don’t mean all at once – although it is chilly in my house. I mean consciously remembering what I have in the wardrobe and the drawers and giving them an airing, or rather a wearing. I work from home, and I know some of my fellow homeworkers stay in their pyjamas. Me personally, I prefer to get dressed every day. Like having breakfast, it just seems natural.

So this week, I’ve enjoyed wearing my red linen seven-eighths-length trousers from last summer, a pale blue long vest dress that’s 15 years old, an amber necklace I’d forgotten I owned, and a tan suede jacket I bought in a second-hand shop around 20 years ago.

The five best… things I tried this week

Bingley five-rise locks

Bingley five-rise locks

British skyr: Skyr is an Icelandic yogurt-type dairy product which has recently hit our supermarket shelves. I first tasted it at a breakfast buffet in Iceland in 1990, and went back for more every morning. It’s like yogurt but has a higher protein content. This morning I ate Hesper Farm skyr – Britain’s first home-produced skyr: creamy, thick and tangy. I bought it from Town End farm shop, when we stopped off on a bike ride from Malham Cove to Gargrave.

Straw Poll beer: Brewed by Thwaites, this is a light ale with a very subtle hint of strawberry – nothing like traditional Belgian fruit beers (which I’m also very fond of). Supped after a long walk at a hillside pub in Foulridge, Lancashire it was very refreshing.

Leeds & Liverpool Canal: I’ve been narrowboating before but not on this canal. The stretch we covered included the above-mentioned Gargrave, five miles from the magically stunning Malham Cove, the impressive staircase of five locks at Bingley, Salts Mill gallery at Saltaire, Skipton Castle, Bolton Abbey.

Digital detox: Not my choice! However, the twisting, turning canal, sometimes high in the hills, sometimes sunk in the valleys, meant an elusive mobile phone signal, affecting our 3G, 4G and thus internet access. Very, very frustrating but in the end, very relaxing.

Memory foam bike saddle: I’ve been using the saddle that came with my bike, but storing my bike outdoors over the winter has caused deterioration. Then I was offered the chance to try the Selle Royal Classic Freeway Fit Foam saddle, £29.99 from Halfords. Initially mounting up near home I thought it felt harder and less squishy than I would have imagined. However, last week, on gravelly towpaths, rutted dirt tracks and potholed country roads, it’s proved its worth. Its solid malleability offers sound shockproofing against the cycling surface, and now I don’t want to ride on anything else!

See my five best… pubs on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal