Eurovision 2021 by theme

Right. I have listened to all the 2021 songs, downloaded the album to have while running, and have watched all the videos. I’ve grouped (most of) them by the common themes I’ve identified below. These of course are based on the video, the official staging might well be different. The bracket (1) indicates they are in the (tough!) first semi-final, (2) is the second, while an (A) indicates automatic qualification to the final.

  1. French language

There are 3 songs in this category, 2 are sung completely in French, one just has a French title. But isn’t it interesting that these 3 are also the bookies top 3 (at time of writing)!

France (A)– Edith Piaf channelling, with delightful rolling Rs, a speeding up final verse, passionate delivery from a stunning looking woman with an amazing voice.  A fast waltz, with Hushabye Mountain hints. Voila!

Switzerland  (2) – sung in French, but with a softer accent than the France entry,  Tout l’univers delivers a haunting tune, with goose-pimply use of falsetto.  The video is a literal car crash, if not a metaphorical one.  But if the staging is just sad-man-at-a-piano it might not have a great impact.  But the song does build, and is not the same throughout.  It also hits the “spooky!” category (see later), and – always a good feature – a nod to The Beatles.

Malta (1) – Big girl with a funky sax. It’s just the title Je Me Casse, that’s in French, the rest is in English.  Though there is a very funny misheard line – Ladies if you feel like farting tonight, it’s all right.

2. Technicolour

First up is Australia (1).  They joined the contest in 2015, and have been serious contenders every year, Dani Im and Sound of Silence being very much the song that would’ve won under a different voting system.  They’ve consistently sent great songs….but this year I think with Montaigne (Cranberries soundalike in big boots) they will struggle to get to the final.  Technicolor is a bit wooden and stomp,  it doesn’t really hit any emotional buttons or be striking musically.  Sorry!

San Marino (2) – technicolour hair, singer is trying to find her inner Beyonce with Adenalina

Croatia (1)  – One of several Lady Gaga-likes,  with rainbow hair and teddies Tik Tok (bit of Croatian in one verse)

3. Pink Suits

Again, this is just based on the vids, and the final staging may well be different.  But here we have:

Israel  (1) – hairography, pink trouser suit, few shrill high notes that only dogs can hear, matchy matchy outifts, Set Me Free would be at home at a gay nightclub, always a good sign.

Serbia (2) – very fast! Identikit outfits , me love you long time, pink suit, Loco Loco

Sweden  (1) – pink suit, catchy Voices

4. Kids TV inspired

Germany (A)– kids TV “I’m mad, me” zany colourful ukulele playing, tune for I Don’t Feel Hate clearly takes its musical inspirations from Baby Shark

Bulgaria (2) – Growing Up is Getting Old – children’s nursery rhyme, music box

5. Lady Gaga wannabe

Moldova (2)  – Lady Gaga wannabe, the soft porn video is trashy, overly sexualised, and feels very out of place set against the many other “be yourself, believe in yourself, self worth” numbers this year.  Dancing ice cream cones, Sugar

Greece (2) – up tempo Last Dance, good running soundtrack, but reminiscent of a tampax advert with a white trouser wearing singer leaps onto a flying horse

see also Croatia and Cyprus

6. Religious connections

There are two songs titled Amen!

Austria (2)  – Chinese James Bond theme song  with Amen

Slovenia (1)  – more gospel.  More Amen.  Looks like Britney, sounds like Aretha

Czechia (2)– dreadlocks Bruno Mars thinks that “Omaga” will not offend anyone who might have been offended by “Oh My God”.  Dreadful lyrics: there ain’t no apocalypse, long as you’re here on my lips

Cyprus (1) – Lady Gaga inspired, sounds like Roxette, hint of nursery rhyme, the ethereal looking Elena with El Diablo

Norway (1) – really literal staging with the wings, chains, and surrounding demons, Fallen Angel is a slow bit of a dirge, I wouldn’t care if I never heard this again.  (it reminds me of something but can’t quite place it?)

7. Matching coloured outfits

Iceland  (2) – Dadi again, though not as catchy as Think About Things.  Matching outfits, bad dad-dance routine

Lithuania (1) – matching yellow suits, the Roop with Discoteque.  Mad dancing

Poland (2)  – afternoon quiz show theme tune, with a hint of Knight Rider, the Ride has a Bucks Fizz feel, matchy suits

Azerbaijan (1)  – hair, ethnic wind instrument Mata Hari, matchy matchy outfits

8. Other-worldy bad dream horror movie vibe (spooky!)

Albania (2) – Karma, folk instruments, big busty blonde, dark thriller with twins in a dream

Belgium (1)  – Hooverphonic with The Wrong Place, slow, murder mystery corpse bride feel, odd chord sequence

9. Rawk

We all loved Lordi, but can a rock number succeed at Eurovision?

Finland (2)  – Evanescence /Green Day/Limp Biskit Dark Side

Italy (A)– another rock number (Is ziti not a type of pasta?)

10. 3/4 time

Gerogia (2) – beard and bald, slow waltz You

Romania (1)– Loreen lookalike with a 6/8 waltz-time self-help pep talk surrounded by contempo-waft.

11. And the rest!

Denmark (2)– proper old skool in Danish, dad dancing

Estonia (2) – Lucky One, very slow and moody

Ireland (1) – another good running song, with a hint of Oirish tin whistle, Maps is a self affirmative hug-in-a-song.  Wiwiblogs love it, other fans worry that it wont make it out of the tough first semi.

Latvia  (2) Big Girls R Us, Moon is Rising, Greatest Showman, bit slow and ponderous, ostinato uh-aah is annoying

North Macedonia (1)– Andrew Lloyd Weber number Here I stand; big key change and a big finish, which adds to the musical theatre vibe.

Portugal (2) – nasal voice, white hat, simply red Black Mamba, Love is On My Side.  I don’t like this song, but I’ve heard their acoustic version of Fuego so I have great respect for their musicianship

Russia (1) – Shouting. Bazouki.  Off-the-beat ethnic drumming.  A Very admirable singer, and a positive message don’t be afraid to be yourself, but oh it’s so shouty and noisy!  Lil bit of politics creeping in (say it aint so!), and there’s no such thing as bad publicity

Spain (A)  – voy a quederma, boy band looks, otherwise forgettable

The Netherlands  (A)– Ladysmith Black mambasa, African inspired– Birth of a new age

Ukraine (1) – I hated it the first time I heard it, but it has really grown on me.  Love the gradual speeding up. Ethnic nose flute playing merged with techno, and the group is another accomplished combo who I’ve seen do Dancing Lasha Tumbai with aplomb.  Shum, indeed.

UK  (A) –  Embers from James Newman, upbeat summer top down car tune with brass band backing

Overall:

This is a great year’s songs, there are very few I really dislike.  A few growers, which won’t do well as many voters only get to see them once or twice.  I’d be happy for any of the 3 French bookies choice to win, but I also have a soft spot for Ukraine, Ireland, and Greece.

 

The One With The Travelling 60th Tee – Part 2

The first recipient of the Quatrain-tee 60th shirt was my cousin David.

The first recipient of the Quaran-tee was my cousin David. he and I save a keen interest in all things scientific and agronomical, and can often be found in the same part of the world when there’s a solar eclipse.

He’s also a bit of a karaoke king, so he chose to perform the very appropriate “When I’m 64” to get the Travelling Tee off to a rousing start. 10 bonus performance points!

It has now been passed on to Helen – let’s see what magic she manages with it!

Low carb wraps

I found these in my local supermarket, and have used them for my lunches this week.

Following a low carb diet, I usually avoid the bread/bagel/wrap based lunches, but when I spotted these at 100 calories each, 4g carbs and 12g protein I just had to try them. The main ingredient is pea protein, so they are an easy way to get some more protein content.

Filling 1:

Cream cheese, smoked salmon, chopped green onions (scallions)

These held together really well, and the scallions added a bit of crunch to what might otherwise be a bit soft texture wise.

Filling 2:

Cottage cheese, roast red pepper, basil, and marmite.

Smearing a good teaspoon of marmite over the base before adding the toppings is a tasty way to add flavour, and the roast red pepper was a good alternative to tomato.

Filling 3:

Ricotta, roast broccoli, artichokes, plenty of salt and pepper

Ricotta can be a bit bland and chalky, so next time I’d add some jalapeños give it more of a kick. Good way to use up leftover veggies.

Overall verdict:

The wraps are lovely and soft, easy to roll and don’t disintegrate like some other low carb alternatives. I accompanied each wrap with a mini salad of either tomatoes and celery, kimchi, sugar snaps and cucumber. I will definitely be making these part of my usual meal planning.

The One With The Travelling 60th Tee – part 1

Well, this started with my cousin’s 60th birthday. Which happened to be in March 2021. The UK was still in the throes of Coronavirus restrictions, so his party was held over Zoom. I thought it would be amusing to get him a special T shirt to wear, and I duly found and ordered one off t’internet.

Except it didn’t arrive in time for the actual do 😦 So what to do? Keep it give it to someone else? Give it to D anyway as a souvenir? As I ran the options passed him we came up with a more brilliant idea – I would pass it to him, he would pass it on to someone else having their 60th in the near future, who in turn would pass it on…..you get the picture. Bit like those bottle bags which continually get passed from giver to recipient, or the theory about there only being one box of After Eights. All being well it might arrive back with me for my 60th in October. When hopefully we won’t be in lockdown or quarantine any more and I can have a proper party. Yay!

The rules – such as they are- take a photo wearing the T, send it to me, and I’ll do a blog entry on who’s wearing it, where, and what shenanigans it got up to. And who’s next. We did consider awarding bonus points for Most Interesting Stain, but that just sounds like asking for trouble with a capital T. hashtag60Tee

I got some takeaway coffees and we did a doorstep handover. Good luck, lil Tee shirt, travel safe!

While you’re here, if you’d like to make a donation to my marathon fundraising please click the link below. And let’s get everyone smiling.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Linda-Harley6?utm_source=Sharethis&utm_medium=fundraising&utm_content=Linda-Harley6&utm_campaign=pfp-email&utm_term=6712ef4f37c8474abddc1546696e9878.

Celeriac base pizza

Low carb pizza based on the Blood Sugar Diet recipe book

This is one of those rare recipes that is actually given for one person, so it’s great for the solo dieter!

For the base, grate 80g celeriac. Mix with 2 tablespoons cream cheese, and a small amount of cheddar (I find the matchbox sized individual mature cheddar things are the perfect size). Stir in a beaten egg, and season with salt, pepper, and a good shake of Italian seasoning (or oregano)

making the pizza base

Spoon onto a greaseproof lined baking sheet, and bake at 200 degrees for 20-30 mins, keep an eye on to male sure it goes nice and gold without burning at the edges.

base after 25 minutes

Now go mad with your toppings! This can be a great one to use up odds and ends in the fridge. I had pasta sauce, anchovies, jarred mushrooms, cherry toms, capers, a little tapenade, some blue cheese getting past its best, and some parmesan.

Toppings from storecupbard odds and ends

Bake for another 10 mins or so – again, keep an eye on to make sure the cheese is melted, but the edges not too burned. Calories will depend on toppings, but around 350, with 25g carb from the celeriac, and 20g protein from the cheese and egg.

The final pizza!

Enjoy!

Cheese and greens mini muffins

These were adapted from the cheese and spinach mini muffins in the Fast 800 blue “easy” book, but I had no spinach. I did however have a bag of kale that I’d put in the freezer a while back, so I was interested to see how that worked out. I defrosted it a bit before using, but the act of freezing does break down similar green veggies, so this sort of recipe is great for using them.

Main ingredients – a tin of butterbeans and 3 eggs. Blend in a food processor. with salt and pepper. I was using my nutribullet, and sometimes it can be a bit fussy if the ingredients are too dry. But I was amazed by how quickly these 2 pulsed together to form a batter. I will definitely be exploring other options along these lines in future.

Next add 50g spinach or kale, and 75g grated strong cheese, and 4 spring onions (scallions, green onions, chopped). I didn’t think all of this would fit, so I kept back some cheese to sprinkle on top of the muffins to give a crispy finish.

I spritzed a low cal spray into each section of my muffin tin, and used my red scoop to portion out even amounts. This device came with a tub of porridge oats, but I find it really useful in making this sort of muffin frittata thingy.

Recipe says 12, I managed to only get 11.

Bake at 180 (fan) for around 30 mins, turn the oven off and let them cool before turning out. They are super tasty, and have a satisfyingly dense but moist texture. One or two for a late breakfast, or with a salad for lunch, they keep for a few days in the fridge, or can be frozen. I plugged the ingredients into MyFitnessPal, and the calories came out at 90 per piece, 9g carbs and 6g protein.

Fast 800-4-1 week 4

A week of main meals suitable for those following a fast 800 (low calorie, low carb) approach, but cooking mainly for one person. Recipes from the Fast 800 series unless otherwise stated.

Mon: Roast veg with cumin and goats cheese (easy p177). This was very tasty and straightforward, although the recipe at one point refers to “all the vegetables” when it really means “except the tomatoes”. You’re now going to tell me that tomatoes are technically a fruit, aren’t you. Meat-eating husband had his as a side, and it worked well as that. If I do this again I’d make more and have leftovers for lunch.

Goats cheese cumin veg

Tues: Mushroom omelette. A quick go to for the solo cook. Served with green veg on the side.

Wed: Prawn courgetti. (Easy p118) I had to change my plans at the last minute as husband wanted some too, and he’s not a fan of courgettes.

Thurs: Broccoli and paneer (easy p 182)

The recipe book gives this as serves 3, which always looks odd! Anyway, easy to adapt for one person, using 80g paneer. Following the recipe I fried the paneer cubes in oil first, but they were very spluttery, and I hope I haven’t ruined the frock I was wearing by having blobs of hot oil splashed on it, and my hands. Very simple list of ingredients, usually things I would have around.

simple uncomplicated ingredients

Fri: Indian feast. I tried the broccoli dish again, but dry fried the paneer first, which was much less splattery. I swapped the tomatoes for mushrooms, as I’m not a fan of scalding hot toms that burn the roof of your mouth. I adapted a Joe Wicks thai curry recipe using up aubergine and mushroom with red thai paste and coconut milk, served it with some shredded cabbage done in the microwave, a blob of yoghurt and some lime pickle. A sprinkle of cashews for added protein and crunch.

Brocoli paneer, thai aubergine mushroom, shredded cabbage, yoghurt, lime pickle

Sat: Tuna stuffed peppers. (Easy p84) One pepper, one can of tuna, there’s a little bit of stuffing left over, depends on the size of your peppers. It was very salty with a lot of anchovies and capers in it, and again, those hot scalding cherry toms….

Tuna stuffed pepper

Sun: Cauliflower cheese and veggie sosig, celeriac chips. Linda McCartney’s veggie sausages are very tasty, and come in around 100 calories and 10g protein each, which is a good ratio to aim for. The cauliflower and broccoli cheese was from the BSD recipe books, and wasn’t that exciting, though I do like the addition of chopped jalapeños! It heated up well for lunch next day. The celeriac chips were not really crispy enough, other people say they do take a long time in the oven. I have lots of celeriac left, but I’m planning pizza bases and Spanish omelettes for next week.

Red Dress Run 2021

I’ve done a bit of fundraising before for the NI Chest Heart and Stroke association. My father had a mild stroke a few years ago, and my husband has a replacement heart valve. So I know very well the excellent work they do. When the coronavirus pandemic took hold in 2020, many charities suffered immensely at the sudden loss of fundraising events. I did a “26 costumes” run during April, where I ran a short local route in 26 different outfits over the space of a week. This was in response to the absence of marathons, 26 miles, as fundraising opportunities.

26 costumes, Dancer-ys, with Tobbo, the fire-breathing dragon

NICHS would usually have an annual Red Dress run, with participants encouraged to dress up in suitable colours. This year (2021), with Covid regulations and restrictions still in place, it would take place virtually. When I first posted on Facebook

“Me? Running? In a red dress?With my reputation?” even my husband admitted he laughed.

So, most important consideration – what to wear! I usually run with Minnie, my cocker spaniel, but as she will be 10 this year she is an old lady in dog years, so I am training up young Toby, 2, to be a running companion. I really wanted a dress up theme that could include them also. And after a bit of pencil chewing, and exploring what I had in my dressing up box, I decided on…..Little Red Riding Hood (or should that be Little Red Running Hood). Minnie being a black hairy monster would make a suitable Big Bad Wolf, while cheeky-chops Toby would bring his own stylings to the role of Woodcutter. Just don’t anyone think of giving him an axe….

Despite my extensive costume wardrobe, I didn’t have the wherewithal for my own outfit, but I soon found a reasonably priced one on Amazon. When choosing a costume for running it has to be light, loose enough to allow movement, stretchy enough to allow for a long sleeved base layer if required, and washable. A red cloak will be a versatile addition, I’m already planning to use it as a superhero get-up, or for parkrun celebrations. The dress, with its checked skirt, lace petticoat, white blouse and black waistcoat isn’t a million miles from a Highland Dance dress, I might wear it to class as a joke.

For the dogs, I had a Harley Davidson bandana that said “Bad to the bone”, and a checked tartan number.

I sussed out a local route that was a 2.5km circuit from the house, meaning i could swap dogs at the halfway mark, and also was sticking to the guidelines of not travelling too far to run.

To add to the authenticity, the day before the run I baked some cookies for grandma, though I wasn’t intending to run with them. they were stem ginger cookies, and filled the house with tantalising smells.

Ginger cookies, fresh from the oven

On the day of the run, the sun shone, there was a warm-up video on Facebook including personal testimonies and a reminder of why we were running. I found the fundraising really hard this time, with no social events or family get-togethers, and only a handful of work colleagues in the office, it was a struggle to get pledges. But I made the £50 target.

I selected the soundtrack of Hamilton as my music: Hamil-run if you like. I set off with Minnie first, she always gets very excited and impatient when she knows we are going running. And then Toby, who still gets a bit distracted by other people, dogs, interesting smells and pretty flowers. It brings joy to the heart to see dancing snowdrops, full of hope for the future.

Snowdrops dancing in the sunshine

And we are all hopeful of a better future. For charities, for those recovering from strokes or heart operations, for runners who can’t wait till we can run together. Keep the faith, we’ll get there. There may even be cookies 🙂

F800-4-1 week 3

This weeks menu:

BSD blood sugar diet book, R red recipe book, E blue easy recipe book

Monday overnight oats, egg wrap with smoked salmon and cream cheese(R94) veggie bolognaise w edamame spaghetti and green beans

Tuesday: Greek yoghurt and granola ( joe wicks spicy nutty recipe) , bolognaise w green beans, mushroom omelette w soy asparagus and broccoli

Wednesday: apple and peanut butter, goats cheese salad, fish finger sandwich

Thursday: green ginger shake(R53), tuna apple salad, leek and barley risotto (R216)

Friday: ainsley Szechuan soup, pesto baked fish (E105)

Saturday: fry up, pesto fish

Sunday: scrambled egg, leftover barley risotto, prawn and egg curry (E 121) w roast cauliflower and raita

Now, the fish finger sandwich wasnt really on plan, it started as a bit of a joke, and is served with a curried yoghurt and a sprinkle of Bombay mix!
The egg wrap was really, good, triple protein and easy to make for one.

egg wrap w smoked salmon and cream cheese

Barley, leek and goats cheese risotto takes a bit of time to cook, but leftovers reheat well.

veggie bolognaise w edamame spaghetti

I really disliked the green ginger shake. I’m not a fan of shakes generally, but I’m still using up apples! They take too long to drink, I don’t like the icy cold temperature, I couldn’t bring myself to add the olive oil in the recipe so I added yoghurt instead.

goats cheese salad
green ginger shake

The pesto fish dish takes longer to cook than the book suggests, and I don’t really like reheating fish, it’s much better done fresh.

pesto fish

Prawns are a great protein to calorie source, but the size of packs they come in can prove difficult for single diners. My husband mistakenly bought 3 packs at 180g, so I’ll be using those up over the next few days. Again, I don’t like reheating prawn dishes as the prawns go too rubbery, and I don’t like freezing them, especially if the prawns were previously frozen. I also try to avoid taking fishy things to the office in case the smell is offensive. So I might just eat all the prawns myself and count the calories.

The prawn egg curry was very watery – a full tin of tomatoes and then a full tin of water makes it too liquid. I managed to overdo the prawns too, so I didn’t get a decent picture.

mushroom omelette

Fast800-4-1 week 2

A weeks worth of food following Fast 800 principles, but suited to cooking for one.

Menu:

Monday: Greek yoghurt and granola, veggie sausage, miso aubergine

Tuesday: mushroom scrambled egg, blue cheese and chicory, cauliflower rice paella

Wednesday: chia pot, thai curry, prawns w courgetti and edamame spaghetti

Thursday: chia pot, thai veg curry, prawn stir-fry

Friday: Boiled egg, smoked salmon salad, halloumi ratatouille

Saturday: Overnight oats, halloumi ratatouille, salmon fillet w hoisin roast cauliflower

Sunday: Overnight oats, smoked salmon salad, veg burger, turnip fries, cheesy leeks

Foods that to be used up this week include apples, oranges, cauliflower, turnip, smoked salmon.

Vegetarian sausages come in a pack of 8, and it’s usually easiest just to cook them all at once. So Monday’s lunch was leftover from the sausages I’d cooked at the weekend, in an onion gravy. This reheats quite well in the microwave. Miso aubergine is p178 in the Easy F800 recipe book. It was very salty, and I wasn’t keen on the edamame cooked open in the oven, I’ll just micro them next time. But a satisfying plate of food.

Having a load of apples to use up, I made one into cinnamon apple crisps, p 220 first recipe book. These take a long time in a cool oven, but are a nice crisp snack.

Tuesday- blue cheese and chicory. It may be very good for your gut, but boy this is bitter! I could only eat half of one raw with salad, kept the rest for dinner. I was adding in some seafood to up my protein, and I love little pickled cockles. Any seafood packs a good protein to calorie ratio. So I made a cauliflower rice dish with paella flavours of paprika and garlic. And added the rest of the chicory as a side.

Wednesday: due to spend the rest of the week in the office, so I made a pot of chia seeds and yoghurt to have mid morning, defrosted a tub of Thai curry for lunches, and had some olives leftover from the paella. One of the issues about cooking for one is the freezing of leftovers, which is limited by the size of tubs available. But having 2 portions in one tub is suited to bringingto work, where I have access to a fridge and microwave.

I found edamame spaghetti in Holland and Barrett. The calories are similar to normal pasta, but it does have a protein content. I mixed a small portion (25g) with some courgette cut into thin strips, and served this with garlicky prawns. Frozen prawns are always on hand in my freezer, but they come in different size packs, so do check. I used half of a 180g pack, saving the rest for tomorrow. From a bag of mixed leaves I used some rocket to garnish.

Thursday I still had the chia pot and curry in the office fridge, and for dinner I used the rest of the prawns to make a stir fry, using some spinach leaves out of my salad bag. I added some Konjac noodles – I’m not a huge fan of these, they need to be rinsed well, and then dry fried to get rid of the fishy smell. But they were in the cupboard and I hate waste! Kimchi on the side, I love this stuff.


Friday: I always boil more than one egg when I’m cooking them, so have hard boiled eggs ready to eat in the fridge. Had one for breakfast. Lunch was some more salad leaves with smoked salmon, and for dinner I was cooking for my husband also. He likes the ratatouille w halloumi p212 of the original recipe book. The recipe serves 4, but husband eats 2 portions, I eat one and there’s one leftover for lunch.

Saturday: I made a big bowl of overnight oats using one apple, to do over 3 days. I can’t remember why I had so many oranges, but I decided to try the orange and almond loaf, p 222 of the original recipe book, which would also use up some of the dates I had left from Christmas. 300g of ground almonds! And 300 calories a slice! I’m not sure this really fits well with a low calorie diet, but I was intending to freeze most of it to have as an occasional treat. It smelled good while cooking, but the end result is quite heavy, and not worth all those calories.

Lunch was the leftover ratatouille, which reheats well, and for dinner I was tying the hoisin roast cauliflower, p210 of the blue recipe book. This was unpleasant, the addition of vinegar to the marinade makes it pungent and sour, and hot vinegary chilli but still crunchy cauliflower is really nasty. Turning a perfectly good low calorie veg into a 250 calorie side dish is not a move I’ll be repeating. Recipe serves 2, I kept the rest to have cold as a salad next day.


sunday: overnight oats, salad with the cold cauliflower, boiled egg mixed with sour cream and horseradish, smoked salmon, and the rest of my salad leaves bag. I’d bought a slab of plant based mince, so I was making a burger to go with turnip fries and cheesey leeks. These are easy to make in the microwave, zap the sliced leeks, then stir in some soft cheese and grated mozzarella. I had actually made 2 patties, but I left the room at one point and when I came back there was only one! Not sure which dog is the guilty party, but I know which husband should have been paying more attention!