28 August, 2006

Adventure in search of art

Before I get to the title story, the obligatory weekly round-up of gustatory highlights. Moussaka and wholemeal basmati rice, served up by Simon & Zoe as a thank-you for help installing an ADSL/WiFi modem, proved such an inspiration that we reprised the meal for ourselves four days later. Lisa has done a thorough job describing Saturday's pot-luck dinner in her new Blogger blog: A Cook's Journal. I'd just like to add that the specific jumping off point for the musical exchanges was our "Remains of Tom Lehrer" collection which particularly caught the eye of our Belgian guest.

Sunday we kept our promise to visit an art exhibition in darkest Hertfordshire where Irene, an ex-colleague of mine from a former life, was exhibiting. Google Maps told us that the venue was only a little over seven miles from the nearest railway station, a distance that seemed well within our cycling capabilities, so we loaded up the bikes on the train and set out. Once off the train at Bishop's Stortford, we tangled with the local one-way system for a while before finding our road out into the countryside which was a long uphill drag. What we hadn't realised was that the route was entirely composed of an unbroken sequence of long and/or steep hills which made the ride at least twice as strenuous as we'd anticipated. It took us over an hour to get there but the effort was worth while as the exhibition was thoroughly interesting and mounted in a delightful setting. We were also blessed with the best weather of the three-day Bank Holiday weekend. I was, of course, intrigued to see what Irene had been up to since we were both made redundant by Nortel five years ago: most of the work she was exhibiting had partly involved physically weaving multiple photographs together, a technique I'd never previously encountered and which gives rise to complex images that repay lingering attention. There was plenty of other interesting work on display too, tremendously varied in scale, style and technique. The tea and home-baked cakes were pretty good too! Knowing what faced us, we were better prepared for the ride back to the station and completed the return trip in well under an hour but certainly that was the hardest fifteen miles we've ridden together! Dinner in a rooftop tapas bar in Stortford, with friends (and their son) who'd also attended the exhibition, preceded the train ride back to Cambridge. Nice!

This weekend marked the start of the Vuelta a EspaƱa, third of the three major cycle races on the professional calendar. After the doping problems that have scarred the sport recently, the anticipation is muted but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that sporting efforts, rather than pharmaceutical skulduggery, will make the headlines from Spain over the next three weeks. Tomorrow (Tuesday) also marks the start of the rather smaller-scale Tour of Britain, I hope to have more to say about that next week.

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