Tag Archives: food

All on a summer’s day

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Well it was about 80° by 9 o’clock again, so I went to water the plants before it became intolerable.  While on this placid duty, the

biggest

blackest

hugest

enormous

VASTACEOUS

WALLUMPING

bumblebee flew straight down the neck of my shirt.

Having in this compendious manner tried to achieve heat stroke and heart attack in the same encounter, I treated myself for shock and proceeded with the day.

At 10 o’clock we headed to a convenient beach.  There was a ruffling breeze and on the fairly steep-to shingle the waves made aggressive dashes at our knees.  Wet skirts were not a problem in the circumstances …

At noon the curtains were pulled against the sun and with local old-fashioned milk (full of old-fashioned top-of-the-milk) we made raspberry ice cream – yum, zingy.

And having run out of tosh for the moment, another book at 1 pm:

 

Wendy Moore has written an interesting double biography of Thomas Day and Sabrina Sidney/Bicknell.  The key narrative element is that Day, a dogmatic, wealthy and eccentric 18th century bachelor, tried to create a wife to his own specifications by acquiring and educating his own personal orphan, naming her Sabrina Sidney.  The morality of this is more complex than at first appears – less obnoxious because it did not in fact seem to cloak sexual abuse or pædophilia, and did in fact benefit his protégé in terms of prosperity and education; and more obnoxious, because the bald description of ‘apprenticeship’ barely indicates the mental manipulation, ownership, occasional physical cruelty and minute control he expected to exert over Sidney.  What could possibly go wrong?  Quite a lot, but again, no simple moral to be drawn.

It seems that the story was too good to waste, its afterlife leaking into several novels, and perhaps eventually into Shaw’s Pygmalion.  Having read this account of Day’s experiment (and also Pygmalion), I can well believe it.

And now at another 9 o’clock, it’s time to water the frazzled pot plants again.  Dare I brave the invertebrates?

During the incursion

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… there was a communal bake-in, requiring several hours and some curious culinary procedures involving pineapple and limes.  The presence of a live chicken on the kitchen floor probably didn’t help.

When I’d finished laughing, I ate my piece, which was rather good, and juicy with fruit, (though I admit to scraping off some of the drooly icing – nice flavour, but rather too sweet in a dollop like this).

Tying things up

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I spent a good deal of the day tying things up, until I began to feel rather controlling (and ran out of string).  (Click a thumbnail for the gallery)

The significant custard journey

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I passed Winchester’s ancient gate (bit of a lump)

to make significant custard

and play cribbage.  Don’t think I’ve seen two players have identical hands in the same round before (though one of these got one-for-his-knob).

These simple pleasures were made possible by the NHS staff, who, with their usual aplomb, briskly excised the very nasty appendix of a nearestanddearest.  Bless them.  It’s hard to regret The Old Days, knowing that there was no NHS in them.

Paper bagged

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The day was conducted in several keys.  At midday the car wheels decided for themselves and took me off to one of the other beaches, parking neatly by the greasy spoon kiosk.  Accepting the admonition, I wandered, eating chips like hot salty treasures from paper, and trying not to drop the beaker of tea.

The tide was well in;

I missed the acres of pale treacherous sand, but the combination of lilac clouds and green sea was a winner.

This beach has many shells, unlike best beach.  They are mainly cockles, periwinkles, oysters, wedge shells, and slipper limpets.  Slipper limpets are a most ungraceful shell:  nothing to be said for them

until you suddenly see one in a new light.

The lilac clouds intensified.  Drivers were turning their headlights on at half past three.

Dark days

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Managing the diminishing days requires the exercise of moral courage.  Some possible approaches:

1-caesars1.  Tackle the Caesars.  I could feel Suetonius chuntering at one shoulder, and Robert Graves smiling ironically at the other.  Tom Holland has the same problem as historians writing about mediaeval England: once we have read their stuff, Graves and Shakespeare will always compel our view of Augustus and Richard III (and the rest), whatever the historical evidence.  Lots of goodies in the book though, and very good contextual stuff to help one understand the familiar-yet-totally-alien principles of Romans as they negotiated the huge changes of their times.

2-snowflakes2.  Tackle the snowflakes.  Up the ladder and down the ladder and up the ladder and down the ladder and up the ladder and down the ladder and up the ….

3-theological3.  Tackle theology.  Sitting in the window ‘like the picture of somebody reading’, I frequently found myself sleeping like a baby.  This was due not so much to boredom as to the physical relaxation caused by heavy duty thinking.  Must have something to be said for it – the book is now full of pink notes-to-self.

4-peacock4.  Tackle some gardening, even if it is December.  The peacock orchid bulbs wanted to come out of their horrible cold soggy sluggy compost, and I’ll give them a nice warm indoor start after Christmas.

5-window5.  Tackle some window cleaning, to get the best from what little daylight there is, and any adventitious sparkle humanly supplied.   Eeeee when spiders abseiled crossly out of the corners.

6-exo6.  Tackle astrobiology.  Actually, after McIntosh this was a bit of a stroll,  and I wished it had been updated in view of all the Kepler exoplanet discoveries and new data on Europa and Titan.

7-no7.  Tackle a prejudice.  Mashed swede…

Actually don’t bother with this one.  It’s just as bad as I thought, even with lashings of butter and seasoning.  Should you have the facilities to do so, just give Fluffers some exercise by throwing breadcrumbs up and down the kitchen floor, and put Bagpuss on the television.  The Bony King of Nowhere comes up as fresh as paint.

8-races

Prong

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Then I lay in the recliner by the window, watching the clouds, while sillhouetted birds skidded down the wind.  The sky turned leaden, grey, unearthly pale, rich apricot in the squall, pink and gold and blue, lavender and dusty yellow, dim blue, and black.

Small blisses

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I think I may have made my perfect ice lolly today.  I’ll share the recipe in lieu of the lollies.  I’ve written the recipe in international units of measurement, based on a process which involved a lot of spoon licking.

  • Very large dollop of crème fraiche
  • A number of pieces of stem ginger in syrup, chopped small
  • One slurp of the ginger syrup
  • Two (or thereabouts) slobbets of honey
  • As much milk as makes it reasonably easy to pour

Combine, fill lolly moulds, freeze quickly to keep ginger suspended.  I’m trying not to eat them four at a time.  Oops – there goes another.

Only one mistake

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Just harvested the last pick of Douce Provence and the first big pick of Lord Leicester.  I am only sorry not to have planted more, but I have a random packet of Kelvedon which claims they can be sown in July for a late crop, so let’s test that proposition …

I’d be a happier pea picker if it wasn’t that the Araneus diadematus are beginning to hang themselves up in the pea plants like evil blackberries. (Before anyone tells me not to be wussy about harmless little invertebrates, these brutes have fangs, and they can and do BITE.)  And because gardens always have to rub it in about Eden, there is a distinct smell of fish wafting about, which must mean a corpse concealed in the undergrowth.  I am quite keen not to tread in it.

Meantime:  I’ve been eating peas nearly every day for a fortnight or three weeks; anyone want to bet I can’t eat these by tomorrow night?

pease