Tuesday, 31 May 2011
It is perhaps fortunate,
that the people who monitor
citric acid purchases
my opium poppy crop.
By happy co-incidence
gives me a neat tie in
to yesterday's post,
brought to you from
a field near Didcot power station.
Monday, 30 May 2011
English music in an English Landscape 2*
Once again, fortified by tea and cake
at the Abbey Tea rooms,
where you help yourself then do the adding up
for the trusting volunteer ladies,
we set off for our walk to the Wittenham Clumps,
this time intentionally and in fine weather.
The Poem Tree
As up on the hill with labr'ing steps we tread,
Where the twin Clumps their sheltering branches spread
The summit gain'd at ease reclining lay
And all around the widespread scene survey
Point out each object and instructive tell
The various changes that the land befel.
Where the low bank the country wide surrounds
That ancient earthwork form'd old Murcias bounds.
In misty distance see the barrow heave
There lies forgotten lonely Culchems grave.
Around this hill the ruthless Danes intrenched
And these fair plains with gory slaughter drench'd
While at our feet where stands that stately tower
In days gone by uprose the Roman power
And yonder, there where Thames smooth waters glide
In later days appeared monastic pride.
Within that field where lies the grazing herd
Huge walls were found, some coffins disinter'd
Such is the course of time, the wreck which fate
And awful doom award the earthly great.
Engraved on a nearby beech tree by
Joseph Tubb 1844-5
Then, to hear the City of London choir at Dorchester Abbey
singing a programme of Vaughan Williams,
Holst, Gardner and Howells.
most viewed page
on this blog.
Saturday, 28 May 2011
Three pictures of my elderflower cordial.
Is this what the blog is for?
Well, yes it is really.
It's for reining in
this bolting life.
Making cordial was a slow process,
over in an instant;
from the first ill-judged picking
of the too far gone flowers in the garden,
to the expedition to find some
peak of perfection in the alleyway,
(not too white, just creamy,)
to the purchasing of enough citric acid,
(not easy in this sad world,
where I was asked what I wanted it for and
regarded with great suspicion,)
to the buying and then dissolving
of the sugar for the syrup,
the paring of the strips of lemon,
the slicing of the lemon,
the submerging of the elderflower heads,
the 24 hour infusion,
the straining and restraining,
(all those tiny insects),
the sterilising and the bottling
and when I finally lined them up
in their specially purchased facetted bottles
I noticed how the light changed the colour of the cordial,
and thought that needed noting too.
Seven hundred and forty two posts.
It's a record.
Thursday, 26 May 2011
In the kitchen. On the radio.
I rescued the last of the elderflowers just in time for
made quartered focaccia
and a batch of yogurt
all under glowering skies with stinging rain,
and then those sudden shafts of brilliant evening sun
which can only penetrate our north-facing kitchen
for a few weeks in summer.
This was playing on the radio.
Wednesday, 25 May 2011
Tuesday, 24 May 2011
Shape of my Heart
Great song. Great Skill.
Monday, 23 May 2011
The Enchanted Places*
We walked in Chelwood Vachery, and went,
as Pooh might have done,
'down open slopes of gorse and heather, over rocky beds of streams,
up steep banks of sandstone into the heather again;
and so at last, tired and hungry, to the Hundred Acre Wood.'
'You didn't discover that it was a river until
you were right on top of it, for it had carved itself
a deep channel through the red-brown, sandy-clay soil.
If you climbed down to the water's edge you were quite invisible
from the meadow above you.
Here the air was cool and richly scented.
The water, brown and mysterious, moved with
'... a huge ancient beech, one of a group of about half a dozen.
It looked as if over the centuries it had grown tired of holding
its arms up to the sky and had allowed its lower branches to droop.
One branch in particular came out horizontally
then curved downwards
to rest its elbows on the ground.
And at this point you could sit on it.
Or you could stand on it and walk a little way along it
and then jump off into the soft carpet of
dead leaves spread out below.'
'Opposite the orchard were the fields and woods we visited on our
flower picking expeditions.
This wood for primroses, the ash plantation for orchids,
the larger wood beyond for bluebells,
the top of that field, along the edge of the bracken,
Primroses, bluebells, orchids, cowslips, violets and foxgloves:
Nanny and I would gather a whole basketful.
And it was here - more especially than anywhere else -
I would find that splendour in the grass,
that glory in the flower,
that today I find no more.'
* Extracts from Christopher Milne's autobiography,
dedicated to Olive Brockwell,
'Alice' to others
But 'Nou' to me.
'To remind you of those enchanted places
Where the past will always be present.'
song here because I loved it and
played it again and again as a child,
not knowing that
the original Christopher Robin,
hated it and was tormented by its repeated playing
by his neighbours at Stowe school.
Eventually he broke it into a hundred fragments
and scattered them over a distant field.