Friday 29 August 2014

Cooking for friends

Garden flowers and apple tart.

We had many visitors yesterday,
three of them Japanese girls from Kyoto University, one a college friend,
two of them our highly expectant son and daughter-in-law.

Watercress soup,tarragon chicken with tomato chilli fondue 
from the Ballymaloe cookbook
(one not jettisoned because of the holiday memories it holds), 
butternut squash risotto and rocket and watercress salad,
the first baked apples of the season and a fancy apple tart
and cream with salted caramel ice cream.

The little yellow dish is from the Sandwich Glass Museum in Massachusetts.

Thursday 28 August 2014

Pigeon's feet

For a moment things would be real to her,
as when they drove round a wide turning in the road
and she saw a thatched yellow cottage standing in the embrace of the turn,
plum-coloured mountains and a violent green field beyond it, 
and hanging heavy over the stone wall an elder tree heavy in fruit.
So heavy the berries had grown that their flat growth fell forwards
and downwards showing their backs, a web of berries, like pigeons' red feet.
Only by moments such as this was she entirely conscious.

Full House by Molly Keane

Wednesday 27 August 2014


I've been having a culinary cull.
Any book with fewer than a dozen well loved recipes,
which I have photocopied, hits the charity shop pile.


Particularly irritating that one with its cast of thousands ingredients list
and unhygenic painted wooden serving platters.

With a little sigh of regret because really I want to go and eat there
not cook from her book, but owning it was the closest I am likely to get
to this iconic restaurant.


This one was a present.
A lifestyle book (the lifestyle now defunct as they no longer run
their 'boutique guest-house')


And then, in the midst of this pleasurable exercise -
I heard a small pop and a fizz from the worktop behind me.
Nothing untoward met my first glance.
The food processor was sitting there.
I had chopped some onion and celery in it earlier.
The fizzing sound seemed to be coming from it.
So too did the curling wisps of smoke.
I unplugged it and ran to the front door,
holding it by the spindle at arm's length.
Was that foolish?
I don't know. I just wanted it out of the house.

Gone after 30 years.
My Kenwood Cuisine food processor Model A537.


Tuesday 26 August 2014


Here comes Freddie.

He's a Harlequin Great Dane.

Hip height to a short adult (me).
I was a little apprehensive.

But he was more interested in this horse than me.
We've never seen grazing horses here before
and we've never seen a Harlequin Great Dane.
We talked to his owner while he stood a little way off
surveying his surroundings.
Freddie has a tumour and has already outlived the vet's prognosis
of fifteen months survival.They decided against invasive treatment
and so he is enjoying leisurely walks in the late summer sun.

My camera had done this strange thing as he and his owner loped off.

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Plums on a tray

Destined for a tray bake plum cake.
Riveting stuff.
I blame my broken glasses.
Someone sat on them.

What were they doing in your pocket you ask?
Well sometimes I would rather look unframed about me
 with a compromised focus
than look clearly 
in a restricted field.
So I put them in my coat pocket.
Then I take the coat off and put it on the bench
and someone sits on the coat.

That'll be £60 to mend the snapped bridge, says the optician.
So compromised focus it is for the time being.
I have an assortment of old glasses to press into service
until I'm due for another eye test.

Tuesday 19 August 2014

Things on my plate(s)

some of them figgy,

some of them rosy,

some of them lemony.

Tuesday 12 August 2014

'Elementary,' said he.

Do you know what's going on up there?

It is my business to know what other people don't know.

 Let's take a closer look.
That allotment never used to be there did it?

You see but you do not observe. The distinction is clear.

You know my method. It is founded on the observation of trifles.

Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?

That shed has only three walls and there's a ruddy big white plastic sheet on the grass.

And a lot of tripoddy things standing about.
I think this is a film set.

It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data.
Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories,
instead of theories to suit facts.

And look! A funny bit of wall with dead potted plants round it.

Data! Data! Data!. . . I can't make bricks without clay!

Well someone's made a stone wall without stones,

This one's made of polystyrene.

There is nothing like first hand evidence.
but also
There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.

I bet this is where they are filming 'Mr Holmes' with Sir Ian McKellen.

Nothing clears up a case so much as stating it to another person.

I confess that I have been as blind as a mole,
but it is better to learn wisdom late than never to learn it all.*

* All quotes from Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Monday 11 August 2014

A round up

I haven't been around lately.
I've been round and about.
The first five pictures are from Kettle's Yard in Cambridge.
The bench is in Bateman's Garden, Rudyard Kipling's home.
The jelly fish was narrowly avoided underfoot

while paddling.