Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Midsummer Changes

The end of June already! When I was naught but a wee sapling of a lass, sighing my way through long summer days, victim to the kind of ennui that left me draped and sighing over kitchen counters, repeatedly telling the uncaring world that I was bored, as only young people can do, I used to think that my parents were mocking me when they spiritedly replied that the days weren't long, time moved swiftly and I needed to catch it. 

"Time speeds up as you get older," they'd say. 

To which I would give the kind of scorning snort that, again, only young people can do, and remove myself, with all the appearance of carrying the weight of the world, to drape and sigh over the sofa, dreaming of the day when I would escape the small town/village (whatever it was we were living in at the time) and LIFE would be slow but interesting and full and I would squeeze every last drop from it. 

Frankly, how my parents refrained from smacking some sense into me or, at the very least, sending me up some chimneys to earn a living and count my blessings, I do not know. 

Of course, we all know how this story ends. The drooping youngster grows up, leaves home and discovers that her days are a little too full and what she wouldn't give for some draping and sighing right now (she'd give even more to be that size 10 again, but that's a story for another day, or another therapist). 

This is the long winded way of saying that I've been busy once again this month. Not so many trips here-there-and-back-again, but with deadlines and meetings and training courses to run and funding bids to write. But it seemed less interesting to just write "gosh, hasn't time flown!" when we all know that it has. To any teenagers reading this, dally your way through these days my friends, savour them. 

N was officially redundanted (no spellcheck, I will not correct that - I like the sound of it) and is now spending his days pottering around the garden, planting plants, taking cuttings, potting up more plants, staking beans and generally enjoying his time. Sometimes he takes a pad of graph paper and pencils and practises his landscape drawing in preparation for his MA in September. Every night he cooks. I could get used to this house-husband business. 

The Kid has been over several times, staying with us between shifts and for birthday celebrations. He is restful company. Calmer after the trauma of last year recedes and its teeth are less sharp in his memory. He also wants to go back to uni, but not until next year, to study anthropology. It's fair to say the care sector has knocked the stuffing out of him and where once he really wanted to change the system, make it better, he now can't wait to be out for his own sanity. Job searches are ongoing. 

I celebrated Midsummer and the New Moon quietly. The Moon has moved into Cancer so we are officially in my birthday month. I'm taking my foot off the pedal just a little so I have time to savour this one as I move closer to 50 than 40 and wonder what, if anything, this ageing business means. 

I suspect we are being made to feel as though it should mean a bigger deal than it actually does. Yes, the hair greys, the skin creases like velvet and new bits ache where they didn't ache before, but those aren't the important bits. The important bits are the wisdom that we pick up, polish and store about our person, small gold coins of experience and knowledge that we use to pay our way forward. They don't make us infallible, but they help us find a centre in this world. 

There are plans to meet with friends this weekend and the other week, I caught up with an old colleague and friend to catch up, show off the garden and allotment, and generally have a gossip so long and joyous, my jaw fairly ached by the end of it. The joy of good friends is something to savour too. 

A couple of times I've taken myself off to the library to work: there is something soothing about the sound of tea spoons against coffee cups and the low murmur of voices that don't require an answer from me. On my first visit, a disgruntled foursome were milling around a table. 

"All she said was the room was taken."
"We can't go downstairs, there are children. They will make a noise."
"I'll ask this nice man."

There is a pause and much sotto voce grumbling from the remaining 3, who cling to the backs of their chairs as though they fear a fight to keep them. I'm aware without looking up that the occasional dark glance is aimed in my direction.

"But will she complain?"
"Hush Geoffrey."
"It's alright everyone. This nice young man [I can feel the heat of his blush from over at my table] has said we can!"

There is a chorus of "splendid!" and "oh well done!" and as the first sounds start coming from their antiquated laptop, I realise that what they fear I'll complain about is their conducting a very loud German lesson 2 tables away from me. So I shot them a dark look in the best British passive-aggressive fashion and put my ear phones in.  

Obviously, while I was there, I grabbed a couple of books to read once I got home. The superlative Mrs Death Misses Death and the utterly moving 10 Minutes, 38 Seconds in this Strange World. I picked them up and read them from cover to cover, moving from bed to sofa to bath to sofa to bed without pause, eating one handed and putting a post-it note on my head that read "can't talk, reading." Both books have stayed with me for a long time afterwards, the threads of the stories running through my days like a child's streamer, bright and commanding attention. Of course, I've now got my own copies so I can return to them again and again. These are books to return to. 

Tomorrow, I am in Birmingham for a meeting, fitting in a visit to the Ikon gallery before coming back for another meeting. In the evening, I shall take a long New Moon bath and let my slide towards the weekend commence. 

How was your June?

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Bear or Gecko?

I am sitting here at my desk, in my apricot coloured office, with Radio 4 burbling gently behind me and the rain drumming its own beat outside. Oh rain, I'm so pleased to see you! For a spiritual bear like me (some people are spiritual geckos, some are spiritual bears), yesterdays 30+ degree heat was some awful 3rd rate sci-fi hellscape. With chirpy neighbours who are more gecko than bear. 

"I just love this heat, don't you mate?"
"Oh yes mate. A real treat. I'm going to mow the lawn and chainsaw a tree. See ya mate."
"Good luck mate, I'll be here pointlessly hammering nails into bits of wood."
"Good on ya mate."*

There is a strict routine to days like that: in the morning, the blinds and windows at the back of the house are flown open to allow as much (relatively) fresh and cool air in as possible. By midday, those are resolutely closed and the ones at the front of the house have been opened instead. 

The cats find new hiding places to escape the heat. The Great Boo is under the trailing spider plant, enjoying the cool green shade of the beast. Tiny Wee Mabel seeks out shrubs to sleep away her day underneath, coming in at night to lie on the beds, shedding dried earth and dead insects from her fur. 

I look in the fridge like a helpless infant turning to its mother for food. Why have the contents not converted themselves into nutritious salads and refreshing iced teas while the door has been closed? Does this mean I have to do it? N is no help on these days as he will happily eat cereal twice a day when it's hot, like an overgrown student. Which I suppose he is now.

Any allotment visiting takes place strictly before 8am where a short burst of watering, fretting over mysterious holes in the sunflower leaves, weeding and harvesting of an onion or two, plus a quick pick of sweet peas may take place. I can hear the rattle of the heavy chain and lock that keeps the gates closed, repeatedly clanging as people race against the temperature clock. 

"Don't lock it!"
"Sorry! Think we're all up here, aren't we?"
"Can't stop, I've got 5 minutes to water everything while the kids eat breakfast!"
"Don't shut the gate!"
"Wait for me!"

The only other time it's this busy is on a Sunday morning where we can linger over Thermos's of coffee and commiserate over bindweed. There is not the time at 7.30 on a Friday: we rush in, sending dog walkers - on the same early morning mission - scattering in surprise. It's like the rush for an IKEA sale, without the tea lights and meatballs. 

At some point, I manage 10 minutes of yoga and realise that, along with all the usual places, my eyebrows are sweating. Eyebrows! I didn't even know they could do that! So I ditch out of the 4th downward dog in favour for practising shavasana - corpse pose. Apologies to the plucky tiny Texan teaching us all via YouTube but my inner bear wants shavasana, preferably on the cool tiles of the kitchen floor, a la the Great Boo. 

Another mournful gaze into the fridge fails to automatically muster up a peach, mint, bulgar wheat and feta salad with pomegranate molasses dressing, or even the ingredients for one, so I eat cheese on crackerbread and then retire for a nap on the sofa, the coolest spot in the house, waking an hour later with only the vaguest of notions where I am. 

Coolest apart from the hallway but I've not yet been forced to camp in there. Give me time. 

I've recklessly promised a friend I will go along to her preview show, so I pack sandwiches (the last time I went to any kind of exhibition preview, the promised 'dry snacks'** turned out to be packets of Walkers crisps. I am not falling for that trick again), bottles of water and wet flannels into a bag packed with ice blocks. I pack the friend foolish enough to say she'd come along. And we head out for a 50 minute journey down the M5 with broken air conditioning. 


As the mini Magnums are wilting on their slushy bed of ice, people are eschewing sticky backed hugs in favour of air kisses that land wide of their marks. Carefully designed 'Become a Patron' flyers are crumpled with use as fans and sticky from use as cocktail coasters. Faces are flushed and shirts are damp but the preview is a success, which is all that matters. 

I stay up talking with N, who'd been to the Gardeners World show for the day (the day! I'd have lasted an hour and probably tried to push Monty Don into a pond in my heat-induced fury), till 1am, neither of us able to sleep in heat that lies like a blanket. We drink cold white wine, eat Pringles, from our seats on the floor, the coolest part of the house. Tiny Wee Mabel comes in and announces, loudly, that she is going upstairs to sleep and scatter debris on a duvet after her long day of sleeping. Great Boo sits silently by his bowl, hoping that mute appeal will win him a second helping of supper biscuits. 

At last, although sleeping downstairs on the floor comes in for serious consideration, I remember that TWM brought a mouse in last week, and I don't much want to wake up next to a rodent corpse, I haul my heat-heavy carcass off to bed. One day, I promise myself, one day I will crack this heat thing and I will learn to love the weighty days of summer. One day I will have the right clothes, the right body, the right attitude, the right eyebrows that don't sweat. 

But right now, there's an ice block chilling my bed and calling my name. 

*neither of these people are Australian, they just feel the need to express themselves like they are. Ah yeah no, mate.
**seriously. The preview invite said "one drink and dry snacks will be available". I have never felt more invited
*** the allotment (the nice bits) at 7.30 yesterday morning. I will allow that hot summer mornings are something special

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

May at the Allotment

The weather hasn’t always been the kindest this May; a little chillier and wetter than perhaps everyone would like. But it didn’t stop everything suddenly bursting into life up at the plot. 

The wineberry bed is quite a tricky spot. It slopes steeply so anything on there has to cope with very free draining soil. Currently I’m experimenting with alpines. If they don’t work, I may have to seize the pallet by the nails and create a terrace there. 

Once you move a bit further down, the soil is less dry and suddenly the wildflowers have exploded in a root of colour. All the Nigella self-seeded from last year and have formed a frothy bank of blooms that the bees fill with sound. 

The raspberries have also been busy spreading themselves until I can only just make out the original plants. They have formed handy supports for the bindweed that plagues this spot. Nothing to be done but to slow right down as I unwind, untwine right down to the root and pull it out as much as I can. If I move too fast, the bindweed spitefully rips out the raspberry leaves with it. 

The potatoes have had their final earthing up and are now throwing their leaves up to the sun. Onions are complacently fattening in the next bed. 

Brassicas are in, netted against pigeons and sprayed with slug deterrent. Beer traps form sinister pools and each plant wears a scarf of wool pellets. All these deterrents and still 3 of the cabbages are lace-edged from slug bites. 

I’m late with the courgettes, beetroot and beans but I’m on track with the dozens of sunflowers we’ll need for the wedding. Flowers may have to take precedence this year but I’ll settle for a handful of beets, a few beans, 1 courgette at least  surely? 

This month, a bulk order of compost will arrive and I’ll start the process of creating the no dig beds for the sunflowers. Dozens and dozens, all nodding and waiting, full of promise for September. 

Friday, May 27, 2022

Folding Away

Earlier this week, as I sat in the quiet cafe, music playing quietly enough for me to ignore it and, on the yellow formica table top in front of me, a hot chocolate cooling from molten lava temperature, I paused in my reading to look up and consider the question that has stumped philosophers for centuries...

Is there anything more comforting and more guaranteed to give you a feeling of wellbeing than sea-cold toes thawing in warm dry socks while you drink hot chocolate?

Some serious consideration of other comforting things - the first chilly night under a winter duvet, a hug from someone you genuinely want a hug from, soup and toast, a cup of tea after a night on the tiles -  I have to tell you, dear readers, that no, there is nothing more comforting than that. 

With one of the eternal mysteries of life solved, I returned to split my attention between the second book of the day and that hot chocolate, upon which the crest of whipped cream was slowly, tantalisingly, melting down the side of a mug so big, I could have put my head in it. 

I'm not long back from a quick break to the sea where I did little else other than watch the waves, eat, walk, sleep. Repeat for 2 days. I spent some time picking up pebbles and examining them. I spent even more time reading and writing (took 6 books with me and read 5, leaving Shuggie Bain for a time when I can deal with desperate poverty and lost lives, i.e. not yet). It was bliss and I came back feeling both well fed and well rested. 

I did, despite my age and the fact everyone else over 40 on the beach were wearing sensible stout boots and walking shoes, paddle barefoot in the shallows. Why would you not? Yes, it might have been so cold I could barely feel my feet after 5 minutes and, on 1 occasion, actually raining, but I hadn't gone all that way to not get my feet wet. 

If anything, I just wondered at the people in the stout boots. Did they not want to recapture that feeling of childish glee, that abrupt sucking in of breath that comes when the foaming waves carry themselves over your toes and you realise the water temperature is closer to ice than bath?

Their dogs weren't so inhibited and bounced soggily up to me hoping I was carrying biscuits or would throw the salt water dripping ball for them. Some just wanted a pat and 1 enthusiastic retriever (is there any other sort?) wanted to pause a foot away from me to give himself a vigorous shake. The owner was mortified. 

I just laughed and mopped up the worst with my scarf. That scarf did a lot of standing in for a towel over the 2 days. 

Going through the photos, I realise I mostly took closeups of rocks and pebbles because I find them fascinating and have promised myself to, one day, properly get to grips with geology. No fossil finds, but lots of lovely glittering lines of quartz running like galaxies through the rock. 

I've kept a couple of little videos of the sea on my phone to return to when times get stressful. Which they will. I'm learning to take those times as part of the ebb and flow of life (I do this at the age of 45? Truly I am the enlightened one!) and not to let the stress overwhelm. Let it flow, man, it'll pass. 

And whilst it was tempting to burst back home and insist to N that we "move there instantly and run a little B&B and I will run a craft shop as well and you will run your garden design business and it will all be splendid", I resisted. I think sometimes he takes these flights of fancy seriously and then frets that he'll come home one day and the house will be for sale. Maybe, if I was 25 years ago but still the me I am now, I'd take them seriously too. 

For now, they are daydreams occasioned by being in a nice place and having the usual irksome details of daily life (who's turn is it to cook, who did the last lot of laundry, did you feed the cats already, why are your shoes there?) left behind. 

For 48 hours, I could allow myself to focus on nothing but the sea and the tides. I embraced that lovely Italian idea of far niente, pleasant relaxation in carefree idleness. Something we don't do enough of as adults. I saw no news, no social media and no emails. I did gaze for a long time at the sea, and the long bluing horizon. 

So I'll fold those impossible daydreams away with the post-holiday washing, put them on the shelves with the strange rocks, and not think of them again until I'm back there. Or somewhere else with cobbledy streets, pastel coloured houses and a pub serving the best seafood I've eaten in a long time. 

And for the next week, whenever I turn out of a pair of socks or my bag or a coat pocket, and a small gift of sand sprinkles the carpet, I'll allow myself a moment or two of unfolding. 

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Inhale Deeply

Hello! Well, it has been so long since I last blogged that, coming back to it this morning, I couldn’t remember what I’d last written and consequently lost myself for an hour this morning, rereading, following back, plunging into that memory pool, occasionally asking myself if I’d really meant to write that. 

Generally yes. What I mean to write, I write. 

April and the 1st week in May were…bonkers. So much so that I’ve reached 7th May and fallen at its feet, kissing the ground with gratitude. I think I will lie here for a little bit and recover. 

treated myself to some freesias because why not?

Truth is, I did something I’d promised myself not to do since going freelance, and I’d over committed. In order to fit it all in, I worked over the bank holidays and weekends, push-push-pushing words into those coherent sentences that funders like.  

So. Many. Damn. Zoom. Meetings. Daily, twice daily, thrice daily. Finally, at the suggestion “we catch up via a quick Zoom”, I snapped and demanded an old fashioned phone call instead, unable to face another disjointed conversation full of “oh you’re frozen again” or “hang on while I share my screen.”

And I physically zoomed too: one 7 day stretch saw me dash between Birmingham (again), London and Gloucester. I have seen more train interiors this month than I have in the past 2 years. I have driven to Ely. 

But. Now May is here and the deadlines have been met. I have felt the weight of them fall from my shoulders like a heavy overcoat. 

sweet peas planted out in April

N is cantering through his last month of work. In September he starts a Masters in landscape architecture. No one chooses to be made redundant but there is no denying the freedom, once the period of adjustment and mourning has been got through, to go in a completely different direction that it gives you. 

Speaking of which, never have I ever heard so many tone-deaf comments as I did when the news was first announced. Redundancy is up there in the list of the Big Life Stressors (bereavement, moving, illness, divorce, redundancy, etc) and yet his shoulder rang with the metaphorical thumps of people saying “think of all that free time!”, “wish I could be made redundant!” and “it happened to me and I was over the moon!” 

The problem with comments like that, as well meant as they may be, is they diminish how the person actually feels. That period of mourning and adjustment as you realise the future you thought was secure has just been snatched away, that the small work ‘family’ you’d been part of will soon all be moving on without you, is necessary. Trying to cheer someone out of it just makes them feel worse. 

And now he's through that - jubilant to be leaving a work environment that had steadily grown more toxic over the past 2 years, coming out of meetings with deep sighs, shakes of the head and a wondering "I don't have to worry about that any more". There are plans for the future, university in September and then the wedding at the end of the month. We’re in a good place. 

Shelves at the Coffin Works. One of the helter-skelter visits I did. 

My poor allotment. I managed 1 trip up there, nearly 2 weeks ago. To be fair, the ground was so dry, it needed a mattock to break it up (it's a clay soil so when it's dry, it's solid). It needed the recent drenching. Tomorrow, recently nadgered ankle withstanding*, I'm planning a few hours up there, taking my sandwiches and my time over the jobs to do. There are seedlings ready to go in, another brick path to be built and, no doubt, strimming to be done. I love No Mow May but if I went with that at my plot, I'd never recover the ground. 

I have alpines to plant on the tricky dry bed, cornus cuttings that have rooted and need a place to be, a couple of achillea that 'fell' into my basket and a honeyberry (lonicera caerulea) which I also failed to resist. 

May is full of green and so beautiful that, now I have the time, I'm standing to stare. Trips to garden centres that are bursting with lushness. Going to see friends one evening, the lanes were so soft with new growth, bluebells shyly scattering the grass, that I had to stop the car to stare properly. I'm going to do that more, not just now, but this year in general. 

Things I have read and seen:

  • Earthed by Rebecca Schiller, Some Tame Gazelle by Barbara Pym, Unreliable Memoirs by Clive James and South Riding by Winifred Holtby, which stayed with me for days afterwards and I'm recommending all over the shop. 
  • Dinosaurs: the Final Day with David Attenborough. Just mind-blowing. Astonishing finds and research pinpointing the moment of asteroid impact that did for the dinosaurs. And continuing the asteroid theme, Don't Look Up. Funny and poignant, Meryl Streep acting it up a storm. An allegory for our environmentally-stricken times that can also make you laugh. 

There are 3 more weeks of May left before we tilt into the birthday pell-mell of June and July (our families seem to cluster around here and November-December for birthdays) and I can allow myself the luxury of Days Off. Things I will do in May:

  • Eat asparagus in a variety of ways. 
  • Ditto new potatoes
  • Make elderflower cordial
  • Inhale deeply when I'm around flowers
  • Admire the wisteria at the allotments
  • Watch butterflies
  • Quit Twitter because, ugh**
  • Yoga
  • Write
What does May hold for you?

*the arthritis means that when I've been too much on my feet, I get unsteady, leading to Undignified Trips and, in this case, Falls. I've been resting this thing since Wednesday. Lots of ice etc. 
** Done!

PS If I've missed any of your posts and/or comments, I'm sorry. Slowly getting myself back into order. 

Friday, April 15, 2022

Hither and Thither

I have been caught up in a maelstrom of hither and thither recently. So much so that a day out to Nottingham had to be cancelled. "Sincerest regrets, deadlines, busyness etc, enjoy without me!", virtually waving off the friends I had been planning to spend the day with. Instead I took myself off to the library and worked in the little cafe there (lattes £1, if you please), letting the change of scene work wonders on my bid writing skills. 

Which it did. This recent commission has a tight deadline so gallivanting was out of the question really, and I'd already lost a day in Brum the previous week. 

A friend most generously donated her time so we could spend the traipsing the Rag Market and assorted nearby fabric shops to find THE right fabric for the wedding dress. Which is not a wedding dress in the traditional sense of the word. Having been on this particular merry-go-round before, I have no interest in wearing white (or cream or champagne or ecru or whatever fancy name the designers give it). I wanted something vibrant and dramatic, and found it in a beautiful Dupion silk in emerald green. Of course, the making may be trickier now Mum has had a meltdown and refused to do it ("Silk? I thought you were getting jersey! I can't work with silk!") but someone with the requisite sewing skills will turn up. 

After, we hauled our aching feet to a greasy spoon to refresh ourselves with chips and builders tea before making our way to the Library where we combined work (we're evaluating a project there together) and pleasure (there was another exhibition which was splendid), and then rounded off the whole successful day with wine and, in my case, a bag of Percy Pigs. 

The plot moves on as slowly as I do, and that's okay. At the weekend, with the Kid over for a couple of days, I put him in charge of the incinerator to burn away all the non-compostable woody bits while I strimmed the grass and weeded some more of the wineberry bed. He had fun, I got jobs done, we both got back smelling of bonfires and spent the evening watching Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with N (who was in mourning over an Arsenal loss) as we continue his education in films from the 80s. 

We've been busy socially than I've been used to in recent years: tapas in the Cotswolds (get us being all fancy although tapas is not food, in my opinion - £9 for 5 pieces of calamari!! - it is naught but shenanigans. Expensive shenanigans.), birthday night out for a friend, another's 50th celebrations of a kind that was exactly right for her, and a gallery opening show of Japanese prints (so beautiful) that touted the worst red wine I have ever heard talked about in glowing terms ("we were so excited about having wine, we brought loads of a really nice one!" Did you? Did you really?). 

I have been reading Thin Places which was breath taking. If you know nothing - or only a little - of what it was like to live as a child in Derry during the 80s, this is the book you need to pick up. The collective trauma of that generation is so easily dismissed and yet it damaged them all. It is horrendous and yet she writes with a lightness, an uplift, as she tries to work that damage out of her system.

I also read a book about Edward I's daughters - as you do - which was fascinating, Clive James's Unreliable Memoir, Carol Shields's The Stone Diaries and I've just started Winifred Holtby's South Riding which I'd tried to read 10 years or more ago but couldn't get on with it. This time, I'm enjoying the characterisations more, so I'll carry on despite it's considerable heft means I'm risking a broken nose if I fall asleep whilst reading and it donks me. 

I've been listening to: Jill Scott, Laura Marling, Nina Simone. An antidote to the Beatles' White Album that N would have on repeat if I let him. While My Guitar Gently Weeps is making my ears gently bleed after the 100th listening. 

This weekend, I'm planning to work a little every day (that deadline loomeths) but mostly potter on the plot, read, cook and relax before the whirlwind of next week hits as I juggle dog-sitting for my Mum, a trip to London for a meeting but also fitting in the British Museum Stonehenge exhibition (London at Easter! What was I thinking?) and a trip to Gloucester to meet up with a client. I may try to fit in a visit to the Cathedral afterwards because it's a beautiful building. 

By the way, whilst I write, I'm listening to The Reunion on BBC Radio 4 - always a treat of a programme. Did you know a young Keir Starmer, at the very start of his career, gave the McLibel 2 free legal advice a number of times when they were preparing to fight McD's? That man is thoroughly decent. Where are the barricades we need to man to get him into the prime minister role?

And that's as far into politics as I'll go here because... Well. We have a criminal as a prime minister, who is paying the Rwandan government millions to take refugees. Good grief. Send help. 

Happy Easter/Ostara/Spring bank holiday!

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Adventures in Muesli, and other food stories

As you can imagine, with N's Mum ill, we had some weeks of quietness, panic, worry and bad eating because he certainly wasn’t interested in food that required thought, preferring to opt for toast with things on, or takeaways. But you can't carry on that way forever, so I pulled my socks up and set to, aided by a trip to the farm shop. 

Farm shops are great for inspiration. Not so great on the old wallet, so I tend to limit my visits. They are a treat rather than how we usually shop, but what a treat they are. I even love the way they smell. In no order of preference, I came back with:

  • a Romanesco cauliflower, all spiralling turrets and vibrant green. Plus many other vegetables that were mainly normal and everyday, for e.g. carrots. You don't need me to describe the carrots
  • Mango chutney and caramelised onion chutney. Because, chutney goodness. I'll stop saying chutney now*
  • proper honey from a local bee keeper
  • a loaf of bread stating "takes 3 days to make". It was crustier than a crusty after a week protesting a bypass from a tree top
  • late plums and early rhubarb 
  • strawberries! So so early but not flown in from overseas, grown within 5 miles of the shop! They smell amazing
  • purple sprouting broccoli. 
  • A giant bag of red potatoes that roast beautifully
  • a crumbly, buttery-feel blue cheese that just slightly puckers the taste buds
  • Eggs with golden yolks from formerly free-range but still definitely organic hens
  • a made-on-site coleslaw that creamy and delicious
  • sausages made from pigs raised and butchered locally
I roasted the sausages in a trayful of the vegetables, including the cauliflower, stirred in some of the onion chutney, threw in some garlic and stems of thyme from the garden. 

The potatoes I turned into surprisingly successful gnocchi (the first batch I've ever made that didn't turn gluey and the water into wallpaper paste) and had those with the purple sprouting broccoli and some of the blue cheese when N was out on Wednesday (he does not like PSB). 

The plumbs and rhubarb became a compote for adventures with muesli. To cut the sharpness, I added the honey rather than reaching for the sugar. I mean, honey is sugar, but marginally less so and it meant the compote has a more satisfying flavour than if I'd just bunged caster sugar in. 

Did I mention I make my own muesli? Well I do *pauses to polish halo of smugness*. Oats, sultanas, dates, pumpkin and sesame seeds, ground hazelnuts and almonds. Spiced with ginger and cinnamon. Cheaper than standard muesli from the supermarket (but only because I buy in bulk). Trying to do that from a standard shop where every individual ingredient is tiny-ly portioned and wrapped in plastic for our "convenience"? Forget it. 

Tonight, when we come back from college, I'll make an omelette with spinach, mushrooms and the rest of that blue cheese. We'll have it with tiny roasties, made from those red potatoes, and the coleslaw. Just right for a day where the temperatures have dropped and we'll have been outside planting parsnip seeds. 

Which reminds me, I have a giant parsnip I need to turn into soup. Before I go, I need to tell you that comment moderation has been switched on after a veritable swathe of spam comments for casinos, dodgy Viagra and so on. Is it just me or does the internet just feel like a lot of work these days? Easier to make soup. 

*No I won't

Midsummer Changes

The end of June already! When I was naught but a wee sapling of a lass, sighing my way through long summer days, victim to the kind of ennui...