Monthly Archives: June 2006

Still jammin’ tonight

So much for jam-making this morning. I got up late. By the time I’d performed the usual ablutions, inserted eye-aids, painted a bright smile on my face and read emails, it was nearly time to go to the Rectory. Those of you who have long memories and have used them here will know that our Rector left us a few months ago. Although he and his family left the Rectory clean and tidy, it is not until all furniture is removed that one sees the dirty marks on the walls left by furniture, where one feels for the light-switch etc; furthermore, the garden had become overgrown and only the lawn had been cut. A working-party was called for.
It was called for on Thursday. I said what evenings next week i was free. Someone suggested Saturday morning. I said fine, and emailed likely parishioners to ask for help, and had several offers and three apologies, all with cast-iron excuses (one was working, another is on two sticks and the third is visiting Somerset).
Apparently, in the other parishes, some people were a bit miffed. Short notice, they said.
But if you rang and said “Time for a coffee and a chat?”, would they say “yes,” “no, sorry” or “short notice”? But a couple of them came anyway and the work got done.

And then I went to the pub for lunch, which took quite some time.

And then I came home and said hello.

And then I went to a party, but only for an hour.

And then I went to practise the clarinet for church tomorrow.

And then I came and cooked and ate dinner and watered the greenhouses.

So it was not until 9 o’clock that I started making jam.

Middle C

You are Ocean Blue

You’re both warm and practical. You’re very driven, but you’re also very well rounded.
You tend to see both sides to every issue, and people consider you a natural diplomat.

Well rounded, yes, but maybe not in quite the way implied.


I received an email yesterday afternoon. Its title was, eponymously enough, TLC. ‘Aw’, I thought (should a thought have quotation marks? I’m not sure so, bet-hedgingly, I’ll just put in one), ‘someone is thinking kind thoughts and is sending them to me.’ I opened the email. ‘Reminder – TLC meeting tomorrow at 2.00. Look forward to seeing you there, *****.’ *

Yup, Teaching and Learning Committee at the High School.

Maybe they will have sticky buns though, they have lovely sticky buns at the high school sometimes, with pink icing. And their quiche is gorgeous, far better pastry than I can make, more filling than pastry and just a touch more than a hint of mustard. Gilly and her team are great cooks, and their great cookery predates Jamie O’s campaign.

Maybe I take Teaching and Learning rather less seriously than tlc?

* to preserve the anonymity of the sender, even though he didn’t send it but asked a secretary to do it instead.

Unwisely (?) I have offered on an impulse to do lunch here for 16 or so, on the day of the interviews for the new Rector. I realise that the main reason I have done so is to have the opportunity to cast my own eye on the candidates. I was glad to offload the job of the interviewing itself, largely because I am not as churchy as it looks as if I am and I am not sure what I should be looking for.
I suppose the bishop is coming. Ah. Better get out the good wine then.

Losing some of its stuffing

A friend visited Get Stuffed today. And bought from them too. Al went there yesterday. At about 11.30, but Eileen was only in for the morning, so he wanted to have got through the pre-lunch rush and have eaten before 1 o’clock, in time for the lunchtime rush – siesta afterwards, then there is an about-to-pick-up-the-children-from-school rush, followed by the picked-up-the-children, getting-something-for-tea rush, then the jesus, shops-about-to-close rush (doesn’t count as blasphemy if there isn’t a capital J, anyway, god has other things to think about and doesn’t care).

So, he visited Get Stuffed; at least, that was his intention. But there was no one in the shop, just a woman with her hair in a bandana, propping up the doorway with a cigarette hanging from her lip. Al was a bit disconcerted and kept walking. A few minutes later, he walked back. She was still there. He just didn’t fancy a sandwich any more, especially an overpriced one (and that was before he knew about the cold bacon).

So that was another customer they lost.

I walked past at about half-past twelve today. No customers. Woman in bandana and man who was harassed were both behind the counter. I didn’t buy anything, I went home for lunch.

Don’t you love it when I get sentimental?

Not being very busy today, I have been catching up with some blogs. Of course, I read a few every day, but not all of them every day because there are too many I like, and I have work to do. Anyway, I missed a few posts from Anna, which one should never do because she’s GOOD, especially because she asked a question, which I answered, and then didn’t look at the follow-up for a few days.

That was the preamble. Here’s the prelude. A comment, on little red boat, see number 6 from Damian, reminded me of an occasion 30 years ago.

My second child was born at home. At my mother’s home, in fact, as it was bigger and easier to move in to for a few days. Whilst I can see the advantages of a hospital birth, and would see it as a lot less risky to have your first baby in hospital and all of them if there is any likelihood of a problem, having had three babies quite uneventfully (in a medical sense), the home birth was the best experience by far.

He was born at about 10.30 pm and, since all was well, the doctor left not long after. The midwife looked after me, as midwives do, while my husband and mother and stepfather cooed over the baby in my arms and we all bonded and were happy. By midnight, she was ready to leave. “Do you know,” I said “I’m really hungry. Is anyone else?” Everyone was hungry. My mother had a cold leg of lamb in the fridge. She went and made a pile of sandwiches. We picnicked, minty lamb sandwiches and salad, next to the sleeping two-hour-old baby in his cot, and it was the most memorable meal I’ve ever eaten.
Tonight it will be pretty good though. Remember I posted a picture of artichokes a few weeks ago? Oh. Okay, I’ll look it up for you. This is it. I cut the first three tonight. Oh I love artichokes.
Actually, I love food meant to be eaten with the fingers. Especially messily. Particularly vegetables. Asparagus, globe artichokes, sweetcorn, sticks of celery.
I’m going to put a pan of water on to boil. I’m salivating and it’s time to cook.

A closed book

I haven’t read today’s paper yet. Yesterday’s was read in the bath at 1am. Saturday’s and Sunday’s were left untouched. Not that I’ve thrown them out, I am sure I’ll get round to reading them in a day or two.
What is happening to me? I do read every day, but instead of two or three hours of concentrated newspaper and book devouring, it’s a casual glance at the paper, and five minutes with a novel while I’m waiting for the Sage to complete his ablutions and join me in bed.

Maybe I am just taking a break. I do hope so. Reading has been my refuge all my life. I remember, distinctly, the first book I ever could read to myself and my wonderment and sheer excitement, that the hitherto mysterious black lines on the page, made up of letters that I could pronounce, but in quantities I was daunted by, suddenly turned from abstract symbols into real words. In times of great stress I read voraciously, often a book I know well so that I am not distracted by too much uncertainty in the plot, tension, suspense – not what I need when I am anxious enough already. And, on holiday a couple of years ago, I read more books in a week than I have ever read before. On some days I went through four books. I read all three books of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ in two days. Reread them, I should say, but years after the first occasion so I wasn’t skimming. And that week of relaxation healed me, after several difficult years.

So, when I simply read for pleasure, when I will go for a ‘difficult’ book, when I am not tempted to read the last few pages just to break the tension the author has spent hours and months in crafting, then I know that there is no hidden worry that is claiming my patience and my subliminal concentration, and that in itself adds to the pleasure.

But just now, I’m not really bothered. And I don’t know why. I hope it doesn’t last much longer.

Ugly Fruit

There is an article in today’s Eastern Daily Press, saying that Waitrose are to start selling “ugly” fruit. This is not the same as the Ugli Fruit; they mean visually flawed or oddly shaped, it will be marketed as suitable for cooking and cost 50p to £1 less per kilo.
I suppose they will give their growers a reduced price too, but it is a big step in the right direction and far less wasteful of perfectly good food.
Last autumn, these carrots went down a storm in Al’s shop. Dug up from a smallholding down the road on the day they were sold, they were delicious and flavoursome, but would not have been considered of marketable quality by most shops or buyers. But round here, a premium is paid for “dirty” Fenland celery too.

The other side of the coin is that, apparently, quantities of strawberries are being shipped in from the Continent. One of our growers told the Sage woefully that he is being paid 20p less per punnet by the supermarket, as they will not pay more for British strawberries than they will for imported ones. This puzzles me, actually. I would have thought that, given a choice, some shoppers would go for the English ones, some for the cheaper ones, so why not give them that choice? Or else if the supermarkets, who make mind-boggling profits each year, care as much as they say they do, they could decide to make a big publicity campaign about supporting home-grown strawberries, even if it costs a few pence more. But if this price drop is reflected in other areas, I can see more growers giving up altogether. It has been a dreadful season this year, starting several weeks late as the weather in May was cold and wet, and then in June it changed abruptly to scorching hot, which means that some of the fruit ripens unevenly and is spoiled.

Until now we’ve been eating our cucumbers, sometimes two or three a day. But today I cut 8 for the shop. Some lucky Bungalothians are in for a treat. All of them were quite straight, which will give rise to a grumble or two. Al’s customers like the really curvaceous cucumbers.