We have been gratified at the success of our leeks this year. I haven’t grown any of the allium family for quite a long time because my kitchen garden caught a nasty white rot that affected them (though nothing else). I contained it for a while by crop rotation but in the end had to leave it until the infection died out. And then I was growing vegetables for Al’s greengrocery anyway, so chose things that were easy to grow organically and/or relatively expensive to buy in. But I’ve been getting back to more variety of crops and this is something we’ll continue.
Tim raised a quizzical, yet indulgent eyebrow when, back in May, I bought a couple of small pots, each with a couple of dozen leek seedlings in which, while healthy, were tiny. But I potted them into four big pots and, several weeks later, we planted out the much bigger seedlings. And then ignored them for a while until the weeds just got too big and then we were impressed at how well our plants were getting on.
Last night, we went out for dinner at the wonderful next village, where the most amazing community spirit still reigns. I was at a friends’ house the other evening – I was invited to join a book club, something I’ve never had any inclination at all to do, but it’s different when you know it’ll be marvellously sociable – and, talking about it, they said they were going to have to squeeze to get everyone in, at over 130 it was the biggest yet – and then suggested that LT and I come along. We actually made the numbers up to 135 – not many village halls, with amateur cooks in a non-professional kitchen, could plate up and serve four courses as efficiently as they did, but it was superb. There was a delicious home-made pâté to start with – done properly wrapped in bacon, with pork and prunes – and then roast beef. What was remarkable was that the plates were hot, all the vegetables were cooked very nicely and everyone was served within minutes. Then sticky toffee pudding and then cheese, followed by cafetières of coffee and chocolates. A couple who are about to leave the village, with huge generosity, paid for the wine for everyone and the whole lot was £10 a head. We had a great time.
But we’d eaten so much that we decided to be moderate and vegetarian, almost, today. We’d picked the last of the peppers, sweet and chilli, yesterday, so I roasted some of the sweet ones with a shallot, some garlic and a couple of mushrooms, for lunch, and then I made butternut soup for dinner. LT has been slicing the last of the most recent batch of bacon, so the trimmings were chopped and fried with some sage, and I made some croûtons.
The first named wind of the season struck the south coast yesterday: its name was Angus. I looked up the names that they’ll have this winter. Tim and I both feel that giving them names gives these gales ideas above their station. However, I find it hard to think that Doris will be a really harsh one. And there’s one name, well down the alphabet, that I don’t actually know how to pronounce yet.