Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Christmas panic?

Well not quite a panic, but as by the middle of December I hadn't bought any cards or presents, it seemed as if a bit of action was called for. Anyhow, the tree is now up and decorated, cards written and posted, presents bought and most wrapped ( still a couple to wrap) cake made and decorated and wreath put on front door. Fortunately I have only a few presents to buy, as there are no grandchildren to buy for as yet, only immediate family, which is quite small. My mother-in-law is happy to receive flowers or a plant, as she is nearly ninety and doesn't want things or food as presents. Turkey is defrosting as I write, sprouts bought this morning, brandy butter, mince pies made, so all is pretty much there.
I did watch some of Kirsty Allsop's Homemade Christmas series on Channel 4 recently, as I've been doing quite a lot of most of my life, but on a smaller scale- I'm not into blowing my own glass baubles, nor putting gold leaf on pears, although one year I used gold pen on bay leaves for placenames when we had a lot of family for Christmas dinner. I found it interesting and hope that some of the younger generation can find inspiration from the programmes.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

I read Marilyn Robinson's Housekeeping and loved the beautiful almost poetical writing. The bleakness of the place she describes, the bleakness of the lives of the two sisters and their grandmother and aunts made this a slightly uncomfortable read for me - at times I did wonder where it was going, but the images called up by Marilyn Robinson's writing will linger a long time in my head. The bleakness of the landscape is also echoed by the themes of loss and attachment

Nella Last's War, the diary of Housewife 49, describes the difficulties of housekeeping during World War Two. Nella lived in Barrow-in-Furness, then a ship-building town in north Lancashire, and fairly heavily bombed during the war. Nella's diary was written for Mass Observation, but edited and published after the end of the war. Nella's writing reveals her as being generally optimistic, cheerful under the circumstances and hard-working. She describes making dolls, which are sold in the Red cross shop set up in Barrow during the war as well as mending and making do with her own and neighbours clothes. A fascinatig read which added to my knowledge and admiration of those who stayed at home and kept the home fires burning during the Second World war.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Sunday walk

We went for our monthly ramble with a group we have been walking with for some years now, and perhaps because it was the Lord's day, we had a lovely dry afternoon, with sunshine for the greater part of the walk. Here is where we went. Our route took us along the river Hamble for a short while and the tide was in, so everything looked beautiful. Hard to think that warships of one kind and another have been built here through the centuries, including apparently landing craft for D-Day in 1944. Many years ago I used to walk here from Botley before the country park came into being; there was just a footpath through the old farmyard, through the woods and down to the upper reaches of the Hamble River.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Baking Day

(photo from

Tuesday this week I went up to London for the Persephone lecture and to have lunch with my son, who I haven't seen for ages- he spends weekends doing this, and if you watch the video of the cyclo-cross event, the last comment is absolutely true, I'm told. The Persephone lecture was by Bee Wilson, and was on the subject Mrs Rundell to Mrs Beeton. Mrs Rundell's book of Domestic Cookery was first published in 1806, by John Murray, and continued to be published until 1841, although the author had died in 1828. Her method of writing recipes was much chattier but less clear than Mrs Beeton's. Mrs Rundell was married to a surgeon , lived in Bath, and had five children who all survived to adulthood. She started writing her book a few years after the death of her husband, as a help to her married daughters in the management of their own domestic arrangements. Bee Wilson's lecture was both enlightening and entertaining, especially her description of following Mrs Rundell's method of making coffee, which made an undrinkable concoction!
However some of the recipes are completely followable.

Saturday was church Christmas Fair day, so Friday was baking day, as I'm on the cake stall again. Having made a fruit cake (earlier in the week), coffee and walnut sponge, Victoria sponge, chocolate cupcakes, gingerbread and some macaroons, I've almost gone off cake for a bit. We did sell everything and I also won a nice bottle of Bordeaux on the bottle Tombola.

google tracker