Recipes from my Suffolk Kitchen

Friday, 26 May 2017

How Does Our Garden Grow.................. Part 2....... Fruit

We arrived to find 5 trees in the orchard and a few bushes in a soft fruit bed and a small rhubarb plant among the weeds.

The trees are a plum, two pear and two apple, one of which is a family tree with two or perhaps 3 varieties grafted onto one tree.

The fruit bed had one white currant, two other un-identified currant bushes, a dead gooseberry bush and a few raspberry canes.

We've planted more rhubarb crowns, two gooseberry bushes, the cheap blackcurrant bush and the bargain raspberry canes from Poundland and Wilkinsons and six strawberry plants from Aldi. In pots I have a small Apricot tree and a patio pear tree, both are alive but no fruit this year.

Apples looking as if they might be a  good crop
Pears look promising
Soft fruit bed. A few raspberries and currants from the established canes/bushes this year. More next year we hope Just 2 of the very cheap raspberry canes didn't survive. The largest currant bush - back left, colour unknown, has No berries at all, I'll cut it back and give it a chance next year. I need to find a way of covering the raspberries soon. There is netting left behind by Mrs F so it will be some sort of makeshift thing. Not a bit  like the huge walk in fruit cage we had at the smallholding.

The strawberry plants are in pots and will give us a small bowl of berries soon. I want to sort out a proper strawberry bed if possible before next year - raised would be good. All the rhubarb plants are still very small, I hope they put on growth for next year.
Both the Fig (£3.99 Wikinsons) and the Grapevine (£1.99 QD) have suddenly put on a foot of new growth in the last fortnight and even the mini lemon tree - as mentioned the other day - has suddenly sprouted a new leaf.

This is next door's elderly cat, she removed herself from the corner of the soft fruit bed quite quickly  when she realised I had crept up on her!

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Thursday, 25 May 2017

A Very Quiet Reading Day

I had a quiet day yesterday.

Colin was asleep in bed most of the day as the antibiotics took effect making him feel sick, hopefully before feeling better, and there was nothing drastic that needed doing indoors so after  a bit of weeding (and despite being covered with a net frame and having fleece over the edges, something has got in and ruined a lot of the beetroot plants seedlings Grrrrr!) I settled down with a non-fiction book for a change.

Terms and Conditions; Life in Girls' Boarding Schools 1939 -1979

The Preface is by writer Nicola Shulman - The Marchioness of Normanby and as you can see- in tiny print on the paper wrapper -  she says it is "The funniest book you'll read all year". Fascinating yes but  I found it a sad book mostly full of stories of the privations suffered by  girls in various schools - large and small. Even some of the better, happier schools left the girls with a poor education.
I've mentioned before how few books I had at home so missed out on reading all the stories by Enid Blyton, Angela Brazil and Elinor Brent Dyer written for girls about exciting adventures in boarding schools. This book makes me glad I didn't read them and beg to go to boarding school, not that I would have been able to go anyway!
Post War at Cheltenham Ladies College sounds particularly awful.

Even though I've never been to a a boarding school I can relate to some of the stories about education received during the '60's. I went to a small Grammar School where we were divided in the second year into "streams" - S = Special, this group had the best teachers and were destined for university, G = General - that's where I was, not particularly good, not extra poor then there was the R group R = Remainder - how sickening that even in 1970 there was a class called The Leftovers. I don't know how many of the R class went to uni but I do know that only about half of the G class did. The rest of us left at age 16 after O levels. No encouragement to stay either from home or school. In fact there was virtually no contact between school and home at all, just like the girls left at boarding schools often for months (or more if their parents were overseas) at a time without any visits home. But at least P.E. and Games was only a couple of hours a week, none of our teachers were sadistic and we all got to go home at the end of the day.

This little  book is well researched, there is a list in the back thanking over 100 "old girls" that the author spoke to, and is easily read in a day. A little glimpse into the lives of the privileged or maybe not so privileged few. A lovely way to spend a quiet day.
Thank you to whoever mentioned this on a blog - or I would never have know about it.

Also on the subject of keeping quiet. I don't live in a bubble. I do know about the crazy happenings in the world, I do care but  just choose not to mention them on my blog. There is enough talk elsewhere.

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Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Time on my Hands ? No. Just Crime in my Hands

I've read 5 books in the last couple of weeks and all were crime fiction.

Deborah Crombie - Garden of Lamentations.
 This is the 17th and latest in a series of modern crime fiction. Another author from the States who writes crime set in this country. It features Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James, a married couple who both work for the police in London.

Agatha Christie - The Listerdale Mystery . A collection of 12 of her early short stories, very light reading and some are odd rather than good.

Alys Clare  - The Devil's Cup. The 17th and final book in the Hawkenlye Mystery Crime series. Set mainly in Kent during the 12th Century. I've loved these books which mix history, magic and mystery at a time when some people still follow pagan ways. At the beginning these were set in Hawkenlye Abbey and feature Abbess Helewise and Josse d' aquin with the Great Forest of The Weald of Kent as a backdrop. Although still featuring the abbey the later books involve the younger members of the families and move across Europe as far as Jerusalem. It really is best to start with the first to enjoy the story developing. Read about them on Fantastic Fiction HERE

Dorothy L Sayers - In the Teeth of the Evidence. Early short stories and like the Agatha Christie mentioned above they are very light reading, with crimes quickly solved.

Kate Ellis - The Mermaids Scream. This is the 21st novel in her police/crime/history/archaeology  series featuring D.I Wesley Peterson and set in Dartmouth Devon which she calls Tradmouth (and Totnes is thinly disguised as Neston with Kingswear becoming Queenswear, so I don't know really why she bothered to change the names!) They are a good read if a little predictable now and each time I'm not sure if I should bother reading but always do. As with all books featuring the same characters it's best to start with the first which was "The Merchants House" published in 1998

I've got several non-fiction to read now for a change although the latest in the Jacqueline Winspear Maisie Dobbs series is shouting "Read Me" and I know it will be brilliant.

Thank you for comments over the last couple of days.

We are still waiting for the call for Colin to go back into hospital to re-start the chemo tablets, hope the smaller dose tablets arrive soon and a bed becomes available........ he is losing energy fast as the lymphoma builds up again. We had to go to the day-centre yesterday for blood tests and he is on anti-biotics again as a precaution. I do hope he's not stuck in hospital for Bank Holiday weekend, that will be frustrating,  a repeat of last year. Hey Ho ......... all jolly good fun - (NOT!)

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