Friday, 26 September 2008

Random musings on a fine autumnal morning.

It's one of those days that typifies autumn for many people.... this morning dawned bright but chilly, condensation on windows and cars, glittery, pearl-drop laden cobwebs hanging like Christmas decorations along bushes, trees in the distance were pale in the mist, and it was cold enough for that first step out of the warm bed to be an 'OOH', sucking in breath kind of moment and for the first cup of tea of the day to be more than unusually welcome.

Now, mid-morning the sun has a lot of warmth in it for the time of year, and I have just wandered around the garden, knelt down to stroke the cat who is relishing the warmth of the sun on her old body as she lies amongst the cyclamen under a laburnum tree (so that's why they never grow and multiply?!), and then went to water the butternut squash. It's the first year I have tried this, my favourite squash I think. Pumpkins and those pretty little gourds are fine for giving away at Hallowe'en with the former, and decorating with the latter, but this year I am growing to eat. I love it sauteed with eastern spices, mixed with other root vegetables in a warming stew, in rabbit stew with parsley dumplings, and made into a soup with chopped crispy bacon and croutons on top it's just the thing for a chilly day. A perfect lunch with home made bread.

This time of year has me baking bread more than any other, I think it's the snug feeling of being in a warm kitchen when it's cold outside. I also tend to make more soups... a glut of tomatoes has me making tomato and basil soup, tomato and pepper sauce for pasta to store in the freezer. I plan on making carrot and coriander soup tomorrow, a new recipe not tried before, so fingers crossed. There is something satisfying about making soup.. and making preserves from the garden produce, like blackberries, loganberries... green tomato chutney... and as we seem to have more walnuts than usual I wonder shall I try pickling them? My dearest friend Grace used to love them, but I never dared try one, it seemed such a weird thing to eat. Walnuts were never my favourite anyway, but it might be interesting to try and pickle them I think.

Several American friends are planning their Hallowe'en events, and have asked me if it's celebrated over here. Sadly it seems to be more commercialised here than there, and in many cases is just an excuse for the trouble makers and young louts to go around scaring old people or getting 'treats'. I am sure that there are many areas, possibly rural ones like mine, where it is celebrated with children going from door to door, accompanied by an adult keeping their distance, and when it is looked on as a fun time. I like to think this goes on maybe more than it does?

I wonder how many of you reading this will be bloggers? The interest in it seems to be growing, and I can understand why. Initially I just thought I'd have a go at it, hoping that someone might read it and maybe even make a comment. From the messages I have received privately, it seems more look than comment. Maybe they didn't find anything worthy of comment - should I be more controversial then? But it's gratifying when someone does, when they say nice things. We all like to be liked I suspect, no matter how often and loud we may say it doesn't matter to us. But I have rather got hooked on having a bit of a blether to you all every week now, much to my surprise.

But from having my own blog I have now found several others I regularly visit... such as yarnstorm, which is the blog of Jane Brocket who wrote a wonderful coffee-table kind of book but which I use such a lot rather than leaving it to languish on said coffee table (come to think of it, I don't have one anyway!). It is all about the Gentle Arts of Domesticity, and a lovely blog to read as well. Then there is chapteriii, written by Lesley in southern California, recently discovered but a firm favourite already.

And then we have the blog of gardener James Alexander Sinclair, last but by no means least. To some of you this name may mean nothing at all, but to watchers of television gardening programmes here in the UK, his name is familiar. Think of James and you think flamboyant, in manner, language and style. He uses big words a lot, and actually knows the meaning of all of them too, without recourse to a dictionary! Now that's impressive don't you think? He designs beautiful gardens, and his enthusiasm for the subject comes across loud and clear. Something he shares with other well-known gardeners who appear on our screens... Monty Don, so enthusiastic about organic gardening, composting and such, and if I may be allowed a rather frilly, feminine comment which doesn't normally sit easy with me, he is rather pleasing on the eye too!! And the lovely Carol Klein, the lady who is passionate about getting plants for free... no, she doesn't say we should go round stealing from other's gardens, well not without permission, but then it wouldn't really be stealing would it, but that we grow our own from seeds and cuttings. Her enthusiasm is infectious, and that's what you need in someone who is in front of a camera, talking to a nation of garden-lovers. Someone who can inspire you to have a go, get off your bum and out in the garden.

Ours is looking pretty good still, and I just wish I could always remember the name of plants so that when friends come and see something they like and ask the inevitable question, I can just answer without hesitation. Some I can remember... others always elude me. We have a pretty blue flowering shrub, the leaves a dusty green, which is doing better this year than before, but I have to through several names before getting it right... caryopteris, ceanothus.... then it hits me... no it doesn't, I've forgotten it again!!!! We have some pretty small flowers flopping out of a border, self-seeding in the gravel path alongside the border, and I haven't a clue what they are. They begin flowering in Spring, come out white, then fade to lilac, then to a mauve colour and stay in flower months. Then the seedlings start to flower, going through the same cycle of colour changes, and some are still at the white stage so will be providing a little pool of colour for a few weeks yet. The blowsy mauve poppy has produced a bud after being cut down, but I worry that it will be too cold, or not warm enough for long enough, to enable it to flower properly.

Well, this brings my ramblings to an end. I originally called this blog The Three R's because I thought I would be doing some ranting, as well as raving and rambling. It's something I am known for, being opinionated and free with those opinions, whether you want to hear them or not. But it seems I have chosen to keep this positive and light-hearted, keeping the rants for other outlets. And the news at the moment is so depressing and negative isn't it, that we all need a bit of light relief. I remember hearing yesterday that several of the worlds wealthiest people were saying that if the American plan to help solve the financial crisis didn't work, then doomsday was twenty four hours away. Well, last I heard it hasn't worked out, so what next?


Arosebyanyothername said...

If you know all this already please excuse me - but I have pickled walnuts - you have to pick them early June when they are still green and the shells soft as you pickle the whole nut. If you Google 'pickled walnuts' you will get some recipes. Good luck for next year!
P.S. Pickled walnut and stilton sandwiches are to die for!

Lesley said...

Thanks for coming over to have a look at my blog (
I have installed one of those free 'real-time' counters that you mentioned, and I must say it's fascinating to check it every now and again to see who's been by and where they hail from. Mine is at the very bottom of the right-hand column on my blog-page.