Sunday, October 25, 2009

Delight: Gardening

I was encouraged to start gardening by two friends, Janie and Ba, who are gardeners extraordinaire. Last year they gave me a tub of potatoes, which I pretty much just left to look after itself, until the day Janie and Ba said it was time to dig them up, and then I was astounded at all the potatoes that appeared as Hagos tipped the tub upside down over some newspaper and I scooped the Anya potatoes into a blue bowl.

So this year my crop has been well-documented here (pretty much every single tomato has been catalogued), and I had a whale of a time growing tomatoes, courgettes, potatoes, chillies, and parsley. The potatoes and courgette plant were given to me by em, Janie and Ba, but I went to the garden centre mysef and bought the tomato and chilli plants and potted them all up.

Encouraged by my roaring success, I decided to go to the garden centre and see what else they had on offer. This was in mid-August. I found seeds for everything hanging up on a display, and finally bought carrot seeds and beetroot seeds. I ignored the instructions on the back of the packet for how many seeds to pop into each hole in the compost because I didn't really believe anything would come of them.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, the carrots above are the result of those seeds I planted three months ago. I can't describe the amazement and wonder I feel that the seeds turned into carrots. And I know that that is how all vegetables grow all over the world, but growing them myself makes me much more appreciative of the process, and grateful for the product.

My beetroot, on the other hand, failed miserably. I don't know what I did wrong.

But I'm not despondent. It's all a learning process. I have GRAND plans for next year's crop.

I also became appreciative of finding ways to preserve my produce. My Tomato Relish is delicious, and the Plum and Apple Jam (with plums from my friend Sophie's tree) was also a Delight.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Delight: and rediscovering JB Priestley

I first discovered JB Priestley during secondary school, when we studied Time and the Conways, and, An Inspector Calls. Both plays made a big impression on me. I loved the messing around with Time and Narrative Structure and Chronology.

I was lucky to have a great English teacher for four years. He totally ignited my passion and love for literature and writing and poetry. His enthusiasm was palpable and he carefully explained the meaning of everything very clearly.

So I was delighted to discover that a book JB Priestley wrote in 1949 was being reissued.

The book is called Delight, and is a collection of snippets that made JB Priestley happy.

Some of the titles of the pieces include: "Detective stories in bed", "Trying new blends of tobacco", "Gin and tonic, 1940", "New box of matches", "Long trousers", "Suddenly doing nothing", "Departing guests", and "Timeless mornings". Each piece is evocative and concentrates on taking deep pleasure in very small and simple things. Something I prescribe to myself.

So I thought for the next wee while I might blog about the very small things that give me great delight, and the back story to them.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Sylvia Quinn's Pancakes

I decided, at 9pm, to make pancakes. Not the thin French pancakes, but the thick pancakes I had as a child, when we visited our neighbours the Quinns.

Sylvia Quinn made these pancakes, and I loved them. Though I have to say hers looked much better than my first ever attempt. I think my next attempt will be better timed, and I'll reduce the temperature by a notch.

But still, they were extremely nice, and just what I was in the mood for. I had them with my very own Plum and Apple Jam. The recipe came from Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer and the pancake recipe was inspired by the Little House on the Prairie books. Very apt as I'm watching the DVD at the mo.

I had a very good day today. I had a home day, got up at 7am, did some housework, had breakfast, did some work, went to the gym, had lunch, read for a while, did some more work, lit the first fire of the season, watched Strictly, played piano, worked some more, then made pancakes. Now I'm on the couch being cuddled by a warm cat, about to watch some telly.