Monday 27 April 2020

A lucky find this afternoon - just as I sat down with a pot of coffee and some of yesterday's Ciam'bellone All'Acqua which isn't so bad, what you might call a Good Plain Cake. It's a talk about textiles, from Tracy Chevalier, whose most recent novel was inspired by these kneelers at Winchester Cathedral; Nicola Beauman, whose grandfather's rug is now a Persephone end-paper; and Clare Hunter, fascinating on this lovely embroidery from the Miao clan in China. You can find the talk here.

Saturday 25 April 2020

Actually, at the moment I've got lots of eggs and no oranges. (No strong flour/yeast/buttermilk either! But lots of beans ... and why did I buy tinned salmon, I don't even like it!)
I came across this recipe and thought I might try it. Serves 8-10 and there's only me. Still, serves 8-10   only ever serves six if you cut a normal person's slice, and I haven't made a cake since Easter - which counts as a diet! (Now trying to remember whether Easter was last week or the week before, but it's all much the same, isn't it?)
I've never managed to finish Few Eggs and No Oranges. It was the first Persephone book that I ever bought. But maybe now the time is right for another attempt.
I have been reading the Countess of Ranfurly's wartime memoir. (Mildly irritated at her entitlement thinking it's okay to follow her husband into a war zone!)
But my best COVID-sanity tip this week is Anne with a E. Perfect binge-watching as there are many, many episodes and two series in, I've still only got as far as the arrival of Anne's lovely teacher Miss Stacy. In trousers! On a motorbike! I'm sure LM Montgomery would need to be brought round with smelling salts. And was I simply too innocent to guess that Diana's prim Aunt Barry was living the life of Gertrude Stein? Not for purists - but fun.

Italian water cake will not be featuring on the menu again. It's not awful, just a bit - vegan. Not too bad with copious strawberries and cream on top but it'll never beat a good lemon drizzle. 

Wednesday 22 April 2020

What I'm missing ...

Friday 10 April 2020

Last time I read an Angela Thirkell, my verdict was 'okay once in a while if you want something soporific.'
And I'm standing by that - the best thing about this one was the title.

This hilariously funny black comedy from Dublin's Abbey Theatre and the Royal Court centres on  Stephen Rea, as a bigoted Orangeman who thinks his baby granddaughter is Gerry Adams.
Now, a word of warning ... this isn't for everyone, the Daily Mail critic hated it and if you're such a snowflake that you need a trigger warning hotline before you venture to the theatre, perhaps you'd be better off with online Jane Eyre from the NT. (Trigger warnings: orphans, burnt porridge, housefires,  overbearing males ... )
But congratulations to the Royal Court for not playing safe. Shrieks of laughter here. You can watch it online here. 

Thursday 9 April 2020

And here's one I made earlier. Not this year - there's no-one to eat it except me!
And those primroses are blooming behind a locked gate.
In desperation for flowers, yesterday I picked a bunch of buttercups - and they do look very pretty in my best jug.
Next year's simnel cake is going to be a stunner!

Wednesday 8 April 2020

I've been looking out for this for ages and my expectations were sky-high as I loved One Fine Day. What I didn't realise was that it was written in the 1920s when Mollie Panter-Downes was only 16. It was a huge best-seller, advertised on buses and was serialised in the Daily Mirror (which should have told me something!). Well, let's just say that it's a very 16-year-old novel - paragraph after paragraph  of flowers, ravishing clothes and chaste romance.
'There was something in this boy that called to her as insistently as a voice.
He spoke first, and he spoke gaily, as if they had been friends for years.
"I say, what ripping feet you have."
I wonder if Daily Mirror readers guffawed like I did?
Or whether a few years after WW1, it was delicious escapism.

Monday 6 April 2020

Barbara Pym started to write Crampton Hodnet in 1939, put it aside for the duration, then felt it seemed too old-fashioned - so it wasn't actually published until after her death. I've always been a bit lukewarm about her novels and can only tolerate her vicars' groupies in small doses. But I'm not in the mood for anything long and involved at the moment and yesterday 'Barbara Pym' pinged into my mind ... and spinsters, curates and gossip turned out to be just what I needed. Finished in one sitting! I might even read another one.  

Sunday 5 April 2020

One of the minor irritants of these virus times has been the deluge of
e-mails from every company with whom I have ever done fleeting business over the last decade, all hell bent on sharing their Meghan Markle philosophy of life ...
Well, I haven't been out much, so I haven't been picking up the snail mail from the mat - but this morning I noticed a fat package that brought joy instead of a desire to throw up and unsubscribe!
Emily Patrick's exhibition has been postponed until autumn - I'll be there, I promise! - but meanwhile she enclosed a bundle of lovely postcards that are now propped around my study. That's one mailing list I want to stay on.

The one with the Olbas oil wouldn't be my first choice - but I guess it's topical!

Friday 3 April 2020

I'm bored with Belgravia - given up on The Luminaries - only persevered with The Nest out of house-envy  - but I'm actually quite enjoying Quiz, a series about the coughing major scandal loosely based on this hugely entertaining play that I saw in the West End a couple of years ago. The TV series delves more into the background of why the major and his wife were already under suspicion even before anyone coughed ... heavens, can you imagine clearing your throat in public now!
Funnily enough, when the theatre audience voted, I remember thinking that perhaps Major Tim Nice- But-Dim had been unfairly treated by the law.
On ITV - perhaps unsurprisingly - I'm veering the other way. But still got one episode to go, so perhaps I'll change my mind.

Thursday 2 April 2020

I've been struggling to settle with a book - but at last I've found something that hits the spot. I'm not quite sure why the heartbreaking loneliness of Miss Hearne should be such a distraction - but this is my favourite of all Brian Moore's books, I can hear every voice in my head and though I've read it before, and seen the film, it still seems fresh. Wish my copy was a lovely old Penguin!