Pages

Wednesday 10 April 2024

A Parish Council Meeting

      Agenda:

  • Need for more adequate police protection.
  • More regular dustbin emptying required.
  • Road crossing problems near school.
  • Need for more trees to be planted.
Nothing special about these topics for discussion, except that the meeting in question took place in November 1952.

Once again proving the old saying 'the more things change, the more they stay the same'.


Yesterday, and the day before, I spent some time on my hands and knees clearing out some bookshelves.  Of course this process always takes much longer than it should simply because I can't resist having a quick read here and there!   

Taken in small doses, they make fascinating reading.


Meanwhile, in Owl Wood, the crab apple tree is coming into blossom.  The dark withered bits are the remains of crab apples from last year.


The apple trees are all coming into blossom.  There is one apple tree which I am really pleased about.  It is in Owl Wood, we didn't even spot it until a few years ago.  It had sprouted up among some of the towering ash and field maples, so it is exceptionally long and skinny as it has had to fight hard to reach the light.  Now that the roadside trees have been pollarded, the apple tree is finally getting a full quota of nourishing light.  It has blossom and (silly as this sounds) it looks much happier!


The pear tree, plum trees and cherry trees are all in blossom.  So far they have survived the strong winds, please don't let us have any frost.  No blossom yet on the quince trees.



Last weekend, I went to shop in beautiful Louth.  This is a very unlovely photograph of the Co-op car park, looking towards the church.

As I was dropping some shopping off at the car, I could hear a busker singing 'Scarborough Fair".  This particular busker has a regular pitch on Saturdays, but her beautiful voice doesn't often carry as far as the car park.  I debated whether to walk back into the shopping area to listen and drop her a few coins but, in the end, I decided to carry on and get the cat food from the supermarket instead.

As I came out of the shop, the sun broke through,  and the church bells began ringing.  

I was already happy but the combination of sunshine and church bells elevated my mood even further.  

A hotch-potch of Lincolnshire life.
x







Tuesday 2 April 2024

Hear Ye, Hear Ye!

These days we are fed information daily, hourly, minute-by-minute, according to your settings and self control.  News can flash around the world almost before it has happened.   X, Fb, TikTok, YouTube, Rumble, Quora, Snapchat, Instagram, Telegram and WhatsApp can broadcast events with frightening speed and coverage.

Before all this modern hocus pocus, other methods were used to inform a community of forthcoming events.  You could engage the village bellman - the rural equivalent of a town crier, for a small fee.

Say you wanted to announce a whist drive, jumble sale, summer fair, or even a pig sale.  Well, for just a couple of shillings a village bellman would go to certain stations/places around the village where he would ring his bell and call out the announcement for you.

In a medium-sized village there could be anything up to twenty of these 'stations'.   A message may have had up to a hundred words, so it could take quite a while to complete the circuit.   Back in 1963, a Lincolnshire bellman charged 2/6  (12.5p), which wasn't a great deal, even in those days.

The bellman I have been reading about was also worked as a road sweeper.  He thoroughly enjoyed both jobs and only retired due to advancing years and ill health.  While he happily handed back his shovel and broom, he was rather more anxious to hang on to the top hat he wore when making the announcements.

The bellman tried hard to find someone to take his place but no one was interested.  

He put it down to the fact that young people could make more in an hour than he could in a week as a bellman.


Everywhere is coming to life in Owl Wood, so we have been working hard to complete our work.  I reckon we need to do another couple of days work out there, then all will be as it should be and the cow parsley and wild flowers will take over.  


Some of the tracks have had fresh chippings applied, a few are still waiting.


Some are grassy, so they will be left to do their own thing.



Sunday 31 March 2024

A Good Egg!

 Happy Easter!


A little over a week ago blogging friend, Trundling Through Life, visited Parsonage Cottage.  She brought this cheerful wreath, which brightens the kitchen and my spirits with that lovely shot of sunshine yellow.  

We drank coffee, chatted, and laughed a lot, for she has a wonderful sense of humour, as we covered a wide range of topics.    We were joined by none other than Sparky, who chose to leave her usual perch on the window sill to curl up on one of the armchairs.  Highly unusual behaviour for a cat who normally runs for the hills when anyone other than immediate family is around.  

She had decided that Mary was a good egg, and perfectly safe to be around.  

Sparky is an excellent judge of character.

So, back to today. 

Easter Sunday.  

The traditional Lincolnshire pudding for the day was Tansy Pudding.   It consists of a batter pudding, into which the juices from the plant would be squeezed, before cooking.  I can't find a recipe, only references.  I imagine it would be made in the same way that pancakes are made, especially as it is said that it should be eaten with orange marmalade.

The symbolism of it is the interesting bit, for the bitterness of the Tansy was said to represent the bitter herbs given to Christ at his execution.

I do not recommend that anyone try it.  I have read that Tansy can cause problems, skin blistering, etc.  

Wishing you a Happy Easter!







Friday 29 March 2024

A Pithy Guide to Lincolnshire

 I was flicking through my copy of 'A Shell Guide to Lincolnshire', the other day.  It was written during the 1960's by Rev Henry Thorold and Jack Yates, two Lincolnshire men.

I have no idea whether they made a tour of the whole county together, or whether they allocated each their own portion of the county.  Perhaps one of these days I will have the time to dig a little deeper.  All I can say with certainty, is that the two of them produced a fascinating book which is filled with acerbic comments about individual villages, buildings and towns.  


Beautiful old Lincoln isn't spared, for it is described as being beautiful on the approach (thanks to the magnificent Cathedral on the hill) but they then say that it is only as you enter the city that disappointment assails you...much of it is grim and sordid - dreary streets of ugly red houses spread everywhere.



The front of Louth Town Hall is described as looking like an annexe to the Vatican but the back is more like a slaughterhouse.  

Cleethorpes "is a large seaside town with a very short season."  



Caistor  "A Roman walled town.  There never seems to be much shopping going on and the Market Square has a depressed aspect.  But school life is vigorous."


It was interesting to see that my opinion on the works of a particular architect who 'restored' some may say vandalised, far too many Lincolnshire churches, James Fowler, is shared by these two much more knowledgeable men.

The book is littered with references to his work.  "The church has suffered too much from Mr Fowler to be interesting" being just one.  As it is Good Friday, I won't pull out any others, although there are many!


None of these photographs match anything I have extracted from the book, I simply don't have the time today.

Hot Cross Buns for breakfast.  Fish for lunch.  Homemade soup and a roll for tea.  




Monday 25 March 2024

A Black Panther

 Good progress is being made in Owl Wood.  Of course this means that everywhere else is being neglected, especially the gardens.  Ah, well, I am definitely more of a woodswoman than a gardener.   The grass will eventually be mowed.

We tend to work for an hour and a half, then come indoors for a cup of tea, a rest, and then back out to work another session of picking, carrying, sorting and prepping.

Yesterday, George had opened his laptop and was enjoying catching up on the newspapers when little ginger Millie decided to join him, which was fine, until she spread herself over the keyboard and caused chaos.  He shooed her off and, in a huff, she began to leave.  A split second later she turned back and bit him, very hard.  He yelled and she ran.


Elderly Sparky had been snoozing on the window sill by my desk.   She lifted her head at the kerfuffle...and was transformed.  She had gone from being sick and scraggy and had become a fierce and powerful black panther.  Somehow she suddenly bulged with muscle and power (not fur)  as she made her way off the desk and over to the sofa where Millie had taken herself.

Her black panther gaze never wavered, she was totally focused on Millie.  Still as a statue, she oozed power.  A long pause.   Then she sprang, landed several knock out punches and a slash on Millie's nose.  To her credit, Millie didn't fight back, she took her punishment.  

Mission accomplished, Sparky became herself again.  She went over and checked on George, gave him a chirrup, then returned to her favourite day bed, the windowsill.  Back to sleep.

The little ginger cat demoted and told off by her elder, sat stock still for several minutes, doubtless wondering what on earth had happened,  then she quietly got down from the sofa and slunk to her favourite bed in the other room.

The mighty Sparky rules the roost and lives to fight another day.


Sunday 24 March 2024

Archangel Uriel, in a nearby Village

 Another day of working in Owl Wood lies ahead, but I just wanted to take some time to tell you about an exhibition which I visited as a reward for yesterdays hard work.

This area has lots of tiny villages and tiny churches.  It is part of the reason I love it so much.  Each village has many stories to tell, so do the churches.


This particular church is where my two Lincolnshire grandchildren attended Sunday School for many years.   I had forgotten about the exhibition but luckily my daughter reminded me and offered to take me down there.


The centrepiece of this beautifully curated exhibition is a metal and fabric figure of Archangel Uriel.  He took three artists five months to create.  The metal parts look like silver coloured washers which have been carefully welded together, the fabric is mostly silk.   Countless Suffolk Puffs form the robe, each one handstitched.   The gold ones represent armour because the artists wanted to show the martial aspect of angels.


The sleeves are made from organza and are encrusted with seed pears, diamante, and metal beads. 
The mirror was placed behind so that it was easy to seed the detail on the back.


Archangel Uriel is the angel of wisdom who sometimes gives people sparks of inspiration and shines the light on truth.  He is referenced in many religions.

The exhibits ranged from ancient coins, tiles, scraps of fabric, stamps, puppets and many other items, all showing angels.  Unfortunately, the church is small and the space available tiny.  Naturally, people like to stop and chat - but in doing so, they often blocked access to the exhibits.  I couldn't get any decent photographs of the other works, which is a shame.  

Someone had worked hard to put it all together.  All credit to them.



Friday 22 March 2024

Spring in Owl Wood, a Race Against Time

 Owl Wood is very active.  


The last few days have seen the cow parsley/Queen Anne's Lace spring into action.  The primroses and violets have been swamped by this vigorous plant.  So far the areas of wild garlic are just about holding out, but it won't be long until that disappears under the surge of other plants.  If you look closely, you can see that has already started to happen - and the wild garlic hasn't even flowered yet.



All this growth means that, frequent visitor to the gardens and the wood, Mr Pheasant and his two wives have plenty of cover.   They are refugees from the many shoots which take place around here during the season.  


We now have a bit of a race on our hands.  Our new 'muncher/cruncher' machine has finally been delivered.  It faces a mighty challenge.  It has to convert all the many heaps of fallen branches from this  


into mountains of gold, like this.

It is small in size, but extremely powerful.  The mulch it produces is far superior to that which our old machine gave us.  We need lots of mulch for the tracks around the wood and the vegetable garden.   This is the kind of work I really enjoy.  Getting the woodland sorted out ready for Easter and the summer holidays.  Much more satisfying than housework.

Now all I need is a reasonable spell of dry weather.  You know where you will find me...down in Owl Wood, clad in a hard hat, with visor and ear protection, hands clad in very thick gloves.  All necessary as I get rid of some very nasty blackthorn which has ripped my skin a few times already this year.


Tuesday 19 March 2024

Delving into my Past

 Way back, so far back that we go into the previous century, when I was almost 30 years younger than I am today,  my younger brother and I used to occasionally organise art exhibitions, mainly as fund-raisers for charities.

One such, was for a local hospice.  We had a broad range of works available to us.  

Because this particular exhibition was in aid of the hospice and was to be held in a rather nice country house, we were also able to secure some of the work of - goodness knows how many greats are involved here, but lots - grandson of Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792).

The country house in question belonged to the then High Sheriff of Lincolnshire.   All terribly nice, terribly highbrow, not my kind of do at all.  However, it was for charity.  We put on a brilliant show and raised a good amount for them.

It was a summer garden party, the weather was kind, we got everything ready in good time before the guests arrived.   We were putting the finishing touches to everything when the High Sheriff himself came down from getting into his full ceremonial outfit, complete with frills, ruffles, sword and fancy feathered hat.

He strutted about, made a few kindly meant inane comments, turned, tripped on his sword and made an ungainly exit into the gardens...we waited until he had gone then had a chortle.  These things are hard work, you have to get some fun where you can.

After a full day of very hard work we were invited into the kitchen to take whatever we wanted of the leftovers...we declined, nicely.

What does a High Sheriff do?  It is a non-political Royal appointment for a single year.  The role is largely ceremonial, but they do play some part in supporting the Crown and the judiciary.    They receive no remuneration and no part of the expenses comes from the public purse.

Princess Diana's sister, Lady Sarah McCorquodale, was High Sheriff of Lincolnshire in 2009, so that gives you some idea of the type of people who hold the post.  


On another occasion, we organised an exhibition in Louth.  For some reason or other (now lost in the mists of time) we couldn't gain access to the venue until much later than we had hoped.  Time was short and there was a lot of art and organisation to be done before the town Mayor was due to open the event.  

As the hour approached, we still had half a dozen or so paintings which needed to be hung...a man appeared and just stood around the doorway, loitering.  Time was ticking.  I looked over my shoulder at the man and suggested that instead of just standing there it would be wonderful if he could just help hang something...he did.

I'm sure you have worked out by now, he turned out to be the town Mayor!  He took it all in good part, and had a laugh. 



Monday 18 March 2024

A Small Black Book

  Lying on a shelf, a small black book, unopened in the last couple of years.  Time to remedy that.

No photograph, because it really is just a small black book with tanned pages.  It is a second edition of Forgotten Lincoln, and was published in May, 1898, cost one shilling.

It is a little treasure, filled with articles which were written for publication in the "Lincoln Gazette & Times".  Of course I read it when I first bought it but have only used it once since then, which is a shame, for it is filled with stories.

Tales of the Romans in Lincoln, and Lincoln after they had left.  Church stories aplenty, along with stories of the Cathedral, the Stonebow, Guildhall and Mint.  Kings and Queens, castles and prisons, inns which no longer exist, churches which have vanished (their word) of Earls, Cromwell, Parliamentarians, and the Knights Templar.  The list goes on.

The final chapter is entitled: Reminiscences.  Four pages filled with interesting stories.

A small sample: 

In 1035 there was a frost on Midsummer Day.  So severe was it that much corn and fruit was utterly destroyed.

On September 7th 1809, it is recorded that for a wager a Sleaford waiter trundled a hoop from that town to Lincoln without once letting it fall or touch his body.  The distance by road is 18 miles.

A stirring scene is recorded on Lincoln racecourse in 1831.  A riot took place, booths were torn to shreds and carriages were set on fire.  About 500 thimble-riggers and others fought against the townsfolk.  The riggers and others taking out the legs of their "thimble-tables" to fight with, and would certainly have won the day but for the opportune appearance of about fifty fox-hunting gentlemen and farmers, who turned the tide.

Lincoln has know many dry summers, but never one when water was so scarce as in 1826.  In that year Brayford Pool* was absolutely dried up and people actually took strolls across the bed of the same.  Navigation was necessarily at a standstill.  In the city the supply of water needed by residents had to be used with extreme care.  At appointed times, twice a day, the Town Crier stood at St Mary's Conduit, and at that on the High Bridge, and doled out the water.  This condition of things continued for nearly two months.

*Brayford Pool is a natural lake formed by a widening of the River Witham in the centre of Lincoln.  It is the oldest inland harbour in the United Kingdom.

The book also features complete lists of Mayors, Bishops and High Sheriffs - which led me to have some reminiscences of my own.  

More about those another day!

Friday 15 March 2024

Secrets of Owl Wood

 A fine Spring day, a little sunshine, birdsong, no people.  Bliss.  

A chance to quietly observe and perhaps learn some of the secrets of Owl Wood because a woodland, no matter how small, always has secrets.  

Mystery is always there.

There may be stillness and silence, then the sudden woosh of wind and the busy clack-rat-a-tat as the long skinny fingers of the tall trees tap out their messages.  This is fine during daylight hours, however, should one old woman be making her way home from a committee meeting at the village hall on a cold dark night, those same clack-rat-a-tats sound much more creepy!

Today it was easy to see that the bare trees are active.   Small buds of new foliage present and waiting for the signal to burst out in their glorious shades of green.

I am delighted to report that the snowdrops have had a good year, spreading ever wider.  Primroses are dancing their way through some areas, especially near pet cemetery.  Wild garlic is rampant and bluebells will soon be blooming.  There are tiny aconites nestled cosily among the detritus on the woodland floor.

While I have been working out there this morning I have found even more violets, some shyly hiding around the roots of trees, while others have bravely dashed out into the open.  Deep violet in both colour and scent.  

Out along the roadside verge there are masses of white violets.

I picked a small number of each because once indoors it is much easier to tell whether they are truly scented.  The violet-coloured ones are.

The violet is the county flower of Lincolnshire, which makes this tiny flower even more special in my eyes.


While I was doing my Spring clean out there my attention was also caught by a stick which is sprouting the wonderfully bright fungus.  Of course it was the bright daffodil yellow which made me stop my work to investigate.  The fungus is slightly jelly/rubbery. 



The second photograph shows one further down the stick, slightly older and a bit more shrivelled.


Yellow Brain Fungus.  It is the first time I have spotted it.  Oh for more time to spend out there, there is always something new to discover as Owl Wood offers up her secrets.


Wednesday 13 March 2024

Wednesday

 Some days all I want to do is read.


Today I managed to resist the siren call of the mop, dusters and vacuum cleaner because the call of my books was even louder.  So I have read.  A real treat.

Grandchildren and cats still got fed, so all was not lost.

No time to do a proper post.

Sorry.  

Sunday 10 March 2024

Who Lives in a House Like This?

 My daughter asked me for some photographs showing our vegetable garden, preferably those from back in the days when it was at its' most productive - that means when we were younger and I had a less troublesome back!  Old photographs from an old camera, in the days when I used a real camera.  

I began trawling through the old discs, thousands of memories captured and held within that tiny rectangle of metal and plastic.  I found what she wanted, but I also came across other forgotten treasures.

Like this one.  

Then I came across a small cache of others and so the theme for this post was born.  

Forgive me as I indulge myself yet again...which could lead on to a whole other discussion, but that is for another day.


Whenever I visit a stately home, castle, or similar, it is the kitchens and lesser rooms which hold my interest.  I can briefly admire the grand rooms, the marvellous furniture, paintings, silverware and china collections, but it is the workings of the place which fully engage my attention.

So it is with churches.  

I can admire the grand cathedrals, the soaring columns, the skill of the old stonemasons.  It is the small country churches which I most enjoy and Lincolnshire has a wonderfully varied and beautiful heritage of small rural churches.  

The history attached to each of them is simply fascinating and the buildings themselves, whether they are tiny, but richly decorated, or large and exquisitely austere, are wonderful.

Old Welby is doing his best to wreck it, not just Lincolnshire, the whole country.  My feelings run deep on this man, enough said!

Not all churches have one, quite a number of Lincolnshire churches are simply too small, but it is the vestries which I enjoy viewing.  


This is a door I know well, because I occasionally help out as a Mrs Mop, along with a couple of church wardens.  Mops, dusters, polish and vacuum cleaners at the ready.


What I hadn't noticed until recently, was this locked box outside the vestry.  It looks just like a pew, totally unremarkable, until you notice the keyhole.   It is not grand/strong enough to hold anything special, but I must try to find out what is inside (I know, curiosity killed the cat)  of course the key may have been lost long ago and it may simply be  home to some happy little church mice.


The vestry is really a little chamber where church robes are hung.  These days they are usually dumping grounds for all manner of useful things.  Vases, watering cans, ladders, candles, Christmas trees, trestles...some still hold massive safes, usually left open to show that there is nothing worth stealing from them!


Tombola prizes, flower arranging equipment, teapots and toasting forks...


There is usually a small mirror of some sort tucked in among the brooms and dusters, polish and fly spray.  All the little things which are occasionally needed and are then forgotten until next time.

This is the rather grander doorway to the vestry in what was once a much larger church - mostly destroyed during the English Civil War.  In 1643 it was caught between royalist and parliamentarian troops.  Only the original south aisle remains.



Thursday 7 March 2024

Old and Wobbly

 I love old and wobbly...buildings.  They have so many stories to tell of people and place.  

Take this old building, which no longer exists, for it has been replaced with a garage and large dog kennel/compound.  The beauty has been lost, the stories almost forgotten, but I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time in and around the property before it was swept away.


It had long been neglected, although it was in almost daily use as a store shed and workshop by the lovely old man who used to live there.  You can see the holes in the roof, the wobbly shape and the ever-increasing cracks.  It came to a point where we feared for his safety.

The taller building was one of the village slaughterhouses.  The other side had been stabling.


John Poplar used to keep his honey extractor in there, along with lots of old white goods and assorted detritus.  He had been a farmer, then smallholder, almost all his life.  He had kept bees since he was very young and was often called upon to give talks and demonstrations, as well as teach the young ones learning about the care of bees and their hives.  


I have very happy memories of the time I spent there for he was a man with many tales to tell and a slightly naughty sense of humour.  He was a real character.


If I am to be scrupulously honest, I would have to confess that my affections were pretty equally divided between John and his old horse, Arnold.  

Arnold was a lonely old horse, especially once John's wife had died.  At first he was given the companionship of several sheep, which worked well until one of them headbutted John and that was the end of that.


So I began visiting Arnold twice a day.  In this photograph you can see my lovely old Toby (the original Toby) and my gorgeous cat Bennie.  I would take Toby along the lane to the paddock, while Bennie would cut through Owl Wood to sit a while with him.  They got on really well.


All gone now, swept away by time, age, and 'progress'.  

They are forever in my heart, but thank goodness for cameras.

Tuesday 5 March 2024

The Ebb and Flow of Life

My regular daily walk takes me around our village and two hamlets, a journey of a little over three miles, depending which route I take.   

The other day my brain was underemployed and I fell to thinking about the inhabitants of the homes - the ones I know about, anyway.  


We have an artist, a retired art teacher, two builders (not related), two accountants (not related), two high profile events organisers, long-term unemployed people, care workers, several working teachers, lots of retired teachers, a working GP and a retired GP (not related), a world champion motor cyclist, IT executive, council worker, a plumber/electrician, veterinary nurse, a few retired farmers, working farmers, a potter, publicans, brewery director, car repair mechanic, dog groomer, retired engineer, a working nurse, a retired nurse, an ex BBC producer, a rather successful show jumping/dressage eventer, farm workers, housewives, pensioners...

One of these days I must count the number of houses, however, it would be fair to say there cannot possibly be more than two hundred between the three villages, so quite a diverse group of people for such a small number of homes.   

Most residents get on pretty well and end up staying for years, although there are one or two houses which are bought and sold over and over.  The people who end up in one of them in particular, seem to arrive quite happily but leave after a couple of years having fallen out with people for one reason or another.  It is not a house with close neighbours, either.  Very odd.

aerial view of the larger village


As with anywhere, people come and people go and, unless you maintain links with the village pub (yes, we are lucky enough to still have ours), attend the village hall coffee mornings, or listen to village gossip, it can be months or even years before you learn that someone has died, or moved out/moved in, especially if you live a little away from the heart of the village.

I have found this out the hard way on three or four occasions.  








Saturday 2 March 2024

The View from the Boot Room

 Regular readers will recall that a few weeks ago my bank card was compromised and I awoke to find that, according to my bank statement, I had spent a night in a hotel and had lots of 'fun'.  

Since then I have upgraded on security for the computer, thoroughly scanned and virus checked on several occasions, all passwords changed, etc, etc.

You can imagine my horror when I checked this morning and found that during the night I had been our and about having £80 of beauty and hair treatments, all while I was tucked up in my bed.  Fraud.

Once again my card has been cancelled, long phone calls made with the fraud department, and much hand-wringing done.  Nope, nothing unusual I can think of, no lending of card, or sharing of pin.  Another mystery.

Well, they are not going to get me again.  In future my transactions and purchases will be done from a machine which is entirely dedicated to that one function.  

Blogging, reading newspapers and so forth will continue to be done on my laptop.  

I will not be defeated.

The rain has fallen heavily followed by the most brilliant sunshine.  I was lucky enough to spot this beautiful double rainbow which just happened to end in our barley field.  The photograph does not do it justice, it was the most colourful and intense rainbow that I have seen in my life.

One funny thing, our daughter, who lives next door, had a disturbed night.  She dreamt she was being scammed and her bank account was being emptied and she was powerless to stop it...we didn't tell her about what had befallen my account until mid morning.  Very peculiar.  

ps I am happy to add that her fears were unfounded, a bad dream, her account was fine!

Wednesday 28 February 2024

Another Load of Old Tripe

In between role playing The Lady with the Lamp, and Mrs Mopp I have been out in the woodland working hard.  Recently, the weather has been so wet that the annual tidy has been much delayed, brambles have run rampant in parts, branches have fallen and need to be gathered, sawn into logettes, or turned into woodchip for the pathways.  Some jobs are still outstanding because we need to replace the wonderful machine which does all that munching and crunching.

Jobs done, as far as possible,  I was at a loose end and somehow found myself sorting through my collection of old recipe books, trying to decide whether I could move any of them on to a new home.  I tried, truly I tried.

This was taken from my old blog and is
from quite a number of years ago.

As I flicked through I was surprised by the sheer number of bookmarks I had placed in a number of them and I found myself going back down a rabbit hole which I  had abandoned a few years ago.  

They marked pages of recipes for mock dishes, also known as camouflage cooking.  The art of cooking something to either look like, or taste similar to, another dish.  

I totally understand doing that during times of rationing, or through lack of funds, when resourceful cooks did their best to use what little was available and try to make it appealing/palatable.  Yes, if I was that way inclined I would also enjoy doing it simply for the challenge, unfortunately I have to scrub the kitchen floor with a toothbrush instead...

I must admit that I am more perplexed by why anyone would want to disguise a good thick steak by soaking it in wine and vinegar for a couple of days before cooking and presenting it as venison.  More cachet to being able to serve venison to your guests, perhaps? 

Why would anyone make mock brains, tripe, or brawn?  I suppose a hundred or so years ago these were eaten more broadly.  I have never knowingly tried brains but I do remember trying tripe (disgusting) and also brawn (meaty bits in jelly and equally disgusting).  When I was young I was quite unable to bring myself to eat mussels or cockles and wouldn't entertain the idea of those awful chewy whelks.  These days I love both the cockles and mussels but still can't bring myself to try whelks. I have digressed.  Sorry.

Mock Brawn

Boil a pair of neats feet very tender, take the meat off and have ready a piece of belly pork, salted.  Boil, take out the bones and roll the feet and pork together.  Roll very tight and tie, boil until very tender.  Keep in a sousing liquid for half an hour.  Strain and let it get cold.

Mock Caviare

Bone a few anchovies, chop them and pound them in a mortar with some dried parsley, a clove of garlic, a little cayenne, salt, lemon juice and a very little salad oil.  Serve on toasted bread or biscuits.

or you may prefer it this way:

Cook one cod's roe in boiling salted water for three-quarters of an hour, drain well and when cold put in a bowl with lemon juice and olive oil.  Beat to a creamy consistency. Add mustard and a dash of cayenne or a little paprika.

Mock Olives  

Plan ahead and pick green plums, before the stone has formed, brine them for three days, drain.  Boil vinegar seasoned with allspice, mace, mustard seed, bay leaves, an onion, grated horse-radish and salt, for a few minutes.  Strain, and when cold pour over the plums packed in jars.  Cover well and keep in a dark, dry place for three months before using.

Search long enough and you can find a 'mock' recipe for almost anything: Scallops, Whitebait, Lobster, Rabbit, Sweetbreads, or Turkey.  Mock Chop Suey, anyone?  Mock Almonds, made from stale bread, Mock Mince Pies, even Mock Apple Pies.  

Wash that lot down with Mock Port, Mock Champagne Punch or even a Mock Whisky.

The mind boggles.  

Was anyone fooled by them?  If the dishes were really delicious, surely it would be better to celebrate that and give them a name of their own?  Ah, but then I wouldn't have had all this fun looking for recipes easily identifiable by the word 'Mock'.

Now, excuse me while I go and find some Mock Devonshire Cream to have with my Mock Lemon Pie.


Wednesday 21 February 2024

I Have Had Better Days

 It began badly with Sparky-cat vomiting on my feet.  Luckily, said feet were naked and were planted quite firmly on the tiles of the conservatory.   The floor was a doddle to clean, the feet a little trickier.

My concern was not for feet or floor, rather for Sparky.  She settled down to sleep for a couple of hours, which allowed us to get the two grandchildren off to catch the school bus.

Grandson was returning to school after having the sickness bug that is apparently circulating at the moment.  Granddaughter was fine, but grumpy.  

All was well until suddenly Sparky appeared and vomited again - at precisely that moment the phone went to say that Granddaughter had been sick at school and would need to be collected and cared for.

She is now tucked up in her bed, bucket at the ready, water to hand.

Sparky has taken herself off somewhere and can't be found.   I wonder whether this is it for her and if so, she has chosen to do things her own way.



Tuesday 20 February 2024

Aspiration v Reality



Given my fairly large collection of old cookery books it would not be unreasonable to think that I was a good cook or, at the very least, had an interest in food.    My mother was a really good cook.  Big hearty meals, very much in the style of the picture above (Darling Buds of May).

Unfortunately for my family my interest is based more in the history contained within my old books.

Of course I tried to feed them well and have always cooked nourishing food for them.  Indeed, I still cook for two of my grandchildren each day.

In my head I have produced food as above but I fear that the reality was rather more:


and these days, now that it is often just the two of us: