Tuesday 12 May 2020

Baking day

Friday, when I was growing up, was baking day. That characteristic smell in the kitchen as we came in from school. Cake for Sunday tea. And ginger biscuits.

We always thought of it as a war-time recipe, but exactly where my mother had acquired it I know not. For the four of us it was enough that she had a biscuit tin and that, as like as not, it had just been re-stocked with our favourite.

She continued to bake them (and put them in the same tin) for many years after we left home – one of the treats we and our own children enjoyed when visiting. The question was: could any of us, or our wives, manage to make them the same way? Recently we've been seeing who had the recipe and having a go at showing off the result during our family Zoom chats. In our household this is my best beloved's area of expertise and she's been doing very well – though she cheats a little by adding an egg to the mix, which means the consistency is consistent, crisp on the outside and chewy in the middle. They are very tasty!

Since the air streaming down from the Arctic has not yet made these parts too inhospitable we've been able to enjoy them in the sun in our garden, where the roses have continued to come out…

the rhododendron's short-lived blooms are showing well…

and the self-seeding foxgloves get on with the process of self-seeding.

Saturday 9 May 2020

A little less excitement

Yesterday I was at Lidl in Ringwood at 7 a.m., only to be told "Sorry sir, it's a bank holiday, today we open at 8!" Since the reason for going at 7 was to avoid the crowd, and since there would be a crowd at 8, I came home. But I was back this morning at 7. That's two mornings in a row, all in the name of shopping safely. Hardly surprising that after breakfast I went back to sleep until coffee time!

To ensure the day wasn't completely wasted, we went for a good walk at Barton-on-Sea this afternoon – we think it's legitimate to call the cliff-top and beach "local". It was hot so, seeing a couple with some ice-cream tubs, we followed our noses to the little convenience store / Post Office, and walked down from the cliff with a couple of the original "Feast".

It's a long time since we had ice-cream. But we walked it off in the afternoon sun. Once again, there were few people about, though some families had come down to the beach. My best beloved was pleased to spot some wild lupins.

About 3 km in all, though our unexercised legs told us it was longer. Back home in time for a cup of time, a couple of pastries bought yesterday from 9-year-old Naomi across the road (all proceeds to the NHS support charities), and a nice long FaceTime chat with our grandchildren in Dulwich and their parents. Not quite the excitement of VE day yesterday, but very satisfying.

Friday 8 May 2020

Very Entertaining Day

Heather from down our road put flyers round the doors…

and we all came out in force to have a VE Day lockdown, socially distanced party. My particular role was to facilitate some music.

Spotify provided an excellent rendering of the National Anthem, to follow the 11 o'clock silence, and a selection of marching band music, normally brought out for Remembrance Day. Tanya, from across the road, brought her saxophone to a socially distanced spot and played along.

What I found afterwards was that we had sadly taken no photos of all the people in our close enjoying, in a socially responsible way, the music, the occasion, the company and, of course, the weather. I did, however, get a photo of our picnic lunch.

Other families had far grander picnics, and some did front-garden barbecues! After lunch Tanya and I played some different numbers – a bit of Vera Lynn and so on. All in all we talked more with our neighbours (in a properly distanced way, of course) than we had done for a long time. It's been a VEry good day!

Thursday 7 May 2020

Lockdown roses

Being in lockdown in our bricks and mortar on the south coast has its positives. In particular we're getting to see the climbing roses appear in our back garden. We would normally have joined Erin Mae just before they start to emerge.

"Meg" is one of the first to appear. It's absolutely exquisite and one of my favourites.

Unfortunately the blooms are at their best for only a day or two before becoming a little dilapidated. Meg is on a pergola along with the Paul Lédé…

…which is one of the strongest.

In a week or two the pergola is going to be so covered with creamy blooms that you will hardly be able to see the leaves. Clinging to the final upright of the pergola is Golden Blossoms.

Very pretty at this stage but, like so many yellow roses, is very susceptible to the black spot which our clean air allows to flourish. On a different support nearby, on the other hand, is one of the healthiest – Compassion. Can you have apricot pink?

When we planted these roses many years ago, I put a "Mme Alfred Carrière" on the back fence. Big mistake! I'd thought we could train its 20 feet spread left and right along the 6' fence. It insisted on spreading out and completely taking over the patio area making coffee down there impossible. So last year it finally came out, and we've put in a "White Cloud" Not sure if will bloom this season, but it's growing well.

Our "New Dawn" is on an arch, and not come into flower yet, but the Iceberg on the house wall is getting started.

Like the Paul Lédé this will be a complete mass of blooms in a few weeks, and will probably still have a flower or two at Christmas.

Most of the roses in the front garden were inherited from the previous owners, in 1986. So I don't know what this one is:

It does, however, have the most amazing heady scent, and most of our neighbours dip their heads for quick sniff as they walk past. All helps to combat the lockdown blues!