Friday, 19 October 2012


I’m a bit busy, and a bit excited. We are hosting a supper party tonight, in part to welcome old friends who moved into ‘our’ village last week. So I’m cleaning the parts of the house that show and preparing the meal.

Husband has, as ever, provided the cook with a few challenges from the allotment: I am the delighted owner of five marrows, five pumpkins and several kilos of green (and a few red) tomatoes, not to mention a freezer full of beetroot, raspberries and blackberries. This is lovely of course, but it does require thought and work so as not to waste it.
Thus, tonight’s supper, featuring a smoked salmon salad starter with beetroot, a chicken casserole cooked in a pumpkin and a blackberry ice-cream with a raspberry compĂ´t should help reduce the glut.
Many moons ago, when we were first married, Husband, a confident chap, was unexpectedly reduced to nerves by the arrival as his new boss of someone who had bullied him as his superior when a young officer. I proposed a campaign! We invited the bully and his wife to supper with a gang of our most presentable friends (who were warned) and I cooked the supper of my life. The centre piece, recommended by one of said friends as what to cook when you needed to impress, was Prize Pumpkin. It is a Josceline Dimbleby recipe that is perfectly simple to make, but brings gasps of surprise from guests. It is now a staple in this house: if you come to supper when pumpkins are in season it’s what you get! I don’t suppose it was the only reason the bully turned out not to be a problem, but he was effusive in his praise on the occasion, and Husband was much relieved.

So that is exciting, but the real reason is that Eldest has given permission for us to visit her. We are to take her out to lunch on Sunday.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Getting on

Time for a spot of show and tell:

The curtains in Eldest’s room are finished and hung.

The kitchen chairs are oiled and recovered.

The next project... underway.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

50 Years Glamorous

The James Bond film franchise is fifty.

Our Housemistress took all the boarders in my girls’ school to the cinema to see Diamonds Are Forever on Saturday 29th August 1972. I still wonder if she knew what she was taking us to – a spinster of uncertain age, she taught my mother Chemistry in ancient times. I enjoyed the unusual outing as much as the film, but it wasn’t the breakthrough for Bond in my life.

That happened the following summer. Father was based in Germany. In those days there was no BFPS telly so the military cinemas were a vital source of entertainment. That memorable summer we had a week of James Bond, a different movie every night, and I started working my way through my father’s collection of the novels by Ian Fleming. Movies are always better on a big screen, and Bond’s action packed, larger than life offerings more so. And I devoured the novels. I was fourteen. I did not consider whether the male/female roles were appropriate or fair, I just enjoyed the thrill.

I’ve seen most of the films at the cinema (I missed a couple of Pierce Brosnan’s outings when Eldest was tiny and Husband away on tour), and all of them many times on the TV. I’ve read 10 of Fleming’s 14 novels and short story collections. I’ve even read a biography!

Having been a fan, I was excited to read the Charlie Higson books about a teenage schoolboy James. Youngest hasn’t tried them, Eldest didn’t like the deaths of characters close to James and only read the first couple. I thought them just like a mini version of the films and guess I’d recommend them as a way into the Fleming stories - which are of their period (the first one came out in 1953).

I’m looking forward to a trip to the pictures to look at Daniel Craig. The girls may have watched Quantum of Solace with their hands over their eyes, but they want to come too.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012


Her bags were packed, she was ready to go.

The college house she’s in is old, the room modest, but there was a very bijou basin and a feature fireplace (if blocked off by a desk). There’s a large kitchen in the basement with an aged electric oven, so she may yet fulfill her plan to bake. The college laundry is also in her house’s basement: convenient. The scout was friendly.

The Principal gave the parents a reassuring lecture despite reminding us that our children are adults and it is with them that the college will deal, not us - though he did promise they’d be encouraged to talk to us!

Saying goodbye in her room she was a little tearful. We decided not to prolong our departure. I texted to let her know we were home and got a reply, so all is not lost. However she would not commit to when we might be allowed to visit again…