Friday, March 27, 2020

Creating a Vegetable Plot

Hello again, and welcome back!

Are you staying busy and active during this period of self-isolation?  For the past week, I have spent time creating a vegetable plot. It's on a patch of bare ground that I had earmarked for laying to lawn. But I changed my mind because it seems that there might be some shortages of fresh vegetables and fruit in the coming months. A lot of the produce in the UK comes from Europe and the pandemic will clearly disrupt the flow of goods. At home, extensive areas of farmland were badly flooded last month and so may possibly be unproductive for a while. So I took a prudent approach and brought in seed and a polytunnel.

So far I've sown spring onions, radish, beetroot, and perpetual spinach; and planted onion sets.

1kg Maris Piper seed potatoes, which I will plant next week

How to Chit Potatoes -

It's not absolutely necessary to chit potatoes but if you do the crop will be a little earlier than if you decide not to.
  • Place the flat end of the seed potatoes upright  - I use old egg boxes. 
  • Put the potatoes in a light place for a couple of weeks - a greenhouse, a spare room in the house.
If you don't have a garden, potatoes can be grown in pots on a patio or balcony.

Saturday, March 07, 2020

Recipe for Fast, Fresh, Cheap Soup - Leek and Potato

A solitary leek languished in my vegetable box today, so I made leek and potato soup for lunch. The recipe requires only 1 leek, l potato, 1 onion, and a few store cupboard staples. It will feed two people.

Here's what to do -

Friday, February 28, 2020

An Object as a Writing Prompt: A Seventeenth Century Birthing Chair at Newark Civil War Centre

I live in a town was besieged three times during the English Civil War (1642-1651) before surrendering to the parliamentary army. The remains of a twelfth-century castle and the remains of some of the town's defensive fortifications are visible daily reminders of a grim past. That is partly why the National Civil War Museum is situated in the town.
Photograph courtesy of Newark Civil War Centre

I was recently in the Tudor hall at the museum for a creative writing workshop run by some staff from Leicester University. We had gathered to view a 17th Century birthing chair that was the prompt chosen to inspire our writing.  Birthing chairs, sometimes aptly called groaning chairs, have been made throughout history, in varying shapes and sizes. The example in the museum is German. The brocade upholstery suggests that it belonged to a wealthy family.

Here's a piece of flash fiction that I wrote during the evening  -

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

A Review of Let's Face It. An Autobiography by Kirk Douglas

Studio_publicity_Kirk_Douglas.jpg (495×618)
Photograph in the Public Domain
I don't often read biographies or autobiographies of 'celebrities' but was drawn to Let's Face It, because it was the last book that Kirk Douglas wrote. I was curious to know what goes on in the mind of a ninety-year-old so I borrowed the book. It held a few surprises and didn't disappoint:

The title, Let's Face It, telling. The narrative is reflective and nostalgic. I learned that, despite fame and great wealth, Kirk Douglas was fundamentally no different from most of us, with the same strengths, weaknesses, triumphs and tribulations. Mr Douglas acknowledges that he was seen as a difficult man during his younger days, and disliked by some in his industry. He mellowed with age, as many of us do. In advanced age, he was both introspective and self-aware. He had let go of his egotism, whilst holding on to justifiable pride in his achievements. His good times were shadowed by sadness and grief, as is the way for each of us. He recognised his failings and carried some feelings of guilt and remorse. Most of all, he loved his family, and he grew wise and generous in later life, leaving a lasting legacy for those less fortunate than himself.

The narrative voice is clearly one of a person of advanced age and the format of the book is a series of anecdotes and thoughts, similar in style to a personal journal. Mr Douglas was not a professional writer. He didn't employ a ghostwriter for his book and the text lacks polished flow. Even so, it was an enjoyable read. I hope that I manage to survive to a similar age with my mental faculties so intact. The book is an engrossing read, some parts of it very moving. Recommended.