Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Garden: The Year of Disastrous Leeks

While the summer might be all tomatoes and aubergines, courgettes and basil, the winter is all about deep hearty stews, cheesy gratins and satisfying pies. 

Leek, lentil and smoked sausage.
All of the latter need leeks - leeks, lentils and smoked sausage cooked cassoulet style in the oven with a bread crumb topping stirred in half way through is about as good as it gets after a day on the slopes. Baked leeks under a blanket of cheese sauce - strong cheddar back in the UK or a mature Cantal home in France - served with roast spuds and parsnips and some deep green crinkly cavolo nero makes a powerful alternative roast when we have vegetarians visiting, or have just run out of cash for the month. Leek and bacon pie, double crust and oozing with smoky juices, or a simple leek and mushroom quiche, served with chips, of course are the things I like forward to in the colder months. Frugal yet flavoursome food that relies on a few bought staples and the garden's bounty.

This year will be rather different because I spent most of yesterday digging up and binning my entire leek crop. In late June I spent two back breaking days in mid-thirties heat planting out over two hundred little leeklings - dib hole, drop in plant, add a scoop of garden compost and water, then repeat two hundred or so times. The next day I replanted the twenty or so that an inquisitive blackbird had pulled from its hole.

Mid November and still healthy.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Book Review: A Christmas Outing by Jonathan Hill

It is a long time since I've found myself laughing out loud over a book (note to self - read more fun stuff) but this quick short story is just brilliantly funny. Anyone who has read Jonathan Hill's stories about the accident prone Maureen will know that he can handle comedic scenes, but this is an entire step up in class. His observation is first class: when did he meet my family?

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Books: National Novel Writing Month 2016 (NaNoWriMo)

And so it begins. From the first of November I shall once again be trying to get down 50,000 coherent words before the end of the month. I've done it before, twice, and successfully completed the challenge, in terms of word count at least, both times. But this year is different, fantastically different. In 2016 I shall not (rushes off to tap a bit of word), shall not be doped up to my eyebrows but will be writing 'clean'!

In 2013 I was suffering increasing pain in my joints, in the final throws of almost fighting off Lyme Disease or in the early stages of Rheumatoid Disease, probably triggered by my body's valiant effort to fight off the bacterial infection associated with Lyme; I'll probably never know which. I was taking large amounts of paracetamol and codeine, the latter leaving me dopey and disoriented.

Writing became a distraction, something other than pain to focus on; Like London Buses was the result of that writing frenzy. Should you feel the urge, it can be downloaded for eReaders via the link here.