Writing about things I love and things I didn't know - oh and things I want to eat and cook

Friday, 27 March 2015

Benedict Cumberbatch, Alfred de Vigny and The Ashmolean

Today I am in full on French mode. I am cooking Toulouse sausages so the kitchen smells amazing. I am going to prepare for lunch tomorrow the watercress veloute so beautifully photographed on Mimi  Thorisson's  wonderful Manger blog. I can't get enough of it at the moment. Blog and food.

I was intrigued, amused ( by many of the funny emails that came in - 'he was a tyrant, he lost, that hairdo...' ) to see the media coverage of the King in the car park. There is an interesting piece here on the naughty pretender Perkin Warbeck.

On the French theme I saw a version of Ionesco's Rhinoceros a few years ago at the The Royal Court - a play I studied, know and love.

Saying goodbye to a friend at the tube we chatted briefly to a very nervous Benedict Cumberbatch then the lead actor. See the link to Richard III ?

Alfred de Vigny was born on this day in 1797. I loved his work Chatterton.

Sir Henry Royce was born on this day in 1863. He would with his friend and colleague go on to do something with cars. Which COULD lead me to comment on Jeremy Clarkson  but I won't other than to say I never have watched Top Gear but for the Producer involved to be castigated and vilified is surely bananas ?

I did shyly tweet this week as the understandable media storm raged  - please look at the wonderful Amanda Vickery's Suffragettes Forever. I loved it and think it wonderful this is brought to a current audience. I was debating just last night at dinner where the 'feminist movement' places itself in today's world.

I watched an old episode of Sex and the City recently - I wasn't a fan at the time but I am rubbish at following things on TV. I rather enjoyed it and found the four woman dynamic interesting. I am thinking of preparing not just a work of fiction but a 'treatise.' Free association in written form.

French women were able to vote for the first time on the 29th of April 1945.

Today is the Feast day of Saint Augusta of Treviso.

This is terrific from the Ashmolean Museum, a cast of James Gillray's Georgian caricatures - keeping the scandal mongers of their day busy. Plus ca change ?

Bon appétit.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

On Luck...David Livingstone and Humphry Clinker

My son just had a lovely birthday. He became in years what has always been my lucky number. St Patrick's Day just passed - the luck of the Irish..

Spring, daffodils, lambs gambolling and mewing for sustenance. Emerging from a long winter. A wonderful coloured, scented bloom in the garden.

This makes me think of luck. I am a huge believer - call it what you will. Fortune, good luck, karma, fate, coincidence. I have a great friend and mentor who is a lifelong sailor and yachtsman - he has so many lyrical superstitions and tales - I am endlessly enchanted.

I had a wonderful conversation yesterday on how lucky we are to be aware of the blessings of that which money can't buy - I hate to sound all worthy - it was mainly a conversation about the untold joys of Radio 4 Extra - currently with an adaptation of one of my favourite books Sons and Lovers.

I thought I might add the books I have on the go, I seem to have a particularly engaging Spring Selection :

Every Contact Leaves A Trace   Elanor Dymott
Tales of Unease                            Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Happiness By Design                  Paul Dolan

I'll report back as I go.

I also can't get enough of the Shakespeare's Restless World podcasts. I play them on my Mac whilst I am working.


Tobias Smollett was born on this day in 1721. The link is to his work The Adventures of Humphrey Clinker. There is also a great Guardian piece from 2013 about the sad in my view demise of his influence and popularity. Got to love the name Roderick Random. He would of course be a huge influence on a certain Charles Dickens.

Today is also the birthday of David Livingstone , in 1831. He seems to have certainly established a connection between mosquitoes and malaria and enjoyed a good strike rate with his 'Livingstone's Rousers'.

Rembrandt's Titus was sold by Christie's for a record 760,000 guineas on this day in  1965.

March the 19th is the feast day of St. Joseph always falling during Lent and therefore a period of abstinence - dishes without meat are traditionally served.

Which leads me to the rather marvellously named sfinci di San Giuseppe traditionally prepared in Southern Italy on this day.

Tuck in.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

To move is to stir; and to be valiant is to stand

Several people have kindly asked what I would like for Mother's day - including my children. I had some friends for dinner on Monday - all mothers, we discussed it:

A gardenia
Cashmere socks
The new Ishiguro
J Brand jeans / chinos / anything
A Roberts radio
Risotto rice
To be able to find the hairbrush

Then we all pretty much said, you know what we have it. We have beautiful children, we're warm and fed and we enjoy good health.

This morning I thought:

A country walk
People I might have been a bit arsey with understanding I didn't mean it and am truly sorry
To swim in a moat again like I did last summer
The smell of a really good tomato
My son's quick wit
My son's quirky wit
My daughter's kindness
My dog conked out on my feet, snoring
My dearest boy who I call / email and vice versa morning and evening and who seems to put the marrow in my bones
My family


According to Shakespeare today in 1302 was Romeo and Juliet's wedding day.

In 1702 this day saw the publication of England's first National Newspaper - The Daily Courant.

On March the 11th 1835 HMS Beagle anchors off Valparaiso in Chile. If you have never read Isabel Allende have a go, she's fab.

A monumental one for me, Henry Tate was born on this day in 1819. If you have a chance, I suspect it is still running, you can take the Thames river boat from Tate Gallery to Tate Modern - called Tate a Tate and great fun.

Image courtesy of tate. org

Today is the feast day of St.Constantine who was King of Cornwall. I've visited Cornwall a few times and utterly loved it.

Food. People tweet tweet about twitter. I love it, I find it to be a great mine of information about all the things I love - museums, art, books, food, what's going on, great blogs, recipes.

I'm in a happy frenzy with Cheltenham so this for Willie Mullins, Ruby Walsh and everyone who works with such dedication to make the whole thing quite so spellbinding.