I posted about a gorgeous cookery book "Rose Petal Jam" a while back. It is a book about Beata Zatorska ,a polish Australian who travels back to Poland to rediscover her childhood and relatives. She writes about the food she remembers so beautifully and how it coloured her life. I decided to try to make a cherry liqueur that she gives the recipe for. I thought Christmas is coming,just the thing. So we steeped the cherries in sugar for the allotted time and then stirred it ,leaving it to settle. Then we squeezed the fruit to extract the last oozings and added vodka! Of course tasting was absolutely necessary! One bottle has already gone !!!!!!!
I have also discovered a new Artist who was from Poland Olga Boznanska !
Unfortunately I did not look like this delightful lady when I woke one morning this week! It was a very dark and rainy October morning here in Cornwall,not romantic just miserable! Summer has really gone , What can you do on a day like this but read poetry! Well any excuse!
I reached down Laurie Lee's Selected Poems, a book I love but have not dipped into for a while and realized I should not have neglected it.
Day Of These Days
Such a morning it is when love
leans through geranium windows
and calls with a cockerels tongue.
When red haired girls scamper like roses
over rain green grass,
and the sun drips honey.
When hedgerows grow venerable,
berries dry black as blood,
and holes suck in their bees.
Such a moring it is when mice
run whispering from the church,
dragging dropped ears of harvest.
When the partridge draws back his spring
and shoots like a buzzing arrow
over grained and mahogany fields.
When no table is bare
and no breast dry,
and the tramp feeds off ribs of rabbit.
Such a day it is when time
piles up the hills like pumpkins,
and the streams run golden.
When all men smell good,
and the cheeks of girls
are as baked bread to the mouth.
As bread and beanflowers
the touch of their lips,
and their white teeth sweeter than cucumbers.
Laurie as a young man.Women seem to have adored him!
Laurie Lee was born in Stroud but spent his early life in Slad a small Gloucstershire village. His most famous book "Cider With Rosie" lyrically tells the the tale of his boyhood. This is the cottage he grew up in with his family. In the story Laurie paints a tender portrait of his upbringing in comparetive poverty but rich in love and experience.
His mother would fill the house with jars of wild flowers in spring and summer,there was music and laughter as well as hardship.
He went to London at nineteen ,walking all the way and secured a job on a building site.He made extra money playing his fiddle and when he had enough put away set off for Spain. He fell in love with the country and worked his way across to Andalusia busking. When the Civil War broke out he was forced to leave but returned via the Pyrenees to fight against Franco.
Above all I think Laurie Lee was a great lover of life,someone who had a generous capacity for lyrical precision and sensousness.You can almost touch and smell his writing!This picture shows him in later life having a pint in his native Slad at the local pub.
Slad Church where Laurie Lee is buried.
He was a fascinating man and this biography by Valerie Grove gives an insight into to his complicated character.
The story of Joseph Emidy was brought to my notice when I read a wonderful book by Philip Marsden called The Levelling Sea.Philip lives and writes in Cornwall and has a deep love for the area. He is a prize winning travel writer, novelist and world traveller.
We decided to go for a long local walk round Truro in the unexpected Indian Summer we have been enjoying here and to find the grave of the extraordinary personality. Joseph Emidy, A young slave with prodigious musical talent who is buried in Kenwyn Church Cemetery.There is not much information available about his life but what there is paints a wonderful picture.
His early life was spent somewhere in Guinea which was was a loose name for the interior of West Africa. He was taken from there as a slave to Brazil but then appears to have been taken to Lisbon in Portugal where we first see him. Sometime in his life he was introduced to music and his master in Lisbon sent him to a teacher. It was not long before he was playing second violin in the city's operatic orchestra.
Fate had something else in store for this young slave.
In his book Philip Mardsen tells us that he was heard at a concert by the captain of a British ship holed up in Portugal for repairs.Sir Edward Pellew was captain of the frigate Indefatigable at the time and he stole Joseph carrying him off on the man of war. He was a prisoner on the ship for about four years where he played the fiddle for Pellew and his crew! He must have seen action during that time however when Pellew was posted to another ship Emidy found himself free again on the coast of Cornwall at Falmouth. Falmouth was a thriving cosmopolitan port in those days and Joseph was accepted ,he married a local girl the daughter of a tradesman and began to make a name for himself with his amazing musical talents.
The family moved to Truro and his fame grew. Attempts were made to introduce him to the London Music world but were not altogether successful although his own work and his rendition of the greats of the time won him praise in high places. It was thought as a black man he would not have been totally accepted in the big city! It was said that if he had been lucky enough to have the same advantages he could have been a Beethoven or a Mendelssohn .As it was this amazing black musician lived out his 60 years in Cornwall with his family. Joseph's compositions seem to have died with him which must be a great loss to music.
I personally hope he had a happy life playing music down here in the far West so far from his African homeland.
His grave is well kept and we added a bunch of rosemary from our garden.
It was a beautiful day and the walk to the churchyard was a circular one along the lanes.
Romantic remains of old farm machinery ,there was a wren darting about on the overgrown wagon.
Autumn is well and truly here but at the moment we are basking in an Indian Summer,cool nights and lovely misty,balmy days! Keats To Autumn is required reading again!
I just thought a little reminiscence of summer days was in order before we start thinking about frost,slow cooked casseroles and mulled wine round the stove.!
I enjoyed a visit to Penlee Gallery to view the stunning exhibition of Walter Langley's paintings and while I was there took some photos around the back streets of Penzance were there are some lovely secret gardens!
Back at home!
Garden heroes getting rid of the old herb patch and laying a gravel space for me to play with,thanks Steve and Radek. What hunks?!!!!!
We visited The lost Gardens of Heligan and were inspired !You can just see the sea on the horizon.
The holiday in Mallorca seems far away now, maybe I should start planning the next one! Are there anymore literary pilgrimages I should make? The visit to Valldemosa was a dream come true.
I can feel the call of William Morris and Kelmscott Manor !
Anyway these are reminders of a few summer pleasures as we enjoy this bonus of warmth and mellowness .
Novelist Sarah Duncan and one of her entertaining books!
I work in a vibrant Lottery Funded Community Library here in Truro and so I get to do some great things and get paid too!!
A collection of Sarah's novels.
Sarah Duncan and agent Dorothy Lumley of The Dorian Literary Agency came together at the library to give us two great days full of advice and insight into writing ,pitching and publishing our work. They were amazing and everyone enjoyed the workshops.
I am trying to write my first novel and I am very lazy about it so this has kick started my enthusiasm and shown me how much I must improve and work if my dream of seeing my name on a front cover in Waterstones is to be realized Ho! Ho!
The workshop was brought to us by an exciting Agency here in the South West, follow the link to find out more about them.www.cypruswell.org
The standard of work that the writers brought with them for appraisal was very high and varied we all went away with renewed enthusiasm.
The weather has turned here in Cornwall,gusty wind and rain and although the trees are not dropping leaves yet there is a definate change in the season, I always get nostalgic when summer fades!
Today I woke up thinking about age,the passing of time, people I have loved who have died and what it all means.The government seems bent on breaking down some of the institutions that have been so important in my life ,the rich get richer and tell the poor to pull in there belts and it is hard not to feel despondent.The worst thing to do is to get stuck in a rut and I know life is a never ending cycle of change so to find new ways to fight greed,fear and injustice is the only answer!
One of the people I was remembering was a woman who lived here in Cornwall , I met her when I was working on the mobile library and we became friends. She was in her nineties when she died but in her mid eighties I would arrive and find her digging her vegetable garden still strong and vibrant. Going into her house was a healing process for me ,any worries would fade when I sat by her fire and drank her excellent coffee.She would always ask if it was good sometimes saying she was trying out another blend.Her house was timeless, she made lace,listened to classical music,read poetry, loved flowers and reading.She was often quite blunt and could hurt peoples feelings,she could not have been described as a dear old lady however she was true to herself and that was so important. . We would talk about all sorts of things and often dissagreed especially on politics but to me she was one of the most successful and admirable women I have ever known.
She had always lived close to nature,and it seemed to me that what she had achieved was a very full life.I miss her sharpness , her wit,the taste of her jam,the best mince pies ever and listening to Bruch's violin concerto over coffee on a cold winters morning. I remember being taken down into the wild place in her garden to see the first snowdrops peeping out of the frosty earth!
I have at last finished my William Morris wall hanging.I have collected bits of Morris fabric for many years , just offcuts of curtaining or upholstery material and now they are going to hang on my landing wall.
The scraps have come from foraging in the remnant baskets of numerous fabric shops and some are left over pieces from my own curtains. I have had some of them for years and they remind me of different times of my life.I fell in love with William as a teenager full of revolutionary spirit and romantic asperations!
The designs and colours have been a lifetime love and today when everything seems so "throw away" my admiration for Morris has grown even stronger. His philosophy is apposite and his work is timeless,it never palls, what a hero !
The weather is hot and humid and I feel really lethargic. What a good excuse to sit around reading or posting.
The book above is possibly one of the most beautiful cookery books I have found. Rose Petal Jam is by Beata Zatorska and her husband Simon Target and follows their return to her native Poland after some years in exile. It is a special book, so much love and sentiment are inside this visually enchanting volume. Beata speaks of her beloved Polish Grandmother and her farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of the Karkonsze mountains. Her Grandmother fed her wonderful food and taught her to make pierogi , the rose petal jam of the title and many more polish dishes.
This is the sort of food that brings the tastes and smells of Beata's childhood to life for her and for us.You feel her emotion very strongly as she visits relatives and places she has not seen since childhood.
I love the photography and the inclusion of Polish poetry both translated and in the original. Her book will do so much for the Polish tourist industry , now I would just love to wander in the scenery shown there so lovingly. I am enchanted by the wooden painted buildings,white net curtains and the gardens where flowers tumble around vegetable plots. Beata's book is in the great tradition of really special cookery books that bring together love, life, memories and family food! The most important things in life I think. The great thing is that there is a follow up coming out sometime next year about her winter in Poland entitled Sugared Orange Zest.