If you haven’t got it… get it!!
I’m working on my next Radwinter novel, provisionally but not necessarily, to be called ‘Earthquake’. The first part of it went splendidly, everything progressing nicely; I’d started to write it while editing my recently published novel ‘Lucky Portbraddon’, because editing is really, really dull, and not particularly creative. In the last couple of months when the pressure increased to get ‘Lucky’ finished, I stopped working on ‘Earthquake’; now I’m back, back to my Radwinters.
Coming back to it has taken a little while to pick up all the threads, and I realised that possibly the way I began to write it wasn’t very sensible – trying to write two things at once… so I have spent the last few weeks, untangling the threads and trying to get the continuity correct.
This afternoon, while wandering around the nearby seaside town of Burnham with my daughter, nattering away to each other as we do, I suddenly had a realisation – not exactly a blinding flash, but certainly a flash. If I continue with the novel as it is, with the story lines I need to finish, it is going to be enormously long. One of the plots is quite separate from the others, and written in distinct parts – if I excised those parts, maybe saved them for another story, it would make the rest of it much more manageable! What is more, I think, it wouldn’t just be manageable for me, but also for the reader!
After a lovely weekend with the family, it’s just me and my husband, him painting, drawing and drumming, me back to writing… so I can settle down and do a careful incision and then crack on!!
If you haven’t read my Radwinter stories, or my other novels, here is a link:
As you may know, I love old cookery books, and looking back at the sort of things ordinary people grew, cooked, ate and enjoyed. There are lots of recipes I have started using, but some just don’t seem the sort of thing any of my family would enjoy – and in fact do seem a little odd. I can just imagine the faces if I presented ‘Rose’s onion savoury’… and I think I would probably take away from the table as much as I had put on it!
From the National Mark Calendar of Cooking, here is the savoury, made by one of the writers’ – either Ambrose Heath or Dorothy Cottington Taylor, – one of the writers’ friend’s cooks, presumably Rose:
Rose’s onion savoury
- as many medium onions as people, boiled until tender but not broken
- tomato sauce or purée
- buttered toast
- cut each onion in half, and chop the insides finely
- mix cheese, onion and tomato sauce/purée, paprika
- fill each half with mixture, top with a dab of butter
- brown in oven and serve on toast
I’d love to hear from anyone who tries this!
Burnham-on-Sea, or just plain Burnham, is a small town in Somerset, just south of where we live. We visit it quite often, and always find something of int erst. England. It is situated where River Parrett runs into Bridgwater Bay. Burnham was a small fishing village until the late eighteenth century, when like its neighbour, our town of Weston-super-Mare, it grew because as it became more popular as a seaside resort, especially when the railways reached it.
Like Weston, and the coast up to the mouth of the Severn, and across the channel in Wales, it was devastated by floods of 1607; it’s always been vulnerable to the sea and even today measures are put in place – the present curved concrete wall was completed in 1988.
In 1855 the National School Establishment was built on the Esplanade by George Reed; he was one of the most important men in Burnham at the time, and also built two fine terraces at the end of the North Esplanade; these were known as Julia Terrace and Catherine Terrace named after his daughters. He was built the Reed’s Arms, which for a while was known as the Queen’s Hotel.
Wandering around, you can find some delightful little properties, now quite spruced up and desirable!
I wrote this last year when my daughter came home to stay from University; now she has come home to stay for the weekend from her new job! I might be prejudiced, but i think she is rather amazing, so are the little cakes named after her😉
Delighted to have my daughter home for a few days, and looking through the National Mark Calendar of Cooking,, the delightful 1930’s Ministry of Agriculture issued cookery booklet, I came across for October a recipe for madeleines… and as she is Madeleine, it seemed just right!
- 4 oz flour
- 2 eggs
- seedless raspberry jam
- 4 oz butter
- 4 oz caster sugar
- dessicated coconut
- glacé cherries and angelica for decoration
- butter 10-12 thimble-shaped moulds
- beat butter and sugar together until it is pale and fluffy
- fold beaten eggs one by one into mixture
- lightly fold in flour
- three-quarter fill each mould
- bake for 20 mins at 200ºC, 400ºF, gas mark 6 (this seems a little hot to me… but I’ll follow the recipe!)
- take out of tins, cool upside down on a baking tray
- it may be necessary to trim the bottoms so they all stand firm and are the same
- when still warm brush with raspberry jam, roll in the coconut, and decorate with a sliver of cherry and angelica cut to look like leave
I’m sure my two different stories from the Easthope and area local history Museum, known as the Umbrella museum because it’s situated in what was an old nineteenth century umbrella factory, will come together at some point and make something longer, maybe a novel… Maybe I could use these ideas for Nanowrimo – the national Novel Writing Challenge this year. (it’s an online challenge to write 50,000 words of a new novel in the month of November)
The first strand of story is total fiction, a youngish man, David, becomes friendly with someone sharing his house who works at the museum; the curator, Malcolm, is rather eccentric and David and the other house-mates are intrigued by him.
The second strand is totally different but also involves someone who works at the museum, Darius; Darius is happily married with three young children and he doesn’t realise that certain members of a book-club who meet in one of the public areas of the museum by the little café are fascinated by him – he’s young, virile, good-looking, and some of the ladies of a certain age always have an eye on him. he would be embarrassed if he knew!
This is the next part of the Malcolm story-line… but it may need quite a bit of rewriting!
A visit to the museum
After that it seemed that I bumped into Malcolm more frequently, and I actually began to wonder if he coincided coming out of his room when he heard me on the landing. We exchanged the usual sort of ‘all right, mate?’ ‘glad that rain’s stopped’ sort of pleasantries which made me feel like my granddad – I’d be talking about pruning the roses or the price of petrol next!
Then one day for no reason – or maybe I actually thought that maybe he was a bit lonely, I asked him if he wanted a cup of coffee – I’d had an excruciatingly tedious day at work and needed caffeine. I wanted to dump my things and go straight back downstairs again for coffee then maybe a beer and chill with the others.
He thanked me as if I’d offered him something much more exciting – what a dull life he must lead. I said did he want to come down, or… but he said, yes, he’d come down… and so the pair of us went downstairs. I made coffee for everyone who was home, mentally thanking our landlord for the dishwasher as I found mugs. Coffee made and distributed, I slumped onto the settee, and he perched on the edge and I could see that the others wanted to make some crack, but restrained themselves. They restrained themselves until he finished his coffee and thanked me and went back to his room.
“Your new best friend, Dave!” Adam said and we had a laugh then turned on the telly to watch the footie while we decided which pizza to get from Domino’s.
I suppose you might call it a quirk of fate – well you might, but actually I wouldn’t… it’s one of the things granddad would be more likely to say in one of his old stories… I’ve heard them all so often I could almost join in with the telling, but I never mind, he’s my granddad and that’s what granddad’s are for… anyway, quirk of fate or whatever, my boss asked me to drop something off at the local history museum, as it was ‘on my way home’. Well, actually, no it wasn’t.
I did think about just giving it to Malcolm when I saw him later, but no, the boss wanted it there tonight. I said the museum wouldn’t be open, but yes it would; his cousin was giving a talk on the buffalo of the Great Plains, and it was his cousin I had to deliver the package to.
I thought it would be mean not to say hello to my new friend Malcolm. I handed the big buff envelope to the boss’s cousin who looked nothing like him, especially as he was actually dressed as a Native American, complete with war paint. He asked me if i would stay for the talk, but regretfully I had a prior appointment… I didn’t say it was an appointment with the quiz team in the Lark. I asked a museum person where I might find Malcolm and he directed me to the ‘stores’ where Malcolm was getting out the artefacts.
I was about to knock on the door when it flung open as I had my hand still up in the air. Malcolm looked astonished to see me.
“David! Thank goodness! I don’t l know what to do!”
He dragged me into the store-room. I was rather overwhelmed by the amount of objects in piles, in heaps, on tables, under tables, dusty and seemingly neglected, but he pulled me through a short passageway into a back room, more ‘artefacts’, probably junk to my ignorant eye, presided over by the sadly benign head of a buffalo, yes an actual buffalo – or is it a bison?
It was huge, absolutely massive, and a sort of grey colour… It was obviously dust, but in my imagination it was not just the musty motes from the museum store-room, but from the prairies of the Wild West.
It somehow didn’t look real, rather fluffy, its glass eyes dull… they needed polishing, but wouldn’t it be rather creepy, polishing a bison’s eyes, or is it a buffalo. I remember we did a project in history about the American west and all the things which could be made from the buffalo…
But my meandering thoughts about buffaloes and bison came to an abrupt and shocking full stop as I saw what Malcolm was pointing at. He had grabbed my arm and I could feel him trembling and was pointing with his other hand…
“It’s Margaret!” he exclaimed, a catch in his voice.
I’d never know what she looked like, no-one would ever see her face again. I’d not noticed her, transfixed by the dusty bison; she lay to the side of the room, what appeared to be a tomahawk in her hand, but her head, well, her head or what was left of it was beneath a squat but massive totem pole, and a rather nasty puddle of something pooled beneath her.
“Good grief…” I said.