NaNo nearly over

As November draws to a close, so does the National Novel Writing Month finish… for 2013. it is a challenge to write 50,000 words in the month of November, as part of or all of a novel. It isn’t a competition in the sense that you receive a prize or award (apart from a certificate which you can print out and various winners’ items which you can buy such as t-shirts) The reward is completing the challenge, and of maintaining the impetus to keep writing. People keep saying ‘what happens next? what happens to your story?’ Well, the answer is the same as for any story I write; having had so many disappointments in the past from publishers and agents, I now publish on Kindle and this is what I will do again when I have completed and edited my story.

I must say I have surprised myself at how well it has all gone; in fact I completed my 50,000 words on November 19th, but have continued to write and I think by the time it is midnight I will have completed 73,000 words altogether. What have I got out of it apart from my sense of achievement? I feel reinvigorated as a writer! I feel excited about my writing, and feel creative and stimulated… I definitely intend to try again next year, all being well.. and I look forward to as many surprises in my next NaNo project, as I’ve received in this writing ‘Radwinter.’

Adorable reindeer getting ready for Christmas action

Out and about on a lovely, lovely autumn day and after doing some culture, the twelfth century church I mentioned earlier, we went to Puxton park, which is a farm shop de luxe selling every sort of local produce from meat to mead, cheese to chocolate, olives to bath-oils and soap… a fabulous range of stuff… but some of it at a fabulous price too. There is also a large children’s entertainment area and a café/restaurant. Today, as it nears Christmas, there was a definite seasonal aspect to what was at the Park… including a local craft market. I was very good and revisited buying a silly hat (I have a weak spot for silly hats) stripy scarves and gingerbread men tree decorations.

We walked out through the Christmas market which was in a long marquee, and found ourselves near an animal enclosure… and oh my goodness! There were some real reindeer!

PUXTON 30.11 (15)I‘m just a little shy… so I’ll pretend I haven’t got a head…PUXTON 30.11 (16)I’m just eating some grass and pretending it is lichen

A whole sunny day ahead of us!

It’s very cold, and there has been a frost, but it is lovely! The last of autumn I think before we skate into winter, and the sky is blue, the pale but pretty winter blue.the trees are still with no wind to take the last orange and gold leaves, and the sun is shining! it is a pale and silvery sun, but it is definitely the sun!

We have no particular plans for today, but we think we might go out, armed with our the little village of Puxton, quite near here. We want to visit because there is a church dating back to the 1200’s, St Saviour’s church. Like Pisa it has a leaning tower and although it is no longer in use as a church, it has a listed status of grade 1, that means it has to be looked after and not altered, and any repairs or conservation is very strictly controlled. I hope it is open and we can go inside because it has box pews… literally boxed-in pews so families could sit separately from others… it might have been warmer too, to have wooden partitions round you!

So breakfasted and wrapped up war, off we go!


Rodda recipe 2… feeling fishy!

I had a yen to make a kedgeree… I didn’t look up  a recipe but just went with the flow!

  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • half a small onion chopped
  • ½ – ¾ oz Rodda’s butter
  • 3-5 teaspoons curry powder (use whatever you like, just ordinary old commercial curry powder is fine, and use as hot or mild as you like, and add extra if you want)
  • 6-8 oz smoked fish, or white fish, or a mixture, and use more if you want
  • 1 fish stockpot… cube or little jelly thing, whichever you prefer, I used Knorr
  • 3-4 heaped tablespoons of cooked dahl ( I used toor dal – pigeon peas)
  • 2-3 tablespoons Rodda’s clotted cream
  • optional sweet chilli sauce
  1. lightly cook the onion in the butter and when it begins to become translucent, add the curry powder and stir – keep it over a gentle heat
  2. add the rice and stir gently for a few minutes so it is completely covered with the buttery mixture and begins to turn white
  3. add hot water and the fish stock cube/jelly/pot, stir again very gently
  4. let it cook for 5-8 minutes then add the fish cut in large pieces
  5. cover the pot and let it cook gently, adding more water as you need
  6. use your judgement to cook it until the rice is to your liking ( i like it a little softer than normal in a kedgeree)
  7. stir in the dahl
  8. stir in the cream
  9. add the sweet chilli sauce if you are using it – but not too much, you can always have some on the side when you’re eating
  10. serve and enjoy! (you could if you wanted add quartered boiled eggs – if you had guests it would be nice!)

Travel in the 1800’s

There seems to be an idea that in the past people stayed in their own little villages, only venturing as far as the next little community for particular purposes, fairs, markets, weddings, or to see relatives. In fact, from what I’ve found about my family and others I’ve researched, they travelled much further and more often than you might suppose. Just going back to my dad’s family, he and his brother and sister were each born somewhere different, which was different again from where their parents married, or the children baptised. My husband’s family in the nineteenth century were at a different address on every census, and at different addresses again in other documents I’ve found. Although there were trains from the 1840’s they did not go everywhere, and although there were also horse-drawn vehicles, I guess for ordinary people, like my family, walking was the main way of getting from one place to another.

Walking what would seem to us very long distances, was not uncommon; the first time I realised this was when I read ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Emily Brontë as a child; Nellie is telling Mr Lockwood about how Heathcliff came to the Earnshaw family:

One fine summer morning – it was the beginning of harvest, I remember – Mr. Earnshaw, the old master, came down-stairs, dressed for a journey; and, after he had told Joseph what was to be done during the day, he turned to Hindley, and Cathy, and me – for I sat eating my porridge with them – and he said, speaking to his son, ‘Now, my bonny man, I’m going to Liverpool to-day, what shall I bring you? You may choose what you like: only let it be little, for I shall walk there and back: sixty miles each way, that is a long spell!’ Hindley named a fiddle, and then he asked Miss Cathy; she was hardly six years old, but she could ride any horse in the stable, and she chose a whip. He did not forget me; for he had a kind heart, though he was rather severe sometimes. He promised to bring me a pocketful of apples and pears, and then he kissed his children, said good-bye, and set off.

Sixty miles each way! Good heavens! someone on a walking holiday might do that now, but not to do business in another town!

I bought some groats

I was in a very nice health food shop yesterday and came across a packet of groats…groats! A word from my childhood, either as the few coins the poor hero of a fairy tale might have, or as a meal of nourishing but lowly food a peasant in a similar story might be eating, from a wooden bowl with a wooden spoon by an open fire, no doubt.

A groat as a coin was a little silver piece worth fourpence… I didn’t realise that but I do actually remember my grandparents having silver fourpenny pieces, not to use but just as souvenirs among the odd buttons, collar studs, and little bits and pieces… in fact I might even still have one in a hidden away box of ‘stuff’.

Edible groats are the whole grain of cereals such as wheat, barley, oats or rye… the ones I bought are oat groats. When I bought them yesterday I had no idea how to cook them, or what to use them for, but I guessed they would need a lot of cooking, possibly after soaking, and then be made into a porridge like dish with milk, or as a savoury  dish, similar maybe to a paella, or risotto, or maybe even like pearly barley might be used in soups, stews, or with meat such as roast lamb. I have looked up some recipes, and I was pretty much correct in my thoughts… so now I have to decide what to do… and first I think I will try the breakfast porridge-style option… but I will make sure I cook them long and slow!