Walking down the middle of the road

One of the things I really love about living in our village of Uphill is the fact that once rush hour is over – those couple of times between 8:45 and 9:15 and 2:50 and 3:20 when it is rush hour, most of the roads are really quiet. OK, so in the middle of summer when we have lots of people coming to the beach, or in those times I’ve mentioned when cars are bring children to the village school and then  taking them home (why can’t they walk?) – then the village is really quiet.

Tonight at about 8:50, I walked from our house down the main street running through Uphill… yes, I walked along the actual road, in the middle of the road. It is so quiet and peaceful that you don’t have to keep to the pavements, you can just…. stroll along down the road to the pub. If by some chance a car is coming, the village is so quiet that you can hear it coming long before it passes you – by which time you’re safely on the pavement.

So tonight, after  a very pleasant evening in the pub, when we didn’t win a single thing in the quiz but had a really lovely time, I strolled home, right down the middle of the road.



Lympsham, the Somerset village not far from the River Axe,  was originally called Lymplesham when it was first recorded, the Abbey of Glastonbury, the Abbot of which owned the land where the village was. Where the name actually came from no-one is quite sure, but it most probably derives from the name of someone, a name like Lin plus ham meaning village. There is a suggestion that it might have meant a pool where lime trees grow.

The railway line from Bristol to Exeter runs through, but it is still a very peaceful and attractive place. It has always been in the middle of farming area, since the land was drained, probably during Saxon times; at one time it was renowned for the quality of its cheese, and there are still many dairy farms in the area. At one point however, the rural peace was likely to have been shattered as there were plans for a big wharf to have been built there, to attract cross-channel traffic. However, it did not come to much although ketches brought goods, mainly coal up the Axe to Lympsham, to what is known as Jefferies Wharf.

Ann unusual thing, maybe a unique thing, is that the same family were vicars in the little church, St Christopher’s for 103 years, (except for a seven-year gap) This history began in 1809, with Joseph Stephenson. He sounds an incredible man; he had a great social conscience and was very concerned for the education of the village children. thirty-five years later his son, also Joseph took over as rector and he too served the parish well and for a very long time, fifty-seven years. Like his father he was concerned about the welfare of his parishioners. Many of them lived in extreme poverty, in housing which was little better than slums. This second rector named Joseph built  seventeen stone houses with tall chimneys and with the letter S set into the stonework. He also built the school and the village hall, which are both still in use.


I first had hummus when I was about seventeen and went to London to visit a friend and her Jewish then boyfriend, later husband, and they took me to a café where I had what I now know to be hummus. It was so delicious! Like nothing I’d tasted before, and so garlicky that when I got home my mum could smell it every morning when she kissed me for nearly a week! (Maybe that is a little exaggeration!!)

Since then I have eaten a lot, a lot, a lot of hummus, and made it too, although I have never actually managed to make it as nice as the shop bought stuff… which is the other way round from usual. I’ve followed so many different recipes and tried so many different ways of making what should be so easy, chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, lemon and garlic…. It’s always edible, but never as good…

My son sent me a list of different types of hummus, flavoured with all sorts of things… I’m sure the possibilities are endless, but there are some of the suggestions:
Hummus made with chickpeas –

  • + feta cheese, spinach, lemon juice and cinnamon
  • + tahini, pesto, lemon juice and parmesan
  • + basil, parsley, tarragon and olive oil
  • + avocado, jalapeño, coriander and lime juice
  • + tahini, harissa, lemon juice and lemon zest
  • + olives, roasted red pepper, parsley, and lemon juice
  • + Greek yoghurt, dried parsley and dill (yes I would have used fresh, but it says dried) and garlic salt (I would have used garlic and salt)
  • + peanut butter, olive oil, lemon juice and garlic

Then there are the other hummus-type dips with a different base ingredient:

  • black beans + chipotle, lime juice, coriander and cumin
  • beetroot (really??? I must try it!)) + tahini, olive oil, lemon juice and garlic
  • cannellini beans + sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, lemon juice and dried oregano (dried? Wy not fresh?)
  • endamame beans + tahini, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic

I think as a challenge to myself I should try all of them, following the stated recipe even if it does mean using dried herbs or garlic salt!



Gene Pitney certainly had ‘something’. I was lucky enough to see him live, many years ago; he not only had a great voice, he had great stage presence. He was always very popular in Britain, and sadly he died here in Cardiff in 2006.

Gene Pitney rerecorded ‘Something’s Gotten Hold of My Heart’ with Marc Almond, and this duet gave him his first No 1 in Britain, holding the top place in the charts for four weeks.

Shenanigans with the escrow

We were having dinner tonight and my son mentioned the word ‘escrow’ which had come up at his work; my husband who is extremely well-read, loves crosswords and is interested in etymology, had never heard the word before and in fact thought it was an acronym.It wasn’t a word I had heard of often, but came across it in a detective book I was reading, all about financial shenanigans.

It was originally a French word, meaning s scroll or piece of paper,  and when you know the meaning of the word you can see how the derivation occurred. It no longer means a scroll as such but it does have a very particular meaning:

  • it could be a contractual arrangement in which a third-party receives and disburses money or documents for the primary transacting parties; the disbursement would be dependent on conditions agreed to by the transacting parties
  • or it could be an account established by a broker for holding funds on behalf of the broker’s principal or some other person until the consummation or termination of a transaction
  • and on the other hand, it could be a trust account held in the borrower’s name to pay obligations such as property taxes and insurance premiums.


Now the word shenanigans… no-one seems to know where that comes from; the first thought is that it could be Irish Gaelic in origin, but no-one can say for certain… it appeared in the nineteenth century. Scéalta grinn is the Gaelic for jokes, cleasanna are tricks… but really nobody knows!


A dish of tea

I don’t know why the phrase ‘a dish of tea’ sprung into my mind – many odd things spring into my mind… But I remember when I was very small, visiting old people – including an old lady we called Auntie heath, and my great grandparents who were born in the 1860’s (yes, 1860’s) Some of these old folk would have been adults in the nineteenth century, and I not only remember them mentioning ‘a dish of tea’ as opposed to a cup, but I also remember them pouring their tea into the saucer, and drinking from the saucer.

When tea first arrived in this country it was made with tea leaves in a pot, poured out and drunk without milk, as they did in China, from small bowls, or cups without handles, small dishes… Maybe this developed into using a saucer in the same way as a dish, and maybe in the old days people didn’t like drinks as hot as we like them now, and to pour the tea into a saucer made it cooler. So… that’s a dish of tea! I prefer a mug…