The rusted wheel of things

I am quite ignorant about the works of A.E. Houseman, and apart from the fact he is a Shropshire poet, I know very little about his life either. This is something I must remedy! While we were on holiday once, not far from where Houseman was born, my husband bought ‘A Shropshire Lad’, published by Houseman in 1896,when he was thirty-seven; I must dig it out and read it!

Here is Houseman’s ‘March’:

March

The sun at noon to higher air,
Unharnessing the silver Pair
That late before his chariot swam,
Rides on the gold wool of the Ram.

So braver notes the storm-cock sings
To start the rusted wheel of things,
And brutes in field and brutes in pen
Leap that the world goes round again.

The boys are up the woods with day
To fetch the daffodils away,
And home at noonday from the hills
They bring no dearth of daffodils.

Afield for palms the girls repair,
And sure enough the palms are there,
And each will find by hedge or pond
Her waving silver-tufted wand.

In farm and field through all the shire
The eye beholds the heart’s desire;
Ah, let not only mine be vain,
For lovers should be loved again.

Family holiday

I have the most wonderful cousins you could imagine, they friends as well as relatives. Every Easter for the past however many years, probably about ten, we have been on holiday together for a week. Four brothers and sisters, their wives, husbands, partners and children, and now grandchildren too, go away for a week’s fun and adventure.

The first place we ever went to was the Ebenezer chapel in Derbyshire, and on this occasion we had an older generation with us, my cousin’s father Ken, and our aunty, Audrey and husband Sid. This holiday was important for me in many ways; first of all it was wonderful to be together and to have so much fun. There were probably about twelve adults, plus about the same number of children, plus various other children who dropped in for a couple of days and girlfriends and boyfriends… Marvellous! But Ebnezer had a secret; it was a converted chapel built into a quarry and at the back a stunted tree grew out of a cliff face… it became the inspiration for my latest novel, ‘Night Vision’.

Scan blog hanging manThe following year we went to a luxurious house, again in Derbyshire which was absolutely beautiful inside, in a lovely setting, but miles from anywhere including a pub… well there was a pub a mile down the road, but it had the grumpiest, unfriendliest landlord you could imagine, who shut the pub at random times, once as we were approaching through the darkness  Considering there were about eight of us who would all have had a t least a couple of drinks each, he was losing out financially.

Over the next years we stayed in some strange, some wonderful, some unusual, and some not altogether wonderful places, but whatever the accommodation, good food, good company, good cheer and good fun were guaranteed. The Forest of Dean, Shropshire, Cumbria, Yorkshire, oh we get about! This year we are in Devon, an hour down the road from us, but whatever the weather (which isn’t looking promising) one thing is for sure, as well as countless gallons of tea, free-flowing wine and Pimms and gins and tonic, Powters’ chipolatas for breakfast, talking, gossiping, laughing non-stop,we will have a wonderful and memorable holiday

Simon cooking sausages.

A Yorkshire walk…

I have a wonderful family of very dear cousins. My Aunty Beryl and Uncle Ken had four children, about the same age as my sister and me… Diana, Robin, Simon and Ruth. They live in the East, I live in the West, but every year, the four of them and me and our families go on an Easter holiday together… you may have seen photos of Simon cooking the breakfast sausages. It started many years ago when we went to Derbyshire and had a wonderful holiday. At that point Ken was still alive and Beryl’s sister Audrey so we had three generations on holiday together.

We had several more holidays in the Peak District as that area is called, then we visited otehr parts of England, the Forest of Dean, Shropshire, Cumberland, and this year we went to Yorkshire… Ken and Audrey are no longer with us, but now my cousin’s grandchildren are, so once again we have three generations enjoying each other’s company!

We have already booked next year’s holiday in Devon, and 2014 in Norfolk… look out for future blogs!

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Sausages 2

I have a most wonderful and remarkable family who I love dearly. We live in the West of England and most of them live in the East so we have to make an effort to remain close and see each other frequently. We phone, we email, we send cards… but we also do things together, even if we have to travel hundreds of miles to do so!

My mum Monica, was particularly close to her sister, and I am very close to her children, my cousins. Every year we meet the first Saturday of December for our Christmas party… but that’s another story! We also go away on holiday together every Easter, usually about twenty of us, and that too is another story.

On our Easter holiday it is tradition that we should have sausages for breakfast for the first couple of days. Not just any sausages, but Powter’s!

My cousin Simon is the breakfast chef; he and I are usually the first to rise and we drink tea and chat while he sorts out the sausages.

We bring pounds and pounds of Powter’s chipolatas from Newmarket to wherever we go on holiday. The first year we went to Milford in Derbyshire, the following two years we went to the beautiful Hopton House near Carsington Water, also in Derbyshire. For family reasons we had to miss the next year but then we went to the Forest of Dean, to Shropshire twice, to Cumbria twice and to Kettlewell in Yorkshire this year.

Dale House, Kettlewell, our holiday home this year 2012

There were twenty of us this year, I was the eldest and little Izaak aged nearly three was the youngest. Everyone of us sat down at some point in the morning and had our sausages for breakfast, cooked by Simon. There are no sausages to match Powter’s, it’s that peppery flavour, the texture of the sausage meat, not too chunky, not too finely minced; it’s the right amount of rusk so the sausage is soft and not chewy, but not too much to make it pappy and soft; it’s the seasoning, enough salt to bring out the flavour but not so much you’re dehydrated for the rest of the day; it’s the way they cook, splendid in their shiny skins which don’t burst open and are not chewy and tough; it’s the fact that they are as good cold as they are hot, they compliment any other breakfast item or are perfect for a sandwich or roll… I could write more but where would I stop?!

Powter’s chipolatas!