Sunday, 25 October 2009

So here is my final apple crop, nine fine apples still unripe. The other three apples from the original twelve I tried at different times. Wait for me to report their final consumption.

I have already reported making my Quince Cheese. I served it with my cheese-board, well a selection of three cheeses, when I had friends to lunch last week. I found it sweet and with little taste. An ornamental flourish to a meal I feel.

Then I decided to make some scones - what people in the South of England pronounce as "Scones" and in the North "Scons". Although brought up in the South regarding anything north of the Thames as nearly arctic I still use the northern pronunciation. My grandmother was Scottish and the pronunciation came to me by way of my mother.

There have been stirring events in Broadmayne. The main road through the village is shut for a week for laying drains giving a welcome respite from the heavy trucks of which more and more pass along Main Street at the expense of those wishing to travel eastwards from the village.

What is more the Black Dog public house has been closed for ten days. The tenant - the pub is owned by a chain who rent it to a tenant on condtition that he buys only their beer - having been there only some six monnths gave up. This was not surprising. He did not have the personality to make people feel welcome and had no wife to provide a joint effort. Catering including running a pub is a branch of entertainment. Food and drink are secondary to the experience. I am not sure though how well MacDonalds fit into this but Starbucks certainly understand it.

The premises are however being refurbished and there is to be a grand re-opening on Friday. The new tenant I am told is a local electrician with a wife, and also four children. Whether he has had experience or the training which is offered to prospective tenants I do not know. Running a pub is hard work with late nights, trouble with staff and in running the restaurant side where I suspect any money is made. The Black Dog is eminentlly respectable with a local clientele. That is its problem. Such people do not spend as much as drunken young people and the customers expect glasses rather than drinking expensive imported beers from the bottle. They do get glasses with Vodka though I believe. My knowledge of such places is based on the reports in the local paper of Court cases.

We shall see what happens to the Black Dog. I hope they put back the hanging sign which has disappeared in recent years. I have made some intersting acquaintances on my occasional visits. There is little or no overlap with the church-going community except in the restaurant which is modestly priced.

Another inititative of mine has been the installation of a water meter. This is optional and I reckon that water at £2 per cubic metre, or 0.2 pence per litre (is that right?) will save me money as a one person household even with all the usual appliances including a power shower.

So there are some of the details of village life. And I cut the grass this afternoon - perhaps the last opportunity of a dry sunny daybefore winter sets in.

Another picture to end. I walked the other afternoon by Hardy's Cottage where Thomas Hardy the novelist was born. The cottage is now preserved by the National Trust. Here is a picture on a fine autumn day:

As the cartoons used to say, "That's all, Folks."

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

The Days are drawing in.

Autumn, a gentler word than Fall, is well-advanced and on this gloomy evening it was dark by seven. At the end of the month when Summer Time goes it will be dark before six. The rate of change of dusk and dawn then slows down to a minimum at the solstice.

It puzzled me why the earliest dusk was before the solstice and the latest dawn after it. One would have expected them to have been virtually the same. The reason is that the Equation of Time, the difference beween actual sun time, that is to say Apparent Solar Time and Mean Time is changing more rapidly han the change in the length of day. There is something to dowith Refraction too but we shall pass over that.

My little apple tree which I rescued from the shrubbery where it had long been struggling to survive has rerwarded me by twelve apples. Here it is in blossom last April:

And here it is with twelve apples - one not visible:

It is said to be a Charles Ross, a variant on Coxes Orange Pippin a popular variet which ripens only after long-keeping. The Charles Ross is supposed toripen ealry but mine are still not ripe, though edible - I have just eaten one. I shall pick the remainder and store them carefully until they appear a little softer. When the Coxes is ripe the seeds rasttle when the fruit is shaken. I had four apples last year, twelve this year - 48 next year?

There is something very satisfying about growing something to eat. It is seldom economic of course. To grind one'sone flour with a quern - look that one up - and make bread hoping thatg wild yeast will make the dough rise must be rewarding if laborious.

I was given a bag of Quinces, not a common fruit. I quote:

"Although grown mainly for their flowers, ornamental quinces can produce attractive, apple-shaped edible fruit that persists throughout autumn.

The fruit of the common quince, Cydonia oblonga, has by far the best flavour. It can be trained as an open-centred bush on a short stem and once the framework is established, needs minimal pruning. It needs regular feeding and mulching with a well-rotted compost or manure every spring.

The fragrant fruits, which resemble hard, lumpy pears, can't be eaten raw but are valued in preserves and for baking. The most common variety is C. oblonga 'Vranja', whose pear-shaped fruits are ready for picking when they turn from green to gold in late autumn."

I have made Quince Cheese a thick jam or jelly recommended to be eaten with cheese. That was tedious but moderately creative.

More of life in Broadmayne and London later.