In the Italian heat I am reading 'The Shipping News' set in the slushy freeze of a Newfoundland winter perhaps not, you might think, the best book for summer reading. However, there is something quite lovely about sitting in the sunshine, feet on cool polished granite reading about sailing into foggy murk knowing that for sure that you will not need your Sou'wester anytime soon. The book's poetic language and landscape descriptions have me caught hook, line and sinker.
We're heading off for a few days and the fruit bowl has been stressing me out. It was full of just-ready-to-eat-right-now this minute pears and apples and peaches and bananas... So in among the packing and cleaning (another compulsion reserved for holiday time) I decided that poaching the pears was an absolute must. I normally do this as an autumn pudding poaching them with red wine and cinnamon. But summer time needs a lighter touch and so it was to saffron and cardamom I turned.
200g caster sugar
3 tbsp lemon juice
6 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1/4 tsp saffron threads
5 pears, cored, peeled and halved
Put the water, sugar, lemon juice, cardamom and saffron into a largish saucepan and stir to dissolve the sugar. Then bring to a simmer and add the pears which you've peeled and cored. Cover with a lid made from parchment paper and then put on the actual saucepan lid. Leave this to simmer gently for 20-30 minutes until the pears are cooked. Let it cool completely, then lift out the pears and put them in a serving dish and pour over the syrup. This will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge.
Recipe from Darina Allen's Ballymaloe Cookery Course
Oh it's a miserable day- cool, wet and windy. A little linocutting is in order-a bumblebee and a favourite plant of theirs-the spiky eryngium. It starts off greyish green and gradually turns a very striking blue. It's also a proficient self seeder and keeps the bees happy!
It is the weekend. Lots of people seem to fill weekends doing so much-rushing to do jobs when they should be slowing down. You need to rest as much as you need to be busy. Fill your days by all means, but fill them with making nice things to eat, spending your time with friends and family, pottering in the garden, taking a walk, investing a little time in things that are good for the soul.
I love the work of Elaine Pamphilon. Gentle gentleness captured in paint and good for the soul.
This morning (at 7.45am) Mide says 'oh, I wish I could eat my breakfast outside!' Well that's an easy wish to fulfil. So, in their pyjamas two of the three brothers sit and eat their cereal and juice with faces tilted to the morning sun and I get to enjoy their stripes and shadows.
We've just spent some time looking over short, snippety videos of the boys, filmed mainly on ancient cameras. Fleeting moments in time and space. Moments forever caught in the past. Their baby faced innocence, their arms held out for lifting up, their wide eyes and blonde hair. It breaks my heart to think of all that time gone, and yet where would we be if the time had not been spent growing and learning and changing?
It seems like an age now since we planted some Sweet William seeds. It's hard to imagine the flowers and their beauty and scent when you're putting tiny, not terribly inspiring looking seeds into their trays of compost. In fact I'd forgotten all about them and it was Kevin who planted them in the border. They are glorious-they smell heavenly, like old fashioned cottage garden plants should. They remind me of times past-the time spent with the boys planting them, so easily forgotten in the hustle and bustle of life. But look what time did to those seeds-it grew flowers. And look what time is doing to my boys-it's growing men.
There's been a bit of digging going on around here for the last while. A herbaceous border running from the back of the house is being extended further down towards the garden. An immense, weedy bank of stones and soil and bits and bobs has been dug by hand and wheel-barrowed away. The boys have been helping with this task and one day they hit gold! Well, iron really. Buried treasure in the form of a stirrup, strong bolts and rusted hinges, a small oval sign which says 'to carry 9 tonnes'. We found an aerial photo of our house from 30 years ago and it shows a railway carriage being used as a shed, parked in the exact spot where we are digging. They spoke and dug and wondered and dug and imagined and dug, thinking of the past as they filled more barrows as we make our own, gentle impression on this place of ours.