Overflowing With Flowers

At the risk of sounding like Pangloss or Pollyanna (is there some rule that all over optimistic characters have names starting with P?) there is a bright side to the deluge that has kidnapped summer and held us in a damp embrace since April. The gardens of England are lush with flowers and abundantly green. I say England, as my friend on Skye called me in the week and said rather huffily that when the weather forecasters tell us nightly of yet more rain they are ignoring the Inner Hebrides where they have been enjoying fabulous weather for three months. Honestly, she’s not even Scottish, but she has adopted that damn-Sassenach tone that condemns everyone south of the border and blames them for all events in history when the Scots were bashed up by the English. Since James VI of Scotland became James I of England in 1605, you’d think there would be a bit more recognition that the Scots have had more than a slight hand in their own history. I’m thinking Culloden here obviously, not William Wallace. And William Wallace was not Mel Gibson in an earlier reincarnation.
My own family having not reached these shores until sometime after 1685, I refuse to take any personal responsibility for Edward I’s actions. I know I’m digressing, but I do find this historical antagonism bizarre. How often have you heard someone in England saying they don’t like the French because Napoleon caused the Peninsular Wars? Weird. I could say I hated the French because my ancestors had to flee after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. But I don’t, because I don’t. Actually my friend on Skye is French, and she is my friend. It’s complicated. A woman in Glasgow once told me she hated the English, but she liked me. She put it down to my mother being Northern Irish. I didn’t feel I’d been paid a compliment. Continue reading

Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness

I went to buy tomatoes and onions today.

My eyes grew larger than my stomach, and I came home with gorgeous English damsons, cucumbers, small and so so sweet, raspberries from Kent that are a taste of heaven, Kentish cobs (most already eaten and the shells in the compost) with their green, singular tang, corns on the cob, ready to boil or roast, beetroots with slender pink stems and crimson veined leaves. From further afield, I bought pomegranates, oranges, figs. I’d already got grapes from the garden.

Garden Grapes

I am dizzy with the prospect of eating all this bounty. My head spins with recipes, planned meals and gastronomic pleasure.

In a similar situation, Keats wrote a poem.
We can’t all be highminded.
So while I chomp, I’ll recite this in my head.
Continue reading