What is it about the end of the year and the start January which suggests soup? It’s not just me; my neighbour Jolita has also got the soup bug. At a guess, it goes back to childhood and Mother making meals from festive leftovers. To be fair, I don’t remember any soup, but I do remember a nut bread she made based on a recipe in a copy of Family Circle someone had passed to us. Is Family Circle still going? We weren’t a magazine taking family, though the Radio Times was taken weekly, and I was a big fan of the Dandy before I reached double figures, then it was Jackie and Fab208 as often as I could get them, with very occasional forages into Rave before I graduated to Honey. Nowadays it’s the Guardian and magazines from various organisations I belong to or charities I support. Favour, the magazine for supporters Hearing dogs of the Deaf doesn’t feature many soup recipes. But then neither did the Dandy.
That said, for me soup generally begins with what I have in the fridge rather than a recipe. And this week I had some celeriac that needed using, lots of tomatoes, and some nice white bread that was past its best. So Monday’s soup was a version of ribollita which worked surprisingly well. Motivated, I moved onto tomato soup, with a pound of tomatoes and some other veg I already had. I found a recipe which became the base for my soup, but to my surprise it didn’t include garlic. Surely some mistake? Easily rectified though, and thus emboldened I added half a tsp of ginger purée instead of the tomato purée I did not have. I love chilli, so after a slight hesitation I added a few flakes. Continue reading
Our poetry group has blossomed. At the end of 2013 it was an endangered species. The library, where it began under the protective eye of David, a library assistant who is also a published poet, has been closed for over a year due to a devastating fire in the building next door.
We were moved to a library some distance way. Numbers fell. To be honest, they had already fallen when David was moved to a different library and a new library assistant was assigned to us. Celia and I, with our dying mothers, had other preoccupations. In November, the local authority decided that if only a couple of people were going to attend, it was no longer viable. The group would close. Perhaps, when our library reopens sometime in the distant and unspecified future, it might start again.
Could we, we suggested, run it ourselves in the interim? Suspend it rather than close it, let it loose in the community until new stabling is found?
So we sat in the pub and discussed how we would do it. We needed a venue. The pub landlady, asked for her opinion, was happy for us to meet there. In January we marked our new group with an outing to the TS Eliot Prize readings by the ten short-listed poets. In February we were at the pub. It was the same night as a Labour party fundraising quiz night, and pretty noisy. But there were three of us, and later Reuben and Emily came to find out what we were up to.
This was a lucky moment, as they have a gallery space nearby, and said they would be happy to host us. We had already arranged that March would be at the poetry library, so on a chilly night in April, five of us sat at a round table at Hotel Elephant with our poems and some lager. Ronnie, Reuben and Emily’s new puppy, was so delighted to see us he peed on the floor. Continue reading