'Our House' Blackberry Gin

'Our House' Blackberry Gin

Unbelievable. I have searched high and low for my recipe and can’t find it anywhere.  It’s not that I have a particularly large or disorganised kitchen but I know that it was on a sheet of paper somewhere and it appears to have disappeared. Anyway, here it is – from memory. If I have left anything out then be sure to let me know.

Blackberry gin it is.

I was originally given this recipe form a neighbour and this time I have not fiddled with it. Given the number of ingredients there is not really that much to fiddle with. We don’t actually drink it as a liqueur (we have the sloe gin for that) but instead pour it over ice cream or drizzle it over other desserts. Always goes down well when we have people over to dinner. Read the rest of this entry »

Common Blue

Common Blue

‘We got to Calais and I said, which way, left or right?’

Inspired by a friend recounting a recent trip to France in their camper van, Callum and I headed out one morning  with the dog along our usual route, with the idea that at some stage, we would take a new turn and do a spot of ‘adventuring.’  Halfway up a hill towards an a old railway line I made the suggestion that we turned right instead of our usual left and go exploring in the ‘dark woods.’  We had a while until David and Alex returned from tennis lessons and it was a lovely day.  Callum was quite sceptical at my suggestion as the dark woods (as we called them) seemed so uninviting, and as the trees were now hiding most of the old gate, it was clearly somewhere where nobody dared to venture at all.  In the hope of  awakening his sense of adventure, something that he had clearly lost following an hour in front the of the TV earlier, I quickly jumped the gate and began battling the undergrowth, following the dog down a hill towards a brook.

So, two Hobbits left the comfort of the Shire, entering the dark wood imagining strange encounters with previously unseen beasts. Read the rest of this entry »

Copper hunting horn

Copper hunting horn

This is still fox-hunting country, whether banned or not. There are several active hunts here that still survive following the Hunting Ban, namely the Quorn and the Belvoir Hunts. I have no opinion on hunting either way and although I do ride, it is not something I have the slightest interest in taking up. I don’t believe that I am cut from the same cloth as those that do.  For one, I clean up after my family and other animals and get very frustrated at those who do not – so I can’t imagine that the Master of the Hounds would be happy with me dismounting to fill up a pooh bag every ten minutes or so. More likely he would leave me behind instead.

Often in the early morning, I come across a hunt, that either stops me from taking my usually drive across the Vale, or I am caught up in one when out walking the dog across the fields. The former is simply infuriating, particularly if I am on my way to the station to catch a London train, whilst the latter can be terrifying, particularly if the sound of the horn starts getting a little too close.  But worst still is cleaning up the mess in The Village after they have all trotted through, either blissfully unaware or blatantly ignorant.  I don’t grow roses and we have other sources of manure to dig into our vegetable patches, thank you.

Ok, so perhaps I have no particular view on the sport of hunting per se but I admit having a mild irritation with those that do. That’s not to say that the sight of a hunt trotting through our Village is not spectacular. It only happens two or three times a year and it is indeed a sight to behold and always exciting to watch, particularly if the dogs are fox hounds. There is something so thrilling to see a pack of fox hounds; as most live in large packs, it is not a breed that is often seen on the end of a lead in the local park.

So, whether you agree with the sport or not is neither here nor there, but I was curious to come across this old hunting horn yesterday in one of our local charity shops. Read the rest of this entry »

Apple and blackberry crumble

Apple and blackberry crumble

I am not a great one for puddings but with three boys in the house, I am very much outnumbered.  Most of the puddings I make are simple and are made to accompany Sunday lunch.  Furthermore, most of our puddings are really straightforward and usually involve fruit that is either from our garden, a neighbour’s garden or found during a walk with the dog.   Today we had an apple and blackberry crumble.  We have a variety of preferred accompaniments, such as ice cream or double cream.  Today it was custard.  Lots of it. Read the rest of this entry »

Green-eggs

Green Egg without the Ham

The boys went over to a friend’s today so that I may finish an article that was (and still is) way past its deadline.  No, I didn’t finish it and yes, I am writing this instead.  Writer’s block notwithstanding, I find on these occasions it is worth switching off totally from the piece in hand and write about something completely different.   Ok, most of you would have taken your children to the park, but here I am still at the PC, this time writing about an entirely different subject matter.   Given that the other article is about the importance of nutrition on the health of the eye, there is surely a tenuous link in there somewhere. Read the rest of this entry »

David does the garden. I do the house. There is more than enough grass in our garden to keep one man busy for an afternoon with the lawn mower. He certainly doesn’t need me there as well. After all when we both go out there, we 2 suddenly become 4; the football will then appear,  then the goal net and then the dog.  And so Read the rest of this entry »

About this English Wife.  Technically I couldn’t be farther from the description I go by.  First of all, I am a Scot.  Indeed, passing myself off as an English Wife may indeed be a treasonable act.  But before I throw myself on the Wallace statue in my University’s town of Aberdeen and beg for forgiveness, may I say in my favour that living in rural Leicestershire suits me.  It is a beautiful place and I truly love it.  We have lived here for the best part of eight years now, having left London and the south east not long after Callum was born in search of a lower mortgage, more space and a more simple life.  Besides, we have family here.  This is David’s home.  And yes, this is where I want to be.  Always.

However, I still get picked up when I describe Scotland as my home.  After all, it still is.

Despite settling here, and taking fewer and fewer trips back home, I am insistent that my children know and understand their heritage.  I come from a golfing background and so I am delighted to say that both my children can swing a club rather well.  And indeed they both have done from an early age.   However one looks more like Michael Jackson performing Moondance when he picks up his iron, whilst the other makes a more considered attempt to follow the Tiger.  But either way, they are not that bad. Furthermore I educate them in the importance of our native tongue, the Fife dialect.  (No, Gaelic (or Gah-lik, as we prefer) was never one of my strong points and although I spent several hours in the University Union bar trying to chat up one of the Gaelic Society’s front men, I dare say my motives were not in the desire to know my native tongue.. )

The Fife dialect has many idiosyncrasies, which I am sure are repeated in many other areas of Scotland too.  First of all my children have no problem with the phrase ‘I am going out for the messages.’ They quite easily understand the need to go to the supermarket rather than cleaning up the dog mess from the driveway.  Furthermore, they rise to the occasion when all three of us shout ‘Scone!’ (as in John) to Daddy when he pronounces Scone as ‘Joan.’   (Who the heck was she after all?).

No, the only battle in our house over the great Hadrian’s divide is during the Calcutta Cup.  But I will not talk about that for now.  Not until we rise again.  13th March 2010. Bring it on.. A home win.  We’ll be there. And since my mother is the one who gets us our tickets, he has to endure the afternoon with the rest of the club.  Fabulous.

On the second count of hypocrisy, David and I are not in fact married.  I pass myself off as his wife when I feel the need to, but am never comfortable being Mrs B. That’s his mother’s name after all.  Having said that I am dreadfully duplicitous as I regularly feign ignorance on the phone when someone wants to talk to Mr B.,

“No, he’s not here.  No, he is not my husband. No, you can’t possibly try to sell me anything, no.”

Of course then there is the flipside,

“What do you mean you can tell me want my balance is?  It’s my card too.  No, I am not his wife, and no, I can’t remember his mother’s maiden name.   Look, I am just the mother of his children – does that count?”

So, after several years here in the Village, we still pass as a couple who are adding to the increasing statistics of the ‘We’ll get round to it one day’ s.’

Well, not until we’ve finished the garden at least.  Because that’s where the marquee will go.

Yes, yes, I’m avoiding the ironing again. For what? Quite.

Blog, Grr. Hate that word. Hate it, hate it, HATE it. What is a 40+ year old mother of two doing writing a daily ‘blog?’  Is it as though I actually have time on my hands? I have a job, indeed I have my own business, but perhaps this is a way of avoiding the ever increasing pile of ironing that is gradually taking over the spare room.

As I write, this week’s school shirts are currently lying at the bottom of the ironing basket and have quite possibly become nicely flattened by the weight of clothes pressing down upon them. Indeed, they may even no longer need ironing.  But dare I look?  If I did, the guilt would start chipping away and then the urge to start ironing would consume me.  Moreover, once started, there is no going back. No hungry child, irate husband, dead cat or stinky dog could stop me.  And it’s not as though I enjoy it either! But once that iron has reached the selected temperature then I have reached the point of no return. I feel compelled to get the job done.  There is just no going back.

“Mum, where are you!” a polite, considered little voice wanders the hallway below.  However, he gets no answer.  He sighs for a moment, sticks his hands deep in his pockets, as he always does when he is angry (like his dad, he is) and then repeats in a ridiculously raised voice, of which another decibel or two would surely hurt his throat,

“Mum!

Where!

Are!

Yooooou!”

The silence is broken, reluctantly,

“Just one more shirt dear, then I will be down.”

“But we’re hungry mum. Rory has to go home soon. He says his tummy hurts. We are sooooooo hungry.”

“Yes, yes, OK, just one more – err, can you set the table?”

The pair scuttle into the kitchen and I can hear cupboard doors banging, the fridge door slamming, and the familiar noise of a kitchen chair being dragged across the floor tiles on its way to the tall cupboard that houses the poorly stacked and (breakable) crockery.  Thankfully none of it of any value.  However, the thought of our few matching plates scattered in pieces across the stone floor tears me away from the last remaining school shirt,

“On second thoughts, boys, why don’t you switch on the TV for while and I shall be with you in a few minutes?”

No answer from below.  But within moments the familiar tune of the Simpsons theme carries up the stairs.  Good, good. Inappropriate but almost harmelss viewing for two 6 year-olds (well, they dont understand the puns, and inuendos, do they. Er, do they?).  But at least that gives me another 20 minutes…

Right, David’s shirts next.

I’ll do just one, perhaps two and then make dinner.  Oh why, oh why did I have boys? I can’t iron shirts for love nor money. Damm the person who invented the shirt.  Must have been a man.

There is a knock at the door,

“Be down in tick!”

“Mum! Rory’s mum is at the door!”

S***, and I haven’t even fed them yet. S***. S***.  S***!

Cowslips in Leicestershire this morning

The cowslip is protected here in the UK but you wouldn’t think that it was in decline if you came across this field whilst out walking.  In the heart of Leicestershire we have several hot spots of cowslips, and this has to be one of my favourites. It’s tucked away. My boys call it the ‘magic field.’ It is where I have based a chapter from my book ( a mere work in progress).

This morning Nicky Campbell was talking about  Morecambe and Wise’s theme song, ‘Bring me Sunshine’ on Radio Five Live and how uplifting it is.  It seemed rather fitting to be humming the tune this morning as I took these photographs!

Bring me Sunshine, in your smile,
Bring me Laughter, all the while,
In this world where we live, there should be more happiness,
So much joy you can give, to each brand new bright tomorrow,

Make me happy, through the years,
Never bring me, any tears,
Let your arms be as warm as the sun from up above,
Bring me fun, bring me sunshine, bring me love.

Bring me Sunshine, in your eyes,
Bring me rainbows, from the skies,
Life’s too short to be spent having anything but fun,

Bring me Sunshine

We can be so content, if we gather little sunbeams,

Be light-hearted, all day long,
Keep me singing, happy songs,
Let your arms be as warm as the sun from up above,
Bring me fun, bring me sunshine, bring me love.

Words – Sylvia Dee, Music – Arthur Kent

Can’t beat it – fresh rhubarb, a little sprinkling of sugar, topped with crumble topping (see here) and in it goes until golden brown! Now, where’s the double cream (or custard, but never both…) .  Sid was the gentleman who lived in this house for over 40 years before he passed away. He has left us with many beautiful plants but this rhubarb has his name on it. We have given crowns to several neighbours but our plant has perperuated for what seems like decades. And it is still going strong. If you want some just call in! Thanks Sid.

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Disclaimer: This Rural Wife is a partly fictional tale, exaggerated nuances of hapless events that occur within the Village on a daily basis. They express the opinions and mad ramblings of the author only. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental, so please dont feel offended if you are not mentioned