‘A Respectable Life’ . . . Goes Live

The lead-up to the launch of a novel is always fraught – but here they are ready for this Friday and looking splendid! arl-mass-1

A website that kept freezing, a code that could not be read, a pdf – with embedded fonts – that was somehow rendered with the wrong font in the proofs – these are some of the extra trials in the run up to the launch of A Respectable Life. {up-date – and a whole box of books delivered to the wrong address!}

You will recall the poll I took on the way the words should be placed on the cover (Thank you all for your comments and votes) It was a close-run thing – but both of the main choices had the word ‘respectable’ split up and uneven on the right hand side.

After much discussion the choice was made – with the hint of a shadow added to deepen the font and make it more serious.

All of this carefully placed on Anthea Lay’s painting of Hingsbury so as not to hide any of the main features of Hingsbury village – the pub, The Old Chapel (where Cordelia lives), the Church, the shop and Hideaway Cottage – I wanted all of these visible on the cover.

Anthea had an interesting task – to create this fictional village from a sketch map and set it into the landscape where I wanted to plant it – and then to squash everything over onto one side – the front cover! Explaining this to a number of people I was told that they ‘love a map’ – so I have included this in the front of the book too.

SO… the book is ready to launch. What to do? Where to hold it?

Now, you have to know that Cordelia organises the prestigious Hingsbury Art Fair – raising thousands for charity – and it is this backdrop that flows behind the events of A Respectable Life – so the Book launch will be in Hingsbury Art Fair!

OK… so St Dominick Hall will be masquerading as Hingsbury hall – with a Pop-Up Art Fair provided by five local artists, Anthea being one of them! Each of these five artists is very different – there’s oils and acrylics, encaustic wax, gouache and pen and ink, fine botanical paintings and quirky multimedia work as well. Something for everyone. There will be a short talk and Q&A followed by refreshments (& cake) and opportunity to chat – look at the art – or buy (signed)books and art (Think Christmas pressies for special people – or yourself 😉 )

Now, if you are in the area – and you haven’t already received an invitation via facebook, twitter or email – please consider this yours!launch-invite-2(click on picture to enlarge and make clearer!)

And we all look forward to seeing you there …

X Ann

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Who put the butter in the jam?

Who put the butter in the jam? No, it isn’t a fussy query from the person who deals with such things as the butter dish on the tea table – this is something I wondered aloud – though there was no-one to answer me  (yes – I talk to myself even when there is only the radio to listen).WP_20160917_20_51_23_Pro

I was making some bullace and apple jam (recipe for Bullace Jam is HERE – but the bullaces (wild damson-like fruit) were not as numerous or as large and juicy as usual so I had a feeling that the 4½ lbs lbs would make nothing like the 10 x 1lb pots I hoped for.

SO, as the windfalls have started to come off – I added half a pound of cooked apple per 2 ¼lb lot of bullace.

I cooked the bullace in the microwave with the three tablespoons of water, allowed to cool a little then drained them and squished them around and around in a large-hole colander until all I had left in the colander were bare stones and tough skins.

The apples I peeled, cored and cut into slices (on the apple/peeler/corer contraption which I love (see here) then just cut the prepared apple into 4 and spread them out in a covered pyrex dish and cooked until mushy.

This I added to the bullace and reheated – proceeding to then add the 3 lbs of granulated sugar and stirred well to dissolve it before returning to the microwave. When this mixture had heated to bubbling point I added a “knob” or ‘walnut-sized piece’ of butter … and said (aloud)

‘Who put the butter in the jam?’ … in fact I added, laughing to myself … ‘Who on earth, while making jam, thought – I know – I’ll put some butter in this!’

The effect of putting butter in the jam is to prevent (or largely prevent) a ‘scum’ forming on the top of the jam as it boils, giving a brighter, cleaner jam, and obviating the need to ‘skim off the scum’ – which always sounds pretty revolting – even though it isn’t.

Useful … yes … but who would have known this would be the result? Why would they even think to try it? Beats me!

(you know – it is the jam recipes that keep bringing random new people to the blog – maybe I should be writing microwave jam recipe books instead of fiction – lol)

On another jam note altogether – people will go and eat it! Unfortunately I couldn’t even enter this year’s village Autumn Show – though I had promised I would enter some jam this year – as people had only gone and eaten ALL the jam I made last year! I’m hiding a nice jar or two this year – so at least I can participate next year!

So – that’s my blog for today …

And the question still remains – if you know – do tell – Who (first) put the butter in the jam?

best

Ann

BTW – just to keep you good folks up to speed … my new book* A Respectable Life will be released on 28th October! (*for which you can blame my absence from the blog)

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Of Molehills and Microbes

I’m taking a detour away from telling you about the parts of Dr Perlmutter’s book that I want to share with you, to explain a little more why this book and the premise of this book chimed so much with me.

As I said – I am not so much a scientist – as a bit of a science junkie. I love to read scientific articles and learning is my drug of choice. LearningIMG_0384, however, doesn’t only come from books – it can come from observation.

The basic premise of this book is to say that our gut biome – those billions of bacteria that inhabit our gut (to say nothing of those that are so intimately a part of us, of our very cells, that if they malfunction we are unable to generate energy – the mitochondria) are essential to our well-being. That they have to be the right bacteria in the right proportion to each other to produce the health, both mental and physical, that we should have.

All animals require the correct gut bacteria. When we kept goats, shortly after the new kids were born we would find a nice fresh molehill, preferably in a ‘clean’ paddock where the animals didn’t usually graze, and take a nice trowel-ful. This would be placed in a plant-pot saucer and put in the corner of the goat-house or pen. Why? Because this ensured that the kid got the right bacteria – because they knew what to do with this molehill earth – they ate it.

The recently published longitudinal study known as The Life Project, which began studying a cohort of people in the UK in 1946 – with new cohorts added every ten years (until recently) – has flagged up the difference in the microbiome (biota) of people born by c-section* as opposed to those born vaginally. Where the former have a much restricted complement of bacteria in their microbiome – compared to the latter.  (*our rates of c-section run at 26%)

This method of birth, and the expanding use of antibiotics around birth which cause similar skewed bacteria in the gut, have been shown to produce a higher susceptibility to asthma, allergies and other related conditions in their later lives.

The only one of my four boys to have any allergy like symptoms is the one who was on antibiotics for five years to prevent kidney damage. He, literally, grew out of needing them but can be affected by asthma-like reactions to mould and dust and has sporadic eczema. At this late date he is trying to balance his gut bacteria since I read this book. . . we’ll see (he’s being my guineapig)

That antibiotics are good – that they have brought health where there was death – is undisputed. However, how many of you find that there is the time after you have been treated (and cured) by a course of antibiotics where your body seems sluggish – the normal daily routine is often out of step – and only returns after a while. In my experience plenty of live yoghurt always helped to reinstate normal patterns quicker than if not ingested.

Add to these the fact that being brought up on a farm or in the countryside with animals gives a significantly lower risk of developing chronic inflammatory diseases (such as asthma, type 1 diabetes (T1D), multiple sclerosis (MS), and also inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and we have the basis of believing that the contents of our gut really do affect our lives, both mental and physical.

So, just a few reasons that this theory chimes with that which I already had as a basis of my own understanding – and the fact that so many of these physical conditions are demonstrated by inflammation is leading towards a possibility that this could also be what happens inside the brain.

“You must eat a peck* of dirt before you die”  runs the old adage – maybe we ought to emulate the goats and get our ‘old friend’ bacteria from the start – anyone for nice fresh molehill?

Have you any observations that back -up (or refute) the premise that our gut bacteria can affect our whole health?

* In case you were wondering – as was I –  a peck is a dry measure of two gallons)

 

Find me on Facebook and Twitter @AnnFoweraker

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Getting passionate about …

The first time I was in my forties, and I blame the WI. After all, if I hadn’t seen the day out in the County News I would never have decided to have-a-go.

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Cheesewring, Cornwall – photo Ann Foweraker

So it was off to the wilds of Bodmin Moor – to the quarry at the foot of the famous Cheesewring. When I say, at the foot … if they had continued to quarry there would have been no famous Cheesewring left to see, as it hovers near the top edge of this defunct granite quarry.

We, a group of WI women from all over Cornwall, were gathered to have-a-go at Rock Climbing and Abseiling.

I have to say, it was an exhilarating experience, made all that more wonderful by the fact that you could almost palpably feel the goodwill driving you on to reach that next hand hold or edge of rock to rest your foot on, from the women below (and above) as you climbed the ‘sheer’ rock face. Okay, so it was a real ‘beginners rock face’ with plenty of hand holds once you knew what to look for, and the places to put your feet were substantial enough to suffice, even though we were all in conventional trainers.

Once we reached the top, yes all of us managed it, we had the opportunity to abseil down again. This was quite another thing.

Climbing, taken that you are roped and belayed, is relatively safe, you are also in control of your movements. The LOOK of abseiling sent my heart beating fast. It looked unsafe. It looked out of my control.

My turn came, the sound of my heart beating, in my head so loud I could barely hear the instructions. I stood on the cliff edge feeling sick and started to lean back over the abyss, the rope taking the strain, my grip on the rope, as it went through the rappel, tight.

It was magnificent! The bouncing off the cliff-face and landing further below; a new sort of freedom, and it finished all too soon.

That day was completed with a second, higher, climb and abseil and I exalted in it, enough to organise another event for other members of my own WI on Kit Hill the next year. However, that was it… until my boys, now very (read EXTREMELY) keen and good climbers started taking me with them on local sorties … and to the local climbing wall where they also have Bouldering. A giant ‘rock’ in the middle of the huge climbing barn, dotted with coloured holds, making routes of differing difficulties which you climb without ropes. And, though some routes can be a struggle (for me) the sense of achievement when you reach the top on your second / third / fourth go! ZIPPP!

And I am hooked. I am thinking of buying climbing shoes (rather than hiring them) and, in true WI style, making my own (very individual) chalk-bag  😉 My only grievances: – my fingers are not very strong, and though this will improve, I suspect over-sixty is not the best age to grow new finger-strength – watching  youngsters fly up the holds, their lithe, lightweight bodies scrambling like spiders, and wishing I’d done it back at that age  –  and finally, time – it is hard enough to fit everything I want to into a day as it is!!

Here’s a lovely video of a baby to show you just how easy it is really 🙂

Do you have a new passion this new year?

Have you tried climbing – is it your thing?

Do share – you know I love to hear from you…

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Parking machines that make you SPIT!

I really didn’t want to get off on a rant during the festive time –  but during the festive time is when many of us will be out and about doing that extra shopping… so this is a relevant rant.

Our Council, Cornwall, have decided that too many people have been ‘stealing’ from them by passing on unexpired-time parking tickets to other users. To stop this heinous crime they have installed new parking meters at all their car-parks at a cost of £477,144.42 for the 128 machines installed. Yes – nearly half a million pounds – while Cornwall Council’s austerity measures are also cutting hard into essential services!

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Advantages to the authority seem to be mainly to do with managing their statistics (according to a reply to a freedom of information request on their website). As well, of course, of reducing their ‘Loss’ from people who pass on unexpired tickets, and alerting them more quickly when a meter has malfunctioned so they can repair it quicker.

Loss? Really? If I, or you, bought a ticket for an hour and stayed in that space for an hour, then that space would be occupied for all that time – if I passed the ticket on to someone else – the space would still be occupied for just that amount of time. But (I hear them cry) it is against the rules – and the other person would have bought a ticket so they have made a ‘loss’.

Now I would like you to consider exactly how often this happens.
It takes, 1, that a person has a significant length of unexpired time – you wouldn’t offer a ticket to some stranger with less than half an hour and 2, you have to encounter that stranger as you are about to leave the car park. They have to be obviously going to get a ticket … and you need to be close enough to wind down your window and offer…. Yeah, not often, I’m sure. certainly not £477,144 worth of ‘lost’ revenue – even over a looong time.

All this aside – my main gripe at the moment is with these new state-of-the art meters. They do not like 20p coins! They tend to spit them out as soon as they are put in.

Picture this the other day. There is a fine *mizzle as I pull into the car-park. (*Cornish misty drizzle to the uninitiated) I take my purse and head for the parking meter. Today I have remembered to take note of my car number plate. Sometimes I do not and have had to go back until I can see it to check – because now – on these new machines – you have to put your FULL  number plate in! (How BIG BROTHER is that I ask you?!)

I put the full set in, letters and numbers in the right order, and start to feed in the coins. A nice new 20p – it runs right through.  Another woman joins the queue. I try the 20p again; same result. ‘Is it working?’ she asks. I try a 5p – it registers and I answer ‘Yes, seems it is,’ and then try the 20p again. It runs right through. I root in my purse for 10ps – all I find is another 20p – an old one – feels heavier, somehow, so I go to try that one … but before I do the 5p tinkles out and the machine resets to ‘Put in your number plate’  GRRR!

By now there are two other ‘customers’ waiting for the meter. I say, ‘I’m sorry – it doesn’t seem to like 20ps’. The woman says, ‘Oh dear – that’s all I have too.’  I have noticed this lately – lots of 20ps about – not so many 10s – perhaps they are all in the meters. It is now RAINING! I bend-down to see the keypad properly to retype my number plate number.

Number plate number displayed, I start again with the old 20p I have. It runs right through. There is nothing for it!  I must resort to the ‘SPIT method’. (I don’t like to do this in ‘company’ – as it were – otherwise I might have tried it earlier) I spit on my thumb and wet both sides of the 20p, insert it into the meter … it runs right through. Grrr!

I try a 5p, it registers. I use the spit method again on the 20p, insert it … it registers!!!!  I put in the other 5p and I have my ticket!

After displaying the ticket I head for the shop … noticing that the woman behind me in the queue is still at the meter… and the two behind her now joined by yet another ‘customer’, all waiting to try their luck at getting the machine to accept legal tender.

I think of all the 20ps inside the new meters stuck together with spit – as I know that this is the wisdom passed on from motorist to motorist at tricky meters
‘W
hen the meter spits out the coin – you spit on the coin before re-inserting it!’

I think of the time I have wasted, of the time everyone in that queue has wasted – and how wet I have got – and how unhygienic it is – just trying to pay the parking fee of 30p – and I am very unhappy with my County council – and that was before I found out exactly how much they paid out to inflict this on us!

And … please do not get me started on the other option if a machine won’t accept the coins you have – to use my phone to pay for the ticket!

Have you encountered machines that won’t take your money!

Does it drive you mad?

Do share – a rant shared is … therapy  😉

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Don’t Panic! There’s still time!

 Have YOU done your Christmas shopping?

                      I mean Have You? HAVE YOU? ….  I haven’t!

                                 Indeed – What type of Christmas shopper are you?

DSCF0088Are you a very organised person? Do you buy throughout the year as ideas come to you?

Sad to say – I’m not one of those.

Maybe you are a blitzer – make a list and blitz the shops notching up scores until the whole lot is got?

No, I’m not one of those either.

Maybe you like to sit at the computer in late November or early December and order everything on-line?

Now, I have to admit I’d like to do this. However, if I am stuck for ideas this doesn’t work very well for me – real browsing would be better at triggering ideas.

I have a confession – I do not like shopping.

There, I’ve said it. I know, I know, we women are supposed to like shopping.
But I mean – who says?? No-one asked me!

I do not even like shopping for things, clothes, treats or gifts for MYSELF – let alone any other type of shopping!

A trip to the shops usually has me returning with either something, which I later decide is not the right thing after all, or nothing – except a headache – which I always come back with. (which is why the internet shopping is attractive – don’t usually get a headache doing that)

More than anything – I do not want to go to Plymouth, our nearest metropolis, and trail around the shops there – it is not just Plymouth – I just do not want to trail around shops in any town or city – it is not my thing.

You get the picture – Christmas shopping is not a joyous time for me – though I love to give gifts that I know the other person will actually want and like!

 For the main presents ‘want’ and ‘like’ are the key words to me – however I am now resigned to the fact that I cannot buy what my loved ones will really want and like and make it a surprise. Oh, yes – I forgot to mention that. I really would like presents to be a surprise. A surprise that also happens to really and truly be ‘Just What they Wanted’ … Yeah, right, in my dreams.

And so … no surprises any more for the big stuff – now the esoteric gifts (climbing gear – for instance) is ordered via a link to the precise item, or a description given that cannot be mistaken in any way, for the more usual things.

However, for ‘secondary’ or ‘stocking’ presents I like unique, interesting, different gifts if I can find them to suit the right people – and so, as I said in an earlier blog, I do frequent local quality Craft Fairs – like the one coming up at Upton Cross next weekend. (4th– 6th) where lovely things and beautiful paintings are to be found (as well as my novels) and these have to satisfy my longing to ‘surprise!’

What kind of Christmas Shopper are You?

Are you a woman and like shopping? (or not?)

Do share – you know I love to hear from you.upton cross

 

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Converting the Americans

Converting them to what – or from what? You may well ask!

One of the things that the internet has brought us, is recipes from round the world.  Recipes from far flung countries with different climates and different languages do not seem to be a problem – usually someone, somewhere, has taken the trouble to convert the recipe from whatever units it is usually made in – into (nowadays) grams and millilitres. Apart from American recipes!

If you are ‘of a certain age’ you are probably still thinking in ounces and pints for cooking. In fact there are a few recipes I really do not think I could work in metric, so long ago were they learnt that I make them on automatic pilot and in imperial. They are, at least, proper measurements.

DSCF5371I have been looking for a particular type of biscuit to set as a competition for our WIs next group meeting. Now, for the uninitiated, a group meeting is where a designated group of WIs in an area get together for a cut-throat friendly set of competitions and a talk – frequently one that would be beyond the reach (financially) of one WI on its own, though not always.

DSCF5377At these events the friendly competition is usually set to reflect the theme of the talk. Hence – the last one we set up was a talk from a man who had owned a Zoo … the competitions were: Floral – a flower arrangement to represent a wild animal, Craft – a decorative border for the poem Tyger Tyger, by Blake and, Cookery – a Zebra Cake!
Just a few of the entries shown Right>

DSCF5369Now the only available versions of this zebra cake were in American Cups – and using a tin size that is just not commonly in the British cupboard. So a lot of conversion and changing of quantities took place until the recipe worked in metric … and then it had to be converted to imperial and checked again, as some ladies of a ‘very certain age’ only measure and cook in imperial.
Zebra Cake!  my metric / imperial recipe here

I struggle to understand why the Americans use their form of measurements in their cooking. I have heard that it was from when they had nothing to weigh with, that recipes using ‘cups’ were simple enough that any vessel could be the ‘cup’ and as long as the proportions (the cup) used was the same the recipe would then work. Understandable then, if true, but when we live in an age when even ‘sophisticated’ scales, that swap between imperial and metric, are available for small amounts of money – why use a method so random?

Just try getting a ‘cup’ of butter  to be right – or using a different type of sugar to the one specified when you run out of one but have the other in the cupboard (granulated, demerara and caster all give different cup measurements) – or even flour – which has to be ‘fluffed-up’ before making up the cups ‘best spooned into the cup and then levelled off!’ What?!

Looking it up I see that many American Chefs and Cookery writers are trying to convert the Americans to use scales and recipes that are more accurate – but there is a huge resistance – ‘Cups’ ‘Spoons’ and ‘Sticks’ are almost seen as patriotic! (by the way – ‘spoons’ as in ‘a spoon of butter’ – not just spoons of fluid ingredients)

At our next group meeting in May 2016 we have the lovely Anthea Lay who was a competitor on The Big Painting Challenge on the BBC, bringing us an interactive Big Painting Challenge Experience to our WI Group meeting – I’m looking forward to it … but before that I have to work out the cookery competition to fit the theme, and soon – so we can notify the other WIs.

I am after a particular type of biscuit that I saw on the internet, one that can be made to look like an artist’s palette. Can I find it in metric or imperial? Can I coco!

So once more I shall set about converting the American measures into Metric and Imperial. It does mean that I’ll have another recipe to add here eventually – which can’t be a bad thing.

Have you ever tried an American ‘cups’ type recipe without converting it?  How did it go?

Do you *sigh* when you find a really nice looking recipe and see it is all in ‘cups’ ‘spoons’ and ‘sticks’?

Do share your thoughts – and any good recipes too, you know I love to hear from you.

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Craft Fairs & Literary Festivals

It is THAT time of year – when people are thinking about  *whisper* Christmas shopping …  WP_20151105_15_26_11_Pro

… and my favourite place to shop is a proper local craft fair – where the goods are made in the area by the hugely talented lot of crafters we have in South East Cornwall (and around) There are two I always go to – and attend with my own books too – one is in my local church, which happened this weekend, the other is at the Parish Hall (for Linkinhorne) at Upton Cross which is also a treasure house of art as well as crafts … and happens on the first weekend of December – truly into the Christmas season!

Art and Craft … and books? It may seem strange to have books along at such events, but they fit in very well – what an art and what a craft, it is to create the worlds, characters, plots and lives held within the pages of a novel!  And they are local – in that the authors are local and are often present to sign or dedicate the books (though not ‘sitting behind the stall’ in either of these style of craft fair they can be found at certain times stewarding).

WP_20151107_11_12_51_ProToday, if you do not count on-line book sales, there are as many books sold through non-bookshop outlets as there are though bookshops. Every supermarket has books for sale, usually the most popular, the newest and the heavily discounted – but books that catch the casual shoppers eye – and get bought. To  have books at a craft fair therefore is no different in retailing terms – and a signed (and dedicated) novel can make a very special present.

However, it is the Literary Festival that holds up the book in the spotlight. Here the readers go to hear the stories behind the stories. How the authors come up with their plots. Where do they get inspiration from to create the characters? What are the trials and tribulations … and the highlights and triumphs. What was the hardest part to write, indeed, how do they write – most authors have their own way of working – finding out can be fun.

So it is with great pleasure that I can tell you, if you didn’t know, that I am invited along again to the Looe Literary Festival starting on the 12 of November – 15th.

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If you go to their website you can find the schedule – I am talking about Some Kind of Synchrony at 2.45 on Saturday 14th and would love to see you along there – and it is totally FREE. The venue is Upstairs @ Mama J’s  – which is down towards the sea in East Looe.  Scroll down the Full Schedule page to see a map.

 

Before me, at 1.30pm,  you will have the chance to hear my fellow Pendown Publishing author Sally Newton talk about what she learnt when researching her novel, the first of a trilogy, ‘Caradoc – The Defiant Prince’ set in iron-age Britain in AD25.Book launch poster y1

Not only that but, on Sunday at 11.30, you can catch me again with the rest of The Liskeard Poets with our set called ‘Festival’ – also at Mama J’s and also for free!

In fact this festival is so great because they have ensured that there is always something to be seen and heard, regardless of how deep your pockets are, and it is one of the most relaxed and inclusive literary festivals out there – turning the bucket-and-spade town into something completely different – a place where people wander from talk to talk with books tucked under their arms, eat and drink in the pubs, restaurants and cafes and enjoy the peace of being by a Cornish river and close to the sea, with authors, books and talks all around the town.

So – I hope to see some of you along at the weekend – if you read this blog do let me know when we meet!

Do you frequent Literary Festivals?

What do you like about them?

If not – here’s your chance! A laid-back friendly festival to try.

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Siamese apples and Freak shows

We wouldn’t go to a freak show nowadays, would we? WP_20150930_12_58_55_ProThe Elephant man – the bearded lady – the Siamese twins?

What started this train of thought? Well an apple. This apple.

Which I popped on to Twitter – it was cute, I thought, but wanting to check my spelling of Siamese (Siamese twin apples) I came across the story of the eponymous Siamese Twins.

I had known nothing of these particular gentlemen. For some reason I had assumed that the first documented occurrence had been in Siam as is often the case with medical descriptions – and indeed these two did come from Siam – but they were far from the first documented.

‘Comments’ are to be found in history as far back as 300 AD (a statue of conjoined twins) or St Augustine of Hippo 415 (a full description of a man with two heads, two chests and four arms but only one torso and pair of legs). The first full medical examination was of conjoined brothers from Armenia examined in Constantinople in 942 AD

Chang and Eng Bunker courtesy wikipedia
Chang and Eng Bunker courtesy wikipedia

The name ‘Siamese Twins’ came from the freak-show label attached to the two men, Change and Eng Bunker, when on tour with P T Barnum’s Circus. The Bunkers (a surname they later adopted) had been born in 1811 near Bangkok in the, then, the kingdom of Siam to a Malaysian Thai mother and a Chinese Thai father.

A Scottish merchant, Robert Hunter, saw them swimming one day and realised their ‘potential’, getting the parents to allow him to take them on a world tour. This was highly successful and, when their contracts ended, the brothers bought themselves a 110 acre farm in North Carolina. There they also met and married two sisters, and over time fathered a total of 21 children. By then the term Siamese Twins has become synonymous with conjoined twins.

Roll-Up Roll-Up come and see the Freak Show!        No, we wouldn’t go now – would we?

Yet every other day Facebook seems to throw up a ‘freak show’ item. Sometimes in the guise of ‘helping’ the ones pictured by giving them ‘Likes’. I even saw one that suggested for every Like the page got money would be donated to the fund to heal the boy shown, with a terribly cleft palate – or so it said…. Then there’s the ones that say ‘share and you care’ ‘ignore and you are heartless’ showing people, or animals, in a distressing state – freak-shows with menaces.

TV serves up lots of freak shows too – I don’t need to name them. From people seeking love lives, to medical enhancements or medical problems, from crazy weddings to weight gain and weight loss, almost every ‘reality’ show – where everyone is a caricature – at the very least.

People are curious, of course we are – but we have obviously not moved on from the Victorian freak show – the only difference now is that it comes to us – and the ‘showmen’ know it – just as P T Barnum did.  No, not everyone, if you just turn off – turn over, flick past, you probably wouldn’t have gone to the shows if you were born in Victorian times either.

But it made me think … and all this just from an apple.

Do you get led astray by thought threads …..

Is it a time-waster or a means to learning new things

What do you think? You know I love to hear from you  🙂

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Good-News : Bad-News and … gardening

Thinking about this blog (while handling scaffolding poles) I kept thinking about that skit – Good-News : Bad-News.

HOUSE for blogGood news – (well it will be for some lucky person who decides to buy our lovely historic house here in Cornwall) – we are selling our beautiful house.  Bad News – it will mean we will be leaving this lovely place which once rang to the playfulness of our four boys as they roamed the huge garden as they were growing up. Good News – we do not intend to move far – after all, as the village is in the lovely Tamar Valley within half an hour of Dartmoor, Bodmin Moor or the Sea!! – why would we? In fact we are converting the barn.  Bad News – we are doing most of the work ourselves. Good News – this will keep the OH happy (nothing he likes more than ‘a project’) and will be cost-efficient.  Bad News – this means I am now
‘The Gardener DSCF0149 crop
as well.

Or, as today, right-hand-woman in the conversion – today ‘scaffolder’s mate’ passing up the the poles, boards and stuff. Just as well I do weights to keep fit!

Now, to be the gardener is not my delight, and this job has been the OH’s since I returned to work after time-out to bring up the boys (in the days when we both went to work outside the home!) and mightily glad I was of it!

There are problems with me being the gardener at the best of times. One, as a general rule, if I lavish love and care upon a plant it is sure to curl up and die. You have heard of ‘green fingers’… well I think mine are red (that being opposite on a colour-wheel to green) or black – that being the colour the plants end up as. Two, I find it seems to take an inordinate amount of time and my time has many callings upon it already – not least finishing my latest novel! And, thirdly, this is not the best of times … when the house is on the market there is this extra pressure for the garden to look nice. Weeded. In bloom. Tidy. Dead-headed (I’m showing off now)

So yesterday was a full-on gardening day (not the first this year I hasten to add, but one I had been dreading) A small, nearly circular garden of about a metre and a half in diameter, which is semi-shaded (in that it is in the shade for part of the day) had become infested with a garlic-smelling bulb with leaves like a daffodil or a bluebell but curling over more and a white and green bell-like flower arranged somewhat like a bluebell. DSCF0159Allium triquetrum – a form of wild garlic with a triangular stem (not to be confused with Ransoms with their heads of lovely star-like flowers – also known as wild garlic) It seems it is edible and can be used to make a good pesto* but that is no excuse to mess up a perfectly good flower-bed. (*as can Ransoms – and I may try one day – I know there is another patch of Allium triquetrum further down our wood, as well as plenty of Ransoms!) This had started a few years ago as a single flower and had been mistaken for just that – a ‘flower’. It was in a bed that was mostly filled with perennials (showing off again) a huge fuchsia, a perennial poppy with gorgeous large flower heads, daffodils of various types, primulas and Alcheilla mollis (lady’s mantle) I wish I had taken a BEFORE photograph to show you how thoroughly and comprehensively this weed had taken over. There wasn’t a trowel-full of soil that did not contain ten to fifty of these plants, some as fine as thin grass, some as stout as a daffodil. They had both seeded and divided and were woven in and out of all the other perennials that had, hitherto, made this garden an almost self-maintaining spot.

SO, everything had to come out. I was loathe to part with the fuchsia, so instead broke it apart and wheedled out every sign DSCF0152of the little blighters before replanting about half of the pieces. Similarly I ‘cleaned’ all the other plants I had chosen to return to the fold. I then dug up the ‘blocks’ of weed, two wheelbarrow loads, and then sieved all the remaining earth to a depth of about five to six inches to remove every trace of the weed. I dug in a wheelbarrow-load of home-made compost and replanted what I had chosen to start the bed off with again. I have a few different perennials I am bringing along in the greenhouse which will fill the spaces and bring the plot to life again later in the year.

Meanwhile – in other parts of the garden, nature has made some bits look lovely , the orchard is full of daffs, the camellias are glowing, the primulas abundant – if only the flower beds would be so well behaved and simple! DSCF0151DSCF0153DSCF0156Are you a keen gardener – or a reluctant one?

Where do you live? What do you love about your area?

Do share – you know I love to hear from you 🙂

 

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