Blowing My Own Trumpet (via someone else)

I suspect that crowing over great reviews on Amazon is a little like ‘liking’ your own comments on Facebook, but I have to share this one with you:

5.0 out of 5 stars Not your typical vampire story!, April 11, 2013
By Tammy MaasSee all my reviews
This review is from: Autotherapy (Kindle Edition)

Sakina Murdock delivers the entire package in this book; from realistic well developed characters to scientific evidence, she makes you believe in the unthinkable. The details in this book are amazing. A little town called Cumbria, located in the UK, comes to life on the pages; you can see it, smell it and practically touch it. This book will suck you in and spit you back out, making you feel as though you are being held hostage as you quickly turn the pages wanting to see what happens next.

Love it.

Ruminations on a Beautiful Day in Bonny Cumbria

Today is one of those days in Cumbria. The bright, blue kind, where azure sky stretches out, beyond the limitations of the eye. The odd fluffy cloud slides across the expanse, so slowly that its progress is imperceptible unless you give it five minutes and look again.

The hills drift into the valley haze, and the snow has melted into tiger stripes.

This is why I live in Cumbria. For the four days each year that look like this.

Ancient lime kilns nestled into the sides of the fells, small quarries nearby. These tell of a different era; when a day of hard graft didn’t end with an evening’s TV. Someone – lots of someones – chipped out limestone from those quarries, by hand. Maybe we still use some of those pieces of stone in our drystone walls now.

Shepherd stations – small houses often without windows, but with a chimney – are scattered across the isolated regions. They once provided shelter and warmth for the hard workers who followed the sheep across the hills and eventually drove them to market.

With the lack of rain of late, the ground is quite brown and the rivers and tarns are revealing their secrets. The government has temporarily relaxed its rules on long distance lorry drivers enabling them to travel further for longer, so that animal feeds can be urgently delivered to sheep and cows across the region. All the animals want is that sweet, juicy, milk producing grass, but they won’t be so lucky for a while.

Everybody twines about the terrible weather here, but when it rains it only gets greener. When I first went to University, I was homesick for about 6 months. It rained all the time in Huddersfield, but it only got greyer. It wasn’t so bad – I stayed nearly 13 years in urban West Yorkshire – but having left for so long, I now never fail to appreciate how wonderful and magical it is to live here in bonny Cumbria.

Come visit us sometime. You’ll take it away with you; a little sliver stuck in your heart forever.

All Mouth and No Trousers; Spring is here.

Oh lordy, we have a goose sitting on her nest! Whoohoo! Spring must be here, though you wouldn’t know it.

Blueleg has parked herself on the most beautiful fortress nest; a perfect oval with high rounded straw walls, and 6 eggs rubbing shells inside.

No pictures; she is set to be in a very bad mood for the next 30 days, as Gander is finding out. He shrieked “One-two, one-two, one-two,” at her for most of the day, expecting her to fall in line with the other two, but she mainly ignored him, and occasionally screamed back, “Fuck off, can’t you see I’m hatching eggs?!”

He’s a humbug, Gander, all mouth and no trousers. He won’t be up to a protracted argument with her. He lost interest after we shut the compound to him, although he hung out with the other two for a couple of hours on the outside of the perimeter fence exactly opposite to Blueleg’s position. He even sat down in the sun but kept an eye on everything and didn’t fall asleep. He takes his job of protecting the ladies very seriously, even if he’s just a threatening noise machine.

I was worried the other geese might bully her (that happened a bit last year, so we shut Goosey in her trailer and housed the rest of the geese in a different one (they hated it), but Himself is using every other available housing for lambs and sheep, because the weather’s been despicable, so they’ll have to take their chances with each other.

Military Geese        See how proud Gander looks, marching around with his harem, his nose in the air.

Cheesed off with Lemon Curd

lemon curd 003Check out the Pennine Way Preserves Lemon Cheese. If you can get past the terrible label (who chooses a gothic-style font for jam?) the ingredients swear that there’s nothing but butter, sugar, eggs and lemon juice in that jar. That’s a lot of butter for 340g lemon curd (at £1.99).

The lid is a nice touch; an attractive yellow that sets off the product, but neither it or the great ingredients make up for the disappointing flavour. The lemon is an afterthought, its acid muted in rich butter and sugar.

Not to be outdone, I took advantage of the fact it was made out of real ingredients* in the first place, tipped it into a saucepan and added the zest and juice of one lemon. I boiled it, stirring, for about 10 minutes, then let it cool, and poured it back into the now clean jar. Sterilising the jar seemed pointless because it won’t have time to go mouldy.

So: Pennine Way Preserves. Kudos for using lovely ingredients, but please can we have more lemon?


*those lemon curds with locust bean gum, carranuba wax and other weirdnesses might not behave the way I expect when I boil it. I’m thinking a napalm-like attack when the curd realises the end is nigh.