Wednesday, 28 September 2011

BC and AD or BCE and CE

I think I owe Australia an apology!  Whilst I was busy denigrating their government for wanting to remove the terms BC and AD from school history books, our own country is doing something similar.  I fail to see why a corporation like the BBC should remove the reference to Christ's birth when referring to the year - surely we have much bigger concerns with the world economy - what's the expression "Nero fiddled whilst Rome burned"?  (All and any corrections to this quotation gratefully accepted).

Where are our great Statesmen at this time of crisis?  Busy "slagging" each other off at their party conferences - but, sorry - we don't seem to have any great Statesmen any longer.

Friday, 23 September 2011

My New Blog!

In anticipation of Christmas I have started a new blog!  That's not to say that I will not still be posting here - I will, I just felt that Christmas should have a blog of its own.  So I hope to see you at The Christmas List soon.

Have a good weekend.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Downton Abbey, First World War and My Parent's Anniversary ...............

Downton Abbey returned tonight - what a fabulous opening.  This time the First World War is underway.

How poignant that tomorrow - Monday 19th September is the anniversary of the death of my great uncle - William Madden - who died during the First World War on 19th September 1917 aged just 22.  He is remembered with honour at La Clytte Military Cemetery in Belgium.

My father was named for his uncle - another William Madden.  Surprisingly my parents were married on 19th September 1953.  They had no idea at the time that it was the date of my great uncle's death.  I find that rather a coincidence.

                                                       FOR THE FALLEN

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill;  Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

Laurence Binyon (1914)

Although none of us that are alive today knew him - we will remember him with love and affection for the greatest sacrifice he made - William Madden may you rest in peace.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Lentil, Tomato and Pasta Soup

Sadly I took no photographs of this soup which I made for supper yesterday, and I cannot photograph the leftovers because they no longer look like soup!  However, after reading my sister's latest post (see claiming she is being stalked by puy lentils I felt duty bound to post the recipe here.

I was looking for someting to make for supper and looked through Tamasin Day-Lewis' Kitchen Bible - always inspirational - and came across this soup which was perfect for last night's supper.

This recipe serves 6.

3 tbs olive oil, 2 onions - finely chopped, 6 cloves of garlic (I only used two), 2 sticks of celery, 110g smoked streaky bacon chopped small, 225g puy lentils, 400g tin of chick peas,  4 tomatoes skinned seeded and chopped, 400g tin Italian plum tomatoes, approx 1.5 litres of chicken stock, 3-4 sprigs of thyme, 2 bay leaves, 225g macaroni or similar small pasta, salt and pepper, 2-3 tbs chopped fresh parsley, 110g Parmesan cheese grated.

To make things easier I put the onions, garlic and celery into my kenwood chopper and blended them all together before putting them into the saucepan with the olive oil and bacon - cook these over a low heat until they are softened and translucent (approx 10-15 minutes).  Add the lentils and chick peas and stir to coat them in oil.  Add the fresh and tinned tomatoes, chopping the tinned ones into their juice.  Bring to a bubble, then add the stock, thyme and bay leaves.  Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer until the lentils are cooked, about 40 minutes.  If the mixture is absorbing a lot of stock, ladle in some more keeping the level above the lentils.  Cook the pasta in boiling water, drain and add to the soup with an extra couple of ladles of stock.  Season well and sprinkle with parsley.  Serve in bowls, sprinkled with the Parmesan.  Serve with garlic bread.

As my local Tesco seems reluctant to replenish its stock of bay leaves I was fortunate enough to have some in the garden and was quite pleased with myself that not only did the bay leaves come from the garden but the thyme and fresh tomatoes

Friday, 9 September 2011

A Little Beauty For The End Of The Week

The first week back to school after the summer holidays is always the worst.  I miss having the girls at home during the day. 

Looking through some photographs that I had taken and not posted I came across these -

This is Ferdinand Pichard - rather handsome I think - it's an old Bourbon Rose with a beautifully rich fragrance.

My previous post sparked a series of emails amongst my family in Australia - they had not heard about this change!  Their government seems to be as informative to the electorate as ours!

Monday, 5 September 2011

What's Happening to Australia?

I didn't plan on using this blog as a platform for a rant, but I read something yesterday that has left me shocked.  I love Australia and the people that live there - I wouldn't have spent so many years there if I hadn't, and of course, I have family and friends there too.  I always believed the people to be very down to earth and "no nonsense" yet completely welcoming and with big hearts, but how have they managed to elect a government that is more PC than the EU?

The world is in a financial crisis, people are dying in parts of the world because of famine and war, the Arab world is in turmoil - so what is Australia concerned with?  Removing the birth of Jesus Christ as a reference point for dates in school history books.  So what year are we really living in if not 2011AD?  The terms BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini) are to be replaced with BCE (Before Common Era) and CE (Common Era).  It may be a secular government but it is a Christian country surely.  What's next - are they going to ban Christmas or just rename it so that they can still benefit from public holidays?  Surely changes such these are for public debate and a referendum.  I hope that common sense will prevail and the row that has delayed these changes from being pushed through for next year will halt this idiocy.

What is this obsession with change for the sake of change?  I can see no other reason for making a change such as this - and if you're wondering why I'm bothered by this it's because changes which take place in one country usually begin to work their way around to other countries - England next?  I can see no benefit to this change unless it's atheism or some disillusioned attempt to remove christianity from reference points so that other faiths are not "offended" - as if any truly religious person would be offended by another's religious beliefs! 

Oh, and have the people of Queensland who lost so much during the flooding been re-homed and compensated for their losses and are their lives back to normal?  I'm not sure that they are - I think the Australian Labour Government would do better to concentrate on the welfare of the Australian people rather than tinkering with history due to their own sense of superiority - or is that inferiority?

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Tilbury Fort

I had hoped to have this post written yesterday, but one thing led to another and time disappeared - what was I doing?  Do you know I can barely remember!!  There was a lot of preparation for school next week, and of course the usual taxi service to keep running as one daughter went in one direction and the other daughter in another direction - then back later to pick up.

Anyway, I digress, back to Tilbury Fort - the present fort, situated in a defensive position on the Thames estuary was built in 1672 during the reign of Charles II and is on the site of an earlier fort built by Henry VIII.

The entrance doorway - known as the Water Gate because it was accessed from the river - which was originally closer than it now is.

This was a room in the north-east bastion which would have stored cartridges - the passageway outside was quite dark so we didn't venture very far!!

The Bernard Truss collection of military items and wartime memorabilia is held in one of the houses which formed the Officers' Quarters - we were lucky enough to meet these handsome men!

I love a man in uniform!

The fort has also played host to 268 prisoners who had sailed from Inverness for Tilbury enduring appalling conditions of starvation and disease aboard small transport ships - on 11th August 1746 these surviving prisoners landed at Tilbury and were imprisoned in the powder magazines of the fort - 303 had sailed from Inverness, 268 arrived at Tilbury - within a month 45 had died, mainly of typhus.  Those that survived were tried in London in 1747 - some were executed but many were transported to Barbados and Antigua as slave labourers on sugar plantations - only a few men were released.  There is a memorial stone to the bravery and suffering of the Jacobite prisoners which stands in the lea of the river wall at Tilbury - a very sad reminder of shameful and cruel times.

Great place to visit for an afternoon - take your own afternoon tea though because the shop only sells drinks from a machine and there are no tables or chairs or cakes!