Can you Adam and Eve it? It’s the final few days of November already, the Bury Christmas Market has been and gone, as has Black Friday and Thanksgiving, so we are now freewheeling towards the serious build-up to Christmas. At some point I am going to have to think about when to fit in my annual shopping trip; the day that inevitably ends in a stress headache and a serious case of the grumps. I am being a bit of a drama queen, because it’s not as if I have to buy heaps of presents, but I dislike shopping at the best of times, so the prospect of rubbing shoulders with throngs of sharp-elbowed festive shoppers is not my idea of a day-off well spent.

Whilst my brow is already furrowed I might as well tell you about something else that gets my goat. Actually I had better fill you in on something that I hope that you are completely unaware of; there is a TV channel dedicated to showing Christmas films. In fact there is one, ‘True Christmas’, that has been showing them since September! Additionally, Channel 5 apparently shows them back to back for large parts of the day too. How do I know this? Because, I am ashamed to say, I have a daughter that watches them all the time. It would be bad enough, though more acceptable, if she did it in the week leading up to Christmas, but to be viewing them before the end of November is just wrong. Forceful Victorian style father that I am, I have read the riot act and have insisted that she only watches them in her bedroom. Am I being unreasonable? I think not. PS they are really bad made for TV films, with very predictable plot lines – don’t ask me how I know (he said sheepishly).

I am looking forward to next weekend, when our Spanish ‘daughter’ Esther arrives for a few days. She first stayed with us as a language student when she was 14, and has visited us most years ever since; she is now in her 30’s and is married! We love her so much, and delight in the way that she fits in so naturally the moment she steps over the threshold; but there is a dark side to her. We often play board games, or cards, when she visits, and she cheats brazenly and unashamedly! If she is taken to task over her conduct she becomes indignant in a very Spanish way, with much shrugging and animated gesturing, whilst vehemently denying any wrongdoing. Nonetheless we will enjoy every moment that she is with us, she’s one in a million.

There was finally a proper frost one night last week. There have been a few light ones, but this one completely flattened my nasturtiums which were still flowering freely, and the water in the hosepipe was still frozen approaching lunchtime. It was not before time, but short-lived, because the forecast for the week ahead suggests fairly benign conditions, so no ice skating on the moat for a while yet.

When I said that the celeriac was going to be small last week I didn’t realise just how small until I lifted them. They were all top and no bottom; a consequence of a lack of water through their long growing season. I did try to compensate by doubling up, so I hope that you weren’t too disappointed. This week there will be regular cauliflowers, broccoli, cavolo nero, leeks, carrots, parsnips, Jerusalem artichokes, beetroot, squash, mushrooms, brown onions, garlic, potatoes – bakers, salad and normal, and lemons. There are no oranges or kiwi this week I’m afraid; I thought that I had ordered enough oranges for 2 weeks, but when they arrived they were much larger than I had been expecting (I buy by weight), so last week’s demand catastrophically diminished the stock level. It also meant that it was a commercial disaster darling. Pesto will be sorrel or parsley. I am going to cut some of the frisee (or curly) endive this week – the ones that I have been blanching for the past two weeks. If you are unfamiliar with this vegetable you should know that it is like a slightly bitter lettuce, so good for salads – particularly the pale green inner leaves, whereas the tougher mid-green outer leaves can be braised as a green vegetable, or stir fried.

It was a good sporting weekend; England comfortably beat Australia in the rugby, Spurs hammered Chelsea in the Premier league, and England look poised to whitewash Sri Lanka in the cricket. I am getting sporty too. I have joined a gym and going 2 or 3 times a week, primarily to build up the muscles around my painful knees. Since the medics have given up on me, I have to find a way to help myself, and I might lose a bit of lard at the same time.

I will be at Wyken as usual on Saturday, and as it’s the first of December I plan to take my beeswax candles for their first outing. They make a nice Christmas gift, or an attractive addition to your festive dinner table, so do come and have a look if you can.

Have a good week.





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