Friday, 24 August 2007

Tomato Frenzy!

I'm sitting in the kitchen overseeing a massive tomato cooking operation. Inspired by Barbara Kingsolver's book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle I've bought tons of toms in order to stockpile the summer harvest. I wish I could pretend that I'd grown them all myself but the combination of a late arriving greenhouse, too small pots, inexperience and a total lack of a Scottish summer has caused my plants to be barren. Not to worry, the local farm shop and Organic Diane who delivers our veg box from her farm every two weeks, have supplied me with enough of the red stuff to keep us going through the winter.
It's a lovely job, making sauce. All you have to do is hang about for an hour or two while the house smells like the best pizza you've ever tasted and then when the tomatoes emerge, blistered and sweet, squish them through a sieve leaving skin and seeds behind. My sauce was a bit too thin for my liking so I boiled it a bit to reduce it some more. Then into tubs and frozen as soon as it cools.
Twelve kilos of tomatoes have been through the treatment this week.

The house organising is almost over ( at least this bit ) and we now have a lovely store-room as seen in the photo above. Yes, that is a bottle of unopened whisky on the shelf. It was a prize and we haven't got round to drinking it yet. Had the prize been gin, the evidence would be long gone. The store room is a funny wee place. About 15 years ago it was a hairdressing salon - one sink and only room for one customer at a time. When we took up the lino a few years back, there was still hair stuck to the floorboards. Many people in the village have been trimmed in my house.

Talking of prizes, we are off to York next week. My mum, the competition diva won us first class tickets and we have booked a lovely sounding B and B. My dad is busy too this weekend, he is part of a relay team doing a 24hour walk/run/stagger to raise money for Cancer Research. More power to his walking boots! Me, I'll be busy sorting out the knitting to take on the train to York. It's a long journey without needles.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Frogs, broccoli and Hurricane Nell.

We had a severe weather warning for Tuesday but in the end all was calm until the arrival of Hurricane Nell. Nell arrived on the eleven-forty train swiftly followed by Gilll, her mother. A later train was to bring Sam, another old friend so that we could meet up for lunch and more. We had a lively meal in our favourite Italian cafe with Nell greeting the owner in Italian ( it's just a pity he comes from Dundee ). It is amazing how much silliness one four year old girl can cause. I was wearing a top which showed a hint of shoulder and we engaged in a conversation about what might be at the end of my arms. The answer I was expecting was maybe hands or fingers, but according to my companion, at the end of my arms, I have nipples. Hmmm, must check . I think there must be too much Cinderella going on in the bedtime reading as when I asked about little sister Esme ( in truth, at home with grandparents ), Nell explained that she had been given away to an old beggar woman on the train, then had died after eating a poisoned apple!
Luckily for three women trying to catch up on many months of news, Nell loves Archie, in fact she thinks he is more beautiful than all the beautiful things in the world. So, while Archie and Nell enjoyed some mutual admiration, Sam, Gill and I had a bit of a natter.

We also had a visit from our neighbour's daughter this week with the offer of frogs - two large and assorted small ones. Now, our pond has it's own supply of frogs for the first time but we decided that there can never be to many webbed footsoldiers in the war against slugs and gratefully accepted some more. Haven't seen them since though as they are fond of the undergrowth and skulking within. There are now so many frogs around that when Archie mows the lawn I walk ahead of him, like a grousebeater, scaring the beasties back into the pond and away from the mower blades.

Aother gifts this week came from a Garden Club comrade called June. She might be in her eighties but she's a far better gardener than I am and I was so pleased to take delivery of some purple sprouting broccoli plants and some lovely rouge d'hiver lettuce to keep us in greenery over the winter. June is a Quaker and a peace campaigner and a trade justice campaigner and is secretary of our local Friends of the Earth group. She grows her own food and was once spotted wearing a home made Make Poverty History armband. June is great, when I grow up I want to be just like her.

I have been knitting, honest, it's just that we've embarked on a wholescale house organising spree which has even spread to the new potting shed as you can see. I am, however knitting a ballgown for a Barbie. Let's hope it's Hurricane-proof!

Sunday, 5 August 2007

Visiting the Duke of Portland

I'm on the sofa in a delicate state after last nights 50th birthday party on a farm just outside Forfar. My lovely knitting bee chum Julie was the birthday girl and the house was full of friends family and dogs. Julie is a spinner as well as a knitter, not to mention the patchwork, crochet and all manner of other clever things. She can even spin dog hair, which is handy as I could do with a little hair of the dog right now. In the winter I have plans to get her to teach me how to use a drop spindle.....
There was food, wine, beer, gin and all manner of good spirits, the weather was on our side too and we sat out around the bonfire. Neil, Julie's partner has a band called The Duke of Portland, they played some songs and then there was a free for all with guitars, djembe, flute, harmonica, mandolin and voices. Just right for a summer evening. We went home with good memories and the smell of woodsmoke on our clothes.

Earlier on in the week I took some photos of Anna stepdaughter's film/dance project that she is working on. I don't often get the chance to photograph people so this was a great opportunity. There were six dancers and I spent two hours or so in the rehearsal room with them, enjoying their agility and physical confidence. Unfortunately the room was infested with flying ants which made for some interesting dance moves.

Archie finished the painting long before I had got even halfway through the mountain of pictures to scan. The rooms look lovely and bright and I'm relieved to be able to walk through the house without putting my clothing in peril. Days later I've been finding odd marks the same colour as the walls on my jeans, my shirts, my coat. Must talk to Anna's dancers about improving my sense of balance.

There are no photos of the party, I had the sensible thought that I should leave my expensive friend at home - cameras, alcohol and bonfires are a dangerous combination!