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A Happy List

Who does not find the translucent, yolk-tastic, pale-without/golden-within splendour of a goose egg happy-making? The occasion of finding one in Vicar’s Butchers & Pie Shop last weekend was so momentous that I saved the two halves of the eggshell after eating its contents, and have planted cress seeds in cotton-wool inside them.

Another source of joy recently has been the discovery of a fig roll recipe* in my favourite book of biscuit recipes**. However, next time I make these I will not mess about with low fat margarine and light crème fraiche as I did for this first run, as I feel the hard-fats of the prescribed butter and sour cream are important for keeping the dough together. In spite of stringy, wet, unworkable, soggy dough this time around, my fig-rolls turned out to be moreish.

Healthier happiness comes in the form of the Land Cress which I planted in the Autumn. This is producing tasty little leaves, though nothing else which I planted then has flourished since. I have, however, found a place which will sell me some wild garlic plants, so the garden will soon be carpeted in edible, fresh green leaves. Also a happy thing.

The Madder – which is my most enduring joy re: plants that I grow – has rallied even after I dug up so much of its root-system last year, and now resides in its own purpose-built wooden bed. Raised up by loads of rocks and stones and filled with compost, this narrow and very-raised bed will hopefully provide an ideal environment both for the growth and harvesting of the long, succulent, ruby-red roots of the Madder plant. It tends to straggle, and so I thought it would be best to give it a special area to grow in. My construction for this purpose shall be the subject of a future post!

I found this beautiful Witney Blanket in a charity shop for £3.99. It is a beautiful piece of history; I have been interested in Witney Blankets ever since I watched a superb documentary about them – Journey of a blanket – produced by Thursday Films in partnership with CIAO!. Produced from British Wool in Oxfordshire for several hundred years, Witney Blankets were renowned as a quality, regional, woollen product, and were linked to various International trading routes. Journey of a blanket focuses on the movement of the Witney Blanket from 17th Century Witney, Oxon to Thunder Bay in Canada. I am not sure when my charity shop find dates from – certainly not the 17th century! Of the five original blanket factories in Witney, none now remain. The last was demolished in 2002, so my blanket could come from any time before then. It is beautiful, and I shall take it with me to Estonia as part of my “examples of British woollen objects” collection.

Another thing which never fails to please me is a happy bit of darning. In this photo, my Estonian sock darned with grey, Estonian wool at the heel, and underneath it, a vintage Harris Tweed M&S flatcap, also found in the charity shop (£2.99) and also coming to Estonia. Sadly the hat is too masculine for me to rock in even my most tomboyish of looks, and Mark is of the opinion that he is not old enough to pull it off, so when I get home from Estonia and my British Wool show and tell, I will find a suitable recipient to gift it to.

The other thing which is making me very happy at the moment is reading.

I am loving:

Bermondsey Story: The life of Alfred Salter by Fenner Brockway
A Book of Silence by Sara Maitlin
…and various books from the 1930s about the rise of the maternity and child welfare movement.

I also was very heartened by the kind and encouraging comments which you left here re: my last post, and have been enjoying reading your words all over the Internet.

I took courage re: my untidy, unruly, never-finished garden from this; I was reminded by Lara of the pleasure of blogging little and often; Kate’s inspiring words re: the loveliness of a rain-soaked landscape induced me to get outside and plant my borlotti beans even though the grey sky and a general sense of malaise made me want to just stay indoors and sulk; Colleen’s wondrous egg post made me even happier about the goose egg shell and the cress seeds growing inside it on my kitchen sill; I loved the mix of personal narrative, knitting history and WW1 history in this post by Susan; I found Caroline’s beautiful handmade crib post gorgeously thrifty, practical and tender; I was delighted to read a bit more about Bermondsey via Helena; and skipping around in the woods near Romsey with my lovely bear yesterday*** was good at the time, and good to revisit in his post (including silly video of me demonstrating the correct route). It’s very rich, sometimes, the Google-reader subscription list…

…Thanks for your own writings and your comments here, and I hope you all have a splendid “happy list” this weekend x

*in the book they are described as “fig newtons”
**The Good Cook : Biscuits – The Editors of Time-Life Books, 1982
***contains actual skipping (well, the video does)

4 Responses to A Happy List

  1. Lara says:

    OOOH, This is a fantastic lovely happy post… Full of great things. xxxx

  2. Allison says:

    Thank you for sharing your happy things! I just finished reading a book about the history of red dye, and am intrigued by the Madder experiment…

  3. Cassandra says:

    “Fig Newtons” are what they’re called in the U.S.; I thought it was only the commercial ones with that name, but perhaps that’s the generic name. You got them if your mother (or school or babysitter) was trying to give you healthful snacks. I’m sure your homemade ones are much much tastier!
    [Ah! I’ve just learned something: “Newton” was the trademarked name given by Nabisco, named after the town of Newton, Massachusetts. I’ve learned something this morning!]

  4. colleen says:

    Such lovely, lovely things. I’m especially taken with the home made Fig Rolls. We took a great fancy to them on a long cycle ride around Ireland and whenever I see or eat them I think of that wet summer. And I’m sure you are right that the dough needs to contain hard fats to get the right texture, the hard bite without, the figgy softness within. NAd thank you too for the links. Some of the blogs were new to me and a delight to read.

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