Giddy Up, You Slow Coach Camels!

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It was meant to be a diverting event between the horse racing at Nairobi’s Ngong Racecourse. Officers from Kenya’s Police Anti-Stock Theft Unit were demonstrating their mounted expertise by racing their camels. The camel units usually operate far away in the arid zones of the Northern District, patrolling the border with Somalia, so perhaps the genteel and leafy ambiance of the Jockey Club enclave did not enthuse the camels.They certainly took much urging to leave the starting line and then, having started, there was little inclination to finish. An underwhelming contest then, though it added to the many and varied goings on of a Nairobi racing weekend.

The Ngong races are a hangover (pun retrospectively intended) from British colonial settler days when, for a week around Christmas, farmers left their lonely farms and ranches and gathered in town to let their hair down. For many it was a drunken spree, at least if you are to believe Evelyn Waugh’s 1931 account in Remote People. I’ve quoted from it before but it’s worth a second go:

I found myself involved in a luncheon party. We went on together to the Races. Someone gave me a cardboard disc to wear in my button-hole; someone else, called Raymond, introduced me to a bookie and told me which horses to back. None of them won…

Someone took me to a marquee where we drank champagne. When I wanted to pay for a round the barman gave me a little piece of paper to sign and a cigar.

We went back to Muthaiga and drank champagne out of a silver cup which someone had won.

Someone said, ‘You mustn’t think Kenya is always like this.

*

I see from the internet there has been plenty of racing at the Ngong Racecourse during January. These days it is a well ordered multi-cultural affair. I’ve also just had a quick trawl through the Kenya Jockey Club’s Facebook photos but found no sign of camels. Obviously lacking in appropriate competitive attitude.

 

Square Up #30

Six Word Saturday

Clamour Of Rooks On Sytche Lane

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Or it could be a parliament, a building, a storytelling of rooks.

The people who lived in our house before us called it Rookery Cottage. We didn’t adopt the name. The house actually sits beside the main road out of Wenlock and the rookery is behind us on Sytche Lane,  with a stretch of Townsend Meadow in between. Even so, we do hear its clamour, especially on spring and summer evenings. And we do have ring-side viewing of the whisking-whooshing corvid ballets that feature over the field in the twilight hours of early autumn. These aerial displays are a sight to behold, and are among the Farrells’ household treasures.

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Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Birds

Six Word Saturday

Leading You Up My Garden Path

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Our cottage is built into a fieldside bank. The garden is broad (as wide as the house), but not deep. Or rather it is deep since it drops off about 8 feet to the right of the frame. The two old privies back onto Townsend Meadow. There’s a very free-form hedge of many plant species behind the foreground flower bed, and a fenced portion (guerrilla garden on the field side) beyond the privies. The deep red smoke bush behind the brolly marks the boundary with next door, and I’m standing with my back against the bespoke, self-built Graham-Shed to take the photo. Here then is the Farrell domain – small and irregularly formed. An upstairs-downstairs-between-floors-short-on-planning sort of a garden.

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Square Perspective #18 A seafood teaser from Becky today.

Six Word Saturday  And a fabulous Vatican shot from Debbie.

In The Evening Sun ~ Lemon Balm

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In these viral days – virtual and actual – we could probably all do with some regular infusions of lemon balm tea. Medical herbalists prescribe it for anxiety, shock, insomnia and all round jangled nerves. Simply brushing your fingers against the stems fills the air with a lemony minty freshness that lifts the spirits. Last night as I was standing at the kitchen door, waiting for the couscous to fluff up, I saw these sprigs among the montbretia leaves, briefly lit by the last of the sun – a glow to savour then between our present squalls of wintery rain and high winds. Last Saturday it was all heat and high summer here in Shropshire. This Saturday the weather clock has regressed to early March. Strange times all round. Time to brew some lemon balm methinks.

Six Word Saturday

Yesterday Was A Good Baking Day

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There are times when the forces of good culinary outcomes are all in alignment, and yesterday in the Sheinton Street kitchen was one of them. The cake worked and the loaf worked. The first, a gluten free orange spice cake, is one I make every now and then, though I keep changing the constituent parts; the second I rarely ever make. I am thus inordinately pleased with this spelt flour creation. It not only looks beautiful it also makes brilliant toast; especially delicious with homemade marmalade.

The cake started out as a Delia Smith recipe from her classic cookery book, but I’ve made so many changes, I think I can claim it as my recipe. In yesterday’s version I replaced the flour with ground almonds and polenta, the butter with coconut oil, the castor sugar with coconut sugar, and the mixed peel with a table spoonful of homemade marmalade and some chopped stem ginger.

Orange Spice Cake

You need an 8 inch/20 cm loose bottomed cake tin – greased (I usually line the base with parchment). Oven 325 F/170 C/160 C Fan assisted. Cooking time around 1 hour.

5 oz almond flour (140 gm)

5 oz polenta (140 gm)

4 oz coconut oil (110 gm)

3 oz coconut sugar (or sugar of choice) (75 gm)

ground ginger – rounded teaspoon

ground cinnamon – rounded teaspoon

ground cloves –  a pinch

grated zest of large orange

2 eggs beaten

3 oz runny honey (75 gm)

1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda dissolved in 3 tablespoons cold water

1 heaped tablespoon of marmalade or 2 oz (50 gm) chopped mixed peel

1 piece of stem ginger finely chopped

 

Method

Gently melt honey and coconut oil in a pan over a low heat. Set aside.

Sift ground almond flour into large bowl with polenta. Add sugar, spices and orange zest. Stir in melted oil and honey. Add marmalade/or mixed peel/stem ginger, beaten eggs, dissolved bicarb and beat well. The resulting mix is slightly sloppy. Pour into tin and bake. It will probably take about an hour but keep an eye on it. When cooked, cool in the tin and then turn out. And eat!

 

Six Word Saturday

Thoughts From The Blue Glass Sea

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Yesterday, 20th September 2019 when young people around the world were on strike to urge politicians to start telling the truth about climate emergency and to take action NOW to save their future, I looked out on this view across Cardigan Bay in West Wales. And I thought: isn’t it time we all stopped killing the planet and thus everything we truly value?

On the 23rd September 2019 the United Nations Climate Action Summit takes place. Let’s hope the world leaders attending have their brains switched on. It will cost us a lot otherwise – the earth in fact.

Six Word Saturday

Spring Well Sprung On Wenlock Edge

Bye bye Siberian icy blasts, hello summer! It’s been all change here in Wenlock and all go, go, go out in the garden. Tulips bursting, crab apple blossom unfurling, Spanish bluebells shooting up, euphorbias at their vibrant, greenest best, pesky weed oxalis suddenly a haze of soft pink flowers just to stop me pulling it up, columbines on the cusp, perennial Centaurea cornflowers showing off their best blues, Sweet Cicely all lacy umbels (and a good addition when cooking fruit to reduce the amount of sugar needed). Ladybirds on pest patrol. Bees on the forage. Cloudless blue above. Hot sun. It’s just all too exciting.

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copyright 2019 Tish Farrell

 

Six Word Saturday (that would be in the post title!) Pop over to Debbie’s for more 6-worders.

How Now Brown (And Black) Cows…

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One of the very best things about living in a rural town like Much Wenlock is that you can be setting off for the shops to buy ordinary stuff like a local newspaper or half a dozen eggs, and come upon small happenings of one sort or another. So here we are. As we slipped and slid down the muddy path  that brings you first to the Priory ruins, and thence to the town centre, we met up with a new batch of Highland Cattle recently ensconced in the Cutlins meadow. Teenage moos, I should think. Not fully grown anyway. They were certainly most curious, and so posed nicely to have their photos taken. Or at least two of them did. The third was too busy eating breakfast.

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Yum! Lovely crunchy hay. So important to keep well stoked up in this cold snap.

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Six Word Saturday Pop over to Debbie’s at Travel With Intent for some truly striking photos.

Marigolds Still Blooming At The Allotment

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January can be a dreary time up at the allotment: cold claggy soil, weedy peripheries, bare trees and a general sense of neglect and of plots too long abandoned. And yet…and yet…when I slip-slide around my raised beds I find there is still plenty to harvest: leeks, parsnips, Tuscan kale, Swiss chard. The slugs have even left us some carrots (the voracious little gastropods are especially fond of the sweet and stubby rooted Paris Market variety), but I manage to find a bunch that have not been too gobbled.

There are also some golden beetroot to pluck, some as big as turnips. From the outside they do not look too promising – over-weathered and their skins suggesting woodiness within. But to my surprise, they are still good – delicious chopped  into cubes and roasted till they start to caramelize, and even better with added quartered onions (Sturon still going strong from the summer cropping) and cloves of garlic kept in their papery jackets (so they can be popped out later, if squidgily, and accompanied by much finger licking).

Down by the raspberry bed, the purple sprouting plants, long nurtured through the summer drought and now wrapped in netting against pigeon attack, are looking stout and lush-leaved. I see that they are beginning to yield, and manage to find half a dozen fat florets. Hopefully, the plants will keep cropping now into the spring.

And then as I make for home with my muddy bag filled with veggies, I spot the marigolds (Calendula officinalis). There they are, back in flower after their December lull, and making their own sunshine on a dull and chilly day. I feel a bit guilty about picking them, but then I think some sunshine on the kitchen table would be a cheering sight for He Who Is Presently Coughing His Socks Off. And of course a scatter of petals, therapeutic little entities that they are, would be just the garnish for a dish of roasted golden beetroot.

copyright 2019 Tish Farrell

Six Word Saturday