Posts Tagged ‘trees’

If I were the Queen

A few days ago was my 600th blog post. I feel quite strongly that this makes me some kind of member of the royal family. Obviously. So soon I will be the queen? I would hate to get the call and be unprepared for my duties as head of the country/world. Therefore I have made a plan for how things will be when I am queen.

1. I will build loads of castles. I feel that we are sadly lacking in new castles.

2. I will say to people, “Bring me truffles from the deepest darkest woods in the Italian countryside – now. Right now. Immediately.”

3. I will order Michel Roux Jr to cook them for me but I will tell him to stay away from that crazy boiled veal’s head dish he made on TV the other week.

4. I will have a holiday home on Capri. This one, in fact.
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5. I would not have those silly dogs that the queen has. Or at least, I would not have anything to do with them. I would just let them run around next to me if I had a photo shoot so that the public thought I was all soft and lovely and animal-loving.

6. I would sleep a lot. My goodness, I would sleep a lot. And alarms would be forbidden.

7. Danda would like to request a golf course and a Chelsea season ticket. I have told I will look into it for him. I can’t go around acting as I please and spending the country’s money on just anything. I have a duty to the public, don’t you know?

8. I would close Richmond Park to the public and have it as my back garden. I would make my gardeners plant all the things I wanted to eat, like fig trees and lemon trees and bay leaf trees.

9. Every so often, for publicity purposes, I would let a poor person come and talk to me and I would be nice to them and everyone would think, “Gosh, that queen sure is nice. I saw she was talking to a poor person the other day and being nice to them.”

10. I would make everyone give me any new books they had written so I could read them first and if I liked the book, I would send them some chocolate. If I didn’t like it, I would throw it on the floor and stamp my feet. That’s how they would know. By the foot stamping.

So I’m waiting for them to call me. Maybe I should send them this list so that they can rest assured I’ll do a good job. Maybe they’re waiting to see my plan before they get in touch?

The Apple Challenge

One of my neighbours has fruit trees in his garden. A little while ago, he gave me some cherries, which I put into a cake. Since then, he has given me bits of fruit and I have caked them.

About ten days ago, he knocked on the door in the morning and delivered a plastic bag full of apples for me to cake. And so, the Apple Challenge began.

Day one was an apple bread, a kind of cidery, honey-sweetened brown bread with grated apples that was crying out for some cheese. Day two was an apple crumble cake, which consisted of a sponge cake with apple chunks and slivers of apricot, with a light buttery crumble mixture on the top. Day three was apple scones, which let me down the first day but I attempted them again on day four and hit the nail on the head. Day five was an apple tray bake which had jostaberries and a mashed banana in it. Day six was a nutty appley raisiny loaf, spiced with cinnamon, which filled the whole house with lovely rich aromas. Day seven was an almond tart with apples and gooseberries.

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And so it goes on, the apple cakes. Every morning. I get up, bake a cake, leave some on my neighbour’s doorstep then head for Ham House, where I leave the cakes in the mess room for the volunteers to eat.

I have enough apples left for about four more days and I’m running low on ideas. Does anybody have any apple cake ideas? Apple pie and apple crumble are out as they are hard to portion out without getting runny. Tomorrow is an almond cake with apples and blueberries.

But what next, people? What next?! Help me in my Apple Challenge or I shall be ideas-less and I refuse, refuse, to repeat a recipe.

A walk around the garden (part 2)

In June, we walked around the garden and had a little look at everything, in anticipation of the changes that would come with summer. And they did. So last night, I thought, tomorrow I’ll do another walk around the garden, that’ll be nice.

And then it rained. And I walked anyway. So let’s go!

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Let’s start next to the back door. This is the cherry tree and that little stick above the leaf, the stick with nothing on the end of it. That held our entire cherry harvest for the year. Yep. One cherry. We have one little cherry. And it was stolen. I imagine it was a bird. Apparently they love cherries. It was unfair of them to take our only cherry though.

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Plums! Woop woop! These are doing pretty well at the moment. Its taken them a little while to get going but they’re looking good now.

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Tomatoes. I love when there are tomatoes at different stages of ripeness on the same bunch.

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This lavender plant has gone absolutely mad! During the day it is covered in bees and that makes me very happy.

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In between all the lavender plants is the lone rosemary bush. I love popping outside while cooking to grab some rosemary.

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More lavender.

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That beautiful mystery tree with the white flowers….? Yeh, it didn’t last long.

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The rain hasn’t done the flower corner any good 😦

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New petunias by the shed.

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More petunias!

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The new rhubarb plant! I got it from Ham House.

Summer in England

Ah. Summer in England. What a glorious thing to behold. It took a while getting here but now it is fabulous.

The skies are blue. The grass is green. The flowers are emerging.
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Trees are a shock of loud greens instead of the twigs they have been during the seven month winter.
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Colourful clothing is being worn again. Pale sun-starved flesh is getting an airing with mass shorts and t-shirt wearing.
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Iced coffee is fashionable. The new ice cream shop in town finally has customers!
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Groups of trendy city-workers let their hair down and drink pink champagne from plastic cups on the green.
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My neighbours are feeling happy and generous and I get home to freshly baked biscuits on the doorstep.
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We greet each other cheerily across the street, welcome each other in for cups of tea or homemade lemonade. The children who annoyed us yesterday suddenly seem sweet and funny.
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We even go so far as to say it feels ‘too hot’! Older men play golf again, younger men get out their bikes again. The outdoor pools are open again and rammed with kids splashing about on sponge floats, almost hitting everyone else.
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We drink more tea as, according the age old adage, it actually cools you down….?!
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We eat dinner in the garden. We have barbecues.
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We unearth the lawn from the general leafy debris that has gathered for months while we looked sadly out from the back window, not daring to step out. We get excited.

We love England. It’s the most wonderful place in the world. There’s nowhere else we’d rather be (except when the winter kicks in and we all run away to take holidays elsewhere).

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Life since Italy

Since being back from Italy, so not to feel sad, I’ve kept myself busy with the following activities.

1. Lunching on salad to detox from the Italian carb onslaught

2. Buying trees for the patio. I wanted an olive tree and a fig tree so I could pretend I was still in Italy but apparently neither get good fruit in England. We got a plum tree…

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…and one of our neighbours gave us something but we haven’t worked out what it is yet.

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Any ideas anyone?

3. Seeing friends for dinner and getting lovely presents.

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4. Planning to pull down the garden shed and put a vegetable patch there.

5. Feeding my worms my vegetable peelings and sprinkling cinnamon around the compost bin to stop the ants invading (it works!)

6. Volunteering at Ham House again. I was there yesterday and it was my first day by myself baking in the kitchen there and it went really well. People liked my biscuits, no-one vomited and lots of people said “Mmm.” I’m taking that as a good sign.

7. Hanging the washing out in the garden and acting all Disneyfied because it’s sunny (it later poured and the washing is still wet on the line but whatever).

A letter to the world

Dear World,

How are you? What’s that? A bit messy and need some work doing? Ah. Ok. Yes. I did promise I’d help with that, didn’t I? And I did, World. I did. On Day 1, I donned my best dirty Crocs, grabbed a bag and walked around collecting rubbish. I then divided this rubbish into different recycling bins and even recycled the bag itself. On Day 2, I changed my energy supplier to a local renewable energy company. And World, I would like you to know that it was my close friend’s birthday and I sent him an electronic birthday card instead of a paper one, to save your trees.

You see, World, I had had an idea. I would do at least one good thing every day to look after you, to make life a little easier for you, to ensure your health for future generations. I was excited about looking after you. I guess it’s that maternal instinct in me. I like looking after people and things. I also like playing the SuperWoman role when I first get an idea in my head. I will do and be everyone’s hero. I will single handedly cure all of your ills. I will be the answer to every problem. It doesn’t take me long, World, before I realise that I am not capable of this. But I still think I can, every time a new idea comes along.

So Day 1 and 2 came and went, World. I had picked up litter and I had not sacrificed your trees for a birthday card. Then Day 3 came. Let me describe Day 3.

Wake up late. Meet a friend for lunch. Go a friend’s birthday party.

Day 4 looked like this. Wake up early. Work. Go for lunch with a friend. Have friends over for dinner.

Day 5 was as follows. Wake up. Go to work. All day. Come home. Eat. Watch The Tourist. Marvel at the twist at the end and wonder how much weight Johnny Depp had to put on for the film. Go to bed.

You see, World? I had resolved to do something good every day for you. And then life got in the way. But I did do small things for you, World. I turned off the tap when brushing my teeth instead of letting it run like I usually do. I used only public transport to go around seeing my many friends (I’ve got loads! Honest). For dinner, I had food that would have otherwise been thrown away. I didn’t fill the kettle with water to boil it. I only put in as much as I needed. So although Day 3, 4 and 5 rolled by in a haze of work and friends and hardly any sleep, I did a little for you, World. I did a little.

Day 6 is a new day though, World. Out will come the book of tips and out will come my lycra superhero outfit (otherwise known as my dirty purple Crocs). I will do better. There is always room for improvement, after all.

Actually, on that note, you could do with being sunnier in England, World. I’m not criticising. I’m just… You know…. I’m just saying…. You could work on that.

Thanks.

Yours sincerely,

Laura SuperWoman Maisey

Narnia and I

Our relationship goes way back. Anyone who knows me well, knows about my Narnia-love.

I had probably read The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe at some point as a child but then my dad got me the box set in my teens and I read all seven chronicles. It took over my existence for a while. I rejoiced when they defeated the White Witch, when Caspian beat his uncle and reigned over Narnia, when Jill and Eustace broke Prince Rilian free from his spell and when Peter triumphed in the last battle. I despaired when Aslan was killed on the ancient table, when Nikabrik tried to overthrow Caspian and when Edmund and Lucy were told they had to leave Narnia. And I wept for the second half of the last book because I knew the end was nigh.

When in the Narnia zone, it becomes a very real place to me. It is the pleasant background to my normal day. Things are just generally nicer and more storybook, even when I’m just at work.

Right before going on our gap years, my friend Joe and I had walked from his house into Reading, which had taken about four hours. We had talked about Narnia a lot. It was one of those lovely days, early in our friendship when everything we said or did became a nice memory, stored up to take away with me. He left for his gap year before me so I sent him all seven books in the post to China and, miraculously, nothing happened to them along the way. I took a copy of the books with me to Africa and we started to read them on the 16th December, countries and oceans apart, to prepare for Christmas.

In fact, one day, whilst discussing Narnia with a bit of alcohol in our systems, two friends and I jumped into the rather big wardrobe we had in our room in Namibia, and searched around in the back for some snow or trees. We found neither.

Every year since then, I’ve started reading them on the 16th so I’m usually on book 4 or 5 by Christmas Day, and I keep reading till I finish them.

When my friend, Jay, started basically living on our sofa when we were at uni, I had started reading them as usual and I would always stay in the front room with her, on the other sofa. And we used to read the books to each other, a chapter each, until she got tired and I would keep reading until she had fallen asleep.

So last night, a few days later than usual, I picked up The Magician’s Nephew and started to read. All the lovely feelings of being on familiar ground and being in for a great read were ignited and I sipped my cup of tea and smiled.

“This is a story about something that happened long ago when your grandfather was a child. It is a very important story because it shows how all the comings and goings between our world and the land of Narnia first began….”