All for the want of a horse shoe nail.

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

This little ditty was quoted by my father when I was a child.  I can’t remember the context but I think it was when we passed the statue of Alexander III on the outskirts of Kinghorn in Fife.

Alexander IIIHis horse stumbled on a cliff edge and Alexander was killed. The statue is a memorial to Alexander III. No doubt one of my siblings will remember the correct context and let me know.

The poem is actually a nursery rhyme used to teach children the consequences of their actions.

Our second bathroom renovation is the reason I mention this little poem only in this case it is “for want of a plumber the plastering was lost.”

The demolition of the bathroom went quickly but now all has stalled as a result of the plumber not turning up to finish the job.  The plasterer arrived but couldn’t do any plastering as the plumber hadn’t completed his part of the job.

Hopefully all the plumbing will be finished tomorrow.  It has been a week since the plumbing was supposed to be finished.  I’m getting twitchy.

 

Omeo, Omeo, not wherefore but where art thou Omeo?

I live in Metung, East Gippsland which in the eastern part of the state of Victoria in Australia.  Omeo is in Victoria and in terms of distance in Australia it is quite near to Metung.

Metung to OmeoOmeo is situated on the Great Alpine Road and my reason for mentioning Omeo is that I have just finished reading a book that was set in the area around Omeo.

Great Alpine RoadThe book I purchased for $1 at a thrift shop and it was a dollar well spent as I thoroughly enjoyed the book.

Lottie

I have to admit that the cover is not the most enticing I have seen but nonetheless I was intrigued to read about this death that had “shocked Australia”.

From the cover:

When Ethel Griggs dies suddenly in the Victorian country town of Omeo in January 1928, rumours about her husband’s blatant affair with Lottie, the lovely 20-year-old daughter of the local grazier and Methodist elder, Jack Condon, are rife.  So rife that despite a doctor’s certificate suggesting natural causes, police order Ethel Griggs body to be exhumed and the young mother of 11-month-old baby Alwyn is found to have died from Arsenic poisoning.

Her husband, the Reverend Ron Griggs, the district’s methodist minister, is charged with her cruel and heartless murder.  Based on a true story, Reg Egan has recreated. in his first novel, the town and its people, the atmosphere and the love affair that intrigued and shocked the whole of Australia.

The story was certainly intriguing and I enjoyed the fact that I could visualise the various places mentioned in the story.  Even Traralgon station got a mention along with Bruthen, Ensay, Swifts Creek, Cassilis and numerous other small places in the district. The major towns also played a part with Sale and Bairnsdale enjoying centre stage at some point.

An enlightening read particularly for those interested in the local district and the history of the district.

Here and here you can read newspaper reports on the murder.

This one will go on my Historical Fiction Reading Challenge as it was set in 1928.

 

Bread and Butter Cucumbers

Our garden is giving us some produce and so I am making full use of it. My husband had planted some cucumber plants in the parterre and they have proven to be bountiful.

I have made several jars of bread and butter cucumbers.

rinsed cucumbers

The cucumbers are soaked overnight and then rinsed the next day before adding to the pickling mix.

pickling mixThe cucumbers are then bottled into hot jars.

bottled cucumbersThe recipe is from the Australian Women’s Weekly Best Recipes from the Weekly Cookbook.

  • 4 large cucumbers
  • cooking salt
  • 1 1/2 cups white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teasp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 small red pepper (optional)

Wash cucumbers and slice thinly.  Place cucumber slices in layers in a large shallow dish, sprinkling a little salt between each layer.  Cover and stand overnight.  Rinse cucumbers well under cold water, drain.  Combine vinegar, water, sugar, mustard seeds, one teaspoon salt in pan, stir until sugar is dissolved, bring to boil, reduce heat, simmer uncovered five minutes.  Add cucumbers, bring to boil, remove from heat.

Using tongs and working quickly, pack cucumbers tightly into hot sterilised jars.  Add a few thin strips of red pepper to each jar.  Fill with vinegar mixture to within 1 cm  of top.  Seal when cold.  (I seal mine when hot.)

These are delicious when on cheese and biscuit.

 

 

Jennifer suggested Daniel Silva and I am hooked.

Jennifer from A Little Fluff suggested that I might like to read some of Daniel Silva’s novels and so I took up her suggestion and started with The Mark of the Assassin.  I enjoyed that novel and so I have now read another.  The ConfessorThis is another crime fiction novel but with a historical twist.  It probably shouldn’t be included in my Historical Fiction Reading Challenge as it is set in the present day but I am going to include it as the plot is linked to events in World War II.

From the book jacket:

Art restorer Gabriel Allon is trying to put his secret service past behind him,  But when his friend Benjamin Stern is murdered in Munich, he’s called into action once more.

Police in Germany are certain that Stern, a professor well-known for his work on the Holocaust, was killed by right-wing extremists.  But Allon is far from convinced.  Not least because all trace of the new book Stern was researching has now mysteriously disappeared. . . 

Meanwhile, in Rome, the new Pope paces around his garden, thinking about the perilous plan he’s about to set in motion.  If successful, he will revolutionize the Church.  If not, he could very well destroy it. . . 

In the dramatic weeks to come, the journeys of these two men will intersect.  Long-buried secrets and unthinkable deeds will come to light, and both their lives will be changed for ever. . . . 

I loved this book. The book tells us a great deal about the role of the Pope and the Vatican in World War II, along with the Jews and the treatment of them. The characters are “real” and the plot has many twists and turns.

This was my second Daniel Silva novel and I will be reading many more as he doesn’t follow the usual formula for a crime fiction novel.  My next cab of the rank is The Defector.

 

 

I read most of them. . .

 

Way back in January I wrote about some books I borrowed from the library

library booksI read five out of the seven.  The two I didn’t read were Dear Teacher, I started it but found it to be really twee, and the other book was Play Abandoned, I just didn’t open it before the books were due back at the library.

The Lost Quilter is the book I want to tell you about as I have only just finished it after doing a re-borrow from the library.

lost quilter

This was a delightful book and will fit into my Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.

The book is part of the Elm Creek Quilts series which is a series of different stories about women who quilt. The Jennifer Chiaverini website is comprehensive with many links to her books and her quilting.

The Lost Quilter is about Joanna.  I guess if you have read others in the series you would know a bit more about the background of Joanna from whose point of view the story is told but I found I enjoyed the story without having read the previous books in the series.

This story is set in pre-Civil War years and the beginning of the Civil War. We are shown what life was like for a woman slave who ran away and was returned to her life as a slave after being recaptured.  We learn of her abuse by her owners, her love for her husband and children, the work and beatings she had to endure and her constant hope that eventually she would find freedom.  She is a talented seamstress and quilting plays an important role in her life and this is reflected in the title of the book.

This book seems to give an excellent depiction of how it really must have been for slaves in America before the Civil War.  A great read, particularly if you know a little about quilting and the Underground Railroad. Did quilts hold codes to the underground railway?  Check out what the National Geographic article has to say on the matter

“I don’t give a fig.” I do, but where did that saying come from?

I have been given a huge plate of ripe figs and I am more than grateful for the gift.

The saying, I don’t give a fig”, means complete lack of concern about an event and it originates from the Spanish Fico (Fig) which gave its name to a traditional gesture of contempt made by placing the thumb between the first and second fingers. The gesture was common in Shakespeare’s time and was known as The Fig of Spain. The modern-day equivalent is the “V” sign.

The figs I was given have been turned into fig paste and fig sorbetto.

figsThis is just some of the figs.  I had more than two kilos to use.

fig paste

The fig paste is delicious with brie or camembert.

cheese

 

Fig paste recipe

  • 12 ripe figs pureed
  • 500g sugar
  • juice of 1 lemon

Combine the fig puree, sugar and lemon juice in a large saucepan and place over a medium heat.  Stir until the sugar dissolves and bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally for 3 hours  or until the paste is very thick.

Grease the base and sides of ramekins and divide the paste evenly among the ramekins.  Leave to set overnight.  You can then remove from the ramekins and put in plastic wrap to refrigerate.

It was a bit tricky trying to get a photo of the fig sorbetto but here is my attempt.

 

fig sorbetThe sorbetto recipe included cream but there are sorbet recipes that don’t have cream.

Fig Sorbetto

  • 12 ripe figs
  • 200g vanilla sugar
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 200ml thickened cream

Process the figs. Dissolve the sugar in the lemon juice over a low heat.  Leave to cool. Add the cream and lemon/sugar mix to the processed figs and process until smooth.

Slowly add the mixture (which must be cold) to your ice cream machine and churn until thick.  Store in a shallow container in the freezer.

Both the paste and the sorbet are delicious.