David Dobson was PEO (Provincial Education Officer) based in Jos but with responsibilities around the Plateau region. From the next pages in the family album, it seems those duties included visiting Toro, where there was a school and a Teacher … Continue reading →
10 St. Patrick’s Avenue, Jos. PEO’s House My mother and father, Jean and David Dobson, went to Nigeria a couple of years after they married in 1950; quite a contrast from industrial West Yorkshire. They lived with David’s mother, Flossie, … Continue reading →
I had totally forgotten this feeble attempt to transcribe (in an early look at Noteflight) the chorus of a song my paternal grandma used to sing to me as a small child. I only rediscovered it when I clicked on a guest post link in a forum to see the music… only to find it was my own Noteflight account! I don’t recall actually hearing any verses but have found this set of lyrics (below) online.
I seem to recall singing ‘Over the city and fields and mountains’ – though it doesn’t rhyme with hill, perhaps a reflection of our Pennine surroundings!
I have tried to find a recorded version and sheet music without success, most recently checking with USA sources as new media come into the public domain, but a bit of further research suggests an origin around 1928, so a few years to wait yet.
Shadows are falling and daylight is past; Beautiful evening is with us at last; All the wide heavens with silver are dressed; Night winds are kissing the flowers to rest.
Forest leaves rustle in quivering light; Sing, all ye nightingales, lo it is night; Sing to our Father your praises on high– Praise for His beautiful moon in the sky.
Moon, moon, beautiful moon! Rising, rising, rising still Over the city and field and hill, And creeping, and peeping, Where children are sleeping. Moon, beautiful moon.
Verse by Theodora Wilson Wilson – pacifist and novelist who had a book banned – check her out!
Well, a week or so late and a bob short – the story of my creative life! I finally sorted the last few daily challenges a few days ago, albeit not always as intended, and logged them in the little notebook I had decided to use for the record this year. (That was a kit from West Yorkshire Archive Services which I enjoyed making up in an online workshop and I thought this would be a good use for it.)
I did add each day’s task electronically to the Challenge Facebook Group, too, so it was a bit of a cumbersome process, and partly why I was late finishing. The end of January has a cluster of family birthdays too, so real life tends to interfere!
Just to mark the completion, I thought I’d post a quick pic of the notebook plus a random mixed bag of examples. It was fun to do, as ever, but I’ve still not found reliable mojo again yet. I hope, as we emerge from winter to spring and from the worst of the pandemic, that said mojo will pop up a bit more frequently and more ready to set to work!
Oops. This was lurking in the drafts when I came to post today – symptomatic, I fear! This was written on 2 January. To recap, I am doing my third January Challenge, run by #64MillionArtists, where a daily art-related short task is set. I am compiling the results into a small notebook I made a little while ago. I am hoping this daily exercise will stir my long-lost mojo into returning!
Today’s challenge was to say why we love a place or location. I chose the county of my birth (and most of my childhood) and followed the quickie 5-minute suggestion, scribbling down a string of first responses and popping them into an even rougher heart, with due apologies for the cliché.
The places in the heart are my shorthand for a variety of resonant memories, both happy and poignant.
To share it online I overlaid it on a photo I took a few years ago of Brimham Rocks in their heather-clad autumnal glory. As an art work it has little merit but it prompts so many thoughts and memories that I shall give it its place in the challenge book and hope to return to it as a prompt for a more considered piece of writing or multimedia.
I think January is always a bit of a challenge! This second New Year of a global pandemic is no exception. I’m aware that we personally are quite fortunate in the grand order of things, but at this time of year it’s not always easy to see beyond the immediate circumstances. Despite our continuing caution and many precautions as we are both pretty vulnerable, Boxing Day brought me a streaming cold, temperature and banging headache, and the Zoe Covid app recommended a PCR test which wasn’t available even to order until the next day. The welcome negative result arrived after a couple of days on New Year’s Eve; well done to the lab and Royal Mail. The bug, however, is still taking its toll and we weren’t able to join friends as planned for lunch today, so I was feeling a tad sorry for myself, if I’m honest.
I decided to start the January Challenge from 64 Million Artists to kick-start myself into action as I thoroughly enjoyed doing it in 2020 and last year, though the ‘Covid malaise’ of creative inertia took its toll on me in 2021. I think I did actually finish all but one in the end, but failed at the stage of collating the results when the fragile mojo deserted completely! I thought I’d give it a go again this year so this is the ‘one line self-portrait’ challenge we were set today.
I have a small notebook that I had great fun making in a West Yorkshire Archive Service workshop earlier this year and had decided to use as a sort of ‘commonplace book’ for 2022, so the January Challenge will start it off nicely.
Drawing and painting are not my forte, so this was definitely out of the comfort zone: I took to photography in part because I can use it to create the images I want but cannot create with pen or brush. The eagle-eyed may spot the tracing paper I used in order to set the portrait outline, too! Finally, in my own defence, I would just add that I really do feel as wobbly and rough as I look there!
A distinctively South African (Cape Malay) dish, this is apparently traditionally served with ‘Yellow rice’ – long-grain rice cooked with a spoonful of turmeric added to the water for colour and a handful or raisins thrown in for good measure, plus sambals or side dishes.
I tend to add add any suitable ‘sides’ along the lines of a west African ‘groundnut chop’ accompaniments, such as handfuls of coriander, cucumber ribbons in lime juice, fried onions, chopped pawpaw or mango with a sprinkle of lime or lemon, salad leaves, chopped oranges, chopped chillis, chopped sweet red and green peppers for colour… The fresh fruit and veg cut through the richness of the lamb. I sometimes add a few toasted almonds and sometimes finely chopped dried apricots to the rice. You can happily ‘cheat’ with a packet of pilau rice, too!
Mrs H. S. Ball’s chutney is ideal to serve with and use in the cooking, but you can get good supermarket own-brand chutneys with apricot or peach. If you can’t get these, just use apricot jam – you can add a teaspoon of vinegar if you think it might be too sweet. You can also throw in a few finely chopped dried apricots to the meat mix to add to the fruity flavours.
To serve 4 -6 (though I have made double to feed 6 with no leftovers!)
2 thickish slices of white bread
10 fl oz. milk (300 ml) – caution – will be used in two halves
4 good tablespoons apricot/peach chutney or apricot or peach jam (yes, really!).
A clove of chopped garlic, or a good squeeze of garlic paste/heaped tsp of lazy garlic.
2 teaspoons mild (or medium) curry powder (garam masala would work, too)
Half a teaspoon of salt and ground black pepper to taste
2 large eggs
Pre-heat oven to 180 (160 fan), 350F.
Put the bread in a bowl, pour over a scant half of the milk and leave to soak. Fry the onions and lamb, adding the garlic after a minute or two. Add the curry powder and continue to fry gently until the onions are translucent and soft and the lamb lightly browned. Remove from heat. Fork through the bread and milk to break it up and add it to the cooling lamb mixture, mixing thoroughly. Season well and stir through the chutney or jam. Pack the mix into a baking dish about 1.5” deep.
Peel the bananas, slice lengthways and arrange on top of the meat mix in a pattern, garnish with the bay leaves. Beat the eggs and remaining milk together and pour gently over the top of the meat mix. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the custard is golden and set.
Garnish with coriander, slice and serve with the various ‘trimmings’ and a selection of chutneys.
A Droitwich woman was one of the first people in Britain to learn that the D-Day Landings had taken place.
Marge Barton (nee Payne) was working as a teleprinter operator with the Auxiliary Territorial Service when she received a message at 8.30am on June 6, 1944 stating that Allied troops had landed on the beaches of Normandy.
Born in 1920, Marge hailed from Birmingham and received her call-up papers in August 1942. She was told to catch a train to Droitwich where she’d undertake her basic training.
She and the other women were split into patrols for their three weeks at Norbury House. Marge’s patrol was judged the best, and they were rewarded with a night at the Raven Hotel.
Marge was then posted to Bradford to train as a teleprinter operator and it was while working at Luton Hoo, a country house in Bedfordshire, that she received the message…
We were fortunate to have our booster shots against Covid today, especially in the light of the local case rate escalation published by the ZOE project. Sitting waiting in the (mercifully quiet) doctor’s surgery I was reminded of a friend’s exhortation when she posted a shot of a beautiful historic building ceiling to remember to ‘look up’.
Whilst the aesthetic appeal of the GP surgery and its ceiling might be more limited, looking up did bring a view of a cheering, bright blue sky, which I chose to take as a good portent, hence the phone snap. Not a brilliant image but I’ll keep & post it as a salutory reminder to keep looking up for the things we may otherwise overlook and to look for the bright spots when circumstances can feel overwhelming.
I’m no gardener. The gardening gene of both my parents passed me by, but I have always appreciated a garden even if not being very adept at looking after one. This means I am always disproportionately chuffed when I actually manage to harvest edibles or have flowers flourish!
Summer is pretty much over in the garden here; the last few ‘Octoberries’ are sparse now, the bedding plants need an autumn refresh, the tomatoes have been pulled up after a summer’s bounty and the courgettes have just had a last flurry of flowering. With frosts impending, I took the chance to pretend we’re still in summer and made our annual treat of stuffed courgette flower fritters.
I first made these on a holiday in Italy with friends, where the villa owners had kindly left the Elizabeth David batter recipe to hand! The local market had an abundance of flowers and my friends were willing guinea pigs.
Since then, I have sometimes grown courgettes (zucchini) as much for this little treat as the veg, though this year we have cropped well and with the supply chain issues (thank you, Brexit and Covid) the garden has handily supplemented a slightly erratic supply.
The recipe works well with a tempura-style batter too, but I do like to use the David one. 4 oz flour, 3 tbsp olive oil, salt, 3/4 tumbler (sic) of cold water and an egg white, whipped until stiff. She recommends stirring the oil into the flour & salt, making a thick paste, then adding the water slowly – add enough to make a thick creamy mix. Let stand for 3 hrs, then fold in the whipped egg white. If too thick, add a little cold water but you want a thickish coating mix.
I hadn’t planned this properly so didn’t have the more traditional ricotta for stuffing. I have simply put a chunk of good ‘melty’ hard cheese inside in the past when similarly unprepared, but it’s not that easy to seal the flowers!
Raiding the fridge gave me grated mature cheddar which I bound with a small pot of mild, soft, medium-fat goat’s cheese, adding a grating of Parmesan and a few shredded basil leaves. A scrape of nutmeg finished off the mix. I left this in the fridge until ready to cook.
After washing the flowers and taking out the central pistil I scooped in a heaped teaspoon of the now firm cheese mix, folding the petals to seal in the cheese. I kept the baby courgettes attached, though the odd one separated.
The final stage was to dip them in the batter and fry in small batches in a light oil, keeping the fritters warm in the oven after draining until all were ready. A final taste of summer!