When Ron and I lived near St. Tropez our friends and neighbours headed inland to escape the heat, but it was never too hot for us. In fact the breeze from the sea made the temperature idyllic.
I’m writing this in April because I’ll hopefully be in France in early May. We write one month in advance. Until now I’ve always mourned the lack of foliage on the trees, but today I changed my mind. Lying in bed I saw through my window the tree that grows between Marshfield Park and Cleeve Wood House. Suddenly I appreciated the pattern of bare branches—really black against the leaden sky. It was a thing of beauty and so symbolic.
The first oil painting that I did has a similar theme, but I used primary colours. It hangs in my Guest bedroom. Do you know the name for the latter in French? It’s “Chambre d’amis” (Friend’s bedroom) - a much warmer phrase! Talking of lovely words—a mother in law is “Belle maman” (Beautiful mother) and “Belle fillle” (Beautiful girl) is daughter in law!
In my painting, the roots are the most important part of the tree. I think of them as God from whom all goodness flows. The trunk of the tree is like Jesus—reliable and there for us to lean on when we need support. The branches? To me they are the angels forming a link between us and heaven. In our Church Bible Study group we heard that the Holy Spirit is like the wind. It’s invisible in itself, but we can see the results it brings. Even bare branches move on windy days!
Perhaps we could think of the roots as our Family history and the trunk as our present family. We want our children to be strong branches and hopefully produce some twigs and twiglets (grandchildren and great-grandchildren)I won’t give you any other analogies—I’m sure that you have your own ideas. I’ll never look at a bare tree in the same way again. As I was getting up a little white cloud drifted behind the tree. It had an oval break in the middle through which I could see a patch of blue sky. It looked just like an eye—Big Brother was watching me!
In the April magazine I mentioned the trend for “Surf and Turf”. Well there’s another idea that’s growing in popularity. Remember you read it here first! It’s not a new thing , Peter and I ate it in France , as a starter about three years ago. It was a savoury crumble with a tomato and mushroom filling.
I usually watch ”Saturday Kitchen” on television. I always hope that one of the films of Keith Floyd will be shown. He is often called “the Chef’s Chef “as most of them, like me, really admire his style of cooking. I’ve got his autobiography if you would like to borrow it! He often said “a splash and a dash”. He didn’t use a measuring jug or scales and I don’t either. Of course you have to be precise if you are baking cakes or bread which I don’t!
When Keith bought our flat on Clifton Downs (the day after we put it on the market) - we thought he must have admired our kitchen. No!! It was really lovely—well, we thought so! The counter tops were like dark green leather with curved edges and there were 6 hobs—3 gas and 4 electric etc. He had it all ripped out and replaced with black marble imported from Italy! The headlines in the Evening Post (which our friends posted to us in France) read Keith Floyd buys luxury flat in Clifton with NO KITCHEN. Never believe everything that you read!
Last week Saturday Kitchen was followed by 30 minutes of Nigel Slater. Guess what he suggested—why not make a Savoury Crumble! To accompany his roast lamb he added grated cheese to finely chopped apples. He topped this with crumble made in the usual way plus breadcrumbs and ground almonds. Left in the oven on a medium heat for 15—20 minutes, he then dotted it with butter and more cheese and browned it with a blow torch. If your lamb is resting under foil, you could use the already hot oven to make the crumble. Don’t just think apple and cheese!
What about a pineapple crumble with roast duck or a mandarin one with chicken? To the latter I would add mandarin marmalade to the softened fruit. “Bonne Maman” make a good one—I eat it on toast for breakfast most mornings.
Now my thought for June! “Be passionate about the things you believe in. Never creep when you could soar” We’re back to clouds again!
Please tell me if you would like to be featured in these pages. Everyone has an interesting story to tell!