Saturday, 23 April 2011

Tea, cake and a good book

Sometimes it is quite frankly too hot to labour in the garden, and the thought of standing at a counter potting on seedlings just makes you feel too wobbly for words.



And that is the moment that you need to sit quietly with a cup of tea served in one of the few intact Emma Bridgewater mugs that you possess (why is it always the Emma Bridgewater mugs that hit the floor, while the ugly one that you bought with tokens collected from instant coffee jars when you were sixteen seems to be made of cast iron?) ...





... and eat a piece of cake made by a Princess ... even though you have over-run your cake ration for the day (and why also is it that once you reach a certain age, cake has a gravitational pull towards your midriff, even if you go to the gym and do a lot of gardening in an effort to counteract it?). 




Photo courtesy of Princess B (and she has made another one today, with even more butter icing, and a lovely silver shoe on the top. The gym beckons with wagging finger.).


What is needed also is the company of a good book, and sometimes you come across such a lovely book that you have to share it - and I have been reading just such a one.


Today I have been reading All My Eggs in One Basket by Francine Raymond (who also has a lovely blog and shop here), and have to say that it is the most charming book, perfect company on a sunny afternoon. 


Full of the most heavenly pictures taken in her beautiful garden and house in Suffolk, the book is a wonderful mix of recipes, talk about gardening and plants, advice about henkeeping, things to make, and anecdotes about her life.


In the form of a seasonal journal, she takes us through the year while covering everything from the pain of bereavement to the joy of the everyday in an eclectic mixture of small vignettes of her life as gardener, crafter, cook, teacher, which engage the reader in a gentle and enchanting way, all illustrated so copiously with the most gorgeous photographs that I know that I will be going back to this book again and again, purely for the visual joy.



One of Francine's other publications, The Big Book of Garden Hens, has been one of those seminal influences on our life here in our trying-to-be-self-sufficient little cottage, one of those books which fed our dreams of a garden farm in the years when it seemed just that, a dream, along with John Seymour's Self-Sufficiency and Paul Heiney's Home Farm.



The Ploughboy in his youth used to get up early on Sunday mornings and make us scones for breakfast from the recipe in The Big Book of Garden Hens: the scones were crisp, small and flat, but deliciously full of love and enthusiasm, and I salute anyone who manages to have such a benign influence on a twelve or thirteen-year-old boy. He is still as lovely and enthusiastic, but unfortunately gets up a lot later on Sundays, so the scones are part of wistful memories of times past.

We were lucky enough to meet Francine recently, when she came to interview us in her role as gardening journalist: our brief moment of fame is upon us, and who knows, you might even spot us in the Sundays tomorrow!

Not only does the gym beckon, but so do the seedlings.


That's the trouble with self-sufficiency: a princess may make a cake, and I can eat it right away (more's the pity), but if I don't pot on my lettuces now, there won't be any salad on the table in May, so I must gracefully (and cakefully) take my leave. Adieu, she said, adieu ...

24 comments:

Serenata said...

They sound like really good books...must put them on my wish list. It certainly has been too hot to be standing potting plants. I have been getting up early in the morning to spend the time in the garden while it is coolest so I can soak up the warmth the rest of the day.

andamento said...

Uh oh, that looks such a nice book I have added it to my amazon wishlist.

Yes, some days it is just too hot for gardening, evenings can be good (though often I'm a bit tired by then). And I also wish cakes wouldn't hang about round my middle too.

VintageVicki said...

I 2nd the good books comment :)

I also understand the effect of cakes and gravity :(

Here's hoping for more sunshine tomorrow.

Gina said...

I have exactly the same trouble with Emma Bridgewater mugs yet still have some grotty items that date back years! That sounds a lovely book.

B............... said...

Oh my, I'm trying to diet here and here you are teasing Me with cake, it does look rather delicious!

B xxx

elizabethm said...

Now come on, which Sunday? I don't normally get them but would for a chance to read about you and your garden. However don't want to stagger home under the weight of the full range! Help me here please!
The book looks fabulous. One for the wishlist. And isn't it wonderful when your children take to baking? Mine did and younger daughter took over totally for a while - bliss!

Florence and Mary said...

Well if you can't have a bit of cake at Easter when can you!

Victoria xx

Indigo Blue said...

The ckae looked absolutley gorgeous!! I have just come back from visiting my parents and it was up to 29 degrees! A bit too hot to be honest.
xx

Mousy Brown said...

I love the garden hens book and have had the other one on my wish list for years - I have just decided to give up on anyone else buying it and have ordered a copy myself! Happy Easter x

Louise said...

The books sound enchanting, thanks for sharing :)

Frances said...

I so enjoyed reading this post, often nodding my head in agreement at some of your commentary, or perhaps just enjoying reading about someone who has been able to realize what might always just be a dream of mine.

Now, as other commenters have asked...which Sundays?

I do live in New York, but also do read many UK newspapers on line. Please do let me know where I might find you.

Happy Easter!

lemonade kitty said...

Happy Easter hun, love Lucey xx

Chrissie said...

What a smashing little cakey interlude in your busy life. Isn't it hot - the hens are walking around with their wings out and beaks open, looking a bit loony.

melanie said...

The cake looks delicious and that looks like a wonderful book :) xx

Mary ♥ Mur said...

♥Nice post.) Love your blog.))♥

Jooles said...

thank you so much for your lovely comments on my blog, it means that i have found your blog! i am so pleased, i will be having a good nosey around later it looks wonderful.
the book looks very tempting and so does that cake! yummm
j x

The Garden Bell said...

You had me a "live in a cottage", then I had a look around and found I just wanted to stay. New follower, for sure.

Hillcrest Cottage said...

Emma Bridgewater mugs.... I have an extensive collection... love them!

Poppy said...

Hello, I have a big problem with my midriff, even with all the gardening I do. :0) more books to add to my list...

Lou xxx

ParisMaddy said...

Thanks for this post and the books. Your cake looks yummy***

Barbara said...

Hi! I have missed you.Tried to find you a couple of times to look again at your cottage info. but could not find you. Will book mark you this time.
That cake looks delicious as do the seedlings.
Am in the middle of learning everything about a new computer with windows 7 and being a top range up to date machine everything is the latest and all needs learning. I will however come back and catch up with your blog. Using my old E-mail as even new Windows Live is so different. Glad you visited.

Jenny said...

Totally agree about the Emma mugs. I have the tulip one too, my absolute favourite, so much so that I am the only one allowed to use it.

Cottage Garden said...

Oh I miss Francine. My friend Sue and I used to be regular visitors to her lovely home, garden and shop in Troston before she left Suffolk for the delights of Kent!

Her books are a joy.

Jeanne
x

Gooseberry Jam said...

Oh to sit we tea, cake and a very interesting book, what a great reward for all your efforts...
It's nice to meet you, thank you for stopping by my blog. :)

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