Wild Hunt

It’s the Monday after the first Sunday after the fourth of September.

So it must be

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The Abbots Bromley Horn Dance.

Possibly the best folk custom in the world.

Ever.

The day starts with the blessing of the horns in the Parish C

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hur

ch.

And then the day begins.

This year was a special year as it is the centenary of the start of the First World War.
Four dancers went off to war in 1914, but only two returned.

Today,  four dancers wore uniform in remembrance of those who lost their lives in the war,  in particular those lost from

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The D

ance

As always,  it was a joy to follow the dancers around the village and su

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rrounding

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area.

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But today was particularly poignant.

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Pearls

I thought they were extinct

Or at least an endangered species

But at the Faversham Hop Festival today we spotted them.

At first just a pair

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But later,  a whole posse of them

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Performing “Roll out the barrel”,  “My Old Mans a Dustman”  and so many more.

It was great.

There were hops a plenty

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In garlands

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And on hats.

And Faversham is lovely

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It has a Physic Garden

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A rather beautifully decorated brewery

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And a gunpowder mill.

Every town should have one.

Ahem.

The festival was noisy,  bustling and good fun.

Beer was flowing freely

But as I cant stand the stuff we sampled other local produce instead.

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All in the name of supporting small local artisans you understand ­čÖé

Yum.

A GoodLife

The thing about growing up in the 70s

(Seen through the obligatory rose-tinted spectacles of course)

Was the amazing amount of high profile, ┬áiconic, ┬ácreative types who were influencing culture – both high- and low- brow.

Building on the political,  social and cultural upheavals of the 60s, the 70s (if you could ignore the occasional ill-advised hair or clothing choice)  embedded that peculiarly British love of the weird,  the avant garde,  the misfit.

It embraced the iconoclastic,  the creative and the revolutionary.

So what icon of the 70s have I found to have made the most lasting impact on my life?

Was it Marc Bolan?

No,  definitely too glam

Was it the Sex Pistols?

Umm,  bit too spiky and aggressive.  Not enough languishing or wafting in a wraithe-like manner.   I definitely preferred the Goth movement that came in the 80s.

So what was my icon of the 70s?

Tom and Barbara Good,  from BBCs The Good Life.

I harbour dreams of smallholdings.

Of meals entirely made up of things Ive grown

Of children skipping happily down the lane in clothes I’ve made.

My reality?

When I asked oldest child why he didnt want me to knit him a,  really rather trendy,  beanie hat he said

“Because you’re a bit rubbish at knitting mum. ┬á Thelast hat you did made me look like Yoda”

My yield of strawberries this year?

IMG_20150809_163759 IMG_20150809_165023  and these are alpine strawberries too,  so basically the size of grains of rice.

Six,  admittedly flourishing in a bushy,  leafy kind of way,  tomato plants and my crop to date is?

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One measly tomato.

And it’s a cherry tomato, ┬áso about the size of a 5p piece

Less Tom and Barbara Good.

More Margot Leadbetter.

But all is not lost.

I can work a kaftan and a g&t.

Ahem. ┬á­čÖé

Memory and a Mystery

I’m surrounded by stuff at the moment.

Stuff from simultaneously decorating (& swapping)  2 childrens bedrooms.

Where did all this rubbish carefully chosen and looked after stuff come from?   I swear I haven’t seen most of it before.

Stuff from school as everything they have produced this year is spewed out of their classrooms and into the house.

And stuff that just seems to grow and accumulate of its own accord.

I cant move for stuff.

But

When Mum died and I had to clear out her room,  there was very little stuff left.

A big part of her Alzheimers was paranoia coupled with the irresistible compulsion to destroy her own property.

Letters

Clothing

Photos

Jewellery

All the stuff that she had tended for years,  that had lovingly been moved with her from place to place

Gone

And you know what?

It’s absolutely fine

At the end of the day it’s just stuff.  Stuff that was tied up with her story and her memories.   Not so much mine.

Except.

In her wardrobe

One item that stayed pristine.

Clean.

Not attacked by scissors

Or bleach

Or

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vinegar and lemon

I would guess  this was from the late 50s or early 60s.  I certainly never saw her wear it.

But the fact that this survived and was cherished when everything else was lost speaks volumes

An

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d it will be cherished still.

Even if it is just stuff.

Reprieve

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It feels like spring is just about here.

Without winter really having shown its face at all.

A few frosty mornings.

A sprinkling of snow.

But already bulbs are staring to push through, and curling leaf buds appearing on some of the hardier (foolhardy) trees.

A dry day on Friday and we took our chance to explore close to home.

The beautiful Warwickshire countryside

Along country lanes

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Picking up a companion for part of the way

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Stopping at Chesterton church

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And pondering a “fixer-upper”

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A good day.

Snap crackle and pop

Today I went to a chiropractor for the first time.

All part of my constant, ongoing, and I fear, futile, quest to one day do the Lotus.

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Apparently I have boney growths where boney growths should not be

Explains a lot that does.

I lay on the torture treatment table, enjoying the gentle massage and chat of the chiropractor.

And then, with absolutely no provocation, she turned into a sadistic all-in-wrestler, jumping with all her weight on my back and getting me in what I can only describe as a half nelson.

A slightly surprised squeak may have escaped me at this point.

But that was drowned out by the alarming noises coming from my joints.

I did feel much better afterwards.

Though I fear this may be like the time I went to a Turkish Bath in Istanbul with Helen (hi Helen).

You could spot the Brits as they were the only ones still wearing clothing:-)

And the therapeutic massage involved being whacked with wet rolled up towels.

I know.

In retrospect I think there may have been an element of pay back for many years of Colonial rule.

Very therapeutic for the masseurs though.

Anyway.

Yoga on Friday.

I managed to do a sideways arm balance thing.

And drew an astonished “Where did that come from?” from my yoga teacher.

It’s always edifying to find that other people have as little faith in your abilities as you do.

I call it managing expectations ­čÖé

So for all those fellow doubters out there (I.e. everyone who knows me), I went home and did it again

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See those rigid toes? That’s fear that is ­čÖé

Om.

Pumpkin Spice (ish)

So, Starbucks have brought out their Pumpkin Spice Latte. It must be autumn.

I succumbed.

I bought one.

And having been mostly sugar free for weeks I found I couldn’t (gasp) drink it. It was so sweet I nearly gagged.

Which makes me worry the gingerbread latte they bring out before Christmas might be similarly un drinkable.

In which case I will be cast into a veritable slough of despond.

But I digress.

Pumpkin spice? How about pumpkin spice muffins?

Mmmmmmmm.

Only.

Being organised as always I didn’t actually have any pumpkin in the house.

So….

Taaaa daaaa!

Sweet potato spice muffins.

I know.

Not quite the same ring, but work with me on this one.

You Will Need
175g sweet potato (steam or boiled until tender then lightly mashed)
100g whole meal flour
100g self raising flour
75g butter, softened
2 eggs
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp stevia (plant based sweetener also known as xylitol)
2tsp baking powder
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to gas 4 or 180c

Put all of the ingredients into a large bowl

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And beat to combine well

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Spoon into muffin cases and bake for 25 minutes

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Once they are nicely browned and firm to the touch, remove from oven and allow to cool

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Now add your choice of frosting. I combined some cream cheese with maple syrup and spooned that on, topping with a pecan. I found this amply sweet but everyone else reacted like they’d just sucked a lemon so you may want to try a butter icing ( perhaps with a swirl of Dulce de Leche for a caramelly, sticky toffee vibe?)

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So, a serving of vegetables and sugar free.

Result!

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Vincent

Still with a bit of an art theme.

As we left Compton Verney we saw an irresistible sign.

For these

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A pick-your-own sunflowers field.

How could we not?

Armed with secateurs the children lost themselves in a field of gold, sunflowers towering above them.

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Bees buzzed.

But thankfully there were no wasps ­čÖé

And the kids picked flowers with blooms bigger then their heads!

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I did have thoughts of getting them to paint the flowers a la Van Gogh.

But in the end we just enjoyed looking at them

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In the immortal words of Coldplay

“And they were all yellow”

Indeed, Chris Martin, indeed.

­čÖé