Monday, 28 February 2011

Weekend and some winners......

'Twas a strange weekend really. Bit bitty.

The 8yo is being eased into Saturday morning school, a standard in many schools up and down the country. So now, some weekends feature a school run. This is in advance of the Summer Term, when Saturday school will become a permanent fixture. The morning's lessons are are then followed by an afternoon of inter-school sports....... I shall exist on picnics for ever more, yay!

It's a change for all of us, Saturday used to mean a gentle awakening, at five past dawn instead of dawn... (the 6yo has always been incapable of sleeping in!).. followed by a yummy, yet unhealthy breakfast. Now it is just like the rest of the week.... they say a change is as good as a rest!!! but soon it will be the norm.

Once my lovely lamb is physically there she's fine and girly sleepovers on Friday night, where a similarly convicted 8yo joins us or our girl sleeps elsewhere, means there is an element of fun injected into proceedings.

Anyhoo she was soon back home for Saturday lunch and quickly changed into jeans and a sweater to join her brother in the pallate-constructed den. It is a marvelous place to brew up hideous potions of mud and pilfered stuff from the compost heap. I really shouldn't have read George's Marvelous Medicine to them! Yuk!


Of course, on Friday I duly put all the names of my gorgeous followers in hubby's hat in order to pull out 5 names for the World Book Night Competition. Therefore it is will great drum roll I announce that the winners were: 

Congratulations all!

Winners only please send me your postal address address to and I will gladly supply Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. Enjoy.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Smitten...I want to be a Fashionista in the Garden....

I preempt this blog post with one of those Girl Guide stylee oaths.....

I Lou-Lou, being of sound mind (!) and softer body (more gardening required)
do solemnly swear that I know not of any lawful impediment
why I shouldn't big up any products I love, if they take my fancy.....that is on account of not being paid (boo-hoo) to do so
and because I refuse to have advertising on my blog as there's only space for me, ME, MEEE!

Well you know the spiel, I'm only drawing your attention to the fact that I don't take 'sweetners' to write about products etc. Don't get me wrong, I'm sooooo not against this, it's just not something I've considered doing yet.

Therefore it is with complete impunity and a giggling girl's enthusiasm that I tell you, I want to be a GardenGirl. I saw their little ad in a posh mag at the dentists and pow! I was in love. I need to look like the owner, founder, genius of GardenGirl, she's called Petra Maison..... how cool is that name. (Please Petra, I promise I'm no weirdo, I'm just smitten with the clothes.)

Look at the trousers, there are pockets EVERYWHERE and you can get knee pads that slot in to yet another pocket for kneely-down work. Plus the fabric looks so cool and elegant...... sob! I want to look like that!

Hubby has suggested that I don't really work that cleanly in the garden. How dare he!! If I had those trousers I'd never wipe my hands on them. I promise. I really covet the waistcoat thingy, beautiful, gorgeous, so practical, love the colour. The rose gloves are wonderful too....sigh...

I'm saving up. Might just buy nasty food for a few months so I can siphon off the funds to have the entire outfit.... and the hair, healthy youthful glow and the stunning garden... Ah bliss! I'm in my happy place now.

Take a look, you'll be hooked too...


Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Giveaway...Follow ME!

On Friday I will pop all the names of my Followers.... (Come to think of it, are you on the list?....The one to the right of this text............ see it? Well if not sign up please...Click the Follow button and add yourself to the crowd. Don't be shy!)

Anyhoo I'll put all the names into a hat in order to draw out just 5 Followers who will be sent a copy of the marvelous book Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell... all thanks to World Book Night.

Good luck, one and all.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Shropshire in Pictures.....

View from house

View from Orchard

I'm cold. More precisely, I have a cold. Again. I'm just a teensy-weensy bit fed up with the winter now and dearly wish it would just shove off.

The electricity board came to fell trees last week. This was during our half term, not wildly safe, as my sproglets were loose, but thanks to the chill in the air, the babies chose to play indoors and consequently there were no injuries. Mind you, the chief cutter-downer looked a bit nervous when he asked where the nearest hospital was, for his H&S form. I suggested it was 45 minutes in a siren-flashing ambulance, driven by a F1 driver, unless the air ambulance was available.

Several months ago we had agreed to murder some of our trees as they were obstructing the power lines. Because of this the electricity board carried out the work free gratis but to be honest, we were pleased as these huge trees sat in the middle of the garden, facing south east, obscuring the sun from around the pond for most of the day.

Incidentally the newts are back. When it's not too cold I venture out with a torch at night and watch them in the shallows of the pond..... saucy devils think it's spring already!

So, two dark and foreboding conifers are gone from the garden and one other tree, that I cannot for the life of me remember the name of: Sadly that was quite a pretty specimum, with a sweet smelling blossom, luckily we do have a similar sized one elsewhere in the garden.

The next project is to dig out the old hedge that seperates the garden from a pretty orchard. We want to retain the old rhododendron bushes and a pretty hazelnut tree that may be used as a restaurant by a dormouse. Then we need to plant a new hedge all around the new footprint of the garden, enclosing the orchard and making the pond a focal point (oh, get me!) .... All this must be done on a shoestring..... so come on lottery!! If anyone knows one of those gardening programmes that wants to tinker with my garden, let them know that I'll bake all the cakes they can eat and I'll make the tea.

We've been making our own hedge plants from cuttings from existing hedging but now that I look at the amount of plants required, we are woefully short. Ho hum.
Still, onwards and upwards, Spring is only 10 days away and I'm mega keeping my fingers crossed for no more bluddy snow!

Archie is turning out to be a right little bobby-dazzler! Might show him at the county fair this year.....

When the fog descends to the valley, school run is an awesome experience high above sea level. We trundle along, avoiding the sheep that like to lick the road, (!) until we too plunge into the mist and fog. I'll never tire of that view.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

In my Last Will and Testimony.....

The 6yo was a bit stroppy last afternoon. He was post-play-date tired.

'Can I watch TV?'

'Absolutely,' said I. He nearly fainted, so rarely do I utter that sentence at 4pm.

'Really?' He said, sensing there might be a catch. There wasn't one.

Heady with triumph, he realised he must have settled short. Making amends he quickly upped his demands.......
'I'll turn it on and choose my own programme if you show me how to use the remote.'

Yeah, dream on! Long ago I lost the remote to the hubby, I'm not keen to relinquish the last bastion of power in my own home. The remote must be defended.....Oh, hark at me, I've come over all ferocious, a reincarnation of Boodica perhaps, maybe it's the proximity to Wales. Anyhoo, the sproglets cannot triumph .... even though I know that day is coming but for now I'm living in the moment.....

'That's OK lovely boy, I'll manage,' said I.

He pouted and threw himself onto the sofa.

'That's so unfair. What happens if you and dad died? We wouldn't even know how to use the TV!'


Monday, 14 February 2011

Coming Clean..... The Naked Truth!

Chubby Cherub..

Truth be told, I didn't do so well on the diet last week... buoyed by my 11lb loss, I got complacent. Thanks to the return of pre-dinner drinks and, (egged on by the sproglets,) several experimental desserts featuring chocolate and cream, I lost just 1lb last week!

'Nooooo,' squealed I. 'Can't be so.' The scales initially had me gaining 1lb!!!

My weighing scales are in the dairy/walk in larder/bloody cold room just off the kitchen, so, feeling sure the scales were wrong and that I was probably wearing exceptionally heavy clothes, I shed the layers. (Don't panic, the etched glass in the thin strip of window protected my immodesty!)

I wasn't expecting to lose anything really, not after my quaffing during the week.....still, I feigned surprise at the lack of progress as the shelves of food wolf-whistled at me!

Even at zero degrees and nude, I didn't make the 2lb target loss. Sad and cold I vowed to be better. Mind you, it's a difficult day to shed pounds, as there's a bottle of champagne with hubby and my name on it lurking in the fridge...... fortunately champagne is great for malaise I hear...  

Banana anyone??

Friday, 11 February 2011

Half Term....

I'm really looking forward to half term, (no sarcasm I promise you.) The weather is warmer so we can all play outside and I've cheated, big time - I've bought a million nice pizzas, salad things and naughty puds for the sproglets as we fully intent to have the world-and-his-wife for playdates. The pizza seems to be most popular lunch item, as the muddy hordes like to eat alfresco in the various dens constructed around the site and fields.


My potatoes are chitting nicely in the utility room. The greenhouse is spilling over with little modules of life and this morning I noticed little cabbage seedlings raising their heads.


Archie is so close to being ready for free ranging, this morning when I offered him and the girls some leftover porridge, (which they love,) he grabbed a dollop, escaped the pen and ran off into the garden, hotly pursued by the bigger, already roaming flock of girls. Give him his due, he didn't part with the tasty blob and I had a heck of a job catching him again. All the while the cat, Tabby, (some may know him as Peter Andre) watched the antics. Hmmmmmm, few more weeks perhaps.

I'm proud to announce I've lost 11lb in four weeks on the online Weight Watchers diet.... may put some back on tonight as we're off to a dinner party across the hills, but can't help thinking that the weight loss is down to two key factors: First, I am not eating a Christmas Selection Box a day (note to self:  beware the temptation of Easter Eggs!) and Second, when I'm not writing, I'm gardening.

Soon I'll be fit too as we'll be getting in training to wrestle baby bunnies from the mouths of cats. I don't actually want the bunnies saved, (sorry,) but the hideous squealing would melt the hardest of hearts, i.e. mine.

Believe me when I say I'm still more than cuddly, so why is it that people who hear you're on a diet, (and can clearly see you've got miles to go before your jeans actually fall off you in public,) why then do they always say...

'Good on you, but don't go too far will you? Don't lose too much.'

OK. Soapbox back in shed.

I say.....

If you've got the time, please click the link blow and vote for your fave cabbage recipe on the lovetogarden website, (even if you decide that mine's not the best, sob, sob.....)

Thank you so much for your kind care and attention in this matter......


Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Good Grub...Crispy Bacon Cabbage...

Inspired by a competition on the blog I made the mid-week dinner with a little more care and attention than I might usually.

It is fair to say that the sproglets arrive at the table hungry in this house. We don't have a snack after school, as they don't finish till 5:30pm so dinner needs to be delivered prompt when we get in at 6pm. My trusty oven is generally on timer during the week and last night was no exception.

Having locked up the flock of chickens and transported Archie, the baby rooster, and his two adopted sisters to their protected coop, we entered the house. The aroma of crispy seasoned chicken thighs (sorry chickens!) greeted cold noses. The chicken thighs were surrounded by chunky potato wedges and garlic both of which we grew ourselves last season and harvested last July.

Everything was cooked and the oven was off, all I needed to do was cook the cabbage.

I put on the water to boil in my 2 tier steamer and put on the lid. Next I heated a wide non-stick frying pan and when the pan was hot I placed 6 slices of parma ham on to cook, adding a little olive oil. By now the steamer was almost ready and so, taking a lovely fresh Savoy cabbage I halved it and removed the stalk and then cut centimetre strips from the rest watching the ham so it didn't burn.

After rinsing the cabbage under cold water I added it to the steamer trays, no salt required. Timer on for 8 minutes.

By now the parma ham was lovely and crispy on both sides and was cooling on some kitchen roll. While I waited for the cabbage to cook I chopped the ham into little pieces and added a knob of butter to the pan juices. I emptied the softened savoy onto a pretty bowl and poured over a couple of tablespoons of the pan juices and then sprinkled over the ham.

Personally I could have had the cabbage as a main course, especially helpful to my Weight Watchers diet but at least I resisted the crispy chicken skin which the sproglets divided!

Try it. It was a delicious dinner.

Hot Pants..

The Weight Watchers diet is going well. Bananas are zero points don't you know?....Never eaten so many in my life, probably die of a potassium overdose, but at least I'll fit in the coffin.

The love of my life has just passed away.... no, not him! My jeans; the ones with the sparkles on the back pockets highlighting my bottom (....probably not a good thing in hindsight.) My trusty jeans; that I moved to The Larches in and pulled down trees with and dug and chopped and chickened in.

The holes had become rude, yet I just couldn't wean myself away from the soft blue denim-ness of them.... so..... I folded them and placed them gently in the log burner, laying kindling about them. Then I had a cremation, not a swimming pool in sight. 

I'm really toasty now and yes, thank you for asking, I AM wearing another pair of jeans...('though not as special,' she whispered, so's not to offend the current pair.)


Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Gardening and Archie......

For the past five days, the greenhouse has resisted the urge to pull itself from its moorings and disappear into the sky, sucked up by the invisible cyclone that wracked the UK. At least it was a warm wind.
Inside the greenhouse the noise was tremendous, the polycarbonate panels threatening to ping off into the wide world, but when it comes to planting I'm a maniac...I've got 20 metres of shelving to fill and by gad I'm doing well. There are just 6 more metres to go....

Last night, as the wind started dropping I noticed the temperature was following suit. I proudly lit my new paraffin heater and voila! .... no difference whatsoever!!! However this morning, when I looked out across our fields to spy a medium ground frost, I noticed that my greenhouse was all steamed up, (I must get a greenhouse thermometer...) and all the plants were looking good inside.

Take a look.


Rudbeckia emerging

The other thing that's growing fast is Archie. He, and I mean HE, must be a He, because as soon as I open the coop door he pops out and jumps straight on top. He so wants to be roaming with the other chickens but I'm still fearful that the cats will try to attack him. Even his voice is changing, no longer does he cheep, he sort of squawks. I think one night next month, I'll take him and his two girl friends and place them with all the others in the main coop. Sadly, I'll have to lock them all in for 3 days to get used to their new surroundings and to ensure the pecking order, but after that Archie, Flappy and The Calm One can roam free at The Larches. I only hope Rooster and Archie can live together, we'll see!

I'm outta here....

Archie: Bad hair day...

Cock a coop...

Friday, 4 February 2011

Hell NO!

UK children watch an average of more than two and a half hours of television a day and spend an hour and 50 minutes online a day, a poll suggests.

A survey of 2,445 children aged five to 16 by Child Wise found almost two in three have their own computer (62%).

And nearly half have Internet access in their own room (46%). (!!!!!!!!)

What the hell is that about? What % of their time was spent bike riding, making a den, getting really muddy, reading from a book? (A what?) A book... And what about helping with dinner, and I don't mean just waiting for the microwave to ping. Then there are pets to feed/clean, homework to do and, if you've done all that, what about setting the table?

I'm clearly living in an alternative universe.... fortunately it is with my husband and our children.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Book Giveaway......Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell.

I'm so chuffed. I'm one of 20,000 people in the UK and Ireland who has been chosen to distribute books on World Book Night.

On Saturday, 5 March 2011, two days after World Book Day, with the full support of the Publishers Association, the Booksellers Association, the Independent Publishers Guild, the Reading Agency with libraries, World Book Day, the BBC and RTE, one million books will be given away by an army of passionate readers to members of the public across the UK and Ireland. Believe me, I'm passionate.
The book give-away will comprise 40,000 copies of each of the 25 carefully selected titles, to be distributed by 20,000 ‘givers’, who will each give away 48 copies of their chosen title to whomever they choose on World Book Night. The remaining books will be distributed by World Book Night itself in places that might otherwise be difficult to reach, such as prisons and hospitals.

The twenty-five titles were selected by a wide-ranging editorial committee, chaired by James Naughtie. (I promise that no naughty words were uttered by him in that esteemed capacity!)

My Choice is Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell.

My distribution list includes members of my family, neighbours and friends, business associates and, of course, those involved in The Larches Book Club. Also I've identified some hospices and nursing homes where I'm sure the book will give great pleasure.. But I've also got 5 copies of the book to giveaway through this blog. If you'd like a copy of this wonderful book, follow the directions below:
  1. Make sure to become a Follower of my blog; adding your profile picture and details to the box entitled Followers - Global Friends and please leave me a comment if you're a new follower.
  2. All The Archers at The Larches' Followers will be entered into a draw and 5 lucky winners will receive Cloud Atlas, by post, after the 5th March. (Winners will need to send me a postal address)

About the Book:

From David Mitchell, the Booker Prize nominee, award-winning writer and one of the featured authors in Granta’s “Best of Young British Novelists 2003″ issue, comes his highly anticipated third novel, a work of mind-bending imagination and scope. Spookily, David Mitchell was raised not far from the Larches in Malvern, Worcestershire.
A reluctant voyager crossing the Pacific in 1850; a disinherited composer blagging a precarious livelihood in between-the-wars Belgium; a high-minded journalist in Governor Reagan’s California; a vanity publisher fleeing his gangland creditors; a genetically modified “dinery server” on death-row; and Zachry, a young Pacific Islander witnessing the nightfall of science and civilisation — the narrators of Cloud Atlas hear each other’s echoes down the corridor of history, and their destinies are changed in ways great and small.
In his captivating third novel, David Mitchell erases the boundaries of language, genre and time to offer a meditation on humanity’s dangerous will to power, and where it may lead us.

Wish me luck.



Thursday, 7th November—

Beyond the Indian hamlet, upon a forlorn strand, I happened on a trail of recent footprints. Through rotting kelp, sea cocoa-nuts & bamboo, the tracks led me to their maker, a White man, his trowzers & Pea-jacket rolled up, sporting a kempt beard & an outsized Beaver, shoveling & sifting the cindery sand with a teaspoon so intently that he noticed me only after I had hailed him from ten yards away. Thus it was, I made the acquaintance of Dr. Henry Goose, surgeon to the London nobility. His nationality was no surprise. If there be any eyrie so desolate, or isle so remote, that one may there resort unchallenged by an Englishman, ’tis not down on any map I ever saw.

Had the doctor misplaced anything on that dismal shore? Could I render assistance? Dr. Goose shook his head, knotted loose his ’kerchief & displayed its contents with clear pride. “Teeth, sir, are the enameled grails of the quest in hand. In days gone by this Arcadian strand was a cannibals’ banqueting hall, yes, where the strong engorged themselves on the weak. The teeth, they spat out, as you or I would expel cherry stones. But these base molars, sir, shall be transmuted to gold & how? An artisan of Piccadilly who fashions denture sets for the nobility pays handsomely for human gnashers. Do you know the price a quarter pound will earn, sir?”

I confessed I did not.

“Nor shall I enlighten you, sir, for ’tis a professional secret!” He tapped his nose. “Mr. Ewing, are you acquainted with Marchioness Grace of Mayfair? No? The better for you, for she is a corpse in petticoats. Five years have passed since this harridan besmirched my name, yes, with imputations that resulted in my being blackballed from Society.” Dr. Goose looked out to sea. “My peregrinations began in that dark hour.”

I expressed sympathy with the doctor’s plight.

“I thank you, sir, I thank you, but these ivories”—he shook his ’kerchief—“are my angels of redemption. Permit me to elucidate. The Marchioness wears dental fixtures fashioned by the afore- mentioned doctor. Next yuletide, just as that scented She-Donkey is addressing her Ambassadors’ Ball, I, Henry Goose, yes, I shall arise & declare to one & all that our hostess masticates with cannibals’ gnashers! Sir Hubert will challenge me, predictably, ‘Furnish your evidence,’ that boor shall roar, ‘or grant me satisfaction!’ I shall declare, ‘Evidence, Sir Hubert? Why, I gathered your mother’s teeth myself from the spittoon of the South Pacific! Here, sir, here are some of their fellows!’ & fling these very teeth into her tortoiseshell soup tureen & that, sir, that will grant me my satisfaction! The twittering wits will scald the icy Marchioness in their news sheets & by next season she shall be fortunate to receive an invitation to a Poorhouse Ball!”

In haste, I bade Henry Goose a good day. I fancy he is a Bedlamite.

Friday, 8th November—

In the rude shipyard beneath my window, work progresses on the jibboom, under Mr. Sykes’s directorship. Mr. Walker, Ocean Bay’s sole taverner, is also its principal timber merchant & he brags of his years as a master shipbuilder in Liverpool. (I am now versed enough in Antipodese etiquette to let such unlikely truths lie.) Mr. Sykes told me an entire week is needed to render the Prophet- ess “Bristol fashion.” Seven days holed up in the Musket seems a grim sentence, yet I recall the fangs of the banshee tempest & the mariners lost o’erboard & my present misfortune feels less acute.

I met Dr. Goose on the stairs this morning & we took breakfast together. He has lodged at the Musket since middle October after voyaging hither on a Brazilian merchantman, Namorados, from Feejee, where he practiced his arts in a mission. Now the doctor awaits a long-overdue Australian sealer, the Nellie, to convey him to Sydney. From the colony he will seek a position aboard a passenger ship for his native London.

My judgment of Dr. Goose was unjust & premature. One must be cynical as Diogenes to prosper in my profession, but cynicism can blind one to subtler virtues. The doctor has his eccentricities & recounts them gladly for a dram of Portuguese pisco (never to excess), but I vouchsafe he is the only other gentleman on this latitude east of Sydney & west of Valparaiso. I may even compose for him a letter of introduction for the Partridges in Sydney, for Dr. Goose & dear Fred are of the same cloth.

Poor weather precluding my morning outing, we yarned by the peat fire & the hours sped by like minutes. I spoke at length of Tilda & Jackson & also my fears of “gold fever” in San Francisco. Our conversation then voyaged from my hometown to my recent notarial duties in New South Wales, thence to Gibbon, Malthus & Godwin via Leeches & Locomotives. Attentive conversation is an emollient I lack sorely aboard the Prophetess & the doctor is a veritable polymath. Moreover, he possesses a handsome army of scrimshandered chessmen whom we shall keep busy until either the Prophetess’s departure or the Nellie’s arrival.

Saturday, 9th November—

Sunrise bright as a silver dollar. Our schooner still looks a woeful picture out in the Bay. An Indian war canoe is being careened on the shore. Henry & I struck out for “Banqueter’s Beach” in holy-day mood, blithely saluting the maid who labors for Mr. Walker. The sullen miss was hanging laundry on a shrub & ignored us. She has a tinge of black blood & I fancy her mother is not far removed from the jungle breed.

As we passed below the Indian hamlet, a “humming” aroused our curiosity & we resolved to locate its source. The settlement is circumvallated by a stake fence, so decayed that one may gain ingress at a dozen places. A hairless bitch raised her head, but she was toothless & dying & did not bark. An outer ring of ponga huts (fashioned from branches, earthen walls & matted ceilings) groveled in the lees of “grandee” dwellings, wooden structures with carved lintel pieces & rudimentary porches. In the hub of this village, a public flogging was under way. Henry & I were the only two Whites present, but three castes of spectating Indians were demarked. The chieftain occupied his throne, in a feathered cloak, while the tattooed gentry & their womenfolk & children stood in attendance, numbering some thirty in total. The slaves, duskier & sootier than their nut-brown masters & less than half their number, squatted in the mud. Such inbred, bovine torpor! Pockmarked & pustular with haki-haki, these wretches watched the punishment, making no response but that bizarre, beelike “hum.” Empathy or condemnation, we knew not what the noise signified. The whip master was a Goliath whose physique would daunt any frontier prizefighter. Lizards mighty & small were tattooed over every inch of the savage’s musculature:—his pelt would fetch a fine price, though I should not be the man assigned to relieve him of it for all the pearls of O-hawaii! The piteous prisoner, hoarfrosted with many harsh years, was bound naked to an A-frame. His body shuddered with each excoriating lash, his back was a vellum of bloody runes, but his insensible face bespoke the serenity of a martyr already in the care of the Lord.

I confess, I swooned under each fall of the lash. Then a peculiar thing occurred. The beaten savage raised his slumped head, found my eye & shone me a look of uncanny, amicable knowing! As if a theatrical performer saw a long-lost friend in the Royal Box and, undetected by the audience, communicated his recognition. A tattooed “blackfella” approached us & flicked his nephrite dagger to indicate that we were unwelcome. I inquired after the nature of the prisoner’s crime. Henry put his arm around me. “Come, Adam, a wise man does not step betwixt the beast & his meat.”

Sunday, 10th November—

Mr. Boerhaave sat amidst his cabal of trusted ruffians like Lord Anaconda & his garter snakes. Their Sabbath “celebrations” downstairs had begun ere I had risen. I went in search of shaving water & found the tavern swilling with Tars awaiting their turn with those poor Indian girls whom Walker has ensnared in an impromptu bordello. (Rafael was not in the debauchers’ number.)

I do not break my Sabbath fast in a whorehouse. Henry’s sense of repulsion equaled to my own, so we forfeited breakfast (the maid was doubtless being pressed into alternative service) & set out for the chapel to worship with our fasts unbroken.

We had not gone two hundred yards when, to my consternation, I remembered this journal, lying on the table in my room at the Musket, visible to any drunken sailor who might break in. Fearful for its safety (& my own, were Mr. Boerhaave to get his hands on it), I retraced my steps to conceal it more artfully. Broad smirks greeted my return & I assumed I was “the devil being spoken of,” but I learned the true reason when I opened my door:—to wit, Mr. Boerhaave’s ursine buttocks astraddle his Blackamoor Goldilocks in my bed in flagrante delicto! Did that devil Dutchman apologize? Far from it! He judged himself the injured party & roared, “Get ye hence, Mr. Quillcock! or by God’s B——d, I shall snap your tricksy Yankee nib in two!”

I snatched my diary & clattered downstairs to a riotocracy of merriment & ridicule from the White savages there gathered. I remonstrated to Walker that I was paying for a private room & I expected it to remain private even during my absence, but that scoundrel merely offered a one-third discount on “a quarter-hour’s gallop on the comeliest filly in my stable!” Disgusted, I retorted that I was a husband & a father! & that I should rather die than abase my dignity & decency with any of his poxed whores! Walker swore to “decorate my eyes” if I called his own dear daughters “whores” again. One toothless garter snake jeered that if possessing a wife & a child was a single virtue, “Why, Mr. Ewing, I be ten times more virtuous than you be!” & an unseen hand emptied a tankard of sheog over my person. I withdrew ere the liquid was swapped for a more obdurate missile.

The chapel bell was summoning the God-fearing of Ocean Bay & I hurried thitherwards, where Henry waited, trying to forget the recent foulnesses witnessed at my lodgings. The chapel creaked like an old tub & its congregation numbered little more than the digits of two hands, but no traveler ever quenched his thirst at a desert oasis more thankfully than Henry & I gave worship this morning. The Lutheran founder has lain at rest in his chapel’s cemetery these ten winters past & no ordained successor has yet ventured to claim captaincy of the altar. Its denomination, therefore, is a “rattle bag” of Christian creeds. Biblical passages were read by that half of the congregation who know their let- ters & we joined in a hymn or two nominated by rota. The “steward” of this demotic flock, one Mr. D’Arnoq, stood beneath the modest cruciform & besought Henry & me to participate in likewise manner. Mindful of my own salvation from last week’s tempest, I nominated Luke ch. 8, “And they came to him, & awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, & rebuked the wind & the raging of the water: & they ceased, & there was a calm.”

Henry recited from Psalm the Eighth, in a voice as sonorous as any schooled dramatist: “Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou has put all things under his feet: all sheep & oxen, yea & the beasts of the field; the fowl of the air & the fish of the sea & whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.”
No organist played a Magnificat but the wind in the flue chimney, no choir sang a Nunc Dimittis but the wuthering gulls, yet I fancy the Creator was not displeazed. We resembled more the Early Christians of Rome than any later Church encrusted with arcana & gemstones. Communal prayer followed. Parishioners prayed ad lib for the eradication of potato blight, mercy on a dead infant’s soul, blessing upon a new fishing boat, &c. Henry gave thanks for the hospitality shown us visitors by the Christians of Chatham Isle. I echoed these sentiments & sent a prayer for Tilda, Jackson & my father-in-law during my extended absence.

It's a great book. Good luck.

The Archers at The Larches

Lou - Chicken whisperer....

Lou - Chicken whisperer....

Snowy and Moon

Snowy and Moon