Saturday, 12 June 2010

SAaturday 12 June - another Royal Event

Another Royal occasion had me glued to the telly this morning:  the Queen's Birthday Parade and Trooping the Colour.  It's held on Horseguards' Parade in London every year to commemorate the monarch's 'Official' birthday.  That means the day she was crowned and therefore officially became our Queen.  It has nothing to do with the anniversary of her birth, which is 21st April.

Until a few years ago the Queen used to actually take an active part in the proceedings, on horseback whatever the weather, and always riding sidesaddle.  Sidesaddle!  Both legs on the same side of the horse !  What a brilliant horsewoman she must be.  Nowadays she and her husband sit it out on a specially built podium and she uses an open carriage to review the troops assembled before her.  Quite right too, she is 84

You know, I watch all this every single year.  I never tire of it and never will because each year I learn something I never knew.  This time it was that the drum horses - the huge shires that carry two 57lb kettle drums plus a drummer in full regalia and have to be on their ceremonial best behaviour - they are the only animals in the British army that carry an official rank of Major.  Not the rider, the horse!  Well, I never knew that!  I did wonder whether those magnificent animals might be deaf.  I couldn't see any ear defenders, though I'm sure they will have had some way of protecting their hearing.  How would you like it if somebody was banging on a huge drum - which YOU had to carry - right next to your ears?

A couple of other thoughts occurred too.  I wonder how it must be to have two legs the same length?  How do the marching soldiers get over the fear of tripping over something?  Maybe they never think about it but I think I would have panic attacks about it!

Where there are lots of horses there must be lots of horse poo.  As they - men and animals - went marching off the parade ground back to barracks I wondered how they avoided the stuff.  Answer:  they don't, they March straight through it.  No hopping over or round - straight through and nary so much as a wrinkled nose.  Even the Queen's open carriage ploughed through a pile of poo.  Now if there's anything worse than steaming, sticky horse poo, it's disturbed steaming sticky horse poo!  So now you know: the drum horses must be deaf and everyone else has no sense of smell!

How do those on parade manage to decipher the orders that are being belted out?  They must have hellish lung capacity, those who do all the shouting.  I mean the troopers can hardly say to their neighbour "What did he say?"

Those busbies (tall bearskin hats) must get unbearably hot on a nice day.  On the other hand they must weigh a ton if it rains.  how do the mums know which one is their son under all that lot?

And haven't they got big feet.........

I wonder what the Queen is having for lunch?  If I said I'd love to go, would she invite me?  I know which knife and fork to use!

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Thursday 1th June 2010 - Royal Event

Today is the 89th birthday of His Royal Highness the Prince Philllip, Duke of Edinburgh. We wish His Royal Highness Many Happy Returns of the Day.

There, the BBC used to make that announcement but they don't seem to bother any more, so I'm doing it for them.  They used to do it for all of the immediate Senior members of the Royal Family.  They used to fly the Union Jack on public buildings too and that doesn't happen any more.  I wish it did - what a sad sign of the times that we don't even fly our own flag, almost as if we're ashamed of it.

Well I'm not, I'm proud of our flag, of our country and of our Royal Family and proud to stand up and be counted!

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Tuesday 8th June

Look, I'm sorry but you are just going to have to have another dose of Keith's latest project - cooking.  Remember I said yesterday about him making scones?  OK, here goes:

Scones in the making - yes, he added the bike & car soap!

Et voila - The Finished Product!  Not sure what happened with the big one.  I think he got fed up with cutting out.  They're not very risen but they taste good.

And another little something he rustled up:

I know I joke about the hubster and his cooking but I am impressed really.  I think the things he makes are lovely.  Even if they weren't, he does at least have a go.  He even washes his hands!  BEFORE he starts.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Monday 7 June

THAT MAN is determined on hijacking my blog!  I nearly choked on a baked bean this morning when he announced his culinary journey was about to move forward as he progressed from victoria sponges to scones.  No, no, that wasn't the cause of my choking.  It was when he said he might need me to find him the ingredients because " need bike 'n' car soap or summats don't you?"  And THAT was what creased me up - I am still cackling.  You couldn't make it up could you?  He meant,of course, bicarbonate of soda.  Even as we speak he is poring over the Be-ro book.

Oh, and lunch is going to be fish pie........I'm keeping out of it!

What I really wanted to mention was our day in Boston last Wednesday.  Yes, America, I'm taking you all with me to Boston.  Boston, England, that is.
When I look through the pictures I took, not one really does justice to this beautiful town.  Fortunately Motherhen at My Simple Rhymes has gone there for a few days so she'll probably do better.   Meanwhile, here's one or two of mine............

This chap in the hat, standing on a box with a little table balanced precariously on top was auctioning plants.  I constantly expected either him or the table to fall off!  Another stall was auctioning bikes.  I HOPE they were unclaimed ones from the police station!   This whole bit of the market had lots of auctions going on.

If we hadn't known in advance that there are, in fact, 2 markets going on we might have been a bit disappointed with this titchy one.   I didn't take any photos of the other one because in my chair I was too low down to snap anything but people's backsides!  It was very big and very busy,  crawling with people.  The sun had brought them out.  Surely the kids should have been in school?

There was a lovely memorial garden devoted to military and civilian groups involved in WW2, the Korean War, the Falklands and right up to the present day.  No-one, it seemed, had gone unremembered.  Quite right too.

This is the place we were really after:  St. Botolph's Church, known the world over as Boston Stump.  It's probably the most famous landmark in southern Lincolnshire and, it being so high and the terrain being so flat, you can see it from miles around, long before you reach Boston.  In fact it's the highest tower of any parish church in England.

You could be forgiven for thinking you were in a cathedral!  No-one really knows how it came to be called 'The Stump'.  One theory is that the tower was meant to be finished off with a spire.  More likely the name reflects its appearance from the flat surrounding Fenland.

The Cotton Connection:  John Cotton became Vicar of Boston in 1612.  His Puritanism and criticism of the hierarchy drew hostil attention from Church of England authorities.  In 1633, following the earlier colonists, he set sail for the Massachusetts Bay Colony and ministered there until his death in 1652.  The smallest chapel in the Boston Stump is now named the Cotton Chapel and has benefitted from support both by many Americans and from Cotton's own descendants.  The links with Boston Mass go even further:  several of the early governors of Massachusetts were former citizens of our Boston, and Anne Bradstreet, wife of one of them, became the New World's first published poetess.

There now, not a lot of people know that!  Ta-ta


Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Tuesday June 1st, 2010 - something tasty

Almost half a year gone already.  Crikey, we shall be having to think about Christmas again soon! Just thought I'd be the first to mention it.

It's been a holiday weekend here and what a funny old holiday it's been!  Cold, wet and very very windy so going somewhere, other than maybe the Caribbean, was not an option.  Eating was the next best thing and, as we're nearing the end of the all-too-short asparagus season, I concocted the following soup.  It's not a hearty winter soup but a lovely delicately flavoured summer lunch dish.  As I invented it and I don't have a lot of imagination for naming things, I call it asparagus and lemon soup.

what you need:
250g bunch asparagus
1 lemon (grated rind of all of it and juice of half)
2 cloves garlic (crushed)
50g butter (salted or unsalted)
2 good tsp Marigold Swiss Vegetable Bouillon
1 pint boiling water
2 tbls single cream
Salt and fresh ground black pepper (to taste)

what you do:
1.  Put the butter and crushed garlic in a pan over the lowest possible heat

2.  While that's melting and infusing, cut your asparagus, tips as well, into
     roughly 1" pieces.

3.  Add asparagus to pan and stir to coat with garlicky butter and add grated lemon rind.

4.  Keeping over lowest heat, put lid on pan so you just gently sweat the veg.

5.  When the asparagus gives only a slight resistance to a skewer, set lid aside and add lemon juice,

6.  Pour in 1pint of water in which you have mixed the vegetable bouillon, replace over low heat, without a lid, and cook gently until asparagus is cooked.

7.  Using your food processor, blender or stick blender, process until smooth.

8.  Return it to the pan and heat very gently but DO NOT BOIL.  Then turn off the heat, stir in 2 tbls single cream (or Elmlea as I did), adjust seasoning and serve with warm crusty rolls.

This will serve 2 as a stand-alone lunch dish or 4 as a starter to a light follow-on (we had tuna and salad) .

This is so quick you could be eating it half an hour after you thought of it!

Sorry, no photographs of it - it was gone before I realised it was that good!