Monday morning; & it’s back to ‘skool’ for Jo.
This is for two reasons: Enviromental Blog Day (time I learned something useful – so look further down this post for some important stuff on the humble spud…!); & the pleasure of attending Welsh Class – the ‘first’ language hereabouts & therefore one in which I feel it is essential to be fluent – not just to feel part of the local community but out of courtesy & respect for our neighbours & friends, for whom this beautiful, musical language is their rightful, living heritage.
I headed off to my Welsh lesson, thoroughly looking forward to exercising my cramped linguistic muscles. I arrived in the echoing classroom much relieved to see our tutor Meryl again, who suffered so acutely with the wretched virus which seems to be stalking the hills & valleys of West Wales that she was completely unable to teach us last week.
Today’s lesson was basic greetings & their responses; such as “hello, how are you?” & “very well, thank you” etc before tackling numbers from 0-10, which were reinforced with an amusing game of Bingo. All this confirmed my conviction that opting to resit the academic year had been the right thing to do, as we’ve learned a fair few more new phrases & words with which I was unfamiliar. Besides, I’m sure I would’ve found myself too uncomfortably ‘in at the deep end’ if I’d tried to struggle on from where I’d been forced to leave last year – to the extreme grammatical emergency of ‘not waving, but drowning’.
On my way out of School after the lesson, I bumped into my old mate, Sally; with whom I’d developed a great affinity during last year’s lessons but hadn’t had the opportunity to socialise with for absolutely ages. Sal’s thankfully considering coming back to classes – & I really hope I can persuade her; as she is such lively, entertaining & warm company who has been really missed by all her classmates & friends.
I whizzed round the shops for a few necessary local provisions, before returning home to catch up on emails & Blog bits & pieces. I’ve been intriguingly intrigued by fellow BlogCheeseMeister Nora’s enticing challenge to have a go at conjouring up a soft, creamy cheese ice cream: ooerr, thank you my SanFran buddy, but do you realise the gravitas of this tantalising persuasion? Yummmm, you’ve presented me with an absolutely irresistible suggestion I’m afraid (& for those of you whose reaction is ‘yeuch’ – just remember the scepticism surrounding Hugh F-W’s amazing tomato ice cream – even the kids loved it)! As I’m uncertain of the relative quantities required I’ve ordered the book Nora’s recommended which contains some potential recipes (see her comment & please, do also read her Blog – what a humourous chef & cheesemaker she is) – she’s got me really itching to roll up my sleeves & make some more serious cheese, as well.
The afternoon was spent on a bit of research & development but mainly concentrated on Internet work as it transpired the editor for Smallholder magazine had not yet received the photographs accompanying my latest draft article; so a great deal of time & frustration (ohh, to escape these Luddite bonds & comprehend the complexities of computing!) was spent relocating & attempting to resend said pics in an acceptable email format (great magazine, so we do our utmost to deliver for it!).
Subsequently, having run out of time we didn’t get the Ewes & MacDougal-Ram drenched today, which was a shame as I’d like to get them back outside & up onto the lush top pastures as soon as we can. But I’d swear that old Dougalie’s fleece looks much shorter than it did when he & his ‘gals’ arrived, this time last year; however I suppose we were forced to shear much later than intended this summer owing to the inclemency of the weather. However we’ll have to be careful as his shorter, sexier fleece seems to be enticing early amorousness despite being early days in the Rare Breed tupping season…..he’s already started casting ‘big eyes’ at one or two of his mature ladies…!
Alas, further bad news concerning Mum’s visual problems: it would appear likely she has permanently lost the sight in both eyes. Her GP immediately referred her to a Specialist Eye Hospital this afternoon for an emergency appointment; yet sadly it would appear too little too late however, to do anything now which could reverse the damage. It would seem that her steroids may have been prematurely reduced which has caused the return of the inflammation at the back of her eyes; but the medication had such horrible side effects originally that she was relieved when they were cut back. Let’s just hope this has not caused any lasting damage despite the grim prognosis; as I’m sure she’d much rather suffer the side-effects but at least be able to enjoy some degree of restored vision.
And it’s her birthday next week. A favourite treat for Mum, with her love of all plants wild & wonderful, was to visit arboretums (arboreta?!) to admire the magnificent wealth of indigenous flora & fauna displaying their rich autumnal colour. I do hope that one day she will again be able to enjoy the glorious spectacle of our woodland valley as it steadily prepares for its long, cold sleep. It will certainly mean harder, dark winters for her, if not.
Talking of ‘skool’ by the way, as I’ve mentioned already, today is an important one for all conscientious Bloggers as it’s Environmental Awareness Day. So here we go….
It’s oft been pointed out that it’s a thorny debate as to whether to choose your daily bread, in preference of Food Miles, or organics? In fact, the issue is more complex than at first it might appear. Take Fenland potatoes, for instance: if you want organic, it has to be from a producer miles away (why, with the Fenland’s incredibly rich soil, beats me); or you can purchase ‘local’ potatoes, which have been repeatedly sprayed with chemical fertilizers & pesticides. Whilst the ‘local’ option might salve the conscience & seem preferable to its more expensive, well-travelled organic cousin, if you take into account the distance those chemical sprays have travelled to reach your nearby producer – not to mention the exhaust fumes sprayed across the crop by the machinery as well as into the atmosphere by the transport vehicles – which is the healthier spud? – organic (better for our tummies, undoubtedly) or local (at face value, worse for our pink wee bods but benefiting the wider environment….or does it??).
The very best is obviously going to be a combination of both; however let’s face it, most of us, unless for a ‘special’ dinner, hesitate to afford ‘niche’ market produce – let alone ‘niche on niche’. So maybe next Spring, we should all wake up to getting hold of a nice big garden pot & some organic compost, along with a bag of your favourite variety of potatoes (mine are Pink Fir Apple – whacky colour & shape married to fantastic texture & flavour). Put the soil in the pot; plant yer spuds; water, nurture, & watch ’em grow. Reap the rewards, & enjoy the finest potatoes you’ll have ever munched – whether boiled, roasted, fried, mashed or…well ,whatever; let your imagination take you there. And it doesn’t matter whether you live on a 1000-acre country estate, or in a one-bedroom bijou flat; the principles are the same (in fact, if you do this in your flat, you can feel an even healthier smugness – as your humble spud will have travelled the shortest-ever, organically-managed distance from ‘field’ to fork, possible!).
Do it, feel good; & who knows, it could lead to a window box…then an allotment…then a smallholding….& before you know it, you’ll be Lord of the Manor of that 1000 acre estate, which is great – so long as you manage it organically, & never, ever let those spuds you produce, get further than the local market.
A dream…..come true, please?