Category Archives: Sunday Chit-chat

Graves Memorial St David's Park

John Woodcock Graves and The Hobart Connection

The Cockermouth Poets

The New Bookshop, Main Street Cockermouth

My blogging style has become like that of the proverbial London bus. You wait for hours, days, weeks and then two come along together. Why is that? I have no answers as usual.

This is another looking back and ‘here and now’ post, this time about Dad’s anthology of the Cockermouth Poets, design and typesetting by Karen Sawrey. I don’t know if you remember if you have been reading this blog for a while but there were terrible floods back in November 2009., as now across Somerset, which hit the small market town of Cockermouth where Michael lives. I was reminded by seeing Prince Charles on the news that he too visited Cockermouth at that dreadful time.

The town of Cockermouth has a new flood risk management scheme in place which has been operational since 2013. This is a video of the new scheme from the perspective of David Duck at the Environment Agency. It has some interesting shots of the rivers Derwent and Cocker and a good description of the new scheme and you get to hear the distinctive tones of the Cumbrian accent and brings home how each situation is unique and needs a bespoke solution to its particular landscape.

Michael’s response when Cockermouth was getting back on its feet was to organize a poetry trail to brighten up the shop windows of Main Street which had been under so much water. 

The trail was a great success and many people asked if he could produce a book with the poems from the trail which he duly did with the help of Joan Petherington his co-editor and muggins here the typist and sub-sub-sub editor. The Guardian’s Northern correspondent Martin Wainright helped give the book some publicity and took it on holiday with him and wrote about it here, where it sat on a sandy beach many miles from home. The book has been reprinted now, the first run sold out and has done very well indeed for a poetry anthology, raising funds for the charities, Mountain Rescue and Save the Children.  Edit: Michael says to date they have raised £1500!

The Poets in Sydney by Celia of FigjamandlimeCordial

The Poets in Sydney courtesy of Celia @ FigjamandlimeCordial

The Cockermouth Poets visit Faaborg, Denmark, courtesy of Misky @ The Chalk Hills Journals

The Cockermouth Poets visit Faaborg, Denmark, courtesy of Misky @ The Chalk Hills Journals

Copies went to Sydney and to East Sussex and thence to Denmark and I was sent these sweet photos by Celia and Misky respectively which pleased the mighty editorix greatly.  

Michael however (never satisfied) hankered longingly after a photo of the book in Hobart, Tasmania.  Why?  Because one of the most famous poems in the book “D’ye Ken John Peel’ was written by one John Woodcock Graves,  who emigrated there and made a new life for himself as a sheep farmer. “It would be so nice” he said, with a far-off look in his eyes, ” if the book were there one day…”

And now we jump forward to the present day and across the world to a park in Hobart where we find Fran! 

Photo by Fran at Serendipity Farm, Tasmania

Photo by Fran at Serendipity Farm, Tasmania

There is a monument in St David’s Park to John Woodcock Graves and when I read that the glorious Fran of Serendipity Farm  had been to Hobart with her daughters and was planning a return journey in 2014,  I emailed her cheekily and asked her if she would maybe take the book to the park and take its photo at the monument. Fran embraced the project with her usual amazing enthusiasm and has sent me masses of photos. I wish I could have perched at the other end of the monument and basked in that hot Tassie sunshine for an hour!

This is my favourite of Fran's photos taken by her daughter Madeline

This is my favourite of Fran’s photos taken by her daughter Madeline

 I am going to surprise Michael with these photos later today.  

The Cockermouth Poets on John Graves Monument in St David's Park, Hobart

And a close up!

Thank you so much Fran and thank you Celia and Misky for playing ‘Pose the book’ ! You are all stars and treasures  and deeply kind people.

D’ye ken John Peel

D’ye ken John Peel with his coat so grey,

D’ye ken John Peel at the break of day,

D’ye ken John Peel when he’s far away,

With his hounds and his horn in the morning.

For the sound of his horn brought me from my bed

And the cry of his hounds which he oft times led,

Peel’s ‘view hullo’ would awaken the dead

Or the fox from his lair in the morning.

Yes I ken John Peel and Ruby too

Ranter and Ringwood and Bellman and True,

From a find to a check, from a check to a view

From a view to a death in the morning

Then here’s to John Peel with my heart and soul

Let’s drink to his health, let’s finish the bowl,

We’ll follow John Peel through fair and through foul

If we want a good hunt in the morning….

John Woodcock Graves (1795-1886)

I do not support hunting, but I am very fond of this song as Michael would sing it to us as small children along with ‘Molly Malone’ and ‘I went to the Animal Fair’ as part of a going to sleep settling down the children ritual. I can hear his deep almost mournful voice softly singing away in the dark as we snuggled down under the covers right now as I write. I have a feeling we all joined in with Peel’s ‘View halloo’ which was the dramatic climax of the song.

Funny the things you remember as you write a blog post. Here is a lovely recording of it being sung by Peter Dawson, not as good as Michael’s of course!

Did your parents sing to you when you were little and do you sing to your children and grandchildren if you have them? 

Joanna  – February 2014.

 

For the curious ….

John Peel the Huntsman celebrated in the song was a real person who was buried in Caldbeck, Cumbria:-

Cheese and Lime Pickle Sandwiches

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Sunday 26th January Midday

It is blowing and raining cats and dogs outside this Sunday morning and I feel like a post and a chat but I have been doing lots of things that are kind of the same as always and have no novelty to offer you. But on the off chance you might miss me (well a little) I thought I would just write a diary post and spruce it up with some glamorous bread photos, shot at 9.30 yesterday morning when the sun deigned to pop out and do its thing.

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We also managed to get down to the beach and have a sunny dog walk before the mysterious twisty wind thing started up, so be assured we are making the best of this wild, wet and windy January.

A gratuitious toast with quince jam made last January now appears for no other reason than that I like taking photos of jam with sunlight shooting through it…

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While I was eating the above, Brian was ransacking the loaf for sandwiches. It was a bread eating sort of a day.

P1070103To the subject of cheese and lime pickle sandwiches. Lime pickle is a passion in this household. To be specific Patak’s lime pickle. It comes in at least two varieties, medium, which I can eat and hot, which I can’t. Brian smiles a wolfish smile when he eats the hot sort and says, with a little smirk, “What do you mean, it’s hot!”  “Ha!” is what I say.

Cheese and pickle (after bacon sandwiches with brown sauce) are his favourite, being a traditional sort of a chap – they make perfect picnic food for taking to the beach and eating in a stiff breeze while you watch scary dark clouds race towards you and people turning and marching briskly towards home.

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After a few bakes in tins, I have gone back to the bigger loaves for sandwiches and toast, because I think the crusts taste nicer when the whole of the outside of the loaf is exposed to the heat of the oven. Tinned bread, while servicable, and fitting better in the freezer always has a softer, even dare I say it, sweatier quality about it.  If you have never tried a sesame crust to your loaf, you should give it a go just once. I have tried various ways to get the seeds onto the loaf and have reconciled myself to the simple truth that they will fly about a bit, but the end result is worth a little bit of sesame chaos.

I roll the dough in the seeds, once I have shaped it  but before the final prove. I don’t spray the loaf with anything first and make sure the sides of the ball of dough are coated in seeds too to allow for the rise of the loaf. You can then either prove the loaf right side up or sesame seed side down in a floured cloth in a bowl or in a banetton. I buy large bags of sesame seed from Bristol Sweet Mart, worth looking for larger bags if you get a taste for something like this.

This particular loaf was half the date kefir recipe to be found here but you could use a more traditional sourdough style bread like the Hamelman one pictured here, or indeed any bread recipe that you are confident with that uses a proportion of wholemeal (wholegrain USA) flour.

I have also recently tried varying this recipe to use barley malt syrup, which is probably more readily available to people and you get a bread with that distinctive ‘English’ malted taste. I personally prefer the date syrup, but I am contrary that way.

This loaf weighed around a kilo. I baked it hot at 220C for all of 50 minutes and didn’t turn the oven down at all. It developed a very dark rich crust and the crumb was perfectly baked.  A complete joy of a loaf!

So together with some good cheddar and Patak’s pickles life couldn’t be simpler or finer.

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We also made a second sandwich using the damson relish I made last autumn pictured above.

I am increasingly making more relishes and chutneys and less jams. This one is good enough to eat on toast all by itself but I can’t remember which recipe I used. I think probably Pam Corbin’s one in Preserves.

So my next project is to hunt out a good medium lime pickle recipe and see what we can do while lemons and limes are relatively inexpensive here in the UK…

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On getting close to this tree swept onto the beach by a recent tide, Zeb realised it wasn’t a bone and left in disgust…

If you need an excuse to say hello (please say hello!) you could tell me what  you like to put in your cheese sandwiches?  Or have a quick moan about your weather… Misky tells me they had a twister in her part of Sussex yesterday.  I wonder if we had a mini one in the garden. There was a strange moment when the sky went very dark and the wind blew one way across the garden and then the next minute it went the other way…. apparently we do get waterspouts in the Bristol Channel and there was one round this time last year.