milking it

I was brought up in a time before coffee shops.

Well, not entirely before coffee shops, but certainly before the global phenomenon of American chains with their skinny ventis, Americanos, and tall decaf drips.

There were tea shops in my childhood – both independents and the ubiquitous ABCs; and I have fond memories of Saturday afternoons spent in the Kardomah in Nottingham. But children were given nursery tea, while coffee was a drink for adults; even then, it was as likely to be Maxwell House as anything. (Our kitchen did have a bottle of Camp Coffee tucked away, but although I remember the intense smell of chicory of the inky brown liquid, I think it was only brought out to make coffee cakes, not to serve as a drink for guests.)
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beginnings and endings

The long hot summer is forgotten, the grass is green and straggly again and there is a distinctly autumnal nip in the air.

The horse chestnuts seem to have really suffered from the drought – rather than turning colour with the season, their leaves are all shrivelled and mottled – and I’ve hardly seen any conkers, though there are at least some sweet chestnuts.

There’s also more beech mast than I thought possible, and a fair number of acorns, too, so hopefully the squirrels should have a reasonable chance of surviving the winter.
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assorted fruit

Today I bought nectarines in the market. Five big, dark fruits that will need several days before they’re anywhere near ready for eating. Five fruits that cost me £2.50.

As I walked home, I was thinking that if they ripen properly, they will be well worth it, but if, like so much produce these days, they ripen unevenly, or rot before they are truly ripe, I won’t be very happy: after all, they cost ten shillings a piece, and that is a lot of money.

I’m not sure what triggered that reversion to old money, nor quite what path it was that my thoughts followed past the old-fashioned rambling rose draped over the wall to the fruit-filled memories of childhood.
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the joy of spuds

I lived for many years in Spain and I don’t remember ever having a discussion about potatoes. In the UK, though, I’ve discovered that they are a perfectly valid topic for conversation.

Back in the day, there was a joke about the girl potato whose father forbade her to marry Eamonn Andrews – presenter of Sports Report on BBC’s Light Programme – because he was “only a commentator.”
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links to the past

Finding a broken bicycle chain in the street today sent my mind spinning back into the past, when, many, many years ago I was employed through a temp agency during the Easter vacation to work in the Toy Division office at the TI Raleigh factory.

It was my first job and I enjoyed it so much that I was delighted to go back in the summer, this time employed directly by the company. It was only a holiday job, so I can’t really have worked there very long, particularly as there would have been a “factory fortnight” in August. It’s surprising, then, just how many thoughts and memories that chain has triggered.
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late home

It’s way later than I usually write the blog, but I’ve been out all day at a rehearsal for the local TEDx, which is coming up in a fortnight’s time and at which I’ll be reading – or perhaps performing – some poetry.

I won’t go into the details of what I’ll be doing, as I guess I will write about it all after the event (or not), but all the talks and performances are vaguely connected to and around the theme of the event, which is “home”.
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home and hearth

I’ve been thinking a lot about home recently. Not because I’ve gone all nostalgic, but because it’s the theme of the local TEDx, which is taking place in November.

It’s a great theme, as it offers a huge range of possibilities for talks. My immediate thoughts were quite domestic: houses, family, pets, neighbours…

But of course there are other connotations: home is about being safe. And there’s a definite emotional connection: it’s not just about being out of danger, but being comfortable with the language, the culture, the habits…
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