Category Archives: autumn

Have you seen the blackberries this year?

And I’m not talking about little electronic emaily gadgets.  Ho no. I’m talking about the food for free that I picked by the canal on the way back from work the other day.

It’s been a perfect mix of rain and sun this summer, with very few days that were dull but dry.  Though the blackberries are a little early, they are absolutely splendid: 3/4 of an inch across and surprisingly sweet.  Bake ’em up with apple and a crumble topping.  It takes ten minutes to put together with a food processor, and five of those are spent looking for the apple peeler.

Crumble topping is demerara sugar : butter or marg : self-raising flour in the ratio 1 : 2 : 4.  If you weigh out enough flour first, you can add the others to suit.  You want your topping to be at least 3/4 of an inch deep.

Whizz the dry ingredients in the blender and sprinkle in a cinnamon or ginger if you feel like spicing it up.

Peel the apples and wash the blackberries and put in their cooking dishes.  If you are using cooking apples sprinkle with brown sugar, but I think blackberries are nicer with coxes or braeburns and no sugar.

Pour the crumble mixture  on top of the fruit and bake in a medium/hot oven for half an hour or twenty minutes depending on if you set it to medium or hot.  Creme fraiche is the perfect accompianment, though there are those who like ice cream of course.

Autumn evenings and new beginnings

Filthy¬†LucreIt seems to me September has much more of a sense of new beginning to it than the middle of winter: January 1st feels like a nadir not a beginning. March and April put a spring in the step because new beginnings are easy when the world is full of daffodils and lambs. But September puts a boot up the backside and life picks up again with a different kind of impetus. A month ago it was light in the evenings, it took me half an hour to drive to work, and I didn’t have any classes or chores. Now it’s dark and chilly, it takes me nearer an hour to get to work, and I’ve a course to study for, Pilates classes to go to, books to read for the Book Club, and I’ve just signed up for The Times’ new online game: Fantasy CEO.

Fantasy CEO seemed such a good idea at the time: a supplement to my other studies, a mix of a game and an exam, and a positive distraction from time-wasters such as Travian and blogging. Having started on their material, I really am not so sure. There’s a lot to read and the game hasn’t even started. And it’s all rather grown up, competitive and – well – technical. I ought to know instinctively that EBIT is Earnings Before Interest and Tax, but I don’t. “Oooh”, as they say, “er”.

Pilates, on the other hand, is proving to be enjoyable. There are only two of us in the class and it is hard not to improve in those circumstances. Since I am not my body’s best friend (hey, don’t blame me, the feeling’s mutual) I am having to make the acquaintance of muscles I don’t know I have. It’s like learning to hear the line the violas are playing in a pastoral piece when you are habitually tone deaf. I’m finding it mentally stimulating as well as physically challenging. I may have to resort to filling in my copy of The Anatomy Colouring Book. Oh, look! Another way of wasting time.

The book group, however, seems sadly beset by Quality Fiction. Fortunately I’ve been invited out for a curry at the time of the next meeting and the book for November is humorous. However, it worries me that the group discussed their departure into frivolity so earnestly. We shall see. They are interesting and intelligent women, it is just that I don’t really like fiction.

September is an odd time to start gardening, but having spent much of the weekend up to my wrists in weeds and compost, I’ve realised it is in fact a good time to start. There’s lots of satisfying clearing and tidying up to do, you can get a splash of instant colour with pansies and chrysanthemums and reliable deferred gratification by planting bulbs. I am a big fan of bulbs: minimal effort now and lots of splash in the spring, just in time to get one all geed up and enthusiastic again after the winter. September’s also a great time to score lawn-mowers off freecycle – two emails and I got offered half a dozen of the things.

So all in all, a snap in the air, a boot up the bum, and a time of new beginnings.