Thursday, October 15, 2009


Today is Blog Action Day. Apparently this happens every year on October 15th, when bloggers are encouraged to blog in unison on some important issue which we feel is not getting the creative attention it needs. I have not done this before, but now that I know about it I think it is worth doing. This year it is about CLIMATE CHANGE.

I have no special angle on climate change. Like most people, I suppose, I believe in global warming, because the evidence seems undeniable. My own experience tells me that the weather is changing for the worse - but don't we always think that? I checked in on the Blog Action Day website and had a look at the Top 100 effects of global warming. Alright, most of them are quoted from newspapers and newscasts, and may not yet be fully attested scientifically - but can we afford to disbelieve them? Many of them are long-term effects which I am unlikely to see:

Ice melting, waters rising, sunamis and hurricanes, rivers drying up, more fires.

Loss of trees, plants, animals and fish. An increase in noxious plants and insects.

More diseases spreading, people getting sicker.

Increased threats to national security due to migrations, boundary tensions, and conflict over food and water. More wars, more refugees.

I think of my grandchildren. I think of those two girls and four boys, aged between 8 and 17, to whose flesh and blood I have contributed through my own sons; who bear my DNA, and will inherit, to greater or lesser degree, the physical and mental characteristics that I have passed on to them. They are my legacy to the world that I must leave, they are my immortality. But what sort of world will there be for them to inherit? Will it be a world that is still full of natural wonders, magnificent resources, beautiful habitats for man and beast a like. Will it still be possible to live full and satisfying lives, lives of invention, service, caring, and creativity? Or will the basic struggle for survival take all their energies. There are enough suffering peoples in the world already leading such lives. My family has been fortunate ...... will it continue to be through all the generations that will follow me?
I do my best with reducing, reusing and recycling, but we need strong and willing governments to lead us as well.

More scones - by special request

From The Aga Recipe Book for 2 oven Aga Cookers [no publication date but purchased in 1960]

8 ozs. plain flour
1/2-1 oz. butter
1/4 pt. milk (sour if possible)
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
(1/2 teaspoon if sour milk used)
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Sift together the dry ingredients. Rub in the butter and mix quickly with the liquid. Turn on to a floured board. Knead lightly and roll to 1/2 inch thickness. Mark into eight, or cut with a shrp round cutter. Bake for 7-10 minutes on the top shelf of the roasting oven, turning once during baking.
From Mrs Beeton’s Cookery and Household Management, 1960


1. If the basic proportions are correct they can be varied in many different ways
- see suggestions.

2. It is most essential to be accurate with proportions, e.g. too much soda will ruin
the scones.

3. Whereas yeast mixtures are kept warm, scones etc. made with other raising
agents should be kept as cool as possible. The cold air expands with the heat
and so helps to make the scones lighter.

4. The best utensil for mixing scones is a round-bladed knife; it gets well down to
to the bottom of bowl and can be used for mixing without pressing on the

5. The most important rule is to add all the liquid at once and mix lightly to a spongy

6. The scones should be handled as little and as lightly as possible.

7. Scones should be cooked quickly - 10 minutes in a hot oven for small scones
and 15 minutes for a round of 4 or 6.

8. Cool oven scones on a cooling tray to keep the outside crisp. Girdle scones are
best cooled in a tea towel to keep the skin soft.

NOTE: From Experiment it has been found that better results are obtained if the scones are allowed to stand (after cutting out) for 10 minutes before cooking. This applies to scones raised with bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I baked some scones on Sunday. Now that might not seem like anything special to you, Gentle Readers, but those who know me well will be in wonderment at such an event. I do not bake - indeed, these days, I scarcely even cook. I did succeed in feeding my family reasonably well when they were at home, but I never did any baking.

I was enabled to take this stance, on arrival in our first home, by finding an Aga cooker installed. I don't know how they are today, but in 1960 our solid fuel 2-oven Aga was not an easy project for cake baking. It was recommended to use a special Aga Cake Baker (like an inner oven, I believe), or to reduce the heat of the roasting oven. All this was clearly going to be too complicated and stressful for a young mum with an 18-month-old and another on the way, so I declared or new home a no-bake area. How I survived to be a no-bake wife and mum of four grown sons speaks more for the tolerance of my family than for my housekeeping skills. But I got away with it.
But I love scones, especially small ones, warm from the oven. The older I get the more resentful I become of shops and cafes who only supply great big lumps of scone that are more than I want, and rarely fresh. For some years I have wondered if I might learn to cook scones myself. But circumstances are still against me. I have lost what little culinary skills I have, I have an ancient oven on which the thermostat no longer works - and come to think of it, I don't even have a kitchen table, only worktops. I realised, as I tried to visualise it, that it would be impossible to knead and roll out the mixture at worktop height - it really needs to be done at arms' length.
But suddenly, this time, I was not going to be beaten. I was about to put in an order to Tesco on line, so was able to order some fresh flour. All the other ingredients I had, including bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartare. Are they still used for scone baking? I was using my old Aga recipe book, since their recipes were always nice and simple. The next day I got everything ready, including clearing my dining table of papers and putting a plastic cloth over it. The only thing I forgot was to take the butter out of the fridge to soften. I tried putting some in the microwave, but even 10 seconds, my minimum setting, was too much, and it nearly all went runny. Never mind, press on, and at last I had a dozen scones in my hot (but I didn't know how hot) oven.
They weren't very nice. They were recognisable as scones, just, but their only virtue was that they were a first for me! I got my Mrs Beeton off the bookshelf then, and looked at her "Eight important points to remember when making scones". I had got every one of them wrong. But I had made a beginning.
Later that afternoon I visited my young family on the other side of the village. Walking into the kitchen where my son was preparing dinner, I said to him: "I'm going to tell you something that you will find very hard to believe - I baked some scones this morning." "Now that I DO find hard to believe" he replied. I had taken four in a plastic box as evidence, but although the children showed some interest in the box when they came across it, nobody had suggested trying one by the time I left, after a dinner of roast shoulder of lamb . Can't say I blame them.
I baked some more this morning. There was a marginal improvement, but I've a long way to go.....................................

Friday, October 02, 2009


Strange what bits of information will strike you in the course of listening to the news. A few days ago in one bulletin, I learned that I am six years older than the London Lost Property Office, and eight years older than Pinewood Studios.

I only managed to get 354 days start on Mickey Mouse, however, who was created by Walt Disney in 1928, and whose birthday is celebrated on the 18th November, eleven days before mine. I wrote about me and Mickey once before.


I have just discovered this draft in my edits, dating from the beginning of October, so I have finished it off and published.

I was so absorbed in what I was doing on the computer today, that I nearly made a cup of 'tea' out of a sachet of laxative powder, instead of a teabag! Oh my! what on earth could I have been doing that would distract me to that pitch? Well, I have been playing with colours.

I wrote recently about the website that I am involved with setting up for Growing Old Disgracefully, my crones' network. A couple of weeks ago we met with the designers for the first time. I had to go up to Manchester, where they are based, and we had an intensive three-hour session, my colleague and I struggling to understand their web-speak and to explain our requirements in our own non-tech language.

Since then I have been thinking about colour schemes for the website, and playing around with colours, trying to learn how they are created on line, and how they are numbered, and what looks good on a website. I've also been creating my own colours in paint and trying to match them to printed colours that I like. I have printed off endless sheets of paper with samples on like these, but it all seems too complex to understand. We'll see what the designers come up with.