If you look back at that post you'll see mention of the sweet pea competition of 1911, the Borders village of Sprouston, and Denholm Fraser who was minister there at the time. I paid a visit to Sprouston when I was in the area the other day but was sorry to discover that the church - or 'Sweet Pea Kirk', as a banner at the gate proclaims it - was locked, and so I couldn't see the chancel, added by Rev. Fraser thanks to his sweet pea prize money, nor the embroidered pulpit falls which depict the flowers either side of a cross. I'd also like to have seen this piscina depicting a knight's head which is thought to date from between the 12th to the 15th centuries and which was found during the digging of Rev. Fraser's chancel foundations.
During his talk Ben touched on the history of this most popular breed of dog - there are thought to be 300,000,000 Labradors in the world - their suitability to so many different kinds of work, and of course the characteristics which make them so appealing and so beloved. He spoke movingly of the enormous importance to him of his dog Inca, and of his intense grief at her passing; happily, he and his family now have Storm to keep them on their toes and, as he put it, "to turn a house into a home".
That's Ben signing books after the event - he was genuinely charming,
"Loyal, kind, happy and optimistic, Labradors have extraordinary versatility as well as an untarnished and unwavering loyalty. They offer a tonic to many of the ills of the world. We can learn a great deal from the Labrador. It is little surprise that it has become the world's most popular breed. Man's Best Best Friend ... Forever."
It's been a while since I did any embroidery or sewing and I want to get back to it, but knitting and needlepoint in the shape of works-in-progress and others which are 'needle adjacent' seem always to take precedence.
And then there's Janet Clare, another recent discovery, whose book The Wordsmith appeals, but I fear it would be folly to embark on yet another thing.
In view of the above, I'm interested to hear from the 'multi-craftual' among you: how do you fit it all in? Do you work on only one project at a time, from start to finish? Do you devote certain days (or seasons) to one craft over another? Do you do a little of everything so that there is some progress across all your work all the time? Do you just knit or stitch or sew as the mood takes you, without feeling overwhelmed, or that you're neglecting what's not in hand at that moment? Are you disciplined about not buying the supplies for a new project until you are free of other work and ready to start it?
I suspect Mme. Fontaine here was faithful to her embroidery - she certainly seems to display an appealing level of serenity and absorption in her work.
"Even now, simple things take me by surprise. Langoustines, split in half and grilled, their shells glistening, their juices mixed with nothing more than butter and the chopped needles of a few sprigs of rosemary, did that today. Eaten outside, at the garden table, a little feast of shells to crack and suck, snowy flesh to chew, buttery, salty fingers to lick and the smoky, resinous scent of warm rosemary."
Blackberry, apple, and almond cake - roughly based on this recipe, but here's what I did:
I peeled, cored, and chopped three dessert apples and put them into a shallow cast iron casserole in which I'd melted a knob of butter. I drizzled the apples with honey, dusted them with cinnamon, dotted on a bit more butter, and put them in a very hot oven for 15 minutes. They were cooked through, golden, and the juice they'd given off had reduced to a tablespoon or so of a suitably syrupy consistency.
For the cake mixture I used the quantities and followed the method given in the recipe, but I topped it with flaked almonds instead of hazelnuts, baked it for only 40 minutes, covering the top with foil after 25, and omitted the icing sugar.
Our garden apples aren't ready for picking yet, but I shall certainly make this cake again when they are as it's very good indeed.
Bad news just in regarding The Great Tapestry of Scotland: one of the panels* has been stolen from the exhibition currently on at Kirkcaldy Galleries.
Here's the text of the press release I've just received:
HELP FROM THE PUBLIC CALLED FOR IN SEARCH FOR GREAT SCOTTISH TAPESTRY PANEL STOLEN FROM KIRKCALDY GALLERIES
Fife Cultural Trust (FCT) has called for the public to help track down one of the panels from the Great Tapestry of Scotland that was stolen from Kirkcaldy Galleries on the morning of Thursday September 10th.
The panel illustrating the story of Rosslyn Chapel was removed from display at around 10am.
The Great Tapestry is one of the biggest community projects in the world, with 160 individual panels, stitched by more than 1,000 volunteers. The Tapestry has been on display at Kirkcaldy Galleries since 20 June and in that time over 50,000 people have been amazed and delighted by the scale, quality and exuberance of the design and fantastic detail of the stitching.
Fife Cultural Trust is working closely with the police to review CCTV footage.
Laurie Piper, Head of External Relations for Fife Cultural Trust said;
“We are proud and delighted to be able to have the Great Tapestry here on loan, and to give the people of Fife the opportunity to experience this amazing artwork at first hand. The Tapestry has been exhibited all over the country and has been seen by over 300,000 people since it first started touring.
The people of Fife have taken the Tapestry to their hearts and we are now hoping that they will help us to bring [the panel] back where it belongs - alongside its 159 companions.”
The panel was designed by artist Andrew Crummy and lovingly stitched by volunteers in Midlothian. The panel took hundreds of hours to create and has now been stolen from the people of Scotland.
'This is a terrible blow for a project that has brought so much joy to so many people. I appeal to those who have taken this panel to return it. Words cannot express how shocked I am that somebody should damage in this way what is now widely seen as a great national treasure.’ Alexander McCall Smith, co-chair of The Great Tapestry of Scotland
Members of the public who may have information regarding the whereabouts of the Rosslyn Chapel panel are urged to get in touch with the local police on 101 or Fife Cultural Trust on 01592 583204.
The remaining 159 sections of the tapestry will be open to the public to view at Kirkcaldy Galleries until 20th September.
'Know your enemy' is the gist of the book with its profiles of 100 common weeds and 20 ways in which to tackle them, but it also makes a virtue of necessity, pointing out the therapeutic nature of weeding:
' "Nothing is so interesting as weeding. This is what Robert Louis Stevenson claimed in his later life, prefacing his remark with, "I would rather do a good hour's weeding than write two pages of my best." '
And Christopher Lloyd - "Many gardeners will agree that hand-weeding is not the terrible drudgery that it is often made out to be. Some people find in it a kind of soothing monotony. It leaves their minds free to develop the plot for their next novel or to perfect the brilliant repartee with which they should have countered a relative's latest example of unreasonableness."
As for Darwin, William Edmonds' mentor, he left the weeding to his gardeners ...