I love my crime fiction, especially lady sleuths like Kinsey Millhone and VI Warshawski, as well as more comedic heroines like Stephanie Plum. But I am a child of the Hammer era, and also grew up fascinated by horror, by ghosts and ghouls and things that go bump in the night. I’d never found a book that combined all of them – humour, investigation and goosebumps – so I decided the best thing to do was write one! I have a girl crush on my lead, Jayne McCartney, and love her humour, and toughness, and intelligence – I wanted to write a heroine who I’d like to go to the pub with! I also really wanted to create something set in Liverpool, where I live, that reflected both its glories and its problems.Read More
A Review of Blood Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff.
This is a continuation of the huntress story of Hunter’s Moon – and the Reaper of course – it ends the Reaper’s story, but does it end Cara’s?
According to this book / story a blood moon is blue – but all blood moons are red – hence the name… so what is a blue moon?
[http://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/moon/blue-moon.html] In astronomy, Blue Moon is defined as either the third full moon of an astronomical season with four full moons or the second full moon in a calendar month… Blue moon is a term that is used to describe the third full moon of a season that has four full moons.
I guess there might be a possibility that a blood moon could also be a blue moon, but don’t hold me to it!
Just to confuse everyone who is not either an astronomer or a folklorist – or an apocalyptic eventer – in other words me – there is also, as well as the significant blue moon and red moon (blood moon- see below) a black moon!
There is no single accepted definition of a Black Moon. The term has been commonly used to refer to any of the following phenomena associated with the New Moon:
- Second New Moon in a calendar month: These Black Moons occur relatively often – once every 2.5 years.
- Third New Moon in a season of four New Moons: In a calendar, a year is divided into three New Moons. When a season has four New Moons, the third New Moon is called a Black Moon.
- A calendar month without a New Moon: This can only happen in the month of February. When this occurs, Januaryand March will have two New Moons, instead of the usual one.
- A calendar month with no Full Moon: About every 19 years, the month of February does not have a Full Moon. Instead January and March have two Full Moons each. The next Black Moon by this definition will occur in February 2018.
Having got thoroughly confused by blue and black moons now this is what a blood moon is:
According to the astronomical site Earthsky.org it would appear that a blood moon is a religious term [see John Hagee, 2013].
The full moon often appears red during a lunar eclipse because the dispersed light from all sunrises and sunsets fall on its face at mid-eclipse.
In folk-lore – Earthsky say – all full moons have a name. The Hunter’s Moon for instance is the full moon following the harvest Moon – which is at the autumn equinox.
Just to confuse matters, the Hunter’s Moon is also sometimes called a Blood moon.
The Book of Joel in the Old Testament has a prophecy that the moon will turn to blood before the End of Times – and is indeed the signal to begin it. Thus the End of the Earthers have taken this prophecy literally and claim that the four Blood Moons of 2014/5 signify that we stand at the edge of the End of Time. However, these types of tetrads are not uncommon and therefore the prophecy and Apocalypse theory are basically bunkum – substitute any word you like here!
“The Grand Reopening of the Dandelion Cafe” by Jenny Oliver
The Cherry Pie Island as used in this book, is a fictional version of the rather well known Eel Pie Island in the River Thames at Twickenham.
Eel Pie Island was earlier called Twickenham Ait and, before that, The Parish Ait. An ait or eyot is a small island. It is especially used to refer to river islands found on the River Thames and its tributaries.
Eel Pie Island is to be found on the ordnance Survey map of 1876 but was known by Dickens when he wrote Nicholas Nickleby in 1838-9. In the 15th century it was known as Gose Eyte and the Parish Ayte in the 17th century. This refers to the fact that it was either a nesting island for geese or was being used for geese being fattened for the table perhaps. It was a popular island for picnics in the 19th century and was famous for eel pies! Yes, real eels… caught in the Thames and cooked in sauce and then placed in a pie. The traditional recipe was developed by Mrs Beeton and a version is given here.
Based on the original Mrs Beeton’s 1861 Recipe for an Eel Pie.
Ingredients: 450g eels 2 tbsp parsley, chopped 1 shallot, finely chopped freshly-grated nutmeg, to taste salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste juice of 1/2 lemon 100g fish forcemeat 150ml béchamel sauce 200g puff pastry
Begin by preparing the eels. To skin and gut, hold it down by the head on a solid work surface with a towel (an eel is very slippery). With a sharp knife, make an incision around the neck, just below the head. The thick filmy skin will separate. Grip the skin with a pair of pliers, and pull it down the length of the eel to the tail and cut it off. Make a slit down the length of the stomach and pull out the innards. Rinse the eel well under cold running water.
Cut the eels into pieces 5cm long then line the base of your pie dish with the forcemeat. Arrange the eels on top then scatter over the parsley and shallot. Season with the nutmeg, salt and black pepper then sprinkle over the lemon juice.
Cover with the puff pastry then transfer to an oven pre-heated to 180°C and bake for 1 hour. Heat the béchamel sauce in a pan, make a hole in the top of the pie then pour in the sauce and serve.
Read more at Celtnet: http://www.celtnet.org.uk/recipes/miscellaneous/fetch-recipe.php?rid=misc-mrs-beeton-eel-pie
Copyright © celtnet
Now eels are still eaten and in my Doyle’s Fish CookBook recipes for them start with a little verse:
Strange the formation of the eely race
That know no sex, yet love the close embrace
Their folded lengths they round each other twine
Twist amorous knots and slimy bodies join.
Apparently this verse comes from another fish cookbook by Theo Roughley.
Doyle gives us 4 recipes for eel but none are a pie.
An eel is any fish belonging to the order Anguilliformes and is a predator.and includes conger and morays as well as the rather less fearsome variety that swims in the Thames – and although they are far from common now they were very common in the Victorian era hence the pies.
Coming back to the island it was not until 1957 that a bridge was completed. Today, the island has about 50 houses with 120 inhabitants, a couple of boatyards and some small businesses and artists’ studios. It has nature reserves at either end. So as you can see – from both this description and the photos – that it makes a perfect Cherry Pie Island. It also has a famous recording studio named after it by Pete Townsend and is known for its bands and music too.
The first picture shows the island in the large bend in the Thames and the small amount of habitation and the 2 areas of nature reserve on either end. The bridge to Twickenham can also be seen.
The second photo shows some of the habitations on the island – many of which are owned by artists – note that the whole island is actually private land.
See also the descriptions of the island in: https://littlelondonobservationist.wordpress.com/2010/06/22/exploring-eel-pie-island
So having identified the island we can now move onto the book.
It was a short but cosy read. Opening cafes is a genre that is as popular as opening books shops. Is this because hidden in so many women is the secret desire to run a cafe and in avid book readers to run a book shop? I know I wouldn’t mind either… and in fact only last night a friend said I should run a community book shop as I had so many ideas for how to do so..
Taking a run-down cafe /shop and filling it with antiques/upcycled/recycled/vintage items is very popular too. My brother-in-law’s favourite cafe runs on donated vintage (not necessarily matching) cups and saucers. And lots of cafes look like they’ve rummaged through a second-hand store for their tables and chairs. So very of the moment in how the cafe was fitted out even though it was done as a cost cutting exercise in the book.
Naming the poor boy ‘River’ was a shame – River Phoenix comes to mind and is so trendy of the pop star/film star variety – where children have names which seem cute when they are little but are an embarrassment when they grow up.
Looking up the book I find that this is just the first of a series and it does have that feel – that there are plenty more stories of the inhabitants yet to come – which I might just read in due course.
So overall, it was an enjoyable if light reading experience and I give it 3 stars.
As February draws to a close and March begins, the March wind do blow – we see the tops of the trees sway and branches fall but the birds are busy twittering away and lining up nesting materials.
There is also a squirrel in our garden – maybe one of the baffled ones? (see photo) who is tearing at the piece of netting lodged in the tree at the back of the garden – nest materials for her also perhaps?
The primroses are in flower and the bulbs are beginning, dwarf irises and early dwarf narcissi as well as cyclamen coum flower. Symphitum of all varieties including Ibericum; tuberosum; ibiriceum; flower ready for the early solitary bee with the long proboscis that feeds on their colourful tubes. Also beginning are the Pulmonaria we have ‘raspberry splash’; ‘Beth chatto’; ‘frehling shimmmel’; and various blues – all with spotted leaves of many shades, that give them their name as they were beloved to help cure lung disease. And the buds on our magnolias are ripening.
Now is the time to mulch the plants. Organic mulch from your compost heap or manure if your garden needs it, mixed with soil, will feed for the season and help prevent dryness in the height of the summer. Weeds will grow but mulch helps smother them -unless your compost heap was not hot enough to kill the weed seeds of course!
It is also the time to complete any pruning not yet finished – by Easter you should be finished. Once the sap starts rising it can damage the plants to be pruned and watch out for pruning fig trees once the sap is rising – it is very sticky and unpleasant.
If you have had hyacinths or spring bulbs in your house over the winter – plant them out to flower for next year in your main garden. You may find that over time the hyacinths change back to blue but…or put them in pots and out of sight for a patio display next spring. Now is the time to look at other people’s gardens to see what bulbs they have planted for the spring. Have they got a different daffodil? Or a new iris or? But the tulips are yet to come so keep some space for them… and whatever you do, don’t remove the leaves from your daffodils until at least six weeks or longer if you can, have passed. Remove the dead heads but let the leaves soak up the feed to increase the bulb size and start offsets. Feed your bulbs while still in flower or as they start to poke through the sol. Leaving it until they are finished flowering is rather late.
If you are growing early annuals such as poppies or marigolds, you can start to sow in prepared seed beds or trays but beware the rain if in trays – don’t let it wash all the seeds out as has happened to me in the past – or foxes upset the trays. So put them somewhere safe and well drained.
In January to February the foxes are bold in our garden and we find they play with toys they drag in from everywhere. Keep a look out as they rather indiscriminate with what they play – we have had soiled nappies, tins, plastic bag and the detritus from our cat’s litter tray pulled around the garden. Some of this we believe is the hormones from females that are found in heir excrement and urine that attract the males regardless of them not being foxes… and their curiosity as to where this smell is coming from leads them to carry stuff around and pull it apart to check there isn’t a female fox smell hidden somewhere…
That it will never come again
Is what makes life so sweet.
As written by Emily Dickinson.
I do so agree with Stephanie Pearl-McPhee when she says that she will resist hoarding that very special wool for that very special project – until they are just right and the project is ‘worthy’. She comments that if she knits the wool, she doesn’t have it any more and thus cannot look at it and think about it and the potential it holds within the ball. Once knitted all that potential has gone, it is just a garment now. Whilst un-knitted it has all the possibilities of the future. I am like that sometimes myself. I have some lovely wool my daughter gave me and it sits in the yarn stash drawers and every now and then I look at it and feel it but never knit it. Perhaps as the new year starts I will gain the courage to knit it up.
And then there is Bo Derek:
Whoever said money can’t buy happiness simply didn’t know where to go shopping
or as Stephanie says about her yarn stash (and it applies to our wardrobes too) ‘Just why did I buy that?!’ So Bo Derek is wrong?
The colour isn’t right. The texture is wrong. For that weight you will need more wool than you have for that project. The wool is old (I rescued it from my mother-in-law’s drawers) and falls apart and you really don’t want a garment that is all knots. And yes that wool was really too much of a bargain, the colour runs or it is rough on your fingers to knit and even rougher to wear!
No matter the discount, not everything is a bargain.