Monthly Archives: September 2013

Watermark Moments

A few days ago, I showed you a photo of the earthquake damaged land beside  the Avon River. That was in my post ‘Ring in the Spring” which you may view here

Fissure

Fissure

In that post, I mentioned the city plan to restore the Avon river and its banks and to create an extensive recreational and nature area along its course through the city.

A brief video of  that plan can be seen here. http://ccdu.govt.nz/video-gallery.  It is the third video called Design Concept which is the most relevant to this post. It won’t embed in my post but it is well worth a look.

The first section of the restoration project, the Watermark project, was completed and officially opened at the end of August; just in time to greet the first day of Spring.  Last Sunday, on our  Drive, we stopped to explore our new-look river precinct.  The last time,  we visited this section of the river, down near the Antigua Boat sheds, ( built in 1882 and still going strong) http://www.boatsheds.co.nz/history_pid_7.html was on New Year’s Eve 2012. It’s been a long while between visits, but lovely as the area was then,

and here are the THEN photos:

I think it is looking lovelier now. Here is the NOW photo:

Walking the Avon towards Montreal Street

Walking the Avon towards Montreal Street

Although you wouldn’t know it from my photos,  lots of people were out enjoying the sunshine and the new aspect to our much-loved Otakaro/Avon River.

Here are some more NOW photos:

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Canadian Followers! Did you see a reference to Montreal, as in Montreal Street?  According to this website, http://christchurchcitylibraries.com/Heritage/PlaceNames/ChristchurchStreetNames-M.pdf     Montreal Street was named in 1850 after a colonial bishopric in Montreal, Canada. Montreal Street was first mentioned in the media in 1852.

© silkannthreades

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The Tendrils of the Sweet Pea

The other day, I wrote a post which featured some clip art from Dover Publications https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2013/09/06/from-oostburg-to-christchurch-we-are-connected/.  This beautiful painting of sweet peas was also included in my free clip art sampler. The painting is by the Belgian Painter and Botanist, Pierre-Joseph Redouté, (1759-1840) who was nick named the “Raphael of flowers”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre-Joseph_Redout%C3%A9

Sweet Peas by Pierre-Joseph Redouté

Sweet Peas by Pierre-Joseph Redouté

In floriography, or the language of flowers, the sweet pea represents ‘delicate pleasures’.  I am not sure what constitutes ‘delicate pleasures’, especially in Victorian terms when floriography was at its peak, but, as this interpretation comes from Kate Greenaway’s Language of Flowers, I shall assume it has an innocent and sweet meaning. Like a light kiss a mother might bestow on her child’s cheek, or a gentle, hand in hand, stroll with a loved one.

For me, the sweet peas are the sweetest of flowers. Some years I grow them in my garden.

Sweet Peas in my Garden

Sweet Peas in my Garden

They remind me of my grandfather, for the sweet pea was his favourite flower.

They remind me of my wedding day, when all I could find  for a bouquet, in the arid setting of Botswana, was a handful of sweet peas; surprisingly, and almost miraculously, brought forth, rich in colour and scent, from a monochrome, dry earth. On that day, they were, indeed, a delicate pleasure, and a precious connection to loved ones far away.

Whilst pleasing my eye with the delicate, sweet pea painting, I wondered if I could find a poem to accompany it. And, of course, I could, with some help from Mr Google.  Alfred Noyes wrote A Child’s Vision, which begins

“Under the sweet-peas I stood

And drew deep breaths, they smelt so good….”

The poem is a delightful view of sweet peas from a child’s perspective. It  takes me back to my own childhood  fascination with  sweet peas (and snapdragons, too 🙂

Alfred Noyes  was an English poet.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Noyes   Two of his better known poems are “The Highwayman” and “Daddy Fell into the Pond”. http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/daddy-fell-into-the-pond/ He was  born in 1880, on 16th September. Yes, that’s right, 16th September. Today is his birthday, or would be, if he were still alive.

Happy Birthday Alfred

Happy Birthday Alfred

Isn’t that a pleasurable and fortuitous discovery :)?  Alfred Noyes lived for some of his life, in Ventnor, Isle of Wight, and died there in 1958. His final resting place was Freshwater, Isle of Wight. And that little piece of information, that Alfred Noyes’s  home was on the Isle of Wight, afforded me a gentle, crinkle-cornered smile. Because, for some weeks, I have been on a voyage of discovery into my ancestry.  I  have been reaching out through the  past and  learning, little by little,  about my great, great, great grandparents  and their life on the Isle of Wight. It’s a fascinating journey, and, helping me to understand my ancestral  home in its modern context, is my lovely, full of spirit,  blogger friend, Bethan, at http://thehouseofbethan.com/.  We have  fun planning my imaginary trip “home”, and, now, thanks to my love of sweet peas, I can add Alfred Noyes’s home, Lisle Combe, to my list of places to visit.  And, since I will be near Ventnor, I will also consider taking  a peek at Keith Brewster’s prize-winning sweet peas,  http://www.iwcp.co.uk/news/gardening/sign-of-sweet-success-50269.aspx

All fun and fantasy aside, it has been a sweetly, delicate pleasure, today, to have one, sweet pea painting lead me, by its virtual tendrils, from my kitchen bench, in Christchurch, to the Isle of Wight;  in which place I know there is a spot, a portion of soil,  that is uniquely mine ; a piece of ground that knows my heart, and my footprint, because of those who have gone before me.

Now, if only I had been a Victorian, with an abundant supply of sweet peas, I could have reduced all these  words in to a small posy . How much easier and sweeter for all of you, my kind, patient readers 🙂

© silkannthreades

What you need to get your church moving….

We have been for a Sunday Drive and seen many sights: daffodils; cherry blossom; dogs; a river; blue sky and “A What you need to get your church moving”. Which is this; a TITAN

A Titan for the Task

A Titan for the Task

which is yellow and sturdy and very tall…..

In January this year, I wrote a post about a little chapel called St Saviour’s. You can see the post Here. I told some of the history of the chapel and explained that  the chapel would soon be returned to its original home town, Lyttelton. Turns out that the ‘soon’ is now.

Although the Titan  was having a Sunday rest, it has obviously been busy. Here is how the Chapel looked when I saw it earlier in the year. It was boarded up and ready to go.

St Saviour's

St Saviour’s

Here is how it looked today

St Saviour's is Going

St Saviour’s is Going

Although St Saviour’s is obviously on the move, I can’t find any information on whether it is being moved via a land route or by barge. I did discover an article on some of the costs involved in the Chapel’s relocation and restoration http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/hills-and-harbour/8963217/Historic-St-Saviours-chapel-granted-143k  However it is travelling, I hope it will soon be  put together again because, right now, it looks very uncomfortable and undignified, and dishevelled. Not unlike we get when we are on a difficult and long journey, especially if we are no longer as young and spritely as we once were 🙂

© silkannthreades

Excuse me, what time do you have?

In years gone by, many people, in my part of the world, didn’t have access to a portable timepiece. This meant that, from time to time, one passer-by would ask another, most politely, “Excuse me, what time do you have?” ( As if time were like a bird in a cage that you could hold and tame :).) Usually, the response was polite, too, but, occasionally, it would be a gruff, “Get your own watch!” or “Can’t you read the clock over there in the park?” Which was very rude because, perhaps, the person couldn’t read or tell the time.

But, back to the question; “What time do you have?” As I write it is 11.22am on Saturday, 14 September, 2013, here in Christchurch, New Zealand.  In Los Angeles, it is 4.22pm on Friday 13 September, 2013. In Addis Ababa, it is 2.22 am on 14 September, 2013 or, in local terms, it is 8.22 on the 4th day of the first month of 2006 . In Kathmandu, it is the 29th of Bhadra 2070.  In Israel, the New Year of 5774 has begun.  Come November, it will be 1435 AH in Egypt, yet the Coptic Church in Egypt celebrated their New Year on 11 September, 2013. Confused. We should be, because, in the time it has taken me to write that passage, the times have changed and changed again. It’s hard to keep up.

What time do you have?

What time do you have?

A few weeks back, I finished reading “A Fugue in Time” by Rumer Godden.  Check here  In the US, its title is Take Three Tenses, which it does.  It is the story of a house, a place, and the people who are gathered to the house over  generations. The past, the present and the future are tightly woven through the narrative, in much the same confusing way that we, in our daily lives, will, in one moment, be thinking of what we are eating and, in the next,  be remembering a special Christmas meal 50 years ago. And, at the same time, planning for tonight’s supper or this coming Christmas Day.  Rumer Godden plays with time; how it floats in and out and around us and constantly changes our reality.

One day, this past August, I was confined to my house and realised that, on my dressing table, I had inadvertently created a timepiece, unique to my place and my day.  In a small space, I had a brief hold on the present, the past and the future. And, with the help of my camera, I could rearrange and play with them to my heart’s content.

Spring or summer time?

Spring or summer time?

So, excuse me, what time do you have?

For me, it is lunch time 🙂

© silkannthreades

Rhubarb Rhubarb

In my previous post, I mentioned eating rhubarb compote with my rice bread. https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2013/09/10/rice-bread-and-blossom/ The rhubarb was fresh, young, spring rhubarb  from my garden. And the very first rhubarb I have  grown.

The growing season before last,  a good friend gave me a corm from her beautiful, bountiful rhubarb plant.  I planted it in a big, blue pot in sweet spot near my back door and let it be, as one should, for its first season.

Big Blue Pot of Rhubarb

Big Blue Pot of Rhubarb

This past weekend, I noticed that a few stalks on the rhubarb were ready for picking; only just ready, but I was so anxious to try my own home-grown rhubarb that  I couldn’t leave them on the plant any longer. I harvested a few stalks,

Spring Rhubarb

Spring Rhubarb

cooked them the merest amount( and even that was too much because the stalks were so tender!); added some sugar and there it was …..rhubarb compote, (aka stewed rhubarb 🙂 ), to be tasted one careful teaspoon at a time. Delicious, if over-mushed.

Rhubarb compote

Rhubarb compote

Now for a few fun facts about rhubarb.

Rhubarb is a vegetable. It’s true. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhubarb

Rhubarb is the word actors utter repeatedly and  softly to emulate background conversation. Its use is “Attributed to the practice by Charles Kean‘s theatre company c1852 at Princess Theatre, London of actors supposed to be talking together inaudibly, repetitively saying the word rhubarb, which was chosen because it does not have any harsh-sounding consonants or clear vowels. http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/rhubarb

Rhubarb is the title of a 1969 film by Eric Sykes where the only word used is Rhubarb. The film was remade in to a short television comedy in 1980 called Rhubarb Rhubarb.

So there you have it. Who knew a spring vegetable in a blue pot could be so much fun?

Rhubarb  Rhubarb

CUSTARD (what actors say when they are bored with Rhubarb 🙂 )

CUSTARD

CUSTARD

© silkannthreades

Rice Bread and Blossom

It seems that I am on an unstoppable bread (making ) roll…(eek, arrgh, squeak, sorry…. for a no good, horrible, very bad, but irresistible, pun 🙂 ), because, yesterday, I made some rice bread. I had some lonely, left- over cooked rice in the fridge, so I decided to use it in one my favourite recipes, Philpy, Hot Rice Bread. Philpy, is a quick (non yeast) bread which, apparently, has its origins in South Carolina.

Philpy (Hot Rice Bread)

Philpy (Hot Rice Bread)

I have been making versions of Philpy since 1987, which was the year I first discovered the recipe in American Harvest by Nava Atlas.

American Harvest by Nava Atlas

American Harvest by Nava Atlas

American Harvest, (Regional Recipes for the Vegetarian Kitchen) is a gem of a book, beautifully researched and illustrated. Every recipe comes with a small note on its history, as well as a delightful quote expertly, and often humorously, illustrated by the author. For example,  the quote for Philpy comes from Abe Martin’s Almanack, 1911, and goes like this “Q. My husband buys forty-five cents worth of mixed drinks every time I send him for a five-cent loaf of bread. How long will we keep our home? A. It takes longer to drink up some homes than it does others. Try baking your own bread. -Kin Hubbard.” Well, that may, or may not, be a helpful answer but baking your own  Philpy Hot Rice Bread is certainly a good idea. It’s easy and fun and it’s a great bread for a snack, or for breakfast, or lunch. And it goes well with lots of different toppings. Nava’s recipe is also a versatile one.  It  can be made gluten-free and dairy-free with ease. Yesterday, I made a gluten-free Philpy by using a combination of buckwheat flour and brown rice flour, instead of the usual whole wheat flour. I also whizzed  up the ingredients in the food processor, for the first time ever, and that gave my bread a very good texture. (Why has it taken me 26 years to work out that little trick????)

Come and sit with me, in the spring sunshine of Christchurch. Let  me offer you a warm slice of South Carolina Philby, spread with butter and sweet, young rhubarb compote. Sound good? It tastes good 🙂

Philpy for Tea

Philpy for Tea

Spring Blossom

Spring Blossom

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For those of you who would like to learn more about Nava Atlas, I would recommend a visit to her VegKitchen website which has links to her career as a writer and artist as well.http://www.vegkitchen.com/

And, as a little sampler of the way Nava brings joy to my baking through her art and wit and research, take a peek at my collage!

How to have fun with history, food and art

How to have fun with history, food and art

© silkannthreades

How did I do with my bread, Annie?

Some of my followers may recall that I love to make bread. I wrote about my enthusiasm for bread making Here  I haven’t made any bread for a while because I have been enjoying an upmarket-supermarket bread, made with Flax and Spelt. Yesterday, however, I was in exactly the right mood to make my own bread again, so, how timely was this post from Forest So Green http://forestsogreen.wordpress.com/2013/09/04/making-oatmeal-bread/  It’s a perfect, detailed, easy to follow recipe for making oatmeal bread.  I followed Annie’s instructions carefully; especially this very important one “While the bread is baking, it is going to smell very good.  Ignore your thoughts to open the oven door.  The bread is on its own now and it knows exactly what to do.   Just sit back, enjoy the delicious aroma, and wait for the kitchen timer to ring.”

Here is the result. How did I do Annie? The loaves aren’t as beautifully shaped as yours but they taste ever so good. Thank you for a wonderful recipe 🙂

Annie's Oatmeal Bread made by Gallivanta

Annie’s Oatmeal Bread made by Gallivanta

I know that many folk no longer eat wheat based breads because of gluten intolerance/allergies, so they won’t share my adoration of all things bread. But, for me, there is hardly anything more soothing and rewarding than the process of bread making, followed by that first bite, from that first slice, of fresh-from-the-oven bread.

© silkannthreades