29 October 2023

This is the best weekend of the year! Our clocks went back to “normal” last night and we’ve finally recovered that hour which was stolen from us in the Spring. Lovely.

I was reading yesterday about a clock museum in the UK where it takes the staff about three hours to adjust all the clocks back to GMT. It doesn’t take me anywhere near three hours but I am surprised by how many of our devices do not adjust themselves. Obviously, the analogue chiming clocks need manual adjustment and it is a pain moving in this direction – you have to move the hands forward 11 hours (fortunately, neither has an AM or PM mode) and wait while the clock goes through its routine of chiming every half hour. But why does the oven/cooker, which is relatively new, not have the capacity to adjust itself. Similarly, the coffee maker has to be adjusted by hand. Another reason to abandon the practice of moving our clocks forward or backwards.

As predicted last time, it’s been a hectic and busy week. We had friends to lunch on both Monday and Tuesday, we motored down to Heathrow on Wednesday morning to collect our South American globe-trotting neighbours and Wednesday evening we had the visit of the Pumpkin Man to a session of the Moreton Pinkney Garden Club. We did have a bit of respite – on Thursday our planned outing to see a very dear friend and take her out to lunch had to be postponed until the end of this coming week as she has been a bit under the weather. Similarly, the proposed dinner party on Friday evening with some of our lovely neighbours also had to be postponed until next week due to another illness. Still though, lots of eating which is, of course, an activity at which I am very proficient. And, the culinary delights don’t stop there – tomorrow we are out to lunch with a gaggle of folks I used to work with, Wednesday evening we’ll have the postponed dinner with some neighbours and then, on Friday, we shall drive across and enjoy our postponed lunch date. It’s hard work eating for England but I think I’m up to the challenge.

As I mentioned, on Wednesday evening we had the visit of the Pumpkin Man to address the Moreton Pinkney Garden Club. He came highly touted and he certainly did not disappoint. He was absolutely bonkers. Stark raving mad. Several shillings short of a pound. A genuine mind-boggling nutter. I would say the world needs more eccentric lunatics but then again, perhaps not.

He is a former teacher of biology who is also very, very, very keen on pumpkins (and similar gourds). I suppose someone has to be. He has not one, not two but three allotments on which he grows an awful lot of pumpkins, and he is chairman of his local allotment society and a member of the national allotment committee. He’s retired from teaching now, although his wife is still working, he told us. So, he does most of the cooking and, to hear him describe his affections for all things pumpkin-related, it seems that every meal he prepares is pumpkin-based. Indeed, he had brought along some freshly baked pumpkin scones for us to try (not particularly good). He did concede that there was an occasion when his wife asked if they might not have some potatoes instead of the endless diet of pumpkin.

He showed us photographs of several rooms in his home, each of which had shelves which were stuffed full of pumpkins. The pantry, the utility room, his grown-up son’s bedroom, the garage. You name it, he was using every available space to store pumpkins. I suppose the biggest mystery to arise out of his presentation – how on earth does his wife put up with him?

The highlight of the evening was undoubtedly the rousing sing-along of pumpkin songs he compelled us all to endure complete with song sheets. Just a couple to give you a feel for the evening:

To the tune of ‘God save the King’
My pumpkin ode to thee
sweet fruit of dignity
of thee I sing
Pumpkin your skin of gold
pumpkin so good to hold
so many stories told
I am the pumpkin king!

To the tune of ‘Jerusalem’
And did those squash in ancient times
Grow upon Kettering’s gardens green?
And were those beauteous, golden fruits
Hollowed and carved for Halloween?
And did the compost, rain and sun
Give forth such tasty fruits of fun?
And was a pumpkin king ever crowned
In Kettering’s green and pleasant land?
Bring me my hoe of stainless steel
Bring me my barrows of manure
Bring me my spade, O hose unreel
Bring me my chariot of fire
I will not cease from sowing seeds
Nor shall my fork sleep in my hand
Till we have crowned the pumpkin king
In Kettering’s green and pleasant land!

And, just to ensure that you don’t feel left out, here is a link from his site to a few pumpkin recipes. For those of you looking forward to Thanksgiving why not try the following:

Pumpkin Fudge
1 cup milk
3 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup pumpkin
Dash of salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
4 tablespoons margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In saucepan combine milk, sugar, syrup, pumpkin and salt.
Cook over medium heat and when mixture begins to bubble, reduce heat to simmer and cook to soft ball stage.
Remove from heat and beat in cinnamon, allspice, margarine and vanilla extract. Allow to cool.
Then beat until thick and the mixture loses its gloss. Spoon into buttered dish.
When firm, cut into squares.

You’re welcome – enjoy!

Apart from all the eating I shall be doing in the coming week, there’s lots else on. We’re out this evening to the cinema in Banbury to see Killers of the Flower Moon, the latest Martin Scorsese film with Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio. On Tuesday afternoon Penny is off to her first proper session reading with school children at a school in Banbury and then, on Tuesday evening, we have the annual Witches Coven organised by the Garden Club. Fun and games for the kids, mulled wine and parkin for the adults. Hmm, more eating and drinking. Thursday is the next edition of the Moreton Pinkney Film Night complete with fish and chips supper. Marvellous. And then, on Saturday, Nick is taking me to the Northampton v Bath rugby match in Northampton. Raging Bull, the firm for which he currently works, has just signed an arrangement with Northampton rugby club – part of the arrangement includes the occasional match ticket. And of course, more eating. Go Saints!

Meanwhile, keep happy, keep smiling, be good, be careful, and keep safe. And be gentle to wasps and bees.

Lots of love to you all,


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