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Hahaha…uh, no

tayberry

A tayberry is a cross between a raspberry and a blackberry (some sources say loganberry). Uncle B used to grow heaps of them in London and they were very nice.

I had forgotten how nice until we picked up a jar of tayberry jam at a church fete this Summer. Honestly, I think it’s the nicest jam I’ve ever eaten. We both raved over it. We have made sad face at every jar of jam since.

So, naturally, I thought I’d try to get us some for Christmas. Turns out, I got one Google hit on tayberry jam, and it was this one at Fortnum and Mason.

A 200 gram jar is £9.95, plus £5.95 shipping. Folks, that’s like twenty-five bucks for a little jar of jam!

Heh. Check out the rest of their Christmas stuff. Must be nice to have monies.

December 4, 2017 — 11:07 pm
Comments: 8

The miracle of bacon

newbacon

Wednesday afternoon, ’bout a quarter to four
I heard a knocking on my front door.
Run to the door just as fast as I can
Standing in the doorway is the bacon man.

Hallelujah, it’s the Oscar Mayer bacon man.

My neighbors went to the States and brought me the Miracle of Bacon. How they got it back — “in a cooler” they said — eh, it’ll be fine.

They also brought me saltines and paper towels. Truly, I am blessed.

p.s. that’s paint under my fingernails, not filth. Wednesday is Art Day.

November 29, 2017 — 9:54 pm
Comments: 24

Holy krep!

vanart

This van appeared in a village near me this week. Nope, not a Photoshop job. There’s this guy who…does this on the back of dirty white vans. Here’s his FaceBook page if you want to see more.

Britain is lousy with white vans. It is the subject of many jokes. So he will never run out of canvas.

One of my earliest impressions of the difference between Britain and America? You know how we write “wash me” in the dirt on the back of a dirty car? I saw a filthy white van here with “also comes in white” written across the back.

November 22, 2017 — 10:03 pm
Comments: 15

They shot muh gurl :(

lynx

The runaway lynx turned up chillin’ under a double-wide in an abandoned trailer park (yes, even here) and the bastards shot her. The answer to your next question is, yes, they probably do have tranq guns here, but she was shot by a hired marksman instead of zoo personnel, in the darkness with night vision equipment.

Maybe he wasn’t taking an opportunity to play with his fun toys.

Brits are animal mad — particularly cats — and this is not going down well at all. The head of the local council should probably have a flunky start his car for a while.

November 13, 2017 — 9:36 pm
Comments: 11

Drumroll please

warrant

We’ve got the electrician coming tomorrow for a couple of odd jobs, so I’m cleaning house. As you do. And I found this thing (look up).

There’s a baker who has a booth in a local market, from whom we occasionally buy sausage rolls. He was forever telling me he used to be sausage roll maker by appointment to Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.

One day, he flagged me down on the street as I went past on my bicycle and gave me a laminated copy of his Royal Warrant. (I happen to know, from professional experience, that a lamination pouch of that size costs 50p, so I was flattered).

I don’t even particularly like sausage rolls. Have a good weekend, everyone!

November 10, 2017 — 10:31 pm
Comments: 22

Fire!

fire

‘Tis the bonfire season hereabouts. I’m sure I’ve told you in years past, East Sussex doesn’t simply observe the Fifth of November; there’s a bonfire celebration somewhere in the county from late September through early December. That’s because East Sussex was particularly hard done by during the Marian persecutions (proximity to the Continent and free flow of new ideas is my theory).

It also means all the costumed bonfire societies can march in each other’s processions for weeks and weeks.

Most of the villages defer to the town of Lewes on the actual Fifth. They have the biggest procession, on account of they had the most Protestants burned at the stake. Seventeen of them.

Yes, it’s mostly fun and games these days, but I sense a surprisingly hard knot of anti-Catholicism in Britain still and it peaks out during the bonfire season.

We had a local celebration over the weekend and we’ll have another next weekend. Small, informal, neighborly things.

Pictured is the fire bowl from Saturday. I think we’d like to get one. We have a chimenea (and an incinerator), but it’s not the same as open fire, is it? Anyone have experience of these? Are they hard to maintain? Do the legs get super hot?

November 6, 2017 — 9:35 pm
Comments: 14

…and then the band…

theband

The Morris dancers were dancing to this snappy quartet. I have to assume the tuba is not generally a part of English folk music.

Is that a tuba? Or is it one of the odd ones, like a ‘baritone horn’ or something? My dad played a mystery horn of about that size toward the end of his life. He was very deaf. Said it helped him with his breath. Ye gods, was that fun to be around.

Short shrift again tonight. I’ve been cleaning closets. This is a bit of a lie, as they don’t have closets here.

They don’t have closets here. Let that sink in a moment.

But we have several funny little dead-end alcoves where shit gets stuffed haphazardly, waiting for the inevitable shit avalanche. It is now sorted into varieties of shit and stacked in neat boxes.

October 25, 2017 — 9:29 pm
Comments: 15

Also from the Apple Fayre

morrisdancers

Morris Dancers. Yes, those are lady Morris Dancers, some of them. Yes, that’s a modern innovation. No, I don’t really mind.

But ladies singing sea shanties? Absolutely haram!

October 24, 2017 — 7:01 pm
Comments: 11

Newton’s apple. No, really.

apples

We went to an apple fayre this weekend.

You know you’re in for an authentic British experience when they spell ‘fayre’ with a ‘y’.

Over 200 varieties of apples were there. Which is nothing. There are thousands of cultivated varieties (and many thousands more of not very useful wild apples).

They have sequenced the apple’s genome and found an apple has nearly twice the genes of a human being. That means apples are complicated and don’t breed clones. I saw this program on apple genetics several years ago, so bear with me if my memory is generic.

If you eat an apple and like it, and plant the seed in your garden, you will get a tree that bears a fruit that almost certainly bears no resemblance to that apple you liked so much. Also, it will be tall and awkward, because natural apples are. If you see a grove of natural apple trees in the wild, they will all bear different apples. There might be a hidden star in there with desirable characteristics. On the other hand, you’re more likely to find sour and awful fruits, as the modern apple shares more of its genome with the crabapple than its true wild ancestor.

For commercial apples, they take cuttings from the successful tree and graft them onto other rootstocks with desirable traits — like, usually dwarf rootstocks that make little, pickable trees. All the modern Granny Smiths, for example, come from cuttings from the original Granny. So really, when you think about it, that apple from Newton’s garden really is from Newton’s garden, if probably many intermediate trees removed.

Yes, I bought an Isaac Newton. It’s in a bag with four other ‘heritage’ apples, though, so I don’t know who’s who. This could be a problem because it’s a cooking apple.

October 23, 2017 — 9:18 pm
Comments: 24

Not that, you bastards! Anything but that!

bacon

Food is one of the hardest things for an immigrant to cope with. This immigrant, anyhow. It’s one thing to visit a country and immerse yourself in the local cuisine; it’s another when, five years later, not love nor money can buy you a freaking saltine cracker for your freaking soup.

Bacon. Bacon is the cruellest food. British bacon is even weirder than the Canadian stuff. I mean, it’s pretty nice in its own way, but it’s some kind of salty country ham thing. It ain’t bacon. Nome sane?

For years, there was one supermarket (not a chain, a single supermarket) that sold Oscar Mayer bacon. Sure, it was made in Spain, but somebody from OM must have overseen the process, because it was what I call proper bacon.

Then, a couple of years ago, they dropped the “Oscar Mayer” branding and relabeled it “American style” bacon. That’s an actual packet of it in the picture. Well, fair enough – the name was probably costing them a lot of money and didn’t mean diddly to Brits. It was the same true blue American bacon.

And then the quality began to slip. First the packet wouldn’t peel open properly and had to be cut up the side. Then the bacon stuck together and wouldn’t come off in cohesive strips. It was more like baconfloss. That comes from losing the American quality control, I guess.

And today? Gone from the shelf. Nowhere to be found. Not even the thin comfort of bacon strings for weasel.

It’ll have to be pancetta. Dammit.

October 17, 2017 — 7:40 pm
Comments: 41