Thursday, 28 April 2011

Easter in Wield

Selina picking flowers for the lunch table.
My lemon cake decorated by Lauren.
It seemed like no time at all after Sally left that I was heading down to Wield on the train - Basingstoke actually, the nearest station. Good thing too because it filled the hole left by her departure. Tom, Pip and Selina's youngest son, was there to pick me up after the five-hour trip. This is my third trip since I came over to the UK last September and I'm getting the hang of it. I leave Norwich Rail Station, take the train to Stanstead then get on the Underground Jubilee Line straight to Waterloo Station. From Waterloo I board the train to Basingstoke. It's then about a twenty-minute car ride to Upper Wield and P&S's idyllic home in the country, always action packed with young adults coming and going. Even though it seems like a good opportunity to read and write on the train, I have to pay attention to my stops, so I don't get much done. Never'll all come together soon, I keep telling myself. The essay I'm writing on Virginia Woolf  is heavy and quite depressing - "Shame, Melancholia, and Narcissism in Virginia Woolf." At least the publishing essay will be more uplifting. I'm calling it "Blogging Along the Information Highway." Both are due on May 12th, so there's no time to lose now. Nancy returns to Morocco on May 4th, so I'll put my head down and go full speed then. I'd much rather sit and chat with her than go into Woolf country, but I'm finding time to do both.

From top to right: Selina, Jean, Lauren, Elizabeth,
Pip, Emi, Tom, me, and John.
Arthur trying to decide whether or not to heed his master's
call. (It's fuzzy because of the long zoom I used).
When I got to Wield, I was taken almost immediately to friends, Khalid and Kim's, for a lunch and a swim. I chickened out about the swim though. Funny that I used the verb "chicken." My legs were as white as a fresh-plucked chicken and as skinny as said bird's legs (Are those your legs or are you riding on a chicken? Doug once asked me). It was fun watching the others though, and K&K's twenty-two month old short-haired retriever, Arthur, who I fell in love with because he reminded me so much of Molly, just two months older than Arthur. A bouncy fellow who finally collapsed under the table with sheer exhaustion from all the excitement. Khalid cooked the BBQ lunch, which started with pork spareribs (produced by a local pig farmer) with a piquant sauce, then moving into juicy beef burgers and pork sausages (from the same farmer). This hefty non-vegetarian meal was accompanied by a tossed green salad and glasses of sauvignon blanc. K&K have bought a 15th Century house that they plan to enlarge. The land is spectacular with views of the rolling Hampshire countryside. I would like to say more, but the essays are waiting, so I'll just include lots of photos.

Anyway, the next day in Wield we prepared for an Easter luncheon to be held outside in the sunshine. And the weather cooperated completely. Besides myself, there were two other guests staying at the Geddes' - Lauren (working in London) and Jean (living in Oxford) - two very fun and vivacious women. I was spoiled, having been given the coveted spare room in the annex, complete with my own bathroom and television. I luxuriated in the huge comfortable bed with a fluffy duvet with cool white cotton sheets and white linen pillow cases, taking in the warm, fresh country breeze that wafted through the window all night.

David and Emi, brother and sister enjoying
their time together.

Pip and daughter Emi.
Altogether there were ten of us for lunch, and then one of David's friends - Bison - joined us afterwards.  We started with prosciutto with mango, spring greens and a light basalmic dressing. Next we tied into the roast turkey with chestnut stuffing, roast potatoes, creamed leeks (from the garden), and bread sauce, served with a crisp white wine. All this al fresco, which to me is the only way to eat unless there's a howling wind and snow.

I brought a Moroccan lemon cake my friend Thea once served at her Moroccan dinner for our class. She generously gave me the recipe, which I must say is the best cake recipe I've ever tasted and ranks right up there with Cec Phillips' lemon chiffon cake, served at all the family birthdays for many years. This one calls for two large lemons to be washed, boiled and pureed. You mix sugar with egg yolks, beat the egg whites and fold in crushed almonds with a touch of baking powder. You bung the whole thing into a springform pan, cook for 45 minutes, and voila - superb! I like it because it has no dairy, but it's also perfect for anyone who is gluten intolerant. It's going to become my standard party cake (if Thea doesn't mind - at least I'll be another country). We served it at the luncheon along with a gorgeous rolled cream-filled cake sprinkled with almonds (and enjoyed with more wine). After lunch we headed off for a much needed walk along a footpath across fields and towards the bluebell wood. Later on that evening we made a trek across more fields to the Yew Tree Pub, an institution in Wield and a place where I've spent many happy evenings over the past twenty-eight years. (It's where we celebrated the night before Pip and Selina's wedding in 1985). We had a drink and then went back to P&S's for a very light supper. After being in Wield for a few days, one needs to fast for about a week. Still, it's all worth it. The following photos are a bit out of order, but can't spend any more time putting them right. Hopefully, the captions will serve to explain what's going on.

A walk to wear off our lunch.

Emi finds a friend.

Padstowe isn't impressed with Emi's new friend.

A moment communing with horses.

Selina, son David, and Padstowe in the bluebell wood.

Mo and David heading back.

Emi after her brothers poured water on her head.

Emi looking at the leaves and debris that came out of the
water bucket after her brothers poured water over her head.

Selina and Padstowe.

From top to right: John, me, Tom, Emi, Padstowe,
Selina, David and Pip.

Youngest Geddes son, Tom.
(Jamie was away at school).


Bubbly in the sunshine.

David sprucing things up for the party.

Emi and Lauren enjoying the pool at Khalid and Kim's.

The pool with house in background.

Pip, Emi and me at Khalid and Kim's lunch.

Rapeseed fields next to Khalid and Kim's.

Before the lunch.

Pip looking somewhat bemused with his 70s
 radical young man digital printout.

David heading back home.

David and Godmother Elizabeth
Champagne in the bluebell wood.

Zillions of blue bells.

Me in front of a blooming sorbus tree.

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