Saturday, December 26, 2020

Christmas Pudding

For years Mary has made this delicious, vegetarian Christmas pudding from an ancient Sainsbury Book of Puddings and Desserts by Carole Handslip, one of a brilliant series of small format hardbacks that Sainsbury published around 1980. You can make this diary free by substituting a vegetable fat, such as TREX, for the butter.

Christmas Pudding

175 g (6 oz) plain flour
2 teaspoons ground mixed spice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
175 g (6 oz) fresh white breadcrumbs
175 g (6 oz) butter
175 g (6 oz) soft brown sugar
350 g (12 oz) sultanas
250 g (8 oz) raisins
250 g (8 oz) currants
75 g (3 oz) chopped mixed peel
grated rind and juice of 1 orange
2 eggs, beaten
120 ml (4 fl oz) brown ale

Sift the flour and spices into a bowl, add the breadcrumbs, then rub in the butter. Stir in the sugar, add the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Turn into a greased 1.75 litre (3 pint) pudding basin, cover with a pudding cloth or greaseproof paper and foil, and steam for 6 hours, topping up the pan with boiling water as necessary.

Cool slightly, then remove the cloth or paper and leave to cool completely. Cover with clean greaseproof paper and foil and store in a cool dry place.

To serve, steam the pudding again for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Turn out onto a warmed serving dish. If liked, pour over 2 to 3 tablespoons warmed brandy and ignite. Top with a sprig of holly and serve with cream or Brandy Butter.

Serves 8 to 10

NOTE: Christmas Pudding improves with keeping as it allows the mixture to mature. If possible, make it 3 to 4 months before Christmas.

© Cathay Books 1980

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Music to Run to

When participating in parkrun I saw many people listening to music as they ran, likewise runners in the street. At one point during my less than illustrious running career I thought I’d give it a go. It was completely hopeless, I just couldn’t do it. My legs wanted to operate at the tempo of the music, it literally threw me off my stride. 

So I did a little research and discovered there are playlists defined by the cadence at which you run. Unfortunately for me none of the suggested playlists were slow enough; I was off the bottom of the scale. So I abandoned that idea.

Now I rely on my mental jukebox which always goes at exactly the right speed. I have a small playlist depending on which part of my technique I am focusing on:

The Locomotion by Little Eva. Working the arms to keep them snugly by my side in counterpoint to the legs, working to keep a good rhythm going. 

Kylie's version of this song because Kylie!

Hold Your Head Up by Argent. When I spot that my posture is less than optimum I use this track to straighten my spine and open up the lungs.

Rubber Ball by Bobby Vee. When I want to focus on being less leaden footed, aiming to land on the balls of my feet and use the biomechanics to keep a spring in my step. Bouncy, bouncy!

Longer Boats by Cat Stevens. Tweaking the lyrics to “Longer *strides* are coming to win us, hold onto the shore.” Useful when trying to have a more loping gait on the flat or down slopes.

Keep On Running by the Spencer Davis Group. A general-purpose track when I just need something to fill the silence and cover the sound of my wheezing lungs.

Maybe I’ll try some podcasts instead.

Thursday, December 03, 2020

Benson Row - 19

Penrith, Cumbria. November-2020.

After last month's hiatus caused by our fitter having to self-isolate for two weeks the flooring recommenced. First the insulation in between the new joists...

...then the chipboard.


Then the engineered oak was delivered. Unfortunately it had to acclimatise in its final resting place for at least a week before it could be laid, so that meant another 10 day hiatus before work could recommence.

In other news: we have a bedroom door that closes! Following the settling of the building after all the structural work last year the opening was squint and the door no longer shut. So for over a year we have put up with the door ajar. Prudence dictated a good long wait to be sure all movement had settled before trimming the door. Now it shuts, Mary can creep out early in the morning, close the door and leave me to sleep. Oh joy - simple pleasures!


Next month the floor laying will resume and skirting boards and architraves will be fitted. We are hoping for no more delays so that it will all be over by Christmas!