Monthly Archives: February 2010

Tracey Thorn – a 20 year affair

There’s a new Ewan Pearson produced Tracey Thorn track available as a free download from her website.

I once saw Tracey outside a garden centre in Rugby, I think that she and Ben lived in rural Northamptonshire for a time in the early 1990s. I also saw them play Warwick Arts Centre . . . a proper sensible gig experience (this was before they embraced dance music), all seated, all very respectful. They were never local heroes, Rugby had Spacemen 3 to hold that honour . . . and Coventry had, at the time, The Primitives. It was the age of Grebo (see todays Guardian for the low down on this shortly lived moment) and their restrained songwriting and her voice stood out against this backdrop.

Matthew Gascoigne put me on to them when we were taking A-level art together. There was a separate ante-room to the main art classroom where those taking art could spend studio time . . . with the luxury of a tape recorder. When we were in the lower 6th this was ruled by the upper 6th students . . . one of them had a penchant for Don McLean. When we took over the upper 6th position we dominated access to the tape recorder – it also had to be something that didn’t disturb the main classroom, so EBTG won everytime over Slayer.

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Millichope Snowdrops

I’ve never known snowdrops in the quantity that are found in the Corvedale. I used to get the school bus into Rugby which went through a small village called Leamington Hastings, on the bank of a garden there was a famed carpet of Galanthus Nivalis – it was as nothing compared to those that sprout on verges, riverbanks and formal plantings in the Shropshire. The above pictures show those at Millichope. Katherine Swift writes in the Morville Hours of Old Tom, a shepherd who lives (lived?) at Broncroft Parks, a mile or so from me, who used to “take clumps of snowdrops from the banks of the brook and plant them out along the lanes, each year a little further . . . . lining the lanes with snowdrops, a ribbon of white.”

I’ve been clearing the bank by the side of the house of the remains of nettles and debris to reveal the snowdrops there all the better against the ground. The effect, whether originally intentioned or not, is of them falling of the cliff. The first blades of daffodils are joining them already, the cusp of new botanical life taking over from the remains of last years dead leaves and stalks.

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Observer Poster

A small amount of research reveals that this poster for The Observer originates from 1964 – whether the idea for the post of Ministry of Leisure was ever taken up is another matter. I guess that the Department of Culture, Media and Sport was the nearest that we ever got to it.

Nice graphics though.

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Sean Alexander – Heroic Theory at Rebecca Hossack Gallery

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A recipe (of sorts) – celeriac soup with salsa verde

For two weekends running I have made celeriac soup for Sunday lunch – it’s gone down a storm each time. It really just takes the time that the celeriac needs to cook through (15 mins).

To feed 4.

Half a large head of celeriac (peeled and chopped)

1 carrot (chopped/sliced)

1 stalk of celery (chopped/sliced)

1 shallot (chopped/sliced)

Vegetable stock

Creme fraiche (one tablespoon)

Lime/lemon juice

Green soft herbs (at lease 2 of: tarragon, basil, parsley, chervil, coriander)

Wholegrain mustard (2 teaspoons)

Olive oil

Capers (1 desertspoon)

Anchovies (6 fillets)

……………………………………………………….

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil and sweat off the chopped celery, carrot and shallot for a couple of minutes. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the chopped celeriac and then the stock so that the stock covers the vegetables by roughly 1 cm. Bring to a simmer, cover and leave until the celeriac is cooked through. Blend this mixture. Add a splash of lemon/lime juice and stir through the creme fraiche, leave on a low heat while making the salsa verde.

Finely chop the herbs (you need about 2 tablespoons of finely chopped herbs). Place the capers and anchovies in the centre of the herbs and chop these as well. Transfer this mix to a small bowl stir in the mustard and enough olive oil to make a glossy sauce that falls from a spoon.

Spoon the soup into bowls and place a teaspoon of salsa verde in the middle of it. Drizzle some decent olive oil over the top of the soup. Serve with sourdough.

If I had been more prepared (and less ravenous) each time I made this I would have taken a photo of the (very pretty) result. Alas. . . . Next time.

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Bird sightings of the week ending Feb 14th

Coal tit

Great tit

Long Tailed tit

Kingfisher

Rook

Blackbird

Dunnock

Blue tit

Buzzard

Wren

Robin

Kestrel (female)

Woodpecker (heard not seen)

Hedge sparrow

Pied wagtail

Yellowhammer

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Jens Lekman

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