Two weeks ago, when I commenced to writing my last episode about the trials and tribulations of a lazy, often reluctant veg grower and half hearted forager, I had no idea there’d be a new monarch on the throne. On the day it was published she’d appeared in a couple of photo-op pictures, doing her duty in accepting the official resignation of one Prime Minister and appointing another. She didn’t look well, her hands were blue and she appeared frail, something which I remarked on to my wife. Although I’m not (by any stretch of the imagination) a “Royalist”, there’s something to admire, especially for an idle old sod like me, in someone who’s dedicated (or so we’re constantly told) the majority of her life to the service of this nation, the wider Commonwealth and its peoples. More on this later…..
Sometimes you get lucky. I’ve taken to planting left over potatoes into the trenches I’ve harvested from, not with any great expectation of a successful crop but more in hope that the more stuff I have growing, for a longer period, the more the “poison” will get drawn out of the soil. It seems to be working, if the evidence of the tops of plants is anything to go by. Although there’s been some leaf curl it’s been nowhere near as pronounced on second planting as it was on first. I’ve just put some red potatoes in, left over from some I had to reluctantly buy and they’re sprouting healthily and looking quite normal. This little harvest of new potatoes came from two tops which hadn’t flowered, so naturally I assumed there’d be nothing in the ground but straggly root. Instead I came up with a nice little feed.
Although the Victoria plum tree is heavily laden with fruit the canker has meant that much of it isn’t really fit for human consumption. Factor in the crows, who delight in taking the decent fruit from the top branches of the tree and the wasps, who love to bore into the ripe fruits, one at a time, before moving on to sweeter pastures and there isn’t a great deal left to go at, apart from inside the canopy, where new growth, as yet untainted, has produced a small but excellent crop of large, sweet fruits. I don’t know about anyone else, but we probably only go through one or two jars of jam a year, in fact we only finished the last of the 2020 plum earlier this year. We’ve just started on the wild gooseberry I bottled in 2021 and there are three more jars to go at, so making plum jam seemed like making work, if you know what I mean. Any road up, I compromised and made some thing called “Plum Compote” which I’ve saved in sterilised jars and which I’ll probably use as a crumble filling or an ice cream topper (if it doesn’t go off). Nothing ventured, nothing gained, as the saying goes.
A bit of a forage along the road to Hutton produced several pounds of good sized blackberries, most of which are now washed and frozen. I took six ounces of them, four plums, three ounces of vanilla sugar, a couple of cloves and a cinnamon stick, combined them with a nice bottle I had waiting patiently for such an occasion and created what the magazine called “Hedgerow Gin”. I’ve done similar before, with damsons, plums and sloes, but never a mix of fruit. Ready to drink in three months, they say. Perfect for a Christmas tipple, says I.
I’ll probably plant less peppers next year, the cropping continues to be excellent and some of the smaller red ones (I don’t know the breed, I lost the label) have a cheeky bit of heat to them, which we discovered last week when I made a pan of tomato and roasted pepper soup. Very warming, in more ways than one! Anyway, I’ve made eight jars of chilli jam, using all my own peppers for the very first time, which was the point of the chilli farm “experiment” in the first place. I’ve yet to hear how successful the aborted trip to market has gone and whether or not there’ll be an opportunity to supply next year (in which case I’ll have to grow more!). I needed to find a way of successfully preserving a decent quantity, beyond jam making, drying or freezing so I took to the interweb, looking for an idea or two.
The Americans seem to have this job sewn up, they call it “canning” and although the equipment’s the same as I’d use to pickle peppers (if I were ever to try such a thing), the method’s a little different. A mixture of brine, vinegar, sugar and olive oil is heated to boiling and fast simmered for a couple of minutes, before the peppers, cut into decent sized pieces, are blanched in the hot liquid. Prepared sterilised jars (still warm), with raw flavourings added in the bottom (I used shallot, mustard seed, garlic and bay leaf) are then packed with the blanched peppers and filled up with the liquor, which is clearer than you’d imagine. The recipe recommends a second “cooking”, where the jars are placed (not touching) in a pan of boiling water for fifteen minutes or so, but I’m far too rough a vegetable canner to go that far. I’m hoping it isn’t essential, as I’m looking forward to trying these. I’m also hoping they’ll be subtly flavoured as I imaging Italian ” sweet vinegar peppers” to be.
The daughters have both been here this last weekend, along with a mutual friend and they took the opportunity to tackle Helvellyn and three more fell tops while they were about it. These are remarkably well rounded young women, all in their thirties, blessed with an abundance of joy for life, a sense of humour and a love of both adventure and travel. It’s a joy to be in their company, but they’re concerned about what the future might hold and I understand why; as we talked over dinner politics came up and I got to thinking; this section of the article was going to be about the election of a new government in Sweden, driven mostly by younger voters and how it shows us that decent, freedom loving, law abiding people (the fabled “far right” to the MSM) will, if pushed too far, reject “Progressive Liberalism”, “Diversity” and “Multiculturalism” once it begins to really impact their existence in negative ways. Good luck to the Swedes and to any other nation state that has the balls to do it, Italy next, I hope, then maybe France, possibly even Canada. But what of our little overcrowded, once great island nation? The Queen is dead, Long live the King and, just like that, our Constitutional Monarchy carries on seamlessly, in great privilege and wealth, as it long has. Elizabeth occupied the throne for over seventy years and much change has happened in that time, some of it for the good, but much of it to the detriment of our nation and its indigenous citizens. Since her accession to the throne, Elizabeth has lived through fifteen Prime Ministers and seen off fourteen of them. Her first was Winston Churchill (who she wrote to on his retirement, saying “no successor will ever be able to hold the place of my first PM”). She lived just long enough to meet Liz Truss and formally ask her to form a government. She met every one of them regularly yet, so far as we know, nothing she ever may have said to a single one of them changed anything.
I’d be insane (quiet at the back) to try to list all those many things she may have tried to quietly influence (or not) but I wonder, did she ask Ted Heath (because, by all accounts she was both a very intelligent and perceptive woman) if he was sure the EEC wasn’t simply a cover for the eventual creation of an autocratic wannabee political empire, which would go on to attempt to subjugate the whole of continental Europe to its rule? Did she ever say to Margaret Thatcher; “Look, I understand you want to give Scargill a good shoeing, but have you thought about what will inevitably happen to all those mining communities and the ordinary, salt of the earth, working class people living in them”? I wonder if she remarked to the same woman; “Right To Buy is a fine idea in principle, but where does that leave those of my subjects who’ll always be in need of social housing”. Did she possibly say (or even think) “It’s all well and good selling off gas, oil, telecommunications and a raft of industries to small share holders, but you do realise, sooner rather than later, the shares will end up in the hands of greedy Corpocrats who won’t give a flying fart about anything, beyond profit”? Maybe she said to Tony Blair, during one of their weekly meetings; “This Iraq business, do you trust the information you’re getting from that sociopathic sidekick of yours, or are you just looking for an opportunity to grandstand on the Global stage (with one eye on the future), never mind how many people get maimed, killed or permanently displaced”? Did she possibly say, to this same PM; “Look, I know all about Peters’ various peccadilloes, including how relaxed he is around the filthy rich and how he’s never happier than when in the company of a Brazilian dancing boy, but have you given any thought to the logistics involved in providing schooling, housing, healthcare and other essential infrastructure, once his plan to *rub the rights noses in diversity* gets underway. After all, it’ll be my long suffering subjects, especially the ordinary folk, who’ll be most adversely affected by it”? Did she question David Cameron about his motives and any possible adverse consequences, when he opened the door (much to the delight of Keith Vaz) to an unlimited number of Albanian cannabis farmers and people traffickers? Did she maybe ask Theresa May, if, given the democratic choice of He Majesties subjects, was it right to try to appease the EU and pay it £billions, rather than just telling it to “whistle Dixie”. Did she challenge Boris Johnson on his insane commitment to “Net Zero” and the potentially devastating effect it would almost certainly have on the personal wealth and the lifestyles of her loyal subjects? Did she maybe say to him; “Look Bojo, I get you’ve bought hundreds of millions of doses of an experimental, unproven vaccine therapy and you don’t want to look any more of a chump than you already are by not getting them into peoples arms, but is it right that we, as a nation, should be threatening our citizens and my subjects with restriction of movement and the taking away of their livelihoods, simply for refusing to get *jabbed*?
Charles the Third is now our king and, once the dust settles and the dress uniforms have been cleaned and pressed, in anticipation of his Coronation, the regular meetings between the monarch and the PM will recommence. Charles has made his views on many subjects very clear; he’s a big fan of the WEF and he isn’t averse (maybe naively, who knows) to a bit of a Great Reset (to benefit the climate, doncha know) but for now, at least in public, he has to keep his own counsel. Maybe, in the privacy of an ornately decorated room in one of his several grand mansions and palaces, he’ll ask Ms Truss, during the first meeting, if channeling £millions into a corrupted country like Ukraine, to support a proxy NATO war, is really the best use of his subjects tax monies? Maybe, given they’re both associates of his, he’ll ask her how Klaus is getting on with his 2030 agenda and “what can he do to help”? Perhaps he’ll want to know how the new PM is going to make life better for those ordinary, hard working female subjects of his who worry about the encroachment into their private spaces of men who believe they can become women, or that pedophilia is in any way acceptable. Maybe he’ll ask her if Keir Starmer really does know what a woman is, or maybe they’ll just have a cup of tea, a bit of cake and make small talk for half an hour or so, because it’s all theatre and, if things don’t change, they’ll likely stay the same? Titular monarchy, with all its anachronisms, does nothing but perpetuate the system. Maybe Charles will say to Ms Truss “Now my dear mama has passed away do you think it’s time for us, as a nation, to start exploring the possibility of reducing the size of the monarchy along with all its associated trappings, with a view to it becoming nothing more than a handful of people with ceremonial titles, a big fat government stipend and a couple of nice estates each?
I won’t be holding my breath.
RIP Queen Elizabeth 11
© Colin Cross 2022