Thursday, December 31, 2015

Tea Time

Hi Dear Folk,

Thought you might enjoy this from Tea Time Magazine

Tea Time's Favourite Recipes from 2015

Plus a Victoria Sandwich sponge cake from Downton Abbey; my mum's go to cake.

Mum's recipe is simple weigh the three or four eggs, and measure out the castor sugar/super fine sugar, same weight as eggs and the self raising flour same weight as eggs and the butter same weight as eggs, plus the usual other ingredients.

My mum was speaking to an old friend who had been in service in the kitchen as a cooks assistant and mum was lamenting that her Victoria Sandwich never rose that much, "Oh the trick my dear is to weigh the eggs."  Of course makes total sense because egg size and weight can vary considerably and all ingredients must be room temperature.


P.S.  Yesterday they had thirty percent off at our local thrift and I picked up seven Chinese dinner size plates, with wonderful hand painted flowers and lots and lots of gold, I thought they would look so pretty on a tea table.  You know I can't resist pretty china.

Friends, Food and Fun

Last dinner before Jean returned back to England.


The Years by Virginia Woolf

The Years by Virginia Woolf

I read this from the first American edition 1937, published by Harcourt, Brace and Company, Inc., just gotta love my library, old shelving yet again.

You will never read VW for a thrilling plot, or a story that reveals itself over time, no her stories are the everyday people, or I should say everyday people of her social strata.  The more you read her books and the more you read about her life you can see how she captured so much of it in her stories.

The Years is a story about one family the Pargiter's and their life over the years.  It starts in 1880 and caries onto present day which was actually in the 1930 s., so fifty years and closely spans VW lifetime.

The Colonel has retired from the Indian Army and lives in a suburb of London with his invalid wife and children, also a mistress in the background.  The children grow up, Martin takes up an army career, Morris law at the bar, Edward a scholarly course to Oxford.  Delia marries and is the hostess par excellence, Milly marries into the landed squire gentry and horse world with children.  Rose is the militant suffragette and Eleanor will not marry, stay at home and look after father.

Our opening scene is set, everyone returning home to Abercorn Terrace for tea. Millie takes her mother's place and pours tea, the kettle never pours properly.  All return the Colonel from his mistress, Martin from school, Eleanor from being good to the poor, Morris from his law office.  Such scenes VW excels at.

"It's not boiling,"  said Milly Pargiter, looking at the tea kettle.  She was sitting at the round table in the front drawing room of the house in Abercorn Terrace.  "Not nearly boiling,"  she repeated.  The kettle was an old-fashioned brass kettle, chased with a design of roses that was almost obliterated.  A feeble little flame flickered up and down beneath the brass bowl.  Her Sister Delia, lying back in a chair beside her, watched it too, "Must a kettle boil?"  she asked idly after a moment, as if she expected no answer, and Milly did not answer.  They sat in silence watching the little flame on a tuft of yellow wick.  There were many plates and cups as if other people were coming; but at the moment they were alone.  the room was full of furniture.  Opposite them stood a Dutch cabinet with blue china on the shelves; the sun of the April evening made a bright stain here and there on the glass.  Over the fireplace the portrait of a red-haired young woman in white muslin holding a basket of flowers on her lap smiled down on them.  Milly took a hairpin from her head and began to fray the wick into separate strands so as to increase the size of the flame.

Walking in London.

It was March and the wind was blowing.  But it was so cruel.  So unbecoming.  Not merely did it bleach faces and raise red spots on noses;  it tweaked up skirts;  showed stout legs; made trousers reveal skeleton shins.  There was no roundness, no fruit in it.  rather it was like the curve of a scythe ...

In fact the whole paragraph which is one page long should be savoured.


She leant back in her chair.  How terrible old age was, she thought; shearing off all one's faculties, one by one, but leaving something alive in the center;  ...

Rose a cousin.
"All talk would be nonsense, I suppose, if it were written down," she said, stirring her coffee.

As Eleanor bent to give her the customary kiss, life once more took its familiar proportions.  So she had bent, night after night, over her father.  she was glad to stoop down;  it made her feel younger herself.  she knew the whole procedure by heart.  They, the middle-aged, deferred to the very old;  the very old were courteous to them; and then came the usual pause.  they had nothing to say to her; and she had nothing to say to them.  ...

... the liquid call of an owl going from tree to tree, looping them with silver.

The ending is a large family party, not unlike the ending of Mrs Dalloway.  Cousin Peggy -

Present Day
Thinking was torment; why not give up thinking, and drift and dream?  But the misery of the world, she thought, forces me to think.  Or was that a pose?  Was she not seeing herself in the becoming attitude of one who points to hes bleeding heart?  to whom the miseries of the world are misery, when in fact, she thought, I do not love my kind.  again she saw the ruby-splashed pavement, and faces mobbed at the door of a picture palace; apathetic, passive faces; the faces of people drugged with cheap pleasures; who had not even the courage to be themselves, but must dress up, imitate, pretend.  and here in this room, she thought, fixing her eyes on a couple, ...  But I will not think, she repeated;  she would force her mind to become a blank and lie back, and accept quietly, tolerantly, whatever came.

There the words lay, beautiful, yet meaningless, yet composed in a pattern - nox est perpetua una dormienda.

Delia's husband Patrick an old man now

"And it's just the same with the Irish,"  he went on.  North saw that he was bent on treading out the round of his familiar thoughts like an old broken-winded horse. ...

"North must go and talk to his friends," she said.  Like so many wives, she saw when her husband was becoming a bore ...

He overheard scraps of talk.  that's Oxford, that's Harrow, he continued, recognizing the tricks of speech that were caught at school and college.  

North thinking about his uncle Edward who became on Oxford Don.

Why's it all locked up, refrigerated?  Because be's a priest, a mystery monger, he thought, feeling his coldness;  this guardian of beautiful words.

The Years is not a thrilling story to be revealed, not a book that you can't put down, but rather it's beauty lies in the fact that you can put it down and pick it up and put it down over and over because you want to ponder on each bead on the string of the necklace; individual and perfect in themselves; strung together by a little piece of string; not silky just the life of a family, friends and generations. The Years a vehicle to express deeper thought.


Berry Plenty

Hi Dear Folk,

This is the colour that brightened our walk and brought the birds down.  Crab apples still on the trees and lots of berries.  We park the car near the cemetery and walk up the hill where you have a lovely view across the park.  There is a pond with reeds where the red wing black birds hang out in the summertime, this pond was made by the rangers especially for them.  Dotted around are nesting boxes for the Eastern Bluebirds, my very favourite bird in this area and a delight to see.  Plus I have been told that there are horned owls, wouldn't I like to see one.

One time when Rob was a little boy we saw a fox sitting in the middle of the train line, it was a spectacular sight and what I would have given for my camera.  You have the long line of the track, with trees either side, and Mr. Fox sitting right there looking at us.  Once in a while a goods train will come through, mostly always at night.  I here them tooting in the distance from my house, such a forlorn sound to me.

If one could just capture this blue.

Moss growing on an old stone bridge.  Isn't this beautiful, such vibrancy of colour.


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Our Monochromatic Winter

Hi Dear Folk,

As you can see I did a little spring cleaning on my Blog, changed some colours and de-cluttered. The new banner represents the almost monochromatic colours of our winter.

We did get to take our walk.

I'm sure I've said before but all this ground used to belong to the State Mental Hospital going back over 150 years, therefore in a suburban area it is an oasis.  Above was the old dairy area, where the patients used to work, then it became politically incorrect for patients to work, so now they just sit, smoke and drink coffee.  I'm not complaining though because we get to enjoy all this beautiful park area on our door step and if it wasn't for the hospital it would surely all have been built on.  And we have so much wildlife here.

Mr. B. with a cup of coffee, you can see how warm it is, just in short sleeves.  I love to see teasels.  At one time in NY state there was a whole teasel industry.  They collected and used them to catch and fluff up woolen blankets, thus making a fluffy soft woolen blanket, that is when NY state had their own woolen mills.

Old abandoned house, there are quite a few around the property where the hospital management used to live, even doctors.  Remember this hospital predates the Civil War.

This glade of grass in the trees was amazingly bright, as everywhere else was brown and grey.

Few more days off yet, enjoy your time with family and friends.


Mr. B's Apple Pies and Cake

Hi Dear Folk,

Mr. B. should have been a baker, his speciality being chocolate chip cookies, but he's a whizz with apples too.

Apple Custard

Apple Crumble Pie

Jewish Apple Cake

One write up I read about the Jewish Apple Cake said that it was very popular in Pennsylvania and especially Philadephia, which I didn't realize.  This is my absolutely go to cake.  

I call it my 4,3,2,1 recipe.  4 eggs, 3 cups flour, 2 cups sugar, 1 cup oil, 3 teaspoons baking powder, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 1/4 cup of orange juice, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, add everything into a bowl and mix.  That is what makes this cake so easy.  It is a dense batter.

For the two layers of apple, three sliced apples tossed in 5 teaspoons of sugar and 3 teaspoons cinnamon add more cinnamon or sugar to your taste. 

Pour one third of the mixture into an oiled and floured bundt pan, layer of apples, layer of batter, layer of apples, layer of batter.  If any apples are left over put on top.

Cook in a 350 f oven for 65 minutes.  Test.

This is a moist cake and never fails.

Apple Pie


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Pioneer Girl

Hi Dear Folk,

Pioneer Girl the annotated autobiography of Laura Ingalls Wilder.  As soon as I saw the cover I wanted to pick it up.  The size is different to a regular book, leaving room for all the annotated notes.

I have snuggled up with this book over my days off , with the joy of sharing in times past, the good, the bad and the gritty.  It is the first book that she wrote and her daughter Rose who was already a well established author of her time, sent this manuscript to her publisher.  It was meant to be for an adult audience, it was turned down.  It went the round of several publishers and all turned it down.

Pioneer Girl is written in the first person and although extremely interesting does not hold up to her later children's books.  In fact it was a publisher that suggested re working the material into fictional children s books written in the third person.

Both Laura and Rose scavenged from this original autobiography for many of their fictional works.

The introduction is a bit dry with all the details about Rose Wilder's success as an author and her publishers, but all this lays the ground work for how Laura Ingalls Wilder became the writer that we know.

However this book is worth reading with so much history of the times, and all the annotated information, of photographs, maps and biographies of people that touched her life, it has a true richness.

Just one little gem of  detail about the world around them from the book.  An old Indian said to her father, that every seventh winter was bad, but every third seventh winter was the very worst and that held true.

The Guardian Review

Do read this you will surely enjoy this book.


Monday, December 28, 2015

Amish Country Pennsylvania

Hi Dear Folk,

I do think the covered bridges are a must see in Pennsylvania, the construction inside is so interesting with a huge bowed beam on each side.

Working horses.

I think it is better to visit the Amish Country during the week, because it can be a little too busy with tourists on the weekend.  If you can get off some of the main routes you are out in the quieter countryside and can enjoy the farmland and stop by a wayside stall and pick up delicious home made pies, breads and pickles.  Lovely to look at the Amish Quilts and wander through an old general store, or fabric shop.  Or on a hot day, buy home made lemonade from the children's stand.


Sunday, December 27, 2015

Pennsylvania German, American, Philadelphia Museum of Art

Hi Dear Folk,

I thought you might like to see how Pennsylvanians lived three hundred years ago.  Some of the early settlers were German.  Hence such names as Germantown Pike which I travel every day, and Germantown.

The pottery you see here was all made within a fifty mile radius of where I live.  And this can all be found at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.


Friday, December 25, 2015

A Pennsylvania Winter

Hi Dear Folk,

A Pennsylvania Winter.  We haven't seen any snow yet.  This painting so represents a Pennsylvania winter of old.  The house and barns are absolutely typical of this area and you see places like this while out in the countryside.  The wood siding and double balconies at the front.

Wouldn't it be fun to ride on that sled wrapped in blankets, with your dog running along beside?  Come back to a roaring fire in the kitchen and sit down at the big old kitchen table and drink hot chocolate.

Just a quiet day today, and not any need to light the wood stove it just isn't cold enough yet.  We have not lit it once this winter, which feels most odd.  A walk this afternoon.

The Boy is home for almost a month so enjoying his company.

I thought I would share this painting, Breaking Home Ties, 1890, by Thomas Havenden.  Any parent who's child has flown the nest will relate to the poignancy here and knows the joy of their visits home.

From our visit to the Pennsylvania Museum of Arts.

Enjoy ones family.


Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Writer's Diary - Virginia Woolf - Edited by Leonard Woolf - Persephone Book

Virginia Woolf began to keep a regular diary in 1915, and continued to do so till a few days before her death.

Virginia Woolf was born in London in 1882, she was the daughter of  the critic Sir Leslie Stephen.  In 1912 she married Leonard Woolf, and together they founded the Hogarth Press.  Her first novel, The Voyage Out was published in 1915 after which she wrote twenty other books.  She died at Rodmell, Sussex, in 1941. Just a brief synopsis of her life.

The diaries were extracted by Leonard Woolf and the extracts he pulled basically relate to her writing.  I think anyone taking a writing course would benefit from reading A Writer's Diary.  It reveals her process for writing, how writing filled her life and took the place of many unfulfilled dreams and became her solace and sanctuary, what she gave her life to.  Writing a book became like giving birth and since she was denied children her books became her children.  Not only was she able to write a book but she knew all about editing, publishing, printing, book binding, packaging and shipping.  So right from the thought to the finished distributed product.

1920 Monday 25th October
Why is life so tragic like a strip of pavement over an abyss ... It's having no children, living away from friends, failing to write well, spending too much on food, growing old ...Unhappiness is everywhere; just beyond the door; or stupidity which is worse, still I don't pluck the nettle out of me.

Writing was their income so quite often there is reference to the need of the success of a book.  Also a recurring theme is growing old and how she felt about that.

1923 Wednesday 15th June
I went to Golders Green and sat with Mary Sheepshanks in her garden and beat up the water of talk, as I do so courageously, so that life mayn't be wasted.

I like her reference here to "beat up the water of talk"  it truly expresses how I'm sure we have all felt at different times.

Thursday 30th August
I should say a good deal about The Hours and my discovery; how I dig out beautiful caves behind my characters;  I think that gives exactly what I want; humanity, humour, depth.  The idea is that caves shall connect and each comes to daylight at the present moment.  Dinner!

In the evening after dinner Virginia would read or sit and embroider.  She always had a list of books that she was working on.

Monday 15th October
I've been feeling my way into it - up till last August anyhow.  It took me a year's groping to discover what I call my tunneling process, by which I tell the past by installments, as I have need of it.

I like the above passage as it reveals a small part of how she went about writing.

1924 Monday 26th May
London is enchanting.  I step out upon a tawny coloured magic carpet, it seems, and get carried into beauty without raising a finger.  the nights are amazing, with all the white porticos and broad silent avenues.  and people pop in and out, lightly, divertingly like rabbits; and I look down Southampton Row, wet as a seal's back or red and yellow with sunshine, and watch the omnibuses going and coming and hear the old crazy organs.  One of these days I will write about London, and how it takes up the private life and carries it on, without any effort.  Faces passing lift up my mind; prevent it from settling as does in the stillness at Rodmell.

This passage builds such a picture in ones mind of a 1924 spring in London, it makes me think about my grandma who lived in London at Golders Green and would talk about travelling on the omnibuses, this was her London.

Sunday 3rd August
Yes I'll run through the rain into the house and see if Clarissa is there.

Mrs Dalloway.

Saturday 1st November
If one could be friendly with women, what a pleasure - the relationship so secret and private compared with relations with men.  Why not write about it?  Truthfully?  As i think , the diary writing has greatly helped my style; loosened the ligatures.

Tuesday 18th November
What I was going to say was that I think writing must be formal.  The art must be respected.  this struck me reading some of my notes here, for if one lets the mind run loose it becomes egotistic; personal, which I detest.  At the same time the irregular fire must be there; and perhaps to loose it one must begin by being chaotic, but not appear in public like that, I am driving my way through the mad chapters of Mrs. D. My wonder is whether the book would have been better without them.  But this is an afterthought, consequent upon learning how to deal with her.  always I think at the end, I see how the whole ought to have been written.

Saturday 13th December 
I am now galloping over Mrs. Dalloway, re-typing it entirely from the start, which is more or less what I did with the V.O.;  a good method, I believe, as thus one works with a wet brush over the whole, and joins parts separately composed and gone dry.  Really and honestly I think it the most satisfactory om my novels (but have not read it cold-bloodedly yet).  The reviewers will say that it is disjointed because of the mad scenes not connecting with the Dalloway scenes.  And suppose there is some superficial glittery writing.  But is it "unreal"? Is it mere, accomplishment?  i think not.  and as I think I said before, it seems to leave me plunged deep in the richest strata of my mind.  I can write and write and write now:  the happiest feeling in the world.

When you read her biography it gives you insight as to why she may have added the mad scene, what in her life experience prompted her to do so, because in truth so much of what she wrote was what she had experienced, lived and on the page she could expunge it.

Wednesday 6th January
I revised Mrs. D., the chillest part of the whole business of writing, the most depressing - exacting.  The worst part is at the beginning (as usual) where the aeroplane has it all to itself for some pages and it wear thin.

While on vacation at La Ciotat
1925 Tuesday 8th April
The Hotel Cendrillon is a white house with red tiled floors, capable of housing perhaps 8 people.  and then the whole hotel atmosphere provided me with many ideas;  oh so cold, indifferent, superficially polite, and exhibiting such odd relationships; as if human nature were now reduced to a kind of code, which it has devised to meet these emergencies, where people who do not know each other meet and claim their rights as members of the same tribe.  As a matter of fact, we got into touch all round; but our depths were not invaded.  But L. and I were too too happy, as they say; if it were now to die etc.  Nobody shall say of me that I have not known perfect happiness, but few could put their finger on the moment, or say what made it.

This reminds me of Room With A View by E. M. Forster an interesting comment on happiness.  Took my mind back to last year sitting sipping a cocktail in Lahaina, Maui looking at the sea it was that kind of moment.

Thursday 14th May
The Truth is that writing is the profound pleasure and being read the superficial.

Thursday 18th June
No, Lytton does not like Mrs. Dalloway, and, what is odd, I like him all the better for saying so, and don't much mind.  What he says is that there is a discordancy between the ornament (extremely beautiful) and what happens (rather ordinary - or unimportant).   This is caused, he thinks, by some discrepancy in Clarissa herself:  he thinks she is disagreeable and limited, ...  I think there is some truth in it, for I remember the night at Rodmell when I decided to give it up, because I found Carissa in some way tinselly.

I thought exactly the same on reading Mrs. Dalloway, you always are on the edge thinking that some profound truth or happening will take place and she turns out to be limited and shallow.

1926 Saturday 20th March
But what is to become of all these diaries, I asked myself yesterday.  If I died, what would Leo make of them?  He would be disinclined to burn them;  He could not publish them.  Well, he should make up a book from them.  I think; and then burn the body.

The fact is Leonard Woolf kept everything, later publishing much of it.

A visit with Thomas Hardy and his wife
Sunday 25th July
"E. M. Forster takes a long time to produce anything - 7 years," he chuckled.  all this made a great impression of the ease with which he did things. "I daresay far from the Madding Crowd would have been a great deal better if I had written it differently," he said.  But as if it could not be helped and did not matter.

Thursday 23rd June
This diary shall batten on the leanness of my social life.  Never have i spent so quiet a London summer.  It is perfectly easy to slip out of the crush unobserved.  I have set up my standard as an invalid and no one bothers me.  No one asks me to do anything.  Vainly, I have the feeling that this is of my choice, not theirs; and there is a luxury in being quiet in the heart of chaos.  

1928 Friday 4th May
Also the "fame" is becoming vulgar and a nuisance.  It means nothing; yet takes one's time.  Americans perpetually.  Croly; Gaige; offers.

Wednesday 7th November
I think I may say that I am now among the well known writers.  I had tea with Lady Cunard - might have lunched or dined any day.  I found her in a little cap telephoning.  It was not her atmosphere - this of solitary talk.  She is too shrewd to expand and needs society to make her rash and random which is her point.  Ridiculous little parakeet faced woman; but not quite sufficiently ridiculous.  I kept waiting for superlatives; could not get the illusion to flap its wings.

And the egotism of men surprises and shocks me even now.  Is there a woman of my acquaintance who could sit in my armchair from 3 to 6:30 without the semblance of a suspicion that I may be busy, or tired, or bored; and so sitting could talk, grumbling and grudging, of her difficulties, worries; then eat chocolates, then read a book, and go at last, apparently self-complacent and wrapped in a kind of blubber of misty self-salutation?  Not the girls at Newnham or Girton.  They are far too spry; far too disciplined.  None of that self confidence is their lot.

Yes it's happened to all of us hasn't it?  If I sit at one more business luncheon and all they talk about is sports and American Football.

1933 Thursday 24th August
What a vast fertility of pleasure books hold for me!  I went in and found the table laden with books.  I looked in and sniffed them all.  I could not resist carrying this one off and broaching it.  I think I could happily live here and read forever.

1934 Monday 7th August
A rather wet Bank Holiday.  Tea with Keynes.  Maynard had had teeth out but was very fertile.  For instance:  Yes, I've been 3 weeks in America.  an impossible climate.  In fact it has collected all the faults of all the climates. this carries out my theory about climate.  Nobody could produce a great work in America.  One sweats all day and the dirt sticks to one's face.  The nights are as hot as the days.  Nobody sleeps. ..."So to German politics."  They're doing something very queer with their money.  I can't make out what.  It may be the Jews are taking away their capital.  Let me see, if 2,000 Jews were each to take away 2,000  - Anyhow, they can't pay their Lancashire bill.  Always the Germans have bought cotton from Egypt, had it spun in Lancashire; it's a small bill, only 1/2 million, but they can't pay.  Yet they're buying copper all the time.  What's it for?  Armaments no doubt.  

I found this comment about the weather in America so true and interesting comment on Germany, buying cotton from Lancashire and what was going on, remember 1934.

A visit to the Tower of London
1935 Wednesday 27th March
The sergeant major barked and swore. All in a hoarse bark:  the men stamped and wheeled like - machines;  then the officer also barked;  all precise, inhuman, showing off.  A degrading, stupefying sight.  But in keeping with the grey walls, the cobbles, the executioner's block.  People sitting on the river bank among old cannon.  Steps etc.  very romantic;  a dungeon like feeling.

Is it any wonder that on leaving these people have psychological problems degrading, stupefying, yes that does sum it up.

Tuesday 9th April
"And Virginia, you know I'm on the Committee here," Said Morgan.  "and we've been discussing whether to allow ladies" - It came over me that they were going to put me on: and I was then to refuse:  "Oh but they do," I said.  "There was Mrs. Green." .... The veil of the temple - which, whether university or cathedral, academic or ecclesiastical, I forget - was to be raised and as an exception she was to be allowed to enter in.  ...  No:  I said while very deeply appreciating the Hon. ... In short one must tell lies, and apply every emollient in our power to the swollen skin of our brothers' so terribly inflamed vanity.  Truth is only to be spoken by those women whose fathers were pork butchers and left them a share in the pig factory.

Thursday 9th May
Sitting in the sun outside the German Customs.  A car with the swastika on the back window has just passed through the barrier into Germany.  L. is in the customs.  I am nibbling at Aaron's rod.  Ought I go go in and see what is happening?  A fine dry windy morning.  The Dutch Customs took 10 seconds.  This has taken 10 minutes already.  The windows are barred.  Here they came out and the grim man laughed at Mitzi (their pet marmoset) But L. said that when a peasant came in and stood with his hat on, the man said this office is like a church and made him move it.  Heil Hitler said the little thin boy opening his bag, perhaps with an apple in it, at the barrier.  We become obsequious - delighted that is when the officer smiles at Mitzi - the first stoop in our back

Hitler kept a list of people who he would round up as soon as he invaded Britain and the Woolfs were on it.

1937 Sunday 4th April
Maynard thinks The Years my best book:  thinks one scene, E. and Crosby, beats Tchekov's Cherry Orchard ...

Wednesday 23rd June
It's ill writing after reading Love for Love - a masterpiece.  I never knew how good it is.  And what exhilaration there is in reading these masterpieces.  this superb hard English! ... But enough - I went shopping, whitebait hunting, to Selfridges yesterday and it grew roasting hot and I was in black - such astonishing chops and changes this summer - often one's caught in a storm, frozen or roasted.  As I reached 52, a long trail of  fugitives - like a caravan in a desert - came through the square:  Spaniards  flying from Bilbao, which has fallen.  I suppose.  Somehow brought tears to my eyes, though no one seemed surprised. ... flying - impelled by machine gun in Spanish fields to trudge through Tavistock Square ... clasping their enamel kettles.  A strange spectacle.

Must see if I can find a copy of this book.

1939 Thursday 29th June
What a dream life is to be sure - that he should be dead, and I reading him:  and trying to make out that we indented ourselves in the world; whereas I sometimes feel it's been an illusion - gone so fast;  lived so quickly; and nothing to show for it, save these little books.  But that makes me dig my feet in and squeeze the moment.

Here she is referring to the death of Roger Fry who she wrote a biography of.

Monday 7th August
Oh and I thought, as I was dressing, how interesting it would be to describe the approach of age, and the gradual coming of death.  As people describe love.  To note every symptom of failure;  but why failure?  To treat age as an experience that is different from the others; and to detect every one of the gradual stages toward death which is a tremendous experience and not as unconscious, at least in its approaches, as birth is.

1940 Thursday 30th May
Walking today (Nessa's birthday) by Kingfisher pool saw my first hospital train - laden, not funereal but weighty, as if not to shake bones:  something - what is the work I want - grieving and tender and heavy laden and private - bringing our wounded back carefully through the green fields at which I suppose some looked.

Saturday 22nd June
This, I thought yesterday, may be my last walk.  On the down above Baydean I found some green glass tubes.  The corn was glowing with poppies in it.  ... We pour to the edge of a precipice ...

Friday 26th July
But it's an incredibly lovely - yes lovely is the word - transient, changing, warm, capricious summer evening.

Saturday 31st August
Now we are in the war.  England is being attacked.  I got this feeling for the first time completely yesterday;  the feeling of pressure, danger, horror.  The feeling is that a battle is going on - a fierce battle.  May last four weeks.  Am I afraid?  Intermittently.  The worst of it is one's mind won't work with a spring next morning.  Of course this may be the beginning of invasion.  A sense of pressure.  Endless local stories.  No - it's no good trying to capture the feeling of England being in a battle.  I daresay if I writ fiction and Coleridge and not that infernal bomb article for U.S.A. I shall swim into quiet water.

The war weighed heavily on her mind.  Also they knew something of what was happening to Jews in Germany.  Leonard was Jewish and they had spoken of a suicide pact if the Germans were to invade.  I think this put the idea of suicide to the forefront of her mind.  Plus she had half heatedly attempted suicide before.  I also doubt if Leonard would have gone through with it.

Monday 16th September
Great air traffic all night.  Some loud explosions.

Tuesday 17th September
No invasion. ... We found a young soldier in the garden last night, coming back.  "Can't I speak to Mr. Woolf?"  I thought it meant billeting for certain.  No.  Could we lend a typewriter?  Officer on hill had gone and taken his.  So we produced my portable.  Then he said:  "Pardon sir.  Do you play chess?"  He plays chess with passion.  So we asked him to tea on Saturday to play.  He is with the anti-aircraft searchlight on the hill.  finds it dull.  Can't get a bath.  A straight good natured young man.  Professional soldier?  I think the son, say of an estate agent or small shopkeeper.  Not public school.  Not lower class.  But I shall investigate.  "Sorry to break into your private life"  he said.  Also that on Saturday he went to the pictures in Lewes.

Most countries have a class, social strata system, I remember it clearly and Virginia Woolf definitely fit into the upper class, public school, which for those of you not brought up in Britain actually means private school.  I find the above comment most interesting, everybody slotted into their defined cubby holes.

Sunday 29th September
A bomb dropped so close I cursed L. for slamming the window.

1941 Sunday 8th March
Just back from L.'s speech at Brighton.  Like a foreign town:  the first spring day.  Women sitting on seats.  A pretty hat in a teashop - how fashion revives the eye!  And the shell encrusted old women, rouged, decked, cadaverous at the teashop.  The waitress in checked cotton.  No:  I intend no introspection.  I mark Henry James' sentence: observe perpetually.  Observe the oncome of age.  Observe greed.  Observe my own despondency.  By that means it becomes serviceable.  Or so I hope.  I insist upon spending this time to the best advantage.  I will go down with my colors flying.  This I see verges on introspection;  but doesn't quite fall in.  Suppose I bought a ticket at the Museum; biked in daily and read history.  Suppose I selected one dominant figure in every age and wrote round and about.  Occupations is essential.  And now with some pleasure I find that it's seven; and must cook dinner.  Haddock and sausage meat.  I think it is true that one gains a certain hold on sausage and haddock by writing them down.

This is the last entry in A Writer's Diary.

I had started to read this book several years ago, but it was not the right time.  I found V.'s diaries to be very soul searching.  I think writing thoughts that one never totally gels in one's mind, but she did and wrote them.

Her last photo with a professional photographer, Gisele Freund.


My Made In China Rebellion

Hi Dear Folk,

I figure there will come a day when nothing on this planet of ours is not made in China, therefore my way to counteract this is to buy up items from of old not made in China, especially on the cookware and china front, that is a pun isn't it, well you know what I mean.

Now this piece may not have been one of my better moments, but you can't say it is not interesting.  It is made in Italy out of a blend of five volcanic rocks, or so it says.  One uses it to cook fish or meat on top of the stove.  It works the same as the earthenware covered dishes that you use in the oven, it needs to be soaked in water before using it.

I think it must have been a late sixties early seventies fad and is called a La Bisquera, because I have seen old adds for it from both Australia and the USA.

Your food cooks slowly and La Cotta is meant to draw out acids and fat.  So I gave it a go, after reading up online.  It did cook ones food very well.  It seems you need to leave a crack while doing so and someone suggested using a cork which I did.

My food was cooked very nicely, but many people spoke of this residual odor, and even though I soaked it all day, it still had this oder.  So as to whether I will cook anything in there again, yes I would if I could get rid of the odor any suggestions?  Maybe a soak in vinegar.  Oh well! I can always use them for flower pots.

Another item I ran across is this, made in France.

This is basically a French grilled sandwich maker, and the grilled sandwich of choice to cook in here is a Corque Monsieur Ham and Cheese.  You would need to adapt this following recipe to make them in the sandwich maker.  I think the shape is most interesting.

Croque Monsieur Ham and Cheese Sandwich Recipe

  • Yield: Makes 4 sandwiches. 


  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • A pinch each of salt, freshly ground pepper, nutmeg, or more to taste
  • 6 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated (about 1 1/2 cups grated)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (packed)
  • 8 slices of French or Italian loaf bread
  • 12 ounces ham, sliced
  • Dijon mustard


1 Preheat oven to 400°
2 Make the béchamel sauce. Melt butter in a small saucepan on medium/low heat until it just starts to bubble. Add the flour and cook, stirring until smooth, about 2 minutes. Slowly add the milk, whisking continuously, cooking until thick. Remove from heat. Add the salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in the Parmesan and 1/4 cup of the grated Gruyère. Set aside.
3 Lay out the bread slices on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven, a few minutes each side, until lightly toasted. For extra flavor you can spread some butter on the bread slices before you toast them if you want.
(Alternatively, you can assemble the sandwiches as follows in step four and grill them on a skillet, finishing them in the broiler with the bechamel sauce.)
4 Lightly brush half of the toasted slices with mustard. Add the ham slices and about 1 cup of the remaining Gruyère cheese. Top with the other toasted bread slices.
5 Spoon on the béchamel sauce to the tops of the sandwiches. Sprinkle with the remaining Gruyère cheese. Place on a broiling pan. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes, then turn on the broiler and broil for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, until the cheese topping is bubbly and lightly browned.
If you top this sandwich with a fried egg it becomes a Croque Madame.

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