Wednesday 24 November 2010

Ackworth School, Kathleen Binns' Mother and a Tray of Lemons from Chichester Market

My usual habit is to take a midweek away-day and work through weekends. This week I popped down to Chichester for the weekly market and a stroll along the waterside at Emsworth. It was one perfect day, blue sky, nice nip in the air, trees still golden, pearly tide in over the mud flats in the harbour at Emsworth and a chain of white swans coming in to land. And lemons in abundance on Chichester market. These days, I don't know if it is the £-€ exchange rate, but exchange rate is 3 lemons for £1! So, seeing trays of 32 lemons for £2 on the market, I swiftly bought. This evening I have been zesting and juicing them (after warming them in the microwave first), decanting a mix of juice and zest into muffin tins lined with freezer film, and then freezing them for later additions to mulled drinks, soups, sauces, and maybe some honey and a little whisky as a winter pick-me-up (too much and it is a tumble-me-over). The kitchen and my hands tonight are scented citron. My mother always used to say, You are never short of what you have already got. I returned home to find a new book I had ordered waiting for me: A Family Affair - by Kathleen Binns who is the younger child in the photo above. Born in 1900 into the same neighbourhood as me, I read that her mother used to say exactly the same to her. Kathleen wrote the book her book when she was 86 so that the details she remembered as a child would not be forgotten. Nursing her mother before the old lady died, Kathleen asked her what had been her happiest moment - to which her mother replied, 'When you and your sister went to boarding school.' And that boarding school was Ackworth! Her books ends with the following lines about Ackworth: This was to be my second home for six happy years. And although it made me cry, I knew in my heart of hearts it was not going to be so much a change of life but a larger family I was joining at this Quaker school. I belonged there. It is a lovely little book and Amazon have some used copies still - click here to see.

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