There is a house further along the road from us that has storybook house written all over it. Not fairy tale, more Enid Blyton or Barbara Pym - no, not Pym, her houses are too clerical - more Barbara Wesley. I shall retain my belief that its residents go for picnics and take hard-boiled eggs and cold chicken to be laid out on a red checked tablecloth in the meadow by the river. It's not my 'this is the house I have always yearned after,' but pretty nevertheless.
I went to the library with Husband recently. As I already had a stack of to-read books I went just because ... but ended up bringing three books home with me, including the Virago Book of Food (The Joy of Eating) a collection of essays and snippets all about food. Obviously. There's a description of a picnic supper prepared by Anne (of the Famous Five) in which she even provides a small bowl of salt for dipping the hard-boiled eggs. Our picnics when I was young - always to the beach - always included hard-boiled eggs. And cheese and tomato and sand sandwiches. But no tablecloth.
I am in a food mood as my nose is being assaulted by the smell of raspberry and blackberry jam being lovingly prepared by Husband. Inspired by his first attempt (lovely taste but slightly over-sticky texture) and the abundance of ripe raspberries in the garden he had us gathering blackberries from the tip this morning. I was working on the principle that the very fat juicy ones would get too squished in the bag so I needed to eat those straightaway. Husband is made of stronger stuff he claimed but, surprisingly, our bags weighed roughly the same.
I've also spent the afternoon baking: rhubarb cake for Zac's and chocolate cake for Hev's birthday. It looks better in this photo than in real life as I've angled it to avoid showing its precarious tilt. The messy decoration on the top is the result of me dropping onto the ganache the white chocolate I was grating. Still I'm sure it will taste fine.
My favourite snippet from the book though is this from Heartburn by Nora Ephron, from a section entitled Potatoes and Love: Some Reflections:
In the end, I always want potatoes. Mashed potatoes. Nothing like mashed potatoes when you're feeling blue. Nothing like getting into bed with a bowl of hot mashed potatoes already loaded with butter, and methodically adding a thin slice of cold butter to every forkful.
(She goes on to say the problem is that mashed potatoes require lots of work.)
... most people do not have nearly enough mashed potatoes in their lives, and when they do, it's almost always at the wrong time.