It’s feijoa time again, and thanks to the generosity of friends I have an abundance of these fruit.  My own tree has produced well this year, but not enough to allow for baking as well as eating.  A couple of years ago I found a great recipe for Feijoa and Ginger Loaf, which I’ve since shared with a number of friends.  Recently I bought some mini loaf tins (or rather silicone moulds), and today I thought I’d try making little loaves.  The recipe suggested it would make eight mini loaves, but my mixture easily filled twelve, and they are superb.

Easier to manage than a large loaf which can be inclined to fall apart and require a cake fork.  It’s possible to freeze and store the mixture for this loaf, but our small freezer doesn’t really have room to do this.  Plus I like to eat things when they’re in season, rather than having everything available all year round.  If Myrtle Rust creeps south, feijoas may become endangered, so we may as well enjoy them while we can.

“Let’s relish our feijoa feast.
Hope they escape the Myrtle beast.”


At the Book Fridge I met a man unloading cartons of books.  He was emptying a library, and had the complete works of Nevil Shute, all hard cover with a ribbon marker.  I saw a copy of “A Town Like Alice”, took that, then asked him if he had “On the Beach”, which he duly produced.

It’s a long time since I’ve been so engrossed in a book by a male author.  This may be partly due to memories of reading the book back in the 1960s.  Possibly I enjoyed his books as a teenager because he was Australian.  At that time there were few authors writing about this side of the world (I hadn’t yet learned of Jane Mander).  This week I devoured “On the Beach” within a few hours.  The story, set in 1963, deals with the aftermath of a nuclear war.  The northern hemisphere has been devastated, and radiation is inevitably creeping south.  The action, based around Melbourne, shows how different characters deal with their impending death.  Although some of the language is dated, e.g. women referred to as girls, the theme is highly topical, especially in light of recent actions by North Korea.  You know there is no chance anyone will survive, yet the tone of the book is not morbid, and the story is compelling.

There’s no publication date in this copy, which has original illustrations, but the first publication was in 1957.  As I read I had a strong memory of seeing the black and white 1959 film, especially the radio transmitter in Seattle.   This is a book which has aged well, and was a pleasure to meet again. I think I’ll find a place for it on my bookshelf rather than take it back to the fridge.  Now I’m wondering whether I could fit a nuclear holocaust into my short story exercise.

“No matter how well we’re resourced
we’d not escape a holocaust.”

Re-writing Ruth

I’m not a fiction writer, and short stories have never attracted me.  I read one occasionally in a magazine, but rarely choose a whole book of them.  My feeling is that they tend to engage my head, whereas a novel is more likely to engage my heart as well.  Having said that I enjoy articles about real people.  I was moved by one in last weekend’s ‘Press’ about procedures around stillbirth in the 1970s.  Not sure whether that qualifies as a short story?

My creative writing has lately been lacking in inspiration, and I enrolled in a writing course for encouragement and stimulation.  This week we were given the first two pages of a short story, and asked to write an ending as our homework.  It’s a ‘coming of age’ story and the instruction was to draw on our own experiences, and use them in our writing.  I have experiences I can recall, but I find it hard to rewrite them in the first person to fit with the rest of the story.  Usually when I write about my experiences, e.g. in this blog, I am completely truthful.  The blending of imagination and authenticity offends my values of openness and honesty.  I would find it easier to write this exercise in the third person.  It seems to be writing imaginatively in the first person that’s difficult.  It seems I have a lot to learn about creative writing.

“If I’m to write words about me
then I need authenticity.”

Peanut Butter Plant

We were intrigued by this clerodendrum in the Botanic Gardens, with its bright red flowers and blue berries.

It’s native to West Africa, sometimes known as harlequin or bagflower, and is a favourite food for some butterflies.  Apparently the leaves smell like peanut butter when crushed.  Of course we wouldn’t dream of crushing leaves in the Botanic Garden, but if we’d known we might have been tempted.

“It would be hard to hurry past
this tree with great red/blue contrast.”

Peek-a-boo Petals

I’ve encouraged my Naked Ladies/Amaryllis to peep through the fence so passers-by can enjoy their beauty.

There are some inside the fence as well, which we can see from our bedroom window.

“There’s absolutely nothing shady
about this bright pink snazzy lady.”

“Their Finest”

A friend recommended this film as being funny and full of clever one-liners.  I found it excellent, more serious than I expected, but there were some very clever lines.  With a wonderful woman hero (Gemma Arterton) and Bill Nighy – what’s not to like?

Perhaps I found it serious because the air raid scenes reminded me strongly of my mother-in-law, who endured the London blitz while her husband was serving overseas.  Night after night she went down into the shelter carrying a small baby whose father never saw her until she was three years old.

The theme of the propaganda film within the film reminded me of a poem I learned years ago (maybe at Primary School?), ‘Dunkirk 1940’.  I’ve no idea who the poet was.  Do you know?

“The little ships, the little ships, rushed out across the sea
to save the luckless armies from death and slavery
from Tyne and Thames and Tamar, the Severn and the Clyde
the little ships, the little ships, went out in all their pride
and home they brought their warriors, weary and ragged and worn
back to the hills and the shires, and the towns where they were born
three hundred thousand warriors, from hell to home they came
in the little ships, the little ships, of everlasting fame.”

Travelling Teapot

Wonderful to see this vehicle parked in Elgin Street yesterday.

It’s a unique mobility scooter ridden by Katrina Douglas who owns Grymmstone and Treacle Emporium, a steampunk design shop.  If I ever need a mobility scooter I would love to have such a creative one wouldn’t you?

“A pleasure to get a snapshot
of this delightful gold teapot.”