Thursday, June 23, 2011

Out and About.

Readers of my blog and Facebook Page cannot failed to have noticed that I'm out and about on book tour at the moment.  Actually I have quite a few talks lined up all the way to November dotted here and there, but at the moment I've got several lined up close together.  Last week was an event in Derby called Eat Your Words, where I gave readings in return for my supper at a restaurant The Wonky Table in the city centre. (I forgot my camera).
Monday I gave a talk at Bookmark in Spalding as part of Indie Bound - a week focusing on independant booksellers.   It's a lovely bookshop with a great coffee shop attached and also sells gifts and cards.   This time I remembered my camera but forgot to take photos - sigh.
Yesterday, also for the Indie Bound celebration, I was at the the Castle Bookshop in the beautiful Shropshire market town of Ludlow.  I love this part of the country and if I didn't have roots and family commitments where I am now, I'd seriously consider moving to Shropshire.  Shadows and Strongholds is partly set there and is about some of the medieval lords who once held it.
My talk was held not in the bookshop, but in the owner's fabulous Georgian and late Medieval house just round the corner and opposite the castle wall.  The talk had been planned for the garden, but because of earlier unsettled weather, we held it in the sitting room instead, with me talking by the French doors into the garden.  Delicious sandwiches, tea, biscuits and cakes were provided and we all had a wonderful late afternoon.  The owner's black cat wandered in at one stage to twine around the audience and me, before going into the garden, much to the noisy alarm of a mother blackbird.  Kitty had to be removed elsewhere! 
This time - I remembered my camera, and took a few photos - see below. Click to enlarge.
Details of further dates on my tour are on the right hand sidebar.
                                                             To Ludlow and back  

Heading down the motorway
Jack and Pip en route in the footwell
Country roads
Black and white timbered houses
Stopping at traffic lights

On guard
Watching the world go by

More country roads
Are we nearly there yet?
Entering Ludlow under a medieval archway

The Castle Bookshop

It's all going on behind the red door!
Chairs for the audience!
Talking to readers
Another view of the readers.

The garden

The house where I gave the talk
The House next door to the talk house
Tall house on the way to the car park

View of the museum.  They used some of the upper rooms to film Moll Flanders

Ludlow Castle doorway

Exterior wall of Ludlow Castle

Cannon outside the castle
Going for a walk before setting off home
Ludlow walls again

More timbered houses
Going round the castle walls

Our old dog Taz still loves climbing on castle walls

Looking down a street off the square
half timbred buildings

Farewell to Ludlow, heading down to the Medieval arch again
Home James!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Leche Lumbard

Leche Lumbard, a pottle and a recently published novel!
I'm off Re-enacting with the Conroi de Vey at a local show.  We're just having a picnic lunch, but as my contribution I'm taking along some Leche Lumbard.  Leche what?  Leche Lumbard. It's one of those generic mediaeval recipes that has many versions and if you Google it, you will find all sorts of variations. I'm writing this late at night while waiting for some bread to finish cooking, so I won't go into the full provenance details here, but I'll post them another time. For the moment I just thought I'd give you a basic simplified version of the dish that can be made from easily obtained store cupboard ingredients. it's a sort of sticky date spread.  To make a quantity of Leche Lumbard you do this.

Take a packet of dates - the sort you can buy in bags in Julian Graves.
Put them in a saucepan and cover with some white wine - doesn't have to be expensive and better slightly sweet than dry.  Add a heaped teaspoon of powdered ginger, two heaped teaspoons of mixed spice, a couple of tablespoons of honey and several good grinds of black pepper. Cook over a moderate heat stirring frequently to make sure it doesn't burn on the bottom, until you have a thick brown mush.  Now add breadcrumbs - any sort, but preferably from a slightly stale loaf until your mixture stiffens up. The amount of breadcrumbs is up to you but the texture should be pretty much like stuffing. Dollop is out of the pan into a container and arrange as you choose. If you just leave it in a pile it'll properly look like something out of a stable, so feel free to style it as you choose. You can put some almonds down the middle and drizzle over a bit more wine.  and there you have it. Serve as you want. It goes well with pancakes, with bread, (how we shall be eating it tomorrow) and also makes quite a good tart filling if put in a baked pastry shell.
Good stuff!