Walter de la Mare – Another Ramble

February 14, 2012

A problem with London in winter is that the low sun leaves many streets unlit for much of the day. You get strange lozenged corridors of light, passing through the interstices of ¬†buildings, or sudden golden and blinding boulevards appearing for half an hour, then as suddenly losing their magic. Some London squares net quantities of the sun for longer, and the current Crossrail work, with its impromptu demolished areas of brick dust and rubble, has opened up some unusual angles of visibility and light in novel places. Nevertheless, on a day such as today, with the sky a glorious, ringing blue, and the sun’s clear light transmitted without impediment of warmth through the cold and crystal air, the only thing to be done is to get out of London and into the countryside.

I’ve always liked England’s winter landscape: black, green, damp and stark, even in its darkness strangely lucent. I thought I’d take some poetry with me and first of all grabbed Hardy, but he wouldn’t fit in my inner pocket, so I subb’d in Walter de la Mare, some of whose short stories I’d read at the beginning of last year and liked a lot. I’d flicked through his Collected Poems¬†before and enjoyed what I’d read, but as I had a train journey ahead of me I thought I’d go from the beginning and work my way through.

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Dear Person Who Found His or Her Way Here Using the Search Terms ‘Guicciardini’ and ‘Cheese’

October 7, 2009

I assume you were looking for a suitable cheese to have with a wine from the Guicciardini-Strozzi estate. If so, might I suggest a table pecorino? (NB: Not the hard, grating version, pecorino romano, which in its packaged supermarket form is disgusting.)

If, however, you were looking for mentions of cheese in the works of Lodovico Guicciardini, as I initially thought, then might I direct you to page 37 of the English translation (1593) of his Descrittione di […] Paese Bassi?


Thence come Cloathes and carsayes [kerseys] of all sorts, and of them great aboundance, both fine and course [sic], Frises, fine wooll, excellent Saffron, but no great quantitie, Tinne, Lead, Sheep skins, Cony skins, and divers sorts of fine furres, lether, Beere, Cheese and other victuals, and Malmesie (malmsey) brought out of Candia into England.

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Today I’m going to do something with pimentos, Ainsley

August 1, 2009

The details you find in journals and memoirs are often things that are lost to less digressive forms of recorded history.

Take this wartime meal described by Denton Welch in his journal entry for Monday, 7th June, 1943 –

Last Monday I went to supper with Noel Adeney. We had cold soup flavoured with claret, and fennel in long green shreds; then a sort of pilau of rice, onions fried, pimento excitingly scarlet like dogs’ tools, and grated cheese. The tiniest new potatoes and salad. Afterwards plums, and creamy mild tomato cocktail to drink.

Sounds delicious doesn’t it? Easy on the dogs’ tools tho.

A bit later, he goes into a pub with his friend Eric who has gin with half a pint of stock. Impressive, huh? Don’t see that very often. One to ask superior cocktail waiters for.

Wouldn’t like to see you all going hungry though, so here’s what today’s top chefs have to offer.