Tilly and I walked a different path today and found ourselves alongside the East Coast train line. I had a Railway Children moment when the express train from London belted past at a hundred miles an hour. I was tempted to wave to the passengers heading for Edinburgh. The train also brought to mind that wonderful poem by Robert Louis Stevenson 'From a Railway Carriage'
'Faster than fairies, faster than witches
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches
And charging along like troops in a battle
All through the meadows the horses and cattle
All of the sights of the hill and the plain
Fly as thick as driving rain
And ever again, in the wink of an eye
Painted stations whistle by.'
Here's the second verse written out in my mother's childish hand. It was copied into her elocution book some time in the mid 1920s.
I have always been able to visualise the child gathering brambles, probably because that was me long ago and far away!
I found another poem in my mother's exercise book and I couldn't possibly leave the first few lines out of this post!
I looked up the meaning of 'pottle' and it was a small conical punnet and the word is from old French, potel, 'little pot'. So with a great big modern day punnet of the choicest wild blackberries and a few Bramley apples, I have made a blackberry and apple crumble. I have just had some for pudding this evening and it was yummy. Here is the basic recipe I always use for crumbles. If you wish you can add extra ingredients such as cinnamon, ginger or porridge oats, to complement the kind of crumble you are making. I have also made a gluten free version by substituting the flour for ground almonds. It gives a rather different type of topping but also very delicious.
6oz plain flour
4 oz caster sugar (or light soft brown sugar)
Rub the butter into the flour until it's like breadcrumbs, then add the sugar. Dribble a couple of tablespoons of cold water into the mix and stir it through just enough to make a few clumpy bits in the crumble mixture (Nigel Slater tip). Cook the crumble for 20 minutes at 200 degrees C and then turn the oven down to 180 for about another 30 minutes or until the crumble is golden brown and scrumptious looking.
You can't beat a proper pudding.