Mists of Time: 23rd April

There’s lots at the moment about Shakespeare, today being the 400th anniversary of his death.

But his was not the only important death on the 23rd April. (I’m not sure about ‘important’. Significant, maybe, or interesting. Are death-days important? Or just morbid? Anyway…)

From my medieval mindset, I tend to start with it being the death-day of two Aethelreds, the first being the elder brother and predecessor Alfred the Great in 871, and the second being Aethelraed the Unready in 1016. Of the two, this year is the greater anniversary for the second, since it’s the 1000th anniversary.

Aethelraed the Unready’s death led to the accession of his son Edmund Ironside. Not that Edmund lasted very long, splitting England with Knut of Denmark following the Battle of Assandun on 18th October 1016, and then dying himself at the end of November that year. Knut took Wessex and crowned himself King of England.

On 23rd April 1014, it was the day of the Battle of Clantarf in Ireland, when Brian Bóruma mac Cennétig (Brian Boru to most of us), High King of Ireland, led a force against an Irish-Norse alliance, and had a good’n’bloody fight (tens of thousands dead kind of thing), ostensibly victorious, although since he also died, along with his son and grandson, that’s a matter of opinion.

For the literary, and more modern, world, William Wordsworth snuffed it on this day in 1850, and Rupert Brooke, a WWI war poet, in 1915, of a sepsis complication following a mosquito bite.

And for the interested, 9 years ago, in 2007, Boris Yeltsin, First President of Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Empire, died.

But Shakespeare. Let’s return to Shakespeare and his literary mark on the world. The Guardian have a piece today suggesting that if he were alive today, he’d be a crime novelist. Admittedly this piece was written by a crime novelist (with a book out), but do you agree? Would he still be a poet and playwright, or would he be doing something else? Literary or otherwise…

Grasshopper Pie

Mark said he wanted a chocolate cake for his birthday, so I had a quick flick through my recipe books to make suggestions, and then left them lying around for him to find what he wanted.

He chose the Grasshopper Pie from one of my Hummingbird Bakery cook-books. It’s not a cake, and it’s only chocolatey because of the chocolate-biscuit base. And sprinkles on top if you want.

But it’s nice and easy to make, no baking involved, with each stage requiring time to set between times. And given all the other cakes and cake-like things he received, a welcome change!

Grasshopper Pie

Basically, you make a biscuit base like you would for a cheesecake, then melt some marshmallows with milk and stir in some whipped cream (with mint and green colouring), and then top with more whipped cream and optional chocolate flakes.

Biscuit base: 250g double chocolate cookies + 150g butter. Press into cake tin/pie dish and leave to cool for about an hour.

Marshmallow layer: 180g marshmallows (preferably white) + 180ml whole milk + 300ml double cream, whipped to soft peaks + 1tsp peppermint essence + 1tsp green food dye. Leave the marshmallow&milk mix to cool for 10-15 minutes before adding the cream, mint and green. Pour onto biscuit base and leave to set for a few hours.

Topping: 400ml double cream, whipped, + chocolate shavings/sprinkles (optional). Tip onto base and leave to set until ready.

After The Storm

I didn’t realise quite how much time writing my novel actually took. Didn’t feel like much time – it’s taken me over three years from first getting the idea and beginning to sort-of plot and begin writing to now (ten if you include the characters I requisitioned from a previous, incomplete world). I finished the latest draft this week. I’m hoping none of the readers I’ve sent it to will find anything horrendously inconsistent or fall into deep plot-holes. I’d rather not have to do a major rewrite. Again.

But having finished it, and sent it off to the readers, I find myself with free weekends. This weekend, anyway. I’m confident enough to start considering the next one: research and planning, but not just yet. Such a weird feeling – nothing to do. Well, obviously that’s not true – just nothing pressing, except make a Grasshopper Pie as requested by my husband for his birthday (recipe will come later).

Waking earlier than is really necessary on an almost completely free day, especially since I have no children, I, amazingly, found myself with sufficient energy to write a quite long To-Do list:


Okay, some of the tasks aren’t exactly chores – I like going to the library – but that’s more than I’ve done over an entire weekend for quite a while. And I’ve nearly crossed everything off. In one day. (I’m not looking for plaudits or anything, I hasten to add – I’m just quite pleased with how much I can get done now I’m not writing all day.)

I feel virtuous enough to at least ignore cleaning the bedroom. I’ll take the rubbish out as I go for a walk in the sunny evening…I feel quite virtuous.

Hope you’re having a lovely weekend too! 🙂

The Twisted Uterus

Of all the things which signal a return to ‘normalcy’ in Ambridge, you’d probably be hard-pressed to find something more suitable than a cow with a twisted uterus.

Other storylines will now be resumed, now that Helen has been remanded with her next court-appearance due in May and Great-Aunt Jill has fortuitously discovered that her god-daughter – hot-shot criminal barrister in Birmingham with a specialty in Domestic Abuse victims, don’t you know? – happens to be available, and willing to help out. Now if only someone knew a good child psychologist who could accidentally overhear some of what Henry’s been saying – !

Makes it easier to be stitching while listening to poor cows with twisted uteruses (uteri?) trying to give birth, and David giving up trying to help, instead calling in Alastair the vet.


It’s about time I had a new needle-case. They’re currently kept safe on a cut-off piece of aida.

Typing, Stitching, Listening

This week has not been kind to my creativity – either my writing, which is stalled on the last few thousand words of my current draft, or my stitching.

The reason is simple. For the first time in a long while, I’ve had a regular, 7 pm date with my radio. With Radio 4, to be exact. Those of you who know will know what I mean.

I’ve been hooked, for the first time since all that drama with Lilian and Matt and his money-laundering or embezzlement or whatever it was, on The Archers, with poor Helen and Rotten Rob. I do think she ought to ditch the Titchener name. Go back to being an Archer. She is allowed.

But what this means is that at 7.16 pm, to the fading notes of the twiddly theme music, I then hop onto Facebook, for the comments by Archers’ fans on the various Facebook groups. So very entertaining! And I don’t get much stitching done.

This isn’t to say I’ve done none – I take my typewriter to work with me for my lunch-break, since it has large sections of one-colour stitches, so I don’t have to carry lots of colours or think too much about counting and concentrating on a couple of stitches before changing threads.


April’s Project of the Month: Dala-Häst

I know, I know – I never finished March’s project, so what am I doing starting something else?

Well, I’m hoping something a bit more solid will be a bit easier, with the counting and so on. It’s also a smaller design.

POTM - April

I’m liking the idea of such a colourful book-cover. There’s also a blue one over the page. Now I just need to decide which one I’m going to stitch…