Posts Tagged ‘Reading’

Nathaniel’s Nutmeg

Our daughter and her partner came to visit last Friday. Always great to see them … but, knowing my love of reading there was an unexpected bonus. Books are the default Christmas gift where I am concerned, both in giving (for me something special about choosing a book for someone – and passing it over: especially if they have the same taste as me, because then it’ll usually boomerang its way back for me to read at a later date).

And she had been given a book, started reading it, but with little or no time to carry on, thought:

“ … bet dad’d enjoy this one.”

Well, suffice it to say I’m on page 53 already and it is extremely fascinating.

Written by Giles Milton it is the background to and story behind the Spice Race: European voyages of discovery to find the source of spices and overthrow the Venetian monopoly in nutmeg, sago and mace back in the pre-Spanish Armada days when the naval powers were Spain and Portugal. It is called Nathaniel’s Nutmeg.

Image result for spanish armada

It is necessarily global in nature, but speaks of politics, commerce, invention, discovery, human nature, the stubborn bravery of some of our ancestors and the rank stupidity of others.

Image result for nathaniel's nutmeg

The eponymous Nathan has yet to feature; there is background to be consumed about earlier explorers, the Fabled “North East passage” to reach the Indian Ocean via the north of present day Russia. A voyage not actually undertaken until nuclear submarines were venturing below polar ice.

But it is partly about food … food fashion; methods of keeping food preserved.

Oh and quackery: the medicinal claims being made for the spices. Medieval snake oil salesmen.

But it is extremely well written: descriptive, well researched, full of interesting anecdotes and description and I am, indeed, fascinated.

I have fond memories of my grandmother’s tasty sago puddings which, though delicious and hearty always reminded me of frogspawn, and the way she sprinkled grated nutmeg on her cooked-in-the-range rice puddings; adding a definite special taste.

Image result for sago pudding

Like bananas in my recent post ( ) I have no inclination to grow these spices, but finding out about their history during the cannot-get-to-he-plot weeks is filling the time.

Out and about I notice snowdrops, early daffodils, windflowers, and crocus blooms: some hedges are dusted with white blossom (my guess is cherry, but it might be blackthorn) and the hawthorn buds are beginning to break open.

We had tremendously heavy rain and fierce winds yesterday but it must not have been a storm because it did not have a name: I find this current alphabetical naming of storms to be irritating and, frankly, worthless as an exercise.

The Countryfile week-ahead forecast told me, twenty minutes ago that we will meet Storm Imogen during the night.

Meanwhile I will tuck myself up, with a lager and set about Nathaniel’s Nutmeg. Doubtless my daughter will have finished her other books-on-the-go and chores … and be looking to get it back soon.


Politics ?

“…quite possible these days for a small farmer on the hypothetical outskirts of all that could be called Ankh-Morpork to lean over his own hedge and chat with a Quirmian farmer who was most definitely in Quirm at the time, without in any way considering that this was a political matter. the conversation would generally be about the weather, the abundance or otherwise of water and the uselessness of the government, never mind which kind, and then, happily they would shake hands, or give a little nod and one would go home to drink a pint of home-made beer after such a busy day, while the other would do likewise with a decent home-made wine.

Occasionally, the son of one farmer would go to the hedge and see the daughter of the other one, and vice versa and, that was why, in a few – but very interesting – places along the boundary, there were people who spoke in both tongues. This sort of thing is something that governments really hate, which is a very good thing.”

Something rather cheeky inside me (can you imagine that ?) had me share this short quote from a book I had for Christmas. Written in characteristic style by Terry Pratchett*, Raising Steam is both humorous and serious – at the same damned time. It is possible to recognise trends, people, even countries and current issues which engage us  all throughout the book. Or to treat it as a story set on a separate world, far, far away. Hence it appears in the “Borrowed section of the blog. It is possible to enjoy the quote above and stop reading now, because what follows, for the first time (!) is a little bit of context.

Continue reading


Garden Blog of the Year 2016

Allotment Life

Welcome to my world: digging, harvesting and other stuff

How to Provide

for your family

Crockern Farm

The evolution of an old farmhouse, an American woman, an Englishman and their dog.

Green lights ahead

If you could go anywhere you wanted, where would you be headed right now?


boots of salt and plow blades


blowing through the cobwebs of my mind

Milenanik3's Blog

Just another weblog

Karina Pinella

Writing the Wrong, Right, and Ridiculous

tea & paper

... it's all about feelings ...


Life after the Care Farm

The Cynical Gardener

The most Dangerous plant to sleep under is the water lilly


Local History for Great Wyrley and Surrounding Areas

The Renegade Press

Tales from the mouth of a wolf

lone sea-breaker

introspection & reflection, poetry & prose

The English Professor at Large

Posts about old Hollywood, current concerns