Comfort in history.

St Peter’s Church at Titchfield is truly ancient (originally built in 680 AD and the oldest church in Hampshire) when the village was an important seafaring centre. Last weekend, supporters of the precious building held their annual jazz event at the comparatively modern medieval barn  just up the road (built with timbers dated 1409!). Sitting in the garden, listening to a wailing clarinet, thumping double bass and strumming banjo, we were in a setting familiar to the English troops gathering for the Battle of Agincourt! Their boots pounded the same ground as us. In those days, the barn was a vital victualling station for the soldiers and now, it feeds our souls with music and theatre.

It may seem strange to have been enjoying a musical gathering so soon after the death of Her Majesty the Queen. But the minute’s silence allowed us to remember this green and pleasant land, steeped in the history of the nation and imagine her own pleasure in the simple joys of communal life in the country she had nurtured for so many decades.

I too remember the planning for “London Bridge” from my time in the Royal Navy. It included the Service’s responsibilities following the death of the Queen, regularly reviewed and updated to reflect changing times and situations. I bet they are polishing those gun carriages as you read this!
It was also a pleasure on Sunday to catch up with near neighbours John and Judy. He’d been my original inspiration for joining the Friends of St Peter’s. Over a decade ago, I’d been recruiting him for the Catisfield Memorial Hall trustees: the quid pro quo was my joining the Friends. It’s the mutual support that cements our communities together.

The main task of the weekend was Christmas mincemeat. The dried fruit had been soaking in brandy for weeks and jars upon jars are stocked for seasonal pies, spicing up crumbles and baked apples for the next year.

If you too want to get ahead for Christmas, there’s a free downloadable recipe booklet with this and other straightforward recipes. (Fruit for Christmas cakes and puddings is already in soak!)

Talking of summer harvests: just made nearly 10kg (over 21lb) apple puree and still have barely touched the fruit on the trees!

Monday was more of a disappointment with Open Sight’s last-minute cancellation of the scheduled cooking demo due to the mourning period. Undaunted and with ingredients ready weighed/raspberries needing eating, I dashed off the excellent gluten-free frangipane puddings that, once cooled from the oven, provide perfect hollos for the raspberry ice-cream.

I’ll be talking about more food, the prizewinning international cooking tour, kitchen tips and equipment at 14:15 on Wednesday 28 September at St Mary’s Stadium, Southampton. The free Open Sight Eye Contact exhibition is open 10:00-16:00 with free parking at the stadium or book free transit from the station.

Pre-register for the event at:

© 2024 - Penny Melville-Brown
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