Here is a little taster from my next book; Thomas has been given an old cookery book by his brother Marcus:

The cookery book which Marcus had given me was a small stout volume, Modern Cookery by Eliza Acton. It had a faded brown cover, with a few marks and stains on, no doubt from being used and it certainly looked well-used, which was rather amazing because whoever had used it might be my own family!

The front cover had a diamond pattern stamped into it, a geometric, Greek sort of design. Down the spine, as well as the title and author, were gilded designs, a brace of pigeons hanging upside down; a hanging goose, a duck and a hare on a bench,  a platter with a boar’s head, an apple firmly between its tusked jaws, a rib of beef, and some indeterminate fruit and vegetables and some leaves.

Beneath the boar’s head was a long slim thing which I thought might be salsify; there’d been some going cheap in the ‘exotic veg’ part of the green grocers, nobody in Easthope seemed to like salsify so we had it rather frequently last week… Get back on track, Thomas, the thin thing is probably not salsify, but a long-handled knife. At the bottom  was a lined basket of four or five fish, and then the price, 7/6.

I Google Eliza Acton; she was a poet and cook who was born in 1799. think she must be a contemporary of Mrs Beeton and I deviate and to look her up. Poor Isabella Beeton, born in 1836, died at the very early age of twenty-eight, having published her famous book in 1861… She learned her household management and cookery skills because she was the eldest of twenty children… heck! I know Helen Collins had a lot of children and step-children, but even so… wouldn’t you get muddled with all the names? And as for birthdays… but maybe they didn’t celebrate birthdays like we do…

Isabella Beeton… Isabella is one of the names I like, if we had a little girl, maybe she could be Isabella? Isabella Pemberton Radwinter? I think it’s beautiful, I wonder what Kylie would think? We talked about names, but really we were just saying names we liked, and giggling over names we didn’t like and then remembering names from people at school which were unusual or strange, or downright silly! There was a girl in my year called Blue Denim… yes, really…

Back to Eliza Acton; she was born in 1799, and there were only five children in the family. She never married and published her book in 1845; there is a preface to my volume written in 1855, and Eliza died, in 1859.


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