August. Gah. It's dark, windy, rainy and bloody freezing this weekend.
This Bank Holiday Weekend.
Yes, a long weekend, traditionally used for enjoying the last few parties, beach trips and barbecues of summer.
However, we lit the fire in the sitting room yesterday, it was so bloody miserable. A few weeks back I had a bit of a buying frenzy on Amazon, treating myself to some boxed sets of DVDs. I think I was subconsciously pining for the long Saturday afternoons of childhood, and bought the filmic equivalent of comfort food.
1) The complete boxed set of Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan films,
2) The complete set of Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes films,
3) A boxed set of Errol Flynn films, including The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex. That's a surprisingly long film, isn't it? Mr WithaY gave up after an hour and went to the pub; I stayed till the bitter end and then rather wished I hadn't. Not exactly a feel-good film, but the costumes were lovely. And Bette Davis was brilliant.
We've been watching the Sherlock Holmes films. Marvellous. I love Nigel Bruce as Dr Watson. He's a complete buffoon, blundering about with a look of painful incomprehension on his face, asking stupid, stupid questions about the most obvious things, whipping out his service revolver at the slightest pretext to blast bullets up and down the streets of London, then every now and again solving complex pictographic codes at the drop of a hat with no apparent difficulty. Superb.
Other news: Today we have been making cake. Not just any old cake though. Mr WithaY has made the Official Christmas Cake. It weighs about 8 pounds*, and smells wonderful. He plans to keep it in his study ("where it's close at hand") and feed it with brandy for the next four months.
Sounds like the sort of lifestyle I could enjoy myself, never mind the cake.
I took photos at all stages of the construction, so once I can get my phone to upload them, I will.
Mr WithaY, who is not a man given to wasting good food, was using up some of the dried fruit and so on that we cleared out from Father-in-Law WithaY's house. Among the scavenged groceries there were a couple of tins of black treacle. More of these later.
He mixed up the ingredients for the cake, cheerfully weighing and sifting and mixing over the course of the afternoon. It became apparent that even the biggest mixing bowl was too small for the mixture, so he went out to the garage, returning in triumph with the huge copper preserving pan. He scrubbed it out, and continued mixing the cake in that.
He is nothing if not resourceful.
Anyhoo, the cake was carefully spooned into the enormous brown paper, string and cake tin construction created earlier, and then decorated lovingly with glace cherries and blanched almonds. The almonds came from Mother-in-Law WithaY's tree in her garden**.
A mere six hours later, it was ready. It is currently sitting on the side in the kitchen, exuding glory.
My contribution was much less prestigious. I made a batch of cupcakes, half with pink, lemon flavour icing and sprinkles, half with brown, coffee flavour icing and walnuts. They were very nice, thanks for asking.
I also made scones, but the least said about them, the better. I ate one, but it wasn't particularly enjoyable.
Our mates who came round for tea (hence the cakes) took one away for their chickens. If I hear a "bwaaaaaaaark...ptooooie!" from their side of the village, I will know it was not appreciated.
*I know people who have had smaller babies.
**But she does live in the South of France.