Tag Archives: Lewis Carroll

Today I Made Soup

 “Beautiful soup! Who cares for fish, game or any other dish? Who would not give all else for two pennyworth of beautiful soup?”
   Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Those of you who know me or have read some of my earlier blogs will not be surprised by the heading of this one.  But today as I made soup it took me on another trip down memory lane.

Minestrone Soup

Picture from Two Peas & Their Pod

I got the recipe from Two Peas & Their Pod.  And once I have tried it I shall report on whether it tastes as good as it smells.  It certainly looks like the minestrone soup of my memory.

It was 1956 and I had recently left school to work in the American Express Company’s Freight Department as a secretary.  It was only some 11 years after the end of the Second World War and rationing had dragged on for many of those years.  As part of our salary (which we called wages in those far-off days), we were given Luncheon Vouchers.

Luncheon Vouchers sign

Image displayed in cafes and restaurants

Luncheon Vouchers were introduced in 1954 and were used to ensure that workers got a good meal in the middle of the day without companies having to provide their own canteens.  They were readily accepted in cafes and food bars, coffee shops and sandwich bars.  The image above was displayed so that you could easily identify where to use these vouchers.

It later transpired that LVs were being used for many other things.  The famous case of Cynthia Payne who was charged with keeping a brothel brought this to light.  “Payne first came to national attention in 1978 when police raided her home and found a sex party was in progress. Elderly men paid in Luncheon Vouchers to dress up in lingerie and be spanked by young women.”

There were many shops and establishments that didn’t sell food displaying the voucher sign.

Wardour Street, Soho

Image via WikiTravel

Well back to my memories.  The Haymarket is a short stroll to Soho.  At the time there was a number of small Italian cafes in the area and this is where we used our Luncheon Vouchers for lunch several times a week.  We were introduced to different soups including Minestrone with Parmesan cheese on top and pasta in its different forms.  All of these were very strange to our London tastes at the time.

So most days saw us having cappuccino coffee – a true luxury as coffee had been rationed during the war years – after our soup.  My parents weren’t particularly happy about my going to Soho with its reputation for prostitutes on every corner and of course, the Windmill Theatre, most (in)famous for its nude tableaux.  Very daring for the time. Did you see Dame Judi Dench in the movie “Mrs Henderson Presents” that was made about the Windmill?

And for me, Minestrone soup always takes me back to a little cafe in Wardour Street where young women used to meet and think we were so sophisticated.  Remember 18 year-olds at that time were very innocent.  Not nearly as worldly-wise as those of today.  With my sisters, I lived at home and we were quite tightly controlled by our parents as far as what was acceptable and what was not.  And what we were allowed to do.  How different it is today.

I understand that many companies still use Luncheon Vouchers for their staff.  Here in New Zealand if this were the case the company would have to pay Fringe Benefit Tax and that of course, is another story.

“Do you have a kinder, more adaptable friend in the food world than soup? Who soothes you when you are ill? Who refuses to leave you when you are impoverished and stretches its resources to give a hearty sustenance and cheer? Who warms you in the winter and cools you in the summer? Yet who also is capable of doing honor to your richest table and impressing your most demanding guests? Soup does its loyal best, no matter what undignified conditions are imposed upon it. You don’t catch steak hanging around when you’re poor and sick, do you?”
Judith Martin (Miss Manners)









Notes –
1. WordPress was playing up today.  I wrote this blog and then it disappeared into the ether never to be seen again.  So this is the second attempt. and
2.  I have tried the soup and it is delicious.  More memories to follow.



Here Be Dragons

For some reason yesterday’s post  didn’t publish so it has now been published today.  And you are getting a second one today so that I can fulfill my commitment to myself to post a blog a day

“When you are describing,
A shape, or sound, or tint;
Don’t state the matter plainly,
But put it in a hint;
And learn to look at all things,
With a sort of mental squint.”
~Lewis Carroll

Let there be dragons or anything else your mind or imagination can conjure up. We do have total and absolute control over our imagination.  Others can make suggestions as in when reading a book and imagining the setting but only we can use our imagination as we see fit.

Those of you very clever bloggers who write fiction, use your imagination.  My blogging friend Carl uses his imagination and produces very clever cartoons with apt comments accompanying them.  Val Erde uses art, poetry and prose to show us her imaginings.  Other bloggers use photography to enhance what is in their imagination and some of us just write.

Taking the dragon as my symbol for the imagination I see that according to Wikipedia ” A dragon is a legendary creature, typically with serpentine or otherwise reptilian traits, that feature in the myths of many cultures.”  That being so, we are free to imagine the dragon in any form we please.

Will it be

Dragon statue

The Ljubljana “Dragon of Slovenia” via Wikipedia

or perhaps a fiery dragon

Fiery dragon

Google image

or even the Komodo dragon which isn’t imaginary but is  a type of monitor lizard.

Komod dragon

via Wikipedia

Looking at that photo one can understand how people thought this was a dragon.  Look at the forked tongue.  That tongue flicking in and out could perhaps  look like a small flame.

So what’s in your imagination today?

I am imagining a sunny, summer’s day with nothing more to do than sit and read a book.  Or maybe a walk in the park or along the beach with Lotte, my ever present companion, at my side.

I am imagining getting out my only just started novel and spending some time on it.  What will it feel like to go back to that?

Then my mind wanders to dinner and I imagine what I shall make to eat for tonight.

And the title of this blog?  Well it is commonly thought that English mapmakers formerly placed the phrase “here be dragons” at the edges of their known world.  Well here is the list of all known historical maps upon which these words appear – only one.  That is the Lenox Globe.  The globe was purchased in Paris in 1855 by Richard Hunt, who gave it to James Lenox, whose collection became part of the New York Public Library.

And no doubt you all know Dr Seuss’ ‘The thinks you can think”.  My children and grandchildren all loved and I still love  Dr S.  And now I have passed on the complete set to my friend’s grandson.

So – Book cover

“Oh the THINKS  you can think up if only you try!
If you try, you can think up a GUFF going by.
And you don’t have to stop.

Pot Roasts, Parking Meters, Pomegranates and Potholes



Walrus and carpenter 

“The time has come the walrus said to talk of many things; of shoes – and ships- and sealing wax – of cabbages and kings – and why the sea is boiling hot – and whether pigs have wings.”  Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

First – Pot Roasts.   Wednesday is my day for my family at Paekakariki some 45 kms north of Wellington.

For all you readers out there the American writer Leon Uris was stationed as a marine in Paekakariki during World War II. He drew on his experiences there when writing his first novel Battle Cry.

So  I pick up my eldest grandson from school and we spend the next few hours socializing until his parents come home.  When he is not being a typical teenager and answering all questions monosyllabically (is this a word?)  he is quite entertaining to be with.  His younger brother is away at boarding school furthering his hopes of becoming a football star.

I make dinner for the family and today I have decided on a pot roast.  This is an old favourite Pot roastfrom my childhood.  And I found this great, really simple, easy recipe.  Apart from the beef, I had everything else on hand so it was a snip.

I used it at the weekend for the other part of the family and it was lauded as a great success.


Then parking meters. In our City, we have both parking meters and pay and display parking areas. Parking meters

Now I know that there is a reason behind these abominations – other that is than a great revenue source for the local council.  It does allow parking spaces in town to be more available for more people but…why is it that whenever I find a vacant meter I don’t have the change to put into the dashed thing?  At least with the pay and display areas, one can use a credit card to pay.

And yesterday I went into the supermarket and was regaled with a bright display of pomegranates.  This was a really cheerful sight on a winter’s day.Pomegranates  I remember as a child struggling with the seeds.  Do you know that inside a pomegranate there are about 700-800 tightly packed seed casings that are deep red in colour when nicely ripe?

Having bought a couple I was faced with what to do with them.  So I went to YouTube and found a video on how to seed a pomegranate.

And so to potholes.  I don’t know about where you live but we are besieged with potholes on our footpaths.  They can be quite dangerous and I saw a woman twist her ankle in one a short time ago.

When my number three grandson was a baby and I was carrying him, I tripped on a pothole and yes, dropped the child.  Fortunately, and I guess subconsciously/unconsciously, I cradled his head as he fell.  He was totally unscathed as confirmed by the doctor but Granma was another story.

And many moons ago, when I still jogged, I was out one day and fell down a pothole.  A passing motorist picked me up and took me home.  My daughter always tells the story with the punchline that “it’s one way to get a man’s attention”.

So the point of this is that today we have a gang of men in our road filling in the potholes.  Somebody must have complained to the Council.  They are good at responding to complaints so thanks to whoever it was that called them.

Red tulipsAnd to continue the “P” theme – here’s a posy to brighten your day whether it is spring or winter where you are.  I just couldn’t resist these tulips yesterday in the supermarket.  they are obviously produced in a hot-house (it’s too cold outside here now) but they reminded me of spring and so I had to have them.

“Every winter, When the great sun has turned his face away,
The earth goes down into a vale of grief, And fasts, and weeps,
and shrouds herself in sables, Leaving her wedding-garlands to decay –
Then leaps in spring to his returning kisses.”

– Charles Kingsley, 1819 – 1875, English priest of the Church of England, university professor, historian and novelist.


The Things They Say…

James reading

James reading – almost 3 years old

“Granma, when Grampa isn’t dead any more, will you stop crying?” So asked my 3-year-old grandson.

This was followed by “Come quickly, the sky is crying because Grampa’s dead”.

These two sayings were brought back to me today when I received one of those emails that you send around your friends.  This one was entitled Grandkids and had a series of cute sayings.

These included :

  • My young grandson called the other day to wish me Happy Birthday.  He asked me how old I was and I told him 62.  He was quiet for a moment and then asked “Did you start at 1?
  • A little girl was diligently pounding away on her grandfather’s word processor.  She told him she was writing a story.  “What’s it about?” he asked.  “I don’t know” she replied, “I can’t read yet.”

Those of us lucky enough to be called Granma or Grampa has a sheaf of sayings that we have collected over the years.  I threaten to bring mine out when each of my grandchildren reaches 21 and embarrass them in front of their friends.  Then they will probably say “Anyway, she’s too old to remember me when I was 3 or 4 or whatever.”

And it seems easier to recall the sayings of our children’s children than those of our own children.  Why is this do you think?  Were we too busy being the perfect mother and wife to listen?  Remember when my children were small, the ‘wife’s’ place was in the home, tending house and raising children.

I was nowhere near as busy as my daughter and daughter-in-law, but the funny things my children said have all disappeared.  How sad is that?


James on his 16th birthday – 2011

So to all you mothers out there – listen to what they say and make a note of the smart and clever sayings.  Who knows one day you might put them in a book and become world-famous.

“Lastly, she pictured to herself how this same little sister of hers would, in the after-time, be herself a grown woman; and how she would keep, through all her riper years, the simple and loving heart of her childhood: and how she would gather about her other little children, and make their eyes bright and eager with many a strange tale, perhaps even with the dream of Wonderland of long ago: and how she would feel with all their simple sorrows, and find a pleasure in all their simple joys, remembering her own child-life, and the happy summer days.”
Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland)















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