Welcome to Harvest Moon, a place where the creatures and landscapes of my imagination take form and meet the world. Nestled in beneath the wild craggy tors of Dartmoor inspiration comes on chilly winds from moonlit landscapes of other realms which share this rugged, ancient land of gorse and granite. Living here I sometimes feel on a bridge between worlds and ages as the land speaks from spluttering streams and wind-beaten tors, telling stories of folk and beast, but only in snatches before the endings are whipped away down the valley with the broad river and out to sea. So here I will share these stories and characters and they can dwell in your own imagination, continuing their stories with infinite outcomes. This is how they live, enjoy them!

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Rain clouds with a fudge lining....

…..I know that we northern Europeans like to talk about the weather….and especially those of us perched upon this little green island….and some have said….it has been mentioned, that we islanders enjoy a good cathartic grumble. One might say a whinge….or even a good old moan. So of late we have been afforded no shortage of opportunity in which to practice our cultural arts. It has rained, and rained, and rained….and rained a bit more.

Working as a gardener in the south west of England does require a certain a mildness towards moisture, a stoicism to sogginess and a passivity to precipitation. We would never survive in this trade if we didn’t dig defiantly in the drizzle and weed through the wetness. But this summer has been a test for even the hardiest of us. Apparently some ‘jet stream’ or other is ‘stuck’, so while we are kayaking to the co-op, our American cousins are sizzling in their station wagons. Whatever the cause, I realised yesterday as I was kneeling in full waterproofs, weeding between the cobbles of a saturated Dartmoor garden, feeling the first cool trickles of rain make their way through my multiple layers of defence, that somehow, we have to get used to it. Our climate is changing.

In the past few years we have heard the met office reports of the ‘wettest’, ‘driest’, ‘hottest’, ‘coldest’ since records began. This June was the wettest, and July looks set to follow.When speaking with old locals in the village I see astonishment on their weather-worn faces as they tell me that their runner beans still aren’t climbing, and the sweet peas wont flower. They have never known the like, none of us have. The one thing we can know for sure is that we no longer know for sure that the spring will be wet and the summer warm and dry. Will the autumn bluster us gently into winter’s frosted folds with a flurry of sun gilded leaves and rich golden sunsets? Or will be sunbathing in October?

We humans are adaptable creatures and we must simply be willing to change. Complacency remains our biggest challenge, but as I know from my neighbour who came here in 1940 to join the women’s land army as her contribution to the war effort, we can change like the wind when we need to, we can dig to victory, and we will.

The next generation seemed to adapt very well to the conditions at the local Denbury village music festival (wonderfully named GlasDenbury)….

So, I will put newspaper into my wellingtons and hang my gloves above the woodburner. I’ll make hay while the sun shines, and make fudge when it doesn't! Try it, it can only cheer you as the rain beats against the window panes! While my fudge sets I will blow the cobwebs from my sketchbook and see who is waiting to populate the pages.

Clotted Cream Fudge

275g caster sugar
120g muscavado sugar
225g clotted cream
½ tsp vanilla essence

Place all ingredients into a heavy based saucepan and heat gently, stirring continuously until it boils. Reduce to a simmer and cover the pan. Simmer for 4 minutes, then remove the lid and turn up the heat. Allow to boil vigorously for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking. Drop some mixture into a cup of cold water and check the consistency. The fudge should make a soft but firm ball when rolled between the fingers.

When ready remove from the heat and transfer to a mixing bowl. Whisk until the fudge becomes matte and grainy. It should form a dough-like ball when accumulated into the centre of the bowl. With a soft spatula scrape the fudge into a 20cm square baking tray lined with baking paper. Spread out evenly and leave to cool at room temperature.

When cool cut into blocks and share….no really, you’ll feel very sick if you don’t!

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