Wednesday 26 January 2011

Food – To More Good times and Fond Memories, with some history thrown in for good measure – Part 2

Continuing on along the path of gastronomic memories .. going back a few years too (I regret to say!) .. but perhaps starting with Oatmeal, Haggis and Robert Burns .. last year I wrote a celebratory post. So today I shall remember another celebration in his honour – recalling our boiling hot Burn’s Night Dinner at a friend’s house .. way too much wine, I suspect I had the odd touch of whisky – though I don’t like it!

Oatmeal herrings, Haggis and an oatmeal Crowdy .. a creamy- honey- oatmeal Scottish dessert .. all I remember really was sweltering – but the menu has filed itself away in the mind I see!

Oat grains in their husks

Interesting to note that .. that day 20 or so years ago .. was incredibly hot – Johannesburg can have a few days at 33+ degree C (over 90 degrees F) – but this 2010/2011 year La Nina has struck the southern hemisphere with the opposite force ... huge rains.

Here in the UK we’ve heard little about the African floods .. however the Zambezi and Okavango river systems take five to six months to disgorge their waters ... we used to visit Botswana in May at the height of the flood. This year they’re reporting that these two rivers are at about twice their normal levels, early in the rainy season.

It appears that five countries are on alert for flooding -- Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia, -- while South Africa will now declare the region (most of the countries shown in green here) a disaster as they do not have the economic, nor administrative, infrastructure to cope.

Connecting my Cornish visit and Haggis from Scotland was a bit of a surprise .. but Cornish Hog’s Pudding is a type of large spicy sausage, including oatmeal, as well as black pepper, cumin, basil and garlic .. and I’d been determined to take some back with me. So I was grateful for a very quick shop around Penzance to find some of these Cornish goodies .. calendars, notelets, hog’s pudding, Cornish Fairings, Saffron buns ...

Cornish Fairings with a hint of ginger

Historically Groats’ Pudding and West Country Haggis are alternative names for Hog’s Pudding – the groats are the hulled grains of various cereals, in this case oats. (Wheat groats, or bulgur, are, as I’m sure many of you know, an essential ingredient of the Middle Eastern kitchen.)

Saffron Buns from Warrens Bakery

Fresh from Cornwall - Hog’s Pudding

Ancient literature noted the anti-inflammatory and anti-pruritic (anti-itch) properties of oatmeal ... which are now being researched to establish their efficacy.

As I mentioned my ‘aunt’ is still totally with it .. so much so – that I wonder if she celebrated Burns’ Night with the dinner she cooked for herself the other night – on my first visit a neighbour had popped in with two pheasant breasts (lucky her I thought!);

... on my second stop over – she regaled me that she’d stuffed the breasts with a herby cream cheese (Boursin), wrapped them in bacon, oven baked them, had some fresh veggie and potatoes, then she made a whisky cream sauce to accompany the dish – pretty good at 92 methinks?!

From Bramley and Gage - these pheasant breasts have a sloe sauce, a parsley stuffing and are decorated with sloes

She also reminded me that I had always been a good cook and someone who was innovative with her menus and cooking ... the Cordon Bleu magazines, 72 of them, had just started to be published - I bought and devoured everyone, retaining them to this day – packed away for now – and loved using the ideas and recipes in them .. still do.

My aunt remembered the 50th surprise birthday party I’d put on for my father at some friends’ house about 20 miles away ... and how amazed he’d been – he had no idea .. despite the fact I’d done the cooking at our house and all the crockery and cutlery had been transported over .. it was a buffet style; our house was an Old Rectory which had an extension that used to include the old toilet, coal house, and cold store – so the latter two rooms I could and did hide things in.

I had previously cooked for my father’s housewarming, after my parents separated, just a mere 80 for brandy-champagne cocktails and nibbles to start off .. those were the days! and we were harking back to posh dinner-type cooking .. then a full menu for 24 after that .. I was only 21 or so. (Two days later I got turned down as a chalet girl in Switzerland .. because they didn’t think I was a good enough cook. Life would be different – if I’d passed that test, I suspect.)

Thinking about it – I’d baulk now & make it easy (if I did it) .. but then .. the starter (a la Cordon Bleu!)was a melon, tomato and cucumber salad, with hot herby bread – followed by fillet of beef, veggie salads, a tomato jelly from the Robert Carrier magazines, potatoes of some description no doubt, and various puds – I remember one – a hazelnut torte - had chocolate caraque on it .. I’d never done that before & hardly since!

Chocolate caraque decorating the dessert

Just have to tell you about the fillets .. there were three of them – well I didn’t have a lot of time .. and they had to cook quickly – so all three got shoved in the oven for theoretically 20 minutes – an hour later after much huffing and puffing on my part, with the mind full of the word ‘help’ ... surprisingly three perfectly cooked fillets came out – to cool before they were glazed. Yes the works happened in those days.

My father’s sister, and her husband (the one I looked after recently) came up to attend, help .. and I was floored somewhat by being asked what did she want me to do with the fresh fruit for the salad .. did I want the grapes peeled and pipped .. I’m not quite sure what happened – I really wasn’t up for niceties .. I just needed the fruit salad finished!

We’d had a herd of cows through the property and I was pretty miffed .. I’d spent hours making the garden as tidy as I could ... but the weight of ‘dem cows on the turf and banks/terraces was the pits!! So my main concern was getting the show on the road, not organising loads of helpers! Still I was no doubt extremely grateful for their support and calmness ...

I see Julia Child is listed as a Notable Alumni and attendee of the Cordon Bleu School .. but not Prue Leith, who certainly inspired me ... as I walked past her restaurant near Notting Hill each day on my way to the bus and work in the West End.

Another tale here .. one day in the 1970s when the Irish bombings were going on in London I walked up to Notting Hill, I heard a low “whoomph” reverberate through the air, and thought no buses, no noise .. then the sirens started – I realised a bomb had gone off in the main part of Notting Hill.

So I walked to work past, the top end of Portobello Road, along the north side of Hyde Park, to Marble Arch and on to St James’ .. when I got there – within the hour the Evening Standard Newspaper had its morning edition out – with a picture of the bomb blast and giving the details.

We live through history .. the Evening Standard is now free .. competing with the other freebies – which I hate to say it rubbish the streets, the tubes, the trains with paper ... full of mainly inconsequential items, and a lot of (desperate) adverts ... times they are a-changin’ ...

Before I left for South Africa I took my family to The Caviar Bar in Knightsbridge – that too has closed – but the meal was extraordinary .. everything with caviar and vodka, or champagne ... the different vodkas were served from bottles frozen into pails of ice filled with flowers – they looked very pretty.

South Africa is reminiscent of rather too much champagne, oysters, good friends and parties by the squash club pool, or with another near-relative and her Portuguese husband .. with excellent barbeques .. grilled sardines – I loved!, marinated meats of all sorts and the South African sausage – Boerwors.

Coming back home ... we’ve become more sensible .. though the family did give me a memorable 21st (50th actually .. but I’m not admitting!) .. a winter one – with delicious food .. a whole salmon .. with friends and family from far and wide ... and really good wholesome food .. my ‘oldest’ friend came – sadly she’s died since ...

... and then I went off to South Africa and repeated the birthday with the near-relatives above – who put on another party for me .. so I was a very lucky girl that year.

This is long and rambly .. and not complete but definitely enough for you all to have had an elegant sufficiency! But my other sister-in-law who reads this blog .. said you must remember that what you’re writing is history put dates etc .. I think when mentioned I was going over on Freddie Laker’s Airline to a friend’s wedding at the Cathedral of the Pines (beautiful October day) .. and I had to get up – buy the air ticket – go back to bed (no internet in those days) – get up again and catch the plane .. in 1978. Post here.

I love entertaining and surprising people with parties ... my uncle whom I’d been looking after and giving him, as he said, something to live for – his birthday was near Christmas and each year I’d arrange a party for him at his house .. again picnic style, open house ... call in when you can – the first one was a complete surprise – he said he’d never had a party thrown for him before ... my honorary god-daughter aged 13 helped me .. good to have help!

What was rather nice this Christmas – the neighbours had been asked to a house warming by the new owners .. which happened to be on his actual birthday – as Melanie said .. they were heartened with the invitation – it was a good rounding off of my aunt’s and uncle’s lives – a final goodbye.
Inside the Burns Cottage Museum in Alloway.

Haggis, Whisky, Poetry only means one thing - Robbie Burns.

Dear Mr Postman .. my mother never ceases to amaze me – she asked me to tell her what I’d been doing in the day, and then asked if there were any more Christmas cards ... well yes, but I had them at home ... always things in the wrong place! She seems well and looks extremely well, which is good news.

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Wednesday 19 January 2011

Food, Food, Glorious food .. and memories .. and, and .. Part 1 !

Last week on my birthday I had to go down to Cornwall to collect the remains of the things that I wanted from my mother’s flat – the day of reckoning had come .. that departure knowing the connection will no longer be there: sad times.

As travelling by car can do, we have time to think and mull and I got to think about not what I was missing, but the occasions of wonderful fun times over the years for birthdays and some of the fine dishes we’d experienced.

Beotys restaurant as it was .. and as I remember

Having a winter birthday is not really a good thing – but we don’t have a choice do we? ... I scarpered for a few years to South Africa ensuring that I had warm sunny birthdays by the pool, or at the sea with the sand between my incy wincy toes.

However last week I took with me a picnic for a very long-term family friend (92), who is very special to me .. so that we could enjoy a good chat without the worry of preparing or washing up afterwards. We had extra special Waitrose food on paper plates, with plastic cups, knives and forks .... it just fitted the bill: no hassle and no worries: we split the left-overs and the rubbish went in a black bag to be taken away ... nothing for her to do.

Eastwood as Rowdy Yates in Rawhide (1959–65)

Going back to way back when ... and first memories ... my parents must have gone to enormous trouble creating an Indian theme for one of our parties ... we were hooked into Cowboys and Indians .. Clint Eastwood and Michael Langdon to name two .. (was Clint a cowboy ever? – well memories merge! of course he was in Rawhide fame) ... we had a tepee with all the trimmings, must have had bows and arrows, and I’m sure guns .. I don’t remember much more – but it was a wonderful surprise opening the door of the dining room and seeing the magic.

Sioux tipi, watercolor by Karl Bodmer, ca. 1833

I know cowboys and Indians are definitely not ‘de rigeur’ now .. but back then we just accepted the norm ... the same with golliwogs on the Chivers Marmalade pot ... they were always so wonderfully cheerful and brought a smile to our faces; Little Black Sambo one of the small-format books ... he had such wonderful adventures in the sea, sun, palm trees and blue skies – where tigers came out of the bush, everything melted into a yellow sea .. as the tiger chased Little Black Sambo – I did love them .. evoking such brightly coloured memories.

Chivers Marmalade advert from 1952, via Grace’s Guide

I probably wouldn’t have mentioned them – but they’re part of history – and with the Mark Twain “N” thing going on ... I feel I can. Times change – but those times won’t .. that’s life. I’ve had a ‘Letter to the Saturday Times” hanging around because I wanted to mention it ... where do you mention slavery though? If we think about it ... slavery has existed since time immemorial ... no-one was really free .. armies were raised, pyramids and other buildings built, the Roman armies were conscripted ... this letter, I think sets it out clearly though:

Letter to the Saturday Times 27 November 2010 by Mrs Cyrstal Rushbrooke Dickinson, Bedford

Slavery Economics: Sir, At the heart of the New Testament is the ‘book’ of Philemon; the cover-note St Paul wrote, for the voluntary return of a former runaway slave, Onesimus. Paul tells Philelmon’s master, in no uncertain terms to receive him, “not as a slave, but .. as a brother, beloved”. That was the most subversive idea conceivable, in a world in which the institution of slavery was universally taken for granted ({previous} letters Nov 24 and 25).

Enfranchisement of individuals was always possible, and indeed common at the time, the freed individual normally remaining dependent on his former master, as “his freedman”. Very few slaves are known to have been fully liberated , in our sense of the word, let alone given the status of a “brother”, not even in households where common paternity was not infrequently a known biological fact.

But to overthrow the institution of slavery would have ruined the economic foundations of every major civilisation before the Industrial Revolution. No responsible thinker, however humanitarian, could dare to think in terms of abolishing the economic basis of his civilisation until there was a viable alternative. It took centuries, but the Christian Church got there, more or less, as soon as it could.”

What she says makes so much sense, if we think about it .... and as I posted over at Stephen Tremp’s Breakthrough Blogs .. but now ....

Little Black Sambo, from the 1899 edition, written and illustrated by Helen Bannerman

Can I go back to food, glorious food after those first paragraphs – perhaps yes, considering my next mention is the musical Oliver! which premiered in 1960 ... my parents went to see it a few times ... I seem to remember feeling left out, and never went! Anyway that was our introduction to Greek food ... Oliver! was on at the New Theatre in St Martin’s Lane, and Beotys became our favourite restaurant for a few years. The Greek restaurant opened up my palate to other world's of tastes .. sadly I see it is now closed, must have done so relatively recently.

Oliver! Original theatre programme and poster - 1960

To go back to our picnic last week ... which my ‘aunt’ described as absolutely fantabulous – "she of very high standards", was extremely happy to sit by the fire with a paper plate full of goodies .. and let me tell you they were goodies ... I had to go to Waitrose and make notes, because I’d forgotten what I’d bought – well the ingredients contained therein!

We had a selection from the following for my two visits ... six hour fireside chats! ... the first time we had her homemade mulled wine before I switched to apple juice (champagne was on the cards – but as I was driving to Penzance thought better of it!) ... we started with quails’ eggs and celery salt – a special request from the week before ...

... then lunched on smoked salmon crescents, mini scallop shellfish selection (a creamy prawn mousse, topped with king prawns and smoked salmon) a smoked haddock, smoked salmon, egg and asparagus layered tian – with a champagne vinaigrette, crawfish tails with lime mango mayonnaise, mini blinis, salad slithers for me, half-frozen sweet cherries and Cornish cream to round off ... so a wonderful experience and the fact my aunt had no work to do at all made her day almost perfect!
Waitrose’s - Salmon Tian

I left her with her first Taiko Sushi titbits of a taster! with an explanation of pickled ginger, wasabi - hope she remembered not to have too much?, and soya sauce ... something new at 92 – can’t be bad! More memories and good food coming up ...

Here's a story on this amazing lady that I posted almost two years ago ... Huggins Cottage

Dear Mr Postman .. who would have thought I could cover all those topics in one post ... but that’s “this mind” being let loose ... I’m sure my mother would be amused; though because she cannot eat or drink ... I don’t discuss the food and drink elements – she was an excellent cook .. and loved entertaining.

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Wednesday 12 January 2011

Guide Books, Queries – Publishers and Authors: Mariana Starke, Baedeker, Murray, Ward & Lock, Wainwright ... late 1700s to mid 1900s

Life does take us on ‘funny’ travels ... I have just come back from Cornwall with a car load from my mother’s flat – mostly books = that’s me now-a-days! I extracted three books from the melee, and will definitely post about the other two later on ... the third I knew would amuse my mother ... Ward, Lock and Co’s “Red Illustrated Guide Book” to St Ives, Carbis Bay and Western Cornwall – our part of the world.

I did start reading some of the ‘stories’ which she enjoyed – more of that anon. But as I started to write this post – I wondered about Ward and Lock, and then other travel writers (having Talli and Betsy in our midst) ... and how tour guides came about. Fortunately Wikipedia links them and, of course, provides other fascinating titbits of information ...

Buxton in the Derbyshire Dales

Did you know that the idea of guide books dates back to the mid-7th to mid-13th century AD, when Arabic scholars of all trades contributed to recording and preserving earlier traditions, as well as adding inventions and innovations of their own, which then became best sellers in the medieval Arab world?

Though who would have thought that a woman would be the first to write a travel guide back in the late 1700s? Mariana Starke (1761 – 1838) was born in India, but on returning to England travelled out to Italy to nurse an ageing relative and it was during this time she realised the need for a travel guide or two.

For all of you authors sending out your ‘Queries’ .. Mariana Starke suffered the same fate – “she also wrote plays and poetry early in her career, but was discouraged by harsh reviews”; before she changed tack and realised the need for a different form of travel guide, than the architectural and scenic descriptive ones presently in vogue by those taking the Grand Tour.

Her guides were frequently revised and were the first to focus on practical information rather than descriptions of the places to be visited; her guide to travel in France and Italy served as an essential companion for British travellers to the continent in the early 1800s. She also devised a system of !!! exclamation mark ratings – a forerunner of today’s “stars”. She had established the genre and the template for future guides.

The French author Stendhal in ‘La Chartreuse de Parme’ refers to a travelling British historian who: “never paid for the smallest trifle without first looking up its price in the Travels of a certain Mrs Starke, a book which ... indicates to the prudent Englishman the cost of a turkey, an apple, a glass of milk and so forth”.

The French writer Marie-Henri Behle (1783 - 1842) better known by his pen name 'Stendhal'.

The genre was further developed by Karl Baedeker in Germany (1835) and Starke’s English publisher, John Murray III (1836). These two organisations produced impersonal, objective guides – rather than the factual information and personal sentimental reflections of previous works.

The London publishing house of Murray’s grandfather, John Murray I, (sounds more American than Scottish .. with the I, II and III) was renowned for its roster of authors ... including Jane Austen, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Lord Byron, Charles Darwin to name a few.

William Wetmore Story (1819 – 1895) was an American sculptor, art critic, poet and editor, who lived in Rome from 1850 and was intimate with the Brownings and with Walter Savage Landor, whose critical acclaim as a writer and poet was not matched by public popularity.
Story said in the 1860s “Every Englishman abroad carries a Murray for information, and a Byron for sentiment, and finds out by them what he is to know and feel by every step”.

Baedekers crop up in E M Forster’s “A Room with a View”, D H Lawrence’s travelogue “Sea and Sardinia”, which includes references to the Baedeker guide he used when he travelled from Sicily to Sardinia and back, as do many others ...

First edition cover for Lawrence's "Sea and Sardinia"

Messrs Ward and Lock started their publishing concern in 1854, and in the 1880s purchased Shaw’s widely-known and well-established series of tourist guides – the precursor to the named Red Guides, known as the “Illustrated Guide Books”.

Baedekers’ English Guides eventually became the Blue Guides, after the Muirhead brothers, who had been responsible for the English versions, acquired the rights to John Murray’s Handbooks in 1918.

Other famous publications under Ward and Lock were The Fair Britain Series, Mrs Beeton’s Cookery Books, Mrs Beeton’s Household Management, Six Shilling Copyright Novels, Gardening Books, Wonder Books for Children.

They also published Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol, Nigel Tranter’s early novels and his westerns published under the pseudonym ‘Nye Tredgold’; the adventures of Simon Templar, alias “The Saint”, by the mystery fiction writer Leslie Charteris amongst others.

The Saint Character

Now we’re into the time after World War Two when travel became much more ubiquitous and many different guides started appearing – and I’m sure we all have our favourites. Probably worth mentioning here within the genre of my post are the Wainwright Guides – Alfred Wainwright’s seven volume Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells, along with his walking guides have become standard reference works.

Persistency is one of the traits for an author – n’est pas? – Wainwright (1907 – 1991) exhibits this feature ... as he planned the precise scope and content of the seven volumes from the start, and worked conscientiously and meticulously on the series for the next 13 years at an average rate of one page per evening! (The wright part of his name fits perfectly .... “wright” in its archaic form means a worker or maker, while “wain” means a large wagon for farm use ...).

Book One of Wainwright's Pictorial Guide

These Guides are much prized today – as they show us how our country has changed, giving us an inkling of times gone by – but which are ideal for ‘fireside’ discussions where the memory still covers that era, or research purposes.

I leave you with a few paragraphs from Ward Lock & Co’s site, which I found interesting .. and again gives a glimpse of our past:

According to the book Adventure in Publishing, The House Of Ward Lock, 1854 to 1954, by Edward Liveing, Ward and Lock "noted the public’s growing tendency to explore the British Isles. The ubiquity of the railway lines had played its part in the growth of the travel at holiday times and the increasingly popular “weekend”.

At Easter, Cornwall was the resort of the well-to-do; in August of working class folk. The Lake District was thronged with families in the summer who climbed its fells without any of the fears that prevented their ancestors from doing so a century earlier.

Women took to walking after the passing of crinolines. Also, like their men-folk, they had taken to bicycling when the two low-wheel of machine supplanted the perilous “penny-farthing”. The tandem, too, came into fashion and added its touch of romantic adventure to this form of self-propelled travel."

"All this growing zest for travel required catering for in more ways than in the provision of food and lodging. And so it came about that in 1896 Ward Lock and Bowden Ltd. Introduced their series of 72 Guide Books to the British Isles.

The early “guides” were issued in green paper boards – not as we know them today in their familiar red cloth covers – and were priced at a shilling. Gradually a great series was worked up until, as today, every holiday district and seaside resort of consequence was covered by its own particular Guide.

A special staff of qualified editors and correspondents continually toured the land, compiling and revising material on all places and matters of interest to the holidaymaker and on such subjects as the local history, geology, botany and zoology of the areas concerned."
Illustration of Wordsworth's Grave 1895 (see Runela site)
This summary by Edward Liveing seemed to me to say so much and remind us of things we so easily forget.

Dear Mr Postman .. my mother was really ‘with it’ and awake when we talked about St Ives and Carbis Bay, so I’m pleased I found her book and can now read to her from it. She is pleased ‘her Janice’ is back from her visits to Brazil, Australia and California; however it’s good to have Susie and Andy as back-ups ...they all work together at the Natural Fitness Centre – so suit us well!

She asks about the blog and I think would be amazed to know this is the end of its 2nd year ... and the 291st post ... so I look forward to another blogging year – perhaps more settled and a little more organised ....

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Sunday 2 January 2011

Confiscated Booze, Rock Dust and Turkeys .. what do they have in common?

In a word – "fertiliser". Strange but true – the booze that’s been confiscated during the run up to Christmas, rock dust that’s being pulverised in Scotland and remember your Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey ... all that ‘growing’ waste ...

... all three are spread on the land to give us: ...... rock dust to pulverise again in another few million years, or in the meantime to fertilise crops and grain that can be made into alcohol or to feed the Turkeys – the never-ending cycle of life.

A Broad Breasted Bronze tom displaying

In the prohibition days clandestine breweries or distilleries were found, now it's lorry loads of booze – cider, beer, wine, whisky, vodka – which today, once confiscated, are converted into biogas: it used to be poured down the drain.

Detroit police inspecting equipment found in a clandestine brewery during the Prohibition era.

Treehugger posted a serious article in 2007, but with some amusing asides, on the confiscation of alcohol at the Swedish border. As Treehugger says ‘As clever as the new solution is, you have to question the intelligence of an organisation that would annually destroy 185,000 gallons of booze, especially in a country (Sweden) where you have to take out a bank loan to buy a beer’ – and that was four years ago!

He goes on to say that the confiscated alcohol is converted into biogas for the public transport system after being ‘pumped into a big tank’, that is jokingly called “the giant cocktail” before being trucked away for conversion.

A row of alcoholic beverages – in this case, spirits – in a bar

The UK Border Agencies, responsible for the south coast, confiscated over £1,000,000 worth of alcohol in the last week of November – the week of the snow! It appeared that illegal traders were attempting to avoid paying excise duty and VAT (value added tax), while if sold on the black market, the buyers would then also have avoided paying tax . The amount confiscated was ten times more than in 2009 ... a sign of the times?

I never thought I’d be writing about pulverising rocks to create rock dust – you’d think we have enough dust around anyway .... but of course rock dust is a non-synthetic organic fertiliser consisting of crushed volcanic basalt, which contains minerals and trace elements – nature’s answer for soil fertility and organic farming.

There’s a plant in Scotland and another in Townsville, in the far north of Queensland, Australia ... which at the moment is in the centre of the severe Australian floods – it appears another storm warning has been issued – the rains seem incessant ...

An example of columnar basalt at Sheepeater Cliff in Yellowstone Park

In the days before we knew of the continent of Australia, forays had been made into Africa with trading routes being established which could feed the travelling merchants, or on their return enrich their masters with new wealth .... plants, birds, animals, minerals ...

Upper Body of the Helmeted Guineafowl

... turkeys in the Americas were first encountered by the colonising Europeans and were originally thought to be a type of guinea fowl (also known as turkey fowl) due to the overland route from Africa, via Turkey through which they were introduced to Europe, hence the name which stuck.

While we’re on the subject of litter this is a list from Wikipedia of how long it affects the environment – perhaps it is a list we should be encouraged to remember and pass on?

Paper and paperboard: 6 months
Cigarette butts: 2 – 5 years
Plastic (PET) soda bottles: 5 – 10 years
Plastic shopping bags: 10 – 30 years
Gum: 20 – 25 years
Polystyrene pieces: 90 years
Tin Can: 80 – 100 years
Aluminium Can: 200 – 400 years
Six Pack bottle wrapping: 450 years
Golf ball: 100 – 1,000 years

...and WikiAnswers tells me it takes 355 years for each disposable baby diaper/nappy to decompose ...

Compost bin for small-scale production of organic fertilizer

This article “How long does it take for waste materials to decompose?” from June 2008, gives some references and other thoughts, including decomposition with the addition of water, and the oceanic effect ...

... came from 'That Danny!' who covers new media, marketing, news, popular culture, search, stories of the day, customer service and web 2.0/3.0/4.0 shenanigans. It also uncovers 'Internet Ghosts', and the mood of Internet as reflected by search trend topics. He explains why there’s an eclectic mix of topics ...

... sounds a little like me – except I’m just me, and write what I feel or find out about – for example finding Danny Dagan!! (PS I see he hasn't posted for nearly a year ...)

Dear Mr Postman – my mother had a bright day on New Year’s Eve .. she wanted to know about the blog, and remembered ‘teeth’ .. on your blog, she said. I showed her George Washington .. she said the new President came from Kenya .. ; then yesterday she wanted me to dance with ‘George’ – he’s one of her fictitious children .. and was determined I had to dance!! She’s been sleeping ever since – she can’t dance .. because as she describes it ‘she has boots on’ (from her strokes)!!! She continues to amaze me!

Anyway here we are in 2011 .. and due to a family need I will be a little scarce, I’ll be around .. but unfortunately have to go to Cornwall ..

HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone ...

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories