"The floor was well-worn red brick, and on the wide hearth burnt a fire of logs, between two attractive chimney-corners tucked away in the wall, well out of any suspicion of draught. A couple of high-backed settles, facing each other on either side of the fire, gave further sitting accommodation for the sociably disposed. In the middle of the room stood a long table of plain boards placed on trestles, with benches down each side. At one end of it, where an arm-chair stood pushed back, were spread the remains of Badger's plain but ample supper. Rows of spotless plates winked from the shelves of the dresser at the far end of the room, and from the rafters overhead hung hams, bundles of dried herbs, nets of onions and baskets of eggs. It seemed a place where heroes could fitly feast after victory, where weary harvesters could line up in scores along the table and keep their Harvest Home with mirth and song, or where two or three friends of simple tastes could sit about as they pleased and eat and smoke and talk in comfort and contentment. The ruddy brick floor smiled up at the smoky ceiling; the oaken settles, shiny with long wear, exchanged cheerful glances with each other; plates on the dresser grinned at pots on the shelf, and the merry firelight flickered and played over everything without distinction."
"The Kitchen, described in these terms, is as universal a symbol as the River. Whereas the River is the expression of the adult Arcadia, with its challenges and its rules and its excitements, the Kitchen suggests another kind of Golden Age.
Its appeal is multiple. It hints at the mead-halls of such poems as Beowulf ... To Grahame's generation it must also have had William Morris-like hints of an earlier, pre-industrial, and therefore ideal society where distinctions of class seemed unimportant when food was being dealt out, and men of all ranks sat together in the lord's hall or by the yeoman farmer's hearthside. And, more sharply for Edwardian readers than for those of the present day, there is a suggestion too of a return to childhood. Many of Grahame's generation spent much of their early life being cared for by domestic servants, and so as small children lingered often in the kitchen, watching the pots and the joints of meat cooking on the great ranges or spits."
There are other excerpts from the book here and here, an interview with Robert Ingpen here, and if the above appeals, this post might, too.
The gist of it is that if you can identify which personality type or 'tendency' you are - upholder, obliger, questioner, or rebel - then you will be better able to adopt particular strategies which will help you establish good habits and avoid the loopholes which can make it harder to break 'bad' habits. Simple!
If you can recommend a book on willpower, habit-change, personal development generally, do tell us in the comments.
Over on the books site today I've posted information about The Big Readcycle - donating books to Marie Curie - so it's appropriate that here we mention another fundraising initiative, this one cake-related.
Leonard Cheshire Disability are asking for people to Give & Bake, that is gather together a few friends or colleagues, have them bake something delicious to bring along, then put on the kettle and make a donation to LCD while you enjoy all the treats.
If you're a member of a book group or similar you could designate a meeting to Give & Bake and sweeten the book talk with a slice or two of cake, or brighten up the morning coffee break at work with some delicious morsels in aid of a good cause. Follow the link above for full details, and Michael Caines's carrot cake recipe.
- Danielle's talking about Outlander; I haven't read it or seen it, but I must be in a minority of one in that regard - ditto Game of Thrones. Are you a fan of either series (books or television versions)?
- What I have been watching and absolutely loving is W1A: brilliant stuff!
Miranda's post about her mornings is an inspiring read - as someone who always gets up early I can attest to the benefits of that kind of start to the day. As to the evenings, Miranda mentions that she's "a difficult sleeper", and so for anyone like her I thought I'd offer a few suggestions from my evening routine which I find aid restful sleep.
I do the following more often than not:
I switch off the computer around 9.00 or 9.30 (I watch almost no television, so podcasts, blogs, websites of interest usually supply my entertainment).
Next, a bath. A shower is fine, but a bath is better for relaxation. I use Olverum which is wonderful stuff.
After that, around 15 minutes of yoga. Again, this is very relaxing; it also helps to keep my dodgy back in reasonable shape.