Personal and undiluted views

371 days ago

Photo article: Will I solve a 145 year old mystery this week? Who was Maude Winnifrith? DNA tests going out today!

Maude Winnifrith was born in 1875 and was my great grandmother. Her children included my grandfather, Sir John Winnifrith and the actress Anna Lee – once known as the British Bombshell. But who was Maude? The mystery has intrigued the family for decades and this week I hope to solve it once and for all with the assistance of a retired vicar in Oxfordshire, my father and two DNA tests.


909 days ago

Photo Article - walking around Stourhead with the Mrs and Joshua, the end of the Booker family memory lane

And so to the end point of the trip down Booker family memory lane with the Mrs and Joshua - a vist to the gardens at Stourhead just over the Dorset border in Wiltshire.  Do you want to save £17 on an adult ticket by joining the National Trust said the lady? Er...


911 days ago

Photo Article: the graves of my mother, aunt and grandparents

For years and years my Uncle Chris Booker and I have talked about the graves of his sisters (my mother and Aunt) and that of my grandparents (his parents) in Durweston in Dorset. We have done nothing about it and now, as readers of the Sunday Telegraph discovered today, time is running out.


2532 days ago

The deaths of my mother and aunt

The nature of my mother’s death has been raised by certain “admirers” of mine on Bulletin Boards, the circumstances of my Aunt’s death I have mentioned en passant here before. There are no secrets in the era of the interweb. Both deaths were mentioned in an article by their brother, my Uncle Chris (Booker) in the Daily Mail last week. Slowly I read it early on Saturday morning as it brought a number of thoughts to the surface. Matters not suppressed just forgotten or not reflected upon for a long while.  My mother killed herself. My aunt was murdered. There you have it. A shocking couple of sentences.

My mother died when I was eight and my sisters seven and five. She had become terribly depressed in that amazing sun drenched year of 1976 and – as I discovered only later – first tried to end her life at the height of summer while the rest of us were out walking. My father found her, revived her but thereafter she was confined to various hospitals in Northamptonshire, Banbury and finally in Oxford, the City where she had studied, met my father and where I was born. I saw her once that autumn at the Trout at Godstow and she seemed happy. She clearly was not and within weeks she had hanged herself. I remember being taken out of class by a lovely teacher who was almost in tears as she told me that my mother was dead. I cannot remember how I felt or what happened next. I did not find out how she died until I was fourteen.

Not having a mother was a little unusual in those days


2629 days ago

Report from the Greek Hovel Number 12 – Coping with Fear

What in nature scared me a few days ago? Snakes? Yes big time. But also rats, bats. scorpions and the dark. I also have a great fear of heights but that has not been an issue to date as I settle into the Greek hovel. But the rest of my phobias have come in spades.



3192 days ago

New Year’s Eve Experimental Cooking Going Awry & Chilli festivals

For some reason some folks think that as a restaurant owner i am a professional chef. I have tried to disillusion them and I enjoy cooking but there are limits. Those limits will be exposed in about 90 minutes time as I have tried to recreate a Spanish/Portuguese dish but things are going awry. I thought I remembered the recipe but it slowly dawned on me as the process started that this was not the case.

Put it this way, I hope folks like their food spicey as I think I overdid it a bit on the chillies. I have now tried to offset that with a bit of red wine (heck the Spanish cook with sherry, but I could not find any of that) but as you balance and counterbalance earlier errors with items retrieved from cupboards you just seem to find additional errors creeping in. At this stage I can just hope that as the sauce reduces the chillies reduce with it and that the white beans and meats soak up whatever horrors I have injected. At least with a side dish of colcannon (well, as it happens, a slightly experimental version of that traditional Irish mainstay) I cannot go too wrong.

As for the cheeseboard, I have discovered a new West Country cheese (Afterburn) made with garlic and er…chilli. I am amazed to discover that there is an annual chilli festival held in Dorset each year and that this country has a thriving chilli production and products industry. I sense that a New Year resolution is to discover more about this and I may well be heading off to Wimborne St Giles (details here) for the next annual Chilli festival. It looks a hoot.

Now back to the unfolding culinary adventure.