Morris dancers kick off Lewes Folk Festival.
Nice to see that these are still sold by the lb in Lewes.
"A ‘cob’ was a plump nut used in a game called coblenut (perhaps the precursor of conkers), played by children in the sixteenth century, so cobnuts came to be known as the fruit of the wild hazel tree. The first cultivated nuts, probably from Turkey, were known as filberts or fullbeards, which have long frilly husks, to differentiate them from the wild hazels that have rounder nuts and shorter husks.
The commercial growing of hazelnuts was established in Kent by the late eighteenth century. Several hundred acres of White Filbert grew around Maidstone, sometimes inter-planted with hops, apple or cherry trees. In the 1830s a new variety was introduced by a Mr Lambert from Goudhurst. First called Lambert’s Filbert, it was so widely grown that it became known as the Kentish Cob.
Kent, especially the ragstone between Sevenoaks and Ashford, remains the heartland of cultivation in England. The trees, which grow in orchards or ‘plats’, were thinned and trained into a bowl shape, with about eight branches growing outwards and upwards to a height of about six feet. This allowed plenty of light to get to the shoots. Suckers, known as wands or spawn, were removed annually and the soil between the rows dug to kill the nut weevil larvae.
As with hop-picking, itinerant workers were joined by Londoners. The first picking or ‘firsting’, is in mid-to-late August, when the husks and nuts are still green, fresh and juicy. A month later, when they are ripe and have lost some moisture but their taste has become concentrated, the ‘seconding’ takes place, and eventually the ‘thirding’ includes anything that is left. The nuts were put into wicker baskets called kipsies and then into round baskets, or ‘sieves’, holding ‘about 28 pounds of green nuts or forty pounds of ripe ones”, as Meg Game remembered. They were sent off on special carts, known as fruit-vans, to the station, to be sold at the London markets of Borough, Spitalfields, Farringdon and Covent Garden. Rags, waste from wool mills, goose and turkey feathers and horse dung from London stables came back on the return journey to manure the crop.
The peak of cobnut production was before the First World War, when more than seven thousand acres were under cultivation, some in Worcestershire but mostly in Kent. By 1990 the acreage had plummeted to 250 in Kent. Cheaper imports, aided by better means of storage and transport, undercut the industry, and less labour-intensive crops helped by artificial fertilisers took the cobnut’s place. An important source of protein and a way of life were slipping away.
(from 'Cobnuts' , p.105 of England In Particular, published by Hodder & Stoughton. Read more HERE.)
Matilda plots her plan to achieve World domination with co-conspirators Edward Bear and Jack Rabbit.
Actually...Nah, I can't be bothered.
You know you're getting old when your birthday treat is a day out to Michelham Priory. So much for drugs, sex and rock n roll.
And you're sure that you're getting old when the coming of Autumn seems to strike a personal psychological significance.
Time for a mid-life crisis.
Yesterday we visited Virginia Woolf's house in Rodmell. The gardens are stunning, among the best I've ever seen; bordered by an old flint church to one side and panoramic views of the Downs to the other. But inside the house I was particularly taken with this table and the Virginia Woolf/Volkswagon monogram on the back of the chairs.
I don't know what the significance of this is, if any. I presume it is tongue-in-cheek given that Woolf was married to a Jewish man. Or perhaps it was entirely innocent and no black humour was intended. Volkswagon was founded just four years before her death in 1941.
Introducing the future Prime Minister of England*, Matilda Betsy, who weighed in at 7lb 11oz on Friday.
* Or Canada.
Crumpet, my apology of a dog, has reached the grand old age of two today. For her birthday treat we took her to the Half Way House in Lewes and then to the Rose and Crown in Fletching, where she enjoyed a small sup of Harveys Best from an ashtray.
Inside the Rose and Crown there is a display case containing some wattle-and-daub dating from the reign of King Stephen, the last Norman King of England. It was pulled from the 800 year-old walls during renovations in 1939. A great thing about the Rose and Crown is that you're offered a choice between having your beer served in a straight glass or a Ravenhead-type jug, I personally prefer the latter but rarely get to enjoy my beer out of a jug these days.