Hello everyone! I'm writing this on a fine May afternoon. I have been away from my laptop for a little while, as I was very involved in a poetry festival. My pal Merrily Harpur started it in 1999, up in a little town in Co Roscommon, called Strokestown and it's been going since, with the cream of poetry featuring over the long weekend. It's a highlight in my year and I had the honour of judging the Percy French prize, which is given to a humorous poem. This competition kicks off the festival nicely and among the ten shortlisted poems there was a great deal of fun and wit, plus the pleasure of hearing the writer perform his or her work. Our winner came from Welsh Wales with a witty survey of Kneeology. Take a look at the Strokestown website. And while you're there, look at the shortlist of ten for the main poetry prize. The remarkable Beatrice Garland was back with a marvellous poem. Although the entries are judged completely anonymously, the quality of her work means she has been shortlisted a record five times over the course of the festival's life, and won the supreme award with a great poem. Again, I urge you to go to the Strokestown website.
The balcony is there above the level of the kitchen at Strokestown House so that the lady of the house could avoid having contact with the servant class. She would write out her instructions for the day and then send them fluttering down to the lower orders, who were, naturally, lower than her. The same family built a tunnel so that servants could leave the house and go working on the estate without intruding themselves onto the eye!
And here's a couple of shots of the kitchen itself. I write a good bit about kitchen equipment in the book, and this kitchen had some great examples of spits, pots, trivets and the like!
I'll stop now, but I'll be back soon. In the meanwhile, my grateful thoughts to all my pledgers! I'm aiming to complete this crowd funding soon. It was more difficult than I thought, but I'm not far off now. And then the book can go into production and you'll be one step nearer to receiving your copy with your name in it. Please pass on the word to anyone you know who might fancy a copy themselves!
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