|With Basil - no. 1 Jack Russell Terrier!|
I was born in 1959 in Kluang, Malaysia. My Dad was in the Royal Engineers and was stationed out there at the time. Regrettably, I don't remember much of that time as I was very small when we returned back to the U.K. - however I do have a teensy memory of being pushed in a pushchair through the Tiger Balm Gardens in Singapore and feeling frightened by all the vignettes that were on display.
Dad's postings took us mostly to Germany, where we lived in Berlin, Roxel and Munster before returning home to the U.K. and settling down in Oakley, just outside Basingstoke in Hampshire.
It is probably true to say that my interest in cooking started around about this time, as I can clearly remember baking a very creditable Victoria Sandwich for tea on Sunday, on more than one occasion. My Mum is a great cook who is known for her light touch with pastry - I only wish I had inherited said light touch - the stories of my battles with pastry are becoming legendary. So it is fair to say that I learnt at the knee of my Mum - as many lucky children do!
I had started riding horses whilst in Munster - riding the army horses - and once in this country would save my pocket money for twice-monthly riding lessons. My love for horses has been part of my life for as long as I can remember - and it really gelled around this time.
|Baringa - what a handsome lad!|
However, I wasn't to own my own horse until I was 18 or so. My parents went away on holiday, leaving me engaged to be married. They came back two weeks later and I had chucked my fiancee and bought a horse. I have never looked back since.
Dear old Baringa was my first love affair. I was advised not to buy him by the vet I sent to check him over - so, of course, bought him. Well, he was so poorly, I couldn't leave him there! He was with me for some six years or so, eventually being put to sleep in October 1985 - a day I can remember like it was yesterday.
|Pandora V - 28ft long x 9ft wide - a bijou little residence!|
Mind you, it was whilst living on the boat that I fine tuned my curry-making. I owned a pressure cooker that, originally, I'd bought to cook the horses' linseed with. I soon realised that it did some great chicken that could then be used for curry. I just wish I'd realised that the stock was usable too!
So, in the meantime, an equine Marilyn Monroe had joined my horsey family - Kellie of Whitefield was my first pure bred Highland Pony and she taught me more than anyone about communication with an animal and the fine nuances of a nervous horse's behaviour. I bought her with a view to showing - and spent many nervous summers with her and my second Highland pony, Rosette of Gleneagles, pacing around show rings in the South of England.
|Posing outside my office|
My little horsey family had been enhanced by the addition of Connick's Lucy - a small, chocolate brown donkey who I found in a field of some 50 or so donkeys all destined for the salami trade in Europe. She was so sweet and so wanted to leave the field and go home (back to Ireland, I suspect - she still had the harness marks on her) that of course, I bought her for the princely sum of £150. I would drive Lucy in a little four wheeled vehicle, with one lurcher dog - Ginny - in between my knees and the other - Gyp - sitting on the passenger seat.
|Lucy, all harnessed up and ready to go|
By now I was living alone in a Granny Annexe on the side of a big Victorian Rectory. I didn't have a lot of time for cooking - leaving at 7am and returning at 8pm didn't leave a lot of room for culinary creations. However, I did learn the inestimable value of the slow cooker!
Eventually, as most things do, this episode in my life came to an end and I moved to Kent to be with hubby.
I spent a little while working for a firm which dealt with making custom wheelchairs for children through to adults, again as a Secretary. Unfortunately, I wasn't with them long as son & heir decided to make an appearance!
|What? Surely everyone wears cat ears?|
Since then, I have had to give up my job with the Hotel - but had begun writing Jenny Eatwell's Rhubarb and Ginger.
Some two years after arriving in Dorset, my brain decided to melt one night. I went to sleep in my own bed - and woke up 24 hours later, in hospital. I, basically, wouldn't wake up and had to be put into a coma before being brought back to consciousness slowly. The end diagnosis was of a small stroke, although nothing but a slight bleed in one eye was ever traced. I exhibited many of the signs of stroke, having lost the majority of my vocabulary and ability to string a sentence together. I still have huge gaps in my memory - for instance, it's just taken my around 10 minutes and lots of mental gyrations to remember the word "vocabulary". The written word covers these mental glitches up, as nobody knows how long it has taken me to remember what a pressure cooker (for instance) is called. I dare say when speaking to me it would quickly become apparent. But hey ho - it's now just part of life. My weight is still very much an issue, but slowly, slowly catchee monkey where that is concerned.
Writing Rhubarb and Ginger - at first - was something of a rehabilitation exercise for me. I've always enjoyed "talking" (as the length of this bio will attest) and have been told that I've led an interesting life, so have a fair old bit to talk about! Very quickly, however, the competitive side of my nature came to the fore and I began to want to make the blog as good as it could be.
From Rhubarb & Ginger has come my "Jenny's Week" blog for the Taste pages of the online Bournemouth Echo newspaper. I've been writing this blog for almost three years now!
|Jonty, the Saluki|
Rhubarb and Ginger has given me a focus, something that I had to get out of bed for (well, I had to do that to drive son & heir to school - but you know what I mean!), something to strive for and an interest. After all, the family had to be fed - and people seemed to like my recipes, so it was an obvious thing to write about.
I didn't ever imagine what avenues it would take me down. The lovely people I have met via the blogging, the amazing produce I have had the privilege of working with and the grey-matter twisting moments of trying to think of something interesting to do with the latest ingredient.
I just didn't imagine that it would wind up running me, quite as much as it does!
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