Monday, March 29, 2021


It was very windy, last night and this morning. I was allowed by my stern supervisors to stay in. I tried hard to walk up and down the house, and have registered 1951 steps. Could be worse.


I also got a few stripes knit, on the Polliwog sleeve. Still painfully slow, but it’s progress.


And read some more of “Wives and Daughters”. I’m pretty sure, by now, that I’ve read it before, although not at all recently. Shandy (comment yesterday), I have only the vaguest memory of the sidekick policeman in Foyle’s War, although the series was a favourite and I remember Foyle himself and his delicious female driver pretty clearly. It may all come back to me when I see him as Roger. It’s a lot of fun, spotting actors in different roles. My best hit recently was Princess Margaret’s clerical friend in The Crown, previously J.K. Rowling’s one-legged detective.


Gretchen (comment Saturday), I have no idea in what order Mrs Gaskell’s novels were written. It would be interesting to find out. (My guess is Cranford, Wives and Daughters, North and South.)

I mean to attempt sourdough again tomorrow. We shall see. I would have tried this week, but I had been treating my starter carelessly (leaving it out of the refrigerator, unfed) and it got sluggish. It's now back up to strength. I'd hate to lose it. It's nearly a year old. The whole question of how bread gets/got leavened throughout history is interesting and largely unknowable. Wikipedia says that a by-product of beer-making was much used before the modern "baker's yeast" was invented.


  1. Now there's a coincidence: the sidekick detective also had only one leg as I recall - he had been wounded in battle.
    Re dates of publication: Cranford, North and South 1855 and then Wives and Daughters 1866. There is also Mary Barton, which dwells on the conditions of life in industrial Manchester.

  2. I have only read North and South, and never seen Crawford or Wives and Daughters, I’ll have to fix that. I know I have them on my kindle, the books that is! I am slogging away on the baby blanket, it is a simple two-row pattern to show off self striping yarn, but after the first ball the thrill is gone!

  3. On your recommendation, I just bought a one volume, all the novels set of Mrs. Gaskell, in order: Mary Barton, Cranford, Ruth, North and South, Sylvia's Lovers, and Wives and Daughters -- according to this publisher. I haven't read any of them, so I have treats in store for me!

    1. Mrs Gaskell's novels are a mixed bag. There is a reason why North and South and Wives and Daughters are the best known. Cranford is not really a novel but a collection of stories based on Gaskell's own childhood and the community in Knutsford.

  4. =Tamar2:16 PM

    I tried researching leavenings some years ago. It's impossible to nail down when some form of baking soda was first used, because ashes from wood and from seaweed have been reported to leaven simple flour-based products, and seaweed ashes were a big business in the Middle Ages - just not - officially - for making a worker's lunch.
    Congratulations on keeping on with the walking, and with the polliwog!

  5. Anonymous4:56 PM

    As others have noted, Wives and Daughters was Gaskell's last novel - indeed, the ending is rather less developed than it might have been, because the author died before the entire work had finished its serial publication. Interestingly, North and South also ends abruptly, in this case because Dickens, who was publishing it serially in his Household Words magazine, wanted to wrap it up to start featuring another novel. Gaskell was rightly displeased. (All this background info from the introductions to my Penguin editions).
    Here in the US I haven't yet been able to find Mary Barton, Sylvia's Lovers, or Cousin Phillis. Even if they prove disappointing, I'm still curious to read them.
    -- Gretchen (aka stashdragon)

  6. I think I read Cousin Phillis a while back on the recommendation of someone on this blog... Now I'll have to check my kindle. Should have kept a list.