Well, that's all over again folks for another year. The mad rush and
panic buying and the fears of mayhem have almost been forgotten. Waking
up in the middle of the morning in a cold sweat what would happen if,
heaven forbid, the shops didn't open for twenty four hours, has almost
vanished from our minds.
Twenty visits to the bottle bank has given one the feeling of saving the
planet, only to realise that you have been preceded by 500 men doing the
same exercise. Never mind, I was on strict instructions from Mrs.
R. on no account was I to return with any bottles. Well done that
man as you try to cram the last of the wine bottles into an already full
bottle bank, after looking to make sure that nobody noticed the fact
that you have just filled the last remaining white bottle bank container
up with brown bottles.
The block and tackle that I had as a Christmas present a few years ago,
was at last put to good use and certainly made life easier to drag the
wheelie bin from the back of the house. The remains of the turkey has
been buried in the garden plot number 109, next to the parrot and the
cat. Lucky, as the cat was known, seemed to use up it's nine lives in a
remarkable short space of time. Hence one of the great problems I
suppose when living near a main road. It seemed a good idea and very
fitting at the time, to place them together in their last resting
places, as both of them had a respect for each other when they were
alive. Respect was shown by the cat after he found out the hard way by
sticking his claws through the bars of the parrots cage. In return the
parrot soon learnt not to stick his tail feathers outside of the cage
when taking forty winks. It's what you might call a bit of a love-hate
Over the last few weeks we have watched the news and saw images of a man
going to the gallows. Right or wrong that's not for me to comment on,
but over the years, love and hate has sent many a person to the same
fate. That I am sorry to say, was the fate of a young lady living way
back in 1752. Her name was Mary Blandy. She was aged only 31 years when
she met her fate of death by hanging.
Mary was from a middle class family and well educated. Her father
Francis was a very prosperous lawyer in his time and they lived in
Henley-on-Thames. So, as you can see, Mary had a comfortable
lifestyle. He decided, maybe a tad unwisely, that he would offer a
dowry of £10,000 to the man that married his daughter. Well, on
the day that news hit the streets, it was like the news was announced
that all supermarkets would be closing down for two weeks, and as
Mr.Blandy sifted through the hundreds of suitors they were all shown the
door except one guy that got lucky. Yes, it was Captain William Henry
Cranston. The lucky old Captain promptly moved into the family household
and all was going great, then shock and horror, it was found out the old
sea dog had already got a wife, and in fact, was still married to a lady
by the name of Anne Murray, that he wed in 1744.
Mary's father, as you can imagine, wasn't too pleased on hearing this
news and came to see him for what he was. In fact, Mary's father became
a bit hostile towards the Captain you might say. To get over this,
the old sea dog persuaded dear Mary to give her father powders that the
Captain had told her would make her father like him and, the fact that
he said he loved her and would get rid of his wife and marry Mary.
Only the Captain knew what was in these powders that Mary was giving to
her dear old Dad. In fact, the powders contained arsenic and were
put into her Father's tea and gruel.
It wasn't long before dear old Dad was feeling a tad under the weather
you might say. In those days, any food that was not eaten went
back down to the staff, and due to this, many of the staff suffered from
the affliction known as the back door trots. Arsenic is a cumulative
poison and only kills when the levels have built up in the body.
Mary's Dad died on Wednesday, the 14th day of August 1751. Just
before he did, he told Mary that he suspected her of giving him poison.
She in turn, begged his forgiveness but was placed under house arrest
for the crime. The dear loving Captain, having got wind of this, high
tailed it out of the back door like a rat up a drain pipe, only to die
in France a year later. Poor old chap.
So it came to pass, Mary now all alone in the orld, came to trial at
Oxford Assizes. The date was set for the 3rd of March 1752. The trial
was of much interest because it was one of the very first times that
medical evidence was given in a murder trial. Mary defended herself with
the help of three Counsel, but knowing her case was hopeless, she still
totally denied giving arsenic to her Father, but did say she had given
him powders. The staff had their say in Court, telling the Judges
that they had seen her giving her Father powders in his food, and the
fact, that many of the staff that had fed on the leftovers had suffered
from a bad attack of the trots - it may have been that infliction that
caused the below stairs staff to freely give their evidence against her
with such gusto.
The trial only lasted 13 hours, and the Jury wasn't long in convicting
her of her dear old Father's death, and this young lady was given the
death sentence. Mary waited six weeks before her big day came, but
she had a spot of luck in a way, because she was sentenced to death a
few weeks before a new law came in, known as the Murder Act, and that
was any person to be hung was only allowed two days from being sentenced
and the body had to be dissected afterwards and to top it all, you only
received bread and water while you were waiting.
Mary on the other hand, missed out on all that and dined on grilled
mutton chops and apple pie. Mary's day came at last. It was
on a Monday on the 6th of April 1752. The gallows consisted of a long
plank of wood that had been placed between two trees. Mary was
dressed in a black dress - her arms and hands tied with black ribbons as
she climbed up the ladder that held her. Then the rope was put around
her neck, as her hands were tied at her front, she was able to read her
prayers from a little prayer book that she had been given by her dear
Father. As Mary finished her prayers, she allowed the book to fall
to the floor, thus Mary Blandy was no more.
She was buried in the early hours of Tuesday morning in the chancel of
Henley Parish Church, placed between the graves of her Mother and her
As you may remember, we have a new Chef at Rushmores. He is the
one that replaced the well known Chef that's now a taxi driver in King's
Lynn. The other day he told me that the new dessert that we have on the
Menu is the best he has ever tasted. Maybe, that's because he makes it,
but there is just one thing he said he is dying to know the secret of
and that's my toffee sauce.
Toffee Pudding and Chefs to Die for Sauce
is over, if you look in the shops, many are selling off dates at a good
Okay, what do we need for six puddings. 225g. of pitted date; 1 tsp
bicarbonate of soda; 175g. self raising flour sifted; 50g. of chopped
pecan nuts; 2 eggs; 50g of unsalted butter; 175g of soft brown sugar and
200m! of cold water.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade; Gas Mark 4. Grease 6 little
pudding basins. (There is a hardware shop in the village that sells
them.) Next, in a small saucepan, place the chopped pitted dates and
cover with 300ml of water. Bring to the boil - remove from the heat and
stir in the bicarbonate of soda.
This will make the mixture fizz. Then, in a bowl, cream together the
butter and sugar - add the eggs and beat them. Fold in the flour
and the pecans. Lastly, pour in the date mixture and blend into a
batter. Just a note - you may think that it's a bit runny, but it will
cook okay. Fill the little pudding basins and place in a roasting tray
with enough water to come half way up the side of the basins. Cook for
35-40 minutes until set.
Now for my toffee sauce. Take a saucepan and put 4oz of butter in. Add
around the same of dark brown sugar. Put this on to the heat. As the
butter and the sugar start to melt, add around two cup fulls of single
cream and allow to simmer on a good heat. Lastly, add two or three good
tablespoons full of golden treacle and stir well in. Cook for 15 mins.
It should turn into a deep golden sauce. Last of all, turn out your
pudding into serving dishes and pour over the toffee sauce. (The sauce
will set, but that is not a problem). Pour any left over sauce into a
container - cling film and store in the fridge. It can be brought back
to a runny sauce by warming again in a saucepan. Try it in the summer
time by pouring it over ice cream topped with fresh fruit.
Results of my competition from the December Newsletter
1. Bray's Pit 2. Oliver's News.
3. Cheney Hill.
5. Parking 6. 'High' Street
I am very pleased to report that I received a very good response to this
Competition and a high amount were correct. All the correct
answers were placed in a hat at the Senior Citizens Christmas Lunch on
the 20th December and a customer picked out the winner. The lucky winner
has partaken of the prize meal and bottle of wine.