Summer is icumen in

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Summer has at last arrived properly in Tunstall, not just a few brief days of warmth, but proper summer with warm nights and hot feet. It is a time to get out from the city and soften the colours of experience. But I won’t, I don’t have a car nowadays.

I was brought up on the edge of the countryside/town and then when 16 moved to a cottage in the middle of countryside. I then moved to the centre of Cardiff and realised what I had missed. I loved living in the city. It was only later when I had a car that the country became good to live in again, as I could have both. Living in the Mid Wales hills then out in the Lincolnshire fens offered a great experience and a lot of visual stimulation, but getting back to the city made me see what I had missed.

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Now, it would be nice in the country, but my life is quiet and lonely enough most of the time, so the rhythm of city life and living in streets where people actually talk to you helps to alleviate that.

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Until the 19th century Summer was not a good time for people, often a time of hunger waiting for crops to ripen. The development of food storage and importing took away the seasonal nature of foods, by the early 20th Century Britain depended on Canada for wheat and other ‘colonies’ for foodstuffs. The process speeded up in the past 40 years. When I was little I remember the joy people had with the availability of frozen peas which sounds odd now, but dried peas were not always the greatest food to eat! This change happened almost unnoticed until a couple of decades ago when the source of food was printed on packaging and we saw beans arriving from Kenya and so forth!

The film East of Eden brings this development to the fore as a metaphor and I remember some of my first visits to the USA and Canada, and seeing the wonderful fresh food from Florida in northern stores in the depth of winter. Over the past ten years there seems to be move to seasonal local food, great for rhubarb lovers like me!   

Food is central to our memory, the get-togethers, the safety of family, a place we have left, a person in the family. For many years I wanted to run a long weekend of sharing and cooking foods from family recipes and sharing the stories behind them and creating a book. It never happened but maybe one day.

So today’s photographs are of the streets around me in Tunstall, Stoke-on-Trent, looking east at about 9.30am on a hot sunny day.

 

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