Saturday 17 October 2009

Soul food and farewell for now


"There is nothing - absolutely nothing half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats."

Ratty, The Wind in the Willows


mombasa.08High Tide.

Do you remember, when you were young, coming inside after wonderfully busy day and the sun-tingling, sleepy-happy feeling you had and, most of all, how absolutely starving hungry you were?

oosterval Low Tide.

Our particular piece of paradise is called Oestervaal. An old shooting lodge with stables and barns that were converted by my parents and close friends into a treasured place to spend our holidays. Oestervaal's lime-washed houses with their gables, buttressed walls, sash windows and bougainvillea-filled courtyards sit snugly - and oh so prettily - on the shores of Langebaan Lagoon in the Western Cape. Part of a  protected Wildlife and Marine Reserve, there is no electricity, no telephone and no television at Oestervaal. The only boats allowed must be under sail. There is a canon pointing at the lagoon, an enormous ancient anchor sits like a sculpture in the middle of the main lawn and the ship's bell of the Thermopylae, wrecked off Mouille Point in 1899 hangs between two white-washed pillars. The old stables with their huge arched doors are used now to house the boats and sometimes, at night when the moon is full, they creak open to reveal the ghost of gentle Rachel, the fisherman’s wife, rocking back and forth in her chair in the corner as she endlessly knits…and knits…and…..knits.

As children, we swam and sailed, flew homemade kites, examined rock pools with a practised eye, bravely held buckets for the crayfish our parents sometimes caught for supper, collected a thousand precious shells and went on long and dangerous 'explorations’. Someone would draw a ‘pirate’s map’ and we’d set off in our own small, red-sailed dinghies to find treasure on some distant shore. When the South-Easter puffed up his cheeks to blow a gale and the water was too rough at high tide for the smaller boats, we’d pack a picnic and hike up to the old East India Company lookout on the hill behind the lodge. Here we’d search for fossils or old blue bottles, hold very serious bird spotting competitions or play riotous games of cowboys and Indians.

The old ship’s bell would be rung by one of our parents when it was time for us to come back from wherever we were having our adventure that day. Usually we’d crowd into The Commodore and Mrs Merry Berry’s kitchen and the kettle would be put to boil on the wood burning Welcome Dover while we draped ourselves over the huge blue and white sailcloth covered sofa under the window or around the long yellowwood table and excitedly tell the Beresfords (their proper name!) and our parents about our day. Tea was milky and smoky and slightly brackish from the well water – still, to this day, the very best tea in all the world! And then there was Mrs Merry Berry’s Particularly Piggy Pear Pie. Well, if ever there was a pie that makes your taste buds hit the stratosphere, then this was the one!




Mrs Merry Berry’s Particularly Piggy Pear Pie

  • 600g/1½ lb ready-made shortcrust pastry
  • caster sugar (for sprinkling)
  • 6 fresh pears
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • *3 sprigs rosemary
  • finely grated zest and juice of ½ a lemon
  • 110g/4oz caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 egg
  • 30g/1oz butter

Grease a 22cm/9in ovenproof dish.

Roll out two thirds of the pastry on a floured work surface and line the pie dish.

Peel, quarter and core the pears, then slice thickly into a bowl.

Mix together the sugar, lemon juice and zest and stir gently into the pears

Place the pear slices into the lined pie dish. Dot with butter, and sprinkle with the cinnamon and rosemary.

Roll out the remaining pastry and put on top of the sliced pears. Pinch the edges to sea. Make a small hole and four radiating cuts in the top to allow steam to escape.

Make decorations from any pastry trimmings if you’re in the mood and brush with the lightly beaten egg and sprinkle with the remaining sugar.

Bake at 190C/375F/Gas 5 for 30-40 mins until the fruit is tender and the top is golden brown.

Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.


*Herbs are delicious with sweet dishes. To get a more intense rosemary flavour, infuse the sugar with a couple of sprigs for a month before you use it. You can also do this with vanilla or lavender.

I do hope you enjoy your very own Particularly Piggy Pear Pie!  And finally, a personal note from me to my very special blogpals:


Dearest blogfriends ~

This is just a little note to say that I’ve decided that I should take a short sabbatical from the blogosphere. I’ve found that with our imminent move, along with the slightly zombie-fied state in which I find myself with the different drugs being tried on me for this wretched myeloma, I just can’t manage to properly keep up with my blog and, most important of all, my visits to your blogs.  I’m also struggling to find time, via email and/or reciprocal visits, to respond to and thank you for your comments on each of my posts. And that’s just plain rude of me!

So until we’re settled into our little house in Norfolk, with the salty tang of the sea to revive and refresh the old spirit, I must say adieu for a short time.

Your visits, comments and emails keep the heartbeat of these global friendships pulsing and I love and appreciate every single one of you. I know I will miss you all terribly during this little upheaval, but I will pop over to visit whenever I can.

I love you all – every single one of you. Totsiens for now!

Tessa xxxx


Holly said...


Thanks you for this pie and I will make it and think of you. Your memories of your charmed childhood made me sit here in the sun on this gray, foggy rainy day so thank you.

You do not ever have to comment on my blog but just being able to visit with you and hear you tell me stories is a wonderful treat.

I will miss you while you're 'away' but you can never be far from me now that I know you...for I carry you in my heart and thoughts.

Reiki comes to you each day...the only gift I can give as you find your way through these physical trials.

Love To You & See You Later!

Jean Michelle Miernik said...

Lovely recipe! I hope to enjoy my own pear tree someday...

Until then, I just moved into a home with a black walnut tree that I just learned how to deal with. I'm such a city kid that it feels so miraculous to have food falling out of the trees! It feels somehow more filling and nutritious to eat food that you've grown or harvested.

Have a good break, and I will check it out again when you're ready to return to the blogosphere.

steven said...

tessa - anyone who quotes arthur ransome is the best!!!! this absolutely beautiful post makes it harder to see you head off. but!! you have my admiration for placing your emerging life ahead of the bloggy world. i wish you the very best while you're away and i look forward to your return!!! steven

Rosaria Williams said...

Lovely story and delightful pear pie recipe to try. Do what you must to get well, to do what must be done, to relocate and rediscover more sources of inspiration. I'll miss you, and look forward to your return.

Lucy said...

Take care of yourself dear Tessa. I have loved your stories, your prose, your paintings and you.

I look forward to the day that returns you to us. Until then, I wish you good health, love and peace.


Lucy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Messing about in boats!
and your African memories
so wonderful.
I quite understand why you will be taking a little break --gosh, I'm surprised you have managed to keep blogging at all.
Anyway, we will all be thinking of you and wishing you well.
Much love

Titus said...

Good luck, hope all goes well and I'll be making the pie, being a bit of a piggy myself!

Elizabeth Musgrave said...

YOu reminded me here of things in my childhood that were below the surface and came charging back full of sunlight and sand. I have my first crop of truly luscious pears. I might make your fab pear recipe if I have not eaten too many simply as they lie in the bowl. Take care, and good luck with the move.

Karina Russell said...

I just joined your blog as a regular reader and have thoroughly enjoyed reading. I am about to move 2000 miles away, and also blog, so can relate to much of what you are going through. Rest your body and soothe your soul. I hope to see you back again soon. Best Wishes, Kariana

The Bug said...

Good luck with your move & your meds - we'll be here when you get back!

Sarah Lulu said...


Sending you so much love and prayers for healing and for moving.

That quote is a favourite of mine ...Swallows and Amazons such a special book from my own childhood!

God bless you. xxxxxx

Irene said...

Take care of yourself, Tessa. Take all the time you need to settle in and be well. Tot ziens en tot gauw.

L'Adelaide said...

tessa, you must take care of you so you will come back...hear?

we will all be fine, I think, while you are resting and lying about, eating bonbons and such, painting lovelies, love this little guy you have posted today, walking or driving those gorgeous old roads and picnicking in places far and wide...hmmmm, yes, I think you should most definitely take some time away and while you are doing it, don't forget to take care of welll and happy and fat and sassy as hell, ok? love to you ♥

Lori ann said...

What everyone else has said times one hundred.
I'm sorry you have to deal with the yucky meds, but hopefully you'll get the right one and it'll be okay. Safe travels to your blessed new home.
Much much love from Diamond, Zuri and me.

Val said...

thanks for giving us such a beautiful childhood memory of a magical place; and for telling us of your plans. I wish you well with the big move to the east... and i hate tht you are struggling with meds, but know 'this too shall pass' and you will find your way through. Will miss your beautiful posts and wait to hear how it all went. Vxx

Janelle said...

oh lordy we'll miss you...and my oh my that place in the western cape sounds magical. simply magical...beautiful pics as always but particularly love the little mouse! take care tessa and will wait anxiously for your move to be over and you to be settled in and back in the bloggy world...lots love xx janelle

Stacey J. Warner said...


I have only recently gotten to know you...I'm sending you much love.

Take care until you are back.

Maithri said...

Dearest Tessa,

Yes, life comes first.... and you have so much to live beautiful one...

You give and give to each and all...and your blog is a testament to that generosity of spirit and the enormity of talent which resides within you...

Now you must take care of yourself... before anything else...

Giving yourself the love which you so freely give to the world...

When you return we will all be here with open arms to embrace you, but till then take our love...

And envelope yourself in its tenderness...

You are the light dear Tessa,

And knowing you are here in this me great hope...

All my love,


Heiko said...

I've only recently started reading your blog, but let me send you off with a quote from the Gilgamesh epic:

[Siduri, the divine maker of wine, the young woman says:] “When the gods created man they allotted to him death, but life they retained in their own keeping. As for you, Gilgamesh, fill your belly with good things; day and night, night and day, dance and be merry, feast and rejoice. Let your clothes be fresh, bathe yourself in water, cherish the little child that holds your hand, and make your wife happy in your embrace; for this too is the lot of man.”

Sorry it's a little male orientated, but it's 3000 years old at least.

Anonymous said...

Totsiens dear bloggy friend. May the move be smooth and may settling into your new home be fun and exciting. I wish you sterkte to get through the next little while. Hugs.

Mónica said...

¡Hi Tessa! thanks for share this pie and wonderful paintings. Nice sunday

Linda Sue said...

Such a delicious post to leave us with...Even though you will not be in blogworld for a time I will be taking you along with me in mine and on marvelous adventures with red sails. Take good care of you, stay well rested, drink tea- our love goes with you.

A Cuban In London said...

You will be so missed (cue tears). I have loved coming to your space so much. The mix of anecdotes from your childhood and youth (like the one today) and your culinary skills. Plus the awareness you raise of different causes. You're so courageous and inspiring. I, for one, will miss you. Please, please, please, when you DO decide to come back, don't forget to pop by and let me know.

Until then, I raise a glass to you, to Guy and to your beautiful family.

Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

Ces Adorio said...

My dearest Tessa, I am sad to see you go but I completely understand. I will still feature you this week and for today, I have an oak tree for you compliments of Arija. So long my dear friend, like an oak be strong and refuse to be felled.

ArtSparker said...

Hoping to find some pears...Best wishes for a minmally stressful move.

Reya Mellicker said...

You are so completely NOT rude in any way, Tessa. What a graceful post - thank you.

Have a wonderful, smooth, uneventful move. Hope you're settled soon and that the treatment for the myeloma isn't too harsh.

Sending love, until you return.

Renee said...

Love you too Tessa, more than you know.

Love Renee xoxo

Deborah said...

Tessa, I came over from Ces' blog, and instantly I see everything that Ces put into her rendition of you! Amazing art and words, and the heart of an angel. You are
de-lovely. I am so sorry to hear about your illness and I lift you in prayer, never ceasing, that The One who created such a lovely being will surely return you to health. All my love, Deborah

Anne Huskey-Lockard said...


Just came from Ces's blog after due homage being paid to her Queen Nymph rendering of you.
I wish you Godspeed and the best....may you be touched by angels and return to your followers soon and happy and whole.


currentlife2u said...

nice blog..go true
click here..

Unknown said...

I come here from CEs' blog!! and I am thrilled I did...

Carol said...

You will be missed but we all understand that sometimes life gets in the way!! We'll all still be here when you get back :-)

I hope they manage to find some meds that work for you and that your move is smooth.

In the meantime, I might just force myself to have a go at making that pie!!

lots of love right back at ya...'see' you soon

C x

Renee said...

Tessa I think I forgot to tell you how much I love the painting of the little boy.

It is up today, thank you dear one.

Love Renee xoxo

Silke Powers said...

Love you too, Tessa! Your life is such a rich tapestry of experiences, places and people! I will miss you and your posts terribly, but I understand that you need to take care of yourself and your new nest!! Thank you for that magical childhood memory AND the pie recipe! Much love, Silke

Renee said...

I love you Tessa. Talk about wonderful people.

I adore you.

Love Renee xoxo

Renee said...

Tessa you have to check out the drawing Ces made of you.


Love Renee xoxo

Sarah Sullivan said...

I understand Tessa..I will be sad to not read your post for a bit. But am sending healing your way! Take care of you and know you will be missed. Namaste, Sarah

BT said...

Oh Tessa, I can see why you have so many followers and Ces and Steven are among them. I just loved your prose story of your blessed childhood and the photos and wonderful painting. I will await your return and hope to join your band of friends. May I ask, if you have time, where in Norfolk you are moving to? I used to live in Thetford and recently holidayed at Caister.

Renee said...

I like the clicker.


christina said...

so nice to meet you. i am making my way from renee's.
you have taken me by the hand, and shared such sweet memories.
thank you, thank you.
i can hear the bell ringing.

Cindy said...

I'll miss your posts, Tessa, but do feel better and try not to let the move get too hectic! We'll all be waiting for tales of your adventures when you get back, and keeping you in our thoughts and prayers in the meantime :)

Bee said...

I'm absolutely positively going to make this pie this week. I'll toast to you -- and new places and old places and wonderful memories. And I will try to be extra extra hungry so that I can remember the ravenous child in me.

You are so lovely. xx
(Good luck with the move! You know we will all be looking forward to reading the next chapter.)

Delwyn said...


I wish you a good rest, a tress free move and settling in to the new home.
Happy days

soulbrush said...

i do so hope your move goes well tessa, and totsiens for now and i hope you will soon feel a lot better too. hugs from me in london.

Unknown said...

Love that image of the kids running on the beach. The shadows are so beautiful on the background. So nondescript but so much clearer than anything else.

sallymandy said...

You take good care of yourself. I have been on a hiatus from blogging for several weeks, and have returned only to find many of us have taken time away. Some of us have said adios for good. It's all for the best...sending all good wishes your way.

myriamkreativ said...

Hi Tessa,
the pear pie sound great - and I will give it a try and send only the best wishes to you. Hope you will get well soon and Hugs all the way from the other side of the Atlantic Myriam