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I am an unashamed Winnie the Pooh fan. I guess, strictly speaking, I am a A A Milne fan rather than just a Winnie the Pooh fan as I love the poems as much as the stories. I think it must be genetic as my mother also loved them.  So much so, that at her funeral my sister read an AA Milne poem – Wherever I am there’s always Pooh, there’s always Pooh and me . . .Nic & John in Winnie the Pooh

I remember learning Forgiven to earn my entertainers badge when I was a Brownie. I still know most of it – along with King John’s Christmas, The King’s Breakfast, Rice Pudding, Sneezles, Vespers and Disobedience. David shares my delight in all things Milne and 15 years ago directed  a production of Winnie the Pooh for our local theatre. Our second son (who was 6) played the ‘real’ Christopher Robin while we had an older boy play Christopher Robin in the stories. I played Kanga.

bookImagine my delight when I saw Return to the Hundred Acre Wood in a book shop. It looked like the real thing, was ‘an authorised sequel’ and had illustrations that looked like the original E H Shepard ones. I sampled a few pages and was convinced enough to request it for my birthday.  So, on Sunday, I duly settled down in a sunny spot for a couple of hours escape. I enjoyed it tremendously but found it, on the whole, a little unsatisfying. The illustrations were spot-on, the characters were the same as the ones I had come to know and love (with one addition) but the stories lacked something. I have been mulling it over for several days now trying to work it out and I still haven’t entirely got the answer but it seems to me that the stories in this new book stop rather than ending. They are also quite unmemorable whereas who could forget Eeyore’s Birthday or the Heffalump or Pooh’s quest to get honey? It might be because I have read them so many times that the original stories are so clear in my mind, but I don’t think so. This book will takes its place in my bookcase alongside the 4 original Milne’s but I suspect it won’t be taken down nearly so often.

Modern VegetarianI am not a vegetarian but we enjoy vegetarian food and usually eat vegetarian meals several times a week. I am always on the lookout for new recipes so was keen to check out The Modern Vegetarian by Maria Elia.


This is an attractive book and it is a useful size. There is one recipe per page and most are accompanied by a full page colour photo. The recipes are easy to follow and most of the ingredients are readily available in New Zealand. Maria has obviously been influenced by the cooking of a number of cultures but has then given things her own particular touch. Many of the recipes sound like dishes that would be listed on the menu of a fancy restaurant – Dukkah-Rolled Soft-Boiled Eggs with Chickpea Puree; Chilli and Rosemary Aubergine Parcels with Smokey Mash; Mushroom, Beetroot, Mozzarella with a Lentil Cartouche – but although this book would suit someone who has some cooking experience, the recipes are not particularly complicated.
With most recipe books I borrow, there are usually only a dozen or so recipes that I can be bothered copying them out, but I think I may have to ask for this book for my birthday as almost every recipe sets my tastebuds tingling. So far I have tried 2 – Sweetcorn Polenta with Asparagus and Shiitake Mushrooms and Banana Baklava Spring Roll with Greek Yoghurt. Both were delicious and I will make them again.



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