Eating Lord Stradbroke and Lady Henniker

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Last week Lord Stradbroke and Lady Henniker sat side by side for some days on my drawing board, in the morning bathed in autumn sunshine and in the afternoons unlit but glowing with their own colour.

My sister brought them with her on my birthday from her garden in Suffolk, along with bright yellow courgettes and, astonishingly, figs, and I sketched them to look at them lovingly and enjoy them for as long as I could before eating them. Eventually we ate Lady Henniker stewed, with dates – she melted down into a light frothy mousse and was delicious with plain yoghourt. Lord Stradbroke is going to go in a pie.

Apples have always been my favourite fruit.

Facts about these English (Suffolk) apples, for those who like to know such things:
Lady Henniker: raised from a seedling between 1840-50, having been found in discarded cider must at the Henniker family home at Thornton Hall, near Eye. Introduced by head gardener Mr Perkins in 1873. RHS fist class certificate in 1875, became a popular garden variety. Cooks to pale yellow quite strongly flavoured puree, hardly needing extra sugar.
Lord Stradbroke: found, or raised, by Lord Stradbroke’s head gardener Mr Fenn at Henham Hall near Wangford in about 1900. RHS award of merit in 1905. Synonyms include Fenn’s Wonder and Fenn’s Seedling. Large and maroon in colour, prominently ribbed and crowned, bruises easily. A sweet light cooker in October.

Fall they will. But not quite yet…

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There should be another name for the season we are in. It’s no longer summer, and it isn’t autumn – something liminal, poised between two states and held waiting in a delicate balancing act of cool misty mornings and golden afternoons.

There won’t be many days like this, so I love them all the more.

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