greenbottletree











My £2, taped together, pages falling out copy

I bought this book in July 2010 for £2.  It’s been a source of entertainment ever since.  It’s outrageous and shocking to read today.  Here’s part of the preface to set the scene:

“The first edition of this book, published in 1928, was compiled with the hope that it would prove of some assistance to newcomers to the Colony, to young or inexperienced housekeepers, and to bachelor settlers in Kenya, who must often find themselves obliged to put up with incompetency on the part of untrained native cooks or houseboys.”

Anyone fancy an egg experiment, as detailed in this book (This doesn’t appeal to me, particularly the toast soaked in milk aspect!):

Eggs Daisy
4 or 6 eggs
4 or 6 rounds of toast
salt and pepper
a little milk

Butter toast and place in oven.  Separate white and yolks of eggs and beat up whites until very light and stiff. Pile them on the slices of toast, which should be previously dipped in milk.  Make a hollow in the white and drop in the yolk of the egg.  Bake in quick oven till yolks are set and whites a light brown, dust with pepper and salt.  Serve very hot.

“Three Hints to Bachelors”:

“(1) Explain to your boy the danger of using damp bed linen and clothing, and see that after ironing, he airs all these in the sun, or by the fire, before putting them away in boxes or drawers.  Many an illness has been traced to carelessness in this matter.
“(2) Tell your boy that socks are not washed in the same way as khaki clothes, but must be washed in warm soapy water, rinsed in warm water, and hung up to dry.
“(3) Avoid chill as you would poison.  If you come in wet, have a hot bath at once, then put on dry clothing, and take 5 grains of quinine, with a hot drink, preferably tea or coffee.  Unless you can sit by a fire, go to bed and keep warm.”

Cure for hiccups:

“Drink 1/2 a teaspoonful of vinegar, and keep the arms in an upright position for a minute or so afterwards.”

“Orders to Servants”

Useful orders to servants (English – Ki-Swahili – Ki-Settler):

“Dust well, do not flick with the duster.”
“Every day the bwana wants hot water for shaving.”
“I do not allow strange boys near the house.”
“Make tea and bring it here now.”
“You are insolent!  You must look pleasant (or) pleased.”

Some Kikuyu sentences (many of which are put into idiom) to give orders:

“When you dig have a basket besides you, into which to put small stones which you find when digging.  Stones may stop a flower finding food or room for its roots.”
“Cut the edge straight like the top of a table.”
“Do not forget to give the poultry much water to drink every day.”

I got sidetracked looking through recipes.  I’m going to choose one, make it and see how it turns out.  Which of the following shall I go for:

Apple Balls, Delicate Cakes, Silver Cake, Lemon Queens or Apple Amber?

My first challenge is set!



By way of blog introduction, I want to explain Green Bottle Tree’s name.

In 1995 I spent a semester at Ole Miss (University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi).  There’s a cafe and bakery in Oxford called Bottletree Bakery.  I loved it.  The food, the drinks, the environment.  It’s the first cafe I ever truly appreciated and it’s one of only a few memorable ones I’ve ever been to.  The name stuck.

I then discovered an African (Congolese) superstition whereby bottles are hung from trees.  The bottles catch evil spirits, drawn to the colours livened up by the sun.  The idea of bottle trees is now quite popular in the Deep South, both to ward off evil spirits and as recycled art.

Traditionally, blue bottles are used.  I like green and I didn’t like that Blue Bottle Tree could be read as blue bottle tree and blue bottle flies are germ spreading, maggot producing buzzy things that I don’t like!

What will you find out about if you read Green Bottle Tree?


I should’ve mentioned in the “About Me” section that I lack direction!  I know that blogs need a purpose but I’m hoping that my pursuit of creative inspiration, experimentation and persevering with a project, ie a regularly updated blog, will tickle your interest too.

I’m not too sure what will come out of this but how about a list of things I want to achieve with this blog:

[Ridiculous, I know, but listing things makes this seem like a very important and significant step.  I’m taking this too seriously perhaps!]

1. Continue having random thoughts and ideas but to put them all in one place: here.
2. Get at least one follower who isn’t a loyal, supportive friend to follow and contribute to this blog.
3. Learn to be concise.
4. Follow things through.  Eg I bought some grey and white stripy jersey material with a view to making a top, without a pattern.  My current self will never even attempt to make this top.  [My current self and future self also lack the skills to fulfil this project but I don’t want to focus on my failings before I even begin]
5. Make this something I look forward to doing regularly and do regularly.
6. Introduce me to new and amazing things.
7. Take lots of pictures to illustrate this.
8. Learn how to use technology, whether the tabs on this website or just general computer things, so this blog at least looks impressive.

It’s getting a bit vague and my purpose blurred.  I feel ready to burst forth … going to have a cup of tea first though!

Feeling nervous about publishing this.  I’m going to do it, not that I have any followers.  Yet?!!!



et cetera