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Thyme Out (2000)

I was inspired by a television programme for this one.  It was a series of very short films called  ‘A Woman Called Smith’ and it was about – yes – woman called Smith.  It is a long time ago now but I loved these tiny glimpses of other women’s lives.  Frances Smith grew tiny vegetables for the restaurant market.  There’d been a ‘Black Day of the Week’  - can’t remember which one it was – but the stock market had collapsed and Frances decided that she had to use the property they lived in, which had a very large garden, to restore the family fortune.

She was incredibly resourceful and among other things, sold some baby leeks, which were due to be planted, to a passing chef who told her that they were the perfect size for leeks.  She listened, she provided!   It was she who brought us the pea shoot which we all eat every time.  She was the one who convinced a chef (wish I could tell you which one) that they were a great garnish.

I went to stay with her for a night and had a terrific time.   I think she was the basis for my ‘resourceful heroines’ I am so fond of writing.  I suppose it’s because I admire these people as women and wish I was more like them!

I had one difficulty though.  I wanted to write about a tv cookery programme and try as I might I couldn’t get behind the scenes at any of them.  The only programme who’d let me in was Ready, Steady, Cook!   They let me be in the audience.

I remember this book with great pleasure.   Having a good heroine (even though Frances Smith had to be made younger and single) is such a good start.

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