About Me

With Basil - no. 1 Jack Russell Terrier!
I thought it was about time I came clean and gave you all a little low-down on who I am.

I was born in 1959 in Kluang, Malaysia.  My Dad was in the Royal Engineers and was stationed out there at the time.  Regrettably, I don't remember much of that time as I was very small when we returned back to the U.K. - however I do have a teensy memory of being pushed in a pushchair through the Tiger Balm Gardens in Singapore and feeling frightened by all the vignettes that were on display.

Dad's postings took us mostly to Germany, where we lived in Berlin, Roxel and Munster before returning home to the U.K. and settling down in Oakley, just outside Basingstoke in Hampshire.

It is probably true to say that my interest in cooking started around about this time, as I can clearly remember baking a very creditable Victoria Sandwich for tea on Sunday, on more than one occasion.  My Mum is a great cook who is known for her light touch with pastry - I only wish I had inherited said light touch - the stories of my battles with pastry are becoming legendary.  So it is fair to say that I learnt at the knee of my Mum - as many lucky children do!

I had started riding horses whilst in Munster - riding the army horses - and once in this country would save my pocket money for twice-monthly riding lessons.  My love for horses has been part of my life for as long as I can remember - and it really gelled around this time.
Baringa - what a handsome lad!

However, I wasn't to own my own horse until I was 18 or so.  My parents went away on holiday, leaving me engaged to be married.  They came back two weeks later and I had chucked my fiancee and bought a horse.  I have never looked back since.

Dear old Baringa was my first love affair.  I was advised not to buy him by the vet I sent to check him over - so, of course, bought him.  Well, he was so poorly, I couldn't leave him there!  He was with me for some six years or so, eventually being put to sleep in October 1985 - a day I can remember like it was yesterday.

Pandora V - 28ft long x 9ft wide - a bijou little residence!
During this time, I was working as a legal secretary for two firms of Solicitors and living on a boat on the river Thames.  If you were to describe the cooking facilities on the boat as "basic", you'd probably be doing it a favour.  We had a calor gas stove, a kettle and a sink - and a six inch board which doubled as draining board or worktop, depending on where in the process of dinner you were.

Mind you, it was whilst living on the boat that I fine tuned my curry-making.  I owned a pressure cooker that, originally, I'd bought to cook the horses' linseed with.  I soon realised that it did some great chicken that could then be used for curry.  I just wish I'd realised that the stock was usable too! 



So, in the meantime, an equine Marilyn Monroe had joined my horsey family - Kellie of Whitefield was my first pure bred Highland Pony and she taught me more than anyone about communication with an animal and the fine nuances of a nervous horse's behaviour.  I bought her with a view to showing - and spent many nervous summers with her and my second Highland pony, Rosette of Gleneagles, pacing around show rings in the South of England.

Posing outside my office
My working life had taken me to Hampton Court Palace and the Historic Royal Palaces agency.  From Hampton Court, we took care of all the unoccupied Royal Palaces in London.  I began there as a secretary who stood in for holiday absences, eventually taking on a permanent job as a Secretary/Personal Assistant to the Marketing Director and ultimately the Commercial Director.  I was there for some 9 years and saw the opening of the Tudor Kitchens and King's Apartments at Hampton Court Palace, the opening of the new Jewel House at the Tower of London, the instigation of the Hampton Court Palace Music Festival and the Flower Show.  I still feel very privileged to have held that job and Hampton Court Palace holds a position very close to my heart.

My little horsey family had been enhanced by the addition of Connick's Lucy - a small, chocolate brown donkey who I found in a field of some 50 or so donkeys all destined for the salami trade in Europe.  She was so sweet and so wanted to leave the field and go home (back to Ireland, I suspect - she still had the harness marks on her) that of course, I bought her for the princely sum of £150.  I would drive Lucy in a little four wheeled vehicle, with one lurcher dog - Ginny - in between my knees and the other - Gyp - sitting on the passenger seat.

Lucy, all harnessed up and ready to go
Everyone - no, absolutely everyone - loved Lucy.  She was the most cantankerous, grumpy but ultimately sweet natured little thing, who had the loudest bray.  When Bob Gregory the farrier came to trim her feet, she would stand on his steel toecap while he trimmed her other foot.  Her tiny feet were like eggcups.

By now I was living alone in a Granny Annexe on the side of a big Victorian Rectory.  I didn't have a lot of time for cooking - leaving at 7am and returning at 8pm didn't leave a lot of room for culinary creations.  However, I did learn the inestimable value of the slow cooker!

Eventually, as most things do, this episode in my life came to an end and I moved to Kent to be with hubby.

I spent a little while working for a firm which dealt with making custom wheelchairs for children through to adults, again as a Secretary.  Unfortunately, I wasn't with them long as son & heir decided to make an appearance!

What? Surely everyone wears cat ears?
We moved to Dorset fairly recently, where I took a job working for a Bournemouth Hotel on the same day that I was diagnosed with Polymyalgia Rheumatica.  Between that and the arthritis caused by my wild youth (I haven't even begun to tell you about the motorcycles), my mobility decreased as my weight increased - largely due to the use of steroids in treating the Polymyalgia.  Eventually, I called a halt to the steroids as it had become a race to see which one would kill me first - the polymyalgia or my weight.

Since then, I have had to give up my job with the Hotel - but had begun writing Jenny Eatwell's Rhubarb and Ginger.

Some two years after arriving in Dorset, my brain decided to melt one night.  I went to sleep in my own bed - and woke up 24 hours later, in hospital.  I, basically, wouldn't wake up and had to be put into a coma before being brought back to consciousness slowly.  The end diagnosis was of a small stroke, although nothing but a slight bleed in one eye was ever traced.  I exhibited many of the signs of stroke, having lost the majority of my vocabulary and ability to string a sentence together.  I still have huge gaps in my memory - for instance, it's just taken my around 10 minutes and lots of mental gyrations to remember the word "vocabulary".  The written word covers these mental glitches up, as nobody knows how long it has taken me to remember what a pressure cooker (for instance) is called.  I dare say when speaking to me it would quickly become apparent.  But hey ho - it's now just part of life.  My weight is still very much an issue, but slowly, slowly catchee monkey where that is concerned. 

Writing Rhubarb and Ginger - at first - was something of a rehabilitation exercise for me.  I've always enjoyed "talking" (as the length of this bio will attest) and have been told that I've led an interesting life, so have a fair old bit to talk about!  Very quickly, however, the competitive side of my nature came to the fore and I began to want to make the blog as good as it could be.

From Rhubarb & Ginger has come my "Jenny's Week" blog for the Taste pages of the online Bournemouth Echo newspaper.  I've been writing this blog for almost three years now!

Jonty, the Saluki
These days, I now have to use a walking stick when moving around the house and I am, pretty much, wheelchair bound when outdoors.  Gone are the days of riding horses and walking dogs - although we still have a Saluki and two Jack Russell terriers, who rely on hubby for their daily walks.

Rhubarb and Ginger has given me a focus, something that I had to get out of bed for (well, I had to do that to drive son & heir to school - but you know what I mean!), something to strive for and an interest.  After all, the family had to be fed - and people seemed to like my recipes, so it was an obvious thing to write about.

I didn't ever imagine what avenues it would take me down.  The lovely people I have met via the blogging, the amazing produce I have had the privilege of working with and the grey-matter twisting moments of trying to think of something interesting to do with the latest ingredient.

I just didn't imagine that it would wind up running me, quite as much as it does!

CONTACT INFORMATION


Twitter : JennyEatwell


19 comments:

  1. Wow! is all I can say. You've done a fair bit Jenny! My admiration and respect for you has grown by leaps n bounds.
    Love you & Waheguru Bless my friend.

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    1. Thank you Jasvinder - so lovely to see you over here!

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  2. Lovely words and pictures Jenny - the boat pic. especially has inspired me!

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    1. Hello Viv! How lovely to see you here! Ah, yes, I found myself inspired on a regular basis when living on board Pandora. :)

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  3. Hi Jenny - what an amazing story. Thank you for sharing it and if you were anywhere nearby, I would pop around to give you a huge hug! Just found your blog, and intend to follow it regularly!

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    1. Awww, that's very sweet of you! I'd enjoy that huge hug, too. :)

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  4. Hi Jenny you were probably just coming back to the UK as I was going out to Changi in 1963.
    I remember Tiger Balm gardens,I was sat on a bench smoking and threw the dog end onto the floor.The next thing I knew a monkey appeared from nowhere and attacked me.I can only assume he had picked a discarded one in the past and got burned,and remembered it !
    Gosh you have had some hard times.I understand how you get involved in your blog as I spend hours on mine now I'm retired .
    Dave

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    1. Hiya Dave! Yes, we must have crossed by a couple of years, I'd guess. Well, that's the last thing you'd expect - to be attacked by a monkey! Maybe he was an early litter campaigner. LOL I don't think of myself as having had hard times - I think it's more a case of, now, reaping the "rewards" of a wild and impetuous (but fun!) youth! lol

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  5. hey. looking for the recipe for the pork shoulder picnic roast?

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    1. I'm not sure what you mean by "picnic" roast, Anonymous? There's the basic pork shoulder braised in the slow cooker at http://jennyeatwellsrhubarbginger.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/slow-cooker-braised-pulled-pork.html then the BBQ version of pulled pork at http://jennyeatwellsrhubarbginger.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/slow-cooker-bbq-pulled-pork-perfect-for.html, was it either of those?

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  6. Quite a story. Love your blog.

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    1. Thank you Hub-UK. :) Funny, but I had no idea it was an unusual life at the time. LOL

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  7. Jenny, what an inspiring story! Your positive attitude undoubtedly has kept you on the right track. I just discovered your blog, and am an instant fan! Can't wait to try some of your recipes.

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    1. Awww, thank you Sharon. I do hope you'll leave a message on any recipe you've tried and tell me how it went, complete with the bad bits if it doesn't work out right! I'm very open to improving them in any way I can. :)

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  8. What a wonderful story Jenny, I really enjoyed reading what you shared... I also LOVE horses, dogs and donkeys. I am about to start up my own blog as an adult survivor of child abuse in a week or two and feel very nervous about it and at the same completely over excited to at last be making yet another dream come true at the age of almost 59! I do hope that sharing my life will be inspiring to others as your sharing here has been to me. All the best as you journey on, Pan

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    1. Isn't it funny how like attracts like? :D I can understand how you would be nervous about setting yourself out there for all to see, but - on the whole - people are lovely and I am sure you will find it the same way. Do come back and leave the url of your blog once it's up and running, so that we can stay in touch! :D

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    2. That will be wonderful! Thanks Jenny :D

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  9. Lovely times in your life magical unfortunate the illness but I can see your strong and have a loving careering family. I thank you for posting your love of food to my just grub page & thank you Mr Grub

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    1. Hello JG! :) Thanks for coming over for a read, lovely to see you here!

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