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World Porridge Day.

You’d better get out there and sow some oats.

Was horrified to learn that The Golden Spurtle Award  for the best porridge in the world has been won by Benedict Horsburgh, an Englishman who now lives in Germany.  This was the 19th Championship and it is only the second time that it has been won by a foreigner, or Sassenach. Gleneagles’ Head Pastry Chef, Neil Mugg, was one of the judges and he should know a thing or two about that important first meal of the day, as his hotel won Breakfast of the Year Award (Large Hotel), 2012.

Benedict has graciously acknowledged that he is descended from Scottish roots- so that’s all right then!

I can trace my family back to the 1390s to the Peebles area,

he assured journalists.

Illustration of poem by John Keats by W. J. NeatbyAnd you certainly needed something warming for breakfast these last few misty mornings.  The cathedral near Suttonford felt distinctly chilly on Sunday morning and the walk through the Close reminded me of Keats and his poem: Ode to Autumn, which was inspired by his constitutional through the Close and all the way down the water meadows to St Cross.

Some years ago there was a competition to write a poem inspired by Keats and his walk and I felt the Muse nudge me into this mellow entry:


Autumnal infernos blaze through the Close;

crimson creepers lick lintels like tongued flames.

Mellow masonry supports one last rose.

Choristers discover old conker games.

You can’t enjoy such salamandrine shows:

except from your grim ward, through heavy panes.

So many youths ago, Keats waxed verbose

about St. Cross, these misty college lanes.

You yearn for those, but Life has reached the sere,

the burnished leaf, and I suspect you know,

so squeeze your hand and try to transmit cheer:

your shrivelled face flushes a phoenix glow.

Portrait of romantic poet John Keats (1795-1821).