I never returned to De Puy…wrote Godfrey. I hitch hiked by bike across the River Tamar, there was not a safe bridge to cross, without one narrow lane, fast traffic of transport and car. After weeks on the road, of toast under beans, or porridge three ways, three times a day, I oft craved a dinner of fish like my Ma fried and fresh salad greens.

Parsley, tomatoes, carrots, lettuce romaine, Ma dumped all in the sink, told me to wash dirt and snails down the drain. I did rinse the poor snails, balanced on a wood crate, I washed the leeks, and snow peas my sister Alice greedily ate.

They also ate beets, but not me, and I never returned to De Puy.    Was a lovely hostel, De Puy, chickens pecked about in the kitchen, roamed free. The managers son wore a dress and his hair in a plait, no one saw fit to judge, or comment on that. They invited me to join them for tea, fine new friends I made, by the River Tamar in De Puy.

When I was a lad, Ma fed us each a radish, every day said “They keep your skin rosy and when you eat rubbish like sweets help your liver to detoxify” I loved radishes until that night in De Puy, and shall explain why.

We had fine, fried, fresh fish filets from the Tamar, we drank apple cider fresh pressed, we had grand conversation on wisdom and books we had read. We had salad from the garden, lightly dressed.

I had heard of black radishes thinly sliced sheer, I dipped mine in mustard, as the full plate I ate had a flavor just a tad “queer”.  My hostess smiled when I asked and explained, “those were the famous, rare Black Beets of De Puy, did you enjoy them my dear”?.

..Oh how my sister would laugh at my face, had Alice been here.  I never returned to De Puy, although it was lovely and everyone so kind to me. In a vagabond life, there are just too many places to ramble and so much to see. It was not the fault I ate dreaded black beets, I simply never got back to De Puy.


  1. Oh, goodness, Sheila, reminds me of the time I took a big bite of plain yogurt, thinking it was vanilla pudding and gamely finished it, not wanting to offend the Great Aunt who had given me a dessert gone bad. Not sharing Godfrey’s distaste of beets, I could quite happily eat the meal at De Puy several times a week.

    • Hi Janet, Great Aunts…I recall having a paddy in the grocery store when Ma refused to buy the biscuits with a Collie Dog on the box, not believing me that’s what we ate at Great Aunt Bud’s house. You are indeed a game and well brought up girl to endure what must have tasted like pudding long gone south. “The Parsley Garden”, by William Saroyan, best description of a salad ever.

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