Monday again, and a notable absence of white vans. It’s getting just a bit boring. It’s not as if we’re suffering torrential rain or anything like that: I don’t think there’s a reason they can’t put this blanking structure up. Meanwhile, on a slightly more cheerful subject, in the last week I have come across two completely different problems with the same answer, which is bottom heat. Having bought a fine and flourishing begonia from the good Calum, I was asking him rather crossly why my collection of begonias, many of which survived the winter, aren’t yet flowering. Bottom heat is the answer to that one: start them off in the warm and up they go. If you don’t, and there’s a cold spring, which there was, they go to leaf, which is exactly what they’ve done. For next year I will buy a cheap propagator: I like begonias, and it’s been most disappointing. On another tack, we had run out of any kind of crackers or oatcakes, and I happened to find a recipe for water biscuits in an intensely old-fashioned book, André Simon’s Encyclopedia of Gastronomy. I’ve tried making crackers before without any great success, but he provided the essential factor: put your baking trays in the oven while it heats up, so that you are putting your crackers onto a very hot surface and they cook very fast from both sides. So simple, once you know.