First Veg from the Plot.

Today, I have the first veg from The Plot.

The rows of cauliflower really aren't ready yet, but this one seems to have bolted slightly, and 'panic-grown'. Thankfully, it's absolutely fine, though not as large as it 'ought' to have grown. The florets are quite as tightly packed either, and again, I reckon this is simply a sign that it was dehydrated early on in its growth.

This is what happened to a row of the Calabrese. It bolted - big style! - and is of no use. I've cut all the heads off and I reckon the side shoots will be okay, and give us nice florets.

Here's the difference between a proper broccoli and a bolted Calabrese... The Calabrese would not look identical to the broccoli anyway - the centre heads are smaller, because it's giving a steady supply of side shoots too, but still - the result of bolting is clear.

~      ~      ~

I thought I'd written about this book...

in my Scones post, but apparently not! 

I will do a post on my summer holiday Reading Corner soon, but I'll start with this one I've been reading over the past few days. 

Most of the books we've read so far, written by Douglas Bond, have been historical novels, but this is a biography of the well-known Scottish Reformer, John Knox.

Oh, hang on! Did I just say 'well known'? Well, I'm not so sure about that.

When Catherine, Katie and I went to Edinburgh last year for a couple of days, we took an open-top Bus Tour. We toured Edinburgh, reached the end of our trip, and still hadn't heard such a person even existed. Seriously! How hard does one have to try to give a commentary on the sites of Edinburgh and fail to mention John Knox? Well, apparently it's not that hard. And, of course, when you realise that the bus isn't going to pass a memorial to John Knox, or a grand gravestone, it all makes sense ... 

He is buried under what is now a parking space. Dead. Buried. Hidden in the past. He doesn't fit with the image Scotland wants to portray.

Shortbread. Highland Dancing and kilts. Whiskey. 

They are all fine. But Knox? That firey, woman-hating, Queen-insulting, firebrand of a preacher? Nope. He's not flavour-of-the-month in our modern Scotland. But if that was your impression of John Knox, read on ...

What, I think, I enjoyed most about this book is that I feel I know John Knox in a way I've never known him before. Growing up in our circles, he was a man often spoken of, so it's not that I'd never heard of him, read of him, and known things about him. But The Mighty Weakness of John Knox shows the man behind the history. It made me constantly think of the verse, 

My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me" (2Cor 12:9)

He most certainly was not strong in and of himself: indeed, physically, he suffered greatly and was not a strong man. (This was not my image of him previous to reading this book!) Indeed, after his death, Thomas Smeaton said:

"I know not if God ever placed a more godly and great spirit in a body so frail and weak" (Preface, p.xxi)

But Knox served a mighty Lord and that was where his strength lay. He was not 'in it for himself'. He was but one man, who would live for a short time and then pass on. He cared about the Cause of Christ. He cared about the poor. He cared about those who were being lied to; those who were down-trodden. He cared for those who were seeking Christ and longing for assurance of salvation to be found In Christ Alone.

He cared passionately for Scotland. In a quote ascribed to Spurgeon, it is said that, "When John Knox went upstairs to plead with God for Scotland, it was the greatest event in Scottish history."

Mary Guise also commented on his prayers. She admitted that she was "more afraid of Knox's prayers than of an army of 10,000 men."

One of my favourite passages in the book is in the chapter called Power of Prayer.

In one of Knox's treatises on prayer, he said, "Prayer is an earnest and familiar talking with God". Know saw that there is no place for elitism in praying. One needs no European PhD to be mighty in prayer. The lowliest saint may become unconquerable in prayer. Knox tenderly urged sinners to pray and to do so constantly with confident expectation of God's willingness and power to hear and to answer:
Where constant prayer is, there the petition is granted. Let no man think himself unworthy to call and pray to God, because he has grievously offended his Majesty in times past; but let him bring to God a sorrowful and repenting heart, saying, with David, "Heal my soul, O Lord, for I have offended, but now let me observe thy commandments" (Psalm 41:4). To mitigate or ease the sorrows of our wounded conscience, our most prudent Physician has provided two plasters to give us encouragement to pray: a precept and a promise. The precept to pray is universal and oft repeated: "Ask and it shall be given unto you" (Matt 7: 7), "Call upon my in the day of trouble" (Psalm 50:15)

(Emphasis my own)

I found this passage, along with many others in the book, so encouraging. 

If you have never heard of John Knox; or if you have and didn't like what you heard; or if you feel like you've known him all your life as a friend ... wherever you are coming from, I reckon this book is worth reading. 

I feel I've found a new friend, one of whom I long to know more. I guess that is the ultimate sign of a good biography, isn't it?

So, my recommendation: Make some scones, or pancakes, or oatcakes - all good Scottish fayre! - grab a cuppa, and sit down with this good book. Enjoy!


  1. I worked for several years in a building that had a statue of John Knox outside it (New College, on the Mound), so I got used to him as a daily presence.

  2. Just wanted to let you know that I absolutely loved reading your posts on, um, London and Paris! (Being American, I almost typed "Europe".) :) I definitely hope to visit both locations someday, and hopefully Scotland as well! Thanks for sharing all the pictures! -Kendal

    1. Glad you enjoyed them - I certainly enjoyed London more than I'd expected too :)

  3. Hey, I just thought you'd be amused to hear this. I had a dream last night that my sister Rachel and I went and visited you all! :) It was very vivid and now it makes me want to take a trip to Scotland all the more. :D

    1. Oh Sarah - things like that happen to me too, and make me *really* keen to visit places (for me, it's normally places on *your* side of the Pond!!)
      I do hope you both make it here someday. I would absolutely love to take you around our island ;)

  4. Love learning more about John Knox! Thank you for sharing your insights, makes me want to read his biography.


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