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Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Size and Scale

DJ loves trucks. In fact he loves most things on wheels with an engine.
Barnard Castle had a "Truck Show" over the long weekend and because it's only a few miles away, we went. There were one or two leaving early to head back to Scotland but the rest were still on show. They let us in for £5 instead of £8 and we had a great look round.

They were lined up and down and again and again. I've never seen so many trucks in one place before. This was a gorgeous vintage truck with it's engine under the flat bed of the truck and cab. Not many of them around apparently. DJ's favourite was this full-on show with a bonnetted unit. It's like a jewelled outfit to him.

Anyway, we managed to spend some time between rain-showers, doing over three of the hanging baskets with winter pansies and variegated ivy. And...I harvested some carrots.

As you can see they match the quality and grandeur of the tomatoes.

You will be relieved to know that we have no further vegetables in the kitchen garden (two small pots) but the herbs are still doing well and the crab apples are turning a lovely gold colour. They will be the next ingredient in some culinary marvel.

Hope you all have some kitchen garden stuff you are pleased with. Do you find that much of the fun which results from a glut of home-growns is working out what to do with it all?

Hope so.

Cheers Gillian

Monday, 29 August 2011

Size Matters

Here is a goodly part of the tomato crop chez nous. A handsome collection and probably a few more to come. We are proud of them. They were grown without assistance from glasshouse, fertiliser and know-how, in one of the coldest corners of England.Here they are artfully posed beside a mug. And again artfully tossed into a cup and saucer.

However, the truth of the matter is that they are only this big. The mug was DJ's "tea" mug and the cup and saucer are espresso sized.

They will not provide passata for the long winter months as Italian families expect their backyard crop to do. Indeed, they will hardly provide a part of a lunch snack. But they grew in Bishop Auckland outside in the garden. Next year we may be bold enough to try again and expand our kitchen garden to include the rest of the salad.

Cheers Gillian

Saturday, 27 August 2011

So I Baked a Cake!

The biscuit tin contained quite a few stale biscuits. Some were old ginger nuts from Lidl and others were fine cookies with stem ginger from a posh shop. DJ is very fond of ginger, but these were all past it.

I googled "what to do with left over ginger biscuits" and got some disappointing results. I thought there would be thousands of things you could do with a few old ginger nuts. But no. Zut alors! (practising my french for the foray abroad). At last I came up with a lovely recipe for a ginger cheesecake. I haven't ever baked a cheesecake before but the important factor...the use of the old biscuits...made me decide to have a go.

I set off to buy cream cheese, sour cream, a lime and....a cake pan.

Yes, it's a beauty. But it cost over six pounds and I was buying it to use up some old biscuits.!!!

I followed the recipe to the letter because, not only have I never made a baked cheesecake before, but I have never made a successful cake of any sort before. My sponges erupt like a volcano and my fruit cakes slump in the middle and have patches of raw bottom no matter how long I cook them for. ( As I write this I remember a remarkably glorious xmas cake I made last year. So unusual that I forgot it, but I blogged it so I can't pretend otherwise). Read on...

It worked.

I often go wrong because I can't help trying to improve on a recipe. I resisted the temptation until I got to the sour cream topping at the end and added lime juice and zest.

Most amazingly, it not only slid out of the cake tin with ease, but it also cut into slices like the ones you get in teashops. WOW.

I hope I can get the link to work so that you can share the recipe. Nope! here it is in full

Cheers Gillian

Wednesday, 24 August 2011


This is a picture of the village of Ravenglass on the south west Cumbrian coast. On a clear day, you can see the Isle of Man to the west and very distantly, Scotland to the north west.
We visited the area in the campervan together with M&D and their four dogs in their own campervan. The weather was variable as it usually is in the Lake District but the views are outstanding. We had a great drive over and enjoyed Lake Bassenthwaite, the port of Whitehaven and a walk along the beach at Ravenglass at low tide. The next day was wet and the drive home views were spoiled by very low cloud (ground level!)

Last Sunday's gathering of gypsies was apparently to buy and sell horses. There were many horse boxes and horses were being ridden, driven and led around. This lad rode his cob up and down the street as the one in the horsebox looked longingly on.

This group came down the road from the club, with beer glasses in hand to inspect a horse parked in the box across the road. A lot of shouting was followed by a slapping of hands as a deal was reached.

The horse in the last picture was also ridden bareback down the road to show it off, but was unhappy to leave its foal and stubbornly refused to go more than a few yards. The foal was untethered and had to be held back by a few of the lads. I was very glad when the two were re-united and the foal stuck like glue to Mum for the rest of the time. Eventually they all moved on. There have been a few covered wagons on the road lately as if they are being taken off to winter somewhere. The horses plod along so patiently coping with all sorts of traffic and are lovely to watch.

Bought a SatNav today! I have always been proud of my map reading skills and have resisted using a gadget. But the prospect of touring France on the righthandside of the road, reading the signs, getting the kilometres right and coping with the new and unknown, has resulted in the purchase of a Tomtom.

So... more to come of the road less travelled.

Cheers Gillian

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Along The Road Less Travelled

Last week we drove along the coast of Yorkshire from Spurn Point to Scarborough and then over the moors to home. Spurn Point is the most easterly and southerly point in Yorkshire. It is quite bleak and although we walked right round the point, we saw little to please or amuse us. It seemed that all the rubbish thrown overboard, into the North Sea, ends up there. But I'm glad we went. It is one of the coastal features included in every Physical Geography book and I have taught the theory of Long Shore Drift using Spurn Point as an exemplar more often than I care to remember. This was the first time I had seen it in real life.

We stayed the night in Withernsea. Again, I'm afraid to say not much to please or amuse but a good meal at the pub.

The next day we drove on through villages and lovely countryside. The villages of SKEFFLING and FITLING did amuse. I saw the names as verbs and we passed the time wondering what sort of practices skeffling and fitling involved. Much innuendo and undeserved insults were suggested about the fine people of these villages.
Eventually we came to Flamborough Head. Probably in all the same aforementioned geography books. A great cliffscape of chalk. It was a lovely day and the sea was truly this colour. DJ sat and sunned himself.

He had been scaring me by walking right up to the edge of the cliffs. I could only get this close by hanging on to a fence and putting one foot out.

We were looking forward to climbing the lighthouse but sadly it was closed on Fridays. Obviously washday.

After an overnight stay in Sewerby, north of Bridlington we drove to Scarborough to buy lots of fish and then came home over the top. The moors are ablaze with the bright purple of the heather and were wonderful in the sunshine.

Today we are cleaning up and re-sorting the provisions, washing clothes and ironing ready for the next foray which will be a couple of weeks in France.

As I write this I'm also keeping an eye on the WMC up the road where the gypsies are gathered with horses and wagons and girls wearing as little as possible and boys walking around shirtless & with a swagger. Another series of "My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding" in the making maybe.

Cheers for now Gillian

High Force

After some rains a couple of weeks ago we went up to High Force in Teesdale to see how powerful it was and we were well impressed. But then after last weeks deluge we decided to re-visit. As you can see quite a few other people did too. The ones at the top are walking along the Pennine Way. We went in through the Raby Estate path and were on the other side.

A grand sight!

Cheers Gillian