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Sunday, 27 November 2011

Lights Lots and Mid-Week breaks

A couple of weeks ago, Durham had its Lumiere Festival. We drove to the park-and-ride and found that hundreds of others had too. The queue for the bus was long enough to fill three buses so we walked into town and struggled up the hill and onto the Palace Green outside the Cathedral. Thousands of others had done the same and it was pitch dark so that the lights would show up better.
They did. The cathedral was bathed in glorious scenes from the Lindisfarne Gospels. We watched awestruck before flitting off down a side alley and skirting the thousands more still climbing the hill to see the next show.The Market Place was decorated with a giant snow dome and there were other installations all over the city. We didn't stay for much that evening because the crowds were overwhelming but we came in on the Sunday for Comedy Store at the Gala Theatre and battled the numbers again, but saw some more displays on the way.There was criticism of the crowd management and it was so poor that it can only be improved but Durham is a city with narrow, winding, steep city streets and not much can be done about that.
The village of Blanchland in Northumberland also gets crowded on fine summer days but last week it was almost empty. It has parts as old as Durham. All its front doors are painted red because the whole village is owned by Lord Crewe, just as the Lord Barnard (Raby) properties up and down Teesdale which have dark blue front doors.Much of the original mediaeval layout remains. The post office is housed in the castellated gateway and the pub has a fine reputation for its food. We were staying nearby at Derwewnt Manor Hotel on a bargain midweek break.

We were upgraded to a suite with the largest bed I've ever seen and a balcony with a view and a sitting room etc. The food was good, sometimes "very" and sometimes "quite". We enjoy cooking and it made us glad to get home and get on with some of our own.

Talking about bargains before I get on with the food... I bought a job lot of boxes at auction which had lots of railway memorabilia...old pics, pamphlets, way-bills etc. most of which I have since re-listed on ebay but the pics are not very interesting so on with the food.

When I first moved in here there were some good supermarkets handy. Lidl and Aldi were both within walking distance. But there was nowhere which sold good fresh bread. But now Sainsbury's and Lidl have in-house bakeries for par-cooking fresh bread and the local farm shop has started to produce really great loaves. Left over bread can now be a problem. Fresh bread odours waft around all our favourite shops. So it was time to make some bread pudding.

Lovely stuff.
And DJ caught a snippet of arvo TV which showed the Hairy Bikers de-boning a chicken and stuffing and roasting it so....

Off to the farm shop for a chicken. The farmer and his son were both grinning broadly as we left at the thought of the mayem about to occur in our kitchen. Both had expressed extreme reluctance to do it for us and were really glad we didn't want them to.

DJ sharpened up the knives and set to following the guidelines he had found on the internet. Getting the leg and wing bones out was the worst bit but the final effort was one piece of skin and meat, a pan of meaty bones for soup and a very happy cat. It was covered with a layer of stuffing made from pork mince and a gourmet packet mix and then sewn up with a bodkin to resemble a chicken shape. Roasted for an hour, it came out looking like this and beat the restaurant food at Derwent Manor, hands down and thumbs up.

Cheers Gillian


carol said...

I was going to proudly tell of the switching on of lights in our tiny market town but it pales into insignificance in the face of such light shows - The Lindisfarne cathedral looks amazing.

Bread pud - my favourite and staple of my moth's war work when the girls at Marconi Marine vied with each other to take new versions of tis deliciousness in the lunch boxes.

And the deboned chick - heroic!

carol said...

moths = mother!

Mary Ann said...

We don't have anything like the Lumiere here... it's astonishing!

chillsider stitching and opinions said...

Never had a Lumiere when I lived in Durham. Looks wonderful, bet the monks would have been impressed.