What great picture opportunities I had the other day…. so with my zoom lens to the ready I snapped away whilst consuming copious amounts of tasty homemade Blondies topped with huge dollops of Cornish clotted cream. You could say I was in heaven – eating cake and photographing the action in the sky on a glorious summer’s day in Cornwall. My daughters had been a little sceptical about the pleasures of an air show, but soon got into the swing of things as the sun shone and a few pilots walked by!
RNAS Culdrose Air Dayhappens just once a year and attracts thousands – enthusiasts, holiday makers, the curious – and us! Actually, I had never been to this event before, even though I have been to other air shows, but the master of the house thought it would make a great family day out and do you know what?….he was right. It’s not a show just for men. There was a giant hanger full of shopping opportunities; outside stalls and vans of all kinds of food and drink; entertainment for the children; professionals to talk to; and many impressive aircraft to peruse, at ground level as well as being amazed at the spectacular show in the air. Display after display captivated the audience vying for a prime spot close to the run way. We managed to steal a square large enough for our picnic blanket and us to sit down and enjoy homemade sausage rolls, roasted red pepper and tropical fruit couscous, steak, salad and mushroom sandwiches, slices of creamy Cornish brie and, of course, a finale of my homemade Blondies. But do you know something….I was so in awe of the pilots and their magnificent flying machines that I totally forgot to take a picture of us and our picnic, but here are a few photographs of what I did capture of our splendid day out at Culdrose. I would recommend it to all – women and children included – and I suggest for extra comfort that you take a folding chair, grab your spot as early as you can and sit back and enjoy. As well as the fantastic displays in the air there is very entertaining commentary throughout – I was particularly entertained by that of the Italian commentator! I’ll keep my eyes and ears open for the 2016 date and let you know.
I wish I could intelligently inform on all the aircraft but I can’t – but I can tell you that there were performances by Chinooks, Migs, Wildcats, Hornets, Breitling Wingwalkers, Sea Vixen, Muscle biplane, Folland Gnats, Corsair, Black Cats, Kittyhawk, Hornet and the Italian version of the UK’s red Arrows – the Frecce Tricolori – described as one of the most famous aerobatic display teams in the world. I name only a few and those few were prompted by the wonderfully informative souvenir programme.
I did literally take a few hundred pictures, mainly of aircraft, but a few quirky ones too…
These chairs will certainly come in handy and so will my Blondie recipe coming in my next blog. Blondies are great for transporting for picnics, camping, lunch boxes and Air Day treats at Culdrose. I just hope there have not been too many flying machines here for you!
For some the camping season will have started a few months ago, but for us at Polglazeours has only just begun – we start just as the summer school holidays begin and we finish just after it ends. It does mean it has been a busy few weeks preparation and a busy week welcoming our first few guests and getting back into the swing of things.
This is the reason why I have neglected pictures and patisserie – there has simply been no time to write! But now I have managed to steal a moment away as many of our guests have departed for the day to visit the many sights, go on the many walks and explore the many pretty villages and towns that surround us here in Fowey and Cornwall. I list just a few for now: The Eden Project – a spectacular transformation from former quarry to superb gardens, biomes and an educational adventure about the planet and nature;
The Lost Gardens of Heligan – beautiful historic gardens; Lanhydrock– a superb late Victorian country house with gardens and wooded estate owned by the National Trust; the old stannary town of Lostwithiel– renown for its antique shops and the Duchy of Cornwall Nursery and caféwhere my daughters, my mother and I have spent many an happy hour, or two, dining on the delicious home made food and wonderful cakes.
The River Fowey estuary – Fowey on the left and Polruan on the right
Finally, for now anyway, but not least I would recommend my harbour side home town of Fowey– packed full of interesting and individual shops, cafes, restaurants, galleries and great views across the River Fowey and out to sea. There is a small but very pleasant beach a short stroll away along the Esplanade; scenic walks and two ferries to transport you across the river. In the summer boats can be hired from the Town Quay and close to Albert Quay is a kayak centre; and a ferry operates to Mevagissey when the weather allows. Visiting yachts are numerous and sailors are well catered for at the two yacht and sailing clubs in the town. More about Fowey, its artists, shops, restaurants and attractions very soon.
Fowey side of the estuary with Readymoney beach just hidden in the cove on the left
For now though I want to share with you something sweet which I like to make for our own camping trips. They are ideal for any outside eating and travelling as they store and transport well – they can be made at home to take with you or are just as easy to make while you are camping as no baking is required, merely a camping stove for a bit of melting and relaxing stirring.
WHITE CHOCOLATE AND CRANBERRY CHOCOLATE SQUARES
You will need:
a 17x27cm (7×11″) baking tin, lined with baking paper extending the rim (makes it easy to lift out for cutting)
180g (6oz) shortbread or rich tea biscuits )
180g (6oz) digestive biscuits ) or a mix of any other plain biscuits total weighing 360g (12oz)
2tbsp cocoa powder
180g (6oz) butter
3tbsp golden syrup
3tbsp caster sugar
approx. 200g (6-8oz) white chocolate
approx. 100g (4oz) cranberries
Place the butter, caster sugar and syrup into a saucepan and on a low heat melt the three ingredients together, ensuring that they do not burn on the bottom of the pan and that all the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat. Place the biscuits in a food processor and blitz until chunky crumbs or place in a large plastic bag and with a rolling pin crush the biscuits. Most of the biscuit should resemble large crumbs, but it is nice to leave some larger pieces. Tip the crushed biscuits into the caramel sauce and thoroughly combine. Spoon into the prepared tin and set aside to harden. This can be done in a fridge, if available, but not necessary. In the meantime, break the chocolate into chunks and place into a heatproof bowl and set over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Check occasionally and stir to prevent the chocolate from burning. When melted and a white chocolate sauce has formed remove from the heat and stir in the cranberries. You may like to add more or less of the cranberries to your taste. Pour this over the biscuit base and level. Set aside to cool and harden. Again this can be done in a fridge, but absolutely not necessary – just takes a little longer to set. When hard enough remove the block from the tin and on a chopping board cut into squares – to whatever size you want. Eat immediately – they won’t last long – or store. They keep well (not that they have hung around for long in our house) and pack well as sweet treats for busy days out or can be served more as a pudding with ice cream.
YEEHAW – What a busy weekend the last one was. But the highlight was visiting the beautiful Lost Gardens of Heligan– near Mevagissey in Cornwall – to see the fantastic Miracle Theatreperform faultlessly once more. We have been following the Theatre’s performances for the past three years and we haven’t once been disappointed. The greatest compliment to the performers is that our teenagers love them too – and we know how fickle teenagers can be – they laughed and laughed all the way through Saturday night’s saga of gun slinging, whiskey swigging and fast paced brawling – well kind of fast paced! In fact, we were all in fits of laughter. On this occasion they were performing the Magnificent Three; a spaghetti western adventure on a tiny transportable stage with a backdrop of rhododendrons in Flora’s Green in the Northern Gardens. The large flat lawn sheltered by giant rhododendron bushes offers a perfect place to picnic and to be entertained. Of course we took a picnic and some comfy folding chairs – as instructed when the tickets were purchased. It was a mild evening, but not a bright sunny one and so light coats and blankets were required to keep any chill away. We turned up as the gates opened and already a queue had formed – those eager to get prime front row positions. Our spot centre to the stage – though three rows back – was quickly secured with a picnic blanket, chairs and picnic hamper. For a while there was a lot of shuffling around until everyone was content with their pitch. I was content when the cork to the bottle of prosecco was popped and the music began to play marking the beginning of the story. And as The Magnificent Three is touring across the wild south west until the 29th August I cannot divulge too much about the story other than it is about the wild west, a person’s greed, a watering hole called Hope Springs and that there are six talented performers – not three! And that it has been magnificently written and directed by Bill Scott and music by Tom Adams. What I can share with you are some of the pictures I managed to snap in between the excited bobbing heads in the two rows in front of us – we’ll have to get wiser and arrive earlier next time.
Setting the scene and waiting for action.
And the action begins….
Then there was an interval where we just had to eat cake – my home made chocolate brownies with splodges of lightly whipped cream mixed with a little Bailey’s Irish Cream. They tasted even better served outdoors on a napkin. My most indulgent chocolate brownie recipe.
The light was dimming but the drama was not and the stage lights gave out a golden glow as the second half burst into action.
Before we were ready for it to end – we were having too much fun – it was all over and the Magnificent Three had become the Magnificent Six. My eldest daughter had enjoyed it so much that she said she wanted to see it all over again – and she has never said that before, for anything! One day I hope that we can get to thank the very talented performers and the rest of their team in person for their consistently entertaining shows. For now – thank you Miracle Theatre for being so magnificent….YEEHAW!
It was a case of a spoon in every bowl – and they were just for me! The rest of the family were struggling to get a look in. I have always been a bit of a dessert fanatic and those presented at the Beach Hut at Watergate Bay looked so decadent that we all fought for the spoons. On this occasion I cannot claim them as mine – they are the recipes of the team at the Beach Hut restaurant and bar. The listings on the menu were just too tempting to ignore and an order was placed – we were only meant to be there for a bowl of chips and a quick drink!
Instead the boys tucked into giant, tasty burgers and we girls shared a bowl of nachos and some fries. The dessert menu had already been spied and so we were saving ourselves! My better half – he will be reading this – had suggested earlier that afternoon that as it was a lovely summer’s day we should head to the north coast, stroll along the beach and have a quick drink and chips. We were all up for that. The girls did question the walk bit of the plan as they had both been busy the night before. The eldest daughter had been out all night at her school leavers Ball and after party, and the younger had been at a camp out with a few of her friends – so no real sleep for either of them for 24 hours. Luck was on their side; there was very little beach as it was high tide and so there was very little dry land to walk. There was nothing more to do other than to go straight to the restaurant and bar – The Beach Hut.
It was a lovely warm evening and many people were still on the beach so we had no problem being seated on the glass fronted terrace. We had the outside in. A welcome breeze could be felt through the pulled back roof without having to endure a full sea blow. And if it rains the roof can be closed and we all keep dry. From there we had fantastic views right across the beach and bay and I could indulge in one of my favourite pastimes – people watching!
There were surfers making the most of the early evening waves; children playing ball and making sandcastles on the rapidly reducing beach; walkers scrambling the rocks trying to keep their toes dry; couples canoodling as the sun prepared to set; and a group of very optimistic revellers were setting up seats for an evening of merry making. Well, as most coastal residents know, setting up camp with a rising tide always provides a little entertainment and we were not to be disappointed. The sea crept ever closer to the party goers toes and they decided in their wisdom to build a dam of sand. That would have been okay if it hadn’t been for the simple fact that the tide was still rising and the waves rolling faster. At one point there were at least eight pairs of hands scrapping, patting and sculpting their sand defence. But with the sea most definitely in control the inevitable happened and as the waves got bigger their dam got weaker and the mound was breached – a lido was formed. Wisely the wine bottles were grabbed and chairs lifted. Already being in bare feet it no longer mattered that they were paddling. Squeals and laughter rang out from the beach and from all those on the Beach Hut terrace who had found great amusement from the beach party antics. The boys in particular, more the big boy rather than the small one, found the whole episode enthralling.
Little did we care about all the playfulness of those on the beach or the boys fascination with it all, we girls were too intoxicated with the desserts – warm and rich chocolate brownie with cherry ice cream, whipped white chocolate ganache with raspberries and caramel crunch, and a huge bowl of salted caramel ice cream blanketed in whipped cream and jewelled with giant chocolate dazzles and marshmallows. My scoops were washed down with a refreshingly chilled glass of chardonnay. As for the boys – well, they did manage to find a few crumbs and scrapings at the bottom of the bowls.
Three very happy girls and two distracted boys departed from the Beach Hut well satisfied with our visit. It is certainly a chill out zone with friendly staff, fresh, modern décor and a very appetising menu. And, as we reluctantly departed, luck was on our side, there was even less beach to walk on than when we had arrived, so we just had to watch the finely toned surfers instead!
Watergate Bay is a superb beach resort and, when the tide is out, it offers a huge expanse of sand for playing on, sitting on, swimming from and walking along. We do actually love walking and we have strolled along the sands at Watergate many times before. At low tide the beach of fine, golden sand stretches for over two miles. It is backed by a wall of cliffs offering great coastal walks with super views across the blue waters of the Atlantic. During the busy period from mid May to the end of September RNLI lifeguards patrol the bay. Unlike many other highly rated beaches in Cornwall dogs are still allowed during the main season; there is just so much room!
The Bay is on the north Cornish coastline approximately three miles north of Newquay town on the way to Mawgan Porth – simply take the coast road north out of Newquay. It is home to surfing events – with hiring facilities and lessons – festivals and, once a year in June, home to beach polo. It is not only famous for its great beach – when low tide – giant surfing waves and one of the best beach side cafes in Cornwall – the Beach Hut – but also for Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Restaurant and The Watergate Bay Hotel. I have eaten at Fifteen and a lovely evening it was too. Not only did the food look good but so did the giant droplet shape lights that appeared to be falling from above. The food lived up to Jamie’s reputation, but be sure to have plenty of money or a friendly credit card with you – I am so glad that I went and I will certainly go again and I would recommend the experience. Though I have not yet experienced the delights of the Hotel it does look enticing and I feel another outing to Watergate bay coming soon!
I roasted a ham the other day and my darling man does like a slice or two of pineapple with it, the girls and I don’t. At the time I did not have a juicy fresh one, but I did have a tin of pineapple slices in juice. In juice is fine but I would advise against using pineapple from a tin if in sugary syrup. So I opened the tin and dressed some of the slices of ham with rings of pineapple and I had one happy boy! But what to do with the rest of the fruit as there were several spare slices? There was not too much contemplating. With the sun shining and holidays being dreamt of – and having had cocktails at a friend’s recent birthday party – I thought of pina coladas. A refreshingly naughty drink that belies its gem that is so cleverly disguised with pineapple juice and coconut – I had my solution. It had been a long time since I made an upside down cake and as pineapple works just as well as apple I thought why not! And as pineapple and coconut are so tasty together in pina coladas I thought they should surely complement each other as a dessert and my coconut ice cream was born. All I needed was the cocktail umbrellas and a few hungry friends!
Pineapple Upside Down Cake recipe as I promised in my previous blog.
For the cake:
I used a 28cm x 18cm (11×7″) cake tin
approx. 25-50g (1-2oz) very soft butter and 2-3tbsp golden granulated sugar
8 pineapple rings
8 whole walnuts
225g (8oz) softened butter
225g (8oz) caster sugar
225g (8oz) self raising flour
1tsp baking powder
4 large eggs
1tsp vanilla essence
Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan oven) mark 4
Spread the very soft butter to cover the base of the tin. Sprinkle over the granulated sugar to coat. Arrange the pineapple slices in two symmetrical rows and place a walnut in the centre of each ring and use the spare to decorate in between the slices. You could use glace cherries instead – if you prefer – for a more authentic pina colada taste, but I like the crunch of the walnuts which I think work so well with the sweetness of the pineapple and vanilla sponge of the cake.
In a large bowl mix the butter, caster sugar, flour, baking powder, eggs and vanilla essence together, either with an electric mixer or by hand (with the creaming method of butter and sugar together first, beating in the eggs bit by bit and then folding in the dry ingredients and essence). Spoon the well blended cake mixture over the fruit and nuts, level and bake in the pre heated oven for approximately 30-40 minutes until spongy to the touch and an inserted skewer is retrieved clean. Leave in the tin to cool for 15 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. This can be served immediately as a slice of cake on its own or with a dollop of cream.
For the creamy coconut ice cream:
225ml (8floz) coconut milk
50g (2oz) caster sugar
225ml (8floz) double cream
1tsp vanilla essence
In a saucepan warm the coconut milk and caster sugar together just until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and cool. Then stir in the cream and vanilla essence. Pour this into an ice cream maker, if you have one, and churn until thick and creamy – my ice cream maker always lets me know when it is ready! Put this into a bowl to serve immediately – similar to that of a soft scoop – or spoon it into a container and freeze. Remember that, like all home made ice creams, you need to take it out of the freezer about 20 minutes before you need to serve it, otherwise you may need a very strong scoop.
No worries if you do not have an ice cream maker – it can all be done by hand – just a little more time and muscle needed. While the coconut milk and sugar sauce is cooling whip the cream and essence together to form a soft, not firm, consistency. Fold in the cooled coconut and dissolved sugar and pour into a freezer proof container, then pop it into the freezer. When it starts to freeze around the edges (approx.1hour) remove it from the freezer and place the ice cream into a bowl. Beat it with a fork to break down the crystals. Put back into the container and freezer. Repeat this a couple of more times until creamy and fluffy, to your liking.
When serving this as a dessert or special treat slice into portions and serve with a large scoop of coconut ice cream and drizzle some pouring cream over. Decorate with some cocktail umbrellas, if you have any to hand. For a little grown up indulgence I see no reason why you should not spoon a little white rum over the cake to taste and have that true pina colada experience. Close your eyes and dream of glorious holidays in the sun!
Serves up to 12 (depending on whole or half pineapple portions)
If you find yourself with some coconut milk spare – a tin of coconut milk contains more than 225ml – then make another batch of ice cream or one big one. If making a second batch add an extra flavouring such as a drop of white rum and some chopped up pieces of pineapple and you will have pina colada ice cream for grown-ups. I think I will be making this one again very soon going by the happy adult smiles.
Ice cream and cake are enjoyable where ever you are – in the garden, at the kitchen table or on holiday – there are always happy faces to be seen!
There is something rather special about hearing the letter box clap shut and the foot steps of the postman (or woman) tapping along the path. A dog may bark, if you have one, or the little ones may excitedly run down the hall way, if you have any, especially if it is their birthday. Receiving a message the old fashioned way, hand written on a lovely piece of notepaper, sealed in an envelop and adorned with a stamp, can never be replaced by an electronic note popping up on our devices – even though we nearly all have them. And as much as I would love to send you all a hand written letter, we all know that it is just not going to happen, so please accept my apologies now as I send this letter to you across the ether.
Dear All, I just want to let you know that I have been writing a blog for the past few weeks, but have kept it a bit of a secret – just until I got the hang of it. As it likely to be a while before I truly get the hang of it and understand how it all works I decided it was time to contact you anyway; but please be patient with me as all may not run smoothly. I write from my home in Cornwall. When I say Cornwall I mean, more specifically, that I write from the outskirts of the delightful Cornish harbour town of Fowey. Rolling hills and fields surround us with the coast a short walk away. Birds softly sing from the surrounding trees and the rumbling of tractors pass the top of our drive. In the summertime, when the schools close for the holidays, we open up our sizeable front garden to campers in tents, motorhomes and caravans, www.polglaze.co.uk. The tranquillity gives way to happy chuckles of children playing ball, sizzling of sausages over the barbecues, clanking of glasses and sometimes popping corks. It is a very busy time of the year for us and a very sociable one too – we are all happy when we are on holiday. I love holidays and I love to see the joy of those on holiday too!
Fowey has such a lot to offer that I am going to tell you about its charm another day soon. Today I simply want to share with you what I have been up to on my blog so far. I have been writing about my sweet bakes and all the things with relevance to them. I have penned tales of days out and holidays of those where I feel you might like to visit too. You will find bits on art and design matters; pattern in the environment; photography; and creating things for the home and to give. There have been patterns in a zoo, harbour and café, at home in the sun, pictures in the garden and big feet at the beach. I have shared my recipes for the most indulgent chocolate brownies; succulent orange and chocolate cake; cappuccino and walnut cake; strawberry, lime and cream sponge, mini tartes a la creme and raspberry and white chocolate cheesecake. My next recipe will be pineapple and walnut upside down cake with coconut ice cream. Colour is a topical issue in the home and dazzling orange is one of the first off the starting line. Lemon prints can be found amongst the pages too. One of my daughters is called Clementine, as some of you know. She has always wondered why I chose to name her after a citrus fruit? It was not because I love to eat citrus fruits, even though I enjoy baking with them, but simply that my husband and I thought it a lovely name. On the subject of fruit I recently had the urge to paint strawberries even though, as some of you will already know, I can’t eat them – find out more in Strawberry Art. There were mounds of luscious strawberries at therecent Royal Cornwall Show that I was lucky enough to attend and write about. It takes place every June. I hope on reading all about it here that some of you may be tempted to visit next year.
I don’t yet know how things will progress at pictures and patisserie, but I do hope that you join in and let me know if there is anything you would like me to cover, advise on or a sweet recipe you might like to make. There are plans to feature artists and their work just as a gallery would. And I hope to take you through my own artistic progress. But for now I say goodbye, but I hope to hear from you in the near future. You will certainly be hearing from me very soon and on a regular basis..
Pineapple and walnut upside down cake with coconut ice cream. (Recipe to follow)
Some blooms from around the garden from early spring until present day. The lovely pink blossom has since given way to growing fruit and the lavender is just beginning to flower attracting the bees and dispersing its lovely perfume.The beach scene is that of Polkerris which is just a walk away. Many a happy hour or two have been spent there; either on the beach or in the water, or at one of the two places to eat: The Rashleigh Inn and Sams on the Beach. Both are delightful with great menus and fantastic views out to sea. Polkerris also has a water sport school, gallery and café. Enough there to keep everyone satisfied!
I was so inspired by all the strawberries that have surrounded me recently that I felt the urge to paint something relating to strawberries: the form, the colour, the joy they bring. Sadly, not much joy for me, not to eat anyway. Back in the days before marriage and children, before serious education and a career, I worked on a strawberry farm in the county of Shropshire. There I weighed the pickers’ strawberries, and all those fruits that were not quite so perfect or those that over split the punnets ended up in my mouth. You see; I love strawberries and for some unbeknown reason to me I became allergic to them. Apparently, so a kind pharmacist informed my father, I had over dosed; yes, I had over dosed on strawberries. It is a common problem, so I have read many times, yet I am the only person I know and have ever known to have the condition. Not being medically or scientifically inclined, I am more the arty type, I have learnt that the allergic reaction is something to do with the proteins that are in this most wonderful fruit. The proteins that ripen it, giving the fruit its captivating red colour and making it look enticingly delicious; but is so poisonous to me. Having children made matters a little complicated in my strawberry-banned world as they love them. Before my daughters arrived I was able to avoid strawberries, but now I buy them every week and almost every day I wash them and serve them as an after school fruit bowl snack. And every day I drool over them, just dreaming of those long lost days of strawberry pleasure. Friends and colleagues have frequently served strawberries and I have to politely decline. This always results in a long conversation about how irregular it all is and what happens to me if a do eat the forbidden red fruit. My reaction to the fruit is more discomfort then severe. A red, itchy rash appears across my jaw line, neck, up my arms and across my back, and I feel nauseous with a pounding head. They make me feel exhausted and sleepy. Handling strawberries is fine, but a big bowl of strawberries and cream results in a very unwell me.To help me understand my allergy I decided to do a bit of research and actually discovered that there are quite a lot of people like me; and that, in its severest form, strawberries can kill, but I have never heard of anyone succumbing to a strawberry. Putting my ailment aside, strawberries are packed full of goodness that help to decrease the possibility of heart disease, they have anti-inflammatory properties that reduce the risk of cancer, inflammation and hypertension and can help lower cholesterol. They are an excellent source of vitamin C and high in manganese; a nutrient that very few people know about; but one that helps with normal bone formation and helps us to metabolise protein, carbohydrates and cholesterol. So it appears that I am missing out big time; not just that they are so delicious but in a bizarre way I am less healthy than I would be if I ate them, that is if they didn’t make me so ill if I were to eat them! For those of you who are like me and just cannot consume the heavenly fruit you’ll just have to enjoy looking at them instead.
And for those of you who can eat strawberries have you tried them dipped in chocolate? I imagine them to be delectable. Simply break some chocolate (milk, white or dark) into chunks and place them into a glass bowl which is over a saucepan of gently simmering water and leave until the chocolate has melted. Remove from the heat. Holding the strawberry stalk dip the fruit one by one into the chocolate until half to three quarters coated. Set aside on a tray lined with baking paper and allow to harden. Eat and enjoy, if you can!
For those of us who cannot eat strawberries we could try dipping other fruit into chocolate instead. I expect raspberries and dark chocolate will be divine, so tomorrow I will be off to the shops to grab some ingredients. After all, why should we be excluded from a fruity chocolate fix?
Every year it happens and some years I manage to make it there: The Royal Cornwall Show is Cornwall’s biggest annual event. It was once a show for farmers, but the economy dictated that it become an agricultural show for the general public. It is organised by The Royal Cornwall Agricultural Association and has been held at the showground at Wadebridge, North Cornwall since 1960. The show has actually been going since 1793 and known as Royal since 1858. The wellies are still worn, more for fashion than practicality; and tractors still have a presence, but more so to entertain the little ones than farm the land. There is now something for everyone. The food hall has expanded; shopping marquees have sprung up; there are dog shows, rabbit and poultry competitions as well as those for large livestock; a flower show; and a fun fair with candy floss and cuddly toys. Despite the commercialisation the Show is still quintessentially an occasion for farmers and country folk. The tweed jackets, Barbour coats and Hunter wellington boots remain strongly the dress code. Very befitting of its association with royalty and regular visitor Prince Charles, who is a keen supporter of farming communities. It is always held at the beginning of June, just when the weather should be bright and warm and the days longer. Unfortunately, it being England, the weather can be unpredictable and woolly jumpers, raincoats and wellies are sometimes the order of the day; not in 2015 though. The sun did shine and the rain stayed away, but there was a chilly north east wind to remind us that summer had not quite arrived. This was no deterrent. On the Saturday when we were there, so were most of Cornwall! The gates open at 7am, but only for the privileged few; otherwise the ticket office opens at 8.30. We arrived at 8.50 and, whilst the fields were already lined with vehicles, we did not have to queue. A very different story was told by midday when there was queuing everywhere, so the moral of this story is ‘get there early’.
Old tractors and new must be the starting point of an agricultural show, especially for the men. Even for me though, I do feel a great deal of nostalgia in the colours and designs of the vintage vehicles. Modern versions may be faster, sleeker and more efficient, but I believe they do fit more readily in a sci-fi film than on the field.
Before I move onto the Show that appeals most to me, we must not forget its origin as a show ground for animals, horse eventing and farming the land. I did want to share with you pictures of some of the sizeable cattle that were parading, but the popularity of this event precluded me from elbowing my way through the crowds and shoot a bit of beef; shooting with a camera and the beef being cattle! I did manage to get close to some chicks hatching in the dairy tent and catch a glimpse of some horse trial, I say ‘some horse event’ because, in my ignorance, I know very little about horses and such activities .
My personal favourite attraction is the food of Cornwall market hall; stall upon stall of predominantly locally grown produce and locally produced fare: pasties, cheeses, bread, cakes, chocolate, ciders, meats, fish, cream, asparagus and pates. My favourite cheese this year was the mature Cornish Gouda from the Cornish Gouda company; big rounds of gold piled high. Of course, I bought a chunk of the creamy, tasty cheese, which was consumed with homemade oat biscuits and pickle; melted over sliced avocado on a base of toasted muffin; and thinly sliced with fresh rocket leaves and vine tomatoes and sandwiched between freshly baked granary bread. I wish I had bought more. www.cornishgouda.co.uk
I would normally sample some of the local ciders, gin, creamy liqueurs and wines, but I decided it was wiser to keep a level head this time. But I did nibble at biscuits, brownies and cream, bread, cheese, pies and pate.
Bread you can really taste at Vicky’s. Fine artisan bakes and all handmade in Helston, Cornwall. www.vickysbread.co.uk. I would strongly recommend that you take a look at Vicky’s website; it is quite a charming story that is told.
There was more than one artisan baker there and I can truly recommend, regular, Baker Tom. Not only does the bread excel, but so do the buns, baguettes, pastries, flapjacks and brownies. www.bakertom.co.uk
With all this talk of bread, I can only think of cheese. There is something very special, but very simple, about freshly baked bread and a wedge of quality, creamy cheese. Just add a little homemade pickle and it is quality rustic food heaven.
Cornish Yarg: a nettle wrapped cheese made from pasteurised cows’ milk. It has a subtle lemony undertone and is quite creamy under the rind with a slightly crumbly centre. Very tasty and very satisfying. www.lynherdairies.co.uk
Cornish Smuggler cheese made by Whalesborough Farm Foods of Bude, North Cornwall. It tastes luxurious, just as you would expect from its opulent marbled appearance. www.whalesboroughcheese.co.uk
The Cornish Cheese Company not only produces creamy, delicately rich blue cheese, but deliciously fruity cheese pates too. I particularly loved the pate with figs. I heard another lady approve of the pear and walnut pate as she fumbled for her purse. The company’s story can be found at www.cornishcheese.co.uk
A cheese course followed by Cornish produced cream served with succulent strawberries. Unfortunately and tragically, I have an allergy to strawberries, so I just had to have scoops of cream with brownies instead, those brownies to be found at Baker Tom’s, of course.
Rodda’s is a well known family Cornish Dairy, www.roddas.co.uk Just as Trewithen is too, www.trewithendairy.co.uk. Both were offering the typically English summer dessert of strawberries and clotted cream, served sometimes with freshly baked scones. Not best for the waistline, but absolutely delightful for the sanity.
And now, I offer you a gallery of all the other delights to be found in the food hall.
Grumpies of Cornwall golden pies and pastries. See the whole range at: www.grumpiesofcornwall.co.uk
The Cornish pasty by Grumpies. There were other Cornish pasty makers at the show, but Grumpies caught my eye. I now wish that I had bought one to try, but they did and do look scrumptious.
Biscuits and pastries by Simply Cornish at: www.simplycornish.com. I bought a box of the strawberries and cream and apple crumble shortbread biscuits as gifts and a treat for the grandmas back home.
And something to drink; something refreshingly non-alcoholic and something refreshingly naughty!
Fruit juices from Helford Creek apple juice and cider maker, www.helfordcreek.co.uk.
Flavoursome apple juices and ciders by Cornish Orchards, www.cornishorchards.co.uk. The drinks are made from the fruit of small and old Cornish orchards, hence the name.
Speciality ciders in St Ives, www.stivescider.co.uk. Expert wine making is combined with cider making techniques.
Ninemaidens Mead of Cornwall ferments honey and flavours it to make its range of exclusive meads. Mead should be drunk like sherry or dessert wine, as an aperitif, in small glasses at room temperature or chilled. All these drinks are produced in Cornwall using Cornish produce where possible. www.ninemaidensmead.com.
As you would expect from an agricultural show there was plenty of fresh, local produce too. Perfectly formed strawberries and wholesome, crisp looking vegetables. The strawberries from Boddington’s Berries at: www.boddingtonsberries.co.uk. And the asparagus from Tregassow Manor Farm at St Erme, near Truro, Cornwall. Riviera Produce is well known for its cauliflowers and spring greens. www.rivieraproduce.eu. The apples featured here were not for consuming; they were decoration on an old 19th Century apple crusher at Ben Jones reclaimed architectural granite stand, www.extremegranite.co.uk. Old granite has become increasingly popular over the years as garden ornaments; a less practical purpose than intended for the original designs, but at least they live on beyond their original use..
Colourful flower and plant displays were in abundance in the flower tent. Awards are presented to the best displays and nurseries, and fun competitions take place such as design a shoe with nature. I would be very happy to wear the design seen here, if only there were two!
Orange flowers were a popular theme this year. As I have said in an earlier message, I do love the vibrancy of orange and it appears that others do too. I guess it shouts summer sun and sand.
The Royal Cornwall Show is a fun day out for everyone and one could easily spend the full three days there, to do it justice. There is just too much to see and do in one day, especially if you want to take advantage of all the varying places to dine, snack and drink. Coffee Bean bars abound, along with beer, wine and cider tents. Food from chips to veggie burgers to fine lobster can be consumed. All these things take time and as much time as you can get is what is needed when you visit the Royal Cornwall Show. The dates for next year, 2016, are: 9, 10 and 11th June. Pop these in the diary now!
Before I go, I just need to share these wonderful wooden rabbits with you. They were found perched on outdoor wooden seating by outdoor furniture makers Fry’s Teak Garden Designs. The company also offers exquisite teak root, life size horse sculptures: www.frysteakgarden.co.uk. Whilst the horse sculptures are amazing craftsmanship the wooden rabbits made me smile; and that is what The Royal Cornwall Show should be about: bringing a smile to everyone’s face. Maybe next year I’ll make it to the fairground. This year I had no more time for play, instead I raced home with some of my newly purchased produce with which to make a cake: Strawberry, Lime and Cream Sponge. I was off to a friend’s birthday barbecue that evening and what could be more apt than a birthday surprise full of fresh, Cornish fare. Happy birthday to Sally.
I had never been to Henley-on-Thames before, so it seemed obvious that, as I was in Oxfordshire, it was a place I should visit and that is what I did. I did not do it alone; it was when I was on holiday with the family recently and, with a friend living in the county, it was a great spot to meet up with her and her two charming daughters. There we were six girls against two boys – lucky boys! I am not sure if they saw it that way; we dragged them from clothes boutique to homes store; there are quite a few interesting shops in Henley. They did enjoy the walk along the river though; the river so famous for its boating, boat races, rowing and regattas, especially the Henley Royal Regatta held every summer. The 2015 Royal Regatta is being held from 1st until the 5th July. On those occasions everyone dresses up and I believe it to be a little busier than the day of our excursion.
If my sources are correct, I believe the five arched bridge was built in 1786. A few boats have passed under it since then! The river also has its own island with an interesting collection of exclusive homes, only accessible by boat, but a prime viewing spot for the river activities. If you are tempted to visit, Henley can be found just 36 miles west of London and just 23 miles south east of Oxford.
Island living above. It offers accommodation for more than just people, but wildlife too. All that we need is a boat to get across. I guess that the blue and white part constructions below are in preparation for the regatta season, soon upon us, when there will be plenty of boats mulling around.
With all the exercise we were quite parched and tummies rumbling, so we stopped for cake. And upon my friend’s recommendation, we stopped at Patisserie Valerie in Market Place where, on a warm day, you can sit outside, which we did. Of course, where there is plenty of cake, we eat cake; large slices of light and creamy chocolate cake, black forest gateau, chocolate brownies and fruit tarts. They made me feel as though I wanted to rush home and bake.
Henley also has a park by the river for younger children to play, families to picnic and couples to relax. There are plenty of benches to rest on and large trees to offer shade from rain and shine. Vessels of all shapes and sizes trundle by; there is no need to hurry here. Not only do boats occupy the river and use the slip ways, but the swans and other bird life do too. In particular, one swan had chosen her very public nesting place from where to hatch her cygnets. She was being protectively watched by ducks and fellow swans.
It was a lovely day had by all. But, with so much walking, indulgent eating and shopping, all that we wanted to do by the end of it all was to flop down and stretch out; just as my friend’s dog, Gracie, had done the night before. That’s right! We had all enjoyed another long walk, the previous night, along a more northerly stretch of the river Thames, where we were entertained by the melodies of wood pigeons and cuckoos. They were not the only ones making noise, as the four daughters we have between us, my two teenagers and my friend’s teenager and 21 year old, chattered happily as they caught up with all their gossip. My friend and I could not resist a good natter too, having not seen each other for a few months. The big boy and teenage boy amongst us simply fooled around, as boys do! The day was finished off with barbecued meat, tasty salads and more cake. What more could a girl want to end a perfect stroll along the Thames? Oh yes, a glass of chilled white wine!
From time to time we all need a break from normality; even if that normality is not so bad. Last week we took a few days away with the children and headed to a good friend’s house in the beautiful English county of Berkshire. My dear friend and her partner were off to the sunshine of Italy and offered their home to us. With another dear friend living just across the border in Oxfordshire, it was an opportunity we could not miss. My eldest was a little traumatised by the idea, being slap bang in the middle of her GCSEs, but we managed to convince her that: one, she could still study whilst away and secondly, a break here and there would do her studying some good. She conceded and off we went.
My friend, the one sunning herself in Italy, lives just a few miles from the stereo-typical English village of Goring. It straddles the river Thames with quaint wisteria covered cottages, white-washed houses and grander brick, flint and stone mansions. I may be corrected by those in the know here, because Goring does not really straddle the river, its adjoining village of Streatley does one side, but, as they appear to merge into one another close to the river, I believe them to be one of the same. They share a railway station and the same cluster of shops, pubs and restaurants in support of my argument. But, Streatley is in Berkshire, as my one friend’s house is, and Goring is in Oxfordshire, where my other friend’s house is; so, I’ll let you make the final decision on whether or not they are one of the same? Whatever the conclusion, I think everyone will agree that Goring and its neighbour occupy a desirable part of the English countryside. So, there we were, having travelled from one delightful part of the country, that is the south west, to another, to enjoy a break from our normality. I say that, but as anyone with children know, wherever you are with the kids they somehow manage to keep things normal!
I won’t bore you with pictures of the dear ones, not yet anyway, but I will share with you some of the wonderful sights that we enjoyed on the Berkshire and Oxfordshire border. We walked and, sometimes, talked along the river in both directions and met with many a fluffy gosling, duckling and signet. Colourful narrow boats, glossy speed boats, shiny motor cruisers and grand gin palaces chugged by, passing the bubbling weir and steering a way through the village lock.
I could imagine the French impressionist painter, Claude Monet, sitting here, next to the river, with his easel and large palette of colourful oils. He would be painting one of his famously styled water lily interpretations; like the many he created during his prolific water lily period of 1909-1926.
The goslings scurried away, and the geese cautioned us. The swans just glided nonchalantly across the water with one sneaky signet catching a ride.
But, of course, being so close to water does mean that all things revolve around it, in it and across it. Buttercups were starting to flourish in the meadows and sheep were grazing on the grass along the river banks. Boats were moored up at random along the water’s edge. I saw one playful couple having a game of badminton on the pasture close to their small river cruiser. Youngsters could be heard yelling with excitement as they battled to stay dry in their rowing vessel and a hum of an engine could nearly always be heard, somewhere close by. During one evening’s walk we spotted an attractive bright orange growth on the side of a tree; some kind of fungus, I guessed. It looked as though someone had hacked a chunk off and we pondered if it was edible. I know very little about such foods and we left well alone. The air was so still on another occasion that the river reflected images as a mirror. Along one section of the Thames, south of Goring, trees had been lopped to give better visibility for those on the water as well as those of us on land. They became accidental sculptures.
With a railway station on the main network line between Oxford and London, Goring is easily accessible for visitors and commuters. And, if you do find yourself spending some relaxing time in Goring, I can recommend a friendly place to eat; whether this be just for a slice of delicious homemade cake and hot coffee or a more substantial lunch time fuelling. Pierreponts café, which is a mere one minute walk east of the Goring and Streatley bridge, is open for breakfast from 8am and closes it doors at 5pm. From porridge and full fried English breakfast to tasty wholesome snacks and lunches, there is freshly made, home cooked food to suit most tastes. For a sweet treat, during our morning coffee break, I enjoyed the delicately light and creamy, custard, maple syrup and hazelnut tart; I would recommend this one The brownies were very tasty too, so the children confirmed, and it all looked wonderful. We were fortunate that the sun was shining and an outside table was vacated just as we approached. Cake, coffee, family and sun, and all at the same time; what more could a girl want? Actually, I almost forgot to mention that there is a small, but well stocked, art gallery in the village; simply called Art at Goring. If you love art, as I do, then this gallery is worth a visit.
There is more to come about our family trip away, but I thought sharing the delights of our accommodation location was a good place to start.