Author Archives: quercuscommunity

And Finally…

We ended up in Windermere, though the photos are taken in Bowness, on the side of the lake. There was plenty to see. This included raindrops, though there were also Jackdaws, pigeons and boats.

We once went on a boat trip in weather that was only marginally better than this. However, we are older and wiser and less able to put up with freezing rain these days, so we just walked round a bit, took photos and went in gift shops. We went into a shop called Pitlochry in Lakeland. It turned out to be the Edinburgh Wool Mill under a different name. If you want tweed, Scottish knitwear and shortbread biscuits, this is the shop for you.

It also includes all those essential ingredients of shopping in England – a shop assistant on the phone whining about working conditions, another swapping phone numbers with a passing friend and a third taking ages over a simple task. Serving customers? Don’t be silly.

There was quite a lot to see, even in a short walk. I resisted the temptation to post too many leaves. I couldn’t resist the shrink-wrapped boat though, or the sculptures. According to the local paper there are plans for sculpture trail between Bowness and Windermere, but sadly no clue to this load of scrap iron in the park.

They look a bit like leeks, I don’t know. What I do now know, after googling “sculpture bowness” is that Dame Barbara Hepworth had a son-in-law called Alan Bowness and that there is a lot of sculpture, including fibreglass Herdwicks, in the Lake District. I’m not sure if any of the sheep are still about to be seen – I will, however, have a look next time we go.

I tried to be artistic, but people aren’t very adventurous in their choice of umbrella. Some people really have no consideration for photographers.  They also kept moving and others got in the way, destroying a well-composed shot of the big green and white umbrella group. One of the culprits with a random head in the frame, was my own dear wife. Pah!

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The view from Bowness – mainly rain

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Boats on Windermere

Food in the Lake District

Conveniently close to the Travelodge at Skipton – next door in fact – is a branch of the Keelham Farm Shop.  It has a good selection (as you will see if you click the link) of fresh fruit and veg, bread, booze and pies. It also has an exchange scheme where you can take in home-grown produce and swap it for other things, a cafe, and a varied programme of events.

If you are up that way it’s worth a visit.

Later we visited Tebay services. You can buy a small pork pie at Tebay for just £2.20, if you can get to them as all the gangways seemed to be clogged up by members of staff who were doing frightfully important stuff. You can buy one at Keelham for £1.10, though their pies lack the plastic packaging. Next time I will buy my pies at Keelhams as they are (a) cheaper and (b) better for the planet.

You can buy hot pies for £3, so we had them for lunch. Julia had the Lamb and Mint and I had the Steak and Ale. They both had plenty of healthy vegetables in them, which lightened them up a bit as a pie full of meat can be a bit hard to digest.

I have mixed feelings about Tebay. They have a massive selection of items, including books and clothing plus the usual farm shop stuff, but with pots of jam over £5, for instance, I always feel this isn’t my natural habitat.

They also fall down on minor details – water on the floor in the Gents, a missing knob on the teapot lid and the muddy surroundings to the duck pond, which always look a mess. I just have the feeling that the quality stock, and the excellent dining areas, deserve attention to detail.

So – if you want a Farm Shop go to Keelham. If you want a gift shop go to Tebay. I can’t really comment on the pies because I haven’t eaten at Keelham.

A Day in the Lake District

As part of Julia’s birthday celebrations I planned a long weekend away in the Lake District. The plan did not go well, and was shortened by both her cold and a visit from Number One son. So, on Sunday we headed off for our Plan B break – a day in the Lakes.

After dropping Number One son off in Leeds we headed off for Skipton and the Travelodge. We passed the night there in relative luxury, with a quiet heating system, water that was, if anything, too hot, and nice fluffy towels. We were even able to complain about it being too hot.

It started to rain shortly after we arrived, continued through the night and was still going when we woke up.

At least we were able have a decent breakfast, provided by the Little Chef in the car park. Soon, I suppose, it will be something else. At least one I know has already been turned into a Starbucks and another is going to be converted. You can tell something is going to happen to them because very little has been spent on maintenance recently and a lot of them seem to be closing early.  They really have had a troubled history after the glory days when they virtually owned the roadside. According to the above link, they will all be closed next year.

The days of wine and roses are not long, as the poem says.

There aren’t many pictures, I’m afraid, as the combination of rain and low light meant you’d need to be a magician to get a result, rather than a mere photographer. Grey mist, leaden skies, slate grey water and, at best, light black hills, don’t make for easy photography. And that was when we weren’t troubled by low cloud.

When there was light and a view we couldn’t park. Julia did take some video clips as we drove along, but I can’t get any of them to load.

Later on we did get a few photos, and some meat pies, but that will be another post. Hopefully I’ll get caught up tomorrow.

Lazy Sunday

 

I woke up at six this morning and instantly panicked, as we’re supposed to be at work for 6am. Then I remembered that she’s having a day off. It’s just a shame my body clock didn’t remember.

The plan was to go away for the weekend, but Julia came home from work with a stinking cold on Friday, which put paid to that. Despite a regular supply of hot lemon she’s sitting in a corner of the living room coughing, sneezing and sniffing.

It’s the constant sniffing that’s most irritating.

However, part of the deal when we got married was “for better for worse” so I don’t really have any option. At least when I was in and out of hospital earlier this year I (mainly) suffered in silence and didn’t interfere with her TV viewing.

As part of our 30th wedding anniversary celebrations I’m thinking we should renew our vows. This time I think we should include “obey”,  which was somehow omitted from the last lot, and give some serious thought to the “worse”.

 

 

 

Simple Cookery from a Simple Man

My soup recipe just got even lazier because TESCO are now doing vegetable packs specifically for soup, with everything cut small and mixed with onions and chilli. Add water, a stock cube and a hand blender and you have soup. I put garlic in this one too. And a few extra onions.

At this time of year our kitchen is so cold you can leave it in a pan on top of the cooker with no need to use the fridge. We’ve had it for tea once and I’ve had it for lunch three times. The rest will go in the vegetable curry tomorrow.

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Sweet potato, butternut squash, onion, garlic and chilli soup

We also had the lazy pie this week.

Chop leeks, celery, chicken, mushrooms and tarragon.

Soften the veg and brown the chicken, Stir in some flour and milk to make a sauce bit and bung it in a pie dish.  We had a gammon joint this week too, so I cubed some of it to make this a chicken and ham pie. This is optional.

Then unroll a sheet of ready-made puff pastry, cut off a bit about the size of the pie dish.

Argue about who had the pastry brush last.

Pour a little milk on top of the pie and rub it round lightly with your finger tips.

Add “pastry brush” to the shopping list.

Cook until it”s brown on top. This takes about 40 minutes if you put it in the oven cold but I really don’t see the point in heating up an empty oven first.

Serve with whatever veg you have. We had brussels and red cabbage (which I make in quantity and eat all week).  With hindsight I could have selected a less environmentally damaging combination. Think methane.

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Chicken Pie and vegetables – sorry about the smudge on the lens

I know ready-made pastry and “parachute pies” (ones with just a top and no bottom) are all frowned on on serious pie circles, but ask me if I’m bothered. It’s crispy, it’s flaky and it tastes good. You don’t need all that stuff underneath.

This cooking stuff really is quite simple. I can’t really see how so many people seem to be able to make a career out of it with TV and cookery books and  such. As for Delia Smith being made a Companion of Honour “for services to cookery”, well I am, for once, speechless…

Down at the (Cold) Garden

The Sedums were looking good with a covering of frost. From a  distance the effect was jewel-like and sparkling. Close up, I didn’t quite get the focus right.  Apart from the vagaries of the camera system, which seemed to struggle, it was tricky as my hands were frozen. After half an hour screwing nest boxes together the cold had got to my hands and I was having trouble finding the button when I wanted to take the shot. Time to sort my gloves out.

With five boxes done yesterday and five again today I have now exhausted the supply of parts. We may do some more next year, if we can find more free timber, but as a lot of customers have been staff and parents we may have exhausted our customer base.

 

As you can see, there is a lot of creative effort going into the the paintwork. It is also clear that drill design has improved over the last ten years, particularly in the area of battery size.

This is the “roof” of the polytunnel, showing the bird damage. It’s actually quite tricky working out where the roof is, when you consider it’s one continuous piece but I decided that if it’s at the top and has holes in, I will call it a roof.

I include it, not because it’s a fascinating shot, but simply to show why we’re making the nest boxes – every £5 we take is £5 towards the new plastic sheet.

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Holes in the roof

Finally, there’s an artistic shot of a leaf sticking to the outside of the plastic. When you’re filling a blog you have to take your shots where you find them.

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Lime Leaf through plastic

 

Some Birds at Clumber Park

I wrote this last night, with the intention of posting it in the morning. That way, I thought, I’d come home to a selection of comments and I wouldn’t have to rush to write a post tonight.

As you’ve probably guessed from the opening paragraph, things didn’t work out.

I’m not exactly clear what I did, but the absence of post tends to suggest that I shut down without saving. Yes, it’s thirty years since I first laid hands on a computer and I now know less than I did in 1987.

So here it is again.

It’s a big lake, and there are plenty of birds about, but they aren’t the most interesting selection of birds. Swans, Canada Geese, Greylag Geese, Mallards, Tufted Duck…

As you can see from the photos there were Shovellers, Gadwall, Cormorants, Goosanders and Black=headed Gulls.

At Arnot Hill Park, or even at Rufford, the scale is more manageable, and you are generally closer to the birds. There’s a little more excitement at Arnot Hill, because you are never quite sure what is going to be there, and at Rufford there are plenty of woodland birds as well as the waterfowl.

To be fair to Clumber, I only ever scratch the surface – it’s so big. The main thing I go for is the end of the lake with the dead trees and Cormorants. In the 1980s and again at the start of this century, mine workings subsided near the end of the lake and the resulting low ground filled with water, drowning the trees.

When I first visited Clumber in the 90s there were more dead trees in the water and they were full of Cormorants. Now when I visit there are just a few trees and a handful of Cormorants, but there is still a possibility of interesting photos. Sadly there were no good Cormorant/tree photos to be had, but I did get a heron on a tree.

 

I also saw a family of Long-tailed Tits, a Goldcrest and a dozen squirrels, but couldn’t get decent photos of any of them. The only in-focus Long-tailed Tit was so badly framed all I pictured was feet and belly.