Category Archives: Derbyshire

Scone Chronicles 37 – This One Has Scones!

Don’t get excited. I said it has scones. I didn’t say they were good scones. I’ll get that bit over with quickly, they weren’t good scones.

Julia went to order the Sausage Pie and, due to a mix up in communication, came back with scones. It’s too boring to explain fully, but after thirty years she hasn’t mastered the art of listening and I have developed a habit of nodding and going “Yes dear.”

She merged two conversations we had had in the car, one about scones and one about lunch. As she walked away from the table she said something I didn’t catch and I nodded and said “Yes”.

And that was how we ended up with Sausage Pie and Scones for lunch. You only needed to look at the scones to see that the odds were heavily stacked in favour of dyspepsia. To be fair, they were the best looking things in the sweet section. The lemon meringue pie positively radiated bright yellow malevolence and I have already forgotten the other choices – they were neither good enough, or bad enough, to remember.

The scones were large, slightly lopsided, dotted with burnt currants and dusted with sugar. When I was able to inspect them more closely I discovered they were crusty, dry and in possession of a lot of stiff, industrial cream.

Scones at Carsington Water

Scones at Carsington Water

I don’t mind large, lopsided and even the burnt currants. They are all faults I’m familiar with. On the other hand, dusting scones with icing sugar should be punished severely. It’s not necessary and it’s not adding to the taste or the experience. I don’t like crusty scones or dry scone and I think less is more in terms of cream. If I want blocked arteries I’ll ask for them, but all I really want is a garnish of cream, enough to add flavour and texture, not an inch thick dollop of chemically treated grease.

Am I being unfair? Probably, but a baker of bad scones deserves criticism. They weren’t necessarily bad just because the were home made – faulty and home made go together to a certain extent, and we all make mistakes. I have made many faulty scones in my time. It was the choices that annoyed me – the decision to sprinkle with sugar, to bake too fiercely and to use masses of badly maltreated cream.

I would have shown more faults but I couldn’t take all the photos I would have liked because I was being stared at by a woman on a neighbouring table. I’m still a bit self-concious about photographing my food, and didn’t like to carry on whilst being glared at from a distance of four feet. She was a touch on the small, round side, and it was like being singled out by an evilly-intentioned teddy bear .

Scone Chronicles 36

Warning: There are no scones in this post.

We started off with a trip to the doctor, breakfast, visits to two shops and a bit of photography for the presentation.

Then we set off in search of food.

The plan was to go to Carsington Water for lunch and a walk. Simple enough, you would think, and it was certainly easy enough to get there. There was a minor glitch with the new parking system – they have changed it since we last visited and the new signs aren’t very informative – but we eventually managed to work it out.

The meal was good in parts.

The staff were excellent and, I was pleased to see, wipe right up to the edges of the tables when they clean them. They also lifted the menus up and wiped underneath.It seems easy enough, but there are a lot of places where they clean a bit in the middle and go round the menu.

And, of course, there are places that never seem to clean the tables. Yes, Sainsbury’s, I’m thinking of you…

Service was quick and friendly and the food was piping hot. It was, if anything, too hot. The veg all came in one pot and we had to divide it up, which was tricky when the pot was too hot to hold.

We had the sausage pie. It had a lot of gravy in it, as you can see from one of the pictures, and didn’t seem to have much sausage. You expect sausage to be the most visible ingredient of a sausage pie. That was served piping hot too, with the result that one of our intrepid, and hungry, team of testers burnt his tongue and blistered the roof of his mouth. Julia showed the normal level of wifely concern.

 

It’s fair to say that we regretted our choice, particularly when we saw the massive golden cod and chips served up to the lady on the next table. I had nearly ordered it but it was served with garden peas and had decided to give it a miss.

Garden peas are for scampi or breaded plaice. Battered fish should be served with mushy peas. It’s a well-known fact, and almost a culinary commandment.

So, to sum up, the staff, cleanliness, veg, chips and serving temperature were all good. Unfortunately the sausage pie was not really up to the mark. It was still good though, just not what I think of when I think of sausage pie. If I eat there again I will probably have the cod.

Finally, after being photographed as we entered the car park, we had to enter our registration  number and pay. It’s all a bit Big Brotherish. The real problem came when they couldn’t match the car to the number. The screen kept showing a white VW van with a number that was nothing like ours.

We tried twice. Then I walked back to the car to check the number, just to satisfy the attendants who were watching the machines. It still didn’t work. So one of them walked up to the car to check the number. It still didn’t work. So we had to walk to reception, explain, pay, sign a sheet of paper and ask for a receipt.

It’s not the fault of the people operating the system, but it was annoying., and I do think if you are going to photograph people you should do it accurately.

I think I’ll have to give it a three out of ten for customer experience and service.

Come to think of it, I may not go back for cod and chips, there are plenty of places to go without being messed about by the parking system.

Lots of Gravy - Carsington Water

Lots of Gravy – Carsington Water

Sorry the post is a day late, after an action-packed day out I typed half of it, fell asleep in the chair and woke up after midnight.

Scone Chronicles 35 (Part 2)

So, the moment of truth…

Was our second visit to Tagg Lane Dairy as successful as the first?

I decided to try a different cake this time, and opted for the Sticky Toffee cake. I cannot lie to you, it was even better than last time. There was plenty of potential for it being too sweet and sickly, but it was not. It was just pleasantly sweet and toffee flavoured.

The cake, with swirls of toffee flavour, was excellent, with a lovely lightness of texture and tiny cubes of toffee embedded in a toffee icing. It was delicious, and, although it probably had a fatal dose of sugar for a diabetic, was just right for me.

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Sticky Toffee Cake

The coffee and walnut cake, which was Julia’s choice was as good as last time, but not as good as the Sticky Toffee cake. You know the bit in Henry V where he says. And gentlemen in England now a-bed, Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks, That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day?

Well, if Shakespeare had eaten the Sticky Toffee cake at Tagg Lane Dairy he would have written this speech about the cake rather than wasting it on Agincourt. It was that good. If I was marking out of ten, I’d give it eleven.

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Tagg Lane Dairy

The premises are new and , according to a wall plaque had been built with the help of funding from the EU. People may well want to think of this in the future, as I’m not sure the government will be funding many such projects in the coming years.

Unlike the cafe at Brierlow Bar, or the one at Home Farm (where we used to be based) it was not cluttered with a multiplicity of fashionable junk but was just neat and clean and a pleasure to use.

Finally, as I was taking a few wintry landscape shots near the gate, a female Sparrowhawk flew in to the yard flying so low she actually used the gate. She flew past me at about knee high, so close that I could almost have touched her. She then flew round the perimeter of the farmyard and flipped over the drystone wall to see if she could surprise anything on the other side.

We had Magic on the Marshes two weeks ago, now it’s magic on the Moors. I have been very lucky with what I’ve seen in the last few weeks. I just wish I could photograph it all to show you.

We also picked up some raw milk while we were there. I’m not sure whether it does me any good or not but I know that around half the time I have raw milk to drink my skin seems to improve. It might be a placebo effect, but if it feels better I’ll accept that, even if it’s because I’m deluded. It still feels better, whatever the reason.

 

Scone Chronicles – 34

This time it’s a hot pork sandwich.

We didn’t want much for lunch, having had a scone for elevenses, so before setting off home after our day in Derbyshire (the one last week, not this week) we did some thinking.

There were several places to purchase chips, but that seemed a bit much. There were other choices nearby, but I was  feeling lazy. So, something light, and something where we didn’t have to move far.

We happened to be standing just yards from the Bakewell Pudding Parlour. I’ve had the hot pork sandwich before. We’ve also had the macaroons and other things from there, which always helps – it’s good to buy from places you trust.

And that is what happened.

We had the hot pork sandwich with stuffing and apple sauce and we ate it outside, where they provide chairs and tables. We weren’t only ones to sit out, so it must be a sign that spring is coming. It also gave me chance to watch dog owners talking to each other and to take a photograph of yet another padlock.

It’s a good-sized sandwich, and with hindsight was probably a bit bigger than I really needed. There was plenty of pork and reasonable amount of stuffing. The apple was a bit runny.

All in all, not quite as good as it could have been, and probably not one I’d repeat. However, I will still go there for other food, as I do like it, and I like eating whilst watching people walk past.

Before Derrick jumps in to tell you that you can’t beat the pork cobs in Newark market place, I am going to provide you with that information, as it is true.. Their pork is more succulent, and everything else is just a bit better. And they give you crackling.

With my teeth that’s a bit like Russian Roulette, but don’t you love a nice bit of pork crackling? Or is that just me?

So if you ever find yourself in Newark – Nottinghamshire, not New Jersey – give it a try.

Wednesday – Tackling the Backlog

We went to Bakewell today. We went to Bakewell last Wednesday too. We may not be exciting but we are consistent.

However, this highlights a problem – I still have a lot of photos from last week. I also have a food review from last week, and I already have another one from this week.

This is a small backlog, but one which, in normal circumstances I would normally ignore. Things would be left and I would move on. I don’t delude myself, life goes on even in the absence of my views on traffic, tourists and charity shops, and nobody will feel a sense of loss if I don’t get round to writing about my hot pork sandwich. As for the book reviews I was planning – I wrote a book review in January 2019 and another in December. I’m guessing that most people don’t really visit the blog for my book reviews.

However, after a good night’s sleep, a lovely day in Derbyshire and a Valentine’s Day Gift that went right (and took a load off my mind) I am feeling inspired to work.

The lack of poetry writing in my life is also a factor. If I write prose I can pretend I am too busy when, in truth, I’m lazy, unimaginative and uninspired. Being busy prevents me facing up to that. I can write “lazy, unimaginative and uninspired” and still feel good because I’m writing about eating cake and looking at ducks.

Dog owners were a notable feature of the day. I think dogs are lower down the evolutionary scale than cats, I don’t like them in cafes and I tend to think that anything bigger than a terrier should be banned from living in town. However, I have to say that the dogs today were charming, full of character and attended by a great bunch of owners, who all seemed sensible, cheerful and enthusiastic about dogs. It was good to see, and really cheered the day up, to be honest, Cats tend to be a bit aloof, and I’ve never seen one look happy on a lead.

This post features ducks, people and a few other things from our visit to Bakewell last Wednesday. It misses out the sandwich, which will be the next post. I will then move on to this week’s visit, and the cake, but that will probably be instead of writing about Thursday or Friday.

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When the price of scrap goes up I’d cut the locks off and cash them in – I am not a great romantic

I will write about them while the weekend of storms rages around my head.

An that is how the next backlog will develop. Well, it’s one way. They also develop because I sit in the living room with Julia, chat about life, watch TV, snooze and use the netbook. It does well for an ageing, low-powered evolutionary dead-end, but it can be slow and tedious when loading photos. Hmm, ageing, low-powered evolutionary dead-end – sounds a bit like me.

I’m writing this on the computer in the cold dining room. It’s less comfortable but a lot quicker.

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The river Wye at Bakewell

The Accuracy Paradox

There is a built-in inaccuracy to all my blog posts – I am not really the cheerful happy-go-lucky soul which I portray.

The real paradox though, is that I am, just before writing, one post behind my target. As soon as I start to write the words “I am one post behind” this has the effect of bringing into being the post that means I have caught up.

It means I’m never quite right with what I write. And to think that I thought the chronology was a problem…

Timewise I’m just about to start a post that shows some of the walk we undertook before the tea and biscuits I wrote about in the last post. This is my fault, I just found it easier to write about.

However, this is is a small time slip compared to the one that has occurred with the Scone Chronicles. I had one to write when I got shut out of WordPress and though I have been catching up I’m still not quite back in line. It’s a good one, but I seem to lack the relaxed time I want to just sit and write.

The swan was a bit too friendly and had no concept of personal space. I wasn’t using a zoom lens for that close-up, I was trying to pull back because I was so close I couldn’t get it all in the frame.

The stones on the hill have been put there by the water company as an homage to the various pre-historic stone circles of Derbyshire. To be honest with you, until I read that link I thought there were only three.

I have, to be honest, used the “Dramatic” setting for two of the shots. The other, taken into the sun with a newly-cleaned lens, did not turn out with quite as much flare as I was expecting. Clearly I need more dirt and finger marks on the lens if I’m going for maximum flare.

I’m now in a position to push the button and post. Then I will truly be able to say I’m up to date.

Some Photos

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I have noticed, when looking at my photos, that although I often don’t have a photo to go with a post, I also have photos I never get round to using. With that in mind I’m going to publish some of the photos I took on Monday. They aren’t very good as I’m a bit rusty after months of only photographing coins, but I’m going to make an effort with photography again this year.

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Tree – Tagg Lane Dairy

The header picture shows a stand of trees across the road from the dairy. The light was going and it almost came out as black and white. The other is in the garden of the farmhouse, which is intruding slightly into the shot. I’m using the old, small camera, which makes it tricky to frame as there’s a black spot in the picture, which increases with zooming, and which needs to be cropped out.

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View from Tagg Lane Dairy – Derbyshire

This was a view across the fields. The sun was just catching the stone wall, but it didn’t add as much colour as I thought it would.

Finally, on the way home, we found a place where sky colour, foreground interest (I use the term loosely) and parking coincided. I know a bad workman always blames his tools, but I’m sure they would have been better with one of the better cameras. Unfortunately I still haven’t learned to use the new one, and the other Olympus has flat batteries.

Sunset December 2019

Sunset December 2019

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Sunset – Langley Mill – December 2019

Sunset Dec 2019 Langley Mill

Sunset Dec 2019 Langley Mill

The Scone Chronicles XIII

And yet again – no scones.

The venue was the bookshop at Brierlow Bar and though Julia looked carefully, she could see no scones.

She did, however, buy two slices of glistening home-made cake. It looked sumptuous. And delicious. And once again I had to relearn that tough life lesson that looks can be deceptive.

As you may have noticed, I’m not the cheeriest or most modern of people and I am suspicious of change. I’m still not fully convinced that the bookshop needed a cafe, or that a crowd of people and dogs is of benefit to a bookshop with narrow passageways. I’m almost certain that anyone who parks a pram in a gangway, so that fat men with walking sticks nearly fall over getting past, should be prosecuted by social services and their children put into a gloomy gothic orphanage.

In a way it’s a shame I didn’t fall as the combination of damp floor and blocked gangway is a dream for an ambulance chasing lawyer.

Much as I despise the current compensation culture it would be fun to sue and make a few cogent comments to the court about people running cafes in a space that should be filled with books.

I’m not sure whether I would then give the money to Julia for a new polytunnel or burn it on You Tube just to prove a point. (The point being that the money wasn’t important, not that I am stupid).

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Good in Parts

Anyway, back to the cake. It was apricot and some sort of nut. Julia was in “Bear of Very Little Brain” mode and forgot the details on the way from counter to table. You’d have thought she’d have been brighter after an hour and a quarter of top flight conversation with me in the car, but apparantly not.

It tasted a bit like walnut, but there was definitely a large identifiable piece of cashew in there too.

I said: “Cashew!”

Julia said: “Bless you.”

After you’ve been married 30 years this is what passes for humour.

It was confusing cake because some of it tasted of ginger too. The top, where the glaze had soaked in, was nice and moist, but the lower two thirds was dry and quickly reverted to crumbs. Fortunately we had cake forks to deal with this problem.

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Appearances can be deceptive

To sum up, and to put my personal bias to one side, the tea was good, as it always is (made with proper leaves and a strainer), the ambience is getting better as they sort things out, the cake could have been better, but even that wasn’t too bad, and the book stock seems to have improved.

I’m actually quite impressed with what they have done at Brierlow Bar, despite my resistance to the 21st Century.

 

Things That Worry Me

Number One – my teeth disintegrating. As you may know, I’m in for a tooth extraction tomorrow (despite the fact it’s barely twinged since I went to the dentist about it).

I have been thinking I was over-reacting, but last night it started aching again and I’m now very keen on having it removed. It’s been going on a while so it’s time to be decisive.

For the last few months I seem to have been finding a lot of chalky bits in my mouth. It’s worrying, particularly after I had one disintegrate a couple of years back.

I seem to spend a lot of the evening finding bits of chalk in my mouth, which is bad news, and has been occupying my thoughts far too much. However, I realised what it is a couple of days ago. It’s the chalky bits from the tablets I take every night.

Number Two – plumbing. The house’s plumbing, not mine. Mine is way down the list. In winter I always worry about the plumbing. We’ve been here 30 years, we’ve had a couple of plumbing problems, but nothing we can’t cope with. But I spend several weeks each year worrying about it. It’s a Christmas tradition.

 

 

As you can see from the black spot in the duck picture I’m using the old camera. I’ll explain why in a later post. The spot only shows when you use the zoom.

Number Three – cocking up Christmas. A month before Christmas Julia starts refusing to tell me what she wants as a present. Then, a week or two later, she hands me a wad of cash and tells me the whole Christmas holiday depends on me. Then, just as we reach the posting deadline for Amazon, she tells me what she wants.

I wake up at night sweating at the idea of disappointing Julia or failing to produce Christmas dinner.

It was quite relaxing spending last Christmas in Suffolk, though I did worry about the plumbing a lot while we were away.

A number of you are probably shouting “death” at the blog. This, I hope, is a comment on the fear of death, rather than a critical reaction to my blogging.

Well, to be honest, I’m not much afraid of death. At 60 I can still pretend it’s a long way off. Anyway, compared to the stress of Christmas, death isn’t that bad.

 

This afternoon, to avert the chance of a disappointed wife, I took a trip to Bakewell, where I visited an excellent jeweller, ate a hot turkey sandwich and was shown how to avoid paying 20 pence to use the toilet. I saw “shown” as I’m not admitting to anything…

I can show you the shop but as she reads the blog I can’t picture the things I bought. I may show them on Boxing Day. Prepare to be surprised by my lack of imagination.

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It’s Christmas…

 

Home for 4.30.

The days can be short in winter…

A Drive in Derbyshire

1st November and, by coincidence, it’s Day 25 of the 100 Posts/100 Days Challenge. So far, so good, with posts on 25 successive days.

I’m cutting a few corners to keep to the target but it’s not too bad – I’ve always done that, even when I wasn’t trying to keep to a target. It’s not as if the written version is ever as good as the version I have in my head when I sit down to type.

We went to Derbyshire today – looking for autumn colour and fresh air. The air was certainly fresh, but most of the colour seemed to be either dull or, as we got further North, lacking. At the top of the county only the beech trees seemed to be showing any coloured leaves. The rest of the trees were bare.The header picture shows Wingfield Manor, one of the places Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned.