Tag Archives: garden centre

Scone Chronicles XII

When I was looking for the cactus photographs I used in the first post of the day (this is the 3rd!) I found some photographs I’d forgotten about.

We went to Springfields while we were off for the week. While we were there we bought turmeric capsules, criticised the bookshop stock and looked in the craft shop (well, one of us did, the other sat and watched the ducks in the water feature).

While Julia was looking at other stuff, I sat in the cafe and waited. Patiently. It’s a skill I have developed over 30 years of marriage. It’s a lot like sleeping with your eyes open. Or sleeping with your eyes open and nodding your head in time with the conversation. All useful skills for a married man.

Anyway, when Julia returned she get us scones and tea from the counter.

They were surprisingly good. We tested the fruit scone and the cheese scone – both had good open texture and good flavour. They were well up with the top scones, though the shape of the fruit scone was ather alarming. That is, partly, what happens when you twist the cutter when you cut the scone out.

This is part of the same group that made me the worst fish and chips ever, so I was surprised.

Unfortunately, there was food trapped under the glass top of the table, so there is still oom for improvement.

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Trapped food – lovely!

Now I remember I was going to do the write-up about Brierlow Bar

The Scone Chronicles – Number 3

On the way to Peterborough we stopped off at the Barn Garden Centre.

I’ve been there with my sister before, and they are famous for the quality of their scones. They aren’t so famous for the quality of their garden centre, but we’ll ignore that for now.

After a cream tea, and a scone with jam, in previous reviews it was a toss up between a cherry scone or a cheese scone this time, and we decided on cheese. It turned out to be an excellent choice.

Good tea, pots that pour properly and nice light scones with good cheese flavour – a bit of a bite but not overpowering. The only thing that could have made it better was for a robin to hop along the floor picking up crumbs…

Robin in the Garden Centre cafe

Robin in the Garden Centre cafe

An Expensive Mistake

This is probably the best example you could have of how out of step I feel with modern life. Apologies is you are becoming tired of my view on this subject, but I have to blog or burst.

On Monday afternoon we went to the new East Bridgford Garden Centre. A perfectly good local garden centre has been taken over, new buildings erected, a massive car park built and a slice of retail Hell has been grafted onto the Nottinghamshire countryside.

I’m sure, from the crowd of people, that it will be popular, and that it fills a need in the lives of many people. This need isn’t necessarily for plants as most people seem to have left without visible purchases. It is also providing a lot of jobs, though they are mainly, it seems, for teenagers. Older people, as in people in their thirties, don’t seem to have much of a place here.

We didn’t see any of the staff who used to work at he old centre and Max the Parrot has gone too. It appears that he went to live elsewhere during the building work and liked it so much that he decided to stay.

A likely story. I think he was handed his P45 as part of the move from Garden Centre to slick corporate retail outlet.

Anyway, back to the fish and chips. They were a familiar and, we thought, safe, choice in a rather confusing cafe.

They gave us a “locator” for the table – a high tech version of a number on a stick. The tea arrived, just ahead of the meal. My thoughts were that the tea could have been a bit quicker and the main meal was available quicker than I was expecting.

The staff were quick, efficient and cheerful and the locator seemed to work well.

And that was as good as it got.

The fish portion was small. The chips were large, though not numerous. The tartare sauce came in a cheap paper cup, the watercress garnish was a bit of an afterthought. And the peas…

For £10.95 you expect a goodly dollop. What we got was a smear. Julia’s photograph exaggerates the size of the portion. I wasn’t sure whether it was the promised pea and mint puree or just a leftover from a poor attempt at washing up.

Fish and Chips East Bridgford

Undoubtedly the worst fish I’ve had for years

The good news was that the sauce was tangy, the caramelised lemon was juicy, the chips were well cooked and the pea and mint puree was delicious, even if it was brief.

Bad news – the fish was the worst I’d had in thirty years.

It was small, thin and had a pasty consistency with only a few discernible flakes. Mainly it was tasteless, and in parts was so bland as to be unpleasant, which probably explained why there was salt on the plate when the meal arrived – an attempt to introduce flavour.

It took me back to market day in Uttoxeter thirty years ago. I had fish and chips in a cafe – the fish was thin, bland and, as I got to the centre, still frozen.

I really don’t know what to say. It wasn’t good value from the quantity point of view, and it was inexcusably poor from the quality point of view.

Surroundings were clean and bright, staff were great but the food is the important bit, and it was dreadful.

It’s very unlikely we’ll be going back.

 

Skies and Disappointments

Last night I took No2 son to work. It was just after 10pm and the sky was a fantastic shade of saffron. As usual, I didn’t have the camera with me, though it wouldn’t have helped much – all the best views were from roadworks and dual carriageways where I couldn’t have stopped anyway.

This morning, at around 4am, on the way to the bathroom, I noticed the sunrise was similarly colourful. This time I did have access to the camera and I didn’t need a parking place. I did, however, manage to ignore these advantages and went back to sleep. That’s why I’m using the pictures fron last Wednesday.

I’m not cut out for the hurly-burly of high-level blogging. I’ll leave that to Derrick Knight and Tootlepedal – they are like blogging machines. Me, I’m more of a dormouse.

After a hard half day sorting parcels and pennies I went for a cream tea with Julia. We’re thinking of blogging about cream teas.

I’ll show you the pictures later.

Have to go now- Julia says it’s time for me to cook.

Derrick and TP don’t have this problem…

Poppies in Autumn

First we went to Aldi, because they had been advertising they would have craft supplies in this week. To Julia craft supplies are like cat nip to cats.

Then we went to the garden centre in search of rooting powder. This was hard because, over the years, the gardening supplies have been forced out by the gift shop and are now hidden like a shameful secret.

The salvage yard has always seemed to stock too many duplicates. If I was a cynic I would be tempted to suggest this is because most of the stuff is modern and made in China – not salvaged or reclaimed. I have nothing against the stuff, or any of the other repro gear, because it adds a touch of elegance to the garden, but it should be made clear.

It often crops up on programmes like Bargain Hunt where the experts don’t seem to recognise it and have to wait for the auctioneer to tell them. I suspect that they are really just being nice to the contestants and stall holders by not mentioning it, because when the Chinese make repro they make lots of it and it gets all over the trade.

They once brought a shipment of repro vases in to the Newark Antique Fair – everyone had them and they were around £15 each. Cheerful, decorative and cheap.

We went to Wales that weekend and there was one in a shop window. It had travelled 250 miles, aged by 100 years and increased in price to £75.

When I win the lottery I want one of those big urns.

Back home two orange poppies were unfurling themselves, a Red Admiral flew off as I tried to focus and the spider still lurks.

The shield bug on the fatsia japonica obliged by posing. Shield bugs are very good like that.

 

Spiders, Shopping and Dead Butterflies

A couple of days ago I noticed something fluttering in the front garden, It turned out to be the remains of a Small Tortoiseshell, enangled in a sider’s web. It was past help, but I thought I’d take a few pictures. If I ever need a picture of a dead butterfly with a spider I now have one in stock.

It was quite a cunning plan on behalf of the spider, stringing a web between the Red Valerian flowers and lying in wait for a passing pollinator. I imagine that it wou;d have preferred a nice juicy bee, but it got a butterfly. There must be plenty of food in a butterfly, but the wings are a bit of a waste.

I  tried to get some close-ups, but must have touched a web, as the spider made a rush for me, defending its lunch. In such a David and Goliath situation we were always going to have a non-traditional outcome. I was never going to fall over after taking a rock between the eyes. Fortunately the spider didn’t push its luck and, after a sneer, it went back to eating.

Moving forward to Bank Holiday Monday,  we went to the garden centre so that Julia could buy more plants. We always seem to be buying new plants. After the first half of the trip I hobbled back to the car, making much use of my walking stick, and allowed her to enjoy the centre without me holding her back. I am so noble.

There is, of course, nothing wrong with me, apart from laziness and the inability to put up with heat. I’m just a very bad husband. However, I was able to sit in a car in the shade and enjoy the breeze instead of sweating round a variety of converted polytunnels masquerading as a shop. I feel a little deception was good for my health.

Whether or not it remains good for my health if Julia reads this, we will have to see.

As I sat in the car I took a few photos. There wasn’t much to photograph, but when in doubt take a picture of things that look like a pattern. That’s why I took the pots and compost bags.  They aren’t good photos, but they look like they could be. The one with the pots would have been better if they’d been stacked on the level. Or if I’d noticed they were sloping when I took the photo.

 

It was nice day, even if it was too hot for me, and even better when we were able to drive round with the air-conditioning on.

At least we weren’t disappointed by this garden centre.

Garden Centres, Disappointment and a Widow

We  went to two garden centres this morning. The first one was disappointing, with a closed cafe and a definite lack of things worth buying. The second was equally poor, despite promises of 50% off. At least the cafe was open, even if they did serve the cheese toasties with salad on a breadboard. Not even a traditional British breadboard either, but a modern pressed bamboo monstrosity.

Both of them seem to be plagued by thieves, judging from the notices stuck up around the centres. Hampson’s in Wakefield have gone as far as to install a security shed and employ two people to write signs telling you that “Your on TV” (sic), or in the case of the second person “You’re on TV”. I’ve never had the opportunity to write (sic) before; blogging is really expanding my horizons.

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Security shed ay the Garden Centre

The garden centre at Ackworth takes a different approach, having a sign up to ask customers to report each other if they see them stealing.

So there we were, with hardly an item purchased, nothing of interest seen and not much of a back-up plan. At that point we found the Ackworth memorial to local quarrymen. I’ve driven through the village dozens of times before Number Two son’s enforced retirement from Rugby League and never knew it existed.

It lists 15 men of the area who died between 1878 and 1935.

I had a quick look for John Desborough on the internet – it’s a reasonably uncommon name and it produces several results. Born in Lincolnshire in 1843, spent some time in Holbeach Workhouse with two brothers and a sister. He was an agricultural labourer until 1876, when he married in Ackworth, worked as a quarryman and had five children before being killied in a quarry accident on 17th  May 1889.

His wife Susanah did not remarry, and his three sons all went to work as quarrymen. Susannah died in 1916, and is buried in St Cuthberts churchyard.

Tough times, and an interesting memorial.