Sunday, 27 October 2013

Kicking Up A Storm

Hurah for Kitty!

Made it through her MOT this year at half the price of last year. We get another twelve months together.

I've also discovered my new favouritist toy. Inspired by a man selling them outside Bristol Temple Meads station a while back, I decided to dig out the crepe maker. I was watching carefully how he did it, and part of the trick seems to be to have the wooden jobbie in a bowl of water.

Anyway, I recreated the one I bought off him: cheese, olives, pepper and mushrooms.

This makes it healthy, right?

Fond memories of a holiday in the Algarve as a kid, where they used to sell crepes with chocolate spread and coconut. That's going to be my next attempt. I think I could probably live off crepes. I used to make pancakes stuffed with noodles fried in soy sauce, honey and sesame seeds, but pancakes are just too stodgy. Crepes are a much better way to go. Except the breakfast pancakes Lindsay makes at Stag Cottage, with turmeric, cinnamon and lashings of honey.

Aaanyway. I've had a lazy morning this morning as the clocks went back, giving an extra hour in bed. Just finished a big bowl of porridge and slipped on my new warm booties.

We're battening down the hatches here in the UK as apparently there's a storm on its way. We know to be worried because Michael Fish has been on the telly telling people it probably won't be that bad. Last time he said that, back in 1987, we were hit by a hurricane. 

It's supposed to be the worst storm in five years, and we're right in the danger belt. Hopefully Dad will make it home from Carlisle before it hits. Last time this happened he was on the emergency planning team, making sure people had shelter and water. It was pretty bad. The problem with Gloucester is that some numpty decided to build our main electricity station right in the middle of the floodplain. 

I am kind of excited though. I think storms are awesome, provided you have somewhere nice and warm and safe to watch them from.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Teary Tart

Well, I did say that I would get some. Behold! The baking beans.

Had a go at recreating the caramelised balsamic and red onion tart with goat's cheese (catchy title) that we had in Tipperary.

I still don't wish to talk about the pastry. It's getting better, and I do now have a rolling pin. This one's fun because you mix in mustard and cheddar.

Then, y'know, sort of cover it in these things... *sigh*

The tart itself is incredible. If someone said 'hey, chop up six onions and eat them,' you'd think... no. But caramelise them with butter and balsamic vinegar, slap on a lump of goat's cheese, and the combination is incredible.

It brought a tear to my eye.

Honestly, two onions in and I could hardly see whether I was dicing a vegetable or my hand. There is a definite down side to this dish. I tried the trick of sticking a cold spoon under my tongue. I think it sort of helped, maybe just a little. That or the placebo effect kicked in. Either way - win.

Ta-dah! Just before it went in for the final bake.

Annoyed I forgot to take one of it before serving, but we were all hungry by then and it didn't last long. I dished it up with thinly sliced red and yellow peppers, and mushrooms, stir fried in soy sauce and honey on a bed of fresh spinach leaves, with some new potatoes from the garden.

Opinion of baking beans? Hmm. At the end of the day, once you fill a flan, who can see whether it's lumpy or not? Are they worth it for the fiddlyness of washing them afterwards? Jury's still out. Failing that, you could always use them for omweso.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Hihgnam Church

After exploring Highnam Court, we took a wander down past the bottom lake towards the church, passing this carving on the way.

The church itself is fairly inspiring.

Which is good, because they have a medieval 'pinnacle' (that's 'spire' to you and me) in the grounds of Highnam Court, taken from Gloucester Cathedral.

Those who know this blog will know that I'm a bit of a graveyard groupie. Any excuse to look for unusual headstones and stone carvings.

There certainly were some interesting stones at Highnam.



Beautiful Grave Edging
However, it was a much more recent grave that caught my attention.

I'd never seen anything quite like this before. The sides were engraved with music.


Then, on the back, information about his life appears to have been interspersed with hieroglyphs depicting things I'm guessing he was fond of:

I'm not sure about the second one or the third one. The second I assume to be a building of some sort. The Taj Mahal springs to mind because of the spires, but I doubt it. The third is a symbol for something I don't know, religious probably.

As for the rest, I'm going to take a guess at: His house (Highnam Court), beekeeping, cricket, Bentleys (good man!), theatre, the Masons (of which I'm assuming he was one), Rolls Royce, and perhaps he was also a Magistrate too?

What a lovely and original idea.

The interior of the church is quite spectacular. Beautifully painted, lots of gold leaf. There's a gallery on their website, which probably does more justice than my fumbled shots.

When you stand right up by the altar, there is a tiny window just visible at the top of the bell tower. It's made from green stained glass with a red cross in the middle that glows like fire when the sun moves into the west. Truly stunning.

There was only one bell in the tower. Perhaps he wasn't such a fan of those.

Still, very pretty. There was also an abundance of Monkey Puzzle trees in the churchyard. Clearly somebody had a sense of humour.

And finally, a nice view.

Flat-bottomed Trees You Make The Rockin' World Go Round

Highnam Court

Had a lovely day at Highnam Court yesterday, enjoying the autumn colours with Dad and M.

It's been a while since I went for a walkabout, and I went a bit wild with the camera, so this is going to be a long and image-heavy post. Enjoy!

click on the images to enlarge

Highnam Court

Link Hedge

Sea Horses, Surrounded by Starfish and Seals.

The Great Escape

The pixie above sums up the day's memories of Highnam. There were so many mushrooms!

Mostly we saw Judge's Ink Cap (AKA Shaggy Ink Cap), so named because they look like a judge's wig. These make good eating when the caps are still closed, and are related to Common Ink Cap, which you find around the base of trees. Common Ink Cap is also edible, but you mustn't eat it if you plan on drinking alcohol as it creates a violent reaction. It's used to induce nausea in alcoholics as part of aversion therapy.

They're called ink caps because as they decay they turn to a mushy, inky substance.


There were also plenty of pretty flowers.

And signs of autumn everywhere.

Ready to Play Conkers?

There were also quite a few grazers.

And some wildlife...



Those should look better if you click to enhance them. There were also lots of giant dragonflies, but they wouldn't stay still long enough to be photographed.

Highnam from Across the Lake


Lower Lake Panoramic

Spot the Odd One Out?
Empty Nest
Then things got a little strange.

Toad of Toad Hall

Life's a Bubble
The Road to Self Discovery
Just time to cross that bridge...

...hide in the willow arbour...
...and admire the sky...
...before heading off to investigate the church.