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Friday, 31 October 2014

If you go down to the woods today....

Yesterday afternoon I was en route between two destinations, and the sun was shining through the car windows. I had 20 minutes to spare, so I took a detour along a tiny country road and stepped into the woods. I often go to these woods, but for some reason, I've never noticed this particular footpath, running through some silver birch trees. It was late afternoon, about 3.30, and the light was incredible. There was no wind, either, it was pretty magical.

I did not have my big camera with me, so phone had to do. 

I recently spent time with a friend who is very poorly. It sounds like a cliche, but it does make you think, and appreciate. 

So that is why I turned off the main road and took 20 minutes out to watch the sun go down.

Monday, 27 October 2014

An autumn celebration

It was my mum's birthday yesterday, and as eldest son is home from uni for a few days, I thought it would be nice to have a family gathering. I had a leisurely day to cook. The main course was rib of beef with all the trimmings, and I also made a chocolate fudge cake with frozen berries and a plum and apple crumble with amaretti topping.

The chocolate cake is a family favourite but only makes an appearance on very special occasions. The crumble is a delicious new discovery, made with apples from our tree.

It was good to get everyone together. 

The chimney has been swept and we're all ready to light the fire, but it's been so warm! We'll wait for colder weather....

Saturday, 25 October 2014

A taste of autumn

Last week I had to drive to Norfolk to do an interview. This wasn't the pretty Norfolk by the coast, but deep into the Fens. The landscape is completely flat but it's not featureless. Once you start to appreciate the big skies and the sweep of the flat fields, it is very atmospheric. Lining the route are various farm shops, small holdings, and fruit and veg for sale by the side of the road. This is prime agricultural land. The road followed the old River Nene.  

Long ago, before the Fens were drained, Fen folk got around in punts. You can imagine the network of waterways if you stand and look across to the horizon.

Once I'd finished my interview, I drove home, stopping off occasionally to have a look more closely at the landscape.
I found a fantastic farm shop, The Orchard Tea Room at Wisbech.

I bought some Comice pears which are the best I've tasted. They are from an orchard nearby, and came in all sorts of shapes and sizes, no supermarket uniformity here. I made them into a salad with blue cheese and walnuts and they were just the best.

Then I tried painting them as they're so pretty (didn't really do them justice but sketches don't always work, just have to keep experimenting). I'm still trying to keep a journal, although it's hard now I haven't got a deadline. But it does happen from time to time. A bit like my blog! I don't want to stop writing the blog, and I will aim to be back here more regularly. Thank you if you still stop by sometimes. 
You are much appreciated.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Apple pressing

I've been away from my blog much longer than intended. I've been busy writing my journal and that is finished now, so hopefully, I can be back here on a more regular basis. One thing we did recently which I wanted to write about was this apple pressing day at The Kings Arms, Polebrook, a local pub. We had so many eating apples from our tree, and they taste amazing but they don't keep. We really didn't want to waste them this year as it just seems so wrong. So, we took them along to this community apple pressing day. It was one of the last really warm days.

Lots of people arrived with apples. We pooled them and set to the task of juicing them. First, they had to be washed. 

Then the apples need to be roughly chopped and put into a 'mincer' to break them down before they're pressed. They come out broken down and mushed up.

You have to chop fast to keep up!

Into the mushing machine. Husband enjoyed this part!

These two were operating the apple press. It's an old one, but it did the job perfectly. The juice trickles out in a steady stream.

Ready to be decanted into the bottles we'd brought with us. It's not an appetising colour, but the taste is simply amazing. Sharp and tangy. We had about 10 litres to bring back. We drank some, gave some away, and popped a couple of bottles in the freezer to be mulled in the winter. Some people were planning to make cider with theirs. 

After all that hard work, we settled down to some butchers sausages, chips and apple sauerkraut  at the pub. Just rewards...