Monday 26 December 2011

Great Granny and Grandad's Little Treasures

Our little granddaughters came to the farm on Christmas Eve.Here you see my Mum and Dad with the latest addition 4 month old Martha Mai. They came for lunch and Rubi_Sue sat up to the table. She is now 2 years and 3 months. She certainly knows how to make the little one laugh. Dancing around her and singing loudly Martha Martha Mai. Then Rubi was off with her Dad to see the pigs and cattle. Claire certainly has her hands full.

Sunday 25 December 2011

Christmas without the ones we love

Nearly every day of my life I saw my uncles. Appy for 46 years and Fred for 53 years. I was lucky that I had them for so long but never the less I miss them so much. I know I am not alone as everyone at some stage in their lives loses people close to them. I spent hours in the cow house with Appy while he did the milking and with Fred with the horses and counting and looking after the sheep.Wise Yorkshire men -my Father included who have made me what I am today. I went to put holly on the graves not only for them, but for the 2 generations of family before them too. Holly from their own trees,fir,laurel and other evergreens that they will have planted.

Thursday 22 December 2011

present wrapping and

Those kittens of ours get everywhere. There I was trying to wrap some presents up to send off to the North Pole to Santa to delivery for us. Geronimo decided he was going to turn his paw to wrapping. First he ran off with the sellotape then he bit holes in the wrapping paper.To test my patience even more he decided to do regularly inspections on how I was getting on with the job.
I have found this amazing website which adults and children alike will be enthralled with. It is only for Christmas Eve Day and shows Santa Claus travelling the world on his sleigh delivering gifts. I am sure the kittens will sit watching the TV and it will keep them quiet for a few minutes with any luck

Sunday 18 December 2011

Christmas would not be Christmas...

for me if it wasn't a visit to Ian Peacock's Birdgate Chocolatiers in Pickering. Step through the door and you are cocooned by this amazing chocolatey smell.Since he has moved to his larger shop in Birdgate Ian is creating the most amazing chocolate works of art. Spoilt for choice no one can come out of there empty handed. Should it be one like this or this or no perhaps this one would be better. Dawn Bentley has the patience of a saint.Dawn knows me well, as any opportunity I have I go -Birthdays ,Christmas Valentines Day and even our wedding cake came from here. So when Nicholas decided all he wanted for Christmas was some chocolate, it was straight down the road to Pickering.But then I thought maybe Jack would like some and my mother well I hadn't got her anything and then there was my Dad. The next thing I know I was coming out with some for myself too. Well that's a surprise. Easy peasy all that shopping done and nothing to wrap up. And thanks to Ian's generosity he is kindly donating some of his wonderful chocolate to our Sparkling Breakfast Party on January 22 in aid of the Yorkshire Air Ambulance. You can see more of about the chocolate on YouTube. Mr Peacocks Birdgate Chocolatier in Pickering.

Saturday 17 December 2011

Scarborough Late Night Shopping

It wouldn't be Christmas without a look around the shops after 5pm. Late night shopping they call it. Freezing should be added to that as well. As my good friend lives and works in Scarborough I decided to go through on Thursday night. Susan runs in Bar Street, right in the centre of town. The wind was certainly blowing off the North Sea and it was far colder than it felt at home. It wasn't very Christmassy. I think Helmsley is still one of the nicest places to look around in December and is beautifully decorated too. Never mind I was in Scarborough so off trotted down Huntriss Row. The florist on the corner has been there for years since I was at college. That was over 40 years ago but it was closed. A little further up was Bonnet's again a long standing establishment.This is a chocolate shop and cafe.I wont take about chocolate as that is in my next blog... At the top of the street was the only person I saw who looked to have made any effort to get in the Christmas spirit.Sorry I didn't get your name or the name of your shop. My excuse is the cold had set in and I was rushing to see if there was any bargains in TKMax.Over the loudspeaker came that was shutting its changing rooms in 5 minutes at 6pm. She was peeping out of the jeweller shop braving the bitter wind. She warmed the whole street up with her cheery smile. Most of the town seemed have not got in the Christmas spirit. So much for late night shopping.Then it was off to CoGonis for another wonderful meal -. Buon Natale to Marco and his crew.

Thursday 8 December 2011

And what should we buy ....

Never again should you have to worry about what to buy as long as Campbells of Leyburn are open. Wine you would presume one should keep in the cellar. Here it is kept in an attic - well on the second floor. What an array .Shapes ,sizes,types -Campbell's Aladdin's Attic. I was very impressed to see some Ice wine from Canada not very often you see that about. Champagne by the bottle,Magnum,Jeroboam,Methuselah,Salmanazar and Balthazar. And did I spy a Nebuchadnezzar the equivalent to 20 bottles. I am sure if you want to go for that Big Bottle Doug or Richard would be able to source you a 24 bottle Solomon and for the very thirsty a 27 litre Primat. We certainly could have a party with all of that.There was wine from every corner of the earth that produces it. A good selection of English wine too.I loved looking at the different labels and packaging. Wooden boxes that held 10,20 30 and 40 year old ports or any combination you could ask for.Ports for the old man himself. Sherry for the vicar and mothers. Rum for uncles and gin for skinny aunts Whiskey -Loch Lomond 1841, should go down a treat to toast in the New Year to Auld acquaintances. And dare I say Advocaat for me to make snowballs. It's the cherry I like the most, those sweet sickly ones out of a jar speared by a cocktail stick/ Well it is Christmas. With all the bottles that this shop carry it could certainly be a merry one.

Wednesday 7 December 2011

The Bread Challenge

I have really enjoyed watching the 3 episodes on BBC2 this week of the Bedale Bread Experience. It made it all the more interesting to see my friend Alison Barnes on as she and Lionel own Crakehall Watermill.I have not made any bread since I was at Malton Grammar School 40 years ago. Miss Clarke was our domestic science teacher then,I had a green checked pinny which was Willoughby house colour -I think my mum will still have it packed away somewhere. I used the basic bread recipe from Jamie Oliver's Italy page 312 and it was a doodle. 2 hours and 10 minutes later I had made 7 extra large bread buns and a R for little Rubi-Sue. I took some to the farm and we eat some and it got the thumbs up.Cinnamon Twist in Helmsley is kindly donating artisan bread for our charity breakfast in January but I might have another try and see what I come up with .I am thinking minute little bread buns.Time will tell

Sunday 4 December 2011

Our kitty pussies

We did not expect to have any feline additions. We already have Duchess- born the day HRH Charles and Camilla got married. She is a big hit with cat loving guests. With all our dogs Duchess still rules the roost. Then Joyce said she had 4 orphan kittens so as one was a tortoise shell in colour I was tempted to get one for my mum and got another to keep her company. They were so tiny and had just got their eyes open. I have never taken any photos of them as I didn't think they would survive. Not as easy to look after as a pup they clawed and bite the hand that feed them -that was mine. They were so tiny they could get through a 2inch sq mesh. 4 months later and I have taken the first photos of them. Jack isn't into cats "can't do with them" he says. Enter Geronimo the black/grey one with little white toes and Mini Ha Ha the pretty little tortoise shell. Here you see Geronimo half asleep on Jacks arm.I think they will be staying here.

Saturday 3 December 2011

Sophie Likes and Hovingham Market

Hovingham Market is held on the first Saturday in the month. I went along this morning as I have never been before.I knew Sophie Binns would be there. We have known Sophie a long time as she used to work at the White Swan in Ampleforth.We are hoping she will be coming with a small collection of her wears to our charity event in January. I got there early before the crowds. I bought a blue headband from Sophie,some mohair socks from Selena Scott's sock stand. Some chocolates with ginger from Sumiras-another lady who I think will be coming in January and some sausages and last but not least a marrow. Amazing the array of things on sale.There was some really nice pyjamas and nightdresses for children so I might have to go back another time.My advice is arrive early but not as early as me.

Thursday 1 December 2011

The Peckitt clan ...

gathered again. This time it was to celebrate the head of the Clan's 80th birthday . Brenda is mother to Jack, Ann and Frank. She lives in the same village as she was born in Coxwold. After she married Jacks dad she moved to College Farm at Byland Abbey and eventually retired back to the village. We had a not so quiet Sunday lunch at the Corner Cupboard at Birdforth which is a regularly haunt of the party girl and her friends.The owner Peter Handley did his usually impression of Basil Fawlty while us girls admired the talents of his wife Gerds artistic flare in the way she sets out her showroom shop.Brenda did very well and gave a speech of thanks.Two great grandchildren helped her blow out the candles Unfortunately my camera wants to show pink photos

Friday 25 November 2011

A woman's prerogative...

I was out to a charity event on Wednesday night with my friend Colleen Risker who has stables at Rushton near Scarborough. Along with her husband have a 9 hole golf course near their home at Sawdon.We were going to have a bite to eat at the Downe Arms,we choose a dish that had cheese in it.When they told us they didn't have any cheese we decided we would change our eating venue. We made our way to the Anvil at Sawdon. I hadn't been here for quite a few years and wow what a change. Still a lovely feel to the place but the place had been smartened up a notch or two . The anvil and forge still remain you can see them behind cheese donuts.Yes cheese donuts. We had 3 starters and shared them instead of having a main course.It was excellent and the slowly roasted belly pork was out of this world.I wish all my plate had been this scrummy pork.It just melted in your mouth.It must have been marinated in something first -cider perhaps. So if you get there before me don't eat all the pork,please leave some for me .

National Railway Museum,York and Vikki Harris

Not only is the National Railway Museum the engine shed to lots of trains they also have conference facilities there.Welcome to Yorkshire held its AGM there on Monday. First we had time to catch up with other members and take a look at the trains. It was lovely and warm in this huge building. It is free to enter and makes for an ideal place to go if the weather is not so kind. It has good parking facilities and certainly worth a visit. Their catering is very good and I certainly enjoyed my lunch. After lunch some of us were lucky enough to get on one of the training courses in the afternoon. An interesting mix with a lady from the Wilf Ward Trust who had self catering from disabled in Filey to a lady gardener from the RHS Harlow Carr Gardens in Harrogate. Harlow Carr is a place I have to admit I have never been. It sounded so intersting and will have to go on my do list for 2012. The session was lead by Vikki Harris from Welcome to Yorkshire who explained what is up and coming for the coming year.Stats,graphs and the like -but very interesting all the same.Vikki was very patient with us all as things kept getting slightly detoured. I am sure we will benefit if we take on board what she told us. So its full steam ahead.

Saturday 19 November 2011

Flavour of Herriot Country Awards

First it was the AGM at Slaley Hall at the beginning of the week.On Thursday I was in my "better clothes" avec mon Vivienne Westwood earrings as I was attending the Flavours of Herriot Country awards. Jack and his Cuckavalda Gundogs were sponsoring while I got the job of presenting the award for the Best Specialist Shop.Ian Ashton had organised the event. The main sponsors was Welcome to Yorkshire and Gary Verity as usual delivered an excellent speech.Jules Bellerby from BBC Radio York then took to the stage.Annie Stirk did the first presentation with grace making it look so easy.Then fourth down the line it was my turn .Grace is not something that I am linked with.I was so worried that I would go flying headfirst of the stage. All too quickly I was there, terrified, up on the stage trying to look as if I knew what I was doing.The lights were so bright I was squinting like a ferret out of a hole. And the winner was .....Campbell's of Leyburn. I am dreading the photos being in the papers as I know I will get a lot of friendly flack from locals.Both Mr and Mrs Campbell were there to receive the trophy - a wonderful glass state of the art piece in a lavish box.Between my knees knocking and Doug Campbell's hands shaking we managed to keep it in the box and all got down from the stage without any mishaps.Well done to all those who won and for flying the flag for Yorkshire.
Then came a speech from James Herriot's son-Jim Wight. Both he and Rosie Paige, his sister, were there. Jim talked about how much his father related Yorkshire and food together and went on to talk about Snaff Peckitt. Snaff was a relation of Jacks-his dad's cousin. Like all Peckitts he was a character. Snaff did very well in the war years when he sold his pigs on the black market. So fat was the bacon James Herriot could only swallow it with vast amount of piccalilli on.Where have I heard that before. Heard it- I know because I was brought up with tat bacon That is not a spelling mistake it was fat but as a little girl I couldn't say fat and said tat.My Dad stills ask me do I want "tat" as I like to eat the top off the meat.Though we don't have meat like it used to be I also try to buy it with a good layer of fat on as it cooks better and certainly tastes better for having it. And so the yarns go on.

Wednesday 16 November 2011

Slaley Hall and the FarmStayUK conference

On Monday my friend, Louise kindly drove me up to Slaley Hall as I didn't want to be late for the FarmStayUK conference and AGM the following day.I hadn't been for years so decided I had better get up to speed with what was going on. We had a very comfortable room at Slaley.Everything was spot on other than at 1.30- 2am I was woken up by slamming doors,people shouting and giggling coming from other Farm Stay members and their husbands who had been attending a Gala evening. I thought they would have known better than to make a noise at that time of night. I was very tempted to give them an early morning call when I woke up as my body clock is set for just before 5am. The breakfast was excellent. The pool and jacuzzi were as hot as bath water and were ideal for this water hippo.
The meeting was well attend with members coming from Northern Ireland ,Scotland,England and Wales. Our guest speaker was Mr Ken Robinson C.B.E. who understands the need for technology and was up to date with the tourism industry as a whole.Lets hope all notes are taken on board and put into force.
Louise had enjoyed a few hours shopping in Corbridge,then we had a safe journey home
I came home for a rest and went to bed very early.

Wednesday 9 November 2011

Richmond,The Georgian Theatre and...

I attended a Welcome to Yorkshire meeting today. I had half an hour to kill before it started, so had a quick look around the town. Richmond has a cobbled market square area and in the middle is the Green Howard's Museum. I sensed a great peaceful as I wandered about.You must visit it to appreciate it as it was hard to explain.No road rage or aggregation Everyone was very friendly and helpful.Wearing their poppies as Remembrance Day is nearly here.Catterick Garrison is just down the road from here. Civilians and military living side by side. Military who are so very very young as they walked down the street on their breaks in uniform doing their shopping.Here it seems understood that life is too short for quarrels and disagreements.Richmond Castle stood in the background watching over the town,bold even as now it is a ruin.
Time to go to the meeting in the Georgian Theatre. A credit to all those who have brought it back to life and a mention of Lady Crathorne who had such drive and interest in this place. David Shields took to the stage and we can report back to headquarters he did a marvellous presentation. The only disappointment he was in every day clothes we did at least expect to be dressed ready for the pantomime.

Wednesday 26 October 2011

Crack shot at 89

No wonder my Dad was looking so happy today. He works hard but today he was having a day off. With his family and friends around him who could blame him at 89. Wise as an owl, as cute as an old dog fox he still has the eye of an hawk. On the first drive of the shoot today who shot the first pheasant of the day?. My Dad of course. and he got an equally good one in the afternoon. As one fellow shooter said he just creams them off. He makes it looks so easy . It was a perfect day -the weather was glorious and the company was good. The tales and stories being told makes the day. A lot of hard work goes into a day like this . All do their part and none more so than my Jack. I am so proud of him as although he has a bad heel he worked and walked with his dogs all day. He had with him Tara and Rollo the yellow Labradors. The little black cocker spaniels are Peg and Troy.They all worked so hard. For me it was nice to be out to enjoy our country way of life and look after Sue and Dave from Cornwall who have never been on a shoot before.

Duke and Duchess of Probus and Truro

Sue Mutton and David Laffin are regular guests who come to stay with us. Today they experienced a day out in a different way. We had a small shoot day and invited them to come along to see what it was all about. We had glorious weather.The autumn colours of our countryside are spectacular. For what we take for granted to ride on bale of hay on the mule to picking a few sloes to make sloe gin.Pete Simpson even lent Dave his gun at the end of the day and he hit a target both times having never handled a gun before. A roe deer can running up the field and would have been only yards from them. Good company and good fun. I think I can say they had a wonderful day and a day they will never forget.

Wednesday 19 October 2011

Is snow in the air....

Well we can never be really be sure to believe what the forecast says. We are having some wonderful days of sunshine at present.There are lots of tell tale signs winter is on the way. The wood are a hive of activity as the squirrels are collecting their nuts to last them over the winter. The hedge rows are laden with berries to feed the birds.It isn't just the wild life which are filling their autumn stores. I have been busy pickling and preserving.Gathering apples and pricking the sloes.Here you see one of our suckler herd with her winter coat on. Their coats are so curly as they are still outside. The ground is still hard. They will only come inside when the land gets wetter and the days get more wintery. We are expecting a frost tonight. The stars are shining brightly as the sky is so clear.

Tuesday 18 October 2011

Susan Briggs keeps us on out toes

Susan Briggs has lots of strings to her bow.A PR lady,a journalist and world sorter. So isn't Yorkshire lucky she just happens to live here and has a passion for the area.She held a meeting at Fountains Abbey earlier this week when I along with other Farmstay "Girls".It was to discuss how to bringing the Yorkshire Dales into the forefront of every ones mind. Although I am in the Moors as far as regions go and I cant get any grant money it was still interesting to go to listen. What questions are thrown at Susan she never stalls. She has her audience spell bound as we cram every word she utters into our knowledge boxes. Afterwards our little gang went into the tea room for refreshments. Our regional director-Rose Hyslop from Layhead Cottages near Settle. Caroline Barker our regional Chairman,Christine Ryder who wore the Farmstay Chairman hat for many years who does bed and breakfast at Scaife Hall and Mary Pearson another b and b lady who kindly shared her cheese scone with me.

Wednesday 12 October 2011

Yorkshire Farmstay AGM

I gave myself some brownie points today. I am not the best at going to meetings. It was held at the Wold Cookery School in the "middle of nowhere" I should maybe say in the heart of the Wolds -that sounds a bit better.It is a new place set up on JSR farms. Around 30 of us where there to listen to what Andy Woodward and the jelly baby loving computer geek -Sean Murricane. Sean was very much on the ball given he will be having a few sleepless nights with the new addition in his family. The venue is very new and spacious. It was warm and had comfy seats and we had some very nice sandwiches. Although I did think I detected a taste of goat in a quiche. Yuk. The cookery school even run courses for men. I think that will fall on deaf ears as far as Jack is concerned. I once left him to get his own lunch. Meaning I hadn't left a pan ,tin of soup ,tin opener along with dish and spoon. When I got home I was surprised to see he had opened a tin of chopped tomatoes. Was he going to surprise me with a concoction with chopped tomatoes. No, he had been looking for a tin of tomato soup .Seeing the tomatoes on the side he opened in,ate it and thought it was lumpy soup.....

Calendar Girls descend on Helmsley

Yes that's right those nude W.I. ladies -well two of them - Angela and Miss October. HRH Prince Charles may have come along but we didn't have Miss July to tempt him. These two ladies had us all in stitches - an evening organised by the Yorkshire Cancer Research was held in the Town Hall. The Calendar girls have raised nearly £4m, still had time to sign calendars and pose for me on the way out. Maybe you don't recognise them with their clothes on.What I would say if you get chance to hear them give a live talk make time to go.Although I have seen the film it is just so interesting to hear their story of how it grew. There was a lot of brave people in the audience too.Mums,sisters,wives and grandmas who had tragically lost loved ones.They were all their to give their support .Cancer is terrible at any time but must be heart breaking if your child gets it. The girls told us that when they began only 1 child in 10 survived now it is 9 child out of 10 are cured.What an achievement.These girls should get halos

Sunday 9 October 2011

Lads Lowance Time

We had harvest and now the farmers are busy getting the land worked and the corn drilled before the bad weather comes. It is all hands on deck.Lowance is a Yorkshire word. An allowance of time and small quantity of food. When I was small this is when I used to go to the field with the women folk on the farm.Everyone used to pull up the horses and sit down for their meals in the fields. When my dad was working long hours when I was very young this is the only time I saw him .Now I make lowance and take it to him in the field. Lowance is usually tea and a bite to eat-cake, biscuits ,teacakes and cheese -Wensleydale of course. It will be also a bit different for Ben Fawcett who is going off to Australia tomorrow to help combine 100,000 acres. He has a fridge and a cooker in his machine as they work from 7am to 1am.Good Luck Ben -we look forward to hearing from you