Saturday 11 December 2021
Thursday 25 November 2021
It is 12 hours since I heard the shocking news that has rocked the area. I have thought about "her" all day and still cant believe it. I woke to news that the Star at Harome was on fire and the devastating damage which had been done to this C13th building. The Star is like an old friend having been welcomed through the doors for over half a century.Yes I have been 14 when I first went in. Into a place like no other. Pimms served in pint pots, huge stiltons filled with port and fox masks hanging from the beams dressed up like people with neck ruffs and horn rimmed spectacles sat on the end of their snouts. In those days it was owned by Dick and Jenny Dresser who won the very first awards for this fine eatery, not much bigger than Guillivers House. A few years later I used to go up the stairs to the flat where the Dressers lived and do Granny D's and Jennys hair and a quick snip round Dick. Another era and it was the wild time,our hosts were Tim Gascoigne Mullet and Tony Bowron who had a beautiful St Bernard dog called Solomon. Drinking Pimms into the early hours made by Ernest "Polly" Pearson. and still the red croquet placemats graced the dining tables. Enter the girlfriend of another, who had been in the advert, the girl floating down the river eating a chocolate Flake.... if only the walls could talk. We have celebrated births and marriages and a few too many wakes here. Christening parties and divorces. Had Christmas parties, 18th,21st 30th and 40th birthday parties and so on - there is nowhere better. When we went on holidays we would always eat at The Star the night before ..to keep us going for the journey ahea,d on wondering what the food might be like. Memories of long ago Friday nights that were domino nights for Wilson Barker and his cronies who sat on the table near the bar and were served ham sandwiches. The Sinnington Hunt meeting outside, the end of season shooting parties. Whether you were dressed in your finery or in your work clothes, the welcome over the years has always been the same ,the warmth the walls hold, the atmosphere that has been created with love over the centuries. Photos didnt matter like they do today you went out to enjoy yourselves not to show the wide world what you were doing Even on the night of the present owner ,Andrew Pern, turned 40 to enjoy a slice of a chef'hat shaped birthday cake. The time when Jack thought he had found a truffle and it turned out to be a morel. The Star is the heart of the village. And for the villagers and locals around, holds a star in most peoples hearts. A place where the local poacher would rub shoulder with a Lord or Duchess. I talk of the Star in the past tense, but these are memories. I am sure Andrew Pern, his wife Fran, his family,friends and staff will not let The Star slip into the past tense, but will do everything they can to make the Star shine again. She has not held the crown for all this time to fade away now. Time will bring her back to shine again and be the diamond she has always been. And we have a 70th and a 100th birthday birthday for 2022 to celebrate. I have a little piece of the Star that was given to me by Dick and Jenny for my 21st birthday. I dont know what the damage is yet,but when the time comes when the Old Lady open her arms again I will take it along and if it is needed it will stay there. T
Tuesday 16 November 2021
There are some amazing yet very expenisve coffee machines on the market but if I need something to wake me up if we have to have an early start and it was before 5am this morning. I rely on my moka pot.Just enough for one as Jack likes tea in the morning and I usually drink cold water. I always have done, although a lot of people thought it was a sales pitch when we used to sell our spring water back in the late 1980s. We still drink Spring water. The moka pot is a marvellous little machine and they come now in all colours. In 2019 Bialetti celebrated 100 years of making these fantastic little pots Nobody is more familiar than Bialetti with the importance of the coffee ritual in Italian families: local traditions and techniques make the experience of tasting coffee in a particular city unique and unmistakable. This has resulted in the I Caffè d’Italia capsules, an authentic sensory journey through the excellence of Italian-style espresso, highlighting the differences in habits and taste from north to south, passing through Turin, Venice, Milan, Rome and Naples. The aluminium, fully recyclable capsules contain 7 grams of coffee, as recommended for authentic Italian espresso, and are produced in Italy, at the Coccaglio plant. Later thsi morming I am setting off to Northallerton to get a new glasas fitted to the log burner door when came to a sad end yesterday and I will pop into Lewis and Coopers to buy some coffee .I like beans rather than ground. I just grind what I need, when I need it in the liquidiser. I know it isnt really made for something as hard as coffee beans and coughs and splutters a bit but it doesnt take long to grind them up. A very simple contraption which I left the lid off this morning so you can see it been made .Sorry I havent learnt yet how to send you the lovely smell via the web. If you turn the volume up you will hear it bubbling away
Monday 8 November 2021
Last Tuesday saw me in York Hospital for some major surgery. A week on and there are so many people to thank. From Dr Jacobs from Ampleforth Surgery who got the ball rolling again after a few months of waiting. Malton Hospital comes into the thank you list too. There will be lots of other people along the way who made this operation possible and assisted in my care so thank you also . It started with Agatha from Poland taking my bloods. The lady who liases with the timetables I think she was called Anthea for M/s Yasin the consultant from India. For the staff on G1 and the recovery room, and the Polish porter who took me to Ward 11. There was Niamh from Ireland, who is in her second year of training. The smiling young man who helped get my lovely white stockings on. The anaesthetist whose name I have forgotten, but got me from one side to the other, I am most grateful. The lady who talked me through having a misplaced canuler and then I had to be have another one put in. She did her best to take my mind off the pain and talked about her dogs.She had first class skills. The lad who held his nerve to have to put the second canuler in. I did ask if this was the first time he had done it but no one replied. I suppose they have to learn on someone...shame it was me. Nice to have Carol in the next cubicle for company before and after our operations and hope she gets to meet her new grandson,`Porter, soon. Weird name but she was thrilled. On Ward 11 was staff nurse Rachael who treated me to a tuna sandwich and she told us what she had done before she came to work. Basically a full day work at home before she had come to work. Hadnt been able to take a holiday due to her dedication to nursing.And another nurse from Ireland who carried my bags down to the enterance. Remembering the young lady from Selby opposite who was going to be staying in 5 days. It always shows there is someone in a worse state then you. She was so upbeat and hope all goes well for her. Finally and not least thank to Jack for taking me in when it was foggy and coming to pick me up again even though he doesnt like driving in traffic .A combination of fog and traffic is a nightmare to him.It made for a very long day for him espically when he rang me at least 4 times and I hadnt answered as I hadnt come round. He said he had felt ill all day. His daily duty now is sticking needles in me for a week but I told the nurse that he has needled thousands of sheep in his life he could do it as I dont think I could have done it myself. Only one day was truly painful as he forgot to put any specs on .... As I slowly get back to doing a bit Jack is still chaffeuring me about.Hopefully in a few weeks I will be back to doing my jobs round the house. Lastly everyone who has been in touch to ask how I am .Offering to bring in food parcels and do shopping,offer lifts and to lend a hand.At the moment I am just enjoying the rest.
Thursday 4 November 2021
Saturday 16 October 2021
Our local landmark, The Whire Horse of Kilburn. our very local area's landmark . When you think of Disneyworld and the Princesses Castle, here you think of the White Horse. .When Jack sees this he sighs relief as he knows he is nearly home. Carved into the hillside above KIlburn it is only 3 miles from us and you can park your car at the bottom and walk up the steps at the rear end and then walk along the top of the glider field and back down through the forestry .If you are feeling energetic you can walk from here or take a longer path and walk on to Sutton Bank and down to Lake Gormire White horse The White Horse was designed and financed by Thomas Taylor, a Victorian businessman, and was cut in 1857. A native of Kilburn, he worked for a London merchant. He had seen the famous chalk hill figures of southern England and wanted to create something similar for his home village. The village schoolmaster, John Hodgson, and helpers did the work. He marked out the figure of a horse on a hillside high above the village. A team of thirty-one volunteers did the actual cutting. When the shape of the Horse was complete, they deposited 6 tons of lime on the naturally greyish rock beneath to whiten it. The White Horse is 314ft long and 228ft high and about 20 people could stand on the grass island, which forms the eye, though walking on the horse is now strongly discouraged. Unlike the horses in the South of England which are cut into chalk and are therefore naturally white and virtually self-preserving, the Kilburn white horse is cut into limestone, which is the wrong colour and needs artificial whitening. This was first done using gallons of whitewash, but now chalk chippings from the Yorkshire Wolds are used. Its conspicuousness hasn't always been considered a benefit; during World War II the Horse had to be covered over to stop it becoming a target for German bombers!
Wednesday 13 October 2021
A week ago as I walked down our drive to catch a lift with a friend to the station, I couldnt help but feel like Dick Whittington. Duchess the cat set off to follow me until I shooed her back. It was just a quick 36 hours in London but very much action packed. I had out in an entry in the Boutique Hoteliers awards to which Kuba who works at the Feathers in Helmsley had got through to the finals. I try to travel light,carrying only a shoulder bag. As I marched down the road enjoying the morning sunshine made me think of Whittington. I love going to London. We travellled intercity like the men do and duly arrived just before noon. I was in a party of 8 so we split up. Mary,Kuba and myself jumped in a taxi and set off to a dear friend who has an Italian deli/bistro in Fitzrovia. Experiencing Italian hospitality first hand is something to be tresured. The French "La vie est belle,"is nothing compared to the Italian "Goditi la vita" We have know Giovanni or Italian John as we affectionately call him for around quarter of a century and over the years enjoyed his generous hospitality. He equally enjoys coming up to North Yorkshire. We may not see him from one year to the next 5 but he is a true friend as we pick up as if it was yesterday. The last time I had seen Simone was when he was 4 at this baby brother's christening. Simone is now 24 and works along side his Papa in the business..We had the most amazing 4 hours with him, eating the best food,some drinking the fine Italian wine and meeting "new" friends who all seemed to have been to Helmsley. What a wonderful atmosphere H T Harris generates.It is a busy,busy place as the area has a lot of offices and so the people who frequent H T Harris, work in the area calling in most days for their breakfast or lunch. There is a coffee club were the most interesting people congregate and visiting celebraties to the nearby BBC just "drop" in. A place to see and be seen. Seemed rude to ask to have a selfie taken with them when they were just enjoy the time out. A bit like when I once met Tracey Emin at a funeral tea - it just didnt seem right. It is hard to describe the experience I can say is if you are going to London to make a detour. Enjoy hot dishes of truffled pastas or if you prefer a pannini with enough stuffing to fill a giant.Or just sit enjoy a coffee on the street and watch the world go by. As the afternoon wore on I felt I needed to have a look around the streets close by. I passed this truly amazing dress shop. Saw the Langham Hotel, the Tree House with this huge "bird" outside. Took a selfie outside the BBC and the church nearby has a striking steeple. The streets were relatively quiet, but very near to Regents Street. So if you ever in the area of Great Titchfield Street stock up with Italian goodies. Just remember to take a large shopping bag as you will be spolit for choice and they have some ideal Christmas presents for your foodie friends too.
Monday 11 October 2021
He is George to most, Granddad to others and Mr Lupton when he gets his "Sunday best" name. To me, he is my Dad who I have been known to call him Georgie Porgie. On September 25th 2021 was his 99th birthday entering his 100th year.. We had a few days of getting out and about. He had just been over into the Dales to buy 100 plus sheep and then on the Wednesday we were off to Filey for a 99 icecream - well you just have to do it. Often he has been too busy in the garden to go to the seaside but with glorious weather and chnace of a spin out in Jacks vehicle we sent off in style. Those disability badges are good things as we parked up on the sea front to enjoy the icecream and look out to sea.then I popped in to the seafood cabin on the Cobble landing to get a sandwich to take home- 2 prawns and 2 crab for his tea. We called in to see his old friend,Frank Turner, who is a butcher in Rillington as he wanted some pickled tongues to cook. Frank was out and there were no tongues in the shop so slight disppointment. All in all he had a good day. Friday brought two friends from the village who brought him some biscuits. One day in the week he had been with Robin to pick some field peas and then shelled them for his dinner. I had gone to the house and he wasnt in and thought he must be down the garden. next thing he zooms into the yard on th emule. Another day someone arrived with homemade pickle. He got 20 cards and was busy be ringing everyone up to say his thank yous. He couldnt believe it when a surprise package arrived from Betty's and all he kept saying was what have I done to deserve this. His request for his Sunday dinner was to have some beef from one of the heifers that Nicholas had taken to have cut up to be then sold in the Wass Farm Shop. It was very good and like any true Yorkshire man on his plate was Yorkshire puddings too.
Monday 20 September 2021
It was always a known fact that when I was a child when we went back to school in September that the weather would turn nice again and we enjoyed Indian Summers. Was this summers, like they had in India or something that the Red Indians enjoyed, I might never know .It has been glorious weather here for over 2 weeks now even though we were told heavy rain was on the way. I was out with the hose pipe last night and pots of flowers and herbs were reaching out for a drink. Again this morning bright blue skies, it might well be the middle of Summer as the temperature raises into the low 20s. Jack being the early bird says the dew on the grass is heavier now and there is that feel in the air that autumn is just waiting. Me, being the night owl noticed how much the nights are drawing in as I finished watering the pants the outside lights automatically came on. We have mushrooms and other fungi objects popping up in the woods.Strangely enough there is honeysuckle out and Jack saw some buttercups this morning. The bees are still busy bringing in th elast of the nectar from the Himalayan balsam. I read a post from our friends on the Netherlands they had been on a foraging course over the weekend and the seeds from the balsam are quite okay to eat, so I might give them a try. My onions will soon be ready for pulling up. Don't ask me the name of them but they look like those really strong ones. The red cabbage did not fare very well as they were attacked by the white butterfly and the leaves as pretty as they looked lke lace with lots of holes in them. Also they looked very bitter and old now so I have just been and put those int he wheel barrow. I fill the wheel barrow and Jack carts it away,we make a good team. I have some cyclamen to plant out and hopefully they will last for years . I must have had one for 30 years now and it seem to revive itself with little ado and spreads ever so slowly but it survives and that is the main thing. As we continue to have a full house of guests they report back the heather is finally fading. Turning brown, now leaving behind just memories of carpets of purple.
Tuesday 31 August 2021
As a child coconut haystacks were a luxury. My Aunty Marma made the best haystack maker in the whole wide world, well in my world as a 3 year old. Marma's real name was Florence Marjorie and she had been a nurse at one time at the isolation fever hospital in York, which is now Fairfield Manor. On her days off she used to come back to stay at the family home and make treats of coconut haystacks. I would only be around three years of age and allowed to sit on the kitchen table and help mix in the sugar and eggs to the coconut. That was the easy bit stirring up the mixture. The next stage was harder as the shape was formed by wetting the inside of an egg cup and then pressing the mixture in tightly. Shaking it out on to a baking tray was far too skillful for a 3 year old. Any attempted usually ended up with what they would these days call a 'deconstructed haystack' in other words a disaster. The next testing time was having to wait for them to bake and to come out of Granny Preston's oven. Why on earth, when she was only about 4ft 10, was the cooker stacked up on 3 bricks in height. She couldnt even look on the pans to see how the contents were cooking. Deep frying was a potential danger, but on Fridays, Mrs Maw the housekeeper would take her role on as cook with great gusto. Beating the batter with the strength of a heavy weight boxer to coat the fish. It made the best fish and chips. My Grandfather insisted on mushy peas been home made. They were disgusting and to this day I still turn my nose up at them . He used to dry his old peas out that he had grown in the garden. These were passed their best and if they had been cooked like that would have been like trying to eat bullets. They were then stored in a old Horlicks jar and kept on the top shelf in the pantry. When they were needed they would be put in a bowl and with a teaspoonful of bicarbonate of soda and soaked in water overnight. Anyway now the coconut haystack are ready to be taken out of the oven. Thank you Mary Berry for the recipe as I could actually remember the ratio of ingrediants. The haystacks should be crisp on the outside and soft in the middle. Slightly brown at the top of the hay stack. Mary made hers' pink but Marma used to put a quarter of a glazed cherry on top if there was any spare in the pantry before they were baked.
Tuesday 10 August 2021
Cant believe how long it has been since I was in York Centre during the day . The last time I was there was 27th Jan 2020. I was drawn to the City as I was attending a Welcome 2 Yorkshire PSMG board meeting at the Grand. I have been on the board now for nearly 10 years. As a meeting was long overdue I wasn't going to miss this one. It was held at 2pm,so perfect timing as I was able to catch up with Heidi Hatfield, who I have known for years. Heidi worked at the Tontine when it was taken over after the MCCoys sold it.It never was quite the same after they went. Heidi left too, for the bright lights of London ,Twickenham to be exact. Heidi has now taken a position up at the Grand in sales ,so it was a perfect place to grab a bite of lunch before the meeting. Knowing a lot of the same people in the industry we found plenty to talk about. We were both tempted to have the Scotch egg which came with perfectly runny yokes. It always amazes me how chefs can get the eggs peeled and coated in sausage meat without breaking them. Maybe that is why they are called chefs and I am just a cook. Glad Jack is happy with a hardboiled egg underneath the sausage meat. There were some beautiful flower arrangements in the foyer and I kick myself that I didnt take a photo of them. Out into the still bright sunshine at 4 0'clock. I got my camera out, even after seeing the Minster in the distance hundreds upon hundreds of times I still took the obiligatory photo of it .Well after all this time away I did feel rather like a tourist.
Wednesday 4 August 2021
Can't believe where time has gone this year. The garden though I must say is about as good as it has ever been and guests like to sit up in the raised patio as it is sheltered and west facing so the best way to end the day. Although it has been known on more than one occasion that breakfast has been enjoyed up there too. It is getting to look more as I want it now and less of a plain shelter. I have mixed flowers and vegetables and fruit so from lavender to rhubarb there is something popping up every few day. I have harvested the angelica and collected so many seeds to grow on .It is a very easy plant to grow and looks quite exotic so if you are coming to stay and would like to have some seeds, please think to ask me for some when you are here. The strawberries are more or less finished now. The raspberries have been a poor crop as only got 2 good pickings from them this year. I am disappointed with the tomatoes too, dont think the bees got to them enough to pollinate them. So glad my Dads supply of tomatoes is more plentiful. I think I must have put too much Tomarite on the flowering pots as they have gone leggy and rather out of shape but hey ho they are full of colour and the bees dont disapprove. Minty, our little cocker spaniel, is enjoying the garden too and the attention from guests.She enjoying following the hose pipe about as I water the pots .For those of you who love herbs I cant recommend the Daisy Plant Centre,just off the roundabout at Kirkbymoorside, enough. As I am far from green fingered, I dont take any gift of gardening from my parents, but the herbs seem like to living here and are in abundance under the dining room window. Hope you are enjoying all your gardens and if you havent a garden then the parks. It is hard to believable that in London with all the parks and balconies that bees produce more honey than they do out here in the countryside. We have the benefit of heather on the Moors and as the bees fly is less than a milehere for them to collect the nectar. . The Moors are a carpet of purple at the moment and well worth a visit. When I was a child, we used to go in my Dads little black Morris Minor, RWX 872, with its split windscreen up to the Moor. Choicing a big sprig of heather then sticking it into the chrome radiator cover next to the chrome and yellow AA sign. That little Morris Minor used to have red leather seats. Swinging our legs from the seats, on the way home we used to sing 'Show me the way to go home" little did I know that the words drinking meaning someone had had too much to drink rather, I thougth it was drinking water as we used to stop down Wass Bank at the spring that comes out of the woods and cup our hands together and drinking the ice cold water.Happy Days.
Saturday 10 July 2021
Nonna is the Italian name for grandmother ,granny ,grandma and all the rest of the names we call our Parents mother. These are the ladies who tend teach us things,spoil and treat us and pass down family traditions. This Nonna is quite special and comes in the shape of Jill Greetham. A woman extradionaire who admits she has had a long love affair with Italy. There is a website you need to read about Jill and her family www.nonnassupperclub.co.uk . A brave and resilent woman who will not have had an easy journey through life. I have nothing but admiration for her and for her food and that is what I want to tell you about. Yesterday evening I had the pleasure of going along to eat at one of these special events she has started up. Who better to take with me than long standing friend ,Mary Oneil who used to live in Nunnington where Nonnas Supper Club is based. It was a set meal of tiny plates ,not so tiny even in Yorkshire terms. It is bring your own drinks as they do not have a licence. Even better as you can take your own tipple along without the hiked up prices you can pay when you go out to eat. We arrived at 6.45pm in time to eat at 7pm. Fast forward to 10.50pm when I next looked at my watch, where had nearly 4 hours gone. The answer was on a culinery trip around Italy as we sampled delights as the delighful bambinos served up the courses. They were as good as any professional waiters and did put some who work in 5 star restaurants to shame. Although Nonna and la mamma were looking after us too. The setting was in the garden surrounded by herbs,lavender and a good crop of peas hanging which I kick myself now for not taking a photo. The photos I have taken will take you through our dining experience which cost only £35. The finale or near finale was the best panna cotta I have ever had. We had gnudi, melon and parma harm ,veal, and greens even for me, who is the most ungreeny eater, they were cooked and seasoned to perfection. It was such a relaxed affair. The night was balmy and the food divine.The atmosphere what you get on the best holidays with friends I could have happily nodded off. I will not be watching the football, but if the food is anything to go Italy will beat the rest hands down. Word spreads quickly so recommend you get booked in soon as I am sure it will soon be hard to book a table at one of these dining dates. Jill did tell me that when time and virus allows she will be offering cookery days and I am sure you can guess which one I will be going on . So thank you Jill, Abi, Jessie and Jessies beau. All details are on www.nonnassupperclub.co.uk. There is a facebook page too
Thursday 8 July 2021
28 degrees here today and glorious. A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of going down to Derbyshire with a metal detector who sometimes comes on our land. He along with his friend had found some Roman finds in the local area and they were up for auction. It was an early start and oh my it was such a lovely morning which as soon as he got out of Yorkshire the Heavens opened and it was so cold. They were really excited as they thought they were very rare and very old in fact they were nearly 2,000 years old. I thought they may have been replicas the children had played with and left behind. Probably bought in Barnitts of York as replicas for the garden and were duly named the "Barnitt Bits". I fact they were the real Mccoy. One of the detector is friends with my Dad as they share gardeneing tips and talk about budgies. Before they went to be registered he bought them along for him to see. The grandchildren saw them too - what a lockdown History lesson that was . I went with a friend to see them in York after they had being cleaned up and always game for a photo opportunity asked if I could hold them. It was at Hansons who finally took them on board to sell. I even got a photo with Charles Hanson, who is sometimes on the television as he was selling them. They were articled as The Ryedale Roman Rituals and it was quite unreal as the reached the final bid and with a £60k auctioneers fee on made just short of a quarter of a million pounds ! It was the £185k bid that secured them. They went to a private buyer in London and so after living nearly 2,000 years in the countryside Marcus has gone to live in the bright lights of London. When they were first discovered James was not sure how to keep them safe or where to put them. He worked out on the rigs. So he wrapped them up in a yellow towel popped them in a plastic food container and stuffed them in his work bag and they went off shore for a while. So I think I am right to say Marcus since he was unearthed has had quite an interesting trip