Tuesday 15 February 2022
I know it is rather early to tackle the garden. We have had amazing weather ,blue skies and sunshine. What nicer way, however exhausting, to get on top of all that needs doing in the garden. I kick myself now that I had not taken before and after photos. The vegetable garden is all dug over, ready for when it warms up a bit to get planting. A good sprinking of ash from the fire on it too - potash ash all for free. The roses are pruned and I nearly got quite carried away as I was just asking my Dad where there was a saw to cut a very spindally tree down. He gave me one of those looks that was as much horrified crossed with the
Tuesday 8 February 2022
I always love an excuse to go to Whitby and a trip to the Magpie. Last Friday was our wedding anniversary, so what better place to go to celebrate than over the North York Moors and far away. But not before we had done some jobs. I armed myself with the hedge cutter. Jack to the chainsaw to get some bushes and plants cut back in the garden. Getting that done was better than getting a soppy anniversary card. As far a bunch of flowers -Jack doesnt do soppy -well that is what he says. He has been known to come in with daffodils that have bent over. Shoving the yellow heads in a milk jug in front of my desk. And it wont be the first time I have found a bunch of bluebells on the side. Whitby is only 38 miles from home and easily done in a less than an hour. Gone are the days when I could clag it there in 35 minutes. In those days there was no speed cameras. Nor was there so many cars on the road. We were lucky to take advantage of the fact parking was free until March the 1st. Despite Jack thinking we could "just park outside and nip in" we braved the winds blowing off the North Sea. We parked up near the whalebone and walked down. Walking back up wasnt quite as easy, but then we were full of fish. It was lovely to see the sea and the rolling waves. I always remember an old friend ,Peter Gascoigne-Mullet, who used to say " Whitby, my beloved Whitby". Lovely memories of Peter and our times with him at the Star in Harome. After the fire brought down the middle section of the Star last backend I immediatly wondered what Peter would have made if it all when his bedroom had gone up in flames - a replica of Ancient Egypt and its treasures. We soon got seated in the Magpie and sorry that Ian wasn't about ,but the staff looked after us very well. I had the most amazing crab pate to begin with and Jack had kippers topped off with strawberry jam and bread and butter. The jam was quite runny and I thought any minute it would land down the front of his shirt but glad to say the shirt escaped a jammy finish. Jack had a large pot of proper tea with tea leaves and master the art of catching the tea leaves very well.I stuck to my usual tipple of tap water. All too soon it was time to come home. We were too full to eat anything else and the fresh air soon had us both snoring.
Wednesday 2 February 2022
A grand evening was had by all, as the Birkett Family hosted their end of season shoot dinner. It was held at the Feathers in Helmsley. Young and old faces mixed together as I sat next to a lad who went beating from Malton . He worked at the Farey yard and had spent some time up at Willy Mullins, so Jack and him chatted away as they both had something in common .Jack used to ride in point - to -points as you may remember and occasionally over the sticks. Both agreeing what a great horse Kato Star was. Kieran was born and bred a Maltonian, we had even gone to the same school even though it was 40 years apart. Numbers are scary things !. We were treated to a very nice steak and ale pie and even though I am not a lover of gravy it went down very well. The staff did an excellent job as they were rushed off their feet with 3 shoot parties on, but Tracy, the manager, still had time to have a word with us. After dinner there was speeches which saw a standing ovation for Rob Parish as he retires after working on the Rievaulx Estate for 37 years and had been head gamekeeper for many years . He was presented with a stuffed white pheasant that had lived in Low Gill for the last 3 seasons . He had been very disappointed when someone had shot it ...but you always get some clever dick shooting such a bird. It has happened on our shoots before. Anyway it looked very spendid. It was way pass Jack 7pm bedtime as it was after 10pm before we got home. As you see he was rubbing his eyes, but kept going. There will probably be a few sore heads this morning as we heard one lad had booked a taxi to pick him up at 1.30am . High spirits and antics were starting as we left as a certain young man exchanged his clothes with one of the female beaters and pranched round the dance floor. Shame I didnt get a photo of that.
Tuesday 1 February 2022
How we have missed not have both guests and friends around our dinner table. So 25th January was the perfect excuse to have a do. Jack kept saying but we arent Scottish ..well blow it I love Scotland ,we both do. We love produce from Scotland - the haggis, neeps and tatties and the cheese and of course they are famous for their raspberries .Shame on us we can give the Whisky a miss but no one is perfect. We were limited for table space as it is not outside eating as we are in the depths of winter. Although it may appeal to some hardy souls to eat outside wrapped in blankets and under the stars it certainly isnt Jack's "cup of tea" The people who came were the people we had had most contact with through lockdown and had come up to see us when rules allowed. We set off with some warm sausages rools but to be truthfully there wasnt as many as there should have been as who can resisit a hot homemade sausage rolls and I think I must have eaten into teens ..well I know I did. So I quickly split some crossiants and put mozzerella cheese on the tops and stuck them in the Aga. I made some punch drink with a litre of whisky,a bottle of vermouth and 2 litres of cider. We had cock- a - leekie soup which 2 people wanted the recipe, one being a chef so it cant have been so bad . Thanks to Mary Berry. Andrew said when he looked at all my cookery books ""All you need is Mary Berry"/ everyone chuntered on at me for not sitting down, but I need to get the plates sorted etc and you know what it is like and also there was the sausage rolls which I had to spill my secret I wasnt that hungery .We had some smoked salmon and then into the main course. Haggis ..I have made it before but opted for the easy way out of going to Lewis and Cooper in Northallerton when I went to buy some Isle of Mull cheeses. Neeps, which are swedes to us out of the garden and a pan full of mashed potatoes - tatties. Probaly the easiest meal I have ever cooked. Now for the whisky sauce. Andrew makes the most amazing sauces and have often been treated to his amazing sauces over the years by the chefs he has taught. So I rang him for the recipe ..which I will keep a secret only saying it used half a litre of whisky. So there I was stirring it with gusto after I had nearly set myself and the kitchen on fire when I set on to flambe it. I had to get a tea towel to put out the flames and the metal spoon in the pan was so hot I couldnt hold it for ages.I am not exaggerating when I said the flames were way above my head probably 3 foot out of the pan and they just keep burning. I panicked as it tasted bitter, but it did come right after I had added sugar and then more sugar. Andrew in the meantime had come to the rescue and made me a batch too. Shirley made the dessert of Cranachan to continue the Scottish theme. By this time I tucked in and even found space for some main course too .I cant resist a good haggis. I had made some oatcakes and they would probably have been better if I had put a teaspoon of black peper in rather then a tablespoonful .They were spicy to say the less .Maybe that was why Catherine's decanter of port was swiftly drunk followed by another bottle and numerous bottles of red wine. I made shortbread with orange peel in and some tiffin stuff which my mother always called Scotch treat. Jacks cousin who lives up near Inch had sent us an ode for the Haggis adapted to us Sassenanchs and all too soon the night was over. You may like the recipe for the oatcakes which is very easy . 250 g oats 25g butter half teas bicarbonate, pinch of salt,"/>1 teas black pepper 100 ml of hot water and press out into a baking tin. Scored it then when it is cooked go through the scores and cut right through .