Monday, July 15, 2013

River Cottage

2012 had its ups and downs as far as River Cottage was concerned.  Their Saturday Summer Party had to be cancelled last July because of rain, flooding and deep, deep mud.  We weren't hugely inconvenienced by that, because we had decided not to go when the tickets were first released back in the February.  But the party was cancelled at very short notice so lots of people were affected.  And River Cottage most of all, of course.  Earlier in the year an even bigger catastrophe had befallen them.  Their 17th century events barn had burned to the ground one night.

Since then they have been working very hard to clear up the debris and to build a new barn.

Earlier this year they sent an email to say that they wouldn't be hosting the Summer Party this year but would be holding a grand Barn Reopening event instead. I decided that we would go and bought tickets and booked us into the Blue Waters B&B that we had stayed in the last time we went to a River Cottage event.  And like the last time we went, I spent weeks and weeks telling people that we were going to Dorset for a mid-week weekend.

In the event, just as last time, we didn't set foot, or even a wheel in Dorset.  We went to *DEVON* for the weekend.

And we had a fabulous time.  The weather was glorious. The food at the event was delightful - Moroccan sausages, onion bhajis, slow simmered lamb, pizza, roast pork, mackerel with gooseberries, fresh veg from the garden,strawberries. Lemon Balm and white rum mojitos that made your hair stand on end and your ears drop off. Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall  declared the barn open. Everyone was very happy and warm and the event was filled with generosity and grace.  The Builder was even invited into the kitchen to admire the fire place and watch the bhaji man making his onion delights. We were so glad that we had gone.

When I booked us in to the B&B, I decided that we would stay down for a full day on the Friday, so as not to have to rush straight back the day after we had gone down.  So we partook of a HUGE breakfast and then went for a lovely stroll around the harbour and along the esplanade. We drove out to Axminster and had a (very light) lunch at the River Cottage Canteen. We drove along a tiny, tiny country lane to look at Branscombe, which has a sign up on the main road saying that it is a "picturesque" village. And indeed it is. The narrow country lane was quite picturesque too. We headed back to Seaton and had another stroll along the beachfront and then walked along the estuary to Axmouth to The Ship Inn for a lovely evening meal. My "Surf and Turf" came with locally source rump steak and scallops which had been fished out of Lyme Bay that very day.

And then we came home, via a huge farm shop which stocks from the farm, from the local area - and from France. Which I suppose isn't all that far away, now I come to think about it.

The glorious weather continues.  We spent Sunday searching for a paddling pool for the ducks, only to find that they had all been sold from B&Q and Toys r Us on Thursday and Friday.  We bought them a baby bath instead (which reduced the cost from £40 to £13!).  They were deeply suspicious when we opened up the door of their little run and left it open.  Gyoza and Dim Sim (the baby legbars) were the first to venture out.  The excited squeaking when they discovered unlimited fresh grass outside the confines of their house and run brought Hoi Sin and Teriyaki, eventually, out as well.  And so far, Curry, Udon and Ramen have been quite tolerant of the new arrivals.

So all in all a great weekend.  I would heartily recommend events at River Cottage.  And you could do a great deal worse than to stay at the Blue Waters B&B when loitering in Devon - even if your actual intention is to visit Dorset :-D  (Seaton isn't far over the county border)

Click on Hugh to reach the Devon photos
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