Sunset from Hill House, Mount Helen. February 2024

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Long Weekend - mostly in Salisbury

We headed down to Salisbury on Sunday at lunchtime, after a fairly quiet Saturday spent at home.

Most people who were intending to travel this weekend went to wherever they were going on Friday evening or Saturday morning, so the roads were fairly quiet on Sunday afternoon and we had quite a good run down.  On arrival we went almost immediately into the restaurant at the Old Mill for a late afternoon Sunday lunch.  After very nearly inhaling a plateful of roast beef with all the usual accompaniments, I finished off with this:

It was every bit as delicious as it looked!
We went for a stroll across the meadows on Monday morning after breakfast, then headed out to The Builder's brother and sister in law's place. I have met their little dog Daisy before, but I have never met their tortoises.  They have three.  And a couple of stone ones for good measure!

And then we went to pick Gwen up.  She has finally, finally, FINALLY got council funding to stay in the care home where she has been "temporarily" living since she came out of hospital before Christmas.  While she has been there she has been positively thriving.  She gets fed three times a day, with supplementary cups of tea and biscuits throughout the day.  There are games to play and people to play with. She is very well looked after.  So of course she is thriving.  The council social workers, in their wisdom, seemed to think that this meant she could go back to her solitary small flat where there is no one to talk to and nothing much to do and no one about to make sure that she eats and drinks regularly.  We all disagreed with that, of course - and Marie (The Builder's sister) and Jenny (the sister in law with the tortoises) have fought like tigers to secure funding for her to stay in the care home.  And now they are doing a mighty job of clearing out Gwen's unit so that it can be handed back when the rent runs out in a couple of weeks.

In the meantime, we got the fun job of taking her out to lunch and then taking her for a drive out around the local villages and country lanes. She enjoyed her (small) plate of fish and chips and seemed to enjoy her drive around.  I definitely enjoyed my (not small) plate of steak and chips.  The Builder enjoyed his ham and chips.  Chips all round :-D

I had yesterday off so we didn't have to throw ourselves into the Bank Holiday motorway traffic. Instead we stayed another night in the Old Mill and came home after breakfast yesterday.  All in all, it was a lovely couple of days.

I love the colours at this time of year.  All the different shades of green, and the reds and browns of other trees

Click on the river to get to the photo album for the weekend

Monday, May 18, 2015

Weekend Report

We pottered out to Marsh Green quite early on Saturday morning. They have recently installed a new fish counter. I've seen photos on Facebook and I was keen to have a look.  Alas, they haven't been overwhelmed by fishy sales and had decided not to get any in this week.  I'm told they will be getting some for next weekend but that wasn't particularly helpful for the seafood platter I had in mind for Sunday.

But never mind.  We picked up a few bits and pieces and ambled off into town.  I wanted to go to the coach station to ask about bus tickets.  The Builder wanted to go to M&S to exchange a gift token he was in possession of for a new pair of trousers.  And while we were there we strolled around the market and the market hall.  There's a fish counter in the market hall.  I got my fish from there.  We'll go back out to Marsh Green on Saturday and have a look at the fish selection.

I needed to have some documents certified and had arranged with our friend Ginger Rich to come and do the certifying in exchange for lunch on Sunday.  And we had tempura salmon and tempura prawns; breaded hake and breaded calamari; griddled scallops and a bowl of small prawns.  With all that we had chips and salad, followed by a lemon slice (a new recipe which was astonishingly sweet when it was finished.  I will make it again but with vastly less sugar!!) with frozen lemon yoghurt and blueberries.  It was all very delicious.  Although I think that Rich hadn't quite believed me when I said I had an Everest of certifying for him to do :-D

Half of our seafood platter - we've had one helping from it already
Otherwise it was a pleasantly quiet weekend. Nothing too strenuous. Nothing too exciting.  Food and wine and good company.

Right.  I'm off out for lunch.  Today I am lunching with my colleague Bea and my former colleague Roger.  Roger and his wife have just come back from a visit to Australia and he is planning to tell Bea and me all about it.  We're heading to the Blue Moon Cafe. Coincidentally appropriate - unbeknownst to us when we arranged this, today is the start of National Vegetarian Week.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Victory in Europe commemorations

It was the 70th anniversary of the end of the WWII in Europe over the weekend and there were lots of memorial events, celebrations and commemorations around the UK.

Tabitha, Gareth and Cally came for the weekend.

The two events were not, as far as I am aware, connected!

They came to our place on Saturday afternoon after going out to visit the alpaca farm near Ringinglow.  We also saw alpacas on Saturday. We quite often see alpacas.  There is a flock/herd/collective-noun-of-your-choice of them in a paddock near the Chesterfield railway station, which we drove past on Saturday on our way to the supermarket. We did not go to Ringinglow.

We had home made pizza for dinner.

And we watched most of the BBC V in E anniversary concert on television.

We had a pleasant, sunny and leisurely day on Sunday.  Cally rode her bike up and down the garden paths. We played swing tennis on the lawn. We visited the allotment. We had a snacky lunch outside on the patio.  The Builder and Marlo watched the Grand Prix on the telly.  Tabitha, Gareth, Cally and I went up to the Village Hall where they were having a V in E anniversary street party.  It was free for Grown Ups and £1 for children.  And Cally had a great time. She played Pass the Parcel and had a balloon dog made and played with juggling things. All the children were given a commemorative mug and a flag. There had been sandwiches and cups of tea earlier, which we didn't have because we had had a snacky lunch at home.  The bar was open (you had to pay for alcohol, but the sandwiches and tea were free) so Tabitha had a pint of lager and I had a glass of wine.  It was an excellent way of spending an hour or so.  There was supposed to be a fly past of a Dakota plane, which we didn't see. I assumed that we had somehow missed it - although how you miss something as big as a Dakota plane was something of a mystery.  I found out later that the plane had been delayed by a couple of hours. By the time it  eventually flew over Tupton we were back at home tucking into roast lamb and Jersey Royal new potatoes and loads of vegetables, completely oblivious to its passing!

We don't very often go to village events. I think we should go to more. The ones that we have been to have been great fun.  The village parade and carnival is on  July 18th.  I think we should all go!

I have a photographic record of yesterday but somehow I seem to have left my camera at home.  I'll put the photos onto my Google photo album this evening and post a link on here and on Facebook.

Freyja, Simon and some friends did the Sheffield Round Walk on Saturday. They seem to have enjoyed it.  I enjoyed not walking 20+ km on Saturday :-D

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

May Day Long Weekend

Last weekend was a long weekend hereabouts and, as you might expect, Saturday dawned cold, grey, damp and gloomy.  I think it might almost be a law of nature that the weather is dreadful over the long weekends!

Tabitha, Gareth, Cally and various friends headed to Northumbria for a weekend of camping - and sheltering in various castles and other indoor places.

Freyja went to London.

The Builder and I pottered about at home on Saturday morning and then took ourselves to Bishops' House for the afternoon.  We had thought about going to the Peddler night market, but with Tabitha, Gareth, Cally and Freyja all away and the late afternoon being wet and cold and miserable, we decided not to bother.  Street food isn't all that enticing in the rain. Unless it is tropical rain!  So we went and picked up the supermarket shopping and went home and ate crumbed chicken and chips with a Japanese curry sauce instead.

We woke to rain and wind and decided gloom on Sunday. We spoke to Stella and Tony in the morning, then did some gentle tidying.  The Builder recommenced the painting of the house project - the kitchen isn't finished yet. I baked a gooseberry and plum cake.  I pondered whether I could put some of the yoghurt we had bought on Saturday into my ice cream maker - and then thought that of course I could do that.  How it would turn out was the question rather than if I could churn it into soft serve ice cream.  So I put a tub of lemon curd and a tub of vanilla yoghurt into my ice cream maker and let it churn - and it was delicious with the gooseberry and plum cake!!  We had slow roasted lamb shoulder with all the usual side dishes first, though.

Monday, much to our surprise, turned out to be absolutely glorious.  So we turned our attention to the fish pond.  One of my "on-this-day" apps had alerted me to the fact that it was 4 years this weekend since we had last cleaned out the fish pond.  Clearly it was time to do it again.  So we did, closely supervised by Junior and Effie, the little children next door, who watched us through their fence.

Emptying the fish pond of water weed and water

Here it is, almost empty. There was an astonishing amount of mud in the bottom

We've re-stepped the blocks so ducks and cats can get out on the "deep" side

Waiting impatiently to get out of the little pool at the back

The dam has overflowed. Out they come
It took most of the morning to empty, clean out and then re-fill both the little pond at the back and then the main pond. The fish weren't very happy about being held in the little pond. Some of the more adventurous ones were clearly working out how to escape!  We counted 33 fish, including 8 tiny, black, baby ones.  Not as many as when we did it 4 years ago, but quite enough, I think. Then The Builder went off for a few supplies and I made a chicken, leek and asparagus pie for lunch, using asparagus from our garden.  So far the asparagus crop is doing very nicely.

It was such a beautiful (and unexpectedly sunny) afternoon that The Builder put the umbrellas up over the picnic tables and we decamped outside for an hour or so.

It didn't half rain overnight though.  I didn't sleep very well last night, and I'm sure that a lot of that was down to the noise the rain was making.