Sunset from Hill House, Mount Helen. February 2024

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


I think the catering for the Tramlines crew went quite well.

The Junk Food Project provided lunch and dinner for between 40 and 60 production crew on the two set up days, the three days of the festival and then the two days of clear up.  I think in the end it worked out at around 710 meals all told.

We produced the food in the Pot Luck Pantry kitchen at Regather, then it was transported across town to Ponderosa, where most of the production crew were.

Freyja and I signed up for Friday, Saturday and Sunday and, together with other people, produced such things as chicken in lemon sauce, chilli, meatballs, tofu in black bean sauce, loads of vegetables, salads, all sorts of things.  We sent up, as much as we could, a meaty and a vegetarian version of each dish. We also had to be a bit creative.  If, as we did on Sunday, we found that we had loads of tiny brioche buns that needed using up, we needed to think of something to do with them.  The reason that the Tramlines organisers had come to us in the first place was because of our focus on reducing food waste.  Most serendipitously, we also discovered that we had quite a bit of minced beef that also needed using up, so as an addition to the menu of things in black bean sauce, we also send up lots of tiny chilli burgers to go with the tiny brioche buns.

The Tramlines crew apparently thoroughly enjoyed their lunches and dinners. We got lots of good feedback.  I am told that the St John Ambulance volunteers were deeply jealous of the food that the Tramlines crew were getting.  They, it seems, were getting slightly dried up sandwiches and slightly overcooked baked potatoes!!

I must say that I learned a huge amount over the three days I was there.  For instance, I had no idea before this how you would transport food safely from the kitchen to an off site service area some distance away. We had pretty much the same team working on the three days and I felt that we had almost worked out how to do things by the time we got to the end of it.  There are lots of things I would do slightly differently if I were ever to do something like this again,  but we got all of our food out on time, heated to the appropriate temperature and apparently well seasoned and tasty.  I think that probably counts as a success.

Freyja said, as we were closing up on Sunday, that it was a great pity that we hadn't thought to take any photos of the food we had produced.  Why, oh why, had no one thought of The Blog?  I think if either of us had gone to Ponderosa where the food was actually being eaten we would probably have taken lots of photos.  Didn't think to ask the woman who was working with us during the day in the kitchen and then heading up to help with the evening service to take any photos.  And there wasn't really time in the kitchen, nor are chaffing dishes of food particularly exciting to look at.  So no photos, sorry. I'll do better next time.

I was very, very, very tired at the end of the three days.  I was hugely glad that I didn't have to get up and go to work yesterday morning.

In other news:
  • Our chickens and the duck have gone to their new home.  Bev next door and The Builder gathered them all up and they have gone to join Bev's existing flock of birds on her allotment.   
  • Freyja found a three year old child wandering about in her nightie on the street on Saturday morning when she (Freyja) was on her way to the kitchen. She couldn't find any responsible adults to hand the child over to, so had to take charge of the child and summon the police to find her adults.  Just as well Freyja did find the child.  Three year olds are quite difficult to see if you are driving a car and they wander out in front of you.
  • Cally went to a birthday party in the Build a Bear at Meadowhall, thus achieving two Firsts.  I don't think she knew about Build a Bear shops before that.  She certainly didn't know about Meadowhall.
  • Freyja and Simon will be moving into a new house next weekend; Marlo will be moving in with them shortly thereafter.
  • Freyja starts a new job with the Sheffield Uni Student Union today.  
  • The Builder and I went out for lunch yesterday with some friends - and I didn't have to cook!!!
  • In three weeks The Builder and I will be in Japan, for a few days holiday en route to Australia. That, it must be said, is a slightly daunting thought!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Unexpected Weekend Adventuring

We came back from Salisbury last Wednesday in a fairly orderly manner.  The trains ran, more or less, to time. The seat reservations worked. The journey was uneventful and quite pleasant.  We got home at about the time we had expected.  Marlo was quite pleased to see us, but not overly delighted - he was snoozing in the sunshine on my weeding kneeler and couldn't see any real reason to move just because we had decided to come back home :-D

I expected the rest of the week to run according to the normal plan.  Pot Luck Pantry on the Thursday (tick).  Food Bank on the Friday (tick). Then I expected to potter around on the Saturday and to head out to make Sunday Lunch at the PLP.  I turned down an invitation for us to join Richard at Bolsover Castle on Sunday afternoon because I would be at the PLP.

Then Tabitha  suggested that they should all come over on Saturday afternoon and stay over. Not many more opportunities for sleepovers at The Sidings.  Then the Pot Luck Pantry decided to close on the Sunday because it would be cooking for a fund raising event at one of the local pubs and we have neither the personnel nor the oven space to cook both for a fund raising event and for a Sunday service.

Saturday morning found Tabitha, Cally and me at a wedding, quite early.  Tabitha and Cally were snuggled under a doona on their couch.  I was snuggled in bed with a cup of tea.  We were all watching Ant and Jess's wedding, which was being streamed from Melbourne. Modern technology  is a wonderful thing. Cally was quite excited to see people that she knew.  "Look!  There's Auntie Lindsey.  Oh, and Uncle Ian. And there's Grandpa Tony.  But who's that with Grandpa Tony?  Grandma Stella?  That's not Grandma Stella; her hair is all wrong!"  She was a bit embarrassed when we told Grandma Stella all about that on Sunday morning. :-D

Late on Sunday morning we all took advantage of the glorious weather and took ourselves to the Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet for a heritage day.  Sorry Richard for heading to Abbeydale instead of Bolsover - although we didn't have tickets for the event you were going to.  Abbeydale was looking splendid in the sunshine

Then Tabitha, Gareth, Cally and Flynn went to play with the little trains in the Abbeydale Woods, and The Builder and I came back home for a pleasant afternoon in the sunshine.

This week is also not going to follow the usual, orderly pattern.  The Pot Luck Pantry is catering for the crew of the Tramlines Music Festival this week, so the cafe is closed and we are extra, extra busy. I am doing all day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, in the kitchen, while other people will be taking the food and serving it to the hungry crew on site.  It feels a bit like an episode of Masterchef!  Fortunately, I don't think any of us will be sent home never to be seen again after the event.  At least, I hope not.

In the meantime, Flynn has learned how to sit up all on his own:

Cally could already sit up:

Watching the Paddington movie on my iPad

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Travelling by Train

We went out to Lymington for lunch yesterday (The spell check on the blog website is absolutely determined that we went to Leamington; it insists on changing it every time I type Lymington!!! )

Neither of us had ever been to Lymington by train before and it's a lovely journey.  You go from Salisbury to Southampton, via Romsey.  You change in Southampton for a train that goes to Brockenhurst in the New Forest.  Then you change at Brockenhurst for the train that goes to Lymington. This is a tiny train line that stops in Lymington town, and at Lymington pier, where the ferry to the Isle of Wight berths.  It is a surprisingly busy little train line.

All the trains ran to time.  The route was beautiful. And it is but a short stroll from the station to the quayside and the little harbour shops.

We had lunch in the Ship Inn, which should surprise none of you.  Ever since I found the Ship that is where we have eaten.  We have previously eaten in a couple of pubs in the town centre but the food wasn't as good and, of course, you didn't get the lunch time view

My view at lunch
We haven't ever eaten outside at the Ship before. Until recently we have had Gwen with us and it wouldn't have been practical to get her out onto the decking.  Last time we were there on our own but still ate in the restaurant.  This time the sun was shining and it was quite warm and eating outside seemed like a good thing to do.  There was one short rain shower while we were eating, but we were sat under a big umbrella so didn't really notice it. We did notice the black headed gulls, however.  If people got up and walked away leaving any left overs on their plates, the gulls were in there in no time, helping to clear the plates.  It was a bit like being an extra on the set of The Birds!

They still had scallops on the menu. With bacon this time.  I do like a good scallop :-)

Scallops with bacon and pea puree

Lamb rump with fries for my main. Very, very tasty but a bit chewy

We didn't have very long in Lymington. We really had gone there to have lunch rather than a lengthy potter about.  And we wanted to drop up to visit Gwen when we got back to Salisbury. There won't be another opportunity before we head to Melbourne in August and I am not expecting to be back in the south of England for many months.  We were delighted to find a gift shop which was selling handmade cushions.  We bought one for Gwen; it's quite hard to find good presents for her so we usually take cake or chocolate or something else to eat.  A soft, feathery cushion was a great find. We did take some chocolate as well :-)

Bye bye to Lymington

And this is my view this morning

Not a bad morning view, eh?

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A lovely, if slightly soggy day

We had a lovely day yesterday.

After a hearty breakfast we strolled in the sunshine across Constable's meadows towards the cathedral.  We don't go in very often and the opportunities for visiting it and admiring its beautiful interior may be somewhat limited in the future, so we took the opportunity to pop in and have a wander around.  We were very lucky - a school choir was in rehearing for a forthcoming concert.  They sing beautifully!

The cathedral has acquired a new and very beautiful font since I was last inside. The photos don't do it justice.  If you find yourself in Salisbury, you should go in and admire it for yourself

The new, beautiful and above all *large* font
Reflections on Christianity

In contrast to the new font, the cathedral also plays host to (allegedly) the world's oldest working clock

Looking towards the West End

and towards the East End
We went for a wander in the cloisters and into the Chapter House, where they have a copy of the Magna Carta on display. No photos of the Magna Carta allowed!  The last time I was in the Chapter House it was in the middle of winter and it was absolutely freezing and The Builder and I were the only people in it.  Yesterday it was pleasantly warm and absolutely packed!

Then we went for a potter around the city centre and ended up in Wagamama's for lunch

A plate of yaki udon for me

We were intending to head out to visit Gwen for a cup of tea and a piece of cake, but decided to head back to the Old Mill first and get tidied up a bit.  On our way out of town - it rained.  We took shelter in a British Heart Foundation shop.  The shower having passed by, we headed off again.  It rained.  We took shelter under a big tree.  Off we went again.  It rained.  This time we were on the path crossing the meadows and there was nothing for it but to carry on.  By the time we got back to the pub, it was absolutely pouring and it continued to pour until into the evening.  We didn't go to visit Gwen.  We'll go this afternoon instead.

We did head down into the bar at about half past seven in search of a little light refreshment, and found ourselves caught up in the fortnightly pub quiz.  We did very badly indeed!  We did, however, enjoy a bowlful of chips each, a pint or three of bitter for The Builder and a glass or two of wine for me.  It was a good evening, although we didn't stay for the pub quiz tally.

We are taking a train trip to Lymington today.  We have decided that we might take our rain jackets!!

Monday, July 11, 2016


You find us in Salisbury this morning.

We left Tupton in the pouring rain yesterday morning and went by taxi to the railway station.  Ordinarily we come to Salisbury in the car, but I decided that I didn't entirely trust it not to break down en route - and I very profoundly didn't want to break down on any of the motorways that we would be on.  We do have break down cover, so I'm not usually worried, but the side of the motorways on a Sunday would not be a pleasant place to be stood waiting for assistance!

The trains were quite pleasant, if a little crowded.  And the first train the we were on, the train to Bristol, didn't have any seat reservations.  It should have had them, but they weren't working.  This caused a few small arguments when we got to Birmingham, where a tidal wave of people embarked.  Not with us; nobody wanted our seats, but in the seats around us.  Still, we all got sorted out in the end,  and on we trundled.  I enjoyed the journey from Bristol to Salisbury.  We did have seat reservations on the very busy, three carriage train.  It follows, more or less, a route that we have occasionally taken in the car.  It's very pretty.

We came down to Salisbury so we could attend The Builder's brother and sister in law's golden wedding anniversary tea party.  It was held in the Radnor Hall out in Bodenham, near Nunton where his mother used to live.  His mother was at the party.  So was his sister and her family.  And his daughter and two grand daughters.  So were many of his nieces and nephews, and loads of grands, and many of Terry and Jenny's friends.  It was a lovely tea party.  Jenny and her assistants had cooked up a storm and there were sausage rolls and sandwiches and cheese straws and quiches and more baked things, and scones and cakes and eclairs and all sorts.  The tables were positively groaning with delicious treats.  The rain in Tupton had given way to glorious Wiltshire sunshine, so Jeanette, Rebecca, Evie, The Builder and I went for a stroll through Bodenham to look at the house where Jeanette was born, and to peer over the front wall at Terry and Jenny's place to look at the tortoises.  Then Terry drove us back into Salisbury (we had gone out in a taxi).

The Builder and I spent the evening out in the beer garden at the Old Mill, enjoying a glass or two of wine in the evening sunshine, listening to the river and the ducks, and eating cheese and apple and pate and crusty bread.  It was all very civilised :-)

It's been quite an exciting week in other ways as well.  I went out to the Pot Luck Pantry on Thursday as the main cook, and by default the duty manager, there not being anyone else to do it.  I had several volunteers to play with, but some of them were quite new.  So we kept it simply.  We had packets of sausages and loads of eggs in store, plus slices of ham and chicken and cheese, salady things, bread, a box of cream cheese.  So we had a Pot Luck Picnic, it being quite a peasant day.  You told us how many people there were in your party and we put together platters with a random assortment of picnic things.  People responded quite well to this - normally we have a comprehensive menu detailing all your options.  On this occasion you had to tell us of allergies, dietary requirements, dislikes and take your chances

A Pot Luck Picnic for one

and a sharing platter for six
I usually finish at the Pantry at 2, but this time stayed to 4 to cover for the afternoon crew who couldn't get there any earlier.  I had a great time, but I was a tad on the tired side when I finally left!

And, even more excitingly - someone actually came to look at the house on Saturday.  A real someone, who is actually looking to move house.  She stayed for about half an hour, looked round twice and asked loads of questions, so showed  a fair amount of interest.  But we haven't heard back from her so I don't think she's going to buy the house.  But where one person comes, more will surely follow. And there is, of course, the auction approaching.

Friday, July 01, 2016

A break from normal routine

This week has not gone according to the regular plan, so far at least.

What with the pound flat lining, the financial markets feverish, the economy moribund, the government in disarray and the opposition apparently having imploded, there didn't seem to be much point in heading into Chesterfield on Wednesday to discuss the state of the housing market with our estate agency.  I had no pressing need to go to the library. We had no particular errands to run. So we abandoned our weekly trip into town and instead stayed at home drinking tea and watching the rain - until it was an appropriate time to drink wine and watch the rain.

We have, however, set all the legal stuff in motion for our house to go to auction on August 2nd. I posted all the documents and forms and stuff to the auctioneer's preferred solicitor so that the house can be sold unconditionally - which is to say that if anybody does make a successful bid on the house the deal is binding on them and on us and contracts would be exchanged 28 days later.  A bit late for us, but no doubt it could all be sorted out.  Whether anyone will make a bid is another question.  I hear reports (unconfirmed by me) that people who did have house purchases underway are in some cases pulling out because of the current political, economic and employment uncertainty. The housing market is unhappy.

Yesterday I would ordinarily have headed into Sheffield for a stint at the Pot Luck Pantry. But when I first started with the local food bank I undertook to help with a national fund raising weekend. It was a bit unfortunate that it was this weekend for the Pot Luck Pantry is very short of people this week and there weren't any managers or chefs available for yesterday. But a promise is a promise so I went instead into Clay Cross and spent the morning in Tesco collecting people's donations of money and food. I quite enjoyed it.  It was not something I had ever done before and it was interesting being in the supermarket watching the normal operations that I don't notice when I am in there shopping. I came home at lunchtime and The Builder went in for a few hours in the afternoon. We'll both go to the food bank as usual this afternoon, then I'll head back to the supermarket to extort some more donations tomorrow morning

Collecting donations in Tesco

Back to normal on Sunday. I am expecting to be at the Pot Luck Pantry as usual.  I am even expecting The Builder to be with me. He seems to be very much better.  The cough is a bit less hacking. The rash is very much better. He's almost back to fighting fitness.

Now if only we could convince the Weather Dogs that it is now the beginning of July, that we have had Quite Enough Rain, thank you very much, and that I should not be considering putting the heating on!!!

Marlo doesn't care about the rain