Sunday, 31 August 2008

Down south again

Another trip down to the south coast of East Sussex, the journey this evening taking just under four hours of driving time. I stopped again at the Old Ship on the A26 and got into the bar with still 6 minutes to go before they stopped serving food. I dined on roast lamb, roast pots, sweetcorn (still on the cob), two large yorkshire puddings, cauliflower, red cabbage and carrots, plus gravy and mint sauce. It was wonderful. Their menu can be perused on their home site.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Going bats

Now, especially for those people who think bats in churches are lovely, and that the little darlings should continue to be protected against all threats, here are a few images from the interior of one of my rural churches of the evidence that had to be cleared up before the Sunday morning service (the church was cleaned the day before!).

Of course, the bat lovers don't come to the church services. They admire from afar.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Muggy Thursday

A humid Thursday night, and I'm not where I expected to be. Today the annual Postcard Show opened in the Royal Horticultural Halls in London, and for months the date has been in my diary. I was planning to travel down today, stay overnight, do the fair tomorrow, and then come back in the evening. However .... things, as things tend to do, happened.

And so here I am, at home, not getting to the Fair for the fourth year in a row, and spending the day making marmalade instead, ready for my next Coffee Morning in a fortnight's time.

Out in the rural world the harvest is beginning to tail off. Many fields are now bare, with some even ploughed over ready for winter sowing. Yet there are still huge machines lumbering along our narrow lanes, taking the whole road width, and forcing drivers, unfortunate enough to meet them, into gateways and up onto verges. Some of the massive machines are also incredibly long, and from my window I watched a snake-like plough wiggle its way around the corner of my garden, brushing the hedge and rattling the trees. How the farmers ever think that these roads are suitable ... but then perhaps they don't consider that aspect of it when they buy their spanking new pieces of equipment.

Ah well .... at least I had a delicious dish of pork fillet in a home-made honey and mustard sauce tonight.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Saturday, 23 August 2008


Re-creation 1
A pork fillet, cut into strips, and fried off in a dessertspoon of vegetable oil until it was caramelising on the bottom of the pan - some boiled new potatoes and sliced carrots - and the left-over "chicory au gratin" from last night .... put the cooked pork into the chicory dish and heat through, gently stirring so that the cheese sauce covers the meat, then serve. Another glass of Hoegaarden to accompany.

A small portion is left for the Feast of St Bartholomew tomorrow. With these meals it should really be a fast not a feast!

Re-creation 2
I came across this book cover whilst idly browsing

and felt that the title should be changed ....

... to which of course the traditional answer is:

"Nae, it's aal in purfec' wokin' auder!"

Friday, 22 August 2008

Chicory au gratin

Braise three pieces of chicory in boiling water with a slice of lemon until soft. Drain. Make a white sauce with butter, flour, milk and a teaspoon of english mustard powder and some ground black pepper. Thicken over heat or in the microwave, then add grated cheese (I used a mixture of cheddar and edam) keeping some back. Cut chicory in half lengthways and place in a shallow fireproof pan. Pour cheese sauce over and sprinkly remaining grated cheese over the top with some home-dried breadcrumbs. Put under the grill until brown.

Enjoy with a glass of whatever. I had a chilled Belgian Hoegaarden. Mmmmmmm.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Wok on, Tommy

Tonight the electric wok came out, and into it went some chopped onion, followed by strips of beef, then some left-over ratatouille, and finally half a jar of Hoi Sin & Plum sauce. Served with some plain boiled rice, it was a speedy, fragrant and tasty supper.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Bring and share

Last night I hosted our Benefice monthly "Shared Supper", which is basically a "pot-luck" supper where you bring a dish to share, and maybe a bottle. Due to the harvest being in full swing, attendance was low, but we did justice to the mainly fish dishes that were contributed. I made a poached salmon and smoked salmon platter that was well received. Just enough left over for me to have a sandwich this lunchtime.

Friday, 15 August 2008

SPCK bookshops

The SPCK Trustees have issued a statement about the continuing saga over the closure of the SPCK bookshops. It can be found here.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Images from the past

For the last three weeks or so I've been busily scanning a collection of stereoscopic photographs belonging to a clerical friend (with whom I trained), so that he can not only view them with ease on his computer, but also have family images for his own archive.

They're a motley assortment of scenes - a stack of home-produced shots of family events and holidays, and then some part-series of the well-known "Underwood and Underwood" slides, notably the Boer War, "Music without Words" (married life!), other domestic scenes, and views of turn of the (19th/20th) century United States.

I've also put some of them into movie presentations, which I might upload to "YouTube" for wider enjoyment.

I've quite enjoyed doing this, and as he is due this evening to stay for a couple of days, I need to do the last dozen or so before he arrives!

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Back to the Fifties

I don’t believe in calling any day “nasty” or “rotten” whatever the weather, because any day you wake up with the breath of life still in your nostrils has got to be a “good” day … but today’s weather has been somewhat vile - rain and wind making it feel more like November rather than the high summer of August.

So, in need of something warming, tonight’s repast was a portion of turkey stew, made with button mushrooms and baby courgettes, served with new potatoes and carrots, and two dollops of Moutarde de Meaux grain mustard.

I certainly needed to eat something as this afternoon I was offered two glasses of bubbly on an empty stomach at the 50th birthday celebration of a person in the village. In fact, most of the village seemed to be there, dressed in 1950’s style clothing, ranging from French tart to American cheerleader – those were the ladies, I hasten to add. The gentlemen sported lots of leather or pink jackets, and Brylcreem quiffs.

I took a quick look at the Internet images for inspiration, and then donned black trousers, white shirt, striped tie, grey V-neck pullover, and black jacket. The party scene was enlivened by two young things standing the in the hall intent on exploring each others tonsils every few minutes.

Ah … youth ….

Lammas Lunch

Last Sunday was Lammas, the third of the four agricultural festivals, and for the second year running I laid on a "Bread and cheese" lunch for any who wanted to come - no prior booking required. Seventeen people arrived and ate, and there were several basketsful of cheese left over - or at least a full cooler tray in the fridge. (And this on the day of the "Feeding of the 5,000" Gospel reading!)

Various cheeses on offer - Cheddar, Double Gloucester, Wensleydale, Red Leicester, Brie, Camembert, Roule, St Agur, Delft Blue, Edam, and a rather nice Vignotte - as well as four different loaves. No wine, but orange squash, tea and coffee. No fixed charge either, just donations, and after expenses we managed to send £60 to "Build Africa" - enough for two chicken-rearing kits, each of 20 chicks, materials for a coop, vitamins and vaccines.

Friday, 8 August 2008

The loss of courtesy

When I was a lad, my parents taught me to write my "thank-you" letters the day after receiving presents, and so some of Boxing Day was set aside to write to Uncles and Aunts thanking them for their gifts, as was the day following my birthday. It was common courtesy to reply.

It seems that this courtesy has disappeared, along with the art of hand-writing letters.

I wrote to the Inspecting Architect of one of my churches on 23rd June asking a question that required a response. I heard nothing, and so I sent a follow-up letter, with a copy of my original page, on 30th July. I have still not had a reply, or even an acknowledgement of my letters. If I have not heard anything by Monday's post, another letter will be sent. He's not doing himself any favours with this in-action as we can easily ask the Diocese to appoint someone else as the architect for that church, and may well do so.

Back in February I left some documents and a book for the attention of the College Archivist at the Security lodge of a well-known public school on the south coast. I have never had any acknowledgement of this gift, and last week I wrote to the Headmaster asking if the items had been passed on. No reply so far from that quarter either.

Last year I offered this old 19th century amateur watercolour of Liverpool docks to the city Museum, and they said they would very much like to have it for their Local History collection. It was sent, but once again, I never had a "thank you".

In my schooldays, the comment would have been, "Could do better".

Monday, 4 August 2008

And on the table tonight

All very healthy .... mixed salad leaves, tomatoes, new boiled potatoes, and roast salmon flakes ... with a dollop or three of mayo.

Rather spoilt by the Turkish Delight bar afterwards.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Monthly Coffee Morning

The first Saturday of the month again, and time for another benefice Coffee morning. A full Bring & Buy table today, and with the Raffle it brought in £107 for the Benefice funds. Not bad for a couple of hours of minimal preparation and light work - standing around, pouring coffee and talking.

Couldn't do it without all the contributions or attendances though.