Sunday, 11 November 2018

Looking for the Rain

We didn't have to look far yesterday, this is our front window. Torrential downpours in between drizzle was all we had for most of the day.
We were so pleased that it stayed away during the evening while we were at Newbury Racecourse for the fireworks - what a great display! The beginning was particularly amazing with the loudest bangs I've ever heard - it made the ground shake - and the soundtrack for the evening was the ending of the First World War 100 years ago today, so there were lots of red fireworks to represent poppies - it was actually really good (much better than this photo).
Today, Jamie is feeling very painful because of the Twister fairground ride that we went on last night - he was in the seat that gets crushed and has bruised his ribs (or maybe cracked one, as he heard a 'pop' - eurgh). So while he's resting up I made some pumpkin soup. I'm sorry to say that last week's roasted Crown Prince soup went in the bin - it was vile! So I didn't roast the pumpkin today.
And I peeled most of the skin off as this type of pumpkin tends to have rather hard skin. I fried two shallots with turmeric, paprika, cumin and a bit of curry powder, then added the pumpkin and some stock.
Mmm, that smelt so delicious
While that was simmering, I mixed up the pumpkin seeds in a bag with melted butter, salt and smoked paprika before putting in the oven on 150 for 45 minutes.
I decided to sieve the soup after I'd blitzed it, there were still some bits of skin which seemed a bit hard, and now it's a delicious smooth pumpkin curry soup. And more than half a pumpkin left...
The songtitle is by Unkle - it's part of the soundtrack to a Danish TV series we watched recently, The Rain. Tonight I'm off to the ballet to see Swan Lake, with my sister - my first ever ballet! I'm looking forward to it.

Sunday, 4 November 2018


Jamie carved a fab pumpkin for the Marsh Lane gate and also one for us on Halloween.

We had a lovely meal of roasted squash on black rice with black truffle grated on top. We bought the truffle home from holiday, but were disappointed that it didn't seem to have any of the flavour we expected - never mind, at least we know not to spend a lot of money on it in the future! The squash was our Crown Prince and that has lovely flavour - even better (not so sweet) than the Festival I would say.
Now it's November and we achieved a few things on the plot yesterday. It was reasonably warm and quite a few plotholders were on site. We planted up our flower bulbs in big pots

I bought some wallflowers which were on sale, so I got about 30 for £4, I thought that was a bargain, so planted them up along the edge of the plot to cheer it up from March - May (well, that's what the labels say).
I also planted some by the pond at the same time as doing some weeding and getting rid of some of the Californian Poppies which are everywhere!

Jamie dug through the raised bed so that we could plant garlic in it. I left it late to buy it and ended up buying these ones from Waitrose. I think it's a bit naughty to plant shop-bought but hope that because they're from Scotland they'll grow ok. I managed to get 15 good cloves with a few left over to eat too.
The broad beans have grown well, we don't really want them much taller than that.  They're under the cloche net to protect them from the worst of the weather. It'll be nice if we actually get to eat some early broad beans next year!
This is my two celeriac - they've grown well in the old recycle bin. I want to make soup with them, but have to finish off the Crown Prince squash first.
I'm roasting the Crown Prince with sage at the moment, with the skin on. The skin definitely provides most of the flavour and is perfectly soft enough to eat. Look at how pretty it looked in the roasting tray. I've added a bit of chilli powder now it's on the hob. (I've just remembered I meant to add an onion, but I don't think it will be missed as the squash is so tasty)
So this is the last month of Autumn and there are masses of berries on the hedge - does it mean it'll be a hard Winter?
We always used to say that, but we'll see... We've already had a week or frosty cold weather, but it's warmed up again now and just a bit wet.
We found one last interesting thing before we left the allotment - a bagful of 10p pieces for my "10 Year Transplant Anniversary Fund" for the Six Counties Kidney Patients Association. People are so generous! Thank you to whoever left it for me! I look forward to doing the big count-up in April!
So today's about the fact that garlic was missing from the garden centres, Wilkos and even Marks & Spencer. But I really hope it's not missing from our plot next year!

Sunday, 28 October 2018


Yesterday was the first time I've visited the allotment in 3 weeks! It was a good visit because we had a really good Autumn Workday to clear up the site and, although it was really cold, it was a bright sunny start to the day and we had a big bonfire to get rid of all the broken/rotten wood and hedge clippings.
With lots of helpful volunteers ...
They're staring at the sky because there were lots of red kites and buzzards swooping over the site.
Very impressive to see
A little more eating...courtesy of Richard's master BBQ-ing skills.
And a bit of drinking - Ivan brought some of his Apple and Blackberry & Apple wine along.
We achieved plenty and were so pleased that it was dry, as we needed the warmth of the fire when the sun went in.And I think the phrase 'Work Party' is very appropriate :-)
The previous weekend we had the HAHA versus Hungerford Twinning Association skittles match. The HTA organised the event last year, so we hosted this year. All the attendees brought food for the buffet - what a lovely spread!
There was a good turnout and it was a lot of fun. The raffle meant that we also managed a bit of fundraising for HAHA. We won the cup, so HTA will have to try again next year.
Jamie has been visiting the plot occasionally to pick some veg - we've had the last of the peppers and tomatoes. We pulled Pentland Javelin from one of the potato bags - a good amount of tubers, but they weren't that tasty. The Nicola that we had recently were much tastier.
Oops, there's that cup again :-)
Squashes have provided me with some nice meals including this one stuffed with marinated tofu and black rice.
I'm currently making Festival squash soup for next week's lunches. We saw a good Japanese TV programme about squashes the other day; I'm roughly copying one of their recipes - I've removed the seeds but left the skin on: the squash, garlic, fried onion, salt and pepper are all in the pan with some water bubbling away. The skin has completely softened and I've just tasted it..mmm
No need for any additional flavouring - just a quick blitz and a little more water, - so sweet and smooth, perfect! The skin adds to the aroma (apparently) so it's best to leave it on.
The title is provided by Coldplay - the clocks have gone back today and it's beginning to feel a lot like Winter...

Friday, 12 October 2018

Food Glorious Food

The reason we left Liverpool before the Giants' finale was because Sunday (7th October) was the day of the Hungerford Food Festival. It's such a big event for the town and for HAHA that I felt I couldn't miss it. With a few of our little troop of helpers ...
and lots of donated vegetables ...
and scones, jam, chutney ...
and elderflower cordial for tasters.
We had a great, exhausting day and gained at least one new plotholder.
 I'm glad we were involved (though another couple of days in Liverpool would have been amazing)
Our double-red sweetcorn had fully ripened and looked amazing
And I was pleased to see our purple radish was purple on the inside too
Plus, I love to see Hungerford bustling - so pleased that the weather was good after a rainy day on Saturday.
And I had a tasty crepe, some delicious olives and look at my bread roll - made with charcoal flour. Most unusual - it looks rather like a pebble in that photo but it was soft and very tasty.
I just wish the Food Festival included a few more veggie options... maybe next year!

Monday, 8 October 2018

I Like the Way you Move

We've had such an amazing trip to Liverpool - to see the Royal Deluxe Giants.
I've been longing to see them ever since their Liverpool visit in 2014 was on the News, so I was thrilled when I discovered that they were returning this year and we booked our hotel months ago.
On the first day we saw evidence of giants.. a huge sandal caught in a fishing net and a strange raft appeared in Canning Dock.
And ... oops, someone has sliced a bus in half, with a very large butter knife! And stabbed a car with a huge fork.
And then we saw the Little Boy Giant asleep in St George's Hall.
We queued for over an hour outside whilst being entertained by the Royal deluxe band and then finally got in to the beautiful building, with the 'little' 20-foot boy lying in his hammock.
The next day we took the ferry across the Mersey.
The Snowdrop has been 'Razzle Dazzled' by the Beatles' Sergeant Pepper's album artist, Sir Peter Blake.
Liverpool from the ferry - on our way to The Wirral - where we knew the giant had washed ashore...
We walked along the promenade from the Seacombe Ferry terminal to New Brighton where we waited, with thousands of other people, for the BIG (33-foot) giant to wake up... More music, this time some beautiful melodic violin playing from this musician on her dumper truck full of violins.
The excitement grew as we could see the cranes lifting the giant in the distance...
... and then walking towards us. The instructions are to the Lilliputians (the french puppeteers) - look at them swinging through the air to make the giant's legs move!!
He walked, with the aid of 44 Lilliputians, along to another area in The Wirral. Thousands of people followed him, and the ever-present band, along the roads. Others, including us, found an alternative route to try and get in front of him - luckily the locals knew the way and we followed them with much excitement.
We got to a good spot just as the firemen were giving him a drink - look at the size of the man resting on the Giant's chest to pop a funnel in his mouth :-)
Chasing the giant was enormous fun, with such huge crowds, but the walk back to the ferry terminal was hard work - we walked 20km that day! But it was so worth it - this is meant to be the Giants last outing :-(
So, the next day the big giant had made his way back over to Liverpool, just resting on his raft while we went off to have a wander around the docks before seeing more of the Little Boy and his dog, Xolo, during their walk around the city.
They went to sleep in the Queens dock, after having a little play - unfortunately my camera didn't want to play ball in the low lighting. Suffice to say, it was a lot of fun with extremely loud music and then we went for a delicious veggie meal at Down the Hatch on Duke Street.
It was such an excellent visit to Liverpool that we were sad to be leaving on Saturday lunchtime. Luckily for us, the Little Boy and Xolo were walking virtually past our hotel, along The Strand, on Saturday morning.
 So we joined the thousands of people lining the streets and had a front row position.

See what I mean about the great music? And those Lilliputians! So cool. I hope they return and I also hope that we return to Liverpool - it really is a great city.
There are more photos here - if you need to see more.
I've avoided the predictable song and opted for this by the BodyRockers, because I just love those giants and their Lilliputians!