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!

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Things Can Only Get Better

There have been a few light frosts in the last week - I had to scrape ice from the windscreen on Monday so we knew that the plot would have been hit by it. I'm pleased that the two Crown Prince squashes both look ok, but I couldn't risk leaving them on the plant any longer.
The site doesn't look too bad - mostly flowers looking sad around the place, but not these lovely dwarf chrysanthemums, which are such a pretty colour. I'm glad I bought the tiny plant at our Plant Sale earlier in the year.
Luckily the greenhouse just managed to stay above freezing (0.5°!) and the peppers are still looking healthy - especially as they're so close to being ready now. The big question is, do we eat the orange ones or leave them for the Food Festival? Decisions, decisions... we'll be so disappointed if they go over or get frosted before next Sunday morning.
Jamie sowed some over-Wintering broad beans Aquadulce and we weeded lots of areas of the plots so things are looking reasonably tidy (in places). I re-attached the purple-sprouting broccoli onto their stakes - only one of the four plants grew up straight. There were masses of whitefly - I hope we have some proper cold weather to kill them off over the Winter.
It looks like we'll get a couple of swede this year - not quite so successful as last year.
I've just made some squash soup. I used one of the not-so-good Festival and a Honeyboat, that was a bit small. I roasted the squash first - the Festival tasted much nicer than the Honeyboat. I added some pretty spices (Paprika, Turmeric and Parsley with garlic) and plenty of salt and pepper to the stock.
The soup is very thick and, to be honest, not very tasty. I'm hoping it will improve overnight..
So the song title is for the soup...! Thanks to D:Ream... try getting this one out of your head :-)

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Still Ill

This is my most beautiful squash so far - a Festival.
And this is the biggest and it's so pleasing! A Boston Winter Squash - the only fruit that developed on that plant - perhaps not surprisingly,
I removed a few of the Honey Boat squash too, in case there is a frost this week, as threatened, they're now in the greenhouse along with the others. Including a barrowful of quite small pumpkins - we're blaming the weather. This variety Jack of all Trades normally grow bigger than this for us.
The greenhouse is looking a bit different because we've suspended net from the ceiling to store our onions and shallots. We decided not to risk putting the squash up there - I already bumped into the onions several times today!
The peppers are changing colour - we can definitely see some yellow, red and orange. Really hope the greenhouse is protection enough from the cold... it would be good if they're still fresh for Hungerford Food Festival in 2 weeks time...
I hacked back quite a bit of tomato plant growth. There are a few small signs of blight, but plenty more tomatoes to pick.
As I'm writing this I should be making carrot soup, but I'm being lazy because I have a horrible cold 😩.

I was pleased it was so rainy yesterday so we stayed indoors most of the day and prepared shallots for soaking in salt water prior to pickling. The Longor shallots grew so big this year, we're just doing one big jar full of pickles.
And I shelled the borlotti and soya beans for storage - I do plan to use them, but I need to find a good recipe. I asked on a forum on Facebook and the second answer to 'what should I do with my dried soyabeans?' was 'BURN THEM' - hahaha, that doesn't bode well!!
So now I really should start on that soup...but first, a song title..aah, The Smiths - perfect 🤧.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Ça plane pour moi

We had a visit to the plot yesterday, mostly to pick some tomatoes. It was such a warm day that we stayed a bit longer to chat and were glad we did as suddenly there was an air show going on overhead

It was rather fun watching the sky with fellow plotholders and seeing all those bi-planes. And then there were parachutists with red smoke and also apparently wing-walkers - amazing! It was a shame I only had my little camera with me.
And, as if that wasn't excitement enough for one weekend - a frog has moved into our pond!
I took the mesh cover off it last week as I cleared some of the duckweed (it all grew back) and obviously froggy liked the look of it.
Today Jamie and I got on with working - no aerobatics to entertain us today, but the frog's still there. We did a lot of clearing, weeding and edging.
The carrot bed and sprouts plot - look how dry the earth is!
The leeks bed - not many leeks this year but hopefully they'll grow nice and big
The strawberry bed - masses of runners were removed
I also cleared the rest of the dried beans - soya (edamame) and Borlotti. There are quite a lot.... just have to shell them all now...
Jamie is going to pickle some of our Longor shallots this week - we finally bought some pickling vinegar - so they're at home now waiting to be prepared. And we pulled a Nicola potato - they are nice looking tubers; not slug-eaten and quite large.
There are a few of the Aviditas tomatoes which I'm going to add to salad lunches. Jamie made patatas bravas last week and will be making it again this week using the lovely larger tomatoes which are still in the greenhouse - they aren't Lizzano, which they're meant to be, but they are tasty.
My salad lunch is going to be very red this week - beetroot, tomato, red chard and red sweetcorn. I may add a red onion too for good measure :-)
I really wanted the Double Red Sweetcorn for the HAHA stall at Hungerford Food Festival on 7th October, but I'm not sure it's going to last that long; The covering leaves are very dry. And the kohl rabi are only tiny seedlings at the moment so they aren't going to be much of a show in 3 weeks time - luckily there should be plenty of squashes!
Aah, Autumn is definitely upon us, even though it was lovely and warm in the sunshine today - still Everything's Cool For Me as the title translates (apparently). Oh yes, and it has the word 'plane' in the title <ahem>. Enjoy!