Monday, 1 October 2012

Smallholding Potato Pie.

3 hours later.  Meat and potato pie  
One thing you can't seem to get around these parts is a 'proper' meat and potato pie.  You can get chicken and mushroom and steak and kidney and minced and onion and chicken curry, but not meat and potato pie.  So like the great punk philosophy:  "Do It Yourself."  Here's how we made the meal in the picture.

Get one pound of stewing steak and place it in a pan with water (cover meat), add a chopped onion and leave it to simmer for about an hour and a half and meat is tender.  Peel and dice 4 large potatoes and add to pan, cook until soft.  Add 2 OXO cubes and place in a large pie/casserole dish (like the one in the picture), make pastry with 8 ounces of sieved flour, a pinch of salt, 2 ounces of butter and 2 ounces of lard.  Your mixture should resemble bread crumbs with no lumpy bits.  (You can always substitute this with bought frozen pastry.) Make a well in the middle of your mixture (pastry) and add 2 to 3 tablespoons of cold water.  Mix together using a knife until you get a firm paste.  Roll out on a floured surface.  Cover the pie dish and brush with a egg wash (1 beaten egg and a little bit of milk).  Put in the oven and cook until it's golden brown.  Serve with mushy peas and red cabbage.

Wash it down with a few pints of home brewed bitter.

See you later.


  1. Now that looks nice, wonder if my suet pastry would do the job? Can't see why not?

  2. I don't see why it can't but you have to steam suet don't you? Why not try some of that frozen pastry from one of the super sheds Cumbrian. Or even try to make it?


  3. It could be just me, but didn't meat and potato pie used to be called just potato pie ('up north' especially)?

  4. Yes, I've just got to have another go at pastry, you're right, suet needs steamed, so it's either make them like steak & kidney puddings, or get to the pastry making.

    No Pat, I've never heard of potato pie, it was always meat & taytie as long as I can remember although I've heard of potato & onion pie but never had it.

  5. Hi Pat,

    I think if I remember right. That the chip/cake/pie shops signs said: Meat and Potato pies. Yet most people called them: potato pies. Probably not to get mixed up with: meat pies. Which consisted of meat in a clear jelly like mixture.

    Pies are very big part of English northern culture and there is quite a lot been written about them. Pie culture (appreciation) is said to be very big in Lancashire (none of your Greater Manchester, Merseyside), Cumbria, Yorkshire, Staffordshire and probably most of the Midlands. Pies used to be an integral part of working class people's diet and we are probably unknowingly connoisseurs of great British food. In the same way that northern English people like a pint with: "an head on it."


  6. Hi Cumbrian,

    I actually made the pie in the picture. But I got help with the the pastry making. Like the wine making (thanks again for all the advice) it takes patience and you have got to get it to a sandy consistency (no lumpy bits - pieces of lard...) to get it right. Anyway I cheated (it was a joint effort) placing the pastry on the pie dish and 'watching it' cooking in the Stanley range. But I did do everything else. Frozen pastry is really easy and it gives a really professional finish.

    Never heard of potato and onion. They sell: mince and onion here in West Cork. There must be different recipes for different areas? Anybody know any pie recipes?

    Thanks Cumbrian.

  7. Pie recipes? Looking in the supersheds there's so many different pies now that you're spoilt for choice, curried lamb was one I noticed on offer, and tin miners pasty.

    I've never made this one, but it might be good to use some pork mince up:-

    450g plain flour
    1 tsp salt
    100g lard
    150ml water
    4 tbls milk
    beaten egg yolk to glaze
    15g gelatine
    150ml chicken stock

    1 small onion finely chopped
    salt and pepper
    450g pork mince
    2 pork sausages skinned

    Heat oven to 200C, grease a 7" loose bottomed round cake tin.
    To make the filling fry the pork and onion, dry off any excess fat.
    To make the pastry, Sift the flour and salt, place the lard in a saucepan with the water and milk, heat gently until the lard melts, then bring to the boil. Pour all at once into the flour to form a pliable dough, knead lightly, Remove 3/4 of the dough to a lightly floured surface, keeping the remainder warm in a bowl covered with a cloth.
    Roll out the dough and use to line the tin, spread the sausagemeat on the bottom and add the pork and onion mix, roll out the remaining dough and cover, make a hole in the centre.
    Bake in the oven for 30min at 200C and 1hr 10min at 160C, cover with foil if browning too soon. Cool on wire rack, unmould and leave until cold.
    Dissolve the gelatine in the stock in a heatproof basin over a pan of hot water, pour through the centre of the pie, chill in fridge overnight.

    Not a bad morning, bright breezy and cool, not raining.
    Raggy cat waiting this morning, ate the remnants of Mrs pork pie supper, then asleep on armchair.

  8. Thanks Cumbrian. Is this the traditional pork pie that English cultural icon:'The Ploughman's Lunch? Apparently this meal was re-invented in the nineteen sixties by the Milk Marketing Board. Although there is evidence of it dating back to the 18th century.

    Will have a go this week and report back. This would be great with the home-made chutneys, piccalilli.., washed down with some home-brewed real ale.


  9. Sorry. That should have said: Is this traditional pork pie tha which you always find in the Ploughman's Lunch?'

  10. Don't know about that, I do like a nice pork pie though, but like everything else there's so many inferior imitations.
    And it goes really well with home-made pickled onions, red cabbage, beetroot, chutney or picalilli. I also like to eat stuffed olives with it, not traditional I know.
    Nothing better to wash it down than a pint or two of home brewed real ale.
    That was supper last night, with beetroot.

    Ploughmans lunch I've seen in pubs usually consists of bread, cheese and pickles, but might involve pork pies in some areas. It does sound like something a ploughman would cary to field, washed down perhaps with a flagon of cider.

    Still sunny, been threatened with rain later.

  11. I have just been looking at Ploughman's Lunch on the Internet. Like you say Cumbrian, there are many fake imitations. Some people have been served cold roast beef and even bangers.

    I have sampled pork pies in the ploughman's lunches served in parts of the West Country like Devon and Cornwall. Can't imagine it being substantial enough for somebody using a horse drawn plough, can you?

    Saying that it would be just the thing for a farmer to take into the fields, probably wrapped up in a large red polka dot handkerchief on a stick, apple and clay pipe in both pockets and the obligatory flagon of cider - what a picture you paint Cumbrian.

    Never ate olives. The 'Blow in' market traders from overseas often sell them in the towns.


  12. Definition by wikipedia.

    A ploughman's lunch (often just called a ploughman's) is a cold snack or meal originating in the United Kingdom, served in pubs, sometimes eaten in a sandwich form, composed of cheese (usually a thick piece of Cheddar, Stilton or other local cheese); often cooked ham slices, pickle (often Branston pickle, or any similar relish or chutney), apples, pickled onions, salad leaves, bread (especially crusty bread, which may be a chunk from a loaf or a cob); and butter. Other common additions are grapes, celery and carrot, pâté, diced hard boiled egg or beetroot, or in modern versions, crisps. It is usually served with beer.
    The origins of the ploughman's lunch date back to the 1960s, when the Milk Marketing Board promoted the meal nationally to boost sales of cheese, and is a product of this campaign. A comparable meal, popular prior to World War II, was also known as 'ploughboy's lunch'.
    It is a common menu item in English pubs, where it is served with a pint of beer. It is considered a cultural icon of England. The familiarity of the ploughman's lunch has led catering companies to describe a sandwich containing Cheddar cheese, pickle and salad as a "ploughman's sandwich"

    I reckon cheese and bread with pickled onions would carry to the field easy enough, but not sure about the other offerings. Nice rustic picture though, ploughman relaxing under hedge in the sun with his lunch spread out on the red polka dot cloth and cider in the eathernware flagon, while his horse stands close by with its ration of oats in nosebag. Background with farmer in shapeless hat leaning contemplatively on gate puffing sedately on clay pipe.
    Sounds like a study by Constable perhaps?

    Olives are an aquired taste like Guinness, you tend to love them or hate them, no in-between. They come in green or black form, stone-in, stoned, or stuffed with various things (anchovies, sweet garlic and red pepper for example) and different sizes. Supposed to be very healthy eating. Thet're a favourite on the markets in Southern France where we like to visit.
    Be very careful with the stoned, I broke a tooth on one that was supposed to be stoned, although that was in a Chinese restaurant in Spain, maybe the travelling continental sellers will have better quality control.

    Wind's getting up, but still dry.

  13. Thanks Cumbrian for the ploughman's lunch update. I wonder what is the right cheese (Cheddar?) to eat or even what variety of salad leaves make it truly English and authentic. There are quite a few cheese-makers over here but we aren't so keen. I have also seen plough-man lunches served with an apple. I suppose it's like a sandwich, you put what you want on it?

    Wonderful rustic picture Cumbrian. It's a shame we can't paint pictures isn't it. Well I can't any way. At least we can come up with the ideas for the rural scenery. Saying that though a lot of us have become sentimental about steam engines, trams and old tractors like my Ford 3000. Perhaps if we wait long enough we will become sentimental about today's tractors?

    I suppose one could ask the question: is the rural idyll possible or is just pure nostalgia?

    Never ate olives or Brie. They seem to sell plenty of them here though.

    Threw it down all night. Got up at half four and thought about poor Bracken sheltering under the willow hedge. Checked on him this morning and there was nothing wrong with him, happily grazing nonchalantly.


  14. Just found this recipe in one of cook books.

    Ploughman's (why not Plough-men?) Lunch. (Serves 4).

    Crusty bread,
    3 0z salad leaves.
    4 tbsp chutney.
    4 slices of cured ham.
    16 baby vine toms.
    8 spring onions.
    1 carrot.
    10 and half ounce ready-made pork pie.
    8oz British (Cheddar, Stilton, Somerset Brie,
    4 large eggs.

    How many different versions are there?

  15. I think the versions are endless, the permutations go on for ever, it's probably got something to do with what they've got in the fridge at the time and/or what they bought on the market that morning.
    Since there's no industry standard as such for ploughmens lunches I suppose they can call it just about anything.

    Olives and Brie go together very well, especially with fresh warm crusty French baguette and a glass or three of your favourite wine. Wonder if that's what French ploughmen take to field? With some chorizo or salami of course.

    The rural idyll is perhaps possible again, but probably not recognisable to us. Suppose it's possible to get nostalgic about a tractor, I learned to drive on a grey Massey-Ferguson, they were the standard work-horse up to about the late 60s or early 70s; since then all they've done is get bigger and heavier, the little wheels are bigger on some of the modern ones than the big wheels on your Ford. Only time I see the grey Fergies now are at a vintage vehicle rally, there's still quite a few of them in good working order; they look so small and lightweight now.

    Bracken will survive happily, sure they can stand a lot more than we can. Are the cattle looking happy in their winter quarters?

    Been showery, heavy showers with blue sky between, looks set for rain now.
    Raggy cat woke up and gone out.

  16. You're right Cumbrian, the permutations go on for ever. I suppose it's like what they used to say about cars. It depends what day it was built and what mood the car assembly worker was in. I suppose it also depends on their budget and the diner's and like you say what have they got in the fridge or market? Makes you want to make your own doesn't it?

    We racked the Saki today. It looked like a light brown flood water colour. Does this sound right? We managed to rack 3 bottles. Perhaps we never squeezed the rice and raisins enough? Anyway we made our first bottles of Saki. Just fourteen weeks to go until we sample it,can't wait. Going to make the mead tonight.

    I would imagine the French baguette and a glass would be the order of the day probably in some bistro,bar? The French are far more sensible than us and take a couple of hours off in the afternoon.

    Still see quite a few 'restored' grey Massey Ferguson's for sale. Most farmer's seem to go for big tractors now a days. Suppose it's a status symbol in the countryside these days?

    Cattle are fine Cumbrian. Big one's (Sooty and Ruby) keeping trying to push the bullocks away from the head-feeder and the silage.

    Heavy showers and very windy. Glad to hear Raggy cat is working hard and likes his afternoon stroll.


  17. I would have thought a bit more than 3 bottles, the brown flood-water colour isn't unusual, just needs a long time to settle. I generally squeze the lot thoufh a fine mesh cloth type thing, via a funnel, into a dj to settle, but I'm sure it should be OK in bottles, just have to be careful when pouring, or syphon it / pour it gently into another bottle to get rid of sediment. As long as you don't use second-hand corks, they don't recycle for some reason apparently, don't ask me why, if I ever knew I forgot.

    Suppose the bigger tractors and machines are a bit like the bigger cars and motor bikes, a rural status symbol.

    Think we've got the rain set in for the night.

  18. Perhaps I never put enough liquid in Cumbrian? We put a gallon of tepid water in but the rice and raisins seem to soak most of it up. Anyway I am more than happy to get 3 bottles. Made the Mead tonight and going to make the Jeddah gin tomorrow. Bought 2 demi-Johns today so the brewing tubs are free for the real ale kits I ordered the other day. Did you say the mead will be ready in 2 months or at least Christmas? I can't wait.

    Yes I agree the bigger tractors are rural status symbols. Iwonder how many are paid for or just leased? Credit and loans society.

    Been blowing a gale here tonight. Cattle locked in and given lots of silage in wall manger. Looks I will be able to clean their yard in peace without having to lock them in stall. The joys of smallholding!!


  19. Maybe the ground rice absorbed a lot, I usually get 41/2 to 5 bottles out of the gallon mix, losses on first pour into dj, then racking, then bottling.
    Hope the saki, gin and mead are ready for Christmas, but some things won't be rushed, settling sometimes takes for ever with some of them, occasionally one just won't clear, I've got a pear in bottles just doesn't want to clear at all, tastes not bad, just looks a bit murky.

    Yes, I suppose a lot of the heavy machines are leased, just like a lot of the fast powerful motor cars some people like to drive, I often wonder if it's a case of "fur coat and no knickers" as we say. Personally I'd rather have the little Ford paid for than the latest John Deere monster on lease, must be a headache wondering if there's gonna be enough next month or next year to pay it. Same with the BMWs and Mercs.

    Heavy rain all afternoon, stopped at present, river's well up and well coloured.
    Raggy cat just gone out.

  20. Mead made and bubbling well in demi-John in kitchen. Range should keep it nice and warm. Going to make Jeddah gin today. Hopefully courier will bring Scottish Heavy and Harvest Bitter today? Then we will have another eighty pints on the go. Still got nearly forty bottles plus 'pond water' (cider) ready to drink. Think we will stop buying shop bought beer very soon. Although its nice to top it up with some Theakstons or Newcastle Brown.

    I suppose it takes time to build up a wine cellar? So if we keep making different wines we should get there. I am really enjoying this new beer brewing and wine making hobby.

    Everything seems to be "ten bob down, rest to pay" these days. I was reading of a old farming couple in the nineteen sixties who didn't want electricity connected to their farm because they didn't want to be enslaved with a bill. Everything seems so expensive these days and unaffordable. Even a pint is nearly 4 Euros. That's why you have got to brew your own or buy cans from the supermarket.

    Rough and rainy last night. Dry but cold this morning.

  21. Good to hear it's set off well, nice to see a few big containers bubbling away converting easily obtainable raw materials to alcoholic drinks.
    Yes, it takes time to build a cellar up, a cool place is best, mine's in the garage, cool side of house. Just don't be forgetful like me and forget to label and date the bottles, I've got some I don't know exactly what they are, some wines don't seem to taste very much of the original ingredients. But once you've got a few batches in bottles, you sample different ones, you start to notice the taste maturing. Then you find a few bottles you forgot about 2 years ago covered in cobwebs, often tastes excellent.

    As long as you're happy with your own brews, why buy expensive canned or pub stuff? I occasionally buy a couple of cans, if we're off on holiday and staying in a hotel at the airport for an early morning flight, I begrudge £3.50 a pint for indifferent beer even if it is served in plush surroundings, and I still have to sit outside to smoke my cigar.

    It's a good hobby, once you've got the necessary kit it's cheap to buy the ingredients, doesn't need sunny weather, and you get something nice to drink out of it. Be prepared for the odd failure we all seem to experience occasionally, but I think most of them are down to poor steralising.

    Yes, I can remember a lot of farms here getting the mains electric about late 50s early 60s, they stuck the poles across the fields about 100 yards apart then, now they seem to be burying them all. Before that most farms used a diesel generator for running milking machines and household, it was knocked off at night and set off in the morning; the wife wasn't allowed to switch anything electric on in the house when milking was in progress as the milking machine took all the power, and you could only have so many things switched on at once. There wasn't that many appliances though. Most of them had the Aga solid fuel for cooking and an open fire for hot water.
    Perhaps the old farming couple weren't os daft, if they'd known how much electric was going to cost, and how dependant they'd become on it, maybe a few more people would still have red (or is it blue in Ireland?) diesel genners, Aga units and open fires.

    Miserable this morning, I call it a "not" day, it's not raining but not fine, not sunny but not overcast, not warm but not cold, not calm but not windy.
    Raggy cat in, last of the pork pie, milk and asleep on my computer chair, now moved to armchair.

  22. Hi Cumbrian,

    I am real enjoying making home brew and wine. This I never would have been able to do or even succeed at, if it wasn't for you and my old friend Pat's advice and encouragement. We have attempted to make kits in the past a few times and they never worked out right. I think now most of the kits had old yeast or we didn't sterilize our equipment properly. It's the patience bit that I hate. Isn't that like life though? Forever sat in God's waiting room. Waiting for the sun, waiting for crops, good news...? I wish I lived nearer to you so we could keep each other supplied with home-brew and wine.

    I do like to go in a pub now and again but it's just far too expensive. The nearest pub is at least 5 miles away and there is no public transport what so ever. So it's a taxi ride and you have to pay 10 Euros (about 8 quid) each way and then it's 4.90 for a pint a piece.

    Talking to a young man the other day. He says it costs him eighty Euros for a night out if he meets up with a couple of his pals and they start getting rounds in. Then it's a tenner a piece to go in a night club and another tenner in the kebab house and a tenner for a taxi home. Over an hundred Euros for a Saturday night out. Also if he meets a lass they still expect him to buy them a drink all night. Everything is too expensive these days and its about time the pubs got real and dropped their prices or else there will be none left soon. That's why you have to make your own ale isn't it? The down side of rural living is that you have no social life.

    Even Stanley stove uses electricity to run the pump for the radiators. Plumber told me the range could blast the gable off if we didn't put an electric pump on it.

    Think the poles and wires are a blot on the landscape (title of one of your favourite authors books) and you actually pay a couple of quid to have them on your land, every bill. Agri diesel is green and pink for fuel (oil) and cars.

    Smoked bacon (bought) joint and my Spring cabbage and potatoes for tea. Cold but dry at the moment.

  23. Yes, you've got it right, in my experience those are the 2 main causes of failure, so I beleive it pays to buy decent kits from a good supplier with a fast turn-over, and spend a bit of time steralising, the powder I get feom Wilkos in a little plastic tub, lasts a long time, works OK.
    Life's full of things we wish would take less time, most things really. With home alcohol production, the longer you practice the less patience you need, there's always last months / last years efforts to have a go at from your cellar (garage). Then even if you miss a batch because you're too busy there's something to drink.

    Yes, apparently the expected cost of a Saturday night on the town is about £80, as you point out, expensive drinks, entry fees, taxis and kebabs / Chinese / pizza. I don't think I spend £70 on my alcohol in a month, probably a lot less. Can't blame the brewers and landlords completely, the government takes an awful lot of tax from your pint, the anti-smoking laws haven't helped, and the Council health & hygeine man stopped a lot of pub food.
    Downside of home brewing, agreed is the lack of social life, we used to enjoy darts and domino nights, every pub had a team of each, sometimes more than one, and played in one of a number of leagues. So everybody got a home then away match travelling every other week (hired mini-bus usually paid for from team subs) and every pub got a turn at providing supper. The local breweries encouraged this and even sponsored the suppers by providing the landlord/lady with a cash sum to put on a spread. The local press ran a column for league results.
    Then came pool tables and pool leagues, stiil in the friendly competetive spirit.
    There was usually card schools in the bar, normally played for a few shillings, but some of them were serious gambling dens with many ££s won and lost.
    Then there was the pigeon men, they congregated in their chosen hostelry to set their clocks and discuss their birds.
    And fishing pubs and shooting pubs and gardening pubs and hound trailing pubs and rugby pubs just drinking pubs.
    Now there doesn't seem to be much of this left, the only busy places are either town centre plastic "fun" pubs or expensive restaurants with a bar attached.

    Weather hasn't changed, sausage, new potatoes and cauliflower with cheese sauce for dinner.
    Raggy cat just woke up and demanded bicies and milk.

  24. Thanks for that Cumbrian.

    I am really pleased that we no make our own home-brew and I seem to be telling everybody I meet that we have just made forty pints of bitter or the Jeddah gin. We are being asked in the supermarket:

    "What do you need all that fruit for?"

    I have heard that a pub landord/landlady makes two pounds on every pint. Don't know if this is true or not?

    Like I said before everything is far too expensive today. People have millstone mortgages around their necks, 2 cars, 2 sun holidays, satellite television monthly payments, credit cards and goodness knows what else. Also like you say you're not allowed to smoke and there is no transport to get you home or there, in a rural area.

    I some times think what is good about living in the countryside if you have no job, friends, country pub, infrastructure like public transport or a community centre. Apart from owning a smallholding and living in a beautiful and peaceful environment, there isn't a lot to be said for it. Saying that I wouldn't like to live in a city, even though you have got great infrastructure and you go to a good rock concert now and again. I suppose if you lived within walking distance of a village (with facilities) and there is a chance to make a living, you would be probably close to it. Anybody know of such a place? No I don't either.

    Been busy making the Jeddah Gin and your pork pie this afternoon. It looks great. Sadly we can't eat until tomorrow. Full report to follow.

  25. Pleased to hear you're enjoying the home-based alcohol production, it's just another rung in the self-reliant ladder, I'm always happier when I can produce something myself rather than relying on the system.

    Dunno what the pub makes on a pint, I know the first 20% is VAT, then another 44p (I think) is duty, so from your 4 euros, 50 cents duty and 50 cents VAT, leaves 3 euros for the brewer and pub to make a profit from. Knowing we can make good ale for 50 cents a pint, I expect the breweries can make it for the same or less, then they've got overheads and delivery, say another 50 cents. Leaves 2 euros, so without knowing costs exactly, you could be right. Personally I'd rather take a bit less per pint and sell a lot more, overheads don't increase with more sales.

    I think you've got to be born in a rural area to live there, the city person thinks completely differently. I've probably said it before, but I've seen a lot of city people move to the villages and just not be able to adapt to the lifestyle, what seems idyllic for a couple of weeks summer holiday can be purgatory in the middle of winter.
    It's probably a bit better now, with TV, efficient postal and delivery services, mobile phones and t'internet. I know my Mrs, being housebound, relies heavily on her lap-top to communicate, has a land-line and mobile within reach, and a TV remote by her side. Must have been worse not too many years ago?
    But there's still no employment to be had, and little chance to integrate if there's no communal facilities. Lots of local villages are just dormitories or holiday homes, you never see any people, if they go anywhere it's in their car, because rural bus services are a joke.

    Hope the pork pie turns out well. And the Jeddah Gin, but you'll have longer to wait to sample that.

  26. Pork pie looks brilliant Cumbrian. Will sample tomorrow after it's been in the fridge for the gelatine to set.

    I think rural life is full of problems like urban life is in different ways. Everything today seems to be down to money. You can have a good life anywhere if you can afford it. I suppose that is why so many rural houses are holiday homes or just for 'weekenders'.

    I often wonder what life must have been like with no electricity and just a paraffin lamp or a candle for your light in the winter time? Suppose people like myself have had a pampered life in the towns and cities with street lighting and every kind of infrastructure - especially transport.

    Pubs are a vital part of peoples lives. They are the hub of any community. Perhaps it's the Western way of life but you don't seem to meet people if you don't drink.

    Really pleased with the home brewing. Just wish we had a real ale pub down the road and some public transport to enjoy it.


  27. Yes, money certainly talks, but as Neil Diamonds lyric says "It don't sing and dance and it don't walk"
    Or, as somebody said, If you want to feel rich, count the number of things you have that money can't buy.
    Sadly though, it's impossible to live without it this day and age.

    Life must have seemed a bit sparse without electric, I suppose if you knew nothing else it wouldn't seem too bad, and electric is a relatively recent innovation, but now we're all pampered with it.
    Stayed in rural Normandy a few years ago in a gite, a converted farm building on a working farm in a tiny hamlet, it had 2 bars and a bakery but no street lights, black velvet sky with no light, stars look so bright. Gite had a walk-in fireplace with dog irons and a table big enough to plat snooker on. It was chestnut time, and the locals took a bag of chestnuts in the bar, the landlady did them in a frying pan on the open fire for everybody.

    They had pubs (ale-houses) long before they had electricity, and life continued, suppose they had big log fires and candles, they'd need something in winter.

    Be nice to have a few more of the village pubs back, but there doesn't seem to be the support for them, the combination of their cost, transport difficulties and cheap supershed booze have killed them almost completely. You're right, people don't integrate the same as they could in the local.

    Keeping cold now, dark's coming fast.
    Raggy came in, milk and biccies, back out.

  28. Thanks Cumbrian,

    You're right we all need money. If you pick up a smallholding or farming magazine they are full of adverts for compact tractors or some amazing piece of machinery or a cider press or something. It's so easy to get into debt with loans and credit cards or just running a smallholding. You could easily spend five hundred pounds a week on a farm.

    I love the picture you paint of rural Normandy. It sounds a wonderful place and the landlady sounds like an angel. France appeals to me very much.

    Cold today and the cattle are going through the silage much too fast. They also seem happy and content though.



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