Monday 30 July 2018

"Can You Ride Tandem?"

Rachel's been drawing some wonderful pictures (camper vans on precarious pinnacles..) of the Tour De France on her blog over the last week or so.  I mentioned the following TV chimps advert on a comment last night.  So I wonder if this jogs your memories.  I couldn't believe it was made in 1971!  

I think its time the chimps were back on our screens, don't you?  Wonderful tv advert nostalgia!

Sunday 29 July 2018

"Samosa Pie For Tea. Save All Your Samosas For Me."

We have been watching Nadiya's Family Favourites on BBC 1 on Monday nights, I think?  
The other week Nadiya made Samosa pie.  So we (the missus) made a Samosa pie for our tea.  If you go to BBC Food you will find the recipe there.  

I did help grow the peas, podded them, grew the onions and peeled them and I am still looking to purchase an onion gas mask. 

We didn't have a cake tin so we used a loaf tin instead.  Here's how it turned out:

We also had enough ingredients left over to make a small Samosa pie.  I really liked the pie.  The rest of the family thought it a bit too hot and spicy.  The wife says I have an asbestos mouth.  Just because I had hot spicy sauce with my pie!  

I left the small pie for a couple of days and it seemed to mature and tasted even nicer.  I love spicy food.  Just wish I could make a good Donner kebab.  Donna kebab?  Who's she! We make Shish kebabs but never really mastered a Donner.  Have you?  

Monday 23 July 2018

Under Our Hedge.

Apparently this summer, 1976 and 1941 are the warmest summers on record.  Although I believe it was 33 degrees in Kilkenny in 1887 or something?  

There are hose pipe bans in Ireland if your on mains water.  Luckily for us we have our own private well.  I dowsed it with my dowsing rod and the well borers drilled it 220 feet.  It's that good a well that it comes up the pipe without the need of the pump and we had to dig a trench and pipe a drain for it.  

Some of my new plant cuttings have still suffered and some have given up the ghost.  So the other day I decided to place some of them in trays on tiles underneath one of the hedges.  The cuttings, new plants love the shade and I water them every morning and night.

How do your plants cope with the sunshine?  The weather is supposed to change to more typical Irish mizzle this week.  The plants and the fields will return to their Emerald green and we can start moaning about the rain.  

Sunday 15 July 2018

Some Pictures Around Shaftesbury and Other Hardy Country.

Gold Hill in Shaftesbury.  Remember the Hovis advert?  I remembered watching the Grumble-weeds in Scarborough many moons ago doing Joe Gladwin impressions.  

Here's the Two Ronnies with their Hovis sketch:

 Tess Cottage.  We talked to the owners of this cottage.  Apparently Thomas Hardy walked up the lane and said that this will be the house where Tess (Tess Of The Durbervilles) lived.   It's your quintessential English chocolate box cottage.  The garden is a cottage garden with a mixed tapestry of perennials and shrubs... They struggle with heavy clay but its a credit to their labours.
Saw this wonderful sign and decided to take it for the blog. 
 Ox House or the Schoolmasters House in Jude The Obscure.  Probably the greatest book I have ever read.
The Dew Drop Inn.  Tess fans will know this place. 
Another Thomas Hardy Residence:  Riverside Villa - Sturminster Newton. 
Ancient flour mill - Sturminster Newton.

Friday 13 July 2018

German Pizza (Prog Rock Dawn Chorus).

If you have a glut of onions why not make yourself a German style onion pizza?

Homemade German style pizza.

Regular readers will know me and my old friend went to The Night Of The Prog Festival in Loreley on the Rhine last year.  It was three days of good old Prog Rock in a idyllic setting.  One afternoon I noticed 'onion pizza' for sale.  They cooked them in a wood oven and the main ingredient was (wait for it) ONIONS.

I decided to try  a slice.  It was very good!  There's was on a thick bread crust.  So the other day we had a go at making our very own German Onion Pizza.  If you want to give it a whirl.  Here is what you need:

We cheated an used a shop bought pizza base.  That cost 1 Euro.  Half a tube of  tomato puree (optional), two large onions (chopped or sliced, garlic powder, 200 grammes of diced bacon and 500 grrammes of grated cheese.   

Make your onion mix: Mix onion and bacon in a pan and sautee until soft.  

Method:  Spread the tom puree on the base.    Spread small amount of cheese over the puree.  Add onion mix then cover with remaining cheese.  Cook until brown and the base is crisp.

That's it!

A really cheap and unusual meal for about four Euro.  It fed two of us both!

Try it and let me know if you like it!

When I was on the camping trip in Wessex and County Clare.  We would be woke up every morning at four with the birds singing the Dawn Chorus for twenty minutes or so.  My friend would sometimes shout form his tent:

"Are you awake Dave?"

I would reply:

"Course I am.  I think the birds are putting on a Prog Rock concert for us!"

"Probably Dave!"

Talking of Prog Rock.  Here's The Franck Carducci Band who we saw last year at Loreley.  They are playing Cambridge Rock Festival this month, I think?  I love this track.

Thursday 12 July 2018

Another One Of My Veg Plot Inventions!

More Wessex Tales coming soon.

Light Bulb Moment!

Somebody gave number one son some wire shelves for the farmhouse the other week or so. 

Number one son must have decided that he didn't need some of the wire shelves.  So he very kindly threw them out the back door on to the lawn which is rapidly turning brown at the moment.  

I picked up the white shelves and thought about putting them on the scrap metal pile.  Then I thought: 

"No I will make a drying frame for my onions."

Like you do!

Remember the garden frame I made out of the recycled bricks and the shower doors?  I was too tight to mortar the bricks together, thankfully!  

So I lifts off the frame (shower door) and takes off the first course of bricks and lies the fridge shelves prostrate.  Then I place the bricks back on top of the shelves on one side.  

Then I lifted my Japs (Winter onions) and  topped and tailed them with a knife (spelled with a K)  and replaced the top (shower door).  Result = Bob's your uncle!  One vegetable drying frame for the grand total of nowt or nuffink!

There are lots of songs about onions.  Here's one of them:

Tomorrow: German Onion Pizza!

Tuesday 10 July 2018

An English Celtic Folk Punk Band.

After the concert in the Minster.  We went looking for another one of Thomas Hardy's houses that he lived in.  We asked a few passing people walking on the same pavement.

A nice young woman gave us the right instructions and sure enough we found Mr Hardy's house.  There is a blue plaque on the wall saying he once lived there.  He also wrote: Two On A Tower at this residence.

We stopped at a grocers come off-licence and bought a Cornish pasty each.  They were cheap but not half has good as the Dorset pasty we had in Shaftesbury.  That's another blog!

So we found our way to The Paddock.  This is an excellent outdoor music venue and we gained admittance for the princely sum of 3 Pounds!   Here's a few photos from The Paddock.  We bought some excellent pints of bitter made by Ringwood Brewery.  One of the beers was 5.1 or 5.4 me thinks?  The young woman who gave us directions to Mr Hardy's house served me my pints.  Small world!

The main reason we had visited The Paddock was to see an excellent Celtic Punk Folk Band from Bournemouth called : Blackwater County.  I think they would be a great addition to the Doolin Folk Festival line up next year! 

Talking of Doolin.  When I was there on the Sunday.  I met the main video camera man who wanted to take a video of me placing my hands on two pints of Guinness at the bar next to The Barn concert hall.   We talked about how Doolin was becoming very big and I told him Glastonbury started off very small.  The very first festival they let you in for one Pound and gave you a free pint of milk!  Any way.  Mr video man said my hands picking up the pints of black stuff will be on next years official Doolin Festival promotion video.  I am famous at last.  The last time I was on telly, was in C & A in Manchester.

Here's an excellent You Tube video by Blackwater County I found for your enjoyment.  Check them out if you want to see them live.  There are lots of folk and music festivals in Blighty this summer. 

Monday 9 July 2018

Moved To Tears In The Minster.

We stayed a day and night at Wimborne Minster Folk Festival on our tour of parts of Hardy's Wessex.  Thomas Hardy himself often use to sit in the Minster and contemplate.

We watched the excellent folk singer Amy Goddard perform some of her songs in a concert in the Minster.  One song of hers in particular moved me to tears.  I wasn't blubbing like a baby but the tears started rolling down my cheeks.   It was very heavy for me on a Sunday afternoon.

It's a beautiful and poignant song.  One of the comments on the video points out that it was the last day of the school term.  If you get a chance to see Amy perform in Blighty.  Don't miss her.  I will post a more cheerful blog tomorrow.

Sunday 8 July 2018

Looking For One Of England's Greatest Poets.

We had a few problems finding paths and places when we were looking around Hardy Country.  My friend is something of an authority on Thomas Hardy and we found a lot of interesting places off the roads and along the well beaten tracks.  

One place in particular that was difficult to find was Winterborne Came.  Its an old manor house and country estate and the village has been deserted and abandoned for the last two hundred years. 

In the end my friend knocked on a door of an house on the outskirts of Dorchester and a kind gentleman pointed us in the right direction.

You would find it difficult to find this finger-post sign if you were in a car.

We walked through a path along a wheat (or corn/) field without out a single weed in sight.

Came House.  Where the great Dorset dialect poet William Barnes was vicar of St Peters Church.  He was a friend of Thomas Hardy and would often walk the two miles to Dorchester to set his pocket watch with the church clock there.  My old friend sent me some of the photos he took to accompany mine.  Thanks!

 One of the estate buildings with a Gothic style building.

 Tombs from the Sixteenth century.

Inside St Peter's Church.

William Barnes memorial and grave stone.

Old walled kitchen garden.  No longer in production, sadly.

St Peter's church.  We saw lots of ancient churches.  I kept saying: "Real England still exists, doesn't it?"

William Barnes grave.  

Here's  a video of one of his poems I found on You Tube.  Thanks for posting these folks!

Have you heard of William Barnes?    I had never heard of him before. He championed the rural peasant and a way of life that's now gone forever , sadly.  Some people call him: "The English Robert Burns".  There is a William Barnes Society.  

Thursday 5 July 2018

Some Pictures From Hardy Country.

 Waterstone Farm.  The inspiration for Weatherbury Farm in Far From The Madding Crowd.  I could just imagine Bathsheba Everdene looking out of one of the windows and viewing her sprawling estate farm.
 Spotted this ancient sign.  Made when convicts could be still deported to Australia. Click on the picture to read the sign.
Max Gate and garden.  I could just imagine Thomas Hardy entertaining his literary friends.

Tuesday 3 July 2018

King Dock.

Hello and welcome from the World Weed Growing Championships in Pernicious town.

But seriously folks.  I was weeding a backyard/garden for a customer the other week and I spotted this specimen growing through the rubble of where an old shed use to be.  So I gently gave it a yank and a pull and I found the biggest Dock plant in Christendom.  What a specimen.  

Remember when they start televising the World Weed Growing Championships.  You heard of it here first!  

Sunday 1 July 2018

Plant Cuttings For Free.

Have you started saying: "Is it hot or is it me?"

They have introduced an hosepipe ban in Dublin.   Be careful the Hosepipe Police may arrest you for watering your plants!  They won't ban exhaust pipes and all the pollution the cars are making will they?

When I went to Dorset I couldn't get over how busy English roads are these days.  Especially walking along the A35 near Dorchester.  The noise and speed and rubbish in the verges was horrendous.  We met a decorator in a beautiful Victorian Anglican church who told us there would be no cars in one hundred years time.  I wonder what Thomas Hardy would of thought about it all?

Any way.  Before I went on my travels.  I made these Cotoneaster and Nepeta cuttings.  You don't need any special skills to make new plants.  Just some scissors or secateurs, compost, rooting powder and a lot of patience. 

Yesterday I potted on twelve new plants.  All for absolutely nothing.  I gave them a good watering and they are now on their holidays in the shade under one of our hedges.

What We Had For Our Smallholding Tea.

 The polytunnel and veg plot keeps on giving and we seem to be eating new spudatoes every day at the moment: Snowball onion, kale and new po...