Monthly Archives: June 2009

Dennington Expo 20th June 2009 – QUIZ!

The White Rabbit’s Picture Quiz

I have created a quiz for the Expo on Saturday. I hope you would like to join in, uploading has proved tricky so you may need to do some zooming, or click on the pictures to open in new window. To really take part you will need to come to Dennington on Saturday to find the two hidden clues. Good luck, feel free to post answers in the comments but I will only publish after the event. It will help you to know that the theme for this year’s expo is ‘Time’ If you tweet me I will let you know how many you have right, but not which ones.

White Rabbit’s Quiz – Answer sheet – inidcates number of words and relative but not exact length of words

1 _________ ___________ ______________

2 _______ ____________

3 _______ ____ _____ _____________

4 _______ ____ _______________

5 ________ ____ _____ ____ _____________________

6 ________ __________ _____

7 ________ _______ _________

8 ________ ______ _________

9 ________ __________

10 Fan __________________________________

Gloves ______________________________________

Wild Food Safari

I had been looking forward to yesterday since Polly Robinson first invited me to join their Wild Food Safari at Henham a few weeks ago. Despite a pessimistic forecast the worst we had was a strong breeze and the day bowled along to go with the weather. The Henham Estate in Suffolk is a beautiful location, wide open parkland just off the A12 near Southwold in Suffolk, setting of the ‘friendly’ festival known as Latitude which happens in

mid July. Yesterday though the parkland was empty, miles of open track to drive down to the meeting point under a tree, where coffee, scrumptious flapjack and juice were being served. A small contingent of us had ‘met’ on twitter but not face-to-face so “Oh you must be @goodshoeday and @essexgourmet” was not as bizarre a conversation as it might seem anywhere else. The organisers of the day were Polly and Tim Robinson of Food Safari UK they were charming, as was Hektor Rous who is back on this side of the world managing the estate. For those into local history, or even just interested in the way that these large estates and their families have their stories to tell, the section of the Henham web site on history is well worth a read; several of us present on the day live in Dennington so the estate history has added frisson.

Our wild food expert was Jacky Sutton-Adam, to twitterers @wildfoodie1. Jacky has a marvellous way with imagery that means that she provides a full sensory description of the plants that you are investigating. This involves not just the look, taste and smell of the plants but what they feel like and the sound they make when they are snapped in just the right place. Her website is rich with additional detail and well worth a review if you are interested in eating from the wild. Jacky was also full of good advice on distinguishing one plant from another and very sensible about the warnings; only pick what you know and only pick what you need. A wide

range of salad plants were found only a few feet from the car park, with the full knowledge that you had the permission of the owners and that the risk of contamination at the site was minimal. We were introduced to nettle, cleavers aka Sticky Willy, burdock, ground elder, ground ivy and elderflower. The great thing was that even for someone who has tried these before, another person’s take on the topic or the way they use the plants adds breadth to your own knowledge; Jacky even won me round on the topic of ground elder!

After the initial foray we moved on down to the edge of the Blyth estuary, where wild samphire and sea purslane were found and eaten. There is something very special about this area, combining the drama of tidal changes and the history of Black Shuck, having seen the musical last year in the park in Halesworth you could expect to see singing scarecrows and man eating black dogs at every turn. I exaggerate as usual; in the company of 20 very affable people it was a lovely stroll by the river and the succulent little pieces of samphire just thrusting up through the sandy water’s edge were a delight.

The whole party then moved on to the Anchor at Walberswick, where our hosts Mark and Sophie Dorber and their fantastic team had created a meal based on the wild food we had been examining. Before we ate there was a quick tour round their allotment to be introduced to other common weeds that were edible, including poppy and chick weed.

Lunch started with an elderflower beer, fresh asparagus and samphire with gram flour pancakes; these were an absolute revelation, beautiful little light finger foods, we also had hop shoot tempura. This first phase of the meal was taken outside but we then transferred into a converted outbuilding, with one long table set for everyone to eat together. After the second sample beer I found myself deciding a taxi or lift would have been a good idea and will go back to collect the car later, it would have been a pity not to take advantage of Mark’s skills in selecting beers to go with each part of the meal and to appreciate his knowledge of the whole brewing process. The main course was three cousins salad, carrot, coriander seed and fat hen leaves; chicken in the woods risotto (always going to be a winner with me), stir fried sea cabbage and nettle and feta flat bread. There was also a glorious leg of lamb, sausages and crab. The flavours were marvellous and the team had worked well to balance strong flavours and enhance or compliment other more subtle flavours to produce a remarkable meal. At no point did you feel cheated on quality or quantity, these ‘weeds’ had

been given full starring roles. Jacky spoke more about the plants at stages throughout the meal and Mark expounded on the beers. Desert was a sublime elderflower panacotta made by @mikewallfish with gooseberries; this was followed by a wealth of cheeses both local to Walbersick and from Jacky’s deli, from mild fresh cheeses to seriously strong extra-matured examples. The whole polished off with coffee. We stayed way beyond the time allocated, so huge thanks to all for their patience and conviviality; I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday.

WildFood Safari are arranging more days that explore the journey of food from the sea, field, vineyard or brew house to the table and it is possible to purchase vouchers, which would make a great present for any foodie friends.

Favourite Friday

This has been a fun week; started the new job, the garden is beginning to reach good level of production, Twitter freebies arrived, chat at the local school went well and some friends started to tweet, a little more of each below.

I will not be blogging much relating to my new jobs as there are some aspects of confidentiality etc that would make it inappropriate, but from the point of view of a sea change in career it feels good so far. The bike ride of 25 minutes to and from work is basically on the flat with a small stretch of rough track that joins two made-up farm tracks. At most I have seen three vehicles in any one journey; also hares, woodpeckers and squirrels; plus I can review the hedgerows for their current and future potential – urgent need to deal with some elderflowers (cordial, fritters, ice cream, champagne)

The garden is producing plenty of white onions and salad, although too much is bolting in the dry weather. I have resorted to the hose again as the water butts are dry. Rain is promised for the weekend. The strawberry hanging baskets are nearly over and the first of the alpine strawberries are colouring up. Pleased with the site of baby Kohl Rabi which I am tempted to eat small. The beans are climbing the stalks. Took a salad to friend’s this weekend which included large quantities of chive flowers, some sorrel and other leaves; seemed to go down well.

Twitter freebies this week have included @paddyandscotts coffee and @ethicalsoap foot scrubby and hand cream. Really pleased with these and will give feedback to the people concerned. The coffee was taken to the friend’s house and shared with girl friends, really good coffee their website explains more about how they started in the garage and moved on to processing various different coffees. The foot scrubbie is a slice of loofa impregnated with lemony smelling soap, tried it out in the shower this morning, it tickles! Allyson’s website describes her journey into business using excess goat’s milk from her smallholding.

This week also saw the ‘chat’ to the children at the local school. They will be working on posters to form an art wall at the village hall for the Expo on 20th June. The theme is ‘time’ and I included pictures of a watch, egg timer, ball bearing clock and the houses of parliament. We then went on a wander through Salvador Dali’s melting clock, Monet’s wheat stacks, Lowry, Breughel, Hopper and finishing with pictures from The Time Machine and of course the TARDIS. Huge thanks to @nettlecake who through a twitter conversation, helped me develop the ideas. I also explained the background to the logo above, designed by @flashmaggie, which includes the Sciapod, a figure that also appears on their school sweatshirts. It will be interesting to see the results.

Welcome to @cletrac and @LivingInPuglia if you look at my favourites you will find some interesting characters or just things that make me smile

Oh and if this all looks different to previous blogs, my first attempted to write in Word2007 blog template and load direct – wait for the crash when I hit ‘Publish’

Please comment – I like to know what you think

Recession and the rural economy

What do I know; I don’t have a degree in economics or a background in banking [would it help?].  However, many of you have been kind enough to ask how the auction went and I promised to expand in blog form.  The ‘Grand’ auction occurs in our village every two to three years; on the surface it is a fund raiser for the village hall.  Variously in recent years it has taken £800 – £2,000 pounds but herein lies the tale about recession and the local economy.  Part of the success of such an event lies in the following factors:

·         It is 60/40 or full donation, people decide to donate all the price of their item or to split with the village hall.  ~ It seems this year more people chose the split
·         People only put items in if they have something to give – if you have not bought ‘new’ you are less likely to donate ‘old’ ~ There were fewer quality items
·         ‘Traders’ only turn up for the sale day after the viewing, if there are several items to attract them ~ they didn’t stay
·         Any auction only works well if at least three people want the same thing and have a keen eye for its market value ~at best two – it was like pulling hen’s teeth
·         Folk will only buy the £1.00 boxes of tut (it’s a Suffolk term) if they feel they have cash in their pocket and are prepared to buy for the one thing they want. ~ We have a charismatic ex postman as auctioneer, he still managed to knock down a lot of £1.00 lots, the problem was the lack of higher value items.
·         People will still give but if you have followed Mary Queen of Charity Shops you will know about ‘moist’ items
We took about £1,000 not bad, but this takes four days of effort, people collecting items, lotting up, printing catalogues, being there on the day, redistributing the 60/40 money etc.; prior to that slips will have been printed and delivered to every house. 
I bought three hanging baskets – now have tomato plants in.  A tool box (but the lot included a gallery browser and a print which I didn’t need) and a misc box of children’s toys which included some jewellery findings and pliers, I will make wine glass charms; I gave the rest of the toys in the box to the children of a friend, who had bought two car loads of toys to sell (she loves me really, she must do, she gave me another hanging basket).
Was it worth it?  The profit will be lower this year than previously.  However, these events are about so much more than a sale.  The hall needs the money, the event itself brings the community together, and we chew the fat, catch up on information.  People who have only lived in the village for seven years meet people who have lived in the village for sixty-three years.  The people who have been auction porters before turn up and do the same again without question and new skills are passed on to ‘new’ arrivals (10 years) such as how to be the cashiers.  It is also, however tenuously about reusing/recycling so that which could have ended up as landfill might find a new purpose for a few years, before the next sale.
The bacon butties were great (my request, nothing like an auctioneer’s assistant with ketchup down her shirt).

And today’s photos? – just back from the pub where the local clog dancing Morris team were out and about.  So for my foreign readers, this is statutory wear in an English pub in Suffolk of a summer’s evening.
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