Category Archives: Auction

Dennington 60/40 auction – Saturday 19th May

Sad to say the tennis court in Dennington is in a very shabby state. Not much chance of any future British tennis champions coming from the village, nor any others improving their health by the sport if this is all the facilities we can offer. It is a huge pity because for a small village we boast a wonderful playing field, bowls green, children’s play area and village hall. So, a big fund raising effort is required.

There will be an auction on Saturday 19th May, starting at 10.00am (viewing Friday 4.00-8.00pm). People can offer goods on a 60/40 or full donation basis and some local collection is possible. It is an ideal opportunity for local people to have a good clear out and who knows what bargains customers may find. In previous auctions my best buy was a ‘mixed box’ which I sold on as individual pieces for a considerable profit with one item going via e-bay to Australia. Typically it is also a great way for people to fit up grandparents with bikes for visiting children or young couples to get some basic kit together for a new home. The joy is that like most auctions, you never know what you will find unless you get stuck in and take a look. All proceeds will go to Dennington Sports Club who are raising funds to replace the tennis court.

So why not follow @DenningtonAucti on twitter and view the twitpics on which will show some of the items as they are collected. In previous years we have had up to about 200 lots.


#Suffolkdiet – Road kill rolls and Heston vs Delia Desert – Earth Day

We have a little tradition round here, a group of friends take it in turns to host a supper when it is one of the group’s big ‘O’ birthday.  This was my chance; ever one to set myself a challenge, I decided to try to source all the ingredients from Suffolk.  This is how the meal went, there is a Spotify playlist to go with the post; it was Earth Day too, so celebrating all good things around us seemed particularly appropriate.

The opening gambit from two of the friends when they arrived was, ‘so are we going to have road kill?’ – Little did they know.

Being fabulous people the first thing they asked was, “is there anything we can do?” – I explained that the one product I couldn’t buy locally was Suffolk butter. I poured some cream into a jam jar and asked them to shake it whilst they talked.  Passing the jar from one to another; we could eat once when we had produced butter.

Starters: Platters –  Salami and Ham from Lane Farm Brundish, Smoked Trout, Mackerel, and Salmon from Pinney’s of Orford, Green Peppercorn Dressing from Suffolk Mud, Mayonnaise from Stokes; mixed leaves from my greenhouse and Road Kill rolls made with white strong flour from Maple Farm, Kelsale.

The Lane Farm meats are dry and not overly fatty so really tasty to eat, especially with something a little spicy like a mustard or the peppercorn dressing.  The Pinney’s smoked fish is delicious.  The fish is soft and delicately smoked, not overly flavoured.  The Road Kill rolls were bread rolls shaped like flattened hedgehogs.  Kelsale flour is not bleached, so even their white flour comes up as a brownish roll, perfect for hedgehogs.  The flour has a gloriously silky feel when you work with it.  I was caught out though by using too much water in the initial mix, so much kneading on a well and frequently floured board was required to bring it back to a good consistency.  I proved the dough over night and did a secondary shaping and proving in the morning.

Another time I would make the rolls smaller, they did look rather intimidating.

Amuse-bouche:  Weed shot.  I made a soup using, Jack-by-the-hedge, cleavers (aka sticky willy), nettles, chick weed, sorrel and land cress from the garden and the lane.  I served the soup by giving everyone a shot glass and pouring the soup chilled from a White’s pear juice bottle.  Variously described as disgusting, smelling like drains and quite nice; I think it is possibly an acquired taste.  I’ll drink the rest for lunch, I guess it will have cleaned the palate if nothing else.

Venus and the Hunter’s return: The main course was a variation on coq-au-vin.  Made with chicken breast, Shawsgate Venus, onions, carrots, potatoes, a good bundle of fresh herbs as a bouquet garni and some chopped pickled walnuts (walnuts from one of the friend’s garden) stirred into the sauce.  I was trying to keep this course low fat, so didn’t thicken it with a roux and used skinless breasts, the little oil I used to soften the onions was local rape seed oil from Hillfarm.  With hindsight this may have been a mistake, the chicken came up rather dry and I wish the potatoes had a bit of a crispy edge to them.  Another time I think I would use a deep casserole, slice the potatoes and do as a layered topping.  The chicken, potatoes and carrots are all from local suppliers and bought at auction at Abbots at Campsea Ashe.  As there were already some veg in the casserole I just served it with a huge deep dish of Birds Eye peas.  Now I can’t guarantee these were from Suffolk but there is a fair to middling chance they were; but equally that they may be the last ones we see.  I have previously written about the pea harvest in this area; what I didn’t know at the time was that just before this year’s crop should have been planted, Birdseye would pull the plug and not renew the contract. Some of the farmers will have planted beans or other replacement crops, but various contractors have been laid off and had to find new work, all at very short notice.

Cheese: I served, Suffolk Gold, Suffolk Blue from Suffolk Farmhouse Cheeses, Creeting St Mary, and Shipcord, Hawkston from Rodwell Farm in Baylham near Ipswich.  Trying to avoid biscuits, I served them with spiced pickled pears that I made last year and some spiced peaches from Laxfield that I won in a WI draw.

At this point a friend that I knew was going to be late arrived.  It was agreed that she should try the weed shot before being allowed to proceed, she correctly identified nettles as an ingredient.

Heston vs Delia Desert: I am not a great lover of puddings and often pass on them preferring to tuck into cheese instead; so deserts with me are always a bit of a risk.  I gave each person a small plastic tub and a pipette.  The idea was to build your own desert taking as many (Heston) or few risks (Delia) as you like from the following list.

  • Baby meringues, eggs from garden, Aspall Balsamic Vinegar and Billington’s Sugar, at the time couldn’t find British Sugar.
  • Marybelle Creme Fraiche, Yoghurt
  • Coffee Granita made with Paddy and Scotts, Great with Friends Coffee
  • Tea Granita made with Sencha Wild Grey tea from Butterworth and Son
  • Beetroot Jelly made with ‘Beet it’ from Whites
  • Coulis – Wild Blackberry and Raspberry from Whites
  • Chocolate from Hadleigh Maid
  • Walnut Liquor made with green walnuts from friend’s garden (which is what the pipette was for)

Throughout the meal the drinks on offer were Shawsgate Baccus 2004 and a selection of juices from Whites.

The meal was finished off with a gorgeous cake that one of the friends had made, fizz from another friend and there should have been tea and coffee but I think by then I had forgotten that bit – oops.

I am hugely grateful to Eat Anglia, who when I was having problems getting the Kelsale flour called and asked them to deliver some for me especially, that’s service.

Food Auctions– The country market

One of my indulgencies when I have time off is attending the local market at Campsea Ashe near Woodbridge, in Suffolk. When I first started attending this was a ‘proper’ auction market with cattle, pigs etc being brought in for sale. However, in recent years with the various diseases and changes in rules and regulations the majority of the livestock element has ceased. Now there is some dead stock (turkey, duck, chicken and gammon) a small amount of live poultry, some market stalls, a house clearance auction and my favourite the fruit and veg, sold by auction. Here a hardy tribe of Suffolk boys and gals, well above pensionable age auction items for a few pence to a few pounds.

There is witty banter, “who’ll give me 80p for a bunch of carrots – an’ they’re good ‘uns “

“Yuh goota be kidin Basil I ken get they in Tesco for 40p”

Of course we all know – a) you can’t b) these were pulled out of someone’s garden this morning or last night c) it’s all in the thrill of the chase. The challenge is also in snatching the definitive bargain, so people will refuse to raise the bidding above 40p if they think five minutes later they can get something for 30p. There is also the art of being the ‘under bidder’. This is the person

who helped raising the bids but stopped at the last minute. Where several lots of the same item are on sale and the winning bidder doesn’t take them all, the under bidder gets the second option. As the bids are called, small amounts of cash move from hand to hand across the hall; bags of tomatoes and bunches of carrots, gladioli and marrows weave their way from one part of the old pig stalls to another. Not all the items come from local gardens, some are the ‘run off’ from market traders who had stock left on a Sunday and don’t do a market on Monday so sack loads of over-ripe bananas can be had for a few pence too.

I made pints of tomato (40p a pound) sauce for the freezer, the carrots, cabbage, sweetcorn, cauliflower, were all used ‘as is’ during the week, the Sharron fruit (woppers 30p each) and avocadoes, kiwis were the basis for lunches and the peppers were turned into jars of roast pepper antipasti for sale, presents and home. The beetroot became part of a chocolate and beetroot cake.

Is it a bargain? – add in the travel, the cooking, the two or more hours out of your day…….. Of course it is; nothing in life is just about the money. I’ve been going here for over 20 years, some of the same faces are still there, buying and selling, ranting and bantering, I just wish I was free on a Monday more often.

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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