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Sunday, 16 October 2011

Last of the B&B... for now

Well, we're now back from our B&B experiment and I think we can say it went pretty well.  We even got an tip from one lot of guests.  And no, it wasn't "don't cook your mushrooms as much", it was a proper folding money tip.  We spent it on dinner at what used to be our favourite restaurant on St. Marys.  The restaurant still is lovely as it's right on the beach facing west so you can watch the sun set. It does lovely cocktails and used to do great food.  We both had steak which was described on the menu as coming with tomatoes marinated in balsamic vinegar with a blue cheese dressing.  So in my head I was thinking a rich, sweet balsamicy tomato mix with a salty blue cheese sauce.  No...the steak was lovely and beautifully cooked.  However, it came with sliced raw tomatoes and a big lump of blue cheese just sitting on the side of the plate.  The whole plate was then swimming in vinegar.  Most bizarre.  We, of course, told the waiter that everything was lovely when he came to ask.

Since returning I'm like an addict weaning myself off my Persil Hygiene heroin.  To help me I am using Persil colour tablet methadone.  One day I will get myself off my methadone - but it just gets my clothes so clean....

And oh, the most amazing thing happened when we got back.  It was if all the events in the Universe were coming together and showing us the path the true happiness.  There in our pile of post when we returned was not one but two Lakeland catalogues.  And there it was, page 28... the multipurpose squeegy.  I still haven't bought one but maybe I'll get one in my Christmas stocking.

And so here I am back in the real world.  No call in my new job, as yet, for the ability to time toast with egg frying or remove watermarks from shower doors.  But you never know...

Dulcie

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Burns update and more thoughts on eggs

Ok burns so far  - two small ones yesterday on top of the three I had given myself the day before I also, for some idiotic reason, managed to stick the end of one of my fingers in the hot fat today so can add that to my list of injuries. It is no wonder my Mother actually took out accident insurance for me for one of the many summers I spent working on our friends farm in Suffolk when I was a teenager! Also more split eggs this morning - like I said yesterday the most stressful bit of the morning! Any suggestions would be welcome unless of course they are just suggesting that I be more careful - about reducing the burning of the arms that is not how to stop breaking my yolks.

Talking of eggs again - not that I am becoming obsessed but I haven't done a boiled egg yet and was meant to have a run through the other day just to test the timings. Now do you put the egg in the cold water or do you have to put it in boiling water and then time it? You can't have a solid yolk egg for breakfast now can you. Nothing is simple really when you look at it and the timing is everything. Still I am hoping not to see it on the breakfast list. Talking of which I have to say I have become mildly fixated on it, we are forever popping our heads round the kitchen door to see if they have deceided what they want for breakfast. Some guests are very diligent and know what they want before they leave for the day while others write it up as they stagger upstairs to bed so we get a surprise in the morning. Dulcie shut the house up last night before coming back to the shed/chalet but hadn't looked at the list - I couldnt believe it I nearly sent her back to check but thought she might not be best pleased with the suggestion or humour me so I decided to keep hold of my need to know until the morning. Mind you I didn't sleep too well and am very tired today so perhaps it is praying on my mind while I sleep - kippers, croissants, full english or toast and cereal.

We did consider swapping our roles at one point but I have to say despite my constant concern for the quality of my cooked eggs I am quite enjoying the cooking. I think if we were here longer we would have swapped just to have a go at each role but since the hosts have gone Dulcie is in full swing with her witty comments and the guests are often to be heard tittering at her early morning humour.

Tomorrow is another big change over day. The family are leaving and we have four new guests arriving, two of which I have to go and collect from the quay and entertain all the way back here before handing them over to Dulcie for the official meet and greet speech. The car needs ridding of dog hair before then, we have the breakfasts to do and the rooms to change, plus I have to make a call about a potential job so its all go here tomorrow. My aim for the day will be to remain burn free and race against the clock to be able to get the two rooms done before Pop Master on Ken Bruce which starts at 10.30am.

Ok on that rather sad note I will sign off for the day and be back soon with more stories of eggs and the low down on the new guests - lets hope they tidy up their underwear before they want me to clean the room this time, though I have a feeling they will be of an older generation so dirty gap boxers and slinky shorts will not be lying around on the floor when I go in to make beds

Kathryn














Monday, 19 September 2011

Green-ish or brilliant white?

Well, as luck would have it yesterday the weather stayed clear and the white towels all dried.  As I went to the washing line to collect them I was taken aback by their brilliant whiteness and as I clutched one to my cheek to feel how soft they were I waxed-lyrical on their brightness and fresh, clean smell.  It was then I realised that I had become that housewife from the 1980's Persil advert.  As a nod to the environment I am an Ecover user at home so I am now used to my off-whitish whites which makes the contrast with the brilliant B&B whites even more stark.  Here in B&B-land we use industrial strength Persil and Vanish like it's going out of fashion and goodness does it make a difference.  I'm ashamed to say it but part of me thinks stuff clean waterways, I want brilliant whites.

Anyone who has attempted to go out with me after 10pm will not be surprised to learn that we didn't make it to the pub quiz.  The thought of getting home at 11.30pm, closing up the house, not being in bed until midnight and then getting up again at 6am did not appeal.  So instead we sat in bed with cups of camomile tea, the box of chocolates that last week's guest got us and the first episode of the new series of Downton Abbey.  I sometimes wonder at what age I'll have to put a stop to this hedonistic lifestyle and settle down a bit more.

Our guests were very kind to us this morning and 3 of the 6 ordered croissants - easy!  We then had 2 full english and a kippers.  We were so confident we even offered scrambled eggs to the kippers person in the morning and were able to rustle them up in time to go out with all the other cooked food.

After a week I have now perfected the shower cleaning.  It is now a very structured procedure which takes half the time of my previous haphazard approach and still gets excellent results.  It does require the use of 3 rather than 2 teatowels but I think it's worth it for the time saved.

I went to the gym again today.  It was busy - at its peak there were 5 of us in there.  I chickened out of singing Jerusalem before I left.  Mainly because it didn't really fit with the 'Ibiza Club Anthems 2010' CD which is played every single bloody day in there.  I only know that's the CD because the case is left on top of the dumbell stand not because I have suddenly become an expert in that club music.

This evening we are not even going to pretend that we might go to the pub.  We will probably stay in and watch two episodes of Dexter Season 4.  I tell you, it's going to be a rude awakening when we get back to little old quiet Brighton without any of this crazy nightlife.

Dulcie

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Scrambled, poached or fried

So we have settled in a bit to the routine now. However like Dulcie I have sustained a few injuries. Firstly the muscle in my arm hurts when I carry the hoover, when I lift a heavy kettle or iron - all of which I am doing on a regular basis at the moment. Also I got the layout of my cooking pans round the wrong way yesterday and the water splashed into the hot fat of the waiting frying pan and I have a few small burns on my left wrist!! Who knew that running a B&B could be so dangerous?

Dulcie has sorted out the dilemma of the Lazy Susan and mentioned the difficulties of ironing fitted sheets - they are definitely not on my list of things to buy when we get our B&B - right pain in the arse. Plus we have all these pristine white bottom sheets to try and dry - which we mainly do by ironing them and before you realise they are dragging on the kitchen floor and gathering all the debris the dogs have dragged in. We need a bed size ironing board - or I might resort to ironing the bloody things on the bed it would make life so much simpler. I have to think how long it took me to iron one sheet by the time I had ironed the same bit several times as I moved it deftly round the ironing board.

We had a change over day yesterday so had to go over the place with a fine toothcomb before our new guests arrived. They are all from the same family which is nice and we even got a lay in this morning as being such fabulous hosts we offered to do breakfast at a later time for them seeing as it was Sunday! I must say though the change over days are hectic with all the washing, bed-making, tray sorting and still all the other tasks and shopping to do. It is all go here believe me.

The most stressful part of the day for me is the 10 minute slot when I am having to do the eggs. All the rest is fairly controlled and I have not burnt any bacon since Monday which is a relief. Sometimes the food presentation could be a little better. The plates are so small and if there are three mushrooms, a sausage, a piece of bacon, a potato waffle and a fried egg to get on that is a lot of food to arrange nicely in a short space of time. Luckily so far I have not had anyone who has a thing about different food touching which a couple of my friends have an issue with!! Anyhow the eggs are the stressful bit as the pressure is on. Dulcie gives me the nod that they have finished their cereal and of course usually its two people who finish at the same time so its two eggs that you want going out together and then if its poached and fried well that is a nightmare. Two fried is ok unless you break one (or several) as I did this morning. I rapidly scrap out the broken egg (which ends up being part of my breakfast - waste not want not) and then have to get another one on the go asap. Its stressful I can tell you. Then a couple of times I have nearly dropped them off the edge of the egg slice before they have made contact with the plate.

However all that said we were complimented on our poached eggs on toast yesterday as it wasn't soggy. In a revelatory new method we actually drain them on kitchen paper first before putting them on the toast - can't think why other people in B&B's don't think of this. Perhaps I will write an article on it for B&B Monthly.

Kathryn

Green Energy??

So, as you may recall from the last installment, we had full house change over yesterday which resulted in a LOT of washing.  We are very green here at the B&B and have a solar powered clothes drier.  Unfortunately, we also have a lot of short but frequent rain showers.  This means that I have spent a large part of the day hanging up towels and removing them again from the clothes line.  I have totally given up on the tumble drier as the parcel tape which was 'fixing' the condenser leak has ceased to work completely.  I put the towels in the drier overnight last night and set the timer to start the drier at midnight in order to make the most of the Economy 7 cheap electric.  The drier stopped about 1.30am and then all the water in the condenser leaked back in to the drum to make the towels as wet as they were at the beginning of the whole process.  Arrrgghh!  Thankfully we currently have bright sunshine and a stiff breeze so I'm hoping the towels dry fairly swiftly.

The new guests are a very nice family.  Mum, dad, two grown up children and their spouses.  They were very good to us this morning and all asked for the ordinary full english - a breeze.  They even had breakfast half an hour later which meant I could watch the England world cup match whilst getting the breakfast ready.  However, I have a feeling in my waters that they'll be going poached and boiled tomorrow.

My knee is getting much better today - thank you for your concern.  However, I seem to have a shower cleaning related injury to my right hip.  I think it was when I was leaning in to polish the tiles at the back of the shower without standing on the clean shower tray.  I can't believe that I have a level 2 NVQ in health and safety (I really do) and I failed to do a risk assessment of bathroom cleaning.  What with my injuries and Kathryn's cooking related burns I'll be surprised if we make it back to Brighton in one piece.

This evening we're off the charity quiz night down the Scillonian club.  I'm aiming high but fear we may be average to mediocre as usual. 

Dulcie

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Lazy Susan - not so lazy

Having scoured the newspapers today it appears that all of the major news agencies have overlooked the top news from the B&B....  After an unprecedented number of comments on facebook regarding the need for a large number of condiments, especially marmite, at breakfast the lazy susan is staying on the table.  I would like to thank everyone for their feedback on this issue.

All of the guests from last week left today.  We even got a present from one couple and praise for the poached eggs from another - so we are well chuffed.  However, everyone leaving together does mean a three room change over!  The Cillit Bang and rubber gloves have been on the go all day but I think we are now ready to receive the next set of guests.

My left knee has been giving me a bit of gyp.  I can't decide whether I overdid my lunges at the gym the other day (yes, I am keeping up with my exercise challenge) or I'm developing housemaids knee.  After the amount of time I spent cleaning bathroom floors today I'm thinking it is probably the latter.  Nevertheless, I shall continue to go to the great little gym they have here.  It's just one small room with a few bits of equipment.  It's open from 12-3pm each day.  So far it's just been me, the woman that runs it and a couple of other women in their 40's there each day.  Now I've been a few times I'm being included in the 'gym chat' which goes on between them.  My gym sessions do feel a bit like a WI meeting with exercise.  Must remember to sing Jerusalem before I leave next time.

Tell you what's a pain - ironing fitted sheets.  They may well be a boon for the lazy bedmaker who can't be bothered with hospital corners but trying to iron those elasticated corners is a nightmare.  We have a mountain of damp bedlinen and towels
as it keeps raining as soon as we put it out on the line and the only tumble drier they have is one of those condensing ones and it has a leak; as a consequence no matter how long it's on for the contents remain slightly damp.

Again, I'm just waiting to greet the new guests and get them settled in then we are off for a well-deserved pint at our favourite pub.

Dulcie

Thursday, 15 September 2011

The B&B experience begins

Well its started finally. After about a year and a half of planning and discussion and the propect of the whole thing being cancelled at the last minute, finally we are here.
We settled in Friday to our 'shed' where we will be living for the next two weeks and then headed off into town for a beer.
Saturday morning was an early start (6am alarm going off) and we were to report for kitchen duties at 6.45am. It all sounds very official but really its all quite laid back. The owners of the B&B have been doing this for 27 years so they know what they are doing and have a good routine. It was up to us to take it all in in two days before they left us in charge for two weeks.
The host has a very good system for cooking and by the end of the morning we had a list of timings for everything from the time the warming cupboard goes on (its all mod cons here you know) to the time to remove the sausages from the oven and turn on the oil for frying eggs.
So that was that and all went well. We cleared the breakfast table and then had to start on the rooms. Well today there was a change over so I had a swift lesson in laundry, which linen sets to use in which room and how often to change them - I was a little bemused by the end of it but I am sure I can tell the difference between a valance and a bottom sheet.
Hoovering, dusting and trays done it just left time for a cup of tea and chocolate buscuit (diet starts when I get back). We were finished about mid-day so we went off for lunch and the papers to our favourite spot on Porthcressa Beach - Dibble and Grub.
After an evening of the start of Strictly we were up early again for more training. We had decided before we got here that Dulcie would do front of house, with her northern sense of humour and witty one liners we hoped she would have the punters chuckling away over breakfast. I was cook of the mess and in charge of running the kitchen. Well Sunday we still only had 4 breakfasts to do as the owners were staying in one of the rooms. One couple only wanted cereal and toast so the pressure was off, however that meant that we would have to face the onslaught of 6 breakfasts on our own. I will just point out at this junction that we have a strict regime here in that everyone has breakfast at 8.15am, there's no dilly dallying here and laying in bed til 8.59am to get to breakfast for 9 its strictly all come at once which is great until you have 6 cooked breakfasts all going out at the same time. However more on that in a moment.
Sunday afternoon we pottered in town after our hostess had made us a lovely lunch. We got back and helped with computer problems and also managed to cadge salmon sandwiches and more cherry pie!!
SO Monday the host and hostess were still here but the idea being we were left to it. Still only 4 breakfasts and still two wanting cereal and toast so only 1 cooked for me to organise. The methodical approach is a good one and everything generally goes to plan except then I suddenly realise I have forgotten to put something on or can't remember what the oven temperature should be! Anyway it all went fairly smoothly except that I burnt the bloody bacon - OMG well it was only a bit of the fat but I had to hoik it out from under the grill and find the scissors and cut that bit off. You know I cook bacon on a near daily basis at home and never burn the stuff unless Dulcie wants it that way (I always do everything she tells me). The first time I cook bacon using a grill and someone elses timings I bugger it up!! Typical.
However Tuesday arrived. We had 2 new guests in and suddenly kippers were up on the board and you know what happens when one person sees what someone else is having - they want it too. Luckily people put down what they want the night before so we know about this which was fine. Then one of the new guests also wanted poached eggs and so of course another guest wanted them, then someone wanted scrambled eggs so Mr Kippers also wanted scrambled eggs with his! Well I had been shown the poached egg device and in true perparedness fashion we decided to try it out on Monday evening so after eating the sausages that needed using up, I then poached an egg using this rubbery plastic thing but it took eleven minutes and we only had one - well I had seen on a cooking porgramme we were watching while in america, a woman who cooked her poached eggs then left them on a tea towel until they were needed and just immersed them in hot water for a few seconds. We tried that as well but the egg didn't look great, it took too long and how on earth was I going to get three done in time. So we scrapped that and went back to the old fashion way of dropping them in hot water and thought the presentation much more acceptable - you have to think of these things you know. So after sausages and sea beet, plus two eggs on the newly made bread I was a bit stuffed.
So Tuesday morning came and I was really quite nervous. As many of you know I have done a lot of cooking and for large numbers of poeple on occasions but cooking for people who are paying is a whole other stress I can tell you. The routine went fine and after much discussion about how to cook the kippers, for how long and where bearing in mind I had 4 poached eggs to cook as well as scrambled, finally we made a plan and spaced ourselves out.
The scrambled eggs went fine (we decided that the pinging of microwaves is  not a thing you want guests hearing in the morning so we cooked the scrambled in a pan) and so did the poached and I have to say I was quite pleased with them - not sure what the punters thought but they ate them and that is the main thing.
We both breathed a huge sign of relief when the final cooked breakfast went out and after the high five and lots of sighs of relief we got on with the clearing up.

Kathryn

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

B&B Begins

For anyone not keeping up, Kathryn and I are running a 3 room bed and breakfast for 2 weeks.  Our first day 'flying solo' was Tuesday.  We have absolutely no previous experience...

On Monday, by way of training, we watched 'Three in a bed', that programme where 3 B&B owners stay at each other's places and rate them. Unfortunately, one of the contestants was a slightly rough lady from Yorkshire who liked a drink.  As I couldn't relate to her in anyway I'm afraid I didn't learn much from the programme.

New guests for breakfast on Tuesday.  A bit younger than the usual clientele and with their fancy London ways and high expectations they asked for kippers, poached and scrambled eggs.  The guests write on a board what they'd like for breakfast.  So, of course, this opened the flood gates for more kippers and sophisticated egg cooking.  Unfortunately our 2 day training only covered the full english and fried eggs.  Health and Safety would have had a field day as we slopped pans of boiling water across the kitchen in an attempt to time kipper cooking with perfect poached eggs and not burning the scrambled.

I'm 'front of house' and after much studying of the table yesterday evening I perfected the placing of the toast racks today.  Due to poor placement yesterday I ended up having to do an extra rack and end up with cold hard toast that needed chucking away.  But as they say you learn from your mistakes and this morning was bang on with the toast - phew!

I'm slightly concerned that after only two days our conversations are based solely on the topics of towel changing, keeping the whites white and preventing water marks on shower doors.

Favourite job so far - squeegying the shower doors, everyone must get a Lakeland shower squeegy they are an absolute boon and so much fun to use.

Worst job so far - scrutinising towels for stains.  Actually the worst job is scrutinising and then finding stains.

Dilemma of the day - can you put yellow and white bed linen on a bed with a pale blue vallance?  We have and it looks ok, I think.

Just waiting for new arrivals and then off to the gym followed by sitting in the sun reading - it's all go!

Dulcie

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Cornish Ales

We are now back from the US and after a quick turnaround in Brighton, a night in Shoreham and a flying visit to Suffolk we spent our second night back in blighty at a pub with rooms in Newbury (halfway point between Suffolk and Bude). It was here that I tried the very good Wadworth Horizon. A light golden ale, very summery with a good flavour and a light hoppiness, a 4 out of 5. The next day we carried on our journey to stay with some friends in Bude, Cornwall. They recommended a shop called North Coast Wines in Bude for a great selection of Cornish Ales. After a very long browse round this great shop I chose 4. The first was a beer made by the Keltek brewery in Redruth and sold in aid of the campaign to save Bude's sea pool. It's called SOS Save Our Seapool. At 4% it was fairly easy drinking, not unpleasant but not much in the way of flavour, 2.5 out of 5. I tried another of their beers, Natural Magik at 4.5%. This was a vegan beer so hadn't used any fish derived finings and was true to natural methods of beer making. Again a nice enough beer but not a huge amount of flavour. Nice idea though so 3/5.

I'm a big fan of Skinners beers from Truro so I thought i'd try their new Skin Dog lager - an apr├Ęs surf beer apparently, 4.4%. A good flavoursome lager with a reasonable hoppiness but not as good as some of the American versions of this type of beer which, given the packaging of this beer, I'm guessing they are trying to emulate.

The final one of the 4 and the best was Badlands Bitter from Driftwood Spars Brewery in St Agnes. Absolutely top notch. A lovely dark bitter with sweetness then the roasted almost coffee flavour followed with a decent but not overpowering hoppy bitterness then lasting sweetness. A thing of beauty. 5 out of 5!

From Bude it was in to a little village outside Helston in Cornwall. The New Inn in the village provided me with my Rugby World Cup beer of choice (if only the matches weren't being played at 7am). Skinners have done Splendid Tackle for the rugby and it's perfect. Light golden in colour, just over 4%, a proper yummy beer that you can happily sip through the matches. 5/5!

As I was near Truro it would have seemed rude not to pop into the Skinners brewery. I have tried all their beers before so I went for some other breweries beers. Another Driftwood Spars beer and a mild with a label that had been printed on someone's old home printer. I love a mild so was excited about this one. But although it was in date it was off, that lemony sour off taste. Very unfortunate. So then I tried the Driftwood Spars - off again. I was so disappointed after drinking the nectar that was their bitter. I'm thinking that Skinners are sabotaging the other breweries beers so theirs seem better? I also took a chance on a very odd sounding beer. It was new in (so not enough time for it to go off fortunately), a pale ale flavoured with lime, chilli and ginger. I reckoned that it would either be lovely or absolutely appalling. Well.... it was lovely



Beer: organic golden pale ale with lime, chilli and ginger
Brewer: Atlantic brewery, Newquay
Country trying in: UK
Town trying in: Wendron, Cornwall
Where purchased: Skinners brewery, Truro
Date tasted: 7/9/11
Package type: clear bottle
Best before date: may 12
Size: 330 ml
Alcohol by volume: 5.5%
Tasting temperature: chilled

Appearance: cloudy, straw coloured

Aroma: citrus lime and light hops

Flavour: starts gingery with a lime citrus refreshing taste, then a light bitter hoppiness and then finishes with warm chilli

Overall impression: surprisingly lovely. I had anticipated over flavoured nastiness but the flavours were all very subtle and complemented the beer as a whole. Really good.

Rating out of 5: 5

Next stop is the Isles of Scilly for more Cornish brews and their very own Ales of Scilly.

Cornish Foraging

So finally we are home and back to familiar foraging territory. We landed on Tuesday morning of last week after three hours sleep. We collected Agnes from Reading then drove down to Brighton to do a swap over of stuff in preparation for the final leg of the adventure.

It's a bit odd going in your house when someone else is living in it so we kept the time to a minimum. However due to the lack of sleep and planning on my part I forgot lots of things like checking the post, my foraging bag and a couple of books. To be fair I often take a small library on holiday with me and then wonder why when I remove the books from the bag when I get home never having touched them since they were in there. So we got that organised which was a lot easier than we had expected as after several calls to the Isles of Scilly we established that we were not camping and also that the time we were there would be shortened. We decided that we wouldn't camp due to the amount of stuff you have to take and seen as we didn't have to camp at theB&B,which had always been the original plan, then we decided to get a cottage for a few days after having a longer visit with Krista, Nigel and Zinzan.

So we stayed Tuesday night with the lovely McAulays and also collected Finny and then headed off early on Wednesday to Suffolk to visit my Mother. After the usual delays on the M25 we had our fish and chip lunch and headed off about 6 after some face time with my Brother.

As you will no doubt have noticed by now there has not been a lot of foraging going on. After deciding that having meals with multiple wild foods in would be easier I was having a few days off as it was difficult to cook while all the travelling was going on. However on Saturday I got back into it. Having had a wonder round some woodland with Zinzan and collected all sorts of completely inedible things there were plenty of edible weeds in the fields so had pineapple mayweed and dandelion leaves in my salad. Not realising until recently that you could eat the mayweed but remembering the smell of it was so familiar from childhood days on the farm walking through great clumps of it and that familiar smell coming off. It still surprises me how much it smells of pineapple.

The dandelion is a familiar plant to us all and one I have eaten for years. Not a huge fan of bitterness unless it is watered down but sweeter salad leaves both this combination were quite nice in a bigger salad and. It was good to finally have some wild food after quite a long break.

I was hoping to have had some more fish to add to the protein list and we took Zinzan on his first fishing trip. However Bude breakwater is a difficult place to fish from unless you are fond of dragging mackerel feathers over lots of rocks and constantly having to untangle them. The fishing blogs said you could fish from half tide but no doubt you need to be a better fisherwoman than I to prevent lots of tackle ending up in the sea. No fish supper for me then!

Sunday I had honeysuckle flowers. I had tried them much earlier in the season and found them quite bitter but by this time of the summer, or Autumn for those who follow the meteorological definition of the start of this season, they taste much nicer. I have seem a picture on Ferguson Drennan's website where he is collecting large numbers of honeysuckle but I am not sure what he has used them for so will look that up for next year.

Monday we relocated to what felt like yet another holiday within a holiday,to Helston, where we have rented a small converted barn for 4 nights. We are in a place called Lower Boscadjack in a small yard with two other rental properties and the owners house. We are both very glad we are not under canvas as the weather has been less than kind. However we have so far had time on some lovely beaches and I have now been to St Ives, which is very busy but we are already planning a winter break when it is less hectic with tourists.

I took the dogs down the lane for a wander yesterday and was delighted at the large amount of sorrel that is here. When we stayed down here a couple of years ago I remember then how easy it was to collect. Alas I have had that so it is off the list.

We spent Tuesday in Truro and I got myself a pair of Keen walking boots in a sale which was very fortuitous. After a wonder round and the obligatory coffee (chai latte for me) we headed to Skinners Brewery so Dulcie could stock up on new beers and then decided to head up to Penhale sands with the dogs. Well of course they loved it and went nuts so two tired dogs was the result. We then headed back toward home and stopped off at the local for a swift one before getting home. No wild food today and knave some catching up to do!

Wednesday we went to St Ives as I had never been. Great place and would love to go back for a week in the winter when it's a bit quieter as it was slightly busier than we had anticipated. We were lucky with the weather and the beaches and narrow streets were very hectic. I finally did some foraging in Hayle on the way back as there is an estuary there. So along with my cold chicken I had Marsh Samphire and some Spear Leaved Orache. I also did the foragers emergency stop, which Dulcie always loves, on the way back home and got some newly grown Comfrey so did that with some onions and peanuts (a recipe courtesy of Roger Phillips in his Wild Food book). I think there is some debate about eating comfrey and whether doing so is safe but to be honest the small amount I have didn't concern me much.

So that wraps up the foraging in Cornwall and the next leg is the Isles of Scilly.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Finishing off in America

Ok so it's been a while since the last blog entry. Have had a hectic time since we got back but before i get to that let me finish off the trip.

The hurricane was causing lots of problems while we were there and purchasing of lots of hurricane preparation equipment was going on while we of course were buying shoes!! Having not experienced a hurricane since the one that hit the UK in 1987 which as some of you will remember was not predicted and therefore not something anyone prepared for ( and which I slept through I seem to recall) we didn't know what all the fuss was about. It is difficult to know how much of the hype was just that and how much was paranoia after Katrina. Anyway as it turns out we were under prepared as we ran of of beer which wasn't a problem for me but was a near disaster for my companion! As far as I was conceded the worse thing was that the generator only powered certain essentials like lights but not the cooker which meant I could boil the kettle but had to do it in the microwave. Well quite frankly getting a rolling boil in the microwave is difficult enough and then you end up with fizzy water when you put the teabag in. Not good.

So to the foraging and wild food. Well I picked the foxtail on the Wednesday and left it to dry out for a few days. I then just rubbed it and most of the sees dropped out but if I rubbed it too hard I ended yo with some of the spiky hairs as well which I figured would go too well in the biscuits. After a little sorting I managed to find a coffee grinder in a box that should have had a cafeteire in it. Anyway the green powder was ready and I found a basic recipe for butter thins and just substituted some of the flour with the foxtail flour. I have to say I thought they were lovely biscuits and had a nice nuttiness about them. Obviously in the interests of research and to check that the product was up to scratch I had to consume most of them though I think Dulcie got one or two of the dozen that I made!

I finally got to try the Asiatic day flower which was also lovely. A great salad vegetable and tasted a bit like runner bean but without the stringy-ness. Shame I only tried them on the last day but definitely one I would add to the regular list.

Well foraging in a hurricane was a bit difficult - I did find two small puffballs but when I opened them they were already spore like and about to puff! So that was it for my foraging in America. After I got the app it got a lot easier and I have enjoyed finding new plants that I had never heard of and i am obviously still here to tell the tale which is good. Back to the UK and more familiar ground but I will try to find and cook a few things I have not tired before.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Beer tasting through earthquakes and hurricanes

Bring on the earthquakes, the hurricanes, whatever you can throw - nothing will stop this intrepid beer reviewer. So here I sit watching the effects of the hurricane writing the beer blog. I've got a bit behind with the blog as I have been thoroughly engrossed in 'gone with the wind' which I've been reading. I finished it yesterday so can return to the blog. I have tried a number over the last week without having my beer review template to hand so soe may not get the full description an review they deserve. However, I hope you'll get the idea. So to the first beer. The Landshark lager - apparently from the Budweiser stable. It turns out that when it came to making Landshark they had run out of hops, barley and yeast so they just mixed fizzy water, sugar, added a bit of colouring and, voila Landshark lager - a very generous 1 out of 5. So returning home from dinner where I had the Landshark I thought I needed something with a bit more oomph so I decided now was the time to try the 4th and final beer from the sierra Nevada beer camp case, the Juniper black ale

Beer: Juniper black ale
Brewer: Sierra Nevada
Country trying in: USA
Town trying in: Arnold
Where purchased:
Date tasted:
Package type: brown bottle
Best before date: ?
Size: 12 fl oz
Alcohol by volume: 8%
Tasting temperature: chilled

Appearance: black, light bubble rise

Aroma: slight citrus, chocolate and coffee

Flavour: slight sweetness and chocolate then coffee then really heavy hoppy bitterness into more coffee

Overall impression: again a really clever beer but the hoppiness and alcohol level were just too much for me

Rating out of 5: 3.5

After the devastatingly weak to the formidably strong I thought something in between might be better so later in the week I started on the mixed 6 pack I got in Annapolis. I began with the Ubu ale

Beer: Ubu ale
Brewer: Lake Placid craft brewery
Country trying in: USA
Town trying in: Arnold
Where purchased:
Date tasted:
Package type: brown bottle
Best before date: ?
Size: 12 fl oz
Alcohol by volume: ?
Tasting temperature: chilled

Appearance: dark red with light bubble rise

Aroma: sweet honey and apricot

Flavour: mild astringency then honey and mellow bitterness followed by a lasting sweetness

Overall impression: pretty good ale - described on the bottle as an English style bitter and it is, sort of, I guess. English style in the Dick van dyke in Mary poppins English style.

Rating out of 5: 3.5

Over the week I also tried the rest...

Beer: longboard island lager
Brewer: kona brewery, Portsmouth, NH
Country trying in: USA
Town trying in: Arnold
Where purchased:
Date tasted:
Package type: Brown bottle
Best before date: ?
Size: 12 fl oz
Alcohol by volume: ?
Tasting temperature: chilled

Appearance: light golden

Aroma: light citrus and hoppy

Flavour: refreshing lively fizz, light hoppy bitterness followed by a slight astringency

Overall description: good refreshing light lager

Rating out of 5: 4


Beer: helles lager
Brewer: Fordham, Dover, DE
Country trying in: USA
Town trying in: Arnold
Where purchased:
Date tasted:
Package type: Brown bottle
Best before date: ?
Size: 12 fl oz
Alcohol by volume: ?
Tasting temperature: chilled

Appearance: deep golden

Aroma: slight hop and banana
Flavour: fairly fierce fizz, a sweetness then lasting light bitterness with some more sweetness

Overall impression: not particular flavoursome but a nice mix of bitter and sweet

Rating out of 5: 3

However the best of the bunch which I drank whilst eating hard shell blue crabs was the Chesapeake pale ale - and foolishly I didn't record my review at the time. But it was a definite 5 out of 5 with lots of flavour and just the right amount of bitterness. Top notch!



Friday, 26 August 2011

Keeping it American!

So I have, to use a nautical expression, changed tact slightly. Rather than perhaps trying the different wild food every day I thought that perhaps a bit like Dulcie i could have several wild foods on any given day that would cover several days, especially if aim having salad for example. That said Saturday i was still on the hunt for the days food. We had been told that we should find something called sassafras in the garden and that it could be used to make tea or root beer. The plant has three distinct leaf shapes so is quite easy to spot,one is just an oval shaped leaf, one looks like a mitten and the third has three sections (clearly I haven't read the botany book that I brought with me as yet!) anyway you get the gist of it. We saw some of these at the top of the drive so removed several of them. However the lemony smell of damaged leaves or the root beer smell of the root wasn't there but I took them anyway.

I made a simple tea with the leaves and tried it but it wasn't all that so after reading on my app about trying to get the caduim of the plant out I was a bit stumped as I didn't know what that was. Apparently it's the gooey bit just under the bark that transports nutrients around so I dug that out and put it on to boil with some of the bark. It was at that point that Jory arrived as we we're having a proper Maryland crab feast that evening. She looked at my concoction and told me it wasn't sassafras and we went into the back garden and found the proper stuff which instantly smelt of root beer and the leaves smelled lemony. The tea from both was lovely but I am still stumped as to what the other was as it had the three different leaves on the same plant. Still I know now what to look for. Oddly enough the day after I was first told about sassafras it was mentioned in Gone with the Wind which Dulcie is currently reading - how odd!

The new app is proving very useful as I would never have found Sunday's plant without it. Asiatic day flower which as it's name suggests only flowers for a day. There are lots of them at the top of the drive so I am having them in a salad today (Friday) and will report on the flavour later.

Monday was more fishing. I hadn't been up early enough for a few days with some spare time to go and have a go but this morning Dulcie was still snoozing and showing no signs of rousing so I thought a spot of fishing would be a good plan. I set up the night line but that wasn't attracting any attention so got on with some casting with the lure. The first cast brought me a baby striped bass which went straight back. Then a few minutes later when I was fiddling about with the lure just under the jetty something bit and we had an interesting little struggle before I brought it up on the jetty. Well it wasn't a bass or a perch it was longer than they were with a long head. It was on later inspection that i confirmed it as a chain pickerel. I knew it belonged to the pike family and must admit was a little wary of it due to the number of very sharp teeth it had and the reputation that pike have for being viscious. Even if I couldn't eat it I was going to have to kill it to get the hook out that it had swallowed. Well I also vaguely remember that they are difficult to dispatch and that was true enough. At this point Dulcie arrived and we both donked it on the head in order to speed up the procedure but it still kept twitching more than other fish that l have previously dispatched. The teeth were also putting me off. Anyway obviously it eventually stopped moving and removed the hook and carried on. Not long after I caught another perch so was happy with my morning catch.

Tuesday we went to Washington DC to be tourists. For the capital city of such a big country its not that big a city but very different to NY which is the only major US city I have to compare it to (I fell asleep on the drive around LA!!). We took an open top bus tour and saw some of the famous memorials. Unfortunately the long reflection pool you see in Forest Gump that runs from the Washington memorial up to the obelisk was being dug up so no reflecting going on there. We then went to the White House and got some of those great at arms length photos of both of us outside.

I saw some wild spinach - that is what they call fat hen over here but with the heat it would have been a little buggered by the time I got it home. There were a few other common edible weeds along the National Mall but today was not a foraging day.

The big news though is that while we were sitting having lunch we experienced what I initially thought was the guy sitting next to me being annoying and tapping his feet rather heavily but turned out to be a 5.8 scale earthquake!!! OMG. Well obviously this was big news so suddenly the calm background music that had been playing in the restaurant disappeared and a very loud CNN came on which then continued to play through the rest of our lunch and until we left.

Washington went into pandemonium and buildings were being closed left right and centre so of course by about 3 pm a very premature rush hour had started. We wandered back to pick up our sightseeing bus as we wanted to go to George town but basically the place was in grid lock. Most of the normal buses that came by were out of service and our sightseeing bus was no where to be seen. We then walked alot, found out the underground was still running but very slowly and eventually got home a little later than we had planned.

Wednesday we took Charley (the dog we are looking after) to Greenbury point with lots of foraging opportunities. I gathered mile-a-minute which is a creeper that had almost symmetrical triangular leaves and amazing barbs on the stalks but had a lemony almost sorrel type flavour. I also got some red clover for my salad and some young Greater Plantain. Finally as a bit of an experiment I got some foxtail which is a grass with this funnily enough foxtail like seed thing at the top (really should read my botany book it would make me sound so much more knowledgeable). Anyway the idea is you grind the seeds and can mix them with flour to add a nutty flavour.

I mixed the mile a minute with onions and flaked pickerel ( which is a labour of love bearing in mind how many small annoying bones they have ) and that was lovely, and then had the clover in with my salad. The foxtail seeds are drying in a bowl on the window and I will attempt to do something with them today.

Finally we get to Thursday and it was time for more seafood. We drove toSalisbury to see a friend of mine who has lived out here for about 11 years. Charley came with us for the trip and we sat outside in 85 degrees and had lunch! I had clams which I was bit dubious about but actually covered in a bucket of butter and several buckets of garlic tasted lovely. I would quite like to try clam chowder but Dulcie reckons it's more of an autumnal thing so that may have to be another time.

So we are pretty much up to date now. I will report on the Asiatic dayflower and the foxtail biscuit experiment in due course but will leave you for now and hope to return after surviving hurricane Irene which is making it's way up the east coast of the US!

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Summer drinking

The weather has cleared up a little now which has meant a few more trips out and the discovery of a liquor store in Annapolis which does a mix your own 6 pack. So I did. I have been a little more sensible and selected some lighter summer drinking beers this time. The better weather has been great in terms of getting out, however it has curtailed my beer drinking as alcohol consumption and car driving shouldn't be mixed. However I have managed to sneak in one of the summer ales, a pleasant if not overly exciting Samuel Adams summer ale.

Beer: Summer ale
Brewer: Samuel Adams, Boston
Country trying in: USA
Town trying in: Annapolis
Where purchased: mills wine merchant, Annapolis
Date tasted: 16/8/11
Package type: brown bottle
Best before date: ?
Size: 12 fl oz
Alcohol by volume: ?
Tasting temperature: chilled

Appearance: light golden, slight foam, swift bubble rise

Aroma: hoppy and mild citrus

Flavour: lots of fizz, starts citrusy, mild banana and light bitterness with a lasting sweetness

Overall impression: nothing out of this world but decent flavoursome summer drinking ale.

Rating out of 5: 3


I have also been to the Middleton tavern - a proper ye olde tavern in Annapolis dating back from the 1600's. I tried a couple of their draught beers but foolishly forgot to take my tasting notes so the reviews for these 2 are a bit poor. I tried the Middleton Oyster ale. A darkish amber ale with a slightly odd astringency, almost rubbery mouth feel and a little over sweet with a bitter that jarred rather than complemented. Not bad but I wouldn't drink it again, 2.5 out of 5. The other beer I tried was the Yuengling traditional lager. A dark golden, a pleasant flavoursome lager but not nearly as good as a Brooklyn lager in my opinion, 3/5.

The good, the bad and the ugly

So the weather so far has not been the hot sunshine i'd been hoping for. In fact conditions are somewhat monsoon like. However, every cloud and all that means that the the weather has been more conducive to me trying the crazily strong beers. I started 'light' one evening with the weizenbock at a mere 6.8%. Described as a Belgian style it does indeed have leffe type qualities, not bad. I also tried the double IPA at a whopping 8.5%. Now I'm not one to give up on a beer easily and I'm no wuss. I did try hard but I'm afraid I found this utterly undrinkable.

Beer: weizenbock
Brewer: sierra nevada
Country trying in: USA
Town trying in: Annapolis
Where purchased: bay hills liquor store
Date tasted: 15/8/11
Package type: brown bottle
Best before date: ?
Size: 12 fl oz
Alcohol by volume: 6.8%
Tasting temperature: chilled

Appearance: dark Amber, cloudy, light bubble rise

Aroma: sweet, banana, hoppy

Flavour: sweet and light hoppiness with then a big hit of banana and lasting bitter sweet combination

Overall impression: very Belgian. It has that sweetness and banana-ness with the alcoholic strength. Pretty good.

Rating out of 5: 4



Beer: double IPA
Brewer: sierra nevada
Country trying in: USA
Town trying in: Annapolis
Where purchased: bay hills liquor store
Date tasted: 15/8/11
Package type: brown bottle
Best before date: ?
Size: 12 fl oz
Alcohol by volume: 8.5%
Tasting temperature: chilled

Appearance: dark golden, light bubble rise

Aroma: hoppy

Flavour: starts with a nice astringency and citrus notes then a hoppiness, then more bitter hoppiness then more, then more that fills the mouth and nose and lasts and lasts

Overall impression: very cleverly done and if you like hoppy bitterness then great but this was just way too strong on bitterness, hops and alcohol for me

Rating out of 5: 3.5

Oyster shooters and catching fish

Ok before I forget I left out Sundays wild food and had skipped to the excitement of mint juleps while forgetting that on Sunday found wood sorrel but not the same species as we get at home but a yellow wood sorrel which grows in the same habitat but rather than just being individual stems it grows in a branched manner so you get several leaflets on any one plant. Still the same taste so I had this on top of my salad.

So Monday was mint juleps which were great and Tuesday was the first wild protein day. Admittedly it wasn't very hard in terms of having to use my foraging cunning but crabs are wild food and being in Maryland it would be impossible not to eat them. On our first trip into Annapolis on Sunday we had seen a big queue outside this deli on the high street. It looked quite cheap but there were just loads of people waiting outside for a seat so we decided on Tuesday we would investigate and it's here we had 'the best crab cakes anywhere - better than the best' in Chick and Ruth's Delly (their spelling not mine!). They were good i have to say but then haven't eaten many to compare them to. Easy foraging and some no doubt would suggest a cop out but then I do intend to catch my own at some point while i am here. We went out sailing on Tuesday evening which was fabulous and a great way to spend an evening. We were talking about fishing and asking what people use for bait and basically it sounds like anything will go.

So on Wednesday I decided it was time to try out all the fishing gear that is lying around here. I took two rods down to the little jetty at the bottom of the garden along with some left over fried chicken bits and loaded up one of the rods that had a very interesting rig on it with two arms that stuck out at right angles and various beads and stuff on it ( you can tell I get very technical when it comes to fishing). Anyway several casts of that didn't bring very much so I had a go with the simpler looking rig on the other rod. Unfortunately got that stuck on the bottom and it came off so that was the end of that. Luckily a small boat came past with a couple in it who were having considerable success and I managed to ask what they were catching, whether it was edible and what rig and bait they were using. They were just using lures and not bait and we're generally catching White perch which according to them were some of the best eating out of the bay ( Chesapeake Bay that is). I tried another type of rig but had no luck and we decided we needed to go out but thought would also try a trick I was shown on the course I did with hunter gather cook Nick Weston when he showed me about night lines. On the course we made a simple rod from a straight bit of hazel and tied a line and hook on. After throwing out some bait we tied a worm on, cast it into the lake and sunk the pole into the bank and left it. We came back and found a large carp attached to it so thought would try that here. Hazel is not in abundance here but luckily bamboo is, so I found a suitable piece and set up the line over the water and off we went to The Internet cafe for a few hours.

We got back from the cafe and I needed to find something for my days wild food. The one thing I have found about the states is it's difficult to find areas that aren't someone's property. There aren't often pavements so the edge of land where some weeds may be found are often the edge of someone's garden so a tad difficult to forage from. I drove round for about half an hour looking for somewhere to stop and have a wander round but as I say everywhere seems to belong to someone so poking around in the weedy bits looks a bit odd. Also foraging at 35 mph when you are in an unfamiliar car on the wrong side of the road can also be a challenge so I went home empty handed and a little grumpy as it was also very hot and sticky.

I checked the nightline when i got back but the bait had gone, I think because i had let it sit on the bottom I am sure crabs were eating it so no joy there as yet. I was getting a little desperate by this time as we were now off out for the evening to listen to some Appalachian music and then to meet a friend of Dulcie's. We did stop at a car park on the way into Annapolis that I had spotted the day before and it looked like a car park for a wooded walk area. We pulled in and looked at the map. You had to walk down the busy road and round the corner before you reached the trail but we thought oh it can't be far if the car park is just here but no we were wrong. After about 10 minutes walking and no sign of any trail we abandoned the idea and went back to the car. I did find what I thought was a member of the goosefoot family so picked some but thought I had better check at home first.

I didn't think there was going to be any further opportunity for my wild food for the day and had just accepted that it was more difficult over here and that i may have to have the odd day when I just didn't find anything. However we met with this friend of Dulcie's and off we went to a bar in Annapolis for some beers. The people sitting next to me ordered what I later found out were oyster shooters! Who knew you could even get such a thing. Basically it's an oyster in a small shot glass with cocktail sauce, you then get another small shot glass full of beer which you down after the oyster. Well I have never eaten oysters and have always been a little worried about my gag reflex coming into play in a public place so I have to say i was a little dubious about the whole idea but it was a wild food and I hadn't had it before so decided to go for it. The question was though to chew or not to chew. Well due to the concern about gagging and the fact I was in the middle of a bar I thought the safest thing was just to swallow so I did. I can't honestly say I know what oysters taste like apart from the briny flavour in the middle of the cocktail sauce but hey that was my wild food for Wednesday.

Thursday i was up early - the morning was glorious and went and sat on the jetty as it's in the shade until about 10 am so just perfect for a bit of quiet contemplation. I thought I should rethink my night line and also the rig on the rod and got myself a smaller hook for the bamboo pole and a lure for the rod. I set up the bamboo pole so that the line was dangling rather than sitting on the bottom and loaded it with some turkey we found in the fridge. Almost immediately you could see things were biting and as it wasn't on the river bed I assumed it must be fish. I put the lure on the other rod and started casting out to see what was out there. Fairly soon after that the bamboo pole had a taker and after some scrabbling for the net Dulcie and I managed to land a small fish of unknown type. We thought it may be a perch but then looking at the book it looked more like a small striped bass which have a minimum landing size. After all this and the fact that I was struggling to get the hook out I decided it was probably kinder to dispatch it so a swift clink on the head sorted that out. Not long after I also had a taker on the rod and reeled myself in a decent sized white perch so gutted and descaled both and was quite happy with my fishing for the day. That covered two days of wild food so we a bang up to date now and on schedule.

The other thing that I am hoping will increase my likelihood of success is an app I found while playing in the apple shop the other day and looking for some info on another plant that may appear in this blog quite soon. A guy called Steve Brill has written many books on the whole wild food topic and has developed this great app so I have the lite version at present but think I will invest in the more weighty version today as I think it is only right to have the full fat version while i am here!


Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Pine needle tea and mint juleps

Pine needle tea and Mint Julep

Ok so as i was saying Friday was a travelling day and I had thoughts of getting to our woodland hideout and finding something to consume before we went to bed. However by the time we got here my body knew it was really 3 am so defeated I went to bed.

Saturday we got up and decided to go to a farmers Market that was on up the road to load up with local provisions. It was great so much fresh and lovely produce under one roof and not in a supermarket. We got okra, aubergine, massive tomatoes and white corn. Then there was a trip into Whole Foods Market to get nearly everything else except the alcohol. They are not allowed to sell alcohol in supermarkets in this state which I think is a great idea.

So on our return I asked Dulcie to drop me half way down the long drive so I could see what was about. We are in the middle of a pine forest which borders a creek so lots of open space. However not much obvious foraging as I don't seem to recognise many of the plants. I am aware I need to keep an eye out for poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac but of course there are so many other unrecognisable plants as well. Well I decided to go a little off track to see what I could see and followed the waters edge round to end up back at the house. Nothing was leaping out - I saw some small bushes that I thought may have had some berries on them at some point possibly blue berries but there was definitely nothing edible there now. I was also hoping that with all these pine trees perhaps a cauliflower fungus might show up. Anyway nothing was showing up so I was nearly back to the house when I felt a sharp needling pain on my ankle so as I scrabbled back under the fence I rubbed at my ankle and rushed in and then felt another sharp pain. Once in the house I went into the bedroom where Dulcie was to tell her of my adventures when she brushed something off my arm, I looked down and saw something else on my tshirt and frantically ended up waving my arms about and before we knew it there were several wasps flying around our heads so 5 minutes of rushing around waving rolled up newspapers ensued before we were satisfied that we had killed them all.

Not the best start to my foraging experiences in the US but there you go. I ended the day with pine needle tea which is delicate and I am sure I have read somewhere that it is high in vitamin c so that was my first foraged food of the US leg.

Yesterday we went to Annapolis as there was another farmers Market on where they were selling bison and I was keen to try this. We now have some new York style steaks and some burgers so will let you know what they are like.

On the way back from Annapolis I was as ever on the look out for somewhere to collect something. Disturbed ground is often a good start so an uncared for lot of land that looked like one day a house may be built on it looked good to me. After a swift turn into the next street we parked up. Dulcie is more concerned about the law of foraging than I am so came as look out while I potentially stole some weeds. The sky was quite dark and a storm was once again brewing but luckily the rain held off. I wandered all the way to the back of the lot and saw something that resembled fat hen or wild spinach as they call it over here but I wasn't convinced so carried on and then it jumped out, the lovely little lilac flowers of mint. It was a really strong scented variety as well. So rather than do the usual and think of putting the kettle on my mixologist partner immediately suggested a mint julep so that was my wild food of the day yesterday a slug or two of bourbon mixed with muddled sugar and mint and stacks of ice. Never let it be said that my wild food uses are boring!

Sunday, 14 August 2011

A few days catch up before the US leg starts!

Got behind again, days 6-11

Ok so I am now sitting at terminal 5 in Heathrow waiting for the bag drop to open. Have dropped Finny off at his Shoreham holiday home with the McAulays and Agnes Bassett has just been left charging about with a young boxer with Toni near Reading. I think perhaps she will have an exhausting time playing non-stop so that is good. I am not sure Dulcie is feeling so happy about the situation not having gotten used to leaving her dogs. However having had years of convincing owners that there dogs would survive without them and watched them happily trot through to the hospital ward for the day I am under no illusion that we will miss her more than she misses us.

So what have we been up to, well I guess if you read the beer blog you will know that we finished in the New Forest on Friday and head for Dartmoor. My last wild food was an unsuccessful Jack in the Hedge so I was hoping for better things on Saturday. Having arrived at our friends house in daylight. Had a quick tour of the garden and I soon spotted Saturdays food - burdock was happily growing in Barry's garden so I thought as I have the landowners permission to dig it up this would be Saturdays food. The first one I dug up was quite small but as there were several I dug up three. Being in a bit of a rush I cleaned them of a fashion and shoved them in the oven to roast. The japanese cultivate a lot of burdock and eat it generally finely chopped and cooked in teriyaki sauce and in fact I have eaten it that way and thought it was lovely. However clearly I hadn't taken enough care of my preparation or in fact my research I think as when I got them out of the oven they resembled dried twigs and although the flavour was ok they were very woody and of very little substance. I had seen one of the Ray Mears wild food episodes recently where he cooked burdock root in an underground over with a couple of legs of venison and they looked really good. However I feel it was possibly the wrong time of year - I think I need to get them in the autumn when the foliage has died down or in the spring just before they sprout in order to get most of the goodness in the root and not in the plant itself. So another less than great day but then also good to try and learn about these things first hand. I always believe you are much more likely to remember what to do when you have yourself learnt what not to do.

On to Sunday, the weather was looking decidedly busy and went from hot sunshine to grey looming cloud. We set out for a walk up to Kestor with Agnes, Finny and Reuben under a cloudy but blue and sunny sky. We reached Kestor quite quickly and saw the volcanic bowl that the Tor is known for and from which Finny and Agnes had a drink. The weather had been slowly changing and now it began to pour and pour like it does when you forget your waterproof pants or have not got water proof shoes on. Obviously I am on the look out the whole time for some free food but the weather made that a little more difficult. I handed Finny over to Liz and disappeared over a stone wall to wander around under some beech trees in the hope of finding some exciting fungi but alas nothing popped up apart from a couple of chewed brittle gills so I returned to the pack where we walked down this fabulous path that felt like it had been there forever. I love these old droves and can almost feel the hundreds of past lives that have wandered down them in haste, in busyness and in aimless wandering. I am still at present having to keep half an eye on the young hound as I had let her off the lead. She is quite good but I am still not confident on switching off to her completely and focusing fully on the hunt for food so although there were things cropping up to pick I was still mindful of saving things for the Scillies and on the look out for something different and currently more seasonal.
Not too far along my patience was rewarded and as I had heard speak of today's food I was glad I waited. In the pouring rain there they all stood - easily missed by the speedy walker - wild raspberries many canes of them so I gorged on as many as I could collect in a time frame that was acceptable to my soggy non- forager companions. A great delight to find and a whole load better than burnt to buggery burdock root I can tell you!!!

We returned to Brighton late on Sunday evening and the next few days we had to get the house ready for our guests and wash and pack for the states. I spent much of Monday morning sorting out the garden and then after a trip to the dump and a coffee and cake in Hudson and Bridges ( they do very good hot chocolate ) it was back to the packing. I did take the dogs out today but my wild food had already been organized by Dulcie's attempt to get us to eat the contents of the freezer before we left. I had sorrel soup which I had made for the first ever wild food course I ran back in May. The sorrel was common sorrel and collected from a field on the way to Ditchling Beacon that I know. The place is full of the stuff but then so is most of Devon it seems as I saw a lot of it while out walking on Sunday. I have to say it wasn't my best sorrel soup but then you can't always make fabulous soup, sometimes it has to be mediocre to make the other stuff stand out!

Tuesday I was in Suffolk having driven up Monday night. I took my mothers carer out for a walk with me on my circular walk that I like to do from my Mothers house. The woods are lovely and i have found many things in there before but again nothing was leaping out. Anyway we then also ended up wandering into town and it was there in a hedge on the edge of town that I saw Tuesday's food. Hops!! I was a little dubious as again they are better eaten earlier on but then I had read in the Tree House Diaries that Nick Weston ate a lot of them throughout the season so i picked the young looking tops and took a good handful home. I am not sure what my Mothers carer thought of my free food but i steamed them when I got back to Brighton and had them with butter and pepper along with some pressed tongue that I bought in a farmers market in Devon. A very good meal though I say so myself. Since returning to the life of an omnivore I have embraced the nose to tail eating philosophy - if you are going to ask something to give up it's life to feed you at least have the respect to make the most of the whole thing.

Wednesday was more packing and an informal chat with the partners of a vet group in Eastbourne. The pub was lovely and the company very good. Dog walking was a trip to the the racecourse and I thought a tisane may be nice today so picked some chamomile and at the end of the day I mixed it with ground ivy for my last drink of the day. Chamomile is very soothing and a great tea to have before bed. It is best collected when the petals start to face backwards and it can be dried and stored for quite some time.

That brings me toThursday and I have to say a slight disappointment and confirmation that many greens are best eaten in spring. I was once again up on the racecourse this time in the rain with three dogs as Monsieur La Courge (Marrow to his English friends) was with us for doggy day care. Again I wanted something less common and found wild marjoram but also knew of a patch of golden marjoram so thought it would go well in the salad I had planned for lunch. Well it smelled lovely and the flowers were pretty but I have to say the bitterness was not adding to the overall enjoyment of the salad. I will try the other variety when I get home but in the spirit of the challenge I did eat it.

That brings us to Friday and a slight dilemma. I have now progressed onto the plane and am currently somewhere near Greenland many thousands of feet in the air. We land 7.50pm local time but I am reliably informed it will be dark when we get there. Of course I should have factored this in to the short morning walk we had with Paggles this morning but alas I did not grab any of the hundreds of blackberries I could have scoffed as I have been saving those for Scilly. Anyway we shall see and I will report accordingly and hopefully on a slightly more regular basis.

Finally my physical challenge is not doing well. I exercised with Dulcie and Barry on Sunday and the punishing regime ensured I did many press ups but I have been inexcusably crap at following the programme so will rectify this tomorrow and get my act together.

Here in the USA!


And so here we are in the very hot and humid Annapolis. Having discovered, after going into several supermarkets on the hunt for beer and finding nothing, that you can only buy beer from liquor stores we visited a local liquor store (off license for those of you reading in English). Now considering we are in the 'burbs here this place is amazing. I have never seen so many varieties of spirits, wines and beers in a local shop. The only problem with the US, leaving aside politics, is that you only seem to be able to buy beers in a minimum if 6... What's that about? Luckily though we spotted a couple of mixed cases so this evening I am trying Pale Moon, a belgian style ale from the Blue Moon brewery whose original beer has just arrived on draught in the UK and.... some Sierra Nevada 'best of camp'. I am a big fan of the pale ale so it seemed a good opportunity to try some others. It turns out that Sierra nevada have this experimental beer camp where they try new ideas out and this year they have bottled some off them. So I now have a case of 12 consisting of 4 different kinds. The slight issue is that it is only now I have them home and out of the box that I discover the lightest beer is 6.5% and one is 8.5%. So if i start slurring my blog you'll know why.

Beer: Pale Moon
Brewer: Blue Moon brewing company, Colorado
Country trying in: USA
Town trying in: Arnold, MD
Where purchased: Bay Hills liquor store
Date tasted: 13/8/11
Package type: brown bottle
Best before date: ?
Size: 12 fl oz
Alcohol by volume: 5.4%
Tasting temperature: chilled

Appearance: golden, light bubble rise

Aroma: hoppy and fruity

Flavour: refreshing at first with the carbonation and fruitiness, then a nice level of bitterness

Overall impression: it is a nice beer, not quite as interesting at the original blue moon. It feels almost too 'just right'. It's a bit like an 'air brushed' beer. Too much of the right balance of everything that it loses it's personality. But having said that, a nice beer to drink

Rating out of 5: 3.5

Beer: California common
Brewer: Sierra Nevada, California
Country trying in: USA
Town trying in: Arnold, MD
Where purchased: Bay Hills liquor store
Date tasted: 13/8/11
Package type: brown bottle
Best before date: ?
Size: 12 fl oz
Alcohol by volume: 6.5%
Tasting temperature: chilled

Appearance: dark golden, light bubble rise

Aroma: banana, spice, lightly hoppy

Flavour: starts with the fizz mouth feel then a little hoppiness, moves into a light banana taste followed by a spicy clove then finishes with a little bitterness with lingering spice.

Overall impression: an interesting beer with the cloves and fruitiness. The flavours can all be distinguished but none over power. A lovely, complex beer. Shame it's so strong as one will be plenty...

Rating out of 5: 4.5

Two with top marks...

So a few days back in Brighton after the trip to the West Country and a chance to try a beer that I'd picked up while we were away and what a thing of beauty. The Exeter brewery Avocet ale. An organic devon ale designed to be served chilled. So I'd put it in the fridge and on a balmy August evening I sat in the garden with Brighton's finest take away pizza (from Pizza face in kemp town) and drank a beautiful beer. It is the perfect real ale alternative to cold lager. Now a cold lager can hit the spot but it is still fizzy lager beer. The Avocet ale was perfect.

Beer: avocet organic ale
Brewer: Exeter brewery
Country trying in: UK
Town trying in: Brighton
Where purchased: Crediton farmers market
Date tasted: 9/8/11
Package type: brown bottle
Best before date: June 2012
Size: 500ml
Alcohol by volume: 4.2%
Tasting temperature: chilled

Appearance: light golden, medium carbonation

Aroma: fresh and light hops with a mild citrus aroma

Flavour: refreshing with a light citrus flavour followed by a full hoppiness but not overly bitter. A full but refreshing mouth feel.

Overall impression: a thing of beauty. A perfect mixture of citrus, a light bitterness and lasting refreshment.

Rating out of 5: 5 (the first with top marks)

And now the beer challenge moves to the USA, Annapolis, MD to be precise. But not before a stop to some friends in Bracknell who introduced me last night to a beautiful beer from the Badger Brewery. The Golden Glory.

Beer: Golden Glory
Brewer: Badger
Country trying in: UK
Town trying in: Bracknell
Where purchased: ?
Date tasted: 11/8/11
Package type: brown bottle
Best before date: ?
Size: 500ml
Alcohol by volume: ?
Tasting temperature: chilled

Appearance: golden, clear, light carbonation

Aroma: a whopping great hit of peach and a mild hoppiness

Flavour: a zesty astringency with sweet peach a medium hoppy bitterness

Overall impression: Gorgeous, I can't believe I haven't tried this before. I think perhaps the description of peach has put me off before but it is a stunningly well balanced combination of bitter, sweet, peach and citrus. Top notch

Rating out of 5: 5 (the second with top marks - I think I must be going soft...)

And so the next beer will be an american one - any suggestions....?

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Exeter brewery and a beer safari

The Devon beer fest continues. After my other challenge workout this morning we headed off to the Crediton farmers market. A small but perfectly formed market with some great meat, cheeses, pate and... an Exeter brewery stall selling 4 of their bottled ales for £8. Well, what can you do faced with a bargain like that. So this evening I'm trying the Ferryman Bitter. I highly recommend getting a tasting notes sheet and using it as a guide when trying beer. I'm really appreciating the aromas and subtle differences in beers now I'm making myself really think about what I'm tasting. My tasting notes and general knowledge about tasting beer came from the fabulous day-long beer course run by a small company called Food Safari based in Suffolk (www.foodsafari.co.uk). If you want a great day visiting a hop farm, barley farm, a personal tour round Adnam's brewery with the head brewer and the most gorgeous lunch and dinner with more beers to try than you can shake a stick at then get on their Beer Safari course.

And so to beer number 7

Beer: Ferryman
Brewer: Exeter Brewery
Country trying in: UK
Town trying in: Chagford
Where purchased: Crediton Farmers Market
Date tasted: 6/8/11
Package type: brown bottle
Best before date: ?
Size: 500ml
Alcohol by volume: 4.2%
Tasting temperature: room

Appearance: reddish Amber in colour, slightly cloudy, light bubble rise

Aroma: toffee-ish with a hint of banana

Flavour: first you get a tingly mouth feel of the carbonation followed by a slightly sweet citrus then a medium lasting bitterness

Overall impression: a really good easy drinking bitter. Flavour wise it's not particularly out of the ordinary but a good classic bitter.

Rating out of 5: 4

Three days catch up

Days 3,4 &5

Well got a bit behind with the blogging limited time around wifi and general lack of organisation on my part!
Beginning to realise this is definitely going to be a challenge especially as we get to America and also while we are in the Scilly's so I am trying to keep some more obvious and easy to find stuff for then.


So while in the new forest thought i would do some mushrooming. I certainly found some interesting specimens. On wednesday it was incredibly hot so after a short trip to a very crowded beach we headed back to the coolness of Ringwood forest so the dogs could have a charge about. It was there I found my first mushroom which I thought was going to be the choice of the day. It was a brown birch bolete and although edible it is not the greatest of edible mushrooms. However the day was speeding along and nothing other than the obvious apples and blackberries were appearing. Anyway we went on another walk over the forest to the pub and this is where I found Wednesday's wild food. To my delight I found sheepskin sorrel a plant I had never found before but very distinctive due to the "ears" at the bottom of the leaf. Not as potent in the lemony, sharpness stakes as common sorrel but lovely never the less. Funnily enough we have just arrived on Dartmoor and I have found a massive patch in a friends garden - odd how you never see a plant then once you find it you seem to find it everywhere.

So Thursday was a challenge in that we were still camping and having been so incredibly hot the day before we were somewhat surprised to be kept awake half the night by torrential rain which just kept on to eventually take up the whole morning. We barely left the tent except for the obvious so never actually made it out until 3pm - the joys of not working! Anyway we were on our way back to town when I decided to stop by a river just to see what I could find and thinking that I would need to resort to nettles, suddenly there they were - a small patch of red currants over hanging the river. So of course I clung precariously to the edge and picked them all to eat for tea. They were lovely and i was very pleased with my find - two days and two foods I wasn't expecting to find.

Yesterday was a travelling day from the New Forest to Dartmoor via Exeter to see a school friend I hadn't seed for over two years. Anyway that meant not much foraging time so it was on the drive from Exeter to Frenchbeer in the middle of Dartmoor that I found todays food. I was trying to navigate via the small map on my iPhone, listen to music, avoid hitting another vehicle or drive into the hedge while foraging so not too busy then. Anyway I rounded a bend and was looking at the hedge and thought I saw a familiar leaf shape. The foragers emergency stop and a handy passing place meant could check if my eyes were deceiving me but they weren't. It was Jack in the Hedge or Garlic Mustard but it looked in it's early stages rather than the blown seed burdened plant that is normal for this time of year. I wasn't sure whether there had been some hedge cutting going on and this was new growth. Disappointingly it was not great, the garlic smell was there but as one would expect of a plant that is best eaten in spring it was by now rather bitter so I ate it but it wasn't one of my better finds.
That is the problem I am finding in that all the spring greens are past there best and many of the summer fruits are not out yet hence the challenge that I referred to earlier. I think Dulcie's is much easier personally!!

Friday, 5 August 2011

Ahhh, Devon

And so the beer tasting roadshow moves on from the New Forest to Devon. However, I do have 3 bottles from Ringwood Brewery to try should the draught pickings get a bit thin at any point. So first stop was my favourite pub, the Double Locks in Exeter (www.double locks.com). I tried a pint of Otter Amber. I am quite a fan of Otter Ales (www.otterbrewery.com) but I've never tried the Amber ale, and what a treat.

So beer number 6...

Beer: Otter Amber
Brewer: Otter Brewery, Honiton, Devon
Country trying in: UK
Town trying in: Exeter
Where purchased: double locks pub, Exeter
Date tasted: 5/8/11
Package type: draught
Best before date: ?
Size: pint
Alcohol by volume: 4%
Tasting temperature: room

Appearance: Amber, clear, small creamy head which clung to the glass perfectly

Aroma: hoppy

Flavour: refreshing astringency, light, fresh hoppiness, with a light lasting bitterness

Overall impression: A lovely drinking refreshing ale, top notch. I could definitely spend a long afternoon drinking this.

Rating out of 5: 4

Thursday, 4 August 2011

2 unique ones...

A gorgeous hot and sunny day in the New forest so what better way to spend the evening than wandering over to the Red Shoot pub with on site brewery. It was a proper New Forest journey with 2 people on horseback, 2 on mountain bikes and 2 of us walking the dogs. The pub brews a number of beers and two were on draught this evening so I had to try both. The first was the bitter, Tom's tipple and the second, a dark mild called Muddy Boots. Both were really different and I would highly recommend trying this place if you're in the area.

Beer: Tom's Tipple
Brewer: Red Shoot, Ringwood, Hampshire, UK
Country trying in: UK
Town trying in: Ringwood
Where purchased: Red Shoot Pub
Date tasted: 3/8/11
Package type: draught
Best before date: ?
Size: half pint
Alcohol by volume: ?
Tasting temperature: cellar

Appearance: dark golden, clear, very light head

Aroma: peardrop, banana sweetness

Flavour: creamy then a little watery followed by a hit of banana and peardrop, then a mild bitterness which disappears

Overall impression: In spite of the odd description of flavour it was actually quite enjoyable and quite different. However, I'm nit sure I could drink a lot of it

Rating out of 5: 3.5


Beer: Muddy Boots
Brewer: Red Shoot
Country trying in: UK
Town trying in: Ringwood
Where purchased: Red Shoot pub
Date tasted: 3/8/11
Package type: draught
Best before date:?
Size: half pint
Alcohol by volume: ?
Tasting temperature: cellar

Appearance: dark ruby, clear, small but creamy head

Aroma: burnt chocolate, honey, coffee

Flavour: sweet chocolatey, mild bitterness and creamy texture. A lingering chocolate taste with a lasting bitterness and mild astringency.

Overall impression: lovely, chocolatey mild. Probably not quite the right weather for it but one cold winter afternoon in front of a log fire and you could through quite a bit of this. The only thing that stops me from giving it 5 out of 5 is that it could be just a bit too sweet after a while.

Rating out of 5: 4

a citrusy one for beer number 3

The third beer is my other purchase from the Cambridge wine merchants - this one is date though... It's Citra from Oakham Ales. Made using only Citra hops which are relative new to the UK. Grown mostly in the US they impart a citrus, grapefruit flavour. Oh, and first day of exercise too so what with the fruity beer and the workout I positively a health fanatic.

Beer: Citra
Brewer: Oakham Ales
Country trying in: UK
Town trying in:
Where purchased: Cambridge wine merchants, kings parade, Cambridge
Date tasted: 3/8/11
Package type: brown bottle
Best before date: march 2012
Size: 500ml
Alcohol by volume: 4.6%
Tasting temperature: chilled

Appearance: light golden, clear, moderate bubble rise

Aroma: citrus, grapefruit, light bitterness

Flavour: astringent in the mouth but quite refreshing. Citrus and lychee immediate flavours. Then a lasting bitter finish.

Overall impression: Nice refreshing beer, different and interesting with the grapefruit and lychee but the bitterness was a little too much for my taste and I felt somewhat overpowered the fruitiness.

Rating out of 5: 3

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Day 2 - meadowsweet beer

Day 2

Well today I had to use my get out of jail card free as I have realised that leaving my foraging until 7.30pm will not be a good plan with which to go forward.
Today's plant was meadowsweet. A plant formerly used to sweeten mead which is where it's name comes from - rather than anything to do with meadows. It does like to grow in meadows though and prefers damp edges near water. I found the batch I used on the roadside on the edge of a ditch.
It flowers after elder in July so having found a recipe in the The Tree House Diaries by Nick Weston I thought I would have a shot at this brew having been successful this year with the very easy to make elderflower champagne. I have to say it's a great drink. Not entirely sure how high the alcohol content was and it is on my list to buy a hydrometer so I can start working all this out, but fizzy and cold it went down very easily.
Currently being in the New Forest I am aware of the mushroom possibilities and am constantly gazing up at oak trees in the hope of discovering some chicken of the woods but we will have to wait and see tomorrow is another day and another wild food so we will see what appears.

Beer 2 - a Spelt one

I was excited to try this evening's beer as it was a brand new discovery at the Cambridge wine merchants the other day. Unfortunately it was only when it was too late to return that I realised it was a month out of date. Nevertheless I was still intrigued by the Gladiator Spelt Beer from Glebe Farm. So the barbecue was heating up nicely, the beer was chilled and then what a disappointment. Not unpleasant and probably not helped by being out of date but really nothing much at all.


Beer: Gladiator Spelt Beer
Brewer: Glebe Farm, Huntingdon, Cambs,UK
Country trying in: UK
Town trying in:
Where purchased: Cambridge Wine Merchants, Kings Parade, Cambridge
Date tasted: 2/8/11
Package type: brown bottle
Best before date: end June 2011
Size: 330ml
Alcohol by volume: 4.2%
Tasting temperature: chilled

Appearance: golden

Aroma: citrusy and hoppy

Flavour: watery, fairly fierce carbonation. Disappears in the mouth, slight bitterness after taste which doesn't last.

Overall impression: Not unpleasant but nothing much at all

Rating out of 5: 2

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Beer number 1

Day 2 of the 56. Unfortunately another rest day for my exercise challenge due to travelling and putting up tents. We have travelled from Brighton to the New Forest and, due to a rather pessimistic route planner from the AA, we set off very early and arrived in very good time. All to say that I manage to sneak in an unplanned cheeky half in a pub in the New Forest. So I'm sitting in the sunshine in a lovely garden, with my trusty drinking buddies, Kathryn, Agnes the puppy and Finley the terrier, listening to the water feature (somewhere between a spitting frog and an actual stream) sipping beer number 1 - Seafarers Ale from George Gale. A lovely start to the challenge.

Beer: Seafarers ale
Brewer: George Gale, Hampshire, UK
Country trying in: England
Town trying in: Ringwood, Hampshire
Where purchased: Alice Lisle pub
Date tasted: 2/8/11
Package type: draught
Best before date: ?
Size: half pint
Alcohol by volume: 3.6%
Tasting temperature: cellar

Appearance: clear, slightly foamy head which disappeared quickly, darkish amber in colour.

Aroma: honey and banana with a slight maltiness.

Flavour: light with a light astringency, light carbonation. Mild honey flavour and a lasting bitterness.

Overall impression: nice, light easy drinking bitter but nothing exciting. Does improve the more you taste.

Rating out of 5: 3

Monday, 1 August 2011

Day 1

Ok so finally we get back from the festival and the challenge starts in earnest.
However before I tell you what today's wild food isI must just mention about something amazing that happened over the weekend - not to me but my dog.
Anyone who knows anything about terriers will know they are tenacious by nature and are not generally to be trusted around chickens. Well when I am a more experienced blogger I will post a couple of pictures but to get to the point my terrier has been trained to leave chickens alone and can now be left to mingle freely with them and not do them any harm. So how was this achieved. Well after hearing this story form a friend I told my mate Gav who took custody of the aforementioned terrier Finley, last Wednesday. Finley then found himself subjected to having a chicken placed on his head each day ( picture to follow when I work out how to do it) and then on Sunday I receive a photo of Finley in his bed with a chicken sitting beside him - no restraint of the dog and no stress or panic on his face just acceptance that there happens to be a chicken in his bed!! How amazing, and then I get reports that he has been left to wander round with them in the garden unsupervised so there you have it Gav is now the chicken whisperer as far as I am concerned!!

Ok slight digression - today I have had ground ivy tea. This small plant that is actually a member of the mint family and not related to ivy is also called ales hoof as it was
Used in place of hops for brewing. It was also sold on the streets of London as a form of tea Called gill tea ( not be able to establish whether that's gill as in the things fish breathe with or the girls name) Anyway it is one of the nicest herbals teas if you ask me and goes very well mixed with nettle or mint. Once
You find some you will usually find a lot but it can look very different if you find it in the shade as opposed to having been exposed to full sunshine. However
I would encourage you to try it if you never have - dried or fresh. I dry a lot to use over winter and as I say if you find some you can usually find in in profusion.

I also started the journey toward shot putters shoulders and did my 12 press ups with various intervals in between but we will see how that goes. I have no desire to have muscular shoulders but it would be good to actually do a press up without feeling like a dweeb!!

Kathryn

Friday, 29 July 2011

It's started!

Two months off between jobs and we're attempting to blog it.  Various trips and new experiences planned and two challenges running throughout:

1) To try 7 different beers a week - beers that I've never tried before

2) An attempt to counteract the effects of challenge 1 - to do cardio and resistance exercises for an hour, 5 times a week.

I'll see how it goes....

Dulcie

Ok so of course I have to have a couple of challenges too and that is partly where the name has come from as the quick of mind among you will have worked out. I have to eat a different wild food every day for the next 8 weeks - and hopefully not poison myself in the process. My physical challnege is to be able to do 100 press ups by the end of the 8 weeks for which I have an iPhone app. Well I have had the app for about as long as I have had the iPhone but clearly never used it - so if when you next see me I have shoulders like a russian shot putter on steroids you'll know I did it.

Anyway this all starts as of Monday so I have until then to over indulge in cider, laziness and bought food so its off to the hub of the festival and the first alcoholic drink of the day

K
xx