Archive for the ‘cheese’ Category

Family BBQ

September 2, 2019

Our last weekend in England and we were having a family BBQ at Brian & Julie’s (Ian’s Dad’s cousin), along with the rest of Ian’s family. This was a bank holiday weekend in the UK, a long weekend with Monday being a public holiday, and the BBQ was planned for Sunday afternoon, with the weather playing a large part in the planning. We needn’t have worried though with the hottest August Bank holiday weekend on record being recorded and the days temperature set to reach at least 32C.

We arrived at Julie & Brian’s and made our way out to their lovely garden where the gazebos were set up providing much welcome shade.

Brian was manning the charcoal BBQs with Roy giving a hand. Charcoal BBQs are a rarity for us these days as most people in NZ use gas fired BBQs mainly because of fire restrictions for NZ’ers over the summer months.

Brian and Roy manning the BBQs

Comparing notes behind a smoke screen

All sorts of fun and games were had by all generations.

Grandad Barry and Callum

I forgot to take any pictures of the table set out for the main event but needless to say it was all delicious and there was plenty to eat, it was some time later in the day before we got around to having dessert and cheese.

Panoramic shot

I had said I would make a dessert and thought I should make a pavlova as my homage to all things kiwi, but decided an ordinary pav would be a bit boring so instead made a brown sugar version with dates, almonds and chocolate. Topped with fresh whipped cream and raspberries it was rather delicious. Roy put together a cheese board and even made radish mice with the radishes grown in Alex & Ian’s garden, and it too also went down a treat.

Cheese board

Dessert and cheese….yes, I forgot to take pics of the main event!

Group photo

It was a wonderful afternoon and evening with lots of fun and laughter.

Thank you to the Denny family for making us feel so welcome and part of your family. We shall miss you all, until next time x.

Worcester, Herefordshire and a little bit of Wales (Part 2)

August 22, 2019

We continue on our journey on the trail of Black & White timbered villages.

After we left the church in Kinnersley, we meandered though some beautiful countryside, coming across this house which the owner obviously did not want to conform to the Black and White theme

Red and Black House

Next we came to Eardisley, which is a village on the border with Wales.

Eardisley

Then it was onto Kington which is just 3km from the Welsh border. However it is to the west of Offa’s Dyke so we presume that at some stage it may have been part of Wales. Offa’s Dyke is a large linear earthwork that roughly follows the current border between England and Wales. The structure is named after an Anglo-Saxon king, Offa, who it is believed to have ordered its construction in the mid 700’s.

We meandered the Main Street, a sad looking Main Street that needs a bit of revitalisation with some shops and cafes rather than the multitude of charity shops.

Main Street of Kington (top) and the covered market in the lower picture.

From here we continued on to the pretty village of Presteigne where the road signs are also in Welsh as the town lies just inside the Welsh border.

Beautiful ornately painted building in Presteigne

There are many interesting buildings in Presteigne including this one which had a Green Man (a pagan symbol of fertility) carved into one of the posts, well hidden from general view.

12th century building with green man carved in the wood

We paused for a cuppa in one of the cafes in the high street before making our way around the town.

This row of houses were obviously built at different stages looking at the roof lines.

Multi level roof lines

On our way back to the car we came across another church so we wandered in for a look around.

Martin, Roy and Sue on our way into the church

Saint Andrews church is primarily a product of the 13th century however it incorporates remains of a much earlier 9th century Saxon building. The most interesting historical feature is a Flemish tapestry woven in 1510, now hanging in a frame on the north wall.

Tapestry (sorry about the reflections)

Showing the original colours.

In the Lady Chapel is a 15th-century Italian oil painting and a worn 13th-century coffin lid is set into a recess in the north wall.

Stained glass window

It was back to the car and off to the next town on our list, expertly navigated by Sue, via a few more of those typical English narrow country roads with high hedges on either side.

A wide section of road!

Our next stop was in Pembridge, again with a lovely collection of interesting and very old buildings.

Not all the building were painted white

Information board

Alms houses 1661

Above the Main Street we walked up to another church, St Mary’s, with original parts dating form the 12th century however a loose Romanesque pillar piscina remains from the Norman church. This church had a very interesting bell tower which is separate from the church, built in an unusual shape and open at the top. Martin could fill us in on all the interesting details, as we discovered, he is a bell ringer of some 40years experience.

Bell tower

Information board on the Bell Tower

Inside the church were more beautiful windows.

Inside the church

Outside there are lovely views over expansive lawns

Views from the church

We walked across the lawns and through the gardens and came out onto another street where there is the old market hall.

Market

Markets have been held here since 1239 when it was granted a royal charter.

Sue making her way to the market with its well worn and undulating floor.

Time to return home, again through Eardisley where we came across a thatched roofed Black & White building

Thatched roof

Have you ever noticed that the trip home is always quicker than the trip to wherever you are going? It seemed like we were home again very quickly where we set to organising dinner of Raclette.

Me, trying to take a selfie, missed taking it of me, missed Roy and got Sue who was fishing around for an implement in the cutlery drawer……but I did get Martin!

We had purchased the Raclette cheese from the cheese shop earlier in the day (see previous blog entry). Of course someone was particularly happy with Raclette……who doesn’t like hot melted cheese??!!

Worcester, Herefordshire and a little bit of Wales (Part 1)

August 20, 2019

It was time for us to meet up with another cousin, this time from my Dads side of the family. I think Sue and I are actually second cousins, or maybe cousins once removed…oh I never did figure out which was which but in any case it doesn’t matter. Roy and I hopped on yet more trains to make our way to Worcester where we were being picked up. However the train journey was not to be as easy as it should have been.

Map of the journey

We left Alex’s by catching the bus to the local train station in Erith, we got onto the train and had not long left the station when Roy went off to use the toilet. Some few minutes later the drivers very quiet voice came over the intercom saying something about a problem, and I think he said something about the toilets but I didn’t really hear or take in what he was saying. Next minute the train comes to a halt, again the drivers voice came over the intercom, with indecipherable announcements. Next I see the driver walking through our carriage, I think to myself – oh, there must be a problem, oh and Roy seems to be taking an awfully long time in the loo!!!

Yes, you guessed it, Roy was locked in the toilet and couldn’t get out so in desperation he had to activate the emergency button attracting the attention of the driver. Apparently this then activates the stopping of the train which cannot be deactivated until the driver manually deactivates it from the original activation point. And did I forget to mention that we were in the very last carriage of the train so it was a long way for the driver to make his way through the train to release the button, and Roy of course!! As a result the train was then running 18 minutes late. To top that off the train was now not going to Charing Cross due to another issue further along the line so we had to change at London Bridge then take the tube with one change of lines to get ourselves to Paddington Station. Fortunately we always allow a bit of extra time for events such as this so we still arrived at Paddington with 15minutes to spare to catch the train to Worcester.

We were met at the train station by a Sue & Martin who then took us to their home a few miles out in the beautiful countryside. Now, it’s rather special to be able to meet up with cousins after such a long time and instantly feel comfortable and at home. We spent the afternoon in the garden talking, laughing and reminiscing. They live in a lovely old farmhouse which just feels so comfortable and welcoming. We also have a bit in common, one being that they also have a motorhome in which they travel all round the country and Europe as well.

The following day we were off on an all day drive to do what is called the Black & White trail which takes in a number of villages which are known for their black and white Tudor style architecture.

The general route

Close up view of the route

First we had to negotiate the odd narrow country road

Expertly driven by Martin

Through the village of Bromyard which was our first view of the black and white timbered buildings

Pub in Bromyard

Our first port of call was the town of Leominster where we were stopping for morning tea. After finding a car park, we wandered off into the village where we found this establishment.

Someone thought this was his place!

And no, we didn’t partake of the delights available in Roy’s cafe, we were to venture further into town.

Martin striding ahead in the town square.

We were heading to another cafe for morning coffee, I came across this model in the centre of the square

It is a model of the market house erected on the site in 1633 and subsequently saved then moved and renamed Grange House. It is the finest remaining example of work done by the King’s carpenter John Abel.

Grange House today

Passing narrow alleyways with buildings overhanging and not a straight line in sight, we made our way to the cafe.

Coffee for morning tea

Oh, and guess what we found just around the corner from the coffee shop? You guessed it, a cheese shop! Yes, we did sample lots of lovely cheeses and possibly some purchases were made.

Cheese shop in Leominster

Narrow alleyway and sheepy art work

Time for us to continue on our travels.

Next town on our travels was Dilwyn.

Dilwyn houses

a lovely collection of black and white buildings, all beautifully kept as well.

Onto Weobley next, where we were to have lunch in a local pub. But first a wander around the village to check out some of the unique architecture.

Weobley architecture and magpie statue

We had a lovely lunch at the pub, whilst in the pub I noticed these stained glass windows which look very much like some of the windows we had in the private spaces of Pen-y-bryn Lodge.

Stained glass window

Further along the road in Weobley we came across the Old Grammar School dating from 1660.

Old Grammar House, note the angles of the walls and windows

Now a private home with all its interesting wonky lines, the school was in continuous use until the late 1880’s. It catered for up to 25 pupils on the ground floor with the masters accomodation upstairs.

From here we continued on our journey, but along the route to the next village we came across this church in Kinnersley. Actually, I say in Kinnersley, but this just really an area rather than a village as there was no evidence of a village apart from the church.

Kinnersley Church

The 12th century church has an unusual slightly separate tower. It has intricate paintings and coloured stencil work decorating the ceiling and arches of chancel and nave. These were done by the famous Victorian “Arts and Craft” architect Bodley, who is buried in the church yard.

A very good, well carved marble 17th century monument to the Smalman family is on the wall inside, however it is now strapped to the wall as you will see in the picture below. The monument was described by the architecural historian Pevsner as one of the best of its kind in the country.

Detail from inside the church

More detail from inside the church

Outside the church there was evidence of old entrance doors, later bricked up.

Bricked up entrance

On wandering around to the rear of the church we came across a very large castle, Kinnersley Castle.

According to Wikipedia “The Castle of Kinnersley, was originally a stone structure, thought to have been built during the reign of Henry I (1100-1135 C.E.). The Elizabethan building that now occupies the site has obliterated all but a few traces of the medieval castle.

Although it looks predominantly Elizabethan on the outside, it has many features of different periods. It was ‘renovated’ in the 16th century by the Vaughn family and houses a fine example of an intricate plasterwork ceiling in the solar, thought to be one of the oldest in Herefordshire. There are many green men and serpent hounds to be found on this ceiling, a lot of the detail is picked out in gold. On the stone overmantel of the fireplace, carved into the stone is a boy’s head with a serpent around its neck.

Kinnersley Castle

View from over the fence

Apparently the castle is only open to the public a couple of times a year.

Enough rambling, part two will be posted in a day or so.

Cheesy crawl

August 15, 2019

Roy has a bit of a reputation for his love of cheese, cheeses of all varieties, styles and types but he is particularly fond of a good blue. There is a running joke about not letting him near a fromagerie however I’d read about a cheese crawl, something like a pub crawl that involves cheese rather than drinks, that takes you on a walk around London, trying different cheeses at all sort of establishments. That sounds as though it was a perfect thing for us to do.

We had originally booked it for a Saturday in July but we had to postpone that one as something else cropped up. Then the next time it was booked, Roy had a dodgy tummy so we made a third attempt at the trip this last weekend.

First we had to get there. This involves catching the bus to near Erith Train Station then a walk to the station, catch the train into London as far as London Bridge station, then make our way to the underground, find the Jubilee Line (heading in the right direction) and catch the tube to Green Park Station and then make our way to the meeting point in Green Park itself.

The train and tube route

We arrived with perfect timing at the allotted meeting point and with around 15 others we set off on our Cheese Crawl.

The first stop was not too far away, walking past the Ritz Hotel, shops and Arcades taking in the sights. As well as a cheese focused walk, we also had a bit of history explained to us about particularly interesting sites along our route.

One such interesting point was Burlington Arcade. It was built by Lord Cavendish (later Earl of Burlington) supposedly for his wife as she didn’t like shopping in the weather or amongst the general riff raff so he built the covered arcade with 72 shops, mainly for the sale of high end goods such as jewellery, lace and walking sticks. The arcade is probably best known for the Burlington Beadles, basically it’s own Police Force, dressed in their black frock coats embellished with gold buttons and gold braided top hats. These Beadles enforce a strict code of behaviour which includes no running or hurrying, no riding bicycles and no whistling. It was a connection with prostitution that lies behind some of the rules of the arcade. Pimps used to burst into song or whistle to warn prostitutes who were soliciting in the arcade that the police or Beadles were about. The prostitutes working on the upper level would also whistle to the pickpockets below to warn them of approaching police. Therefore a strict no whistling or singing policy is in place, however, there is just one exception. And that exemption is for none other than Sir Paul MacCartney who apparently frequently walked through the Arcade on his way to and from the studios located behind Burlington Arcade.

Burlington Arcade

From here it was into the iconic Fortnum & Mason store where we were lead through the shop to the cheese counter where our first tasting took place. It was a very nice Welsh Cheddar.

Fortnum & Mason was established in 1707, it was founded as a grocery store dedicated to supplying quality food which saw its reputation particularly take off during the Victorian era.

My attempt at a selfie outside Fortnum & Mason

From here in Picadilly, we walked further along the road, stopping occasionally to view interesting architecture and shops and then onto Paxton & Whitfield, the oldest cheesemongers in the UK having been established in 1797.

Paxton & Whitfield

The shop holds two Royal warrants, one from Queen Elizabeth and one from Prince Charles. Here we looked around the shop before having our tasting plate.

Delicious array of cheeses

It was here that we tasted Stilton, and oh my goodness, it was delicious. We were told that last year the shop sold 7 tonnes of Stilton over the Christmas period alone! A staggering amount.

Our next brief stop was to explain to us why Piccadilly is named as such.

Original Portugal Street

Originally it was named Portugal Street until a tailor Mr Baker bought in the area, enclosed the street and made his fortune making and selling piccadils which are those frilly neck ruffs that were predominantly worn in the Elizabethan era. Hence the road and then the area became known as Piccadilly.

Our next stop was at the American store, Wholefoods, which gave us a tasting of a truffled mascarpone filled Brie along with Parmesan crisps and a nice chilled rosé to wash it down.

Outside the Wholefoods store

Inside Wholefoods store

I should add here that there are opportunities to make purchases on our journey and a few purchases may have been made. On to our next stop

Lina Store

Here at Lina’s we tried a Prosecco soaked cheese and a Red wine soaked cheese. Apparently this tradition came about by the Italians who hid cheeses in their wine barrels to avoid theft.

From here we wandered to Neal’s Yard, but along the way found this Bambi artwork on a side wall.

Interpret as you like

Bambi is a contemporary street artist who focuses on female identity in a patriarchal society as well as political and social injustice. Interesting.

At Neal’s Yard we were to try goats cheese in the very picturesque yard.

This building in Neal’s Yard was famous for being the headquarters of Monty Python for many years.

After a session of cheesy jokes, we made our way to Covent gardens to try some amazing hot baked camembert with French bread. I think this was one of my favourites of the whole journey, probably because I had far too many helpings!!

What could be better than cheese and champagne?

Mmmm, hot baked camembert

Our next stop was just a short walk away,

Cheese and sparkling red wine

Here we enjoyed a glass of very nice sparkling red wine with our cheese.

By this time we had been walking for quite some time, one of us had developed a blister and we were both feeling quite weary. It was just a 15 minute walk to Charing Cross Station to get the train home.

Our walking route

Time to retrace our steps for the train journey home, however we were not having to change trains this time as it was a direct trip. But it was not all to go to plan, it was a very windy day and trees were down on some of the tracks so our train was not going to stop at Erith, we had to continue on to Slade Green, the next stop after Erith or alternatively change trains at an earlier stop and wait for a connecting train. However, it was not going to be a mission as we were in contact with Alex and she was able to pick us up from the Slade Green station.

We had a quick rest at home before we all headed out for dinner with Ian’s family for Alex’s birthday, and you know what happened don’t you? Yes, none of us took a photo!