Posts Tagged ‘cheese’

OMG, it’s more Chat chat

Remember how I said on Tuesday that there’d be more Chat chat for you? Well, here it is. And there’s some good stuff in here. I’m going to start on the letters page because the first letter is work of genius. It says something along the lines of, ‘My sister uses text-speak and I don’t understand it so I sent her this poem.’

And here is the poem, in all its glory:
FYI and OMG
Mean nothing to me
If you can spell, I can’t tell,
So please write properly.

Yehhhhhh, what to say about that? There’s nothing to say, really, is there?

Another letter says, “There was a photo of a girl on one of your previous covers.  Even though they used to be a boy, I was totes jealous.” (I have paraphrased but that was the essence of the letter.) I mean, that’s not even worth the stamp, is it? And, of all the letters Chat receives, was that really the most worthy of being on the letters page?

Anyway, moving on. We’ve got a recipe for cheesy cod. I kid you not.
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Cod, cheese, roast it. Gourmet.

On the Spooky pages, we’ve got a bit of key feedback. If any of you don’t already know about the key, have a quick read of this and you’ll understand the general concept behind it.

The best feedback has got to be this one.
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Now, I don’t how the scratchcard game goes down in Penzance but a fiver is a pretty rubbish win. The card costs £3 to start with! Even a tenner would be a bit disappointing. A £20 win is your main aim, I feel. Mind you, maybe they only cost 20p there, making the £5 win look better. It just kind of seems like people are rubbing the key and then connecting any other thing that happens in their day to it.

Maybe I’ll do it. Ok, are you ready for mine?

“After touching the lucky key, the groceries I had ordered online arrived on my doorstep, just like they do every week when I order them and then pay for them!”

That lucky key, hey?! Un-bloody-believable!

The story on the spooky page is hardly worth mentioning because of it’s lack of actual content. I will, however, leave you with the best quote from the story.
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Brilliant.

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A day at Waltham Place (or: I want to live on a farm too!)

Yesterday, I had the most fabulous day out. Someone had got me an early birthday present, which was a place on a course about preserving fruit. The course was on a farm called Waltham Place just outside Maidenhead.

The journey there was quite eventful, after coming out of the station, seeing a bus already at the bus stop, leaping on and being what I can only describe as ‘adopted’ by two ladies on the bus. After I had asked if the bus went in the direction I needed, the ladies said it didn’t but I could get off near an airfield and take a short walk to get to the farm. I got out my purse to pay and the driver reminded me I needed the exact money. After scraping around among my change, the ladies almost got into a fight offering me the 20p that I was short of!

The journey to the farm then was smooth, after another man getting off at the same stop, pointed me down the right road. As I approached the main entrance, there didn’t seem to be any signs of where I should be…

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I was once again thrust on the mercy of the locals as I helplessly ran after a man I saw in the distance and asked where the course was being held. He pointed me up the road to the Ormandy Centre which, of course, I now remembered reading about in my notes before coming.

I found the centre eventually and was greeted by Adrian, the chef, and Nicki, his ‘gopher’ (her own words) and three of the other women on the course, for of course it was all women! The other women arrived and we started the day with chitchat, tea and biscuits.

Everything they gave us was made (and often grown too) on the farm. Adrian does all the cooking there. And that means everything. Absolutely everything. No help. He’s surprisingly calm and good-natured for a man who’s responsible for the feeding of a family and entire staff of such a big estate.

So our teas and coffees contained milk from the cows in the next door fields and the only non-farm ingredient in our macaroons and Viennese whirls was the sugar. The flour is milled on the farm, the milk from the cows is turned into cream, butter and cheese, and the eggs are harvested daily from the chickens who live in the next field to the cows. It was like taking a trip into the past, all the things we were offered to eat were homemade with produce from the surrounding fields. I started planning what my own small garden might be capable of and, so long as I don’t mind living on tomatoes, chillis and herbs, I could totally do this self-sufficient thing too. Maybe.

After tea and biscuits, we got stuck into a bit of teaching. Adrian gave us notes and talked us through the process of jam-making, the essential components and what does and doesn’t work. It wasn’t quite as ordered as that though. There were regular delightful tangents off into the obscure – long discussions about what goes into commercially produced jam, whether to keep one’s jam in the fridge, what fruits work and how long to keep jam for (a jar of Adrian’s, made in 1996, is still going strong today).

We were then given aprons and invited into the kitchen. We approached cautiously and told that this morning, the jam tasks were: raspberry jam, three fruit marmalade, lemon curd and blackcurrant jam.

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The other women piped up, excited about one of the other of the jams. They were paired up and given lemon curd, marmalade and raspberry jam. Finally there was just me and the blackcurrant, which Adrian said he’d help me with.

I was presented with a pot of blackcurrants which I went off to a corner with and put on a hob to heat.

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I heated my blackcurrants for quite a long time as they needed to reduce down by quite a lot before I could add the sugar. While the others were lemon zesting, butter melting or draining their fruit out….

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… I stood next to my blackcurrant pan and watched. I started to feel like the slow kid at the back of the class, still trying to work out times tables while the others progressed onto long division….

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It boiled for quite a while before Adrian gave me the ok to add the sugar and mash the blackcurrants a little bit. By the time I was pouring out my jam, even the slower lemon curd lot were long finished and on their second round of tea and biscuits. They do say, though, that good things come to those who wait, and my pot of blackcurrants yielded the most jars. Check out my harvest!

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We then stopped and had lunch, made by Adrian, of course. It was leek and potato soup and bread, fresh from the oven, spread with tasty yellow butter from the farm.

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After a long chat about recycling with the other ladies and me digging in to the bread, again and again, Nicki finally cleared away lunch, thank goodness, and Adrian talked us through different ways to preserve fruit.

So the afternoon tasks were ketchup, tomato chutney and bottled fruit. I ended up on the bottled fruit but had someone with me this time. We chopped and peeled the fruit and packed it into the jars to wait for our syrup, which was just a basic mixture of sugar and water. This we poured over the plums and rhubarbs. For the pears, though, we did white wine, sugar and cinnamon. Once all the fruit and syrups were in the jars, we put the lids on loosely and baked them on a very low heat for an hour.

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In this hour, we all donned wellies and coats for a walk around the farm. We saw the chickens who provide the eggs…

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…the cows who’s milk was in our tea….

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…and the gardens which are beautiful and colourful in summer…

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By the time we got back to the kitchen, our fruit was ready, the chutney was thick enough to go in jars and our day’s work was put on the table for admiring.

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By this time, there was nothing else to do but to have another round of tea, accompanied by two gorgeous homemade cakes (a tea brack and a Victoria sponge)….

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….and to chatter about what a brilliant day it had been and what other courses were they running and could we come on all of them please and how I wish I could become a lady of leisure and just spend all day homemaking everything I wanted to eat and not have any processed food in the house and o, if only! If only! Get thee behind me, Heinz, for I shall consume only homemade ketchup from this day forth!… Maybe… If I get the time to make some tomorrow after work… If I’m not busy practising piano and trying to become a world famous concert pianist.

A lovely Irish lady who was rushing off a little early to pick up her son from school had heard the story of my arrival and offered me a lift to the station. So all of sudden, in a bit of a rush, I was accepting her kind offer, grabbing my bag and running off. The journey home was fuss free and Danda looked very pleased when I arrived home with my crop from the day….

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We then spend an evening, nibbling some of each, especially the beautiful beautiful lemon curd, which is thick and spreadable and divine on bread.

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I honestly can’t think of anything about this day that I didn’t enjoy. If you are anywhere near Waltham Place Farm, I can fully recommend their day courses, for the experience itself, even if you’re not actually going to become the best jam maker the world has ever seen!

The time we found the toastie machine

While at uni, I lived in a rubbishy little flat with some friends. We had a ‘guest of honour’ friend who basically lived on the sofa. It was great fun. We spent our days lazing around, pretending to study, blabbing and ordering takeaway food from the Vietnamese restaurant down the road.

One day, the sofa-dwelling friend and I were in the front room and we happened to remember that there was a toastie machine somewhere in the kitchen. We weren’t even particularly hungry but the toastie machine promised to be a fun way to spend an hour or two.

We located the toastie machine and plugged it in. Now we just needed some bread. We raided all the cupboards and found an entire loaf in someone’s cupboard. We’ll just have two slices each, we thought, innocently, getting the loaf out. She’ll never notice.

We then raided the fridge for cheese, ham, peanut butter, bacon, bananas, anything that might respond well to being heated and squished between two pieces of bread. We made the sandwiches up, put them in the toastie machine and waited. While we waited, we came up with brilliant new concoctions that we could try in the toastie machine next. When our first lot of sandwiches were ready, we put more in and ate while we waited.

Each time one lot was ready, we thought of a great sandwich we should try next. We just went on and on. Soon, there was no bread left and we started to panic. There was a little newsagents a minute away so we went and got ourselves a new loaf. We just had a few pieces out of before putting it in the cupboard that we had earlier stolen the bread from.

Shortly after replacing the loaf, the friend who’s bread we had stolen came home and fancied a bit of toast. She went to her cupboard and was puzzled when her lovely Warburton’s thick-cut softest-ever bread had turned into a no-frills not-very-tasty bread that looked like it had been bought at the cornershop.

She turned to ask what had happened and saw….

Two girls, old enough to know better, in a mess of melted cheese and bread crusts and crumbs and banana skins and open jars of jam and peanut butter. The two girls looked guilty but unable to move due the bread-induced semi-coma they were in.

We were never allowed to play with the toastie machine again….

Pre-Christmas lunching

Yesterday, Danda and I decided we would have fancy lunch as a kind of pre-Christmas lunchy thing. It was amazing, obviously. I was also trying out the dress I had bought for Christmas day, to see if it was possibly too outrageous as it has bright pink on it. The weather was quite grubby but we had a nice view of the river….

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…and the Festive Lunch menu promised to be fantastic…

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I chose the other option to Danda on each course so we had one of everything. A sore throat threatened to ruin the occasion so I got a fresh mint tea, which helped things.

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It was also very pretty to look at, so I was happy.

Before starting, we were brought some freshly baked bread and butter and a small thingy in a glass that was parmesan custard, butternut mousse and pine nut sprinkles….

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My starter was the mackerel tartare and fresh mackerel with cucumber and apple which was surprisingly light. Mackerel is usually quite a strong flavour, I guess because it is often smoked. But this was quite mild and didn’t drown out the other tastes at all.

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Danda’s starter was a chestnut soup with a warm duck’s egg and glazed wild mushrooms. The duck’s egg had a lovely rich flavour, far stronger than a hen’s egg.

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My main was a risotto with parmesan mousse, mushrooms and garlic crisps which, by the way, were amazing. The whole thing had hints of sweetness throughout, which surprised me, as I’m not big on sweet tastes in a savoury meal but this was lovely.

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Danda’s main was pheasant with mashed potato, baby carrots and a crostini with pig’s trotter. The crostini was so tasty, despite its rather unattractive description.

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By the time we got to dessert, I was on the wrong side of stuffed but soldiered through, ordering the trifle with vanilla biscuits…

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….while Danda ordered the warm eccles cake with cheese, walnuts and chicory on the side

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Post-lunch, we had espressos…

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…and were brought a dish of sweeties…

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The macaroon was vanilla and mince pie flavour! It was fabulous. All in all, it was a lovely getting-ready-for-Christmas lunch. It was also my last day off until Christmas Day so it was nice to dress up and pretend to be a laaaaady for a while.

Later in the evening, a neighbour had invited everyone over for mulled wine and mince pies so I ended the evening nibbling my way through the offerings and discussing whether the world would end the following day. Which, by the way, is today. I hope I live to write another post!

Allerdale goat’s cheese

Another follow-up, of sorts, to the last two weeks of Liverpool walks by my guest blogger, Rambler5319.

 

Following last week’s Walk in Woolton (Part 2) and my visit to The Liverpool Cheese Company this week I decided to buy a piece of one of the cheeses I gave as an example – Allerdale Goat’s Cheese (AGC from now on). So it was another walk and back to the shop. Now I’d never heard of or had AGC or in fact any goat’s cheese before so this was a bit of a leap into the unknown. I hoped, as the cash register closed, that I would not regret the purchase. As soon as I got home the wrapping was off and I sampled my first ever piece of AGC.
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Yep I forgot to take the pic before I started eating so this just what was left by the time I remembered. No, I didn’t regret the purchase – it was all about a new experience. It tasted fine but I’ll have to see if it grows on me sufficiently to push Shropshire Blue off the no.1 spot in my “Cheese Charts”.

Anyway the name got me thinking along the lines of what’s Allerdale Goat’s Cheese all about. Much has been made in the UK media over recent years about how kids don’t know where their food comes from; some don’t know what meat comes from cows, sheep & pigs; some didn’t even know meat came from any animals at all. I guess it’s city living and busy parenting (little time for the kids) that has something to answer for. So, with my AGC I was curious: where is the place it comes from, how’s it made, how did it get to the shop, etc?

Let’s start with the place where it is made – Thornby Moor Dairy in Thursby. Here’s where the dairy is:

http://www.visitcumbria.com/simon/croftonhall-9200b.jpg

You might have to click on the visitcumbria Thursby website search results if your browser doesn’t go directly to the image. (once you’re there, it’s 4th pic on the site.)

The dairy was started in 1979 by Carolyn Fairburn and it moved to the present site in Thursby in 1994. The dairy is in Allerdale which is not a single place but an area that was formed back in the 1970s by merging the districts of Workington, Maryport, Cockermouth, Keswick & Wigton. All these places, as you look at a map of England, are in the far north-west and to the south-west of Carlisle (which is about 10 miles south of the Scottish border).

Here’s a map showing the Allerdale area highlighted: http://www.flickr.com/places/info/12695900

Now, in common with blogs earlier this year (21.8.12 & 19.9.12), I decided to start with a check on the coat of arms. These usually give lots of info about how a town/city sees itself in terms of historical and current associations using heraldic symbols to represent those various characteristics. Here’s the one for the Borough of Allerdale:
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Let’s have a look at this somewhat cluttered image. Starting with the motto, in Latin of course: Ex Unitate Curaque Fortior. It means, according to the Heraldry of the World website, “Strength through caring and working together” although the borough’s own website is not as exact in its translation. Anyway it’s a good motto isn’t it? Something that I’m sure they hope will instil a sense of both commitment & community. Now there is a lot going on in their coat of arms picture; much of the imagery relates to characteristics, history and geography of the area which they want to represent. A quick run down starting at the top reveals some interesting info and some dodgy explanations from a site which should know better:

The weather vane (supposedly ship-shaped?) represents maritime connections, shipbuilding and more recently wind power technology in the district. This sits on top of a howdah – a seat fixed on an elephant. The howdah has 3 blue ovals representing thrushes’ eggs that refer to the town of Wigton where the council meetings were held originally. The elephant represents integrity & unity and the colours the towns of Egremont, Senhouse and others. Its trunk is holding a pick-axe to represent mining in the district. The green crown under the elephant represents civic authority. Heraldic terminology keeps the Latin words for left & right sinister & dexter. I did a bit of Latin at school so recognised these. However, I must point out that the Heraldry of the World website has got the part about the creatures supporting the shield completely wrong! We read there that “the sinister supporter (of the shield) is a centaur”. Now just look at the picture – the centaur, which is half man half horse, is clearly on the right (therefore dexter). It symbolises the Roman past of the area but also hospitality & wisdom. (I’m struggling a bit with that as centaurs, as far as I remember, were not noted for the last two qualities but maybe I’ve got it wrong.) Note also around the centaur’s neck the two medallions depicting drama: one for tragedy and one for comedy. Now given they got the sinister (left) bit wrong it follows they also got the dexter (right) bit wrong; they quote, “the dexter supporter is a sea dog” – no it isn’t! So let’s be clear – on the left (sinister) is a sea dog and on the right (dexter) is the centaur. (The Borough’s own website also has it incorrectly so someone copied from someone and it highlights the dangers of copying info without checking the verbiage; I have emailed the council and will report back next week if I get a reply from them. I’m not holding my breath.) Next is the sea-dog on the left (dog with mermaid-like tail) symbolising the marine activities of the area. The collar & chains refer to shipbuilding & mercantile marine activities. The name sea-dog refers to Fletcher Christian (of Mutiny on the Bounty fame) and the colours used reflect those in his coat of arms. Pitcairn Island is only 2 miles (3.2km) long by 1 mile (1.6km) wide and currently has a population of around 50. Its administrative headquarters are in Auckland (New Zealand) 3300 miles (5310km) away. With an ageing population the Island is looking for immigrants – short or long term – who are crucially self-supporting. If you fancy it get going folks as 2013 will see some possible employment opportunities opening up there. (Check out the website: http://www.visitpitcairn.pn/) Daily accommodation rates are in the region of $70-$120 and can include full board, meals & laundry. (Again check out what’s on offer: http://www.visitpitcairn.pn/visitpitcairn/accommodation/index.html) but don’t forget to add on the cost of getting there!

In 2005 Fletcher Christian’s great-great-great grandson, Tom Christian, left his home in the Pitcairn Islands and visited Fletcher’s birthplace, Moorland Close Farm in Cockermouth. (Interestingly, the Government of the Pitcairn Islands Website: http://www.government.pn/Pitcairnshistory.htm tells us that Fletcher Christian went to school with William Wordsworth. Now this could be slightly misleading with you imagining them running round the playground together. The truth is that Christian attended the same school – Cockermouth Free School, founded in the reign of Charles II – but was 6 years older than WW so it’s unlikely they played together. Anyway I bet you didn’t know that!) Here’s a pic of the plaque from the school: http://www.flickr.com/photos/up70mm/5064975794/ Sadly they got the year wrong – the Mutiny was 1789. At FC’s birthplace you can see they got it right – check the pic on Flickr:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/up70mm/5071478465/in/set-72157625126119032/

Back to the coat of arms, the crook the sea dog is holding represents sheep-rearing and rambling. Finally the shield and what’s inside it. In the centre is Pegasus representing inspiration, swift communication, and rivers and lakes. Pegasus is said to be the inspirer of poets, engineers & inventors. The three horns are called cornucopias and out of them grow wheat, corn, bluebells, daffodils etc. The keen-eyed among you might have noticed this Pegasus has a unicorn. Why? Well it’s to represent yet more qualities of the area – purity & healing. So you can see they managed to cram an awful lot into that image.

A slight digression here as the town of Caldbeck (in Allerdale), lying just 7½ miles south of the place where my cheese is made, was home to the eponymous hero of the old English folk song D’ye ken John Peel; (for D’ye read “Do you” or “Do ye”). A number of versions of the lyrics arose initially due to oral transmission. Here’s the opening verse which I and many others learnt at (primary) school:

D’ye ken John Peel with his coat so gay?

D’ye ken John Peel at the break o’ day?

D’ye ken John Peel when he’s far, far a-way.

With his hounds and his horn in the morning?

 

One version of the 3rd verse goes like this:

 

Yes, I ken John Peel and his Ruby, too!

Ranter and Ringwood, Bellman so true!

From a find to a check, from a check to a view,

From a view to a kill in the morning.

 

Did you spot the James Bond film in there?

 

Caldbeck is also the place where the well-known UK haulage firm, Eddie Stobart, began life as an agricultural contractor in the 1940s threshing corn and later (in the 1950s) spreading slag for fertiliser. Today the company’s general haulage operation, with its origins in 1970, has over 2,500 trucks (tractor units), thousands of trailers and a number of specialised divisions: rail, container, biomass, logging, car transporters & 2 airports. There have been three television series on a national network about different aspects of the company’s business and its employees. Some people spot trains, some aeroplanes but this haulage company has a fan club whose members are regular “Eddie spotters”: they collect the names that appear on the trucks – each truck has a female name and the first one was Twiggy named after the 1960s model. The firm’s official fan club has around 25,000 members and given that there will be spotters not in the fan club it’s possible there are thousands more out there checking the names of the trucks as they go by.

 

Anyway, back to the cheese. It’s made from raw milk produced by the owner’s herd of goats. Perhaps I ought to visit some day and thank the goats. It does, though, have to be matured for 5 months. Goat’s milk is believed to be one of the oldest sources of dairy produce in the world and more similar to human milk than cow’s milk.

 

And all that from my little piece of cheese!

My Nanny Rhino journey

My Nanny Rhino journey began on November 1st, obviously. I sat down, wrote ‘The Food And I’ on the page (like that film, The King And I) and I started writing. The first thing I wrote about was microwave chips. Who knows why? It just came into my head so I wrote it. Then I wrote about squid. Then I had reached 1667 words and gone a little further than that. So I stopped. The next day I wrote about truffles. I hit my 1667 word count again. It was easy. I read posts on blogs about how by the end of this month of NaNoWriMo, friendships and marriages would have been tested to their max, mental states become frayed and mealtimes passed by in a haze. I didn’t know what they were talking about. The words flowed freely and I wondered if I’d stop at 50,000 or just keep going. I loved it. And so it went, happily, uninterrupted, until November 10th.

Then the invites to dinner came, the extra workload, the work I was meant to be doing from home, which I had cast aside for NaNoWriMo but which now really needed doing. I started carrying a pad with me to try and snatch bits of time to scribble something I could type up later. For a whole week, NaNoWriMo didn’t get very much attention. I managed a few thousand but, by the time I got a few hours to sit at the computer, I was five days behind. There was nothing else for it. I sat down and wrote ten thousand words in a day and caught up.

The next day I was back to writing 1667 words and feeling good. Then the next few days, I was busy and when I next got to the computer, I started writing and the biggest load of nonsense found it’s way on to the page. Who wrote that drivel about nutmeg and limes? Shockingly enough, I did. I pretended all was fine and moved on hurriedly, excelling myself with my section about cheese.

I fell behind a few days from the end and squeezed four and a half thousand on to November 30th, the last day of NaNoWriMo. I finished on 50393 words. There is some nonsense, some slightly better stuff and some recipes.

All in all, I’m extremely pleased I undertook the challenge. I feel great having done it, although I haven’t yet got out of the habit of drifting to the computer as soon as I get in the house…

A walk in Woolton (part 2)

Good morning all! Today it’s time to get back to Rambler5319’s walk around Liverpool. Enjoy….

You remember we finished last week (21.11.12) having come along the narrow path called Mill Stile and were just about to turn right into Church Road.

There wasn’t time to visit but, if we’d turned left and walked just over a quarter of mile up the hill, we’d have come to Reservoir Road. No prizes for guessing what is there – yep a storage reservoir, one of a number around the city. Liverpool’s water requirements, like many other expanding & industrialising cities, grew substantially during the 19th century.

Sadly, in this case, the residents of the village of Llanwddyn in North Wales were forced out of their homes in 1889 to help satisfy that need. They’d had to watch the dam across the River Vyrnwy being built knowing the end was coming.

The reservoir formed behind the dam was named Lake Vyrnwy which then became a water source for the city. Calling it a “lake” makes it sound just like a natural feature of the landscape. It gives no hint of what had been sacrificed in the name of progress: the village parish church, 2 chapels, 3 inns, 10 farmhouses & 37 houses had disappeared under the water. (The 1851 Census shows there were Welsh people living in the Woolton area. I wonder if any worked on the reservoir building and its tower not realising the background to it.) The lake can hold 13 million gallons of water when full and its surface area covers the equivalent of 600 football pitches; and it still supplies the city today. If the water in the lake was petrol and you got about 35 mpg you could drive from Venus to the Earth and all the way out to Jupiter and still have some left over! Anyway, back to Earth, and after turning right, a little way down the road we come to St Peter’s Church.
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A chapel was first built on the site in 1826 but, after population growth over the next 60 years, a number of wealthy merchants gave the money for a new church building which opened in 1887. Sandstone from the quarry was used as it was literally on their doorstep.

We’re visiting the church hall across the road first as this is famous for being the place where, at a church fete on 6th July 1957, Paul McCartney met John Lennon and the Quarrymen.

There are a couple of photos from that date (showing the group on the back of a lorry) at this website http://www.beatlesbible.com/1957/07/06/john-lennon-meets-paul-mccartney/.

Here’s the Church Hall:
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And here is a close-up of the plaque under the middle window. This is the actual place where the two guys met:
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Now cross over the road to St Peter’s Church. It is also famous because in the graveyard is this headstone:
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Just read down the names on the headstone. Can you see it? Now you know where they probably got the idea for the name Eleanor Rigby which appears in the lyrics of the song. McCartney later admitted the choice of names in the song was probably a subconscious remembering from the times spent in and around the graveyard. This was half of another Beatles double A-side with Yellow Submarine on the other. It reached No.1 in Aug 1966 and stayed there for 4 weeks.

Can you see the name John McKenzie in this next picture?
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(There is no suggestion that he was a priest but I think poetic licence took over when McCartney wrote the lyrics.) If you know the song Eleanor Rigby, there are a few lines in it about a Father McKenzie:

a) Writing the words of a sermon that no-one will hear

b) Darning his socks in the night when there is nobody there

c) Wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave.

You need to look left and up slightly, in between the vertical stems of two crosses, for the lightish brown stone. (It’s 3 rows back and the only other one you can see with an inscription.) That stone has the Eleanor Rigby name if you can enlarge the pic.

Continuing down the hill the first turn left is Mason St. Here we find a cinema called the Woolton Picture House. You can just about see the name above the doors although the protruding metal framework prevented me getting a clear pic of it:
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It has a very interesting history dating back to 1927. In the world of films, The Jazz Singer released in Oct 1927 (starring Al Jolson) is considered the first talking picture film; and the first words spoken were, “Wait a minute, wait a minute! You ain’t heard nothin’ yet!” I wonder if it was shown here in Woolton after the place opened in Dec. Here’s the close up of the plaque on the wall just to the right of the cinema entrance:
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It is one of the old-fashioned style single screen cinemas and as you can see from the pic, “the oldest surviving cinema in Liverpool.”

Downhill again from here and turn right at the bottom. Just along on the right is something which looks a bit strange. Here it is:
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It seems to be a sunken car park but the sign, just inside the sandstone post at the other end on the left of my pic, tells us we’re in what is called Lodes Pond. It did have water in it at one time which explains the stone banks around the U-shaped floor. Apparently, after a dispute with the Lord of the Manor the local district council ordered that the water had to be, “kept in perpetuity for the use of cattle”. So essentially it was a huge cattle watering trough.

Check out the pic on Flickr from 1936 (taken from a similar position) when it was full of water: http://www.flickr.com/photos/68767304@N03/8121915910/sizes/l/in/pool-1435847@N20/

I noted one of the small terraced houses behind where I took the photo from has called itself Lodes Pond View. With the absence of any water in the “Pond” I suppose its added value potential in any future sale will be somewhat limited as it actually looks out on to a car park.

Crossing the road and heading towards the traffic lights we come to a pub called The Coffee House. On the side facing us is a date stone showing 1641 as you can see in this photo below. Jeremiah Horrocks, the famous English astronomer, with connections to Liverpool’s Otterspool Pool Park (just 4 miles away) died the same year it opened; the future Charles II was just 11 years old; The English Civil War started the following year; and Liverpool itself was under siege by the Royalist Prince Rupert in 1644 so perhaps Woolton’s two known Catholic supporters at the time would not have gone in for a drink.
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We continue walking a little bit further and on the left we come to a small shop on the corner called The Liverpool Cheese Company.
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Naturally it sells cheese but there are so many types it’s hard to know what you might like. Here’s just one of the display cases.
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Some years ago the owner recommended a particular type for me to try. Now I’m not a blue cheese person especially after trying some Danish Blue once but he convinced me to try a piece of Shropshire Blue. It’s sort of not quite what you expect a blue cheese to taste like and I was pleasantly surprised. Anyway I tried some and have returned a number of times to get more of it.

Here’s the piece I got today:
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In addition to cheese, a number of other products are available. A few years ago the shop posted an order for me which was a present for someone. It was a piece of a cheese called Stinking Bishop. The Telegraph newspaper reported it had been voted Britain’s smelliest cheese in 2009. It was mentioned in the Wallace & Gromit film, The Curse of the Were-Rabbit(2005) and apparently sales rocketed by 500% following the film’s release.

The shop also can make up presentation baskets with wine, cheese & other items they stock. Check out their website: http://www.liverpoolcheesecompany.co.uk/. It’s really worth a visit to see everything on offer including advice on how to wrap & store cheese.

Click on the cheese section and there are 13 pages of the different types on sale. There have got to be loads there you’ve never heard of. Anyone know these: Allerdale Goat, Snowdonia Pickle Power, Sykes Fell Ewe, Inglewhite Smoked Goat, Gabriel Blue EweorShorrock’s Strong Lancashire Bomb?Just looking at the names conjures up a desire to try them. Imagine that after dinner conversation when you say, “Have you never tried Snowdonia Pickle Power?” and, following blank looks all around, you then launch into a glowing report of how wonderful a cheese it is.

Btw I wouldn’t recommend the Stinking Bishop variety unless you have a very strong constitution. Also it needs careful storage as the smell can affect (infect?) other items in the fridge as the person to whom I sent my gift told me what some other items tasted like after the cheese had been in there.

Despite the presence of a large supermarket just at the back of this shop and another one close by there is a dedicated bunch of loyal customers who keep coming back here for the service they receive and the varieties on offer which they can’t get elsewhere. I have on occasion had to queue outside on the pavement as it’s been packed inside.

Over the road, just beyond the traffic lights, we come to the village cross. Local history records say the cross was erected around 1350AD by the Knights Hospitaller; they also built a water mill in the area early in the 14th Century. These men were a group of monks and knights, recruited from Western European nations, who protected the routes to Jerusalem used by pilgrims to the Holy City. They took the monastic vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience. However, they added a fourth vow which bound them to protect pilgrims and fight any attackers.

They had been given the village of Woolton and its lands, around 1180, by the constable of Chester under whose control the area was. This land was rented out to tenants but upon their death the heir would have to pay the value of one third of that person’s “moveable” possessions; that would be stuff like cows, ploughs, stools and cooking pots.

Basically it was a form of death duties but at 33%; and all, even the poorest, had to pay them to the Knights. It’s interesting to note from history that in 1187, following the siege of Jerusalem and its eventual surrender to Saladin, they and a number of inhabitants were allowed out of the city provided they paid a ransom. The Hospitallers & the Templars led the first two columns of people to leave having been given a promise of safe passage by the conquerors.

Here’s the cross:
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Just across the road in the window of a newsagents shop was this sign:
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I wonder how much you were paid when you did your paper round. I bet it wasn’t anywhere near £20 ($32) for 6 mornings (7am-7.45am)! Would be interesting to see what the paper boy/girl rates are like in other countries. Anyone from US/Canada or rest of the world help with info to compare with UK?

We continue walking along Speke Road until we turn right into School Lane. Keep walking along the lane until you come to a place where it narrows. You will see this building on your left although I had to go to the other end to take the picture looking back the way I’d come. Unfortunately undergrowth and tree branches obscured both ends:
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What is interesting is the inscription over the door and here’s a close-up.
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If you can’t make it out, it says: “Much Woolton Old School. The Oldest Elementary School Building in Lancashire” with the date of 1610 also inscribed in the stonework. It is believed that the actual building may pre-date 1610 as there is a reference to a bequest made in 1606 to provide a schoolmaster at Woolton. However this and other tangential refs don’t identify this particular building just the area; records from 1608 suggest an estimated population of 130 (29 households) so I’m not sure how many pupils there might have been when it was up and running.

From here it was back into the village and out on the road which would return me to my start point. On the way I saw this establishment:
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Now I confess I know almost nothing about spas; I’d never even heard of one of these. Have you got one near where you live? The website for one in Bangkok advertises a number of treatments that work out to about £60/hour so I guess the UK rates could be higher.

They also offer what seems to be a most luxurious treatment called The Botanical Refresh lasting, if you can spare the time, 5 hours 15 mins!! It consists of the following: Pebble Foot Bath (10 mins), Herbal Steam (20 mins), choice of Let’s Relax or Body Reviver (120 mins), Reviving Foot Massage (30 mins), Two Course Healthy Spa Cuisine & Healing Drink, Aromatherapy Facial (60 mins), Spa Manicure or Spa Pedicure (75 mins). (And yes, it does add up to 315 mins or 5 ¼ hrs.) In Bangkok it will cost you 14,500 Baht (that’s approx £295/$473, so again roughly £60/$96 per hour).

And that was the end of the visit to Woolton – time to head home and a bath (not a spa) for the tired legs. It had been a good walk and a good day. Woolton is definitely an area of great historical interest. Even one guy I met who lived there didn’t know about 2 or 3 things I’d found. There’d been stuff from the 12th century to 1610, from the Victorians to the Beatles sites and right up to the present day. I’ll definitely visit again.