Monday, March 26, 2012

Pandemonium in the car park

Spring has definitely sprung here in sunny Dorset. Ms Tagalong has to contain Mr Ideasman's enthusiasm. He was convinced it was going to be all drizzle and grey skies!

Cruising around local villages this week we visited the New Inn at Stoke Abbott. Not new, of course, more like 17th century, but it's all relevant when the village boasts a 12th century church!

So why is Ms Tagalong telling you about this place? Well, Luke Stephens, the young, really young, owner told me that they were expanding their garden. Not just a beer garden, this. A proper growing vegetable garden with herbs and veggies. There are plans afoot to put in a hot and cold smoker and also to have chickens. The garden showed signs of industry with new borders and turned soil. The polytunnel was full of tomato plants, varieties of lettuce and starter plants for the hanging baskets of colour which are obligatory in English country gardens come Summer!

There was a bathtub being put to good use, no clay in this one, just a contained space for the mint. Mr Ideasman's gentle sipping of coffee was interrupted when a fracas occurred in the parking area. This being Stoke Abbott, the majority of the car park was taken up with horses, (about twenty of them) and two very skittish ones, having been spooked by a pheasant's whirring and crowing as he was flushed from a nearby garden, pulled the palings off the fence to which they were attached and sent the others into wild frenzy.

It was a bit much. The riders had to put down their pints and tend to calming the horses. Peace restored, one rider nailed back the paling and the Sunday afternoon in the sun continued.

Ms Tagalong and Mr Ideasman wandered up to look inside the church and marvel at the 12th century font, listen to the bells (5 dating from 1613-1764) and ogle at some of the medieval stained glass.Wandering around the daffodilled graveyard brought to mind Pure by Andrew Miller, the novel Ms Tagalong has just read about disinterring a whole Parisian graveyard. Somehow, she suspected, this was not going to happen here!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Toads in Holes

While the magic elves have been working wonders in the garden, Ms Tagalong has been marvelling from afar, going to regular yoga and cooking using local ingredients.

Mr Ideasman never believed Ms Tagalong when she talked about Toad in the Hole. He said it was some strange dish featuring an unwholesome piece of white bread with a hole in the centre filled with an egg! No, no, no! said Ms Tagalong. Wait until we get to England and I will show you a proper toad in the hole!

And so it came to pass. Ms Tagalong cruised the local market held in stalls along the streets in Bridport, and purchased some local Cumberland Sausages. Yes, meat sausages full of local piggies and herbs. Organic of course. Then she looked for the freshest eggs she could find. This multi-coloured selection took her fancy and they did not disappoint.

The batter was made with the golden eggs and after the sausages were part cooked, poured on top to rise and cook in a most fantastic way. Even Ms Tagalong was impressed with her batter. It rose and looked golden as she took it out of the oven and so she whipped out her camera to make sure she could share it with you across the sea!