Its been a long, hard month and as I am sure you will appreciate we have naturally been fading away with thirst and hunger….
We finally left Hailsham on Saturday morning and had a reasonably good journey until we hit the M25 where we then crawled our way through the dartford tunnel. That said, we still managed to arrive at Malvern just before lunch ready to take on the Smoke and Fire Festival. We went last year and had a fantastic time so decided to repeat it again staying at the same CL (Hook Farm Mundon Road Maldon Essex CM9 6PN) which is roughly 3km from the park where the festival is held. After lunch and sorting ourselves our we took a leisurely walk in to do a rain check, have a few beers (and ciders) and soak up the music, preparing ourselves for Sunday.
Its a proper family festival – the music is good, as are the food and ambience and all the proceeds from the Smoke and Fire Festival go to the Air Ambulance. As we had missed alot of the action on the Saturday being too late for the chilli con carne competition, we were keen to get a taster of the slow cooked, smoked meats on the Sunday…. we were not disappointed. We had missed a few of the competitors offerings but still got to taste quite a bit of briskett and pork…. taking the edge off of our appetite before we did our research for lunch!
Unsurprisingly we ended up with slow cooked briskett and pork with some delicious coleslaw and fries…. could have eaten it all day! Instead however, we decided to try some of the hot wings from the hot wings competition……. wowzers! Over 3million Scoville – hotest yet! Keith got hiccups straight away and my eyes and nose were streaming … although I couldn’t stop laughing…..an interesting combination of effects! Needless to say we only had the one each and washed it down with plenty of beer and cider!
By Sunday night we were full of deliciously cooked food and thankful for a break from the rain. So on Monday after a bit of a run/execise we headed back to the farm in Holyport – via an overnight stop in Hailsham as the batteries still weren’t quite right. Hats off to the guys at AMC as they worked through the issues and by Tuesday we were on our way again feeling happier….as were they as we made them a batch of brownies!
Back in Holyport we continued our culinary fest and on the recommendation of another motorhomer, finally visited Sindhu at the Complete Angler in Marlow which is Atul Kochhar’s restaurant. A delicious 3 course lunch with Prosecco for £19 each……we then added a carafe of wine and breads…. oh and the prawns were an extra too – but it was delicious and a beautiful setting just on the Thames in Marlow.
We were given some beautifully light papadams and sauces as an appetiser to go with our Prosecco. Keith then had Smoked Mackeral and I had Aubergine steak to start, followed by Prawn Curry (Keith) and Beetroot Kofta (me) both accompanied by pilau rice and two naan breads. Desserts were Bibinca – a coconut layered cake (Keith) and Mango Kulfi (me), all finished off with some hand made chocolate and sweets – absolutely delicious and well worth the visit!
We haven’t booked up any more ‘Chef’y’ restaurants so I am afraid that it is now back to good, old fashioned home cooked food …. and I am pleased to say that as always, there has been plenty of that!
We spent a couple of weeks back in Holyport catching up with a few people and getting in as many BBQs as possible … we have even found Tri Tip thanks to my brother in law and Keith had a go at smoking it which was a huge success… what a great joint of meat.
Going vegan for a minute, we have come across the most amazing recipe for hazlenut pesto … literally just hazlenuts, basil, garlic, lemon juice, salt and oil – delicious with roasted vegetables and flat breads…. home made by Keith’s fair hands of course!
Putting food aside for a minute – after a lot of contemplating regarding replacing the leather furniture in Hattie, we bit the bullet and just before we got back to the UK we booked her in for a bit of an internal facelift. The company is called Regal Furnishings and they are based near Derby so, after we confirmed the date, selected the colour leather we wanted, we started to plan a little trip around it…. oh and the Gastrovanner event that was already in the diary!
We left Holyport on Friday 6th and headed towards Northamptonshire to a pub called The Stratton Arms in Turweston – the venue where we were due to meet some random strangers that are also passionate about food for a weekend of gastronomy!
The Stratton Arms has a beautiful garden and they are happy for motorhomes to stay overnight for free if you have a few drinks or food in the pub…. to which we naturally obliged!
Friday night was a quite night in the pub and after a walk in the morning we prepped the food, shared thoughts on cooking methods and compared bread… all getting together round the firepit at around 5pm to kick the evening off with beer and Gin and Tonic to go with the smoked salmon blinis cooked rustic style!
There were only 9 of us and the idea was that each motorhome should cook two courses in tapas style and bring a cheese….. it was a fantastic evening with great food and great company …. needless to say we didn’t make it to the last dessert (Eton Mess) nor the cheese as we embarrassingly retired just before 1am – it was 6 degrees out there!!!
After the Smoked Salmon Blinis cooked by Micheal, the menu took the following order… Cadac Pizza (which was meant for the kids but there was a bit left over … ), Mojito Prawns and Moscow Mule Prawns with Dijon Mayonaise all by Damien – my god they were alcoholic, Charred Beetroot, Black pudding and Jowl bacon cooked by Guy and Helen, Squash and Blackbean Quesadillas cooked by us, French Onion Sweetcorn Chowder with Nettles and Emmenthal Croutons – does sound odd but it worked, honest!! by Michael, Briskett Chill Con Carne with Focaccia bread by us, Kartoffelpuffer and Schnitzels by Damien and then….. finally, we made it to dessert. We were all stuffed as reality is that no-one made tapas sized portions ….. and it was about midnight, however we pushed on through with Jo’s Sticky Orange Polenta Cake which was cooked on the Cobb and then finally the cherry that finished the evening …. Michaels Cherries three ways with ice cream….. incorporating the 15 year old vodka cherry – yum!
What a night – a fantastic group of people and some amazingly good food – so glad that we could have been a part of it….and looking forward to the next one already!
We left Turweston on Sunday and headed North to Leicsetershire to a lovely CL just outside Lutterworth (Orchard farm, swinford road,Walcott LE17 4JZ) where we were surrounded by apple trees and two very friendly donkeys who kept us company. The site was in a great location for walking and cycling as well as being beautiful and tranquil. We had picked it so we could catch up with some friends who live a short cycle away but we will definately be back to explore the area more next time.
As we were only stopping one night we were on the move again on Monday morning heading North West to see Kevin and Petra for a couple of days. We parked Hattie up at Four Oaks Caravan Site (£15 excl. elec Buckford Lane, Stenson, Derby, DE73 7GB) a basic but very tranquil campsite with lots of space and near to the canal which suited us perfectly as Kevin and Petra have a narrow boat …
We were honoured to be taken out for a day trip, even managing to take in the Marsdens brewery and a curry in the evening …. a lovely way of travelling and such a treat… watch out, we may be converts!
We finally moved on to our destination for the trip – well that was our excuse anyway – Regal furnishings, what an impressive place.
We arrived mid afternoon and once they had checked us in and ensured we were happy with everything they got started measuring up and had even started cutting foam before the end of the day.
The next morning was an early start – they were in the van at 7:30am – but they were done and we were on our way by 4pm. A really high quality job and they enourage you to stay and watch as they put the furniture together. We are really pleased with the result – great looking design and a lovely ‘pebble’ colour!
It’s only when you look at the before and after photos that you realise how yellow and saggy the old leather looked!
A fantastic week to break us away from some the work we have on at the moment – a welcome change!
We are back for a couple of weeks now to catch up with friends and family again before heading westwards to Bath for a few days mid-Oct….let’s hope the weather stays as dry and beautiful as it has been until now!