Saturday 29 August 2009

Ringwood and Lymington - two lovely Forest towns

I am still trying to get our holiday written up on here, so you will have to be patient. One of the nice things was we could be leisurely. We could drive the back way in to Ringwood across the moor and then along the little back lanes, park up for free (using my friend's free parking ticket which locals ca buy for a small fee) and then just stroll around the shops.

The Forest moorland near Castle Hill, an Iron Age hill fort and a rarity for the Forest.

Ringwood is a lovely town and it made me feel at home to hear the soft Hampshire accent again. Lovely people, unpretentious country folk, happy and friendly. There is a choice of Sainsburys and Waitrose, some excellent Charity shops and a wonderful fabric and sewing shop where I could have easily spent a small fortune! I was good and just bought some material in the sale for the hexagon patchwork quilt I'm making, and a length of beautiful shot silk effect Chinese patterned material for a throw for middle daughter's bed for Christmas. I have been thinking ahead this year . . .

A quiet corner of Ringwood.

In the 11th century, Ringwood was known as "Rincevede" - the ford (wade or vede) over the river (rine). Indeed, the River Avon runs nearby and was an important crossing place. At the time of the Domesday Book, both a church and a mill here were mentioned and in 1226 a Charter was granted by Henry III allowing a weekly market here (Wednesday is market day). James, Duke of Monmouth, was alleged to have stayed at Monmouth House, near the Market Place, following the Battle of Sedgemoor. Visit here for further details.

In one of the little precincts (and I kick myself for not photographing it) was a stunning bronze statue of a New Forest mare and foal. It is by Priscilla Hann and I have taken the liberty of borrowing the photograph from her website. That's what I call ART - there is such movement and vibrancy in the figures.

We also drove across the Forest to Lymington. Last time I went there middle daughter was about 4 years old and let go of my hand on a busy market day and we LOST HER! The panic I felt then still echoed through me as we walked down the High Street . . . Now she is 20 she is more difficult to lose!

As you can see, storm clouds were threatening! This is the quaint little street leading down to the Quay.

And around the corner at the bottom. Lots of little shops selling clothes and what-have-you.

Down on the quay the storm cloud was even more threatening. We sat for a while though, and listened to the breeze jingling the rigging of the yachts and looked across the river and out towards the Isle of Wight.

Then it was back up to the car, with the wind starting to rise as the weather front chased us. We were caught in heavy rain just 100 yards from the car and steamed gently after that! As you can see, it is such a pretty town and well worth a visit.

Its history dates from Saxon times and the name was originally believed to be limen tun - "tun" is a Saxon word for farm or hamlet, and "limen" a Celtic word for elm or marshy river. It was first records in 689 AD and by the time of the Domesday Book in 1086 it was recorded as Lentune. A charter giving Lymington the right to hold a market was granted by the Lord of the Manor, William de Redvers, around 1200, and there was also an Annual fair which had become a twice-yearly event by 1315. The town has long been a busy port and from the Middle Ages until the 19th century it was important for the export of salt which was manufactured locally from seawater which was evaporated in large copper pans. Merchants in Salisbury also used Lymington as their outlet for exports of wool (much to the annoyance of nearby Southampton). A more detailed history fo the town may be found here.

Raisin and Pumpkin Seed Bread

This was a recipe in yesterday's Telegraph and I just had to try it straight away (we were down to our last slice anyway). I used Sultanas rather than raisins as I had some that needed using up. Rose Prince is responsible for the article.


1 1/2lb (700g) strong bread flour
2 sachets (7g) easy blend yeast (yes, TWO - I reckon you could use one and just let it rise longer)
1 tsp fine salt
1 tsp muscavado sugar
14 fl oz (425ml) lukewarm water - I used 15 fl oz as I normally do
3 tblspns pumpkin seeds
4 tblsns raisins (or sultanas)

Stir these dry ingredients together and make a well in the centre. Add the water and mix with a spoon to a lumpy dough. (I found this was rather dry, even with the 15 oz, but it did draw together when kneaded). Knead for about 10 mins, stretching and folding the dough until smooth and elastic. You can cheat and use the Kenwood if you wish . . . Add more flour or water depending how moist/dry the dough is. Leave to rise in a lightly oiled bowl and place, covered, in a warm place for an hour and a half when the dough should have doubled in size.

Preheat your oven to 230 deg C/450 deg. F/gas mark 8. Meanwhile, knock the dough back and roll it out on a lightly floured board. Sprinkle the dough with the seeds and raisins, adding more if wished. Roll and fold, twice more, so that the fruit and seeds are evenly distributed.

Divide into two rounded loaves and place on a greased baking sheet. Score once with a knife and leave to prove for another 30 mins. Bake for about 25 mins until pale golden and the bread sounds hollow when tapped. I brushed mine with beaten egg for extra colour, but you could use milk instead, or just nothing . . .

These turned out REALLY well and are scrummy. It's a recipe which will definitely be going into my folder of favourites, and I may well adapt it next time and add finely chopped apricots or windfall apples, and perhaps a light sprinkling of cinnamon.

Friday 28 August 2009

Feeling Autumnal

There has been a slight feel of Autumn in the air since the end of July - I've never known it so early - and though we have had a few days with good hot sunshine, there has been a lot of wind and today REALLY feels like Autumn is here to stay, with a stiff breeze, scudding clouds, prancing branches and now rain. I am hoping against hope that we will have an Indian Summer next month, or else winter is going to seem a very protracted affair this year.

I managed to get some outside painting done - a job abandoned by my son who has discovered he hates painting! He must take after his father then . . . I also turned some of the Discovery mountain into Country Mincemeat for Christmas. My husband bought me a BIG box of Discovery apples for just £2 at the greengrocer's at Abergwili, but there is a limit to how many I can safely eat and still leave the house! I am thinking of making apple wine with a few more.


Take sweet apples (though I have used windfall cookers in the past too) - even the ones which are getting a bit old and wrinkled from storage will do - peel, core and chop. Combine with dried fruit - I used an out-of-date packet which was fine, but may have been a tad drier than any I have recently bought. Sprinkle on demerara sugar, ground cinnamon and ground cloves and add a little home-made wine if you like (I added a slosh of Crab Apple Wine). You may add some finely-chopped (and well washed) orange and/or lemon peel if you wish. I mixed mine in a bowl, but in the past I usually put straight into my earthenware jar as I am cutting the apples up, layering with the sugar, spices and dried fruit. I also usually add chopped dried apricots, but you may add whatever fruit you wish to the mix. Even without the wine, the mixture will become moist and winey and believe me it smells DIVINE. It will keep a year in the earthenware jar, which is best kept in a cool place, though having said that mine lives on the bottom shelf of a little table in the bay window. I have a recipe which calls for suet too, and is stored in jars, but this one is a lovely old-fashioned recipe and keeps very well. You will make it year after year, I promise.

Here are two books I couldn't resist at The Works today. They are full of lovely ideas and I can't wait to try a few on the short grey days of winter.

Finally, the photo my son took last night of the Toad in the Hole he made for tea. Note the height the batter has risen to (he is now officially our Yorkshire Pudding maker, as his are like skyscrapers - the secret is in a thinnish mixture apparently).

Wednesday 26 August 2009

Salisbury Cathedral II

View of the spire through the Cloister windows. I love this photo.

I took this photograph for the detailed carving, and the lovely pony in the middle. If you click n it and look more closely, you will see that the lady behind the pony has been decapitated as some point (not sure if deliberate or accidental), and just what is happening to the bottom half of the knight type figure far right - his legs look like he is a genie from a bottle!

This effigy dates from the 12th century and was situated at the original chosen site of th cathedral at Old Sarum, but was brought here subsequently. It is thought to be Jocelin de Bohun, who was Bishop from 1142 - 1184. The details of Humphrey de Bohun make interesting reading.

The plaque beneath reads: Robert Lord Hungerford: He died in 1459. His effigy and remains were first in the Hungerford Chantry which was demolished in 1789 and this tomb was rebuilt from the fragments.

If the name rings a bell, go back to my old Codlins and Cream blogspot and check out Farleigh Hungerford Castle, which we stopped at on the way down to the New Forest at the beginning of August.

Soaring arches and columbs above the misericords.

The Mompesson tomb. Across the top is written Richard Mompesson, Knight and Dame Katherine. He died in 1627, and lived in the close (stunning Mompesson House was pictured on my Salisbury Cathedral I blog entry). Apparently this memorial is unusual in that it faces West instead of East, as initially it was the other side of the aisle. It was repainted in its original glorious colours in 1962.

I assume these are earlier Bishops of Salisbury.

I think this tomb is the one built in memory of Sit Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford and his wife Katherine, who was sister to the ill-fated Lady Jane Grey. It was certainly a very decadent memorial.
I think these beautiful stained glass windows are those in Trinity Chapel.

My husband made me take all sorts of photographs of church "furniture", and I suspect he may be making his own replicas as some time in the future . . .

Tomb of Sir John de Montacute. He fought at Crecy in 1346 and Poitiers 1356 and was later Steward to King Richard II. He died in 1389.

Old books

A good fiver's worth here - A Shropshire Lad and The Land is yours (below). If you double click on the picture below you will be able to read the pages and then you can go to Amazon and see if it's being offered for a penny . . .

I just can't resist them. When I was in Brecon again on Monday, I took fellow bookaholics (my daughter and her boyfriend) into Andrew Morton's excellent 2nd hand bookshop. I DID resist a little tempation and didn't buy the Fred Kitchen book I found there though I did want it, but then I found another C Henry Warren book and it was only £3 so I talked myself into that, and then I was browsing the poetry section for anything by any of the Dymock poets or about them, and came upon a cheap (£2) copy of Houseman's A Shropshire Lad. Well, I think you will understand I couldn't leave them behind . . . In fact, following a conversation I had with a friend, who kindly gave me some wonderful literary gems recently following her aunt's death, it would appear that her aunty was guiding my hand, since A Shropshire Lad was her permanent bedside companion . . . Thank you Jessie . . .

Tuesday 25 August 2009

Today's River Walk

I am really in a blogging mood today, and inspired by pictures of Touch-me-not Balsam (Himalayan Balsam as it's also called) which I've just found over at Beyond the Fields We Know, I thought I would make another blog posting tonight. So, from this afternoon's river walk, here is a selection of photographs . . .

One of the dratted Umbellifers I will have to look up to identify . . .

The mid-pink Himalayan Balsam, which also comes in a deeper pink. It forms seedheads which explode when they are ripe or nearly ripe and you touch them. Needless to say it is a very successful weed . . .

White Himalayan Balsam down by the stream leading into the river.

A humble bumble bee on Self Heal.

Sometimes I amaze myself. This photograph should have been absolutely ruined by the dazzling sunshine on the water, but the camera shut down its aperture and I have this lovely black and white photo instead. I love it.

Looking downstream.

Dark velvet eddies of water.

And over the rapids.


Blackberry Curd

"This curd is delicious spread thickly on warm scones, crusty wholemeal bread or hot, buttered muffins. It will keep for a few weeks in the fridge. Raspberries can be used instead of blackberries." (Also from the same Sarah Paston-Williams book).

12 oz (350g) blackberries
8 oz (225g) cooking apples
Juice of 1 lemon
4 oz (125g) butter
12oz (350g) caster sugar
4 eggs

Wash blackberries and peel, core and chop apples. Place in a saucepan and cook gently for about 15 mins or until really soft. Rub through a sieve and put pulp in a basin or in the top of a double saucepan. Add lemon juice, butter, cut into small pieces, and sugar. Stand basin over a saucepan of hot water and cook gently until sugar has dissolved, stirring occasionally. Beat eggs well and add to fruit mixture. Continue to cook for about 30 mins or until it thickens. Pour into hot jam jars and cover as for jam. Store in a cool place.

Salisbury in the rain - Part 1

Salisbury cathedral through the trees.

How wonderful these statues must have looked in all the glory of their Medieval colouring. The building of the cathedral at "New Sarum" as Salisbury was once known, began in 1220 and the main building completed in under 38 years. The spire is 400 feet (123 metres) high and is the tallest spire in England. It is amazing that the cathedral is still standing, since it is built on very shallow foundations (18"!) on a base of wooden faggots over gravel.

Below, from the distance you get a better idea of the front of the cathedral and all the niches for many saints.

It began to rain shortly after we arrived in Salisbury (several weeks back now . . . Just happy memories!) It didn't bother us. We browsed in a few charity shops, and in a few non-charity shops, and spent a King's ransom on sit-down fish and chips which were barely edible, the chips having been warmed up from the night before. Note to self, do NOT be the first lunchtime or evening customers in a chippy again . . .

The beautiful Poultry Cross in Salisbury. If you had visited Salisbury in the 15th century, you would have found quite a few different trading crosses in the Market Place, which were focuses for the sale of meat, cheese, butter, poultry and presumably fish and perhaps corn too. Sadly this is the only one which remains. The flying buttresses were added to this cross in 1852. Market-day in Salisbury is on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and when I lived in Coombe Bissett, just outside Salisbury, I always enjoyed visiting the market and bought my fruit, vegetables and meat there, as well as material to sew the first patchwork quilt I ever made. I also managed to get caul here to use for casings for home-made faggots. Gosh, that's taken me back to the late 1970s now. Thirty years ago.

The Haunch of Venison pub is across the other side of Silver Street to the Poultry Cross. I used to go out for a drink there on Saturday lunchtimes, when I'd finished work, with friends from the Folk Club. When renovation was being done in 1905, a mummified hand, still holding a hand of cards, was found walled-up, and in my time, a replica hand was on display behind glass. The pub dates from the 15th century, and is one of many half-timbered buildings to be found in Salisbury. It is supposedly haunted by the ghost of a lady in white shawl, who is given to moving the crockery around, and has been seen looking out of an upper-floor window. Whether or not she was buried in the graveyard backing onto the pub is a matter of conjecture.

This is the excellent Salisbury Museum, where Keith and I spent a happy hour or so. The building itself is a called Kings House and is Grade I listed, parts of it dating back to the 13th century. Apparently it inspired Thomas Hardy to set part of Jude the Obscure there, in his mind's eye. It has a very good collection of ceramics. It has a particularly fine archaeology display, including masses of Neolithic pots from Salisbury Plain, the fine Victorian archaeologist General Pitt-Rivers' collection, and has an excellent display of the remains and burial goods of the famous Amesbury Archer, who was unearthed at Boscombe Down back in 2002. His rich grave goods included Beaker pottery, copper knives, and two gold hair tresses/earrings which dated to 2,400 BC and are the oldest true-dated gold ever found in Britain. Buried just 3 miles from Stonehenge, he was also contemporary with the building of it. He himself came from the Alps and was Swiss or Austrian and would have been of high status because of his metal-working skills. He died aged around 35 - 45 years of age. Buried close by was a younger relative of the Archer's - they both shared an unusual bone structure in the foot - but strontium analysis showed that he had grown up in the South, and spent his late teen years in Scotland or the Midlands. He was quite possibly his son.

Above and below, buildings within the Cathedral Close. The one below is where the late Ted Heath, ex Prime Minister, lived for many years.

This is one of the gateways into the Cathedral Close. When I worked in Salisbury, there was a wonderful 2nd hand book shop (Beaches I think it was called) just out of shot on the right. It's now a restaurant. Just beyond the white house through the gateway are some beautiful old Almshouses.

You can just see a corner of this lovely old building in the photograph above. I have always loved the criss-cross leaded glass in such windows, but I bet they're the very devil to keep clean!

I love this ram and am trying to find out the story behind him. Judging by the ring on his back, he once hang over a shop front, rather than sitting above the doorway.