Stonehenge

Today I’m giving something back to my readers. I seem to have an awful lot of hits from people looking for “Stonehenge”, but you people don’t seem to find what you’re looking for. So here are a few photos I took when I was there in 2007.

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Feel free to use these as long as you credit me.

AND as a special bonus photo, this is the Castlerigg stone circle up in the Lake District near Keswick.

castlerigg stone circle (does not belong to me, so please do not use)

Camp Bestival

A few weeks ago Gerard from I Knit asked me to help out on the knitting tent at Camp Bestival. At first I was a little hesitant as I’m not really sure I’m the camping type. But I said yes, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made. I had an absolute ball.

I only took my little camera with me and it turns out I completely forgot about it most of the time, and didn’t take many photos at all.

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The set-up was really quite beautiful so I wish I had taken more pictures.

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On the first night we ate from disposable bbqs. I had some buy one get one free veggie alternatives from Morrisons. The sausages cooked over charcoal really did taste great, proper camping-style with 45p white toast bread and a generous squirt of tomato sauce. There is something immensely satisfying about cooking outdoors, that primitive “Make fire. Cook meat” impulse.

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In terms of other festival food, I couldn’t wait to try the offerings over at the River Cottage Cafe. Hugh Fearnley-Whatsit wrote a piece in the festival programme about how often, the only vege alternative at festivals is veggie burgers. He would, however, be offering some kind of beetroot hoummous wrap thingy. Then on his website (I just checked) he mentions something about goat cheese. All very promising. But when I turned up to his stall, what were they cooking? Bloody vege burgers. Not actual burgers, mind, but a few bits of slimy roast vegetables in a bun. Apparently there was also supposed to be salad and a tsatsiki-style sauce in the bun as well, but they forgot to put mine in and I had to ask for it. It was bland and disappointing.

The best food I tried was from the Mash Shack, and I got quite addicted to their bubble and squeak with beans and vege bangers. Good hearty food to keep you going through a busy work day.

I somehow never got around to visiting Chocstar, where I later found out MsMarmitelover was working. It would have been good to say hello.

Speaking of work, we worked hard all weekend teaching people how to knit and finger knit. It is actually really intense work as you really have to focus hard all the time. But it was supremely rewarding to be able to pass on a new skill to people, and see the light in their eyes when they “got it”. We definitely created a few new addicts. There is a video of our fun here.

On the way home we stopped at the Popham Little Chef, the one transformed by Heston Blumenthal. At first we were slightly disappointed as they were out of the mixture to make scrambled eggs and omelette. They had a kitchen full of proper eggs but weren’t allowed to make us omelettes with them. Gerard and I ended up opting for the kippers instead, and all was forgiven as they were delicious. We also blagged extra toast to make up for it. I was a little outraged however when I ordered extra mushrooms for £1, and got one. measly. slow cooked. mushroom. £1! For a mushroom! The orange juice was slightly pricey too, but it was freshly squeezed and tasted amazing. Still can’t get over that £1 mushroom though. Ness ordered extra tomatoes too and only got one. (I just checked the menu and Ness’s meal – the Olympic Breakfast – was supposed to come with a tomato, yet she was charged extra for it. Sigh.)

I would go back to the Popham Little Chef. I’d just remember not to order any extras. And check the bill carefully.

We were given Jelly Belly sweets on our exit, which provided some fun in the car as I fed them to Gerard and he attempted to divine the flavours: “Definitely coconut. Yes. Or maybe cream soda. No, it’s coconut”.

Rare Tea

A couple of months ago Henrietta, aka the Rare Tea Lady, announced a competition to win some of her teas. All I had to do was send her a photo of me drinking her tea. So I got my flatmate to take some pictures. Unfortunately I had the camera on manual focus, and what with her being as blind as a bat she didn’t realise and the pictures were very blurry! So I ended up doing a self portrait:

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Technically I could have done better with the photo by using my UV filter or my polarising filter – the sky is completely washed out and in the colour version of the photo looks white instead of blue. However in the sepia version you can’t really tell. And I look quite pretty. So there.

Anyway, Henrietta liked it and I ended up coming third, and getting to choose three tins of her lovely teas. So now I have jasmine, oolong and some darjeeling. I have been mainlining darjeeling ever since. It dealt pretty well to this morning’s hangover (more on that later).

I do feel slightly guilty about the fact that I didn’t even pay for the tea I am drinking in the photo – Henrietta gave it to me at the Real Food Festival. But that is life for your humble foodblagger correspondent.

Dessert of the gods

If mango is the fruit of the gods, then this surely has to be the dessert of the gods.

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It’s simple yet sophisticated, and very tasty! The recipe comes from an Italian friend of a friend and it’s dead easy:

Take one ripe mango. Slice thinly. I do this with a filleting knife, it separates the mango flesh from its skin and pit with a minimum of waste and makes nice thin slices.

Squeeze the juice of one lime over the mango slices, and marinate in the fridge for as long as you can, several hours at least.

Serve the mango in a bowl topped with a spoonful of ricotta cheese and a handful of crushed Amaretti biscuits.

Switzerland

I have loads of photos from Switzerland. We went to Montreux, where I’ve been before, so I didn’t take many photos down around the lake. However, we got up into the Alps a few times and I love it up there. It’s so different from the mountains in NZ, there are lush meadows where the cows graze in summer, with loads of wild flowers, bees and butterflies.

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Cows!

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Parents!

Some flora:

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and fauna:

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I’d really love to know what kind of bird this is, if anyone knows.

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These guys welcomed us off the cog railway at Rochers-de-Naye. The horns were surprisingly melodic.

When is a £1 coin not a £1 coin?

When it’s a fake. I found a fake in my change yesterday, and another today. Today’s was a particularly bad fake:

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You can see that the design on this side is not stamped in the centre of the coin. The letters “IRB” (for Ian Rank-Broadley, who designed the Queen’s head you see on the coin) which should be under the head are very indistinct, I can only see the R.

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This side has the right design for the year (2001), which is a start. However, the design is very indistinct, and tellingly it is not aligned with the head side but almost 90 degrees out.

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The motto, Decus et Tutamen, is correct for the year. The cross is present – this is absent in many fake coins. But the lettering is too deeply stamped, and edge of the coin (the grooves) is poorly defined.

If you think you have a fake, you can compare it with this handy chart from the Royal Mint.

I took yesterday’s fake back to the shop, and today’s fake wasn’t mine. But I think I may start collecting them from now on – they are quite interesting. Incidentally, check all your new (2008) 20p pieces for the year. Some were incorrectly stamped without the year, and these are now worth about £20. I’m definitely looking out for one of them!