Thursday, 25 August 2016

Playing hooky

We played hooky yesterday. Instead of our usual routine - & we knew at least one friend was hoping to see us at the golf club – we went off to Fleetwood & Freeport (a discount shopping centre).

On Tuesday night the Fox had slow-cooked a meal – a sausage braise. In the morning I’d peeled some spuds. As the Wednesday went on, the sun increasingly shone. We’d been intending to try Freeport ever since some friends had said how good it was. Our trip out last week to the hospital & meal at Conder Green had made us realise we ought to have more spontaneous hooky days. So the braise went in the fridge. The potatoes would keep in water until today, & we were off.

The sun soon disappeared but it stayed dry. We managed to get a few things we’ve been wanting for a while.

The Fox has got a breathable waterproof mac that will fit in a small pouch – convenient for carrying around on holiday on days when he doesn’t really want to wear a coat.

We also bought a mid-size rucksack. It is difficult pulling two suitcases as well as pushing a wheelchair when we go on holiday. Hopefully this will make it easier. We’re also thinking for shorter holidays it may be an easier alternative to a suitcase. We’ll see how it goes.

Above all, we’re pleased to have found what look like some decent pans. For years we had cast iron ones. However, after his stroke the Fox found these pans too heavy to lift easily. So we bought a new set. This set has lasted very poorly. They are so lightweight & unbalanced they slide off the hobs if they are not put on dead centre. The frying pan landed on the floor the first time we used it & was knocked out of shape. Hopefully the new set will be better. They are a bit heavier but not as heavy as cast iron. We just bought a set of 4 pans. We rarely need more than that. After all there’s only the two of us to cook for.

After the shop we stopped at St Michael’s on Wyre for a meal – chicken forestiere for us both. We were nervous ordering it, remembering being tempted once to some gammon by the accompanying mushrooms to discover just one small mushroom on the plate. The chicken turned out delicious. It was tender & moist. The sauce was creamy & garlicky with plenty of mushrooms. Even the green beans had flavour. The Fox got distracted by the pictures of St Michael’s when it was flooded by Storm Desmond last year. The village was under water for quite a while. On our way through Lancaster we had been struck by a restaurant that was only just re-opening after repair from flooding due to the same storm.

This morning I’m off out to introduce our gardener to a friend who is seeking a gardener. Hopefully they will suit each other. Our gardener specialises in working for disabled & elderly people only. She has little time for people who are just too lazy to look after their gardens - experience has taught her it often means she spends the first hour clearing away toys, litter & dog poo. Our friend is in her 80s so she qualifies. I hope it works out for them both.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Grey day

I’m having difficulty getting myself going today. It’s so dark! The rain seems non-stop. Even now, mid-morning I almost think I should put the lights on to see. It does nothing for the morale.

I should be feeling quite chirpy.  On Friday we heard from the travel agents. The holiday tickets have arrived. It’s just that Friday & Saturday have been so wet we’ve not fancied venturing out further than absolutely necessary, so we’ve not actually been to collect them yet

Saturday saw the arrival of the road map covering the part of France we’re visiting. It’s finally arrived after being ordered in April. I love maps. Just looking at this map is inspiring me with other ideas of places to visit. It’s so much clearer than our old all France road atlas. For one thing where we’re staying isn’t in the crease between pages. Nor is it at the bottom of the page so half the time I’m turning from one page to another trying to judge the distances. Now I can see the terrain clearly, work out possible routes & distances, see the roads that have been built since  the old atlas was published.

I ought to be feeling excited, but the weather is dragging me down. I didn’t see the weather forecast last night. I’m just hoping it will pick up a bit this afternoon because I certainly don’t fancy venturing out in this downpour. Maybe the dinner will cheer me, with its colourful array of peppers & red onion. Something’s going to have to. The day so far isn’t helping.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Steak & Kidney Pie memories

I’ve finally got the meal plopping. I’m making a Steak & Kidney Pie – very traditional. I’ve not made one for years, decades even. I’ve made many a steak pie but not one with kidney.

I’m transported in my mind to Elterwater in the Lake District. Many years ago, the 1980s I’d guess, Mrs Fry ran the Britannia pub there. She made the most delicious black-peppery steak & kidney pie. It was worth the trip out that way just to taste it. It was a source of great unhappiness to us when she & her husband separated & she moved to pastures new. I’ve never tasted a pie like it since.

I’m just hoping this pie is going to work out well. I’m adding some mushrooms as well as a good dash of Worcestershire sauce to pep it up. But for now, the meat is plopping away. I’ve yet to make the pastry but I won’t be able to put that on the pie until the filling is cooked & cooled, so there’s plenty of time to get around to making the pastry. My hands could do with cooling after spending so much time stirring browning meat, frying onions & mushrooms & stirring in the stock. Cold hands make better pastry & my hands are usually a lot colder than they are at the moment.