Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018
On the Archduke's Path in Mallorca
Showing posts with label Cooking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cooking. Show all posts

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Friday 4 February 2011 – A Circuit from Wakefield, and a Banquet

Trail 53 near Wakefield - freshly groomed on 4/2/11

A late start found Sue and I benefiting from the disappearance of the heavy cloud under which Ottawa had started the day.  We headed off to car park P17, Wakefield, for a sunny start along trail 53.  This is an unusual trail in some respects as it crosses sections of farmland that are not public pathways outside the skiing season, as well as passing through the familiar ‘Forestry Commission’ style tracks for most of its 9km journey to Philippe (P19).

The header photo shows the freshly groomed trail across open farmland.

Here’s Sue, setting off from P17 in the wrong direction.

Trail 53, by Wakefield

She seems happy enough!
 Sue enjoys being out in the sunshine

There was hardly anyone on the trails.  I enjoyed the #53 > #51 loop, returning to P17 (see image below), and Sue got a little beyond the trail junction before turning around. 

Here’s trail 53 in a woodland section.

Trail 53

There was no lunch stop as such on this short outing of somewhat less than two hours, but there were plenty of benches to enjoy a break in the warm (-5C) conditions.  I needed such breaks to dust myself down after losing concentration on a couple of downhill corners.

This is definitely a ‘skis only’ zone – the sign is needed because there’s a cabin (Brown) nearby that you could walk to, but that would wreck the ski trail, so it’s forbidden.

Ski trail signs at P17 in Gatineau Park

I’ve been using Ken’s old Garmin Forerunner 301 to record distances on this trip.  He has replaced it with the impressive 305 model that has a better antenna.  We have both tried the 405 model.  Independently, we sent this one back as neither of us could cope with the sensitive rotating bezel, especially if damp. 

Here’s a screen from today’s download – speed on the vertical axis, time across the bottom, with a map of the route above; also shown on a different option is the distance (15km) and ascent (265 metres).

Today's statistics

I don’t really need one of these GPS watches, but it has been useful on this trip, where I don’t have access to any mapping software.

We returned for a pot of tea and a bath, before settling down to enjoy one of George Gardet’s excellent offerings, all the way from Chigny les Roses.

The Banquet

It being a special day, we had decided to go to the banquet that kicks off the three weeks of ‘Winterlude’ celebrations in Ottawa.  It was held at the Canadian Museum of Civilization.

Banqueting Hall at the Canadian Museum of Civilization

Michael Smith, Canada’s ‘Gordon Ramsay’ of the kitchen (or so I’m told) was on hand to cook up an excellent meal for 300 or so diners on tables of eight.  Ken, Helen, Sue and I shared a table with Chris, Laurie, Tony and Fawn, who we’d never met before, and probably never will again.  This sort of thing can be a bit of a lottery, but they proved to be excellent table companions and we enjoyed a very jolly evening with them.  [Hello All]

Here’s the menu, and the starter:

Taste of Winterlude - Menu for 4/2/11

'First Taste'

The meal was delicious, flawed only by the dessert being ‘cake-like’ mocha, rather than ‘molten’ mocha in our part of the hall.

Michael, a rather tall man, was a very jolly chap.  He found time to give a short speech, sign menus etc, and even pose for photos, when perhaps he should have been checking the state of the dessert!  But hey, it was a great evening.

Michael Smith, chef, is not a midget

A stunning firework display, complimentary drinks, even more food (but the waitresses were finding it tough to get customers - everyone was replete already) followed.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

6 to 9 January 2011 – On Tour

Trevor shows off his Brexton Travel set

Last (long) weekend Sue and I embarked on a tour, visiting six households and enjoying a variety of diversions.


We started by pootling down to Half Moon, near Exeter, where Trevor proudly displayed his Brexton picnic kit.  I don’t really know what brought this on, but Robert’s ears may have been burning.

Robert is an occasional ‘outdoors blogger’.  In between times he earns a living.  Will this link result in an increase in Robert’s visitor count from 00000181, I wonder?


Sue and I enjoyed a day at Ashburton Cookery School, where Phil assisted in the concoction of some delicious fayre.

Phil perfects his 'best end of lamb' main course

I’ll be posting a separate report on the day’s activities, after which we returned with well filled ‘doggie bags’ to share later with Maureen and Trevor.


As previously indicated, I had been requisitioned to take a photo before leaving Half Moon.  This is it. 

Robert's Window

Back in 1998, Robert and Lyn learnt how to make stained glass windows, mirrors, etc.  Despite their website, they seem to be too busy doing other things these days.  The window above is perfect for its location – I don’t think R and L have seen it in situ (hence the photo).

Leaving Half Moon until the day when we’ve saved up for another cookery course, we headed in to the ancient city of Exeter.

The cathedral on this site was founded in 1050.  Whilst some of the original Norman construction survives, most of the building comprises a major rebuild, in Decorated Gothic style, carried out between around 1270 and 1350.

Exeter Cathedral - interior Exeter Cathedral - ceiling detail

A magnificent building.

We rushed off for lunch with Colin, Liz and Simon, in exchange for some CCS and a lesson on how to play Yatzy.  This proved more confusing than expected, as their version - ‘Yahtzee’ – sported rather different rules to the ones with which we are familiar!

After this delightful interlude we pushed on to visit Ralph and Gillian in Crewkerne, where they share their home with Jack and two elderly cats.  Everyone here seems long-lived.  Jack, the parrot, is 44, for example, and may outlast us all.

Jack, aged 44


We gorged ourselves last night, again.  A delicious pork roast.  I think we may be over-eating!

Gillian, pictured below with Sue’s dad, dug out loads of old photos that will keep Sue entertained for weeks.

Brothers and sister

Moving on….

A short drive found us slithering (literally – black ice) over the Mendips to Blagdon, where our culinary delights continued with one of Lyn and Simon’s excellent roast chicken dinners.

We had to walk it off!  Simon still had a rugby induced hangover to dispose of.  Luckily the weather was perfect for a walk, and the Mendip Hills beckoned.  Ben and Polly enjoyed their fifth birthday a few days ago, and they managed the 5km walk completely under their own steam.  It may be the longest walk they have done.

Sue, Polly, Lyn and Ben in the Mendips

And possibly their first summit – we reached the trig point at Beacon Batch – 325 metres – with expansive views towards Bristol and the mouth of the River Severn.

I didn’t realise it at the time, but this is indeed a ‘proper’ summit, with a relative height of more than 500 feet compared with its nearest neighbour, making it a ‘Marilyn’.  Perhaps a start to Ben and Polly’s ‘bagging’ careers.

Beacon Batch - 325 metres - A Marilyn

From the trig point we entered a deep groove inhabited by mountain bikes, leading to Black Down, from where we did indeed proceed ‘down’ a pleasant path, eventually contouring east to regain the car park near Ellick Farm shortly before dusk.

Here’s our route – 5km, 200 metres ascent, around 2 hours.

Our route - 5km, 200 metres ascent


Our tour concluded with a gentle drive home, punctuated by visits to Solihull and Eccleshall, on a dull day.

Manchester has remained dull all week – there’s been no incentive to go walking.  Instead, I visited ‘town’ for lunch with Graeme, whose professional advice I’ve appreciated over the past 30+ years.  He’s working part time now and may well appear shortly on one of our walks.

The building below brings back memories.  I spent a few months here during the demise of Lewis’s, the department store.  It was hard to sell, having the greatest square footage of any retail property in Manchester.

Primark, Market Street, Manchester

Back in Timperley – the ice on the canal still hadn’t all melted despite the warm weather.  Note the icy sheen on the picture below…

Back at home beside the Bridgewater Canal

The ice has all gone now, as I write on Saturday afternoon.

For those who may be interested, there’s a 60 image slide show of our tour, here.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Saturday and Sunday 10/11 January 2009 - À La Carte at Ashburton

As a special treat, for a special occasion, Sue and I enjoyed a weekend at Ashburton Cookery School.

1001ashburton1 We were students on the two day 'Express Dinner Parties Plus' course.  Eight of us were guided through some inspirational menus by Joe 'passionate about food' Bartlett.  We had great fun all weekend, not least enjoying the products of our efforts.

Saturday involved cooking for lunch and dinner, whilst on Sunday we enjoyed a light lunch and an early dinner, enabling us to start the long journey home by 4pm.

Saturday Lunch

Selection of canapés (crab and avocado bread tartlets, parmesan biscuits, and stilton and sesame biscuits)
Creamy mussels with leeks, bacon and smoked paprika (below - getting this ready for 'service')1002ashburton2

Saturday Dinner

Leek, garlic and sweet potato soup (to take home)
Roast duck breast with a cassis jus, Dauphinoise potatoes and glazed green beans
Apple tarte tatin with crème fraiche

Sunday Menu

1003ashburton3 Chicken liver paté with red onion marmalade (to take home)
Mini aromatic seafood parcel (a delicious snack for lunch)
Roasted chicken breast wrapped with parma ham stuffed with red onion marmalade and goats cheese, together with pesto new potatoes and balsamic dressed salad leaves (above)
Seasonal fruit sabayon with lemon shortbreads (below)1004ashburton4
We also made copious quantities of vegetable stock and white bread rolls.

Thank you, everyone, for making this such a pleasurable weekend.
In particular, thank you to Maureen and Trevor in Exeter for their hospitality on Friday and Saturday - their skills as former B&B proprietors remain undiminished despite several years of retirement.

For a small (13 images) album of snaps from the weekend, click here.

Bon appetit...