Wednesday 27 November 2013

Welbeck Craft & Food Fair

At the weekend, hubby and I decided to visit the Craft & Food Fair at Welbeck.  It was on for 2 days and is a great place to buy individual gifts.  The food is always amazing and locally produced.  We came away with bag loads of goodies.  The crafts are the best I have ever seen.  I didn't take any photographs but I can honestly say that the standard of craftmanship on display is truly outstanding and original.

 You also get to look around the many artists studios here at Welbeck.  One of my favourites is the weird and wacky studio of Phil Neal.
 Phil is a total genius with the look of a totally mad professor - his work is incredible.
 His workshop is amazing to wander around.
 I don't think he throws anything away.
 We also got chance to have a brief walk around the houses on the Welbeck Estate.  I noticed that most of these have been renovated to rent out now, but there are still a few waiting to be done up.

 I think I read somewhere where they are hoping to renovate this to become a boutique hotel.

 We got to talk to a few of the locals.
 And we had a good look around the amazing Harley Gallery which has a Quentin Blake exhibition on at the moment.

 They also have a permanent display of artifacts from the estate here too - they change them around so that there is always something new to see.
 Still not wanting to go home, we had a wander around the garden centre too.
 I always enjoy a trip to Welbeck - so many things to see and do and eat!

Sunday 24 November 2013

The whole confection

I pride myself on my thrifty ways, and was dead chuffed to have found this wonderful cook book for £1.50 in a charity shop.

I had flicked through and was desperate to bake this gorgeous sounding cake.  however once home, the list and quantity of ingredients proved anything but thrifty!!!  2 blocks of butter, 5 bars of 70% dark chocolate, 10 eggs,  Polenta flour !! But I had my mind set on it and so I thought I would make it - just once!
I don't know if the recipe is wrong or what, but I left it in the oven a good 30 minutes longer than it said and it was still very "mousse like" on the inside, and a bit crisp on the outside.  It reminded me of the chocolate cake that Bruce Bogtrotter has to eat in Roald Dahls "Mathilda"!!
I have to say though, it tasted wonderful.  It was more "dessert" than cake, and hubby wasn't that keen as he's not a fan of ginger.  So being there are only 2 of us at home at the moment, and I don't fancy putting a stone on before Christmas, I took it to our craft night at the W.I.  We shared the village hall with the Slimmers World class and I believe that some of the slimmers bribed our octogenarians into letting them have a piece - after the weigh in of course!
Any way, the WI/Slimmers World ladies made very short wok of it. (Lovely green and gold plate also bought in the same Charity Shop for 25p! ).

Saturday 23 November 2013

A Sunday Stroll

Through Facebook, I had discovered that a chap from Elsecar Heritage Centre had organised an 8 mile stroll on Sunday talking about the Fitzwilliam family and mining in the area along the way.  As it was free, and very close to home, I thought it was worth joining to see if we could learn something about our local history.  So with a picnic lunch packed, and a beef casserole prepared in the slow cooker, we set off.

 The walk was very poorly attended (which always amazes me! ) Only one other couple - Anne and Geoff had signed up for the walk, so with our guide Dave, and Nigel a student at Sheffield Uni studying mining in Elsecar, we set off.  We became firm friends along the route!
 We hadn't gone more than 50 paces when we were shown a very early drift mine that we had never seen before, and we walk past this loads!
 It just goes to show what is under your nose that you don't see.
 Our guide also told us about the importance of these very early ironworks and the plans to preserve them.
 We have also walked past here many times without realising the importance of this wall of very old locally made bricks.

 Fortunately there was only one very steep climb - and it was at the start of the walk, so that was well planned.  I craftily made them stop several times to admire the view and get them to visualise Elsecar before the colliery was built - when it consisted of only 3 farms (and catch my breath!!).
 It was a very dull day, and not great for photographs, but I managed a few.  Our next stop was "The Needles Eye" - one of the Wentworth follies.
 No one is sure why this was built, but local rumour has it that one of the earls made a bet that he could drive a horse and carriage through the eye of a needle.

 We had a big discussion about what these could be.  If you study the photograph with our party on it, you'll see that these marks are all at chest/head height.  They look like musket ball marks, and we wondered whether some sort of firing squad had happened here!
 From there, we walked up to Hoober Stand, another folly.

 This folly is open during the summer and worth a trip to the top - if you have good legs!

 After a stop for our butties, we walked past the Mausoleum (another folly), through the park, and past Wentworth Woodhouse.  Anne and Geoff were not from this are and had never seen the big house before, so were suitably impressed.  I think they are planning a return trip for a visit to the house.

 We thoroughly enjoyed discovering a few new footpaths that we had not been on, and a bit more of the history on our doorstep and I would love to go on another walk this this group of very interesting people.  It certainly added an extra slant to a walk we tread often.
According to our guide from the Heritage Centre, they have a bit of money to spend on the place, so I cannot wait to see what they have planned.  It's my favourite place locally so I shall keep my eyes open.  I did have a senior moment half way around when I couldn't remember if I had switched the slow cooker on or not! But I was thrilled to smell it bubbling away when we got home.  A perfect Sunday.

Thursday 21 November 2013

The best of the rest in Greenwich

After our visit to the Cutty Sark, we headed to the really large park in Greenwich to have a quick look at what else was on offer.  By now it was almost dusk.  We found the worlds largest ship in a bottle behind the maritime museum.

 We were heading towards the Queens House.
 I love the contrast between the old and the new from this angle.
 But I really loved this old painting showing how it was before the area was built on.  Truly amazing.
 The staircase in the Queens House is quite famous - and very stunning!
 As is the main hall - a perfect cube.
 We didn't have time to look at all the art treasures that are housed here, but I found a couple of my faves.  A rare trip down south by LS Lowry to paint Deptford Power Station
 And an Alfred Wallis painting of St Ives.
 The next time we head down here, we will allocate at least 2 full days to Greenwich - so so much to see.  The Queens House was free entry by the way.
 We then raced up the hill towards the Royal Observatory - again, no time to visit inside, and I did over hear a lady saying she could have spent a full day in here.

 The Planetarium here is now the only Planetarium in London.
 The reason we had raced up the hill was to have our photograph taken (by a very kind Italian) by the actual Meridian Line.  A place that has been on my "list" since I was about 10 years old.
 You get a decent view from up here too.  Being in Greenwich certainly does not feel like you are in a big city - the river and the park give it an almost rural feel.  We saw around 4 Parakeets flying around the park too.
 A quick dash back past the Maritime Museum (also free to enter, and it looked pretty fab as I peeked through the window), and back on the Docclands Light Railway to Stratford and the Westfield Centre where we had parked the car.
 By this time it was around 5pm and totally mental in the centre, so we found our car and sadly left.
 I really wished we had booked 2 nights, but we had planned something for Sunday, so it was time to head.
I really enjoyed our impromptu trip and I'm desperate to explore this area of London again.  On the Friday night, we had strayed into Hackney Wick before the Basketball match, and near the River Lea (London's 2nd river) which I am keen to explore more of.