Wednesday, 27 May 2009

What fun...


This fabulous backdrop for our Susan's photo, was taken at Ringstead Bay, not far from Weymouth situated between Poxwell and Osmington; you cannot help but feel on top of the world when you look down at the sea below.  The sun bouncing light off the water was almost blinding and, it was pretty blustery but none the less spiritual. At the end of a day exploring the Arts in Bridport, fighting against the sun and the wind, full of the obligatory bag of chips from the harbour side waiting to be stolen by gulls the size of an albatross, and after an educational crash course for Susan in the art of Pikeyness, we sauntered back towards home, taking every opportunity to have our fill of Creations beauteous landscapes.  Homeward for another meal, another good nights sleep and the dream of a Saturday morning catch up with Sam.

Sam sent me a text from Bath on Saturday morning, to say he was on his way to join us for breakfast at the beach hut.  He arrived in an illegal amount of time as he left home at 7.15 am and arrived on our door by 8.30 ish.  Hmmm... Arriving at the chine, we became like excited school children which only added to the sense of expedition, but the enthusiasm was quenched somewhat as the lock on the beach hut door had seized fast.  Two armed men later, one weilding a crow bar and the other flashing a can of WD40, the lock opened with a little coaxing from a hunky young lifeguard, whilst the man with the crowbar was sent swiftly packing.  I had to physically restrain Susan from following the man with the can and ensconced her safely in the comfy chair, during which time I continued to unpack my Mary Poppins bag of tricks and treats.

The temperature was just about right to sit out and enjoy the sudden burst of summer heat; so it seemed fitting that we made and acknowledged an early summer tribute in the shape of a foodie celebration, by cooking a Risotto layered with chestnut mushrooms and parmesan, accompanied by a mixed green salad doused in Rosie's dressing.  This dish is simplicity itself, especially as all the cooking has to evolve from no more than a single gas ring and a single pot.

We talked about the loves and life of a she devil and received two sets of curious visitors keen to establish if other members of Gathering nuts in May have two heads or two bellies, but the sea air ensured by the time we arrived home we were all ready to eat again.  The starter I prepared was cured serrano ham, asparagus and quails eggs, although wasn't a patch on the freshly picked stems we had devoured during our stay at Little Cowarne and which was crying out for Kristen's lemony sauce to be drizzled over the legumes.  For the main course I made individual Red onion and goats cheese tarts in a filo case, set with mascapone, double cream, eggs and tarragon (actually in my opinion, the dish at better cold).

Scandal of scandal, Sam slept in my bed... however, I wish to put the record straight I was not in it! After coffee and toast he went on his merry way back to Bath and an evening of entertaining his friends.  

It had been an unplanned extra to Susan's visit and I was delighted he wanted to be with us.  He has already made a provisional booking to return during his summer break from teaching and reclaim the guest room.

On Sunday, Susan and I spent a lazy day at Kingston Lacy House and grounds.  I dozed on the lawns soaking up the rays, as Susan explored the house and marvelled at the drapes and lifestyle that the Bankes family must have enjoyed.  She also found the nursery to be enchanting and captivating and utter bliss, although I suspect the reality of living under the scrutiny and discipline of a governess was in fact far from cosy or sentimental.

Finally, Monday was upon us along with an indifferent start to the day in the form of a downpour, but it did not dampen our spirits as we set off for Swanage, stopping off at Corfe Castle with its winding, wonky streets and tightly packed houses with doors designed to accommodate easy entry for a haffle of hobbits.

A wedding party had congregated outside the church and we hovered hoping to catch a glimpse of the blushing bride as we stood melting under the noon day sun, but we grew impatient and meandered over to the 1950's steam railway stuffed to the gills with 50's and 60's memorabilia from this charming bygone era.

The sound, smell and look of the carriages reminded me of the journeys with my Aunt, from Leigh on Sea in Essex to Taffs Well station in Wales.  They had been exciting times, thick with anticipation and the holiday promise of walks in Coch Castle woods to tales of witches, dragons and trolls, or jaunts along the railway line with my uncle who worked for the rail network and took pride in showing me off to his colleagues - of course this wouldn't be allowed to happen now but back then these occurances frequently happened within this small knit community.

Finally, tearing ourselves away from Corfe, Susan and I headed to the other seaside resort of Swanage.  If it were possible to step back in time I believe Swanage could become the portal for re-entering the 50's or early 60's.  It has a quirky, pikey, reassuring charm about it, on this occasion the smell of salt and rotting seaweed perfumed the air.  The oyster bar finds itself fitting into the school of rustic charm and if you can find your way clear to walk through the sea of kiss me Kwik hats and racks of rude postcards, then a visit to the Quarr gallery or Earthlights should be high on your list.

There was a wonderful photographic exhibition and sale of iconic images taken in the 60's of The Stones, Paul McCartney, Marianne Faithful and other names synonomous with that era, but with a price tag of £2800 for a limited edition photograph, sadly it found me floating home empty handed without even the empty frame.  

From the Scott Arms in Kingston, the vista is breathtaking... far reaching views skim over the top of Corfe Castle and down towards Sandbanks.  They made the film the Mayor of Casterbridge from this pub in the 1960's or 1970's, clearly easy to see why it was chosen as a location.

Finally, all this had to end as Tuesday morning arrived along with Susan's departure back up to Durham.  Again the weather had been kind and promised to provide a fair travelling companion on her six hour journey homeward.

I was left with an urgent need to complete the half started decorating, in time for this morning's furniture delivery.  The usual sense of guilt had escaped me totally for the whole duration of Susan's and even Sam's visit.  The break had proved to be a tonic and even if internally I was obsessing and sweating the small stuff, I hope that my weekend charges had enjoyed their time in Dorset.

More images to follow... 

1 comment:

Kristen In London said...

oh my goodness, your cooking sounds tremendous! The addition of parma ham to the asparagus and quail's eggs is a stroke of genius. My lemony dressing of course borrowed a tablespoon of YOUR dressing; that was the magic.

Speaking of cold rather than hot, we grilled tuna the other night and it was much nicer cold for lunch the next day, leftover. A fabulous marinade of shallots, lemon grass, chillies, soy sauce. yum!