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Flora and Fauna

At last Spring is here - although not in Devon, where it has snowed yet again (May 2013!) and of course on the Pennines (accessed close to us at Edale), but not in Gt. Longstone!
What is happening here? 
Chatsworth Horse Trials were at the weekend.  Always an enjoyable event to attend.  It has been cancelled in past recent years because it was too wet, so I suppose it's progress that it just went ahead.
I have been on many occasions as both our daughters used to 'dressage run' for the local High Peak Hunt Pony Club.  This involved a couple of hours 'running' with the score sheets between the car where the judge was sitting and the 'office' where they collated all the scores.  Very good for the local children as they get to see (and meet on occasion) the big names in the eventing world including in the past William Fox Pitt and Zara Phillips.
The pagan influenced well dressings will be coming up in the summer - in Bakewell they are put up for the week before carnival day - usually the mens' singles final day at Wimbledon! 
Watch this space for any good recipes (obviously it's my taste but will it be yours - try!) if you are trying to watch your weight or just trying to eat healthily I will be posting my favourite recipes here on line:

We tried this take on a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe last night, it was gorgeous:
8 chicken bone-in thighs (skin off and sprayed, or brushed with rape seed oil, seasoned with sea salt and pepper, and a light sprinkling of dried sage)
8 (although I would have been happy with a couple more) plums, halved and stoned
1-4 red chillies sliced into 1cm strips (optoinal) - I used 2
4 garlic cloves, sliced
A thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and coursely grated or thinly sliced (optional) - I think it's necessary, but then I like it!  I did wonder whether it meant just the thumb-print part of the thumb, or the whole?  I used somewhere in between!
3 tbspn soy sauce
A small bunch of corinader, leaves only, chopped (optional) - again I did put it in at the very end and thought it good
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6.  Put chicken thighs in a roasting tray as suggested and roast for 30 minutes, turning once or twice.
Meanwhile, halve and deseed the chillies, if using, then cut each into 1cm strips.  After 30 mins., take the chicken out of the oven and add the sliced chillies, garlic and ginger, if using, to the roasting tray.  Turn the chicken again to make sure the aromatics are evently distributed around and under the pieces.  Roast for a further 10 mins.
Tuck the plum halves around the chicken pieces and trickle over the soy.  If there doesn't seem to be much liquid in the tray, add a few tablespoons of water.  Return to the oven 10-15 minutes until the plums are soft an yielding their juices.
Baste the chicken and plums with the pan juices, then leave to rest in a warm place for 10 minutes.  Finish with a scattering of chopped corinader, if you like.  Serve with noodles, rice or vegs.
I served with new pots., spinach and carrots.
I have a fan assisted oven, so even though it sounds like (I think) Hugh cooks on an AGA, don't worry!
Enjoy - all five of us loved this dish.

The well dressings (pagan influences) have just been put up this week in Bakewell (last week of June).  If you have never seen them, you must.  The wooden frame is put into the river for a week or two before clay is 'puddled' and put into the frame (taken out of the river by this time!)  The picture is then designed, outlined (by pricking holes along all the lines of the picture - actual size of the well dressing) and wool is pushed into the clay to outline the picture (similar to drawing a picture with a pencil).  The picture is then 'painted' by using all natural things available in the area (e.g. buttercups, daisies, silver weed, sorrel etc.), using individual petals or leaves, overlapping.  I believe there is an exhibition of this at Bakewell Show this year.

This is an annual occurrence and each village in the area will have it's own dressing to give 'thanks for the water' of whichever wells they choose and whatever time, but they are all within a three week time period of each other.  It usually coincides with the carnival day - Bakewell Carnival for example is this weekend (6 July).  It has given it to get sunnier and warmer for the weekend - always good when there are half naked men and women walking around the place!

Can't believe it's 2014 already!  News is, we have a new puppy in the house.  I had forgotten how much work is involved with training!  At least she has stopped howling (I think) in the night. 

Alan and I visited Haddon Hall (not been since we were both at primary school - our local history) over Christmas, prompted by a visit to the recently opened Hampton Court in Herefordshire in the summer.  We were both surprised which bits we remembered from school visits (not many) and in fact what we remembered.  Why don't they have fitted carpets I remembered thinking way back in the 50s?  Thank goodness, of course, that they didn't it's just beautifully authentic.

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