Friday, 3 February 2017

Visiting the Bishop's Palace in Wells

We treated ourselves to a day out in our new City: joined as friends at the Bishop's Palace and Gardens then went out to lunch at Rugantino's.  This little restaurant is a real gem.  After enjoying the WI dinner in January, Mr S was looking forward to eating there, and working out if it was just the company on the night which gave me such a good impression.  Having lunched there and each of us having different dishes, we can agree that it is indeed a very nice place to have lunch.  The restaurant is attached to a small hotel with the most wonderful views over the Cathedral Green.

We enjoyed our visit to the garden.  It was very quiet, which meant we enjoyed several views of the Kingfishers darting along the stream in the gardens.  The garden was in the depth of winter, with a few early spring flowers out: snowdrops, cyclamen and a few primroses in really sheltered spots.

It was fascinating to stand on the wooden boardwalk over St Andrew's Well where you could peer into the body of water which was welling up from underground.  The colourful stands of this shrub Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire' reminded me to check, but then I found that I must have left the rooted cuttings of this one behind in Warwickshire, but I am sure to find a good specimen either in the market or at the couple of good local nurseries at the right time.

The fruit dangling down from tree branches were quite interesting...I even tried to a taste of them...the tree label gives its name which of course I would have known had we first seen these during the summer:  It is the Handkerchief tree: Davidia Involucrata.

There were dragons: in the garden as well as in the Palace.

But this angel with the light shining through is my angel for this day

and in the Bishop's Chapel were some beautiful works of art with angels....

again there were some wonderful examples of needlework...more angels

and more goldwork than I have ever seen in one garment

I am sure we shall enjoy popping into the garden throughout the year and seeing how it wakes from its wintry slumbers: solace the sadness at leaving behind my lovely garden in Warwickshire, and inspiration for the design and planting of the new garden over the next couple of years.

Swedish Limpa Bread

With a rye sourdough starter, a mixture of wholemeal spelt and rye, and white strong wheat flours, malt syrup, ground fennel, caraways seed and grated orange zest, a little salt, these three mini breads took most of the day to rise...but it was a very cool day.  Jane Mason's recipe yields a loaf of around 550g, but I was a little nervous as to the flavour since it is the first time I have baked this.  I wondered whether it would be to Mr S's taste, so decided to make three small ones.  The was an alternative motive too: my very good friend and bread guru is coming to stay in a few days time, and I will be able to draw on the freezer stash to share a taster with her.  Mr S really enjoyed it too, so next time I shall make two 550g loaves!

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Saturday Mornings

If you have been indoors for most of the week working on projects, then it is certainly the day to be taken out, particularly if the sun is shining!  Whereas I have been out and about, Mr S has been working hard today still with a little dampness underfoot, we strolled out into Wells....

Some of the streets are cobbled as in Vicar's Close...I'm unsure whether they are more correctly called sets, but sets are smaller..the street is paved and worn smooth.

All along the close are magnificent old buildings

and even if you look up, the details of the chimneys show crowning stone ornamentation.  These date from the 15th century when the chimneys were built taller allowing for the more pungent smoke, from the new fangled coal fires, to be carried away.  This was about the time that coal mining in the Mendips began, though there is evidence that there was coal mining in the area as far back as the during the Roman occupation.

Of course, a few hours out requires a pit stop and today we stopped at the Cathedral Cafe for their special of toasted teacake and cuppa, with lovely views and entertaining glimpses of the pigeons preening in the sunshine.

Earlier in the week, for a walk we took another path leading from the corner of the Bishops's palace, where we spied a few snowdrops,

which led up Torhill Lane, where the path skirts woodland,  then a stream, coming out to just about where the Old Frome Road splits off from the Bath Road.  The woodpeckers were making their hammering noises in the woodland, and we have penciled in the walk through Tor Hill Woods for another day. We then walked back along the road to Wells, admiring various old buildings then popping into St Thomas....and spied my angel for the day there.

Circular Walk from Wells

If its been raining for a few days, cross country walks will make for muddy walks.  Where we have lived before we found circular walks which were fairly clean underfoot, and last Sunday we were delighted to find a similar walk from our home.  We made towards to the Cathedral then simply followed the dog walkers and family groups out for a good Sunday walk to clear away the cobwebs.

The 'City' ends behind the Cathedral where a tarmac path leads through fields towards the boundary of Dulcote Village.  With wonderful views back towards the Cathedral and wood topped hills, it makes for a delightful walk.  We came across two fabulous cattle troughs, in to which we saw several Labradors bounce and then dive in, seeing first the expressions on the dogs' faces and then that of their owners...I wonder whether these were made as cattle troughs or whether they were used for some former manufacturing process.

There is a short walk along a pavement to DulcoteVillage, then taking a right hand turn through the village, we tagged onto a path along the Old Strawberry Line towards Morrisons, then on home.  The cycle and walk route had been carefully tended, with a few interesting sculptures along the way.  Along the left hand side was the A371 with a continual flow of traffic,  screened by a light woodland and scrub.

Pure rye the sourdough way

Since this is the first time I have attempted pure rye bread, and even tasted it, I was not sure how it should taste...and was not sure I would like the taste...but having baked this and tasted it...I can truthfully say, it is delicious.  Mr S also agrees...delicious with cheese, and I do know from having read rather quite a few books on food that a good partner is Smoked Salmon.

Yesterday we had almost half the loaf sliced thinly and forming the base of open sandwiches topped with soft goat's cheese and smoked salmon, with a rather colourful salad of watercress and orange on the side.

Made with 100% dark rye and following Jane Mason's directions on page 45  of her book,  the only deviation is that I used an oval banneton as I do not have the right sized round one!  The directions say coat the proving basket with rye flakes...well my rye flakes just would not balance on the sides, so I dusted the basket with rye flour, and rolled the bread in the flakes before inverting it into the basket.  As it is rather cool as the moment, it took a little more than 5 hrs...7hrs for right level of holes on the surface, but I was happy to wait.