Mmmm… trout!

Cousin Matt caught a whopping rainbow trout, and several smaller fellows, while we were away on holiday in Devon. It was cooked that night stuffed with a delicious mix of herbs and mushrooms and tasty things, and baked in foil in the oven. It was such a monster, that although we had a good go at it, and as we were also eating a joint of ham and some left-overs, we didn’t make many inroads into it. Sooo…. I was lucky enough to take some of the monster cooked trout home, and also a couple of smaller uncooked ones.

As the only one in the family who likes eating fish I was able to have some in a mixed salad and bake a whole one with butter and lemon. The last fillets I cooked very simply in the left over buttery, lemony, trouty juices from the baked fish, well seasoned and with a little cream, and served them with Japanese soba noodles… simply yummy! Thank you Matt!

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Family holiday… home we go!

Yesterday was our last full day of our family holiday for this year, and we spent it in Westward Ho! and Appledore. Other members of the family went out and about doing different things, walking, going to different places others had been earlier in the week such as Doone Valley or Porlock… and some of us, namely my cousin Robin and son Matty, went fishing. They had been fishing the previous day without success… this was mitigated by Matty’s amazing catch!

matt's fish (1) Wow!! What a beast of a rainbow trout!matt's fish (2) Look at it compared to my hand! matt's fish (6)The proud fisherman preparing his catch!

It weighed well over 15pounds and was a magnificent beast. I mentioned that on the last full day we have left-overs and ham joint for dinner, last night we feasted on baked trout too! Not everyone in the family likes fish, so some of us who do were lucky enough to be able to take some home with us!

We’re not sure where we will be on holiday next year, maybe Mundesley in Norfolk, maybe Dorchester in Dorset… wherever we are, I know I will love every minute of being with my family!

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Family holiday – day seven in Devon!

Last full day of our lovely family holiday in Devon. We decided we had to go to Westward Ho! as it is the only place in England which has an exclamation mark in its name. It was freezing, freezing cold and there was not really a lot to see, apart from a nice café where we warmed ourselves up with hot drinks.

hot chocHot chocolate… just the thing for a very chilly day!

We decided to go to Appledore, I wanted to visit it because it just sounded so pretty, and indeed it was!It is across the River Torridge from the village of Instow. Appledore was a port, fishing village and shipbuilding centre froor centuries; ship building is still the main industry today. Appledore is a pretty little place which I look forward to returning to… maybe when it is a bit warmer!

appledore (1) Looking across the mouth of the Torridge to Instow

appledore (2) Very, very chilly… but maybe you should wear your coat the right way round?appledore (3) Another time we’ll explore the little streets and lanes of Appledore

appledore (4)Back home for our last dinner together; the last night is traditionally ham joints and left-overs… and what a splendid meal it made. Then all of us down to the very excellent Exeter Arms for a last drink, then walking back to the holiday cottage under the clearest  starriest Devon sky you could imagine. Packing and returning home tomorrow, and won’t it seem quiet without all the family!! Roll on next year!!

Family holiday – day 6

Away with the family (twenty-two of us in a Devon farmhouse) we all go in different directions and in different combinations of cousins. Today some of us are riding, some fishing, some golfing and some shopping. Now if it was shopping for food or books I would just love it… but it is shopping for clothes… I get so stressed and anxious shopping for clothes because nothing seems to fit, nothing looks nice, I seem to get shorter and shorter and fatter and fatter… but… but there is a wonderful wedding coming up and I have to look elegant! So my dear cousins who are also attending the wedding take me shopping in Exeter.

Exeter is a beautiful old city on the south coast of Devon. As you could guess from the name it is on the river Exe and there has been settlement here for thousands of years, and trading links from as far away as the east Mediterranean since pre-Roman times, from at least 250BC! It became a Roman settlement because it was in such a good position for access from the sea, and transport up the river, as well as being surrounded by fertile land and good trade routes. It developed into a major Roman city, Isca Dumnoniorum, and was start of the major Roman highway, the Fosse Way;  there are remains of the buildings which can be seen today.

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Exeter is full of interesting things to see, the cathedral, the third oldest synagogue in the country, museum, old churches, the Quay with old customs houses, warehouses, fisherman’s cottages… but I was taken round the shop.

My poor cousins suffered with my long face and despondency, but battled on and found me a dress, shoes and a clutch bag (what for? I asked hopelessly) and we returned to our holiday home, mission accomplished!Another lovely day in lovely company and dinner tonight cooked by cousin Robin was lasagne!

Family holiday – day 5, lichen it a lot!

lichen (1)As usual, I had my eye open for lichen, and Devon provided some lovely examples, especially in the garden of the old farmhouse the family were staying in.

lichen (8)We had to return home, which luckily was only an hour’s drive away from our holiday home in Devon, as it was the funeral of a neighbour of ours. It was a gorgeous sunny day, which I was pleased to see for the bereaved family; there’s nothing worse than a funeral, except a funeral in awful weather.

lichen (11)Some of the trees in the garden of our holiday accommodation were very old, and very big. Some lichens grow at a centimetre a year, so to see a big patch on a tree trunk must mean the tree and the lichen are both old friends!

lichenHome to the family in time for dinner, and it was cousin Diana’s turn to cook… delicious pie with suet crust pastry, filled with chicken and ham and vegetables… wonderful! And for any of us with a space left there was rice pudding and red jam!

 

 

Family holiday – day 4, in search of Lorna Doone!

Lorna Doone… a classic novel by R. D. Blackmore set in north Devon at an imaginary location called Doone Valley, but based on the real Exe Lyne Valley and the little village of Oare on Exmoor  I don’t know if the novel is much read now, not many people I speak to seem to have even heard of it, and yet it was one of the mainstays of English literature.

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The novel, as you may guess is the story of a beautiful young woman called Lorna Doone. She is the supposed granddaughter of the evil Sir Ensor Doone, and destined to marry Carver Doone; however she and Jan (John) Ridd, the hero, meet and fall in love. The Doones are outlaws living in an isolated valley, and they were responsible for the murder of Jan’s father, so the romance is fraught with danger and difficulty. All is set to end happily after the defeat of the Doones and Lorna and Jan are married in Oare church….

oare (2)However the wicked Carver wrecks revenge by shooting Lorna through a side window of the church. Jan leaves his bride and pursues carver and an almighty struggle ensues; Jan prevails and the last sight of Carver is him sinking, mortally wounded into a black bog.

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Our family holiday this year is very near Exmoor  so my beloved and I set off to view the real Oare church where the fictional Lorna was married to her Jan Ridd. It is a tiny little church, set in the most gorgeous countryside; it is no longer used as a church, I daresay there are not enough parishoners, but it is still a consecrated place. It was beautifully decorated for Easter and the box pews looked welcoming to anyone wishing to reflect for a moment.

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After a lovely day out we hurried back to our holiday cottage because it was our turn to cook! With twenty-two cousins to feed we were a little anxious that there might not be enough… we cooked two sorts of tagine – lamb and chicken, with rice or couscous , tabbouleh and salad… and of course there was plenty to feed the hungry family as we recounted our days adventures to each other.

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Family holiday – day 3

We take it in turns to cook for the gang on our family holiday, but whatever day we end up cooking, cousin Ruth always cooks on Sunday, and she always does a most magnificent roast dinner.

This year there are twenty-two of us sitting down around the long table in the dining room at Duvale Priory, near Bampton in Devon. We are having roast pork (with crackling) roast chicken, apple sauce, gravy, onion sauce, roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings. Considering we come to the holiday property each year without knowing what the oven is like or whether it will work properly, Ruth is a marvel! her roast potatoes are crispy  her puds are beautifully risen  little marvels! Not content with producing perfect roast and accompaniments, Ruth gives us a lovely variety of perfectly cooked vegetables, broccoli, carrots, leeks… and more!

knightshayes 2013 spring (8)

We all had spent a lovely day out and about working up an appetite  we had met with our friends who live in Devon and gone first to a craft fair at a garden centre in the little village of Cove, and then to the nearby Knighthayes Court for refreshments and a stroll in the grounds.

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Knightshayes Court glimpsed through trees beginning to come into leafknightshayes 2013 spring (4)

Spring really seems to be on its way! knightshayes 2013 spring (9)Surely this must be a host of golden daffodils?