When it comes to the pooch, I’m always scratching my head! Noooo. I don’t mean she’s got fleas, its the quandary I get into, about what to feed her for dinner?
These days, the media is full of advice and advertisments about what to feed your furry friend. Years ago they got scraps from the table and the bone from the Sunday roast. However, in this enlightened age, the Sunday roast has long gone, being replaced by a Halloumi fajita or Spinach and Feta Salad. Not quite the thing to tickle the taste buds of our carnivorous companions.
Any self respecting pooch today, is looking for the canine equivalent of Haute Cuisine and dietary nutrition to maintain both tongue tingling taste and their glossy coats, strong teeth and bones.
My loyal pooch and I, will not be beaten. The torrential rain, face stinging hail and tree bending winds of the past few weeks, have not deterred us from our daily pleasures of walking the glorious North Devon coastline, salt marshes and sand dunes. Thursday morning dawns gloomy and wet. I catch sight of a social media post for a WW II History walk over Northam Burrows.
What better way to spend a few hours than a bracing walk, whilst gathering some local historical knowledge and discovering some of the secrets of “Hidden North Devon”. We were off.
On arrival at Northam Burrows for the meet at The Visitors Centre, we had a slight problem, the road was total flooded and the great lake, being the car park, was being dredged! Not being a wuss, I parked on a dry bit of land and tried to open the door. I wouldn’t say that I was weak, but it took some effort to push against the gusting wind. Having achieved the task, I clipped the lead onto the hound and we set off, taking one step forward and being blown, two backwards. Finally reaching the centre (Late), I joined the group of hardy, waterproofed individuals and Rangers. Off we went.
Driving over the Torridge bridge this morning, the brilliant low winter sun glistening on the virginal white cottages, houses and boats far below on the beautiful estuary, I was struck, not for the first time, how lucky I was to live in the beautiful county of North Devon.
Not only was I lucky enough to live here, I also reside in a tiny, traditional lime and cob cottage. A cottage, in which the recipients of my visit had a part to play in its restoration. I just couldn’t wait to meet this industrious team of traditional Artisans.
The family run Heritage Cob and Lime are an Artisan construction company, specialising in all aspects of cob and lime building materials, a specialist craft, which is sadly becoming lost in the mists of time.
Started in their own home, over twenty five years ago by David and Sue Rawle the business has evolved greatly over the years, now being run by their children Sarah and Frank, from a very large unit on the Bideford industrial estate. Heritage Cob & Lime specialise in all aspects of restoration projects, from the smallest – a fireplace – to a collection of four cob cottages in Croyde, South Devon which they are renovating from the ground up. Such is their expertise in this specialist field they are fully booked until Autumn 2020. So, that bread oven, I think I may have buried in my cob wall, will have to wait!
All processes involved in this business are very “hands on” and look to me to be very hard work. I had to admire the delightful Sarah, who greeted me on my arrival. Wiping limewash soaked hands on her jeans proffered me a very firm hand and a beaming smile. The enthusiasum she exuded whilst showing me around, explaining the varying processes had me spellbound. This is one happy, hard working lady.
Products in the making.
Together with their specialist team of crafts persons Heritage Cob and Lime undertake all skills needed in the complete refurbishment of historic, listed buildings. Bespoke mortars and lime washes can be made to order, as well as traditional North Devon Cob blocks. Should you commission the company for your project, you will be able to see your specific requirements being made at their unit. Future employees wishing to join the company are trained to specialise in all the different areas.
Cob is the oldest building material in the world. Eco friendly, it is made from a mixture of subsoil, straw, clay and aggregates in varying amounts, mixed with water, forming a very pliable material. Cob can be laid as mass cob, to be built in stages – lifts, – or as in the video above, can be placed in “Big Bertha”, a formidable looking piece of machinery, which amalgamates the mixture turning it into competitively priced cob blocks, or bricks. These bricks are then left to dry in a very heath Robinson looking, drying room. Being very environmentally aware, the company embraces recycling. Hot air, which is expelled from the lime boiling mixer is diverted by means of a giant pipe into the covered area, which houses the the drying materials.
The giant tub below, of what looks like clotted cream is in fact Lime putty, in the making. After being boiled in the giant vats, the lime is left to slake – think cheese making – resulting in a mature lime putty.
When using cob, which has been coated with lime render, its important to remember, during your final decoration, that this substrate needs to breathe, hence the need for breathable paint. Not the modern plastic paint, most commonly used today. Heritage Lime Cob stock a range of suitable lime slaked and clay paints, in various shades, manufactured by another environmentally aware company Earthborn Clay Paints .
Having finished, your cosy, warm eco friendly Cob cottage all you need now is some individual finishing touches. Well, look no further, Heritage Lime and Cob all stock a most gorgeous range of handmade, glazed, ceramic bricks and tiles. Now, shall I do the bathroom or the kitchen?
It was a pleasure to visit Heritage Cob and Lime and learn about this ancient craft. If you would like to find out more, you will be welcomed by this friendly team of Artisans, they may even make you a cuppa. Would have loved to take off my socks and boots and trampled in that squidgy mixture. Maybe that for another time!
Heritage Cob and LimeUnit 20, Bideford, Industrial Estate, East The Water, Bideford, North Devon EX39 4GD,
Things are happening behind closed doors in the beautiful historic port of Appledore on the North Devon coast. Meander along the beautiful old quay, listen to the gentle lapping of the the river Torridge against the ancient stone wall and watch the boats bobbing on the water, the village of Instow acting as a backdrop to this peaceful, tranquil panorama.
The pretty pastel coloured houses and shops which flank the Quay are slumbering resplendent in the late morning sun as I approach Appledore Library. I furtively glance to both sides of me before pushing open the door and entering! The scene that greets me is a hive of activity, with a murmur of voices, punctuated by gleeful chuckles. Not at all what one would expected from the inner sanctum of a rural library in a sleepy village.
Appledore Knitting group was formed approximately six years ago and is run by its founder the lovely Josephine Sims and cohort Anne Bowden. The group meets each Wednesday morning from ten to twelve noon. Always welcoming new participants, between them they can impart a whole range of knowledge and experience to the hopeful newcomer, wishing to learn a new skill. If you are a beginner they are quite happy to teach you how to knit or crochet and help you with any problems you may be having. – Think that refers to knitting, but you never know. –
I was overjoyed to be invited to “take a few photos” of this lovely group. I wasn’t aware of its existence. It certainly needs some publicity as there are a wealth of skills, both old and new, that this group are willing and able to pass on to others. In the photo above an Appledore Knit-Frock is in progress. This item of fishermans attire was knitted by the woman folk of the villages for their seafaring men folk. Devon villages had different emblems incorporated into the pattern, indicating which village they came from, should the wearer be “lost at sea” .
All sorts of items are created by this lovely group, many of which are donated to various charities. As well as being an asset to Appledore Library, the ladies often act as Tourist Information, to local visitors. there is no fee to join, just turn up, enjoy and feel welcome. Not being a knitter myself, I have never been able to cast on, in-spite of my mothers endless patience. I might just give it a go, even just to be able to make one of the gorgeous happy hedgehogs. Thank you ladies, for inviting me. The pleasure was all mine.
Appledore Knitting Group. Appledore Library, The Quay, Appledore, EX39 1QS. Wednesdays 10-12 noon. Find them on Facebook.
I have always loved swimming and anything to do with the water. Moving to Appledore, North Devon two years ago I was in my element, the beautiful Torridge estuary was on my doorstep and the crashing waves and broad sandy beach at WestwardHo! just a stones through away. My trusty hound Gypsy and I would spend hours walking, swimming and just enjoying life in this beautiful environment. All was well in our world and then along came the Covid Pandemic.
The Pandemic and its vital restrictions has brought a great deal of sadness, uncertainty, hardship and stress to many people. One of the issues which affected me was the need to exercise and keep myself busy. Ok, I had my dogs to walk, but I needed something more. As a long term sufferer of Bipolar disorder I experience manic highs and deep lows, being near the water is a great leveller for me, which is fine in the summer when you can absorb your Vitamin D from being outside in the sun. The winter however is a different kettle of fish – excuse the pun.
Many years ago, being a County swimmer I spent hours training in unheated pools, but as the years have passed I can’t say I have given much thought to dipping my toes, let alone my whole body into freezing cold water. Needs must, I had to focus on something and needed a challenge to help me through these strange times. I had read about the benefits of Cold water swimming and knew several people who were partaking in daily dips, having also joined several local social media groups. I was ready to take the plunge.
Before contemplating this extreme sport, please do your research on the do’s and don’ts. It is highly inadvisable to take to the waters on your own, you need a swim buddy to accompany you or to watch from the shore. Knowing the tide times, surf conditions and local currents is also imperative, as is only entering the water an hour before or after high tide. Also ensure you can enter & exit the water easily & safely. Whoa. there was more to this than I had first imagined, but safety is paramount and immersing yourself in cold water is an extreme thing to do in the winter, if you are not acclimatised to the water. Never stay in too long, listen to your body and beware of the After drop.
I have to say that the Cold water swimming community are lovely individuals, very supportive, helpful and caring. Questions about clothing, best places to dip and feelings are all shared in the Social media groups. I found my swim buddy who lives locally, on my FB group and together – socially distanced – we and my pooch have bounced in the waves, laughed as we shivered with delight and generally had a feeling of total well being. Don’t imaging we are in the water for hours. A dip is a dip, but the feeling of having actually accomplished the feat is overwhelming.
Cold water swimming has benefited me enormously, both mentally and physically. Spending my lock down life planning the day around the tides times, gives me a sense of excitement and mystery – how cold will the water be, what will the weather be like – makes me get out of bed in the morning. When that feeling of the “black dog sitting on my shoulder” shrouds me in misery, experiencing my own black fur ball herding me like a water sheep dog, to keep me close to the shore is amazing. Her high pitched, joyous yaps as she is told to wait while I enter the water, gives me a sense of satisfaction that her life is more pleasurable too. The feeling of “going into oneself” and inertia is quickly dispersed when walking down to the water, taking some deep breaths and saying “I can do this”. Slowly entering the cold water my mind is focused on nothing else, but the temperature. Once submerged, I turn over, float on my back and watch the sky, the feeling is one of exuberance, I skull around for a few minutes and drift back to the shore. My mind is clear, my body tingling, I feel cleansed in both body and mind, a great sense of achievement also prevails.
Is it worth it
Yes, yes and yes again. as well as extolling the virtues above: Nobody actually cares what you are wearing or what you look like – this is not a glamorous sport – There are no body image issues here – Fat, thin, disabled, disfigured, colour, creed or orientation is not a concern. The only thought is for the amazing feeling of euphoria you will experience. After all, when you are feeling happy, and contented, you don’t have to spend your time concerning yourself about the minutiae of everyday life.
I started cold water swimming in October 2020, progressing from a once a week, dip in the sea wearing a swimsuit, to every day in the beautiful Torridge estuary – tides permitting – I have just purchased a shorty neoprene wet suit in order to stay in the water a bit longer, attempting some proper swimming. I have found some mind blowing activity that I enjoy, is a challenge I can build upon and makes me feel calm, relaxed and happy. I also find a You tube 20 min yoga class when I get home, helps me warm up and keep supple, for a sixty six year old that cant be bad. Stay safe all.
I am raising money for Crisis UK with my daily swims, please click the link to donate. Thank you.
Those of you who know me, will find it no surprise that I am writing a blog about Gin. But believe me, this is no ordinary Gin. We have come a long way since the days of pink Gin. For those of you not so long in the tooth as me, I will explain. A pink gin was usually a Plymouth Gin, with a couple of drops of Angostura bitters – herbal alcholic preperation, based on Gentian, herbs and spices. – added. One could chose to have it “In” or “Out” the later being swirled in the bottom of the glass before being tipped away and the Gin added. Now we have our herbal infussion already added to the gin, all the better for the absorbtion of flavour to the Gin.
Atlantic Spirit is an innovative, small batch Gin producer based in the idyllic North Devon countryside. This husband and wife team are both passionate about their product, investing a great amount of their time and creativity to produce this delicious handcrafted product.
The story behind Atlantic Spirit Gin Distillerys birth, is quite simple. A Still, given as a birthday present about four years ago, resulted in the production of a superior Premier Gin. Having a relative who works at a vineyard probably inspired an interest in alcohol, but who knows. The product was born, which is very lucky for all of us who are Gin lovers.
These fine Gins are not aimed at the sticky, sweet, erzat flavoured Gin fraternity, but for the discerning tipplers amongst you. Those who appreciate the clean cut taste of a small batch Gin, subtley infused with locally collected, herbs, seaweeds, petals and any number of unusual, forraged, plants, berries etc, which the couple collect on their walks along the rugged North Devon coast.
The first Gin created was Hibiscus, which I was lucky enough to be given a sample of, along with the Seaweed Gin, – a definate aroma of the Atlantic prevails, – which I like with a slice of Grapefruit. Samphire, Laver and Thai bazil – love the taste of Anise – Gins have also been created, with many more in the experimental stage.
You can purchase these fabulous Gins from local stores in North Devon or order on-line by clicking the following link: Drink Finder
Right; thats your Christmas presents sorted for this year and all socially distanced too. Mind you, there is plenty of time to try them for yourself before decided which flavour is most suitable for which person. Be rude not too. Enjoy.
Atlantic Spirit. Hand made, small batch premium Gin from the rugged North Devon Coast. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: Atlantic Spirit
On a dull, humid day last week, the North Devon mizzle dampening my spirits as well as my hair, I had hopes of my mood being lifted by the thought of meeting the world renowned ceramic Artist, Sandy Brown.
I have always admired her beautiful house in Appledore, painted the most delicious shades of blue, pink and yellow but to actually be welcomed into the building was awe inspiring, the interior being the perfect backdrop for Sandy’s intriguing and colourful works.
In Victorian times it was common practice to employ children to sweep chimneys. Thank goodness we no longer use this method as there are some pretty small flues around these days! Whether your flue is large or small, these days our preference is for multi fuel stoves or wood burners. Liners are legally required inside the flue and scaffolding is needed to allow access to the chimney. The liner being dropped down inside the flue allows a person at the bottom – don’t try this at home – to fix it with a register plate. So no need for children at all. Think health & safety.
Leaving the past behind, how times have changed. Seeking to have an old cast iron multi fuel stove installed, several people recommended The Fireworks from Appledore
I love potatoes of any size, shape or variety. At any time of the year they are a vital addition to any veg basket, making a hearty addition to any meal.
Winter suppers consisting of large, fluffy, oven baked potatoes with crispy skins, filled with any savoury concoction that comes to mind are a quick and easy meal for me. Leek and potato soup is a sure winner, especially when served with some, fresh from the oven, https://northdevondoes.com/2020/03/24/cheese-and-potato-twists/ Make pastry for quiches or pizza bases using mashed potatoes for a crunchy crust.
With Spring comes the first tiny new potatoes, suitable for salads and adding to casseroles as a one pot meal. Would you not salivate over a Potato and wild garlic Frittata,? Throw in some spicy Chorizo for extra phzaz. Then there are the creme de la creme of the potato world. Jersey Royals, glistening with butter and freshly chopped mint. Irresistible.
Summer sees the barbeque season in full swing. What better than bowls of made in advance, potato salad all ready to serve with those homemade burgers. I don’t mean that lumpy pale mixture coated in oily mayo, but some seriously tasty spicy potato salad. Or for a more elegant spread, why not poach a salmon and serve with an unusual potato and dill pickle salad. Just the thing for a picnic on the river served with a chilled glass of Pinot Grigio. Now, those where the days!
Are you a salad person, or more of a chicken nugget fan? Personally I’m a salad freak, the fresh combination of raw and cooked vegetables and fruits plus the texture of different beans, pulses grains and seeds really get me salivating.
Chicken nuggets on the other hand leave me cold. The thought of various minced up and processed bits of a chicken, coated in synthetic tasting batter or breadcrumbs, does nothing for me whatsoever.
For me a combination of salad and chicken is exciting. It can be any cut of chicken, breasts, thighs, wings or legs. Even leftover cold chicken from the Sunday roast, lends itself to all manner of quick and easy meals, which provide you with protein, vitamins and fibre when put together into a tempting, tasty salad.
There are no hard and fast rules of how to make your salad. Experiment with the ingredients you like, mixing them with a good homemade dressing. Homemade dressings like, French Vinaigrette, Lemon, Chilli, Honey and mustard and Barbeque are quick and easy to make from a few ingredients, shaken together in a screw top jar ,they are also much more healthy for you and a lot cheaper.than shop bought varieties. Mayonnaise is a little more difficult, once practised will become like a second nature and you can add your favourite ingredients to make a number of different flavoured dressings. Left over blue cheese, chopped hard boiled egg and tomato puree for Thousand Island and chopped garlic and fresh garden herbs for a great paring with boiled baby potatoes. The choice is yours.
The recipe below is for an Oriental Chicken Salad. Again, use your imagination and the veg that you prefer. If you are a vegetarian you can replace the chicken with Halloumi :
The world, as we know it is being torn apart by COVID-19. Thousands of people have lost their lives, worldwide, with many more expected to do so, yet still people do not seem to understand the seriousness of this pandemic.
Many of you will have had to cancel holidays, whether in the UK or abroad. The aim of my blog today is not to depress you, but to try and bring some positive thoughts into your lives. I am lucky enough to live in beautiful Appledore, North Devon, UK. Appledore is an historic port, which nestles on the banks of the Torridge Estuary. – Find out more about Appledore – Many visitors would have wandered its quaint streets over the Easter Bank holiday and many will visit when the pandemic is over. However, for those yet to become acquainted with this picturesque port and others who know it well, I would like to share my photos of this special place, for your enjoyment, from the comfort of your arm chair. If you have never been to Appledore, you may be enticed to do so.
Stay safe everyone, try to keep positive as nothing lasts forever. Rejoice in the fact that YOU are alive and above all have compassion and kindness for others. For me, having suffered for many years from Bi-polar I find the quietness calming, giving me time to reflect on past generations, who did not have access to all the forms of communication available in today’s world. Generations of children who had to walk miles to school, women who stayed at home, cooking own grown and locally sourced food. The butcher, baker and candlestick maker found in every village street. Our farmers who raised animals and fowl, for our consumption along with seasonal fruit and veg. These people were never bored. They may not have had much in material possessions and their lives may have been shorter, but they had community spirit and the beauty of nature.
Nothing like some home baking to take your mind off things. Also, much more tasty that shop bought, processed food. No excuses now, you have got the time. Grab the kids, get into the kitchen and BAKE.
Makes 8 Allergens: Gluten, dairy. Oven temp 425F/220c/Gas No7.
225g Strong plain flour
25g Butter – cut into small pieces
2 level tspns Dried yeast
150ml Luke warm milk and water, mixed
1 tspn Caster Sugar
Using a stand mixer. Sift flour and salt into the bowl, add butter, sugar and yeast. Mix on Min speed for 1 min.
Make a well in the bottom of the flour mix, add warm milk and water. Mix on speed 1 for 5mins. Remove bowl from mixer, cover with damp tea towel, leave in a warm place for 1hour, or until doubled in size.
Turn out the risen dough, knock flat with the knuckles and divide into 8 equal balls, rounding them neatly. Place on a greased baking sheet, leave in a warm place until well risen and puffy, sprinkle lightly with flour, bake for 15 mins. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
Serve with clotted cream and jam of choice, which way round, depends on whether you favour the Cornish or Devonshire way. Enjoy.
I love a nice spicy, crispy Bahji, served with a nice fresh crunchy salad & a big bowl of chilli & cucumber ratia, for dipping. The only thing I don’t like is the fat content. Traditionally, Bahji’s are deep fried, which gives them that gorgeous, crunchy texture, it also gives them a high fat content. Well foodies after playing around a bit with my ingredients & cooking methods, I have come up with these little low fat, gluten free, dairy free vegan & vegetarian Bahji balls.
500g Potatoes, grated. Put in a tea towel & squeeze to remove excess water.
2 medium red onions, grated ( I find red onions more digestible for lowfodmap diets)
200g Carrots, grated
5cm, Fresh Ginger, peeled & grated
2. Fresh red chillies, finely chopped
1tspn Turmeric powder
3 tspns Cumin Seeds
1 tspn Salt
5 Tbspns Gram Flour
Juice of 1 Fresh Lime
2 tbspns Rapeseed Oil
Fresh chillis & Corriander to serve.
Place the drained potatoes, carrots, onions, chillis, ginger, spices and salt in a large bowl, & mix together well. (get you hands in).
Add the gram flour & mix well again.
Add the lime juice & oil & mix well again, adding a little more oil if necessary to produce a sticky mix.
Line a baking tray with non stick parchment, roll the mix into small ball, & place a little apart on the tray.
Bake for 25-30mins, checking half way through & turning if necessary.
Remove from the oven & sprinkle with fresh corriander & finely chopped chilli’s
Serve with a grated carrot, spring onion & red pepper salad, a bowl of corriander & chilli yoghurt & mango chutney.
Enjoy.Another little tip, for low fat nibbles. 15mins before the Bahji’s are ready, Sprinkle some pumpkin seeds in a single layer on baking parchement. Sprinkle with a little salt & some spice of your liking & bake. Beats peanuts anytime.
Great recipe today, to go with that homemade soup you are making from those leftover or frozen veg. If salads are more your thing, stuff these tasty twists with whatever you fancy. Olives, tomatoes and anchovies with some wild rocket, make a tasty light lunch.
Cheese and PotatoTwists.
Makes 8 Allergens: dairy. gluten
225g Potatoes, freshly, boiled and mashed.
225g Strong white bread flour
1tspn Dried easy-blend yeast
150ml Luke warm water
175g Finely grated cheese. Vary the changes, with Cheddar, Parmesan, Stilton
Sift the flour and a pinch of salt into the bowl of a Kenwood mixer with the dough hook attachment fitted. Add the potatoes, yeast and mix on Min speed for 1 minute.
Make a well in the centre of the flour mix, pour in the lukewarm water and mix for 5mins on Speed 1. Remove from mixer stand, cover with a damp cloth, leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Turn out the dough and knockback the air bubbles, knead for a few seconds.
Grease a large baking tray, divide the dough into 8 portions, Scatter the cheese over the tray, roll the dough portions into the cheese, covering well and rolling into a long sausage shape. Fold the two ends together and twist. Lay the twists onto the baking sheet.
Cover the twists with with a damp cloth, leave to rise in a warm place for 30mins. Preheat the oven to 220c/450f/Gas 7. Bake for 10-12mins until golden.
The twists keep moist and fresh for 3days, stored in a air tight container and can be frozen for up to a month.