Dawning bright and breezy the day held promise and a heightened feel of happiness. As the pooch and I jumped into the old jalopy for the drive to beautiful Hartland, North Devon both our stomachs rumbled at the thought of food and drink. This, you understand, was not just any old food, but locally produced food and drink from the wonderful stallholders at Hartland Farmers Market.
I had been invited to have a mooch around by Heather and Peter Cherry, organisers of the market, who, as you will see below, also enjoy their food.
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
Imagine my delight and surprise, when the pair arrived to find that one of them, the “Victorian child” had been replaced by a woman! Now, there’s progress for you. Not that she was being sent up the chimney, you understand, Mandy was there to help with all aspects of the installation. Not for her, scrabbling up the flue with a brush, – a hover is employed these days -. Her strong arm tactics were also required when it came to the positioning of the lump of cast iron. All went smoothly, I must say I had a strong sense of admiration for this bouncy lady, making her mark on a so called “mans world”.
If you are looking to have a woodburner installed in your abode, I can highly recommend Graham Watts of The Fireworks and his trusty side kick Mandy. They were quick, efficient, clean, tidy and above all very reasonably priced. They also only had one cup of tea, during the whole process. Amazing.
So. If you have been thinking of having a woodburner, multifuel stove, solid fuel cooker or open fire installed within North Devon, Exmoor and North Cornwall you can do no better than to give these lovely people a call, or find them on Facebook. I can assure you, you won’t be disappointed.
The Fireworks. Marshwood, Pitt Lane, Appledore. North Devon. Tel:01237 476604. Mob: 07789 405088. Website: The Fireworks
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.
When visiting the delightful Mr Kennedy a few weeks ago at his delicious little Chocolate Shop in Appledore, I didn’t think I would be titling this blog “Choc’s away”, but that is exactly what has happened. No longer will you be able to purchase those decadent morsels of heaven from Appledore, as the shop is now closed and up for sale! Noooo, I hear you cry, how can I possibly exist without my chocolate fix? Please. Don’t let me cast a shadow over your already damp and gloomy Sunday. Read on and discover how you can still feed your addiction.
David Kennedy was inspired to start his business after discovering the wondrous food hall at Harrods in 1985. Happening to come across the mouth watering creations on display in the chocolate section, he was hooked and what transpired from his visit was the birth of a small chocolate shop in Edinburgh, which was run by David and an old school friend.
As time went by, joined by his sister Alison, an experienced chocolatier they discovered an old near-derelict school building in Orton, Cumbria. In 1995 after receiving various grants, a refurbishment programme of the building began, resulting in the opening of a factory shop in 1996.
Kennedys Fine Chocolates and Coffee Shop is no ordinary chocolate shop. The village of Orton is an unpretentious place attracting many visitors and a popular stopping point for those hearty individuals partaking of Alfred Wainright’s “Coast to Coast Walk”. What better place to take a breather and indulge in the sumptuous homemade, chocolates, cakes and icecreams, whilst sipping a cup of delicious hot chocolate made from pure chocolate. I can feel the kilos piling on as I write! Visitors also have the opportunity to view the production area through windows in the conservatory coffee house area. Just imaging watching the making of those small batch chocs. The only problem I can see is deciding on which of the hundred odd assortment, to purchase.
Kennedys in Appledore opened in September 2009 and has been popular with locals and visitors alike. Alas, like all good things it has come to an end and closed its doors in November this year. However, the good news is you can still enjoy these delicious chocolates by ordering through the online shop Kennedys offer a bespoke mail order service, which includes Overseas posting. Wedding favours and special commissions are also catered for so why not have your chocs personalised with your initials or match the ribbons on the boxes, with the colour scheme of your special occasion. You can even ask them to create a chocolate especially for you. Now, there’s a thought.
To find out more visit: Kennedys Shop and Coffee House. Orton, Penrith, Cumbria. CA10 3RU. Tel: 01539 624781
Appledore Pirates are a wonderful group of Pirates, both young & old who work tirelessly, raising funds to provide a fantastic range of events in the small river side community of Appledore, North Devon.
To read more about events organised this year by Appledore Pirates follow the links below:
To say I’m amazed is an understatement. Suprised. No.
Reading an article in the I newspaper today, I was dumfounded by the reported concerns about the shortage of EU workers in meat processing plants. Apparently the great British public may have difficulty in sourcing Pigs in Blankets and other such delicacies for their Christmas day blow out! Brexit, they cry, that is to blame for us having to miss tonight’s episode of Love Island, while they scour the internet in search of of chance to pre-order this festive must have. Ah, the Brits do love someone or something to blame.
My amazement stems from the fact that it appears EU seasonal workers are employed to undertake this “fiddly” task of food preparation. When there is so much unemployment in this country, is somebody not enthusiastic or able enough to perform this mundane task? I’m also stunned that anyone wants to buy the product in the first place, along with readymade stuffing balls, gravy, frozen roast potatoes. I could go on.
I’m not surprised that this shocking snippet of information has made an appearance in the National press and on prime time radio. I mean, what could possibly be more concerning in the world today than a shortage of Pigs in Blankets? Devils on horseback, perhaps! Laying back in front of the TV, what else does one have to ponder on? Do the couch potatoes of “This Sceptred Isle” not know or care what is happening on this planet?
Stand up, take a deep breath, in though the nose, out through the mouth …..and breathe. Now, walk towards the kitchen, open the fridge and take out those tasty chipolata’s – cocktail size if you must- and the 200g of prime streaky bacon which you purchased earlier today from your local butcher – Yes they do still exist.- If you really can’t face this tedious task, your butcher has probably risen early in the morning and completed the task for you.
Now, lay the streaky rashers, individually on a clean chopping board, using the back of a knife, gently stretch each rasher, lengthwise. Cut them in half, place a sausage at the end of each rasher and roll up. Simplessss. The joy of making your own is that, as well as having choice of sausage flavour you also know that the basic products you are using are of as high a quality as your Butcher can provide and not some pale, fatty, tasteless dead looking finger, which is full of additives and preservatives. Why not go mad and unleash your imagination. Roll mini chorizo in slices of pancetta. For the veggies among you try fingers of Feta cheese wrapped in vine leaves – Greeks in Sheets!- or any other combination your taste buds are tempted by.
….and relax that’s all there is to it. Surely this is not such an onerous, time taking task that cant be fitted into your day? By the way, while you are at it, you can contemplate the IMPORTANT things going on in the world.
As an after thought, having made your Pigs in Blankets or what ever, you may like to have a go at constructing your own Devils on Horseback. You will need extra bacon, stretched in the same way as above. Soak, large prunes in boiling water, or if you are feeling extravagant, some hot red wine, leave until cool. De-stone the prunes and stuff each one with an anchovy fillet wound around a whole almond. -sorry, more tedium. – Place the stuffed prune on the bacon rasher, roll up and bake for 8 mins in a hot oven.
If it all goes wrong, Don’t blame me.
If you would like some further recipes to help you prepare for Yuletide, visit my sister site Christmas Get Aheads
What better day to write a blog than Seafood Friday? Well, a blog pertaining to sumptuous scallops, perfect prawns and the fishy tales that surround them. Seafood and fish are fast foods, filled with lovely Omega 3 oils, low in calories and a perfect addition to your healthy eating regime. This blog is about the robust people who catch, clean, fillet and finally present them artistically, for your perusal and purchase. Didn’t quite get to publish it last week, but better late than never.
I first met Dan the Fish Man reclining against the side of his van, enjoying the sun on The Quay at Appledore. “Can I write a blog about you?” I enquired. Dan fixed me with his twinkling gaze, reminiscent of a cross between Father Christmas and Captain Birdseye. At that moment a group of prospective customers approached. Fired into action, Dan enquired as to their needs. “Carry on serving that lady” the gentleman replied. “We do business together” was Dan’s retort. Well! the customers eyed me with knowing, if I was younger, I would have blushed, but being an old trout I took it on the chin. Dan is renown for his banter as well has his fish, an attraction which keeps his customers returning time after time.
Dan is an ardent man. Ardent in his love of fish, the fishing industry, food, wine and I suspect, many others things which are not suitable for this blog. Original hailing from Hampstead, Dan moved to Clovelly, North Devon in 1979. Having been a lobster and crab pot fisherman, Dan has been involved with the high seas for many years. He has also become something of a local celebrity, making many appearances on ITV and even being involved with Masterchef Professionals. He recalls a huge blunder he made while being filmed for a TV programme when he mentioned his now wife, by name. “Only problem was”, he chortles “I used my first wife’s name”. I wonder what was proffered as a peace offering?
Most of Dan’s fish is landed at Appledore fish dock, where he is part of a co-operative. Specialising in local fish and seafood, as a micro buyer he is able to support the local community by purchasing his stock from local fisherman , You will not find fish bought from auctions, fish that has been frozen or foreign exotics on Dans stall only the very best, fresh, local fish. Dan just loves anything to do with the sea and also keeps up his involvement with the RNLI .
Dan Garnett will regale you with tips and tasty recipes, for storing and cooking your fish and seafood. he can be found Farmers Markets in Tavistock, Crediton and Dulverton as well as various other locations, during the summer months. Fish can also be purchased from Appledore Fish Dock, by prior arrangement. Why not pop along to FOODfest 2019 at Barnstaple Pannier Market on Sunday 20th October 10.00 – 3.30pm and see Dan in action.
Meanwhile here’s a quick and easy recipe, from my kitchen, using Dan’s fresh salmon fillets:
Jan’s speedy Salmon Fillets.
Place two Salmon Fillets on a microwaveable dish
Cover with three tablespoons plain, unsweetened Greek Yoghurt
Sprinkle with Fennel seeds, fresh dill, parsley or herb of your liking
Allow to stand, covered, for 30 mins.
Place, covered, in microwave on 60% power for 5mins.
Allow to stand for 10 mins.
Serve with Veg or Salad.
To find out more about Dan the Fishman Click the link to visit his web site.
In towns and villages all over Britian, you will find people growing vegetables, whether it be on an allotment, in their back gardens or in grow bags on the patio. If you are a gardener you will be well aware of gluts! Gluts, for the uninitiated, are those piles of fruits and veg that you just cannot eat, pickle or turn into jam. This occurs not because they have gone bad, but because you just can’t take anymore. You have eaten enough, you have binged on courgettes, lettuce or tomatoes for the last month and are heartly sick of them.
If visited Appledore, North Devon, for your holidays this year, you may have noticed the house above as you meander down the hill into the beautiful village. The two brothers who live there, spend hours on their allotment, each year, tilling, weeding, sowing & planting, producing copious amounts of fresh fruit and veg. As they grow more than they can eat, they display their wares outside their house, asking for donations to North Devon Children’s Hospice, in return for their fresh, unadulterated pro What can be more perfect than to know you are eating fresh, homegrown veg and also supporting such a worthy cause?
Have you ever read the ingredients list on the back of a jar of shop bought chutney? It may or may not suprise you to know that the first listed ingredient is sugar! – ingredients have to be listed in quantity order. – Are you surprised to know that you are eating a jar of sugar, with some veg thrown in! and you thought it was one of your seven a day. Well, having purchased my fresh Appledore grown fruit a veg, I set about creating a smoky, spicy chutney, in which the main ingredient is not sugar. (Recipe below)
Makes 4kg GF, DF, V, Vegan Allergens: chilli, celery. Time taken 20mins + cooking. Equipment: Large Saucepan, Sterilised Jars
2kg Red Tomatoes. Cored & Chopped
1kg Mixed Peppers. Deseeded
1kg Carrots, grated.
5 Sticks Celery. Chopped
0.5kg Onions.Peeled & Quarted
1kg Cooking Apples. Cored & Chopped
4 Cloves of garlic. Peeled
3 Fresh Chillies. Deseeded
500ml Balsamic Vinegar
500ml Malt Vinegar
1kg Soft light brown sugar
2tbspns Sea Salt
2tbspns Ground Cumin
2tbspns English Mustard
2tbspns Worcestershire Sauce
150ml Tomato Paste
Bunch of fresh Thyme. Tied together.
Place onions, chillies and garlic in a food processor & pulse until finely chopped. Place in large saucepan with the rest of the fruit & veg.
Pour over the malt vinegar. Cover & simmer until the onions are soft.
Add the rest of the ingredients. Stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the relish has a jam like consistency. Remove the thyme bunch. Pot & cover. Leave for a couple of weeks to mature.
Never going to make your seven a day, but it is homemade, from fresh locally grown fruit & veg. Has a lower sugar content than shop bought tracklements AND doesn’t contain additives or preservatives.
Just think how good they will look lined up on your kitchen shelf. Also how good you will feel knowing the money you spent on the produce will go to a good cause and not to a greedy Supermarket. Enjoy.
P.S. I do not peel my fruit and veg as it adds fibre to the finished chutney.