Wild Hunt

It’s the Monday after the first Sunday after the fourth of September.

So it must be

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The Abbots Bromley Horn Dance.

Possibly the best folk custom in the world.

Ever.

The day starts with the blessing of the horns in the Parish C

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hur

ch.

And then the day begins.

This year was a special year as it is the centenary of the start of the First World War.
Four dancers went off to war in 1914, but only two returned.

Today,  four dancers wore uniform in remembrance of those who lost their lives in the war,  in particular those lost from

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The D

ance

As always,  it was a joy to follow the dancers around the village and su

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rrounding

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area.

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But today was particularly poignant.

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Sun and slime

The first sunny day in what seems like forever.

The 2015 man-free holiday.

An annual tradition,  a few days of catch-up chat,  laughter,  and the opportunity to see some of the more eccentric aspects of British life.

Today we headed to Brightlingsea for the Opening of the Oyster Fishery.  

The Mayor and the great and the good headed off in boats

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Proclamations were made and a long lunch was had to celebrate the start of oyster season.

Well,  there is now an ‘r’ in the month.

Shockingly,  there is nowhere in Brightlingsea to sample oysters so we headed down the coast to Whitstable,  a fab,  retro,  slightly bohemian seaside resort on the Kent coast.

Couldn’t move for oyster shops there!

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I’ve tried oysters before,  and yes,  they are still disgusting second time around.

Imagine swallowing a giant,  slightly salty and fishy tasting bogey and you’ll get the idea.

Not that I’ve ever tasted a giant,  slightly salty and fishy tasting bogey.   But if I had,  that’s what it would be like.

Hope no one’s eating as they read this!  🙂

Hops and cream teas tomorrow.

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T’North

It’s been another one of those weeks

Loads of teaching

A lecturer who was most insistent that we organise some sessions for his students

And then forgot to tell them.

A lecturer who arranged a session for approx 35 students and then phoned up the day before to ask if 81 would be a problem.

But it’s all fine.

Really.

And then this weekend a long anticipated trip to meet up with our friends in the north

Two days in York.

Shopping

Eating

Fabulous Tapas at Ambiente
And a fabulous Spanish waiter too (hi Carole! 🙂 )

A ghost walk

A sing song at the Golden Fleece (I blame the spirits 😉 )

A city of the heavenly

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And the diabolical

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And damn fine breakfasts at Bettys

Thank you Ladies, and here’s to the next one! 🙂

Pumpkin Spice (ish)

So, Starbucks have brought out their Pumpkin Spice Latte. It must be autumn.

I succumbed.

I bought one.

And having been mostly sugar free for weeks I found I couldn’t (gasp) drink it. It was so sweet I nearly gagged.

Which makes me worry the gingerbread latte they bring out before Christmas might be similarly un drinkable.

In which case I will be cast into a veritable slough of despond.

But I digress.

Pumpkin spice? How about pumpkin spice muffins?

Mmmmmmmm.

Only.

Being organised as always I didn’t actually have any pumpkin in the house.

So….

Taaaa daaaa!

Sweet potato spice muffins.

I know.

Not quite the same ring, but work with me on this one.

You Will Need
175g sweet potato (steam or boiled until tender then lightly mashed)
100g whole meal flour
100g self raising flour
75g butter, softened
2 eggs
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp stevia (plant based sweetener also known as xylitol)
2tsp baking powder
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to gas 4 or 180c

Put all of the ingredients into a large bowl

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And beat to combine well

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Spoon into muffin cases and bake for 25 minutes

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Once they are nicely browned and firm to the touch, remove from oven and allow to cool

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Now add your choice of frosting. I combined some cream cheese with maple syrup and spooned that on, topping with a pecan. I found this amply sweet but everyone else reacted like they’d just sucked a lemon so you may want to try a butter icing ( perhaps with a swirl of Dulce de Leche for a caramelly, sticky toffee vibe?)

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So, a serving of vegetables and sugar free.

Result!

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Fresh

Freshers week.

The week when we librarians induct Freshers into the joys of library use.

Only.

They don’t take place in the Library.

We have to trundle over to their departments and get them to use their imagination, shun, shun, shun.

I know. Weird right?

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And we don’t know what will greet us when we get to the allotted room. It could be a small, cosy broom cupboard with a handful of lovely postgrads.

Or as I experienced last week, walking through the door to be faced with a ginormous lecture theatre, tiers of seats rising before my horrified eyes.

A lectern stood in front of me. A lectern with 2 monitors and a bank of IT stuff stacked underneath it and another stack of IT stuff stacked off to the side.

And no “on” switch.

Or at least none of the buttons I frantically pressed turned anything on. At all.

Meanwhile the seats were filling up with a couple of hundred first years.

All obviously expecting entertainment.

I could hear the distant roar of the lions waiting.

And feel my face turning the colour of puréed beet root.

Reader, I turned and fled.

But only in search of a passing, random, tame academic.

Who came and found the cunningly hidden “on” switch.

Unfortunately 🙂

And at the end, one little Fresher came up to me and said

“Well, at least you seem friendly”

I take my crumbs of comfort where I can 🙂

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Clypping

If you’ve never tried it before, hugging a church is an interesting experience.

Sunday saw us at Painswick, a stunning Gloucestershire Cotswolds town of amber stoned buildings, to see the ancient clypping ceremony.

Painswick was also celebrating the Painswick Feast and the Apple Fair.

You could bring your own apples for pressing.

And buy puppy dog pie from the food stall.

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We were assured the pies contained beef and plum.

Much to the relief of the local puppy population.

Clypping is an olde English word meaning hugging or embracing.

Nothing to do with the topiary in the churchyard

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So after a procession around the churchyard

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The congregation forms a circle around the church, holds hands and then embraces the church

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Afterwards the children are given a coin and a clypping cake

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Sunshine, pies and mad English customs.

Unbeatable. 🙂

Renewal

It’s been a little while.

A combination of the horror of the back-to-school routine

Depression at the impending start-of-university-term teaching

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And a little bit of writers block.

A head crowded with thoughts but none of them of interest to anyone but me.

And often not even to me.

But! But. The urge to ramble and waffle is upon me again, brought about by two cheering things

Thing one.
This weekend Averil (hi Averil!) and I are heading over to Walsingham for the candlelit procession to the shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham.

And possibly fish and chips at the coast whilst we’re over that way.

There may be winkles….

Thing two

Yoga. Ha HA. This week I have managed for the first time, and on one side only, to get myself into the weird arm behind back and other arm around leg holding hands bind thingy.

This is an achievement so momentous I wanted to stop the class so I could do the “running man” whilst shouting “yeah baby”.

But I didn’t.

Om.

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Vincent

Still with a bit of an art theme.

As we left Compton Verney we saw an irresistible sign.

For these

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A pick-your-own sunflowers field.

How could we not?

Armed with secateurs the children lost themselves in a field of gold, sunflowers towering above them.

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Bees buzzed.

But thankfully there were no wasps 🙂

And the kids picked flowers with blooms bigger then their heads!

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I did have thoughts of getting them to paint the flowers a la Van Gogh.

But in the end we just enjoyed looking at them

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In the immortal words of Coldplay

“And they were all yellow”

Indeed, Chris Martin, indeed.

🙂

The Change

It’s there now isn’t it?

First thing in the morning, when you step out of the front door and shiver.

Late afternoon, as the sun is starting to go down and you smell the bonfires starting.

In the evening, as it starts to get properly dark.

Autumn’s coming.

I love this time of year.

It’s softer.

The light is hazier, the evenings cooler.

The hedgerows full.

So, we made our annual trip to a tiny hamlet (ha!) just outside Stratford.

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The light was dappled, the birds twittered, the bees buzzed

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The Avon did it’s gurgle-y river-y thing.

And the trees and hedges?

They were full of these

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And these

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And these

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Elderberries and rose hips and sloes (oh my!).

Oh and blackberries and damsons and apples.

And then a hazy, twittery, mellow walk back through the hamlet

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To the pretty, amber hued church

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Rose-filled churchyard

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And frankly hacked-off looking gargoyle chappie

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Finishing off the late summer day with a stop at the Four Alls, for a cool refreshing drink (or in the case of oldest child a cream and marshmallow loaded hot chocolate (well it is the turn of the seasons after all)).

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The Fifth of November

I didn’t want to do it.

It looked (and felt) cold and damp and dark out there.

It looked (and felt) nice and warm and cosy inside.

But they wanted to go.

I whined, I grumped, I whinged. At one point I may have whimpered.

But in the end we went.

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And you know what? I’m SO glad we did.

There was a real buzz at the fire site. A mini fairground to keep the kids happy

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And mulled wine to keep the grown ups happy.

At 7.00pm it started

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Poor old Guy Fawkes.

I’d love to go to the (in)famous Guy Fawkes celebrations at Lewes but I think our youngest is too young at the moment. The celebrations are a lot more riotous, anarchic, and, well, frightening at Lewes (they take the Guy burning very seriously there).

But for now, Leamington Rugby Club fireworks night will do us just fine.

All together now

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OOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHH! AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!