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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Pearls

I thought they were extinct

Or at least an endangered species

But at the Faversham Hop Festival today we spotted them.

At first just a pair

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But later,  a whole posse of them

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Performing “Roll out the barrel”,  “My Old Mans a Dustman”  and so many more.

It was great.

There were hops a plenty

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In garlands

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And on hats.

And Faversham is lovely

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It has a Physic Garden

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A rather beautifully decorated brewery

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And a gunpowder mill.

Every town should have one.

Ahem.

The festival was noisy,  bustling and good fun.

Beer was flowing freely

But as I cant stand the stuff we sampled other local produce instead.

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All in the name of supporting small local artisans you understand 🙂

Yum.

Gong Xi Fa Cai 恭禧發財

The wheel is turning

The festivals are coming thick and fast.

Half term and we’ve had Valentines Day, Shrove Tuesday and now Chinese New Year

That’s in addition to Crafting Day and Grand Nerf Gun Battle Day.

I was hoping to try making chocolate noodle cakes (who could resist?) and sticky rice cakes.

But after Grand Nerf Gun Battle Day the lure of rocking in a quiet corner of the living room, twitching, was too great.

So we went with shop bought (and probably considerably more edible) goodies.

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Red bean pancakes

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Prawn crackers and wontons

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Almond cakes.

Wishing you all…..

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A happy and prosperous year of the goat/sheep/ram 🙂

…In the Air

Happy Valentines Day 🙂

Yoga yesterday.

We had to do a pose that involved sitting on the floor, one leg pulled back, knee bent, to the chest.

then you had to slip an arm through the crook of the bent knee, twist the arm behind the back, take the other arm behind the back and clasp hands, and then casually straighten the bent leg so it was waving nonchalantly in the air.

all the while focussing on drishti and engaging bhandas.

what popped in to my head?

a roomful of cats all poised to, erm, wash themselves

You can see the meditation practice is doing a fine job of helping me control my thought processes. 🙂

So. Valentines Day. And what could be more appropriate then chocolate?

Gooey chocolate muffins with a gooey chocolate centre and gooey chocolate topping. With just a hint of orange to break up all that gooey ness a smidgen.

Perfect for a day that makes otherwise sane people go gooey.

You will need
80g softened butter
280g caster sugar
200g plain flour
40g cocoa powder
A sprinkling of salt
1tbsp baking powder
2 eggs
240ml milk
1 tsp orange essence
Grated zest of 1 small orange.

For the icing and filling
1 chocolate orange (175g) or a bar of orange infused chocolate such as Maya gold if you want to be a bit more upmarket
Plain chocolate to make the quantity of chocolate up to 250g
250ml double cream

Preheat oven to Gas 5, 190C

Cream together the butter and sugar then add the flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder. The texture will be very grainy, this is fine.

Ina jug mix together the eggs, milk, orange essence and zest.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix together very well until you have a lovely, smooth batterimage

Spoon into muffin cases and bake for about 20 minutes. When cool enough to touch, place on a wire rack and let them cool completely before going any further.

To make the filling/icing, chop up the chocolates
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And place in a bowl. Put the cream into a saucepan and heat until nearly boiling, then pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Give it a stir and then leave for a few minutes for the chocolate to melt before stirring again to combine thoroughly. Allow to cool.

Take your now cooled cupcakes
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and with a sharp knife cut out a cork-shaped and sized lump from the middle of the cupcake
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Fill the hole with the chocolate & cream ganache and replace the plug of cake, trimming it if need be.
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Top with a generous, artistically swirled blob of ganache and adorn with more zest or whatever other sprinkles you fancy and happen to have to hand.

I would have inserted a picture of the completed cupcakes, but they seemed to disappear. Strange.

Eat and enjoy.

Oop north again

Another weekend away.

This time visiting Averil ( of the Calendar Customs web site fame) and John. (Hi Averil and John 🙂 )

The journey up north, on a Friday, is always horrendous.

This time was no exception – nose to tail traffic, roadworks, fog. Lovely.

But we do have something en route to look forward to.

It’s a tradition.

We stop at the Heston Blumenthaled Little Chef on the A1 and visit the moo-ing loos.

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The loo ceiling is painted to look like a sunny day. And the toilets gently moo and baa at you as you relax to the sound of a stream gurgling in the background.

It really should be a tourist destination in its own right.

Saturday the boys stayed home for a mammoth board gaming session whilst Averil, Youngest Child and I caught the bus into Newcastle to try and wrestle up a bit of festive spirit.

Fenwicks Christmas window.

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You cannot see this and not feel like Christmas is just around the corner.

Youngest Child then attempted to eat her way around the world with Sushi for lunch followed by a Freshly cooked crepe from the French creperie in the Grainger market, followed by macarons from the French artisan baker, followed by bubble tea in Newcastles China town

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By the time we’d also gone down to see the revamped Quayside (not a dodgy nightclub in sight)

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St Nicholas cathedral

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And the disturbing vampire rabbit

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We were just about able to stagger back to the bus station to catch the bus back to Corbridge.

And I even heard a “bobby dazzler” and an “oh la la” during our wanderings

Perfect 🙂

Remember

It’s funny how the things right on your doorstep are the things you cease to notice.

Youngest child had a homework assignment to find out about Warwick, our County town and right next door to Leamington.

I can’t remember the last time I actually visited Warwick as opposed to driving through it to get somewhere else.

It was a beautiful day yesterday.

The sky was blue

The sun was shining

The air was crisp and cool.

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We arrived just in time to watch the Remembrance Sunday service at the War Memorial near St Mary’s Church

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Beautiful and moving.

The gun shots scared a flock of birds that had been roosting in the church tower, and they swirled overhead throughout the service

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I tried to explain freemasonry to youngest child as we passed the Warwick Lodge

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But the more I explained the less it actually made sense 🙂

The veterans from The Lord Leycester Hospital were at the Remembrance Day service in their finery, so we went to admire the Hospital

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And then warm up in their tea room

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Damn fine coffee 🙂

Our tour finished with a trip to St Mary’s to admire the Beauchamp chapel with it’s superb monuments, possibly amongst my favourite group of dead people in the country

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And a final view over the river to Warwick Castle

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History, pageantry, memory and memorials.

A perfect winter Sunday.

Boo

Happy Dia de Los Muertos, happy Halloween. Samhain greetings.

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There were a few surprised faces when I answered the door yesterday.

And that was before I applied the make up (ba boom)

Five hyped up 8/9 year old girls.

And three trying to be cool but also actually quite hyped up nearly teenage boys.

I was ready for bed by 9.30.

But they were still going at 1am.

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A bowl of eyeballs

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Apple bobbing

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Red velvet blood cakes ready for decorating

And

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Death by chocolate cake.

The streets were packed with trick or treaters.

But I think the noise levels from our small group of girls outdid the rest of them put together.

Ears were bleeding 🙂

May your Winter to come be a snug and cosy one.

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. 🙂

I Hear You Calling Marian

Name that group 🙂 (one for you Goths out there)

This weekend we made our long awaited trip to a centre of Christian pilgrimage, Walsingham in Norfolk.

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As an agnostic with sometimes pagan leanings, this weekend was at times an uncomfortable and challenging experience.

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It was also Fascinating

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And strangely moving.

An experience more catholic than Anglican.

A drinking of holy water.

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An anointing with oil.

An invitation (unaccepted) to a laying-on of hands and confession.

A candlelit procession in honour of Our Lady of Walsingham

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This is a special place, whatever your personal faith

Ave Maria.