Watching nature take its course, from the top of a hill in northern England


Swanning around

Whilst out and about on our first excursion in our new campervan, we called in at Hopton Hall, we admired the snowdrops, said hello to the mossy lady. It wasn’t the most pleasant of weather whilst we were there, sleet is never quite as pretty as a light dusting of snow, so we ate cake and drank tea whilst it passed.

We admired the pair of swans on the lake, swans mate for life.

 Swan 1

Overseas readers might like to know that in the UK there is an ancient ritual called ‘swan upping’,  this isn’t it.  This is  a swan feeding.

Swaning around 2

Swan Upping is actually all about an audit of the queens stock of swans and takes place on the river Thames.  Could you ever own a swan? I imagine they please themselves? No, look,  I’m wrong again,

The Queen has a prerogative over all swans in England and Wales. The Swan Keeper also despatches swans all over the world, sent as gifts in the Queens name

They do look regal.

Swaning around 3

It got me wondering, how they keep their necks clean? I mean there is only so far  round that a beak can preen?

Swaning around 4

It all looks very high maintenance to me

Swaning around_

well worth the effort though.


Devil May Care

You know what the devil does to blackberries after the end of September? Well he renders them inedible, by one way or another and whilst there is no mistaking Autumn is creeping along, crisp brown leaves were crabbing along the path this afternoon  in the gentle breeze.  The weather has been far warmer and sunnier than one might expect, for the beginning of October. So I decided I’d chance my arm and pick a batch of blackberries. Some were so plum and ripe they rolled off the truss into my hand.

october blackberry

There was no shortage of juice either,

october blackberry 2

Many of the best looking were high, way too high for me to reach, about 10 feet up, amongst the branches; the birds will enjoy.

october blackberry 4

  I tasted them as I went, and whilst not a flavoursome as earlier on in the season they were acceptable to partner with an apple or two, but I didn’t feel driven to  gather enough to make blackberry jelly.

The  best were in the sunniest, sheltered spots, as it seems, blackberries like cats, know where to find the hot spots.

october blackberry 3


Norfolk Fare

I forgot to include these lovely looking fruit and nuts in my last foodie post of our travels in Norfolk.

I hear it has been a spectacular year for blueberries.

norfolk blueberries_


And I wouldn’t have a clue what to do with a wet walnut

wet walnuts_

But I thought Hugh Fearnly-Eat-it-All might be the man to ask

Wet walnuts are a true seasonal treat, available for just a few weeks each autumn. They sound a bit messy, but don’t worry, their hard, usually slightly grubby (because unpolished) shells are quite dry – on the outside. It’s the inside that’s “wet” – still juicy and fresh, in its just-picked state. The pale blond kernels are firm but yielding, without the brittle crispness of a dried nut. And the flavour is mild, milky and sweet, with just a hint of that tannic edge that makes walnuts the sophisticate of nuts.


And cob nuts,  ouch £9 a punnet! By my estimation that’s about a pound a nut…

cob nuts_

Waitrose tell me they are stocking them in store this autumn and at a more thrifty price.


A Feast For The Eyes

Mrs Ogg and I  may have had a busy programme of sight seeing on our weekend away in Norfolk. But refuelling stops were taken very seriously.

Morning coffee


afternoon tea


Other foodie highlights were at and a very pleasant evening meal at Balthazar wine bar in Holt and a delicious Sunday breakfast of smoked salmon and poached egg croissant at  Byfords.  I loved Byfords, not only for its food, but for its warren of  higgled-piggledy rooms each telling a tale of previous use and lives. Fascinating, right up my street.


Selling Snake Oil

A bit of a rant to start with; really Waitrose (the supermarket subsidiary of John Lewis, they of the heart warming adverts) we expect better of the company that likes to pitch its self, as a cut above the rest, the favoured store for the middle classes .


The label on this jar of sundried tomatoes (I told you we were talking middle class) is sneaky, contains more weasel words than it does extra virgin olive oil


Yes folks, a measly 3% extra virgin olive oil. Read the label on the back

sundried 2

And you can see those sun kissed tomatoes are dunked in 47% sunflower oil, not luxuriating in a bath of extra virgin olive oil, as a quick glance of the label might suggest. (Waitrose artichoke hearts and sliced peppers share the same sunflower fate and  label pretensions). I wonder if the food boffins at Waitrose could convince us that 3% extra virgin olive oil brings anything to this product other that the words to the label?


I found an all together more genuine product, in the form of ancient bottle of  oil of eucalyptus when sorting mums house,  by the age of it, I suspect she and dad had themselves acquired it from a previous house clearance of an elderly aunt.

Pugh Buxton

I thought I’d see if it had retained its qualities, Sadly I broke the cork in the process (see I was right to be cautious of bottle tops)  but I didn’t need to go any further, it does still pack a punch of eucalyptus.

Pugh Buxton 2 

The dispensing chemist, Edgar Pugh of Buxton was mayor of Buxton in 1927 and the beautiful shop (which really needs to be photographed for this blog some day) is still a dispensing chemist, the historic shop and interior are listed, so thankfully haven’t suffered the same fate as Finlay McKinlay.


Mothering Sunday

The title Mothering Sunday, rather than Mothers’ day is a nod to my late mother in law. She’d no time for the latter as  for as far as she was concerned, it has it roots in commerce not religion.


As you might imagine, its been a bit of a melancholy one for me. But is has been a beautiful spring day.


Wild plum_

Joe knows what he thinks of Mothering Sunday, he ‘pot washes’ at the village pub at the weekend. Today he and his shift mate washed up for four chefs and 110 covers.