The Beauties of the UK

As you know, last year, and a fair bit of this year, was cancelled as far as holidays are concerned. Like many people we tend to holiday abroad these days, but we are not comfortable with the situation to do that just yet. Whilst all the restrictions on our life are being removed, the pandemic is still with us and the UK is back in forth place in the Corvid numbers chart. As of today (27/09/2021) 7,664,230 confirmed cases and 136,168 attributed deaths and still rising at ~30,000 a day.

Because of this, and the need to get out of the house for a while, we decided to hire a Motorhome and get out to visit Scotland, the one part of the UK we haven’t been except in passing. The good thing about an RV/Motorhome is that you are isolated in the most part.

I would advise anyone who hasn’t been and who loves the countryside to go to Scotland. the scenery is absolutely stunning.

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There is, however one road to be weary of; All of the RV sites from John O’Groats to Thurso were full whilst we were there, so we overnighted some 40 miles south in Dunbeath and did a circuit A9, A99, A836 then back south on the A897.

When you see a road has an ‘A’ classification you can be forgiven for believing that all is well and you will have no trouble taking a motorhome down it – Not the A897. This is a 38 mile long, very narrow road with just about enough room to fit the vehicle on; there are lots of passing places because, as the sign tells you, this is a road used by logging lorries. There are also a number of potholes strategically placed to rattle the crockery and your teeth.

To make maters worse, the last 10 miles or so head East and  my navigation system decided that, as our destination was to the South West, it would be quicker to take a ‘road’ that went directly South. I should have known better! I followed Tom’s (Tom Tom) instructions and turned right on to an unnamed  road about the same size as the A897 only this one didn’t have any passing places and about 500yds in started getting narrower; and bumpier; and, whilst still paved, had grass growing out of the middle. Unfortunately by this time I had traversed a couple of bends and there was nowhere to turn around and I really didn’t fancy reversing back along the track.

It couldn’t get any worse so I said “let’s call it an adventure” and carried on. It got worse when we were going up hill and in to the clouds; I couldn’t see more than 10 yards ahead. If there had been a sheep in the road I would still be eating mutton stew till Christmas. Once again I said “it’s an adventure” and carried on. By the time we re-joined the A9 the boss was threatening to clout me around the head if I mentioned ‘adventure’ again.

I must be a bit of a masochist; I replied “Oh come on; it was an adventure”; no wonder I’m bald on the top of my head Winking smile

All in all – Scotland is a really great place to visit.

Stay safe folks

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Cute Filet Ends Vegetarian Week

My cooking skills are getting better; and I have the cuts and burns to prove it Smile

The post title refers to the filet mignon we had last night, along with fondant potatoes and asparagus with a Diane source. The word ‘mignon’ is French for ‘cute’.

We have been on a vegetarian kick this week which, strangely enough, I enjoyed. Although I did cheat mid week with a bacon butty for lunch.

The star of the week, according to the boss who marked it 10/10, was an aubergine and courgette hot pot. Layers of thinly sliced aubergine and courgette brushed with olive oil and interspersed with cherry tomatoes, sliced mushrooms, crushed garlic and rosemary, baked in the oven with the lid on for 50 minutes. Then covered in a tomato sauce which I made last week, a mash potato layer, a layer of cheddar and a layer of parmesan substitute. Back in the oven for 15 minutes until the top was a nice golden brown.

Stay safe out there folks – the pandemic isn’t over yet.

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A British Record

Number 1 Grandson, Sam, just got the British record in his age group (under 23), bench pressing 230kg

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He is through to the European Powerlifting Championship in August.

So proud of him

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Proud Grandfather here

Just found out that Number 1 Grandson, Sam, has been invited to train with the England Power Lifting Team – Well done Sam; Very proud of you.

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Going Greek

Yesterday we went Greek curtesy of Rick Stein with his Soutzoukakia. (Meatballs in tomato sauce with cinnamon and cumin)

I’m scoring this one 10/10 as the boss, noted for her lack of enthusiasm for meat, cleared the plate.

I only changed two things:

  • The tomato sauce called for a cinnamon stick – didn’t have any so I just added 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon;
  • We didn’t fancy rice so we had it with tagliatelle.

Stay safe folks

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Asian Food – Nice

I may have said this before but we are very partial to Asian food.

One of our favourites is Peking (or crispy) Duck. Now it is very easy to send out for a takeaway or buy the heat and eat versions from supermarkets, but it is much more satisfying to make it yourself; apart from the rice paper rolls which we brought from the local Chinese supermarket.

This is a mixture of a couple of different recipes putting together, in my view, the best way to make the duck and sauce. Serves two just nicely.

Ingredients:

  • 2 duck breasts
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
  • 1 tablespoon honey or agave syrup
  • Spring onions – shredded
  • Cucumber – Use a potato peeler then cut into matchsticks
  • The Sauce
    • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
    • 1 tablespoon groundnut (peanut) or sunflower oil
    • 6 tablespoons hoisin sauce
    • 5 tablespoons caster sugar
    • 1 tablespoon soy sauce – preferably dark
    • 1 tablespoon cornflower

Method

  1. Place the duck, skin side up, on a rack over the sink and pour a kettle of boiling water over the skin – pat dry
  2. Preheat the oven to 180c/160c fan/gas 4
  3. Mix the honey and five spice and brush it all over the duck – let it dry for a bit then, if you have any left, brush over the rest of the glaze.
  4. Place duck in to a roasting tin and roast for 25-35 minutes – you don’t need any oil as the duck fat will provide that for you
  5. Whilst waiting for the duck add all of the sauce ingredients, except the cornflower, in to a pan over a medium heat, and stir together with 100ml water. Heat until it starts to boil. Mix the cornflower in a tablespoon of water then remove the pan from the heat and stir it in to the sauce mix. Back on the heat and stir until the sauce thickens to your taste. Allow to cool.
    1. Note: these ingredients will give you enough for a couple of uses. I bottled half of it in the empty hoisin sauce bottle.
  6. Once the duck is done to your liking put it on a board to rest for a while then slice or shred it.
  7. Enjoy it

Take care out there folks

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Lateral Flow Tests

We took our first Lateral Flow test this week which resulted in a little amusement.

The first smile happened when I opened the package and saw the little slip of paper announcing that they were made in China.  Open-mouthed smile If this were a Tom Clancy book there would be a paragraph laying out a part of the conspiracy using the thoughts of  Zhang Han San after having a conversation with one of his subordinates – Read Executive Orders followed by Rainbow Six to see the plot.

The second was not amusing when it happened, but bloody funny afterwards. For those who haven’t used the test you have to take a swab and twist it around against each tonsil four times, then push it up one of your nostrils and twist it around ten times. There is an instruction to blow your nose before doing this. I managed to do the tonsil part without gagging; the trick here is to make sure not to touch the dangly thing in the middle. Winking smile   I then did the nostril part and I could feel it coming on; that tingly sensation that tells you that you are going to sneeze. I just managed to get the ten turns done and pull the swab out in time and then gave the biggest and loudest sneeze going, followed by several more; I think the people a couple of doors down heard it Sick smile It didn’t help that the boss was laughing her head off. Rolling on the floor laughing

Thirty minutes later the results showed negative. It is not a guarantee but a high likelihood of  not having the virus; in my book that is better than nothing and it gives you a sense of satisfaction if nothing else.

Stay safe folks

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Vaccination Complete

I had my second jab of the AstraZeneca CORVID-19 vaccine yesterday – no side effects with either. The Boss had her second jab two weeks ago with only minor side effects of a bit of an ache at the insertion site and a bit of nausea the morning after, although that could have been my cooking. Winking smile

The government has decided that we no longer need to follow the Shielding rules from 1st May but we will continue to follow that guidance for the next few weeks, to give my jab time to take full affect before we venture out to the shops.

Just a short one this time – strangely enough I’ve been a bit busy with one thing or another.

Just to say – please remember that vaccinations do not stop you from getting the virus or passing it on; it just makes it, in most cases, less of a drama for you.

Stay safe out there folks

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On Holiday in the Back Garden

21c and Sunny so time to mimic the lunch we like when in Mallorca. The only difference is that we would normally have it in a café in Alcúdia, whilst today, we sat at our decking table and I was cooking a beautiful Tortia de Quesso with fries and salad, accompanied by a glass of wine.

A couple of things I’ve learnt about cooking an omelette:

  • Throw a large pinch of ground pepper in with the (in our case 3) eggs and whisk well with a fork – a whisk tends to make a mess in my hands.
  • Cook on a medium heat and resist the temptation to turn it up when it seems that it isn’t cooking fast enough.
  • Don’t flip the omelette – you’ll end up with it overcooked and dry.
  • When the top is still slightly runny, add the cheese, and any thing else you want, to one half, then fold the other half over the filling.
  • Leave it long enough to melt the cheese – you can flip the whole over at this point if you want.
  • Enjoy the magic

The weather report says tomorrow should be warm and sunny and then it’s back to the normal British weather for the Easter weekend Winking smile

Stay safe out there folks

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One Year On

It has been one year since the first lockdown, and during that time there have been 4,301,925 confirmed cases of CORVID-19 and, sadly, 126,172 deaths attributed to the virus in the UK. In the last few months we have seen a massive effort to vaccinate the adult population with the current published figure (as at 21/03/2021) at 27,997,976 which is 44.9% of the population and over 50% of the adult population. On top of that, 2,281,384 people have had their second jab.

It is unlikely that they read this blog but I add my sincere condolences to the families of those lost, and my heart felt thanks to those who have worked throughout to keep those inflicted as comfortable as possible. All of the nurses, doctors, ambulance and paramedic crews, cleaners and volunteers; all the other front line workers such as care workers, police, fire and rescue; and all the others, such as garbage collection crews and shop workers who have kept us going.

I don’t often get involved in politics, but I will express my disgust at the level of the nurses 1% pay rise, given what they have done for us this last year. MP’s were going to get 3-4% increase this year. Although that was frozen after a public outcry, it seems a completely unfair gap considering the stress nurses have been put through.

On a slightly lighter note, our woes started a year ago last Friday with the cancelation of our flight to the USA. In a sense we were the lucky ones, as we got all our costs refunded and have come out the far side with a smile still on our faces.

Take care out there folks

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