Friday, 31 July 2015
It has been all quiet from me on the blog front for a while - Hiya! - but you'll no doubt be relieved to know that things on the allotment have been trucking along in spite of their not being electronically documented. Plenty of rain along with some sporadic blasts of heat and light have seen things growing at full throttle. Kasia's mum lent a much appreciated hand which rid large sections of the plot of all weeds. We've been off work this week and although some serious downpours have kept us away most days, we squeezed in a few hours worth of graft yesterday in some lovely weather.
Thursday, 4 June 2015
|The track up to our bit|
Monday, 18 May 2015
With Kasia away for the weekend, I spent a thoroughly enjoyable Saturday afternoon by myself at the plot. The weather was mostly gorgeous, with just the odd shower punctuating the azure ether, which helped, but I also realised a couple of things about this plot which just make it a more pleasant thing to garden than where we've been previously.
Tuesday, 5 May 2015
|The path to our patch|
Wednesday, 29 April 2015
Let's have a bit of a catch up from the allotment shall we? Yeah! It's just over a month ago since I wrote that we'd gotten our spuds and onions in to the first two beds we'd managed to (mostly) rid of stones and detritus and transplanted some fruit bushes. Since then, despite time to spend at the plot being at an absolute premium (we've got a lot of weddings on this year), things have moved on a bit.
Tuesday, 7 April 2015
|Image: The Rat Inn (weather wasn't as clever the day we went mind...)|
Tuesday, 24 March 2015
Monday, 23 March 2015
When revisiting a restaurant, it's a pleasure to find the things you enjoyed the first time just as good as they were. It's even better to find that they've been joined by other plates of searingly good quality. When we ate at The Raby Hunt for the first time a little over a year ago we were fairly bowled over by some stellar-level cooking from James Close and his small team. Things have moved on since then. There are a couple more staff both in the kitchen and out front, and, when visiting for a birthday lunch at the weekend just gone there was a palpable sense of assurance about everything going on under their roof. The following words are in danger of sounding like the worst kind of fawning, hagiographic brown-nosing, but there's no getting away from the fact that pretty much everything we ate at The Raby Hunt was - spoiler alert! - flat out brilliant.
Monday, 16 March 2015
Another Sunday, another lunch. There are other things to do on a Sunday of course, but in these relatively godless times, lunch is a better and more rewarding thing to do than most. Aldous Huxley said something about how a lunch can turn a pessimistic determinist into an optimistic believer in the will's freedom. Quite right, but I wonder if he specifically had beef and Yorkshire pud in mind? We did, at the terminus of a fun weekend when we had friends up from darn sarf.
Sunday, 15 March 2015
We've been absentee allotmenteers this last week and a bit, as visitors from near and far claimed our attention. And yet significant progress has still been made, as if by magic. A path has been laid, a water gathering system set up, a gate installed and beds laid out. If you've followed any of what we've been up to with the new plot in Benwell since we took it on in January, you'll know it came with the added bonus of some unbelievably helpful neighbours who have catapulted its progress on way beyond what we'd have been able to achieve ourselves.
Friday, 13 March 2015
This was supposed to be a review of The Staith House's Sunday lunch, but a couple of messages left on their answerphone and a tweet brought no response, and by the time we finally managed to make contact with them they were fully booked. I've heard the food is great there; I'll maybe find out some other time. Happily, this riverside section of North Shields is up to its bollocks in restaurants these days, and a call to Irvins secured us a table there. We went for a quick and entirely tokenistic walk along toward Collingwood Monument amid the freezing gusts of a hoarily northern kind of afternoon - you have to do some sort of walk before a Sunday lunch, don't you? - before scuttling back to Irvin's to eat.
Sunday, 1 March 2015
This write-up completes a personal trilogy of Newcastle's current line-up of American-style barbecue-focussed outfits. First there was Hop and Cleaver, then Bierrex opened its doors in September, followed, more recently, by Longhorns on Mosley Street. From zero to treble-smoked inside of just a few short months; aside from snidey observations about trendy bandwagons, this seems to me to be A Good Thing. People are surely likely to find something to enjoy within at least one of these joints, and it all adds to the variety and gaiety of Newcastle's fodder scene. But would Bierrex complete the triumverate triumphantly or atrociously? Would it be Last Crusade or Matrix Revolutions?
Wednesday, 25 February 2015
In a weekend of limited allotment-time, we managed a couple of quick trips up to the plot. Hearing that there was a skip on site, Kasia and I dashed up there on Friday after work to rid our patch of some of the larger bits of detritus still littering the place. I managed a few more hours on Saturday morning, which I spent raking and bagging as much of the broken glass, plastic and dried bits of wood that still sit on top of the soil we will one day grow stuff in.
Wednesday, 18 February 2015
What with the recent up-tick in religious barbarism, and Europe threatening to fall apart in any one of a number of directions, you'd have thought there was enough negativity in the world at the minute without fools like me adding to it with sneering eviscerations of food outlets, and, of course, you'd be right. Yet, here we still are! The thing is, there were sufficient monumentally duff and dissonant qualities in the meal I shared with friends on a recent get-together at Miller and Carter in Newcastle that not to pass mention of it would be akin to dereliction of duty. Plus, the meal managed to somehow get even more annoying once I'd had time to - literally and figuratively - digest it. Life is short and people need to be told. That's my excuse for what follows, anyhow.
Monday, 16 February 2015
Things are really moving along at the new site as the mass clean-up job continues apace. We've hit the total jackpot in terms of plot neighbours as our (actual house) neighbour Bob and various others have put in some serious amounts of work during the week, setting fires with the brambles we'd hacked down and raked up, laying paths and pulling up no end of the utter shit that has strewn this patch for some time. It was the most heartening thing in the world to get to the plot on Saturday and see how much had happened without us; we couldn't be more grateful.
Saturday, 7 February 2015
What have have we done? Signed up for a new allotment, that's what! Or, rather, we've signed up for what will, at some point in the future, be an allotment. Right now it's a bramble-strewn former pigeon loft dumping ground. But, in its favour, it's our bramble-strewn former pigeon loft dumping ground, and there aren't any plans to close it down. After having a look round a couple of potential plots we decided that the fact that this site in Benwell is less than 5 minutes walk from our front door trumps everything.
Monday, 19 January 2015
Gluttony - full-on, no buggering about gluttony - is like some nearly-forgotten friend from the bad side of the tracks, prone to sidle up from time to time, regard you knowingly and mutter darkly "go on then; I dare you!" When it does catch up with you it's hard to ignore. Sadly, though reasonably, quality and quality usually vary inversely when it comes to food as so much else, so the opportunities to pig out on some properly decent stuff are rare. Which is why Sunday Brunch at Hotel du Vin had always seemed an interesting proposition. I'd heard furtive talk of a four-course scranathon; rumours abounded of a "market table" overflowing with shellfish and cold cuts, followed by a full Sunday lunch. And then pudding. In this month of restraint and denial, it seemed like a pleasingly off-kilter choice for an anniversary lunch, so under gun-metal skies we set off for Ouseburn.
Sunday, 18 January 2015
Saturday, 10 January 2015
Friday, 9 January 2015
It all went a bit smoky in Newcastle in 2014. First there was Hop and Cleaver, then Bierrex, and latterly Longhorns opened, all bringing their take on American-style low-and-slow smoked meats to these parts. We thought Hop and Cleaver was a bit meh and haven't yet made it to Bierrex. However, I had a sample of Longhorn's brisket at the really quite good Craft Beer Calling festival back in October and resolved to head their way once they opened on Mosley St. Granted, I was extremely well refreshed at the time, but even in my drunken fug I could detect some serious smoke and flavour in their meat.