As well as Bruton, mentioned last time, we have other places nearby with restaurants. We went to Levant in Castle Cary, we have been having their takeaways but felt bold one night and booked to go there in person. Very romantic, tables distanced and we were in a little bay window with fairy lights outside. The menu had no choice, much easier than dithering about what you want. The starter was mezze and we enjoyed them so much I made some the following week when a couple of Clipper pals came to stay. Jo should have been joining Unicef in Seattle so who knows if she’ll ever be able to claim she sailed with Clipper (other than her training weeks).
The great news was that we finished off one of the bottles in the bar (St Germain elderflower liqueur). Unfortunately, in order to accomplish this, we made cocktails from the two bottles of varieties of Polish vodka they brought us, one quince and one cherry (aka cough mixture). We are thus one bottle up. I think my rules say I cannot replace a bottle (unless I really really need to) so no more elderflower cocktails (for a while). We had a Persian cooler as shown in the photo: 50 ml quince vodka, 35 ml cloudy apple juice, 10 ml elderflower, 10 ml lemon juice, 10 ml lime juice, decorate with lemon and cucumber. This was followed by berry mojito: 1.5 oz black cherry vodka, 0.5 oz lime juice, 5 mint leaves bruised (not chopped as I did, you get them stuck in your teeth), 0.5 oz sugar syrup, lemon-lime soda to top up. An American recipe hence the old measurements. Luckily my little measuring glass has all sorts of ways to dispense liquids. We kept adding more soda and it still tasted like cough mixture. Anyone want a bottle of part-used cherry vodka?
I made a blackberry roulade for dessert (once JD had scoured the hedgerows for blackberries). The meringue features in the header here before being rolled. Did you know that you should pick blackberries before the end of September? There is an Old Wives’ Tale, the actual date varies. I’ve seen September 30th, Michaelmas (September 29th), the Autumn Equinox (when due to the tilt of the earth, day and night are of equal length, this year on September 22nd), and October 11th. Whichever day you choose, blackberries don’t taste the same afterwards. For the record, ours were picked on 8th October and were pretty tasteless (if you ask me).
But why, you want to know? Tradition / folklore has it that the Devil (Lucifer) was banished from Heaven by St Michael and landed in a blackberry bush on his way to Hell on that day. In anger he spat or peed on them (take your pick, or not). https://www.cottagesmallholder.com/the-old-english-legend-of-the-devil-and-the-blackberries-466/ Another reason given here is that flies lay their eggs in them and it’s the maggots that spoil the taste. I’m definitely not picking them so late next year. Of course, the story was taken to America, but as they are more straightforward than us Europeans, they supposedly just call it ‘National Poisoned Blackberry Day’. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/food/the-plate/2015/09/28/michaelmas-the-day-the-devil-spit-on-your-blackberries/
Despite the UK Government bringing in three tiers of danger from Covid (the bottom one being medium risk), we had planned a trip to Stratford-upon-Avon with friends. When checking the directions, I noticed that the postcode starts with CV. I cannot get away from those two letters, first Clipper then Covid! We had a lovely two nights at the Hotel du Vin, a very cosy room as you can see, but no chest of drawers. A precaution against excess contamination of furniture? We’ll need to go back when all this is over and check.
We walked around on the Saturday and could not believe how empty it was. Easy to see the lovely old buildings and the swans on the river, we were able to have a coffee and cake without barging past people. Here’s Shakespeare’s birthplace, which we were able to book tickets to see. The massive (empty) coach parks tell of a different story in the old days.
So, the BIG news is that I’m independent once again! (Just in time for the next lockdown? At least we managed a haircut, I’m not sure if I now look like Keir Starmer’s little sister). The car was due early November but I guess there are not so many being built this year. If you’d expect me to be sensible (like JD) and wait until the 1st November to save two weeks’ tax, you’ve not been concentrating on this blog. Although as the origin of this blog was the fact that JD was not sensible in some matters, I’m not sure he’s a good role model.
I had looked at getting a hybrid or fully electric car, but as Land Rover have only just introduced them I thought I’d wait for all the niggles to be sorted out. As you’ll have seen in Post 15 all the way back on 12th February 2019, we do get snow here at times, so I need a 4×4. Just as well, I had lunch with pals at Shepton Montague and one of them had a new electric car which lasted all of 11 miles before it broke down. Let’s hope mine is not a ‘Friday afternoon’ build. I have at least got 60 miles on the clock and I’ve booked both Pilates and Piano lessons, so my Normal is returning. Unless we go into Tier 2 (no social meeting indoors, might be OK for my P classes?) or Tier 3 (no meeting indoors or outdoors, unclear if gyms etc can open) or a circuit break or fire break or lockdown or whatever new term is dreamt up next.
The real reason for going out is that I cannot make a decent espresso martini. Here I am enjoying one.