Saturday, 20 November 2010

The Egg Banjo

A delicacy of the British Army, so named for its explosive properties and musical association!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

The Guyrope Gourmet cooks in five star restaurant

It's official, I'm now (emotionally at least) a struggling writer.  Having been recently 'off hired' from my position of Service Manager for a support service for victims of domestic violence, I have joined the realms of struggling writers worldwide.  A victim myself, of the machinations of a small voluntary sector organisation swimming against the tide in the coalition's 'Big Society' sea, I've taken a job in my local chippy. I'm learning the art of frying fish on a Florigo range.  Prime haddock, cooked to order. None of that fry it and pile it up in the hot box nonsense.  I have to admit, its a lot harder than the last job, but I'm starting to like it!  The Guyrope Gourmet gets a 'real' job in the catering trade!  If you're ever passing through Otley, call in and say hello.

Photo courtesy of Florigo web site

The Cove has been a regular feature in our family life for the past four years.  I've been in there on a Thursday tea time, more or less without fail, for that long.  Thursdays is fish & chip night in our house.  John, the owner, has had it for three and a half years.  When I told him of my recent predicament he offered me a job.  Now that's what I call customer service!

I'm merely a beginner with a lot to learn, but I can now proudly add 'frying fish' in a five star chippy to my culinary heritage.  It all started with learning how to cook my granddad's delicious soups, "plenty of pearl barley boy", he'd say in his soft Kentish accent.  Not long after that I graduated to my mother's Tatws Pum Munud, a traditional Welsh dish of potatoes, onion & bacon cooked in gravy.  By the time I sat CSE Home Economics, deep fried egg & chips seemed a natural progression.  I'll never forget the look on Mrs Walker's face when I told what I was doing for the final exam.  I failed! Still It wasn't wasted, I could cook her a lovely haddock if she ever dropped into the Cove!    

Monday, 11 October 2010

Gordale Scar, Art & the Dukes of Hazzard!

Some years ago as an errant and clueless art student, I remember being bowled over by James Ward’s magnificent depiction of Gordale Scar.  In excess of fourteen feet in height, and by far the largest canvas in Tate Britain (then simply the Tate Gallery), it caught my eye.  I must have lingered for half an hour or so.  Marveling in its size, I was transported back to Yorkshire, back to the ‘Gateway to the dales’, a stones throw from where I grew up.  Ward completed the work around 1814 and judging by the looming tempest depicted high above the jagged limestone cliffs, the artist didn’t get as lucky with the weather as we were last weekend.  Come to think of it, he probably wouldn’t have had the pleasure of staying on the campsite at the mouth of the scar.  Who knows?

Gordale Scar Campsite is without doubt one of the most striking sites in England.  The current owner appears to be a bit of an artist himself, more Tracey Emin than James Ward.  The fellah has an amazing collection of used foil tray barbeques, empty plastic water containers and knackered fold out camp chairs, all neatly stacked in piles awaiting a nomination for the Turner prize.  From the looks on the faces of folks milling around the toilet and washing block, I guess the majority of campers thought the old guy must be slowly loosing it.  But we ex-art students, we know the truth!


Art aside, I was there to see my pals, some of whom, I’d last clapped eyes on nearly twenty years ago!  And what a pleasure it was.  It’s amazing how camping can bring folks together.  We were surrounded and outnumbered by young candidates for the Duke of Edinburgh Award, a couple of whom had the pluck to request that we keep the noise down as they were up at five the next morning.  Ok, our party was more Dukes of Hazard than Dukes of Edinburgh, but for Pete’s sake, I hadn’t even got my tent pitched at that stage!  An evening in the Lister’s Arms would surely keep us out of trouble.

We awoke in the morning with sore heads and more than a little confusion.  So what exactly is a Duke of Edinburgh? We mused.  Well, we all agreed, it’s probably a bit like a Prince Albert, but only more painful!

Saturday, 2 October 2010

A book review of sorts

As far as I'm concerned, camping & cooking is easy. Well the cooking bit is easy and let's face it it doesn't really matter if it all goes wrong, so long as you haven't burned the bejeezus out of it you can still eat it. The camping bit is always more tricky. Finding a good campsite can make or break your stay and is probably why I end up going back to the same few sites i've visited over the years. So when I was asked to do a review of a camping guide, I jumped at the chance to go somewhere new! Book reviews are new to me, but i'll give anything a go.

You wouldn’t buy a car without taking it out for a spin, well I did actually – a Dodge Dart ‘Swinger’ and it got me safely from New Hampshire to California, where I sold it for a profit! But that’s another story.  A bloke from Alan Rogers Guides emailed me and asked if I would review their latest edition of The Best Campsites in Britain & Ireland, I’m glad he did!  Using the old ‘test drive theory’ I picked a site on the shores of Llyn Tegid (lake Bala) in North Wales.  Arriving at dusk with the light failing rapidly, my worries about finding a flat pitch for the campervan were assuaged by the fact that the whole site was as flat as a pancake.  It was a combination of the Alan Rogers guide and OS Landranger series, Sheet number 125, which lead us to our caravansary for the evening.

I awoke to the murmurings of a babbling brook and the sunlight shining in through the curtains.  Alan had served me well, the site was splendid, and what’s more, strictly adhering to the brief description on page 238.  Well served with hot showers etc etc.  Maybe it was beginners luck, but I’m starting to like this guide.  With over 600 sites between the covers, it would take a hell of a lot of petrol and more ‘wife miles’ than I could muster to put the whole book to the test.  Ok it lacks the ‘coffee table’ appeal of the Cool Camping guides, and would definitely be improved with actual photos from some of the sites it details rather than using stock photos, but it’s easy to use and appears to do what it says on the tin.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Snatched by Saatchi

Bare with me on this, my web meister has left me for the bright and heady world of Saatchi.  Can't blame him really, the peanuts I was paying him must have gone stale months ago! So I though I'd see how GG translates into the bloggersphere in the mean time.  I thought I could include a lot more photos and more general camping related ramblings.  Let's see how it pans out and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

California Dreaming!

She said YES!  It was as though, for a moment, the setting sun wavered and rose again, ever so slightly, over the horizon. An unexpected extra few moments of light at the end of the day.  The whole Pacific coastline was bathed in a warm glow, and so was I.  I nearly fell over.  Are you sure? Did you hear me? Is that it then?  All thoughts, racing through my head but thankfully prevented from leaving my lips.

We headed back across the warm sand towards the tent and that’s when we met John Maybury of Fort Bragg California.  He was carrying what looked like a lacrosse, which turned out to be a fishing net.  “Have you seen any night fish?” he enquired, “they follow the day fish!”  I explained that while I had just a few moments earlier, landed the greatest catch of my life, I had no idea of what he was talking about.  He was looking for Grunion, small fish about the size of whitebait, and he was using a traditional Native American Indian method to catch them.  The ‘lacrosse’ was a triangular fishing net, which he used to scoop the small fish from the breaking waves.  I managed to trade a couple of cold beers for a bowl full of Mr Maybury’s catch and we headed back to camp.

She’d impressed me all those months ago back in Leeds, dropping tequila & champagne slammers like they were going out of fashion.  The week on Menorca had revealed her penchant for slick camping gear as well as a couple of other points of note. We’d made a fantastic team, picking sites and pitching canvas along the Lost Coast, and now she was pulling heads off little fish!  But best of all she had accepted my proposal and agreed to become my fiancĂ©.

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.  Perhaps it’s the same route to the heart of a woman.  Whether it was the fancy cooking, my whittling skills or some other divine force at work, the Guyrope Gourmet played a vital role in this courtship ritual and set out a stall and standard to maintain.

The engagement celebration was a riot.  Laughing and joking about my having to ask her father for his daughter’s hand in marriage, we gutted and cleaned the night fish. Tossing them into a bowl of well-seasoned flour, my mind turned towards completing the meal.  It was obvious really.  We didn’t need anything else.  Seasoned night fish fried in olive oil, plucked from the ocean half an hour after high tide, a bottle of J.Lohr, Wildflower Gamay and a wedding to plan.

Caught out by Captcha!

It's no use, I've grown tired of removing ads for fake watches & handbags from the 'Chef's Blog' section on the website so I've moved the blogging bit over here!