Sunday, 6 September 2009

This week - including Shropshire and a pizza

The first half of this week was consumed by getting settled into new offices in west London: arctic air conditioning and a longer journey into work. Meanwhile in the garden, my brugmansia is starting to bloom its head off.
I took Friday off and got up at 0500 so that I could catch the first Wrexham and
train from Marylebone to Shrewsbury. It's a three hour journey and there seem to be a lot of speed reductions on the line. The rail company is very small and very friendly, and you can get a cooked breakfast if you want; all ingredients are sourced from the company's base in Wales. I haven't visited Shrewsbury for many many years, and I found that it's shrunk as my legs have got longer. My first stop was at the castle, bang next door to the railway station. Originally built in the eleventh century as a motte and bailey, it now houses the Shropshire Regimental Museum. All the staff are ex-forces, and one of the guys stopped to talk as I pondered a showcase full of artifacts from the first Afghan war. We didn't win that one either, and we wondered why we seem not to have learnt anything.
Then I walked down Pride Hill and up to the Kingsland Bridge. Next to the bridge is my old school, Shrewsbury High School for Girls. I spent two years at the junior school and one here, at the senior school - happy days. And the food was a lot better than at my next school...The school is a lot bigger now, and they've nabbed several of the adjoining buildings. And there's an indoor gym! In my day, we had monkey bars in the main hall.
Next, I skirted the old town walls and came down to the English Bridge over the Severn.
The river was running pretty high. Over the bridge is Shrewsbury Abbey - all the remains of the old monastery.
A good number of the buildings remained (although in a terrible state of repair) until Thomas Telford bulldozed most of them to make way for the A5. Much of the abbey has been rebuilt too, but it's still a lovely church and well worth a visit. Back into town, past the guildhall, to wander around, shop for a picnic lunch at a lovely deli, and nose into the town museum down by where the bus station used to be. Then home by the 1600 train. A great day.
On the food front, I felt inspired by Hugh F-W's article in the Guardian yesterday to make pizza.
The recipe is from Dan Steven's River Cottage Bread book, and you can get it from the link above. I gently fried off some mushrooms with a couple of cloves of garlic and some lemon juice, used some garden toms for a tomato sauce, and topped it with mozzarella and my dried Turkish black olives. Onto my pizza stone it went for ten minutes. Before digging in, I added some torn rocket leaves. Yum. And there's enough dough left over for a few more over the next fortnight.
This morning, I made my usual Sunday visit to the allotment. While Q dealt with the compost bins, I cleared the fallen apples, weeded and made the harvest: plums, apples, toms, Burgandy Red potatoes - then a quick visit to the Paddock for a few late blackberries. Birds and humans have had most of them, but there are a few lurking in the prickliest places. This evening, I want to make an apple and blackberry version of a recipe in Olive magazine. That's for after my Muck and Magic smoked gammon cooked in cider with potatoes, broad beans and parsley sauce. One of my favourite Sunday meals.

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