45 years and we still don’t know each other

Our kitchen sink has a draining board and on that draining board sits one of those draining trays that you can stack the cups, cutlery and dishes to dry off. We’ve had several replacements over our married life.

Today I plucked up the courage to ask the extreme knitter why we had one.

She said “because you wanted one”.

I said “I never wanted one, I hate the dam thing”

She said “I hate it as well”.

45 years of married bliss and all this time I thought the E/knitter wanted it and she thought I wanted it. Lack of communication I think, but we are still getting to know each other.

The dish tray is now in the dustbin and all is well in the household.

 

Ham Burger

Following on from the last post about Faggots, I remembered that it used to be rumoured that the Ham burger was originally invented in the Black Country. The story went like this.

The History of the Ham Burger

In 1925 on a cobblestone street in Dudley, butchers boy “Billy King” rode his delivery bike. His cargo of freshly made Black Country faggots sat proudly in the bicycles wicker basket.

His bicycle ran over a discarded horseshoe. Hiss!! His front tyre sprung a leak.

He placed the faggots on a nearby wall, removed the tyre and repaired the puncture in double quick time. Unfortunately a gang of grubby urchins from the Priory came along and set about him.

They called him a Wimp. in fact he was such a weakling that his nickname at school was “Wimpy King”. They pushed him backwards against the wall and he landed on the faggots and squashed them flat.

Disaster! What should he do, he decided to ride on to his destination or he would have been in great trouble back at the Butchers shop.

He finally arrived at Mrs McDonalds house and presented her with the tray of squashed faggots.

She stared at the tray in disbelief.

The faggots were for a special evening supper party she was holding in her garden for the orphans of Dudley.

“What shall I do” she exclaimed.

“I know I’ll put them in a bread roll and call them? O bugger what can I call them” she said.

“That’s it, I’ll call them buggers, Ham buggers,” she cried in her strong Scottish accent

She clipped the butcher’s boy around the ear and sent him packing, then proceeded to cook the squashed faggots on an open fire in the garden.

The Orphans enjoyed the Buggers so much that it became a regular trip to Mrs McDonalds every Saturday to saviour the tasty delights.

She felt a sense of pride as she watched the skinny orphans start to put a bit of meat on their bones.

Mrs McDonald would sometimes give away a toy with her Ham buggers, perhaps a spinning top or a hoop & a stick.

Her Ham buggers became famous through out the Black Country and indeed all the land.

Her nephew Ronald was travelling on a World tour with the circus as a clown and so it was that her Ham buggers reached the shores of America in his packed lunch.

The Ham buggers became an overnight success with the Americans and Ronald set up restaurants through out the USA selling McDonalds Ham Buggers, although he was a successful businessman, Ronald couldn’t forget his true vocation and still dressed every day as a clown.

Because the Americans couldn’t speak proper English or Scottish for that matter they pronounced Bugger as Burger.

Back in the Black Country “Billy King” the butcher’s boy who sat on the faggots was now a Butchery tycoon owning a chain of butchers shop through out Great Britain.

Being the entrepreneur, he set up a chain of Ham Bugger restaurants in England and called them Wimpy’s.

Alas the Wimpy restaurant chain hit hard times and he had to sack all his employees and close it down.

The disgruntled employees decided to set up a new restaurant chain and because they hated Billy King so much they called it “Bugger King”.

And what became of the orphans? They grew into extremely large pillars of Black Country society, know as “The Buggers of Dudley”

V Southall ©

Pie or Parcel

As I have a follower from America I need to explain from the onset that here in the UK a Faggot is basically a large meat ball made from Pork and offal. Their origins date back through the ages and was a poor mans meal. Fast forward to 2017 and a Faggot is now a foodie’s delicacy.

However, back in the sixties with the advent of frozen food, Mr Brains started producing frozen faggots. These became part of a staple diet for us kids.

http://mrbrains.co.uk/home/

I’ve sampled faggots from various butchers around the country all adding their own twist on the recipe, but just like Beanz Meanz Heinz  there is always going to be Mr Brains faggots. Although as kids we were teased that they actually contained brains (I don’t think they do), hey when you’re hungry you will eat anything.

Mr Herbert Hill Brain

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Pubs in the Black Country used to have Faggots and peas nights, now it seems to be Curry nights.

(Again for my American reader). The Black Country is an area in the West Midlands where the industrial revolution started. It was called the Black Country because of the soot, smog and grime from the steel and coal industries. Black country dwellers speak a totally different language to the rest of the UK. Queen Victoria hated the area.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Country

This language difference can be awkward. I’m not even going to mention that the word Trump in the UK is another word for Fart.

When we were away in Scotland I had a couple of light bulb inspiration moments, one of them was a Faggot pie. Not just any old faggot pie, but a Mr Brains Faggot pie.

After a lot of pleading and cajoling, I convinced the E/Knitter that this was the ultimate pie and she needed to make one or perhaps two.

I present you with Faggot pie or parcel

Obviously you start with a pack of Mr Brains frozen faggots that are packed precooked in a foil tray ready to reheat. These were allowed to defrost at room temperature.

The pastry of choice was puff.

Now you could prep your puff pastry using up valuable eating time or like us buy frozen prepared puff pastry.

After a lot of debate, the E /knitter convinced me that it would be easier to place the faggot in a pastry parcel and tie the top like a sack. Ok it’s technically not a pie because it doesn’t have a lid on top, but it’s going to taste the same.

A large circle was cut from the pastry.

The faggot was placed in the centre and the pastry was gathered at the top.

faggot parcel (2)

An off cut of pastry was rolled into a long worm and used to tie the top.

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On to a baking tray and placed in the centre of the oven for 25 minutes at gas mark 7 or until the pastry is golden brown.

faggot parcel (13)

Ideally they should be served hot straight from the oven with any of the excess sauce that was left over.

I thinking sauteed potatoes, marrow fat peas and faggot parcels.

The results exceeded even my expectations. The faggots have a rich taste thanks to the West Country sauce and combine that with puff pastry it becomes food for the gods.

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If Mr Brains wants to contact me with a royalty payment offer, I’ll gladly let him use my idea.

There was some puff pastry left over from the pie making event, so I suggested to the E/knitter that she might like to make some sausage rolls with added sage and apple stuffing. The results didn’t last long enough to be photographed. mmmmm!!!

Oh and the second light bulb inspiration moment is being worked on as we speak.

All I can say is forget fidget spinners, this one is destined to become the next world wide craze, but the E/ knitter isn’t so convinced and I need her expertise to create it.

Watch this space.

 

A new proposal

gretna shops

The Extreme knitter wanted to visit the Gretna Gateway Outlet Village as we started out for our last night in Scotland. After the knitting problems the previous day I wasn’t going to argue with her.

The complex was a small designer type setup with some well known shops. Totally out of the blue I was treated to a Craghopper fleece gillet and I splashed out on a Subway meal.

While the E/knitter wandered around the shops I nipped into one of those “Olde worlde” sweet shops and made a special purchase that would be revealed later.

Suitable over shopped and over fed we returned to the campervan and I phoned what would be our next and last campsite.

I managed to bag the last pitch available.

Next stop was the Blacksmiths shop in Gretna Green famous for performing wedding ceremonies for eloping couples from England.

gretna black

It was here that I produced a pair of wedding rings crafted by Haribo confectionary that I had bought in the sweet shop earlier and we renewed our wedding vows to each other as we exchanged the rings. 45 years in July, we are starting to get the hang of this marriage thing. I’m going for the endurance award.

Haribo Rings

new rings

With our marriage now extended, we headed north on the A74 towards Moffat.

The Camping and Caravan Club 181 pitch site at Moffat is a really a staging post for visitors travelling to and from Scotland to break the long trek. It is always busy.

The welcome was very pleasant and efficient. The site wardens obviously had the site running like clockwork and considering they had spent the day showing hundreds of campers to their pitches, still had time for a bit of good humoured banter.

Moffat Camping and Caravan Club Site

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Once we were settled I sent the feral daughter a text message to say I had just married her mother, which came as a bit of a shock to her.

Then she was upset because she missed out on the wedding do. Our evening wedding supper started with a fine beef soup produced especially for us by Mr Heinz and that was it, nothing else. What did you expect? The two Haribo wedding rings used up my budget.

A short walk from the campsite led us to Moffat High Street. At that time in the evening the shops were closed, O dear, what a shame.

Moffats claim to fame is Sheep, lots of them.

The Ram Statue in Moffat

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We had only just returned to the campervan when the heavens opened up and gave us the first rain we had experienced during our trip.

We woke the next day to find the pitch slightly waterlogged, but at least the rain had stopped.

The trip home is always the same, driving back down the motorway feeling slightly melancholy after an enjoyable trip.

Until the next one.

 

Sunday Lunch under pressure

Camping cook books always seem to be one pot dishes like stew, curry or chilli. I have been known to like my food and I must admit to being a meat and two veg man. Cooking a meal that was equivalent to a Sunday roast lunch in a campervan with only two gas burners and a grill was going be a challenge.

Stepping forward to save the day is our trusty Hawkins pressure cooker.

We have used the 2 litre capacity cooker for sometime now and it has proved to be invaluable.

https://escaperoutetales.wordpress.com/2016/11/18/the-pressures-on/

The evening meal we were preparing was Beef Brisket, Minted potatoes, mixed vegetables with a rich beef/onion gravy.

The small brisket joint (800grams was about the maximum size that could fit in the pressure cooker) that I bought from Morrisons was seared and browned in the Boaty frying pan.

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Looking and smelling suitably ready the joint was placed in the pressure cooker with onions, stock cube and water. It was cooked for 40 minutes on a very low flame, then allowed to depressurise in its own time.

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It was removed and left to rest.

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The new potatoes were cooked in the pressure cooker taking 5 minutes on a low flame while the vegetables were cooked in a small saucepan. The potatoes were coated in butter with mint sauce and the beef stock made gorgeous rich gravy. The Brisket was so tasty and succulent it just pulled apart. I had the last of the Bacardi & coke that I had saved especially for this meal.

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The down side was that it produced a lot of washing up with three pans to clean, but as there was a pot wash area on site it wasn’t a problem.

You don’t have to rough it in a campervan.

North Rhinnes

With Balloch O Dee camp site behind us we continued our travels heading towards Stranraer using the pretty route taking in as much of the scenery as we could. The road sign for Wigtown loomed into view. We couldn’t pass by Scotland’s equivalent to Hay on Wye without wandering around the second hand book shops and a very pleasant town it is.

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I spotted a sign for the harbour and off we went.

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The harbour was a large parking area with a launching ramp and several boat moorings. This would have made a good place for an overnight stopover, but we hadn’t long left our previous night camp.

The coastal road took us through many small villages and towns. Our propane gas bottle had run out the night before, so we stopped at Whithorn on the way for a refill. The ladies in the shop suggested lots of places to see and various camp sites. They told me that a famous actor was being filmed at Port Patrick for a Hollywood movie. Gerard Butler or somebody, I have no idea.

We were soon entering Stranraer and the sign for my favourite supermarket appeared.

I    heart-29328_960_720  Morrisons.

We refuelled with several litres of Morrison’s finest diesel and stocked up the depleted fridge and food cupboards. I purchased a small joint of Beef brisket for our evening meal.

We had a joint of brisket in the freezer at home especially to bring with us, but I forgot it. Never mind I had £25 worth of Morrisons vouchers, so the £36 shopping bill only cost £11 in hard cash. I love a bargain me.

We gained a phone signal and wifi in the car park, so I called to book a camping pitch for the night.

We were lucky with the weather and the campsites that we picked. North Rhinns camp site in Leswalt is a small site that takes many tents and a maximum of three campervans below 6 metres long.

http://www.northrhinnscamping.co.uk/

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The excellent facilities are housed in a building beside the gate, consisting of two toilets, one large shower room and pot washing sinks.

The site has individual tent pitches and Camping pods that are surrounded by trees and bushes giving each one some privacy.

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Quite a unique site and highly recommended.

We cooked our experimental Sunday lunch even though it was Tuesday evening. (I’ll do a separate post on the results).

Port Logan breakwater

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A lazy start to the day and toast for breakfast we were hitting the open road again.   Port Logan and Port Patrick bound this time as the E/knitter wanted to see the Hollywood Film star. Unfortunately the filming had long gone leaving just a few fishermen. Never mind, onward to Stranraer for some retail therapy to pacify her disappointment.

I was last here 25 years ago taking a lorry load of machinery on the ferry to Belfast then on to Londonderry. It didn’t make much of an impression at the time, but the ferry has stopped using the port and Stranraer in the sunshine appeared to be a busy and thriving town.

Whilst I had a phone signal in Stranraer, I phoned the next camp site on my list of possibles and I booked a pitch at Glentrool campsite back up in to the Galloway forest.

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The drive up to Glen Trool took us past The Cocoa Bean chocolate company at Twynholm. The E/Knitter volunteered to investigate while Ruby and I sat outside dreaming of chocolate. A few minutes later she returned empty handed. Apparently a single Chocolate was £3 . I’m known to be quite flipant when it comes to parting with money, but I can buy a pack of four Mars bars from Morrisons for £1.

 

 

Castle Corner Campsite

The campervan wheels are rolling again. After our visit last year to Arran we said we would give Scotland a miss this year as we always seem to be returning year on year.

We set off northwards towards the Scottish border. Obviously that memo wasn’t read.

Dumfries and Galloway Forest was our destination which is only just in Scotland.

Last year we passed through here on our way to catch the ferry to the Isle of Arran. After a little research it was apparent that we had missed so much that the area could give.

Our first night was spent at Castle Corner campsite, Caerlaverock. We stayed here last year as an overnight stop before catching the ferry to Arran.

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It is a five pitch site used by the Motor caravan club, but open to non-members. It is a gem of a hide away, situated beside the nature reserve and within a short walk to Caerlaverock castle.

http://castlecorner.wixsite.com/castle-corner

Based on the popular German Stellplatz design, the pitches are spacious, each provided with a picnic table. The fresh water, waste water and chemical toilet disposal point is situated near the gateway. A single toilet/wash basin is provided in a log cabin, which is kept clean and inspected on a regular basis.

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Once we had settled in we decided to walk through the nature reserve to the nearby 13th century Caerlaverock castle.

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The castle is triangular in shape surround by a moat and run by Historic Scotland.

caerlaverock castle

Library Photo

After the long drive to get here and the walk to the castle we were exhausted, so we returned to the campervan for our evening meal.

We like to live dangerously and tackle change head on. Our first night meal of the usual meatballs and pasta in a homemade tomato sauce was replaced with a healthy option of chicken salad with minted Jersey potatoes. Like a walk on the wild side.

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Castle Corner has calming, lay back effect, so we booked an extra night and took time to recover from the road trip to get here.

A full English breakfast started the day. After a leisurely tidy up and taking ruby for a short walk we drove to Dumfries for a wander around the town. As usual Ruby and I stood outside many shops chatting to Ruby’s many admirers. Dumfries is a bustling town with many well looked after Parks.

Robert Burns in Dumfries

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Next stop was Morrison’s, where we bought a cooked pork hock joint and some crusty bread rolls, restocked the fridge and food cupboard with goodies.

We drove down to the car park beside the River Nith and had our lunch while watching the world go by.

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We headed back to the campsite after having a drive around the surrounding area.

We had a lazy start to the Sunday morning and packed our gear away.

Sad to leave such a peaceful campsite were we are guaranteed a warm welcome, but we will be back again. Definitely recommended as a must visit campsite when in the area.

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