Ready for a weekend round-up? Yeah y’are!
On Friday morning I got up and walked into town to do some odds of shopping and buy ingredients. I then made a Victoria sponge, sliced a punnet of strawberries and whipped up a tub of double cream with vanilla sugar for Mummy’s birthday cake. I didn’t assemble it as I was worried about it falling apart in the car, but here it is after assembly at home (but before Ben, Lauren and I devoured half of it in a very short space of time!)
After tea we walked the dog (but it was cold and grey, so no snaps) then got ready for dinner at a the China Garden restaurant in Cannock. Now, that may sound like a simple occurrence, but trust me, it wasn’t: it took us over two hours to reach a decision about where we were even eating! We’re a picky, indecisive family – see, it’s not all my fault that I can never make my mind up, it’s genetic!
After a fraught two hours of buck-passing, I was hoping for something spectacular from the food. But to be honest it was a bit… meh. Well, it was ok: our aromatic duck starter was delicious, but arrived a good 10 minutes after Mummy and Pete’s Yuk Sung, and only then because we chased it; my fragrant chicken was bland but everyone else’s main was tasty, so that could have been my fault for opting for the low MSG sauce choice; and the manager was really rude about us wanting to leave a cash tip, trying to force Ben into adding it to his card – so ended up without one. I’m not happy tipping for poor service, but especially not if I can’t be sure it’s going to the waiters at all!
On Saturday morning we went to town to meet my cousin Sarah and baby Yasmin for tea and scones in the Soup Kitchen. As a child I use to spend my weekends with my Gran, and every Saturday morning we’d go to Mill Street where she’d get her hair done, then to the Soup Kitchen in Church Lane for a coffee and a teacake for her and a milkshake and a fairy cake for me! When I was about 10 they changed from the old stemmed milkshake glasses to modern tumblers, but they held back a stemmed glass especially for our Saturday morning trips! 😀 If you’re ever in Stafford I highly recommend a visit for coffee or for lunch.
Jackson’s Green Grocers on Mill Street: Mill Street comprises buildings from a range of eras, but the 17th century grocers is definitely the oldest!
After pots of tea and scones with clotted cream and jam Ben, Lauren and I wandered around the charity shops and did some food shopping at Tesco. Then we went home for lunch and more birthday cake (yes, more cream!) with Sarah and Yasmin (because I hadn’t had sufficient cuddle time in the Soup Kitchen 😉 ), before taking Harry down an area of Cannock Chase that we call “the leafy lane” for obvious reasons…
On a previous trip my Mum had spotted lots of fruit for foraging, so we went armed with baskets and trussed up against the nettles and brambles:
Mirabelles and Sloes
We gathered 3.5 lbs of sloes – enough to make a pint of sloe gin each with half a pound left over – and 14lbs of mirabelle plums!! The sloes are better gathered after the first frost, but are just a good picked when freshly ripe and frozen in the ice box (which is where mine are right now!). The mirabelles were starting to turn slightly last night, so I sorted and pitted them this afternoon and half are waiting to become chutney tomorrow while the rest are cooling on the stove top in a mirabelle tart:
1 shortcrust pastry
700g mirabelle plums
80g caster sugar
Preheat the oven to 180°C (Gas Mark 6).
Roll the pastry out into a baking dish and prick with a fork.
Pit the plums and put them at the bottom of the dish.
Melt the butter and sugar then add the beaten egg, off the heat.
Pour over the plums and bake for about 30 minutes.
Recipe from sofeminine.co.uk
On Saturday night I made king prawn saag and we watched the highlights of the Stoke City match, then on Sunday we had a wander around the Stafford Common car boot sale (I finally got some pyrex Carnaby design plates to match my tea set and gravy boat – 7 for £1!), ate roast dinner and an apple and blackberry crumble made with berries from the garden, then came back to Le Spa. All in all it was a lovely weekend, and I hope my Mum enjoyed her birthday as much as we did!
Today, aside from pitting plums, I had shopping to do so had to walk into town. When I got dressed this morning I took the holiday excuse to dress up… but when it got to leaving the flat I was very slightly worried that Le Spa might not be ready for such unusual attire… hence two outfits: