Weaver’s Shed

Starter menu

I first started visiting the Weaver’s Shed with my first wife Sue, probably back in 1978, when we moved to Golcar from Birkby. It was the ideal place to celebrate a birthday, wedding anniversary etc. and as my birthday and our anniversary both fell in December, avoiding Christmas meals was (still is) difficult. The Weaver’s Shed was an Oasis of calm, sophisticated relaxation with nary a turkey in sight. And just a short walk from home.

Risotto Fondue

It’s not the sort of place you can visit on a whim; you have to save up your pennies to go – we’ve lost several limbs between us, following our various visits. Yet for me, it’s better value overall, paying £50 per head here; than £4.95 at Burger King (Pizza Hut, McDonalds – anywhere etc.). The flavours, textures, colours, freshness’ etc. are to be savoured and are individually created for each customer.

And the meal is not hurried.

We’ve been known to stay overnight too. At £100 for bed and breakfast it’s a real treat. There are (were) very comfortable beds (we had a four poster last time), THE most luxurious towels, soaps, sheets, quilts, pillows etc. complementary sherry and bottles of red and white wine. It seems a bit strong staying overnight at a place just 10 minutes walk from our home but some couples would pay more than that to see a football match. Our money provided blissful away-from-home comfort for eighteen hours and a superb breakfast.

Main course menu

We got there for 7.00pm and had a drink while be read that day’s menu. They don’t do draft beers and only stock bottles from Skipton Brewery. I had a Black Gold and Sharon had a glass of house white while we decided what to eat. Sharon chose the Risotto (picture above/left, starter menu top) and I chose the Fish soup (picture at bottom of post). Both were delightful. Each of the Risotto’s ingredient flavours were evident and the  soup was splendidly light and tasty.We had both chosen to have a glass of Vouvrey with our meal –  I can’t remember the shipper’s name or vintage but as always, it was right tasty. We’d have had a bottle but I had to drive to Burnley the following day.

As you sit, and before the meal is served, you are always presented with an amuse bouche and this visit’s was an espresso cup of garlic and sweet potato soup. The bread offered is always home baked and one specialty of the house (I think it’s one of the longer serving waitresses’ recipes) is ‘treacle bread’ – luvverly. Then, in between main course and dessert you are given an alternative to sorbet which may or may not have a name (??). This is a sherry glass filled with a strawberry compote jelly and topped with yogurt. Actually that doesn’t sound too nice but trust me – it is nice and is refreshing in surprising ways (the jelly is filled with space poppers – that was a surprise, the first time we had it).

Halibut Sandefjord

Our main courses consisted of Venison (picture at bottom of post) for Sharon and Halibut for me. Sharon’s Venison was described as ‘Rossini’ with creamed potato and honey mustard roast roots. Obviously I didn’t eat this but was given plenty of tastes. Delightful. The flavours were all there; deep and pleasurable: Rossini garnish implies that a croute and pate are involved and if you look closely you’ll see that this dish had two thin triangles of toasted (may have been fried) bread with pate between the slices. Very neat. My Halibut was described as being with ‘potted shrimp mash, leeks, Sanderfjord butter and Keta caviar’. Now I’m not a great fan of over-flowery menu terminology but this described the dish exactly. Halibut is my favourite white fish, so steamed like this – full of flavour and served with perfectly cooked leeks, a rich butter and cream sauce and mash was like heaven. If I had a niggle (this seems so rude), it was that the mash wasn’t as hot as it could be and needed a tad more seasoning. This was the first time I’ve ever used a cruet at the Weaver’s Shed. Salt is such a subjective taste.We were then presented with the ‘refresher’ and offered dessert menu. In the end, we declined pudding because a: Sharon doesn’t like any of the choices and b: I like them all – and we knew that there would be petit fours to follow. The petit fours come an a weird wooden contraption I’ve never seen before. The nearest thing I could suggest would be a Spaetzle cutting board. See picture below. Petit Four consists of tiny ice cream cones (pineapple and coconut); rocky road and a cinnamon cream drink. I managed to fit a whisky (Edradour)in with this as well, before walking home.

So it’s farewell to an old friend. We’ve not been close (I could never afford to go too regularly) but it is already missed. I look forward to renewing my relationship with new owners – they get at least one chance.

Fish Soup - David's starter

Venison Rossini

Petit Four

Banks

For the first time in five years my bank manager wants to meet me. What’s more, he’s so keen on the meeting that he is coming out to me. Initially I was worried; what could I have done, what was the problem? But then I found out that others, self-employed like me, are also being contacted and visited. So what’s this all about – are the banks starting a we-love-our-customers initiative? Maybe they are just showing interest [pun intended].

Well I don’t know, but it will be nice to see him again and to ask him face to face why they still insist on charging me for everything they do on my behalf.

I opened my account with NatWest because they have English call centres and offered an initial eighteen-months free business banking. For a further two years, at my request, they continued with the free banking. The criteria for this was that my account is ‘a nice little account, no trouble, no debt and no real work for the bank’ other than holding my money until the taxman or the VAT man wanted it. I even took out my offset mortgage with them. So they have total access to all of my money.

Then, about eighteen months ago he said “No! We are not allowed to cancel charges anymore – sorry.” And I thought OK, I’ve had a good run and if the government see the need to give banks multiple £billions, then maybe I shouldn’t complain.

But now they are taking the Mickey. Not only did they (the banks generally, not mine specifically) take the government’s money (OUR money) and NOT spread it around to help homeowners and business – especially small businesses, but they are still taking money from the government. Those of you that are less mathematically challenged than I might argue that my reasoning here is flawed but I believe that banks (especially in my case) are denying HMG of tax revenue. E.G:

I now pay bank charges: I’m not sure how much per annum but let’s say £300 (they even charge me 66p per £100 for taking money out of the ATM; 60p [ish] for any form of money in [cheques, cash, BACs] and a similar amount for money out AND a service charge of around £10 p.m.)

That £300 used to be counted as part of my profit and was therefore taxed accordingly. Lets be generous and say that 25% of this went to HMG. Nowadays, that £300 counts as an expense against my tax, so HMG is deprived of that £75 and I’m paying £225 more than I used to.

My issue, other than paying more than I should, is that the £75 tax did more to support the country than the extra £225 I’m paying to the bank. It may sound quaintly altruistic but if I’m paying tax (lots of tax) I’d rather it was used to pay teachers and nurses than to supplement fat cat banking bonuses.

Wetherby

It’s surprising what you learn when working with people from other countries; especially about your own country’s society and language.

Sharon and I have just finished two days work (for TLC) with people, mainly teachers, from four European countries. They are all (as usual) brilliant English speakers and (again as usual) inquisitive. The first night we ate at The Swan and Talbot in Wetherby and as a result several colleagues wanted to know what a Talbot was. It had never occurred to me that a talbot was anything other than someone’s name; despite spending many of my childhood holidays in Blackpool tramping around Talbot Square and Talbot Road. It turns out to be a type of dog. They also wanted to know what a ‘hard shoulder’ was. They’d guessed the answer but wondered why it was so called. The answers to that one are not easy to find and verify I’ll tell you!

Clip shows a communication exercise

Eating in Wetherby was a pleasure compared to eating in the hotel, which seems to be run by young inexperienced staff. I have no problem with young and no problem with inexperienced but both need someone to turn to for advice and guidance. There didn’t seem to be anyone who cared at our hotel. Lunchtime buffet fodder was gauche and unimaginative. I’ve no idea what they charge organisers for lunch, but they should charge 50p per head extra and add some thought and imagination to what they do. The evening prior to our event three of us went there to greet late arrivals from The Czech Republic, Germany, Spain and Austria. Edith, the German had arrived and eaten and those coming from Spain and Austria were delayed until after midnight but the Czechs got to the hotel in time to be told the restaurant had closed – 9.30pm. The hotel just didn’t care.

Anyway, we had a great two days with the group before moving on to Reeth for a couple of days R and R.

We both enjoy Reeth, which is in Swaledale North Yorkshire, because it gives us several things: peace and quiet, great walks, fabulous scenery, real pubs (with real beer, fair to middling food, no music and no frills) and No internet and NO phone or 3G reception. As I say – R and R. The cottage was tiny but we managed – just. The view from outside was stunning; we couldn’t quite see the river but had fabulous views over Harkerside Moor, which in the prevailing weather (beautiful) was delightful.

It wasn’t until we arrived home that we realised there had been a volcano eruption in Iceland. So all the time we were driving back through the northern Yorkshire Dales (via Tan Hill, Kirkby Stephen, Sedbergh, Kirkby Lonsdale and Skipton) and soaking up the sun, our erstwhile European colleagues were still trying to get home. At the time of writing, I am aware that Edith set off yesterday for Dover to be picked up by Christophe who drove from Baveria to meet her and the Czechs had returned (were returning?) by bus. The Spanish and the Austrians were staying on at the hotel. No update today.

Eduardo

Easter frogs

I know that Easter itself was last week and that it’s not actually Easter at the moment  but I feel the need to reminisce about a previous time I remember Easter being this hot and sunny.

Easter can fall on any one of 35 different dates according to western tradition but generally, early April is about the average. The latest possible Easter date seems to be disputed but it would fall towards the end of April for sure.

I’m fairly certain that there have been other pleasant Easters (usually those which fall after the first week of April) but the one where we took the children to Germany, in 1979 was memorable.

My first wife Sue, had a German penfriend, Mecky, who lived in Burgsteinfurt near Munster and we arranged to visit them that Easter. Ben was 3.5 years old and Emma just 18 months. Our visit to Munster Zoo therefore, on a glorious Easter Sunday (or Monday – I can’t remember which) was a real family day out. Ben had been ill and pretty much stuck by us all day and we had to keep pointing things out to keep him interested. Our “Oh look Ben, a squashed frog!” and “Oh dear, another squashed frog ..” will stay with me until my dying day. As we walked around the zoo there certainly seemed to have been some kind of frog flattening event prior to our arrival.

The park ponds at first seemed pretty lifeless until we heard Ben point and shout “Mummy, look … a not-squashed frog“. Sure enough – a real-life frog jumped out of our way and (probably) into the path of oncoming traffic.

Ben’s amusing phrase ‘not-squashed frog’ has stuck with me all this time and I was reminded of it yesterday as Sharon and I sat by our own pond (in the gratefully received sunshine) watching the two goldfish slowly disturb the torpid frogs from the bottom of the water. One frog seemed a little different from the rest. It was a very dark pinky-red colour, so it stood out from the others and made it easier for us to notice. It took a while to realise that it was even more different than we’d thought.

It only had three legs.

It seems I am to be plagued by Easter frog deformity of one type or another for eternity. Note also that I used to visit my students in France at this time of year when the Comte region restaurants served up fresh versions of their national dish. I dare not be more graphic than that.

April slides in

I think that my last post was about ‘tea’. Why tea?

I suspect that this harks back to the way I used to blog. My blog from 2005 to the middle of last year (2009) was at http://www.village-e-learning.co.uk/blog.htm and the only reason I gave it up was the convenience afforded by WordPress, which allows me to edit whenever I have an internet connections, rather than only when I have access to the correct software. I began my Eduvel blog in May 2009, https://eduvel.wordpress.com/2009/05/31/where-will-june-go/ and my ‘style’ of blogging seems to have changed.

Whereas before my blog seemed to be a ramble about my daily/weekly life and work, it seems to have become an occasional ramble about a single subject. The subjects themselves are diverse, so that’s not a problem as I’d hate to be seen as one-subject blogger, but there seems to be less recording of activity (which I use to look back upon my activities and thoughts) and more of individual rants or discussions.

Contrast the older style August ’09 post Wembley with kath-e-gay-oh-my from February 2010.

I don’t mind doing the odd one-subject blog posts, I used to do it anyway, but I seem to have lost the will (ability?) to pen the more diary based ones. The difference showed when I finally tracked down a copy of Front Page 2003 and installed it onto my Parallels based version of XP. It worked a treat and I’d forgotten just how much I enjoyed working with Front Page before my old Toshiba laptop died and had to be re-built. So – now it’s back, I’ve been able to begin the updating of my Village e-Learning site and have taken the time to take a look at my old blog. It reminded me how important it is to put things down on paper (on the web!) if you want to remember it.

So – Easter came and went. We saw Emma’s new, but not yet complete, house and Khawar popped around today. We had mum and dad for tea (not literally) on Monday and that’s that.Word Cloud for this page

Next week I’m working on a European project for a couple of days in Wetherby. Again, Khawar and I will deliver a pedagogical technology workshop to approximately sixteen people from (I think) six countries. I’m really looking forward to that. Then, on Wednesday evening, Sharon and I will retire to Reeth in North Yorkshire for a few days R & R. No phone, no internet; just books, booze, food and walking. Loverly!

Here’s a Word Cloud of this post from http://www.tagxedo.com/

The election is announced

This is funny, and sums up my view of the election just announced.
Hopefully it is policies and potential, rather than politicians and pot-pissing that will win the day.

WordPress won’t allow me to use the code provided by the BBC – so see http://dsugden.posterous.com/the-election-is-announced to see what the first two line refer to.

Tea

I sat and watched Heroes the other night, I think it was episode 14:

Anyway some quick (as in speedy) knife guy (Edgar) was getting a good beating by Mr. Bennet in a fridge. (Compare this Mr. Bennet with the other Mr. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice… a world of difference?)

Bennet’s wannabe girlfriend Lauren, suggested to him that a gentler approach would be more productive so the scene changed from being Guantanamoesque to an afternoon at Betty’s.  Edgar is English you see – you can easily tell this because his accent is one you would never hear on the streets of Bristol, Birmingham, Bolton or Bradford – but one that is obviously not American. I’d thought he was South African or Australian – but no, he’s English. We know this because Noah (Mr. Bennet) was offering him tea.

A cup of tea.

Why is it then, that despite (whilst?) promoting the stereotype, America (and much of the rest of the world) gets it so wrong? First of all, what Noah Bennet was offering poor Edgar was neither a cup nor a pot. If it was tea, it was being served in a handle-less cup like you might get Green tea in at the local Chinese restaurant. Now I realise that this is what some people, some races even, might call tea – but it is not I suspect, what the average English person brings to mind when they think of tea. And Edgar for one certainly didn’t seem to be a pinky-waving, light-weight, milk-less, weak tea drinker.

We’ve been drinking tea for over 350 years, so I suspect that we have it right by now. 350 years ago Americans were only just beginning to denude North America of trees, Bison and Native Americans – what do they know about tea? Well for one, the tea bag http://www.tea.co.uk/page.php?id=4 was developed there, but it only really took off big-time in the UK. And that’s no real surprise given the way they (and many Europeans) serve tea.

Any tea drinker who has traveled abroad will have been presented (countless times) with cups of hot water, accompanying tea bag on the side, two sugars and a tea spoon. In America, the thought of adding milk to a hot beverage is anathema – even coffee drinkers seem to get cream or half-n-half in preference to milk (I don’t mind this, half-n-half in coffee is fine, but in tea it’s just pants).

For someone that was brought up on the notion that tea should be made as follows, the tea-bag-on-the-side model it just strange.

– Warm the pot (warm your mug)
– add the tea leaves (add your tea bag)
– take the pot to the kettle (take the mug to the kettle)
– pour on boiling water
– set aside for five minutes (It’s usually ok after two)

    My Grandma really poo-pooed the idea of tea bags in the first place, but had she been served tea in a cup like Edgar the circus knife thrower (or anyone else in America) she would have been mortified. So come on Mr Bennet, the next time you want to be ‘nice’ make a proper cup of tea.

    Refs:

    http://www.tea.co.uk/
    http://www.teapalace.co.uk/

    🙂