A Brief Visit to Foulney Embankment

P1100672

Even a casual observer will have noticed that I am very much a creature of habit; when the tide is due to be low and we are available to do so, I like to drag the family around the bay to Roa Island to do a bit of rock-pooling. Every time we do that, as we cross the causeway to Roa I point out the car park which gives access to the path to Foulney, another tidal island, and express a desire to one day explore it.

Well, we’ve been around to Roa again this week and I almost got my wish. We hadn’t really left enough time, but we did walk as far as the first automatic lighthouse (I assume that’s what it is?) on Foulney Embankment.

P1100664

Scurvy Grass.

Foulney is essentially a shingle spit jutting out into Morecambe Bay. It’s houses important  breeding colonies of Terns. And also a number of plants well adapted to growing in this relatively unpromising environment.

P1100665

Sea Beet.

The wind was strong and very cold. This brief visit has whet my appetite, in more ways than one – apparently the glossy leaves of Sea Beet are something of a delicacy – and I really must make an effort to come back to see the island, and its tern colonies properly.

P1100667

Sea Kale.

P1100668

Sea Radish.

P1100679

Sea Campion.

P1100675

Foulney Embankment.

P1100678

Shingle.

P1100677

Lichen.

P1100676

Rusting hulk by the Roa causeway. Barrow industry behind.

P1100674

Roa Island.

For today, however, we had an appointment with the tide to keep.

Advertisements
A Brief Visit to Foulney Embankment

Chapel-le-Dale Weekend – Ingleborough

P1090149

A brief gap in the cloud: looking toward Whernside across Humphrey Bottom.

The weekend before Christmas (golly, I’m almost up to date) and it was time for our annual rent-a-hostel weekend with the group of long-term partners in crime whom the kids refer to as Our Camping Friends. This was the fourteenth time we’ve done this, by my reckoning anyway, and the fourth consecutive trip to The Old School Bunkhouse in Chapel-le-Dale. Actually, we’ve been getting together for this weekend for a lot longer than that, but we used to meet in one of our respective houses. We must be getting on a bit: The Adopted Yorkshire Woman, who played host on more than one occasion, was denying all memory of this earlier incarnation of our festive gatherings. Maybe her unconscious has suppressed the memories; we used to attempt a full Christmas meal, Turkey with all of the trimmings, but those of us charged with the cooking were usually quite inebriated before we began and the results were often far from spectacular, although, ironically, the mess we made of the kitchen often was spectacular. This year, after several years of sous-cheffing, I took responsibility for one of the evening meals and tried to kindle some nostalgia for those earlier efforts by chucking a tray full of roasting carrots, and the fat they were cooking in, across the kitchen floor; by having everything ready at once, excepting some rock-hard jacket spuds and some recalcitrant pie-topping pastry; and by burning myself repeatedly on the unfamiliar oven.

On the Saturday assorted members of the party, including the boys and myself, set off in the fog to climb Ingleborough. Here we are, near to the top…

P1090151

We followed almost exactly the same route as I walked last year, but the weather and the views weren’t so good. Having said that, we bumped into The Eternal Weather Optimist part way along the ridge and apparently he had been enjoying wall-to-wall sunshine on the Whernside ridge, and would go on to experience the same on Ingleborough after he left us.

Unbeknownst to me, Little S (who will soon be towering over me) had decided to set 0ff on our climb wearing only a T-shirt beneath his cagoule. It was pretty windy on the ridge, and unsurprisingly, he was cold. My only option was to give him my fleece, which looked quite comical, being way too big for him, but seemed to alleviate the problem. Or at least transfer it: that left me with only a T-shirt under my cagoule. (But I’m a bit better padded out than he is – you might quibble with ‘better’ – more thoroughly padded out, let’s say).

Once again, the weekend was a great success – I always think that these get togethers feel like much more than the sum of their parts – this one for example, signals the start of Christmas to me, and always seems to contain much more than two days worth of relaxation – a sort of mini-holiday in fact.

A little more about Sunday’s adventures to follow.

Chapel-le-Dale Weekend – Ingleborough

Homework

P1010330

Along with other small songbirds, robins are relatively short-lived. They live, on average, only a couple of years, but a few reach quite an advanced age. The oldest known wild individual was 11 years 5 months.

from the RSPB website.

Is that why some of them are grey at the temple?

Tuesday’s walk was part of A’s homework. This was a project set for Religious Studies and essentially required them to perform some sort of act of generosity. What a fabulous homework! She has chosen to help with our village Field Day’s fund-raising coffee morning. To that end she wrote a piece for the Parish Magazine; will help on the day and has also designed a poster which we were now distributing around the village.

P1010322 

Now Silverdale isn’t a huge village – I found something on t’interweb which claims that the electoral ward had a population of 2,035 according to the 2011 census – but it is quite sprawling; there are odd bits here, there and everywhere, so a walk taking in the various potential sites for posters was quite a good one.

P1010329 

And we detoured to some favourite spots too. Like Woodwell again…

P1010328 

Despite the improved weather, compared to the previous day’s walk, I still didn’t take all that many photos. I think that was because I was too busy chatting to the kids about this and that. TBH wasn’t with us because she was decorating our downstairs bathroom. She already decorated it a while ago, having chosen a paint which I would describe as ‘Submarine Grey’. The rest of the family expressed dismay at her choice, but when it was finished we decided that we liked it. TBH didn’t. So now she has painted it a different grey, with yet another hue for the ceiling. A has dubbed the room ‘50 shades’.

P1010332 

There were a few birding opportunities during the walk…

P1010327 

Goldfinch.

P1010325

Greenfinch.

We’ve been teasing A because she made the mistake of telling us that one of her peers has elected, for their charitable homework, to cook a family meal once a week. Why couldn’t she choose that? – we wanted to know.

P1010649

To be fair to her, she does chip in. When she saw that I was making bread for instance, she immediately wanted to help. That’s one advantage of being at home and not rushing around to visit places etc – there’s time for card games and baking.

Not that this bread takes much making. I used a very simple recipe taken from the flour packet. I shall summarise, otherwise it will take longer to type (and to read) than it does to make:

  • 15oz bread flour*
  • 2 teaspoons dried yeast (recipe says 1, I used two)
  • pinch of salt
  • 9 fl oz warm water
  1. Chuck it all in a bowl, in that order, mix it with a fork (you can use your fingers, but it sticks and you end up with huge dough mittens).
  2. Knead briefly until it comes away from the sides into a ball.
  3. Leave it for 10-20 minutes.
  4. Knead it again, just a few seconds.
  5. Flour a surface, squash the dough out into a rectangle then roll it up. Turn 90 degrees, repeat twice more.
  6. Put it in a greased (actually I cheat and use those paper liners) bread tin.
  7. Leave it to rise in a warm, draught free place. Might take two hours.
  8. Put it in the the oven, 200 degrees C, 25 minutes.

Butter it whilst it’s still warm. Enjoy. We all love it, and it’s really simple to do.

*There is a secret, however. This isn’t any old bread flour. Oh no. We made this using Granarius flour from Little Salkeld Watermill. I suspect another high quality, stone ground flour would do. We like their flour particularly, because we’ve been there, watched it being ground and had the whole process very thoroughly explained to us.

Their website has a slightly more complicated ‘simple’ bread recipe which I might give a try. If you want to buy their flour I suspect you might need to live in the North, preferably close to a Booths, although they don’t always seem to stock it. Or you could visit the mill, and their wonderful cafe, and try the lovely walk along the River Eden there.

And here I’ve been worrying about making individual posts for several short walks. Back in 2011 I made five posts just for one short walk.

Homework

Mostly Concerning Food

Mixing cookie dough

Some time ago I wrote about hearing Michael Pollan on Radio 4’s Food Programme, and how interesting I found what he had to say. One of the things he was talking about, was the importance of involving children in the kitchen and the process of producing family meals.

Rolling the dough 

Our kids don’t regularly cook, but they help out now and again, and from time to time they are quite keen to have a go. On this occasion, S had won a Cookie Dough kit at the first Silverdale Food Fair and, naturally, wanted to use it to make some cookies. The cookie dough mix included was a year past it’s use by date, as it turned out (some prize!), but we could manage a biscuit recipe and the necessary ingredients, surely? We could.

P6150053 

By the time the boys had reached the stage of decorating the biscuits with icing pens their sister was back at home and was keen to join in.

P6150056 

P6150060 

This all happened during the World Cup. Perhaps inevitably, this cookie….

P6150058 

….a Little S creation, was christened Lionel Messi.

Since hearing Michael Pollan on the radio, I’ve read ‘In Defence of Food’, the source of his oft quoted maxim ‘Eat food, not too much, mostly plants’. I was quite surprised by how gripping I found it. Since then I keep periodically returning to books about food and its production. I read ‘Animal, Mineral, Vegetable’ which is a mixture of memoir, polemic and recipe book and tells the story of how novelist Barbara Kingsolver (and her family – who also contributed to the book) attempted to eat locally produced food for a year, much of that food grown or reared on their own Virginia small-holding.

At the moment, I’m part-way through Raj Patel’s ‘Stuffed and Starved’ which covers global food production and distribution, farming, GM crops and such like. He argues that the mechanisms which produce the burgeoning problem with obesity are exactly the same as the causes of global hunger.

P7160031

You’ve already seen S’s birthday cake, eaten on Carn Fadryn. This is another one, which TBH made for his party at home. It was a Cowboy Party. No difficulty with getting the candles to stay lit on this occasion!

Has all of this food for thought (sorry!) had an impact on the way I shop and eat? Well, yes, up to a point. I haven’t started to keep turkeys or chickens like Barbara Kingsolver did, and we still don’t grow many of our own veg, but I have been trying to eat seasonal, local produce as much as possible. In the summer, and with several Booth’s supermarkets nearby, that’s been relatively easy to do – I can generally buy English grown, or in fact, for the most part, Lancashire grown veg and have a fairly good choice of fruit too.

P7200001

Some things, obviously, don’t grow in Lancashire. When the English asparagus season finished, I stopped eating asparagus, which wasn’t a great hardship because I don’t think the Peruvian stuff is as nice anyway. I’m not eating as many avocados as I did, though I haven’t stopped altogether. I’m still drinking tea and eating chocolate, although Stuffed and Starved’s revelations (to me anyway) about child slavery in the cocoa industry in Ivory Coast has me thinking again about that.

P7200002

Hmmm, seems slightly inappropriate to accompany text about child slavery with photos of my daughter cooking. Not that there’s any coercion involved: she’s become quite keen. Baking cakes and making soup have been part of her repertoire for a while now. She’s recently turned her hand to sweets, making peppermint creams and cinder toffee. I told her that bread-making was surprisingly easy, and she proceeded to dent my ego by proving me right and turning-out a near perfect loaf at her first attempt.

P7200003

I’ve been thinking of veering off topic and posting something about food for while, but this post was finally precipitated by another Radio 4 programme. I thought I’d get something out there whilst that programme was still available on the iplayer. This week’s ‘Book of the Week’ is Yuval Noah Harari’s ‘Sapiens’. The third programme, ‘The Agricultural Revolution’ suggests that wheat wasn’t domesticated by mankind, but rather the reverse, and that wheat (and other food plants) have duped us into accepting a fairly raw deal in order to provide the conditions in which they can flourish. This is pretty much the case that Michael Pollan was making in the TED talk I embedded in my earlier post.

P8110400 

I was also taken by the idea, from the first programme, that mankind’s original niche might have been as a sort of lower-class scavenger, waiting for the food-chain topping predators, and then other pack animals, hyenas and such like, to finish with a carcass before using tools to break the bones and eat the marrow, food which other creatures couldn’t generally access. I’m sure that would go down well with the ‘Paleo Diet’ people who seem to regard bone marrow broth as some kind of panacea.

P8110401 

So: not about walking then, or even about ‘thinking about walking’, but more ‘other stuff’ for a change. It’s not a recent development for me to be thinking about food when I’m not ‘thinking about walking’, but I haven’t always considered in the past the processes by which our food reaches our fridge. The food choices we make have a profound effect not only on our own health, but also on the state of the planet, and the health and well-being of all of it’s inhabitants. It seems to me that an interest and concern for those issues dovetails quite neatly with an interest in the natural world, but I suppose I should leave you to decide on that one.

P8110404

I’m sure that I’ve only scratched the surface in my reading, and I don’t feel like I have all, or indeed, any of The Answers, but I know that its something I shall continue to mull over.

Happy eating!

Mostly Concerning Food