The Royal Standard, Upwey

It’s a long way to go in order to get to the seaside. We live just a few miles from the “point furthest from the sea”, so it is a trek to get to the coast. North Norfolk is generally our coast of choice, but this weekend it was Matt’s birthday, and the venue was Weymouth.

After a longer than necessary journey (cursed by the M5 as usual being a nightmare), we arrived at the fantastic Higher Moor farm campsite, to be greeted by a very friendly welcome from the lovely people there. We quickly pitched, and settled down with a quick drink and some chat. And a trip to their award winning toilets 🙂

Soon, it was time for some dinner, and we headed up the road to The Royal Standard. Which just happens to be West Dorset’s only microbrewery pub. Another coincidence or just great planning? You might have worked out by now, planning is the key to great trips with good food and drink in the mix 🙂

First up tonight, a Stargazer from Yeovil Ales, a nice bitter to start off the evening. At this point, we broke out the Uno for a spot of gaming whilst waiting for dinner to arrive.

For Mrs MOFAD, a Sheppy’s Cider, from Sheppy’s Cider…

Moving on, a pint of “The Usual” by Milk Street Brewery (Uno continuing in the background), which went very well with…

…a lamb shank. This is a pub classic, and is something I will often go for if it is on. It is hard to mess it up, and if it’s cooked just right, then it’s very good. This one was indeed good, braised in a red wine and garlic jus.

Mrs MOFAD opted for the pie of the day. Pie is a controversial thing. Is the item pictured a pie?

I would say not. That is a casserole, with a pastry top. A pie should be totally encased by pastry, it’s not just some stuff with a lid on top. However, despite this controversy, it was very tasty, and The Royal Standard is MOFAD approved.

Gloucester Services (Southbound) (again)

A week is a long time in politics. It’s also a long time in service station visits.

Another Friday off work, another camping trip, another visit to that lovely M5. Just like last week, there was an oasis in this desert of tedium that we call the M5. A second visit to Gloucester Services.

In case you missed it last week, Gloucester Services are owned by the Westmorland Family group, who also own Tebay Services/Westmorland Farm Shops, near junction 38 of the M6.

Gloucester is a modern day carbon copy of Tebay. The grass on the verges still hasn’t grown yet (it’s a lot to expect in just a week).

Once again we stocked up on tasty provisions, to be consumed later in our journey, as well as some nice coffee to consume in the meantime. There was something immensely satisfying about buying really nice sandwiches and crisps and drinks and salad and what not, and then stopping at another service station later on to eat all of that nice stuff, before the final leg of the journey.

Weymouth is a long way from Leicestershire. At least there’s somewhere pleasant to stop along the way.

The Marquis Wellington, Leicester (again)

The Marquis Wellington is the favourite pre-show haunt of Mrs MOFAD and I, as I have previously written about.

Tonight it was another trip to De Montfort Hall, this time to see Reginald D. Hunter, who we last saw at the Melbourne Comedy Festival last year (you’ve probably worked out that food, drink and comedy are a big part of our lives).

Our visit didn’t get off to the greatest of starts, with several mix ups on our order, which was a very simple one. However, after interacting with three different staff members about it (one of them about four times) it did all get sorted out.

As usual, a good selection of ales available tonight, including something very new – Hop Rising, an IPA brewed on the premises. This was a no-brainer for me, and I went straight for it:-

Sweet and hoppy, and unlike most IPAs I’ve had. Very good nose, and the sweetness on the palate just adds a little something. I’m sure this won’t be for everyone, but I really liked it on a warm summer night. Although (as I usually complain about most IPAs) it does lack paleness.

As I also mentioned last time, Wednesday just happens to be pie and pint night, and this time there was a cider on offer for Mrs MOFAD (Symonds Founders Reserve). And just like last time, there was no contest. It had to be the chicken and pulled pork pie once more. We have had this before. We have liked it before. We had it again. We will probably have it next time. It is a very nice pie, and a manageable portion.

I still maintain that this is a chicken and pulled ham pie, but it is very nice whatever you want to call it. The Marquis is definitely MOFAD approved, but I don’t know what happened to the MOFAD card that was left last time. It wasn’t on display anywhere 🙂

Will be back again in just two weeks 🙂

Harveys beer haul…

Mmm, beers. A big thanks to MOFAD staff Hazel & Matt who just happened to find themselves in the region of Harveys brewery in Lewes last weekend. They just happened to mention this to me and asked if I would like any beer. Cheekily, I sent them a list of everything in their online shop that I’d not had before. “Just whatever you can carry” I said.

Luckily for me, they could carry the lot, and it made its way safely to our little weekend get together. Although the Copper Ale, Bloomsbury Brown, Bill Brewer and John Hop did not make it back alive… The interloping Cheltenham SPA ales in the picture were procured on our way to this rendezvous, during a stop off at the new Gloucester Services (from the lovely people who brought you Tebay Services)…

Campfire quesadillas

Another in the occasional series filed under “recipes”. This one is not really that much of a recipe, but a nice easy dinner when camping.

Since 2013, our camping cooking companion has been an Anevay Frontier stove:-


And the trusty paella pan on top (5 quid, TK Maxx) is our main cooking vessel. It’s pretty versatile, and is used for lots of things from BBQ style foods (pictured above), to paella, to our favourite quick dinner, campfire quesadillas. This is not much of a recipe, but here goes. You will need:-

1 pack tortillas/wraps
1 jar salsa (choose your own spice level)
Some form of cooked meat, we generally get some sliced chorizo and/or chicken
Cheese – we usually use manchego for a touch of authenticity, but any decently flavoured hard cheese would do it.

To prepare:-

Take 1 tortilla. Spoon on some salsa and spread over the tortilla. Place some of your sliced meats on top. Then sprinkle some cheese over the top of that (grated/sliced/shaved/whatever you want to do with it). Place another tortilla on top.

Place this in your hot pan, and cook for a few minutes, then flip it over and cook on the other side. Serve with whatever else you fancy, a bag of salad is a nice and quick accompaniment. A simple and speedy campfire dinner.

Marshfield Farm ice cream parlour

“Ice to see you.” For many years several of us laboured under the misapprehension that this phrase was uttered by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character Mr Freeze in the utterly atrocious “Batman & Robin”. Whereas it was in fact an utterance of McBain in the Simpsons episode “Last Exit to Springfield”.

Anyway, back to the point of this post, and that’s to talk about Marshfield Farm ice cream parlour. We were camping just over the border, and had passed this place on the way down yesterday. As today’s weather had not been up to much we decided to abandon the rest of our walk in favour of going for some ice cream instead. A plan that can’t really be argued with.

They are open every Saturday and Sunday from Easter until the end of September. As they say on their web site, don’t expect a glitzy American style ice cream parlour, this is very much a rustic barn on a working farm. But it’s all about the content instead of the presentation, and there are around 30 flavours to choose from, my choice was Chocoholic Heaven and Blackcurrants in Clotted Cream, both very nice flavours on their own, but they work very well together.

If you do happen to be passing through on the A46, not far from junction 18 of the M4, then I’d recommend stopping off for an ice cream. Or two. And if you take your cool box or similar you can buy some to take home too. MOFAD approved!

The George, Batheaston

A wet Saturday in June. It wasn’t supposed to be that way, as last night’s heavy rain was supposed to have made itself scarce overnight. Instead, it carried on raining long into the morning, and so we eventually dragged ourselves out of the camp site to go for a bit of a wander, with The George our intended lunch destination. We had a nice walk and made it here without any extra rain landing on our heads. A beer festival had been advertised, but as this is a chain pub, it was more “we’ve got a couple of different beers in instead of what we normally have”.

It is handily located alongside the canal, has a massive car park, and is opposite the Batheaston village church. Where a wedding might just be going on. All of these things mean that it gets quite busy. And it’s a bit of a maze inside, so you might take a moment to find your way to the bar to order your food and drinks. Today, there was only one option to go for, that “new pub classic” of a pulled pork sandwich.

A bit of a sad affair really, as much pub pulled pork can be, and certainly nothing like that lovely pulled pork from the Blenheim Palace food fair. Not a generous portion, a bit dry, and the “deconstructed coleslaw” on the side was not much cop either. Stingy with the chips too.

And a couple of pints of Bath Ales Gem that were served way too cold. The second pint was allowed to stand for about 10 minutes to get it to a reasonable temperature. These things do happen at chain pubs that don’t always know as much as they should about looking after beer.


So, it’s ok if you’re in the area, but I wouldn’t make a special trip. Especially if your SatNav has “avoid toll roads” switched on, since it might take you on a long trip through the centre of Bath instead of across the cheap toll bridge at the other end of the village. Hazel can attest that this is not a pleasant way to start your lunch!

Merkins Farm Cafe, Bradford Leigh

Breakfast is often described as the most important meal of the day. And the full English is the breakfast of champions. It’s not something that you can eat every and and expect to live a long and healthy life, but a weekend away with friends is an ideal chance to relax and indulge with a pot of tea and a rather tasty fry up.

Our first visit to Merkins was back in 2013, for ministry staff member Hazel’s birthday camp. We enjoyed a full breakfast then, and as we were camping at another site not far away, it was the work of moments to agree to a Merkins breakfast this weekend.

The other fun part of breakfasting with friends is breakfast trading. The Merkins full English comes with black pudding. This is not, and will never be, MOFAD approved. But that’s fine, because it is easily swapped for something better. This improves everyone’s breakfast experience – winners all round!

The Merkins breakfast is very tasty, nice bacon, good sausages, eggs not overcooked, and enough of everything to make for a good meal. Merkins is certainly MOFAD approved, and a MOFAD card was left.

Gloucester Services (Southbound)

Ah, the M5. It’s not my favourite road at the best of times. But as soon as the summer months arrive, it becomes a bit of a nightmare. Tailbacks, accidents, traffic jams, all the way from Birmingham to Exeter and back again. I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve been caught up in them, and how much fun time has been lost to this accursed autobahn.

One thing that you do need when travelling this troublesome road is a decent service station to stop at. Usually we would make do with Strensham, just by junction 8, and we’ve visited Michaelwood and Gordano too. We’ve also stopped at the tiny Bridgwater services which is probably one of the smallest on the network, and is pretty weird.

Thankfully, you can now forget all of the others if a service area near junction 12 is suitable for your journey. Gloucester Services has arrived, just before junction 12 if you’re heading south on M5, or just after if you are northbound. Gloucester Services are owned by the Westmorland Family group, who also own Tebay Services/Westmorland Farm Shops, near junction 38 of the M6.

This then is essentially a carbon copy of Tebay, but built in the present day using more modern methods and ideas like a green/living roof. It’s all still very shiny and new (there’s not a lot of grass on the verges yet for example). The principles are the same, sourcing local ingredients, using them in all the meals made on site, and selling them on to you. You can also buy lots of this local produce to take away, from meats to cheeses to cakes to beers and ciders. And plenty more besides.

Today we stocked up on some of those aforementioned beers and ciders, as well as some snacky stuff for lunch, including some very tasty pork pies. It’s a service station, so it’s not going to be the cheapest in the world, but all of that quality stuff in the same place is pretty convenient.

Gloucester Services are in that rare category of being MOFAD approved!

Lime & Mint curd tarts

This is a kind of recipe. Some recipes are very simple because they involve just a couple of ingredients. You could make this one complicated by making everything from scratch, but maybe you don’t have time for that. And in the case of this lime & mint curd, I wouldn’t waste my time, since they have done such a damn fine job of it.

The curd was an Xmas present from MOFAD preferred supplier Jo, and has been waiting for the right occasion. A camping trip was that occasion, so we rustled up a nice batch of tarts using some ready made sweet pastry. The work of moments.

Roll out pastry, cut into discs, pop into cake/tart tin. Here is where we went wrong – you should bake them blind in the oven at 190C for around 10 minutes, before adding the curd and then finishing them off for another 5-10 minutes. We added curd first, which meant that some bits were too caramelised by the time the pastry was cooked. Very nice tarts though, an unusual flavour, definitely one for a lime fan like me! Scarlett & Mustard Lime and Mint curd is 100% MOFAD approved!