The Brotherswater Inn, Sykeside, Cumbria, August 2017 #2

A much nicer day today weather wise. After a relaxed start to the day, we headed out to bag 2 more Wainwrights, Little Hart Crag and Hartsop Dodd. I can just make out the route we took down as I’m sitting out in the awning writing this.

After a relaxed afternoon, we headed up to the pub for dinner. As it was a nicer night, more campers were having their BBQs so there were more tables to choose from. We chose the nice one in the corner with lovely fell views.

Another pint of Tirril Eden Valley for me, Mrs MOFAD opted for gin tonight, a Scottish gin called Rock Rose. A new special on the food menu tonight (meatballs) but we both opted for the normal menu again. Mrs MOFAD had what I had last night, the tasty smoked haddock linguine, with a creamy sauce, parmesan and some garlic bread. My choice was venison casserole, topped with sauteed kale and accompanied by sweet potato fries.

It was delicious, tender meat, a nice casserole sauce and crisp sweet potato fries. This was accompanied by another pint of Eden Valley. We hung around for a while and played a card game before returning to the van.

The Brotherswater Inn, Sykeside, Cumbria, August 2017 #1

Camping again! We were last here 3 years ago, almost to the day. We loved the camp site, a perfect place to pitch up and just do walks from the camp site. It was rather moist on arrival today, raining on and off during the journey, and there’s obviously been a lot of rain since we we up here in June, as the camp site was a bit of a quagmire in places. Including the pitch that we’d been allocated (number 13 which is the same one we had last time). For the first time in a few years we had brought the awning with us, and we had to pitch that in the swamp. So we got a bit wet and muddy.

The rain didn’t really stop, so we retired to the pub for dinner, as planned. On a busy August evening, the pub was packed, but we managed to grab the last free table. They don’t take reservations, so it’s first come first served. More people arrived later, and there was a reasonable turnover of tables, so everyone was happy.

To the bar to order. A pint of Tirril Eden Valley for me, one I’ve had before, but it was rather disappointing last time, so it was good to try it again. Mrs MOFAD had some Kingstone Press cider, which is one she has enjoyed before.

After paying a pound for an hour (I paid a pound), we used the wifi to check the weather forecast and plan our walks for the next few days. Whilst this was happening dinner arrived. For Mrs MOFAD, chicken stuffed with chorizo and wrapped in bacon. For me, this simple smoked haddock linguine, with a creamy sauce, parmesan and some garlic bread.

Just the thing to fill the hole on a night like tonight.

It was accompanied by a pint of Barngates Pale Ale, which is a new one to me. A decent bitter pale ale and only 3.3% – very easy to #keepitsession with that.

No pudding tonight (we haven’t earned one), so we ventured out into the rain and back to watch a bit of TV…

I must add a brief note about this very lovely beer that we brought with us.

A peanut butter milk stout will probably go one of two ways. Either awesome or awful. This one was awesome, sweet and nutty, utterly delicious, smooth flavours and a wonderful nutty aroma.

Mother Hubbards Fish & Chips, Swaffham, Norfolk, July 2017

Another takeaway post, and a rather impromptu one at that. If you’d asked me yesterday morning what I’d be eating tonight, I would have said curry, at home, as per.

Due to an urgent family matter, we needed to be in Swaffham this weekend. Have I ever told you that the architect who designed our kitchen extension also designed the public toilet block in Swaffham? Well, I have now.

So on an overcast Friday evening, I found myself in a long queue outside this chip shop. Possibly the longest chip shop queue that I’ve ever been in. That has to be a good sign right?

Indeed it was. Three delicious portions of fish’n’chips were served up, alongside a little tub of home-made tartare sauce (no squeezy sachet nonsense).

There was plenty of choice, three sizes of cod, two of haddock, two of rock, plaice, skate, wholetail scampi, fishcakes, cod roe, saveloys, sausages, spring rolls, pies, burgers, fried chicken, battered mushrooms and plenty of moisteners in the form of beans, curry sauce, peas (mushy or not) and gravy. They also do pizzas and garlic bread, jacket potatoes and salads. There are also desserts. And a whole cabinet of fresh doughnuts.

A cracking fish’n’chip shop with lovely friendly staff, and you can see why it is so popular (there were no queues outside Mr Chips on the other side of the market place). Definitely the place to go if you find yourself in this charming sleepy market town.

There is a such a thing as a Free Lunch

In this case, it’s a beer called Free Lunch, brewed by Northern Monk brewery for Honest Brew. How does such a thing come about?

Over six months, Honest Brew cycled against 50 of the top startups in London as part of Braintree Payments’ “Tour De Tech”. They dominated the competition and won £40k towards a marketing campaign.

Rather than spending the prize on themselves, they decided to brew a beer for beer lovers with Leeds’ Northern Monk. That’s where customers came in – voting for a style, a strength, a flavour and the appearance of the beer that would be brewed. The winning combo was a 5-6% hazy IPA with citrusy & zesty flavours.

The people had voted. So Northern Monk made an IPA overflowing with bold aromas and flavours. Hefty doses of Citra usher in bright citrus fruit aromas. Vibrant grapefruit, lemon and mandarin flavours are tempered by the addition of oats to produce a soft mouthfeel. A sensory overload built upon the foundation of Northern Monk’s distinctive house yeast strain. Deliciously fruity, unashamedly hazy, and a true collaborative effort – the race to finish your can won’t last long.

In my first can I found pine, citrus and grassy notes, an hazy delight. Yes please! Thanks to Honest Brew for free beer. Looking forward to another one soon.

If you would like to buy some, they are now on sale at £7.90 for an howler of 3 cans as shown above. Off you go.

Rowena/Wyevale Garden Centre, Rothley, July 2017

A garden centre? Whatever next? Some years ago we spent a lot of time in these, finding things for our various garden projects. That has dwindled a lot recently, which culminated in a project to get the garden completely revamped last month. We left that to the experts, and just have a few little bits and pieces to sort out. Which is why we find ourselves here on a rainy/sunny Saturday afternoon. Before filling up trolleys with pots, plants and slate chippings, we stopped off for lunch in the little cafe. It’s not so little any more, with an outside seating area, a conservatory bit, and the main dining area all linked together. The usual selection of sandwiches, toasties and some other hot dishes on offer.

I had a chicken, bacon, cheese and chutney toastie, which was nicely filled, with all of the different elements combining to make something a bit more interesting than the usual ham and cheese affair. A few tiny bits of salad on the side. An old fashioned English toastie this, a sandwich stuck under a grill, from the days before the Breville toasted sandwich maker (other toasted sandwich makers are available). Not exactly haute cuisine, but a quick and easy lunch stop.

Dog and Duck, Shardlow, July 2017

Another pub trip where the company was more important than the food and drink. Just as well really, as this was another classic poor chain pub effort. A Marstons pub, the usual below average selection of beers from the empire, a few bottles, and some rubbish “ciders” like Strongbow and Old Mout. So, another night on the lime and soda. No biggie, I have great beers at home for another night.

Maybe the food could make up for this disappointment. Although “two for one, all day every day” doesn’t always insipre confidence. Mrs MOFAD opted for curry again, she does enjoy a pub curry. Chicken tikka masala is an easy pub option, and pubs always chuck in the full works, rice, naan, popadom and alleged mango chutney (it’s never any good).

My choice was the BBQ chicken burger, which sounded nice.  Crispy buttermilk chicken goujons topped with Monterey Jack cheese and BBQ sauce, served with chips and coleslaw.

The best word you could find to describe this would be fodder. That’s all that it was. Very average damp pub chips (lots of seasoning required), a pointless little dish of alleged coleslaw (way too much onion), and an awful bread roll that had probably been hanging around all day, and. It disintegrated a little bit more every time you picked it up. Processed cheese added insult to injury, and a pitiful amount of alleged BBQ sauce didn’t help. No additional sauces available to help out either.

Chain pub eating at its lowest ebb. Meh food, no decent drinks. Luckily there were plenty of laughs to be had with friends.

Wagamama, Leicester, July 2017

Another rare weeknight shopping trip to Leicester. You may recall that there was one last week, but it wasn’t as successful as it could have been, so we are back this week, exploring some different retail venues. Again, I won’t be telling you about that. Instead, I’ll tell you about dinner.

We will often pop in to Wagamama for a quick dinner. It’s usually quick, if there’s not a queue. Tonight there was a queue out of the door, which was handy as the “out of the door” bit was cooler than the bit inside the door, where the heater was on full blast. On a warm July evening.

We were soon seated and ordering. It will probably come as no surprise that we both ordered exactly the same things that we usually do. So that’s chicken katsu curry for me as ever…

Although this was another plate to annoy the sauce/salad brigade, who hate to see sauce touching salad. You may recall this from a visit to The Hunting Lodge in June.

A quick note on drinks. Hitachino Nest has disappeared from the menu. This is a shame, as their beers go well with this particular cuisine. There are a few other offerings, which look interesting, but with Meantime involved, I don’t feel comfortable ordering them.

Meantime used to be a lovely independent brewery, but they are now owned by Asahi (after being bought by SAB Miller in May 2015), so they just don’t feel like a craft brewer any more. My philosophy is that I have loads of lovely independent beers at home, so I’ll save myself for those. As it was, the ginger beer was lovely and refreshing with the katsu curry.