Sara’s Indian, Coniston, June 2017

As you will know if you’ve ever read any post tagged #curry, Friday night is curry night. When we’re on holiday, that usually means finding the nearest Indian restaurant. Whenever we’ve stayed in Coniston previously, that has proved to be a problem, because there wasn’t one. The first time we stayed, it would probably have meant an hour’s round trip to Tagore in Ambleside (since closed). In fact, if we’d been stuck behind some of the tourists that have plagued our journeys this week, it could have been closer to two hours!

Thankfully, things have changed with the opening of Sara’s Indian in 2015. An Indian restaurant and takeway, which doesn’t have an alcohol licence so you can take your own alcohol (there’s a brewery literally across the road if you’re stuck for ideas). Menus are available outside all day long, so you can pick one up and take it back to your holiday cottage for later use. We did that last weekend, and tonight we were perusing and ordering our dinner.

A really interesting selection of dishes to choose from, a lot more variety than just some tikka masalas, bhunas and kormas. Plenty of things that I’ve never seen before (and we’ve been to our fair share of curry houses).

For me it was chicken podina piaza with mint, ginger, onions and mango chutney all mixed in. This was delicious, nice warmth and good flavours coming through from the mint. I like mint in a curry.

Mrs MOFAD had her usual chicken tikka rogan josh, and we both had a very tasty coriander naan.

If you are looking for somewhere that serves food in Coniston after 9 (since most of the pubs stop then), or you are just looking for a good curry, this will do nicely. At last a curry house in Coniston!

The Apple Pie, Ambleside, June 2017

An Ambleside institution.

We have been visiting the Apple Pie on and off ever since we’ve been visiting Ambleside. If there’s ever a day when we’re not out on the fells (usually due to inclement weather), you’ll find us having lunch at The Apple Pie. Named after their famous apple pie, they also do sandwiches, pies, quiches, salads and other items, as well as various hot drinks and soft drinks, and a few local beers.

There are many great places to eat in Ambleside, but this is usually the only place where you see people queuing out of the door on a weekday lunchtime. That was the case today, with a 5-10 minute wait for tables, but everyone in the queue happy to wait for their table. Once seated, service was quick and food arrived swiftly.

Inside the pie things have changed around a lot over the years. The front entrance and counter are still pretty much unchanged (you can still get your takeaway and bakery items from the main counter). There are no tables in the front area any more, and no more seating upstairs. Things have changed out the back too, with tables moving around and new seating areas created, as well as kitchen areas where toilets used to be and various other changes. They are not ones for standing still. You can also stay at the Pie if you want to.

Like the premises, the filled roll (sandwich) line up has changed over the years. The Thai chicken used to be one of our favouries, today that is replaced by the “spicy chicken” which has mayo, mango chutney, cream and various spices to make a nice sandwich filling, along with a good filling of salad (including beetroot which so many places shy away from).

As we’ve walked plenty of miles this week, we treated ourselves to the famous apple pie (although the mixed spice and sultana version had sold out) with ice cream.

Delicious, and a lovely Friday lunchtime treat. The ice cream to remind us it is summer (we’ve had some scorching days this week) and the warm pie to combat the cool drizzle of today.

The Apple Pie is a must visit if you are in Ambleside.

Our Plaice, Coniston, June 2017

A very quick fish’n’chips post. Another lovely day out in the Langdales today, conquering Loft Crag and Pike O’Stickle (proper scrambling required to get to the top of that one). The cottage (ground floor apartment) that we are staying in is overlooked (although hidden by massive trees) by Our Plaice, and sometimes the smell of fish’n’chips drifts over. It’s always tempting.

Tonight, we gave in to temptation and both had fish and chips, putting in the effort required for the 60 second walk to get there 🙂

Lovely fresh fish and chips (cooked to order, so they haven’t been hanging around under heat lamps). Delicious, crisp batter (sign of a nice high temperature in the fryers) and lovely fresh chips. As we have no dishwasher, we opted to eat straight from the carton.

A cracking takeaway fish and chip shop, perfect for all parts of Coniston. You can eat them just outside on picnic benches (lovely views of the A593) or you could take them down to the water’s edge and enjoy them with a proper view.

Recommended!

Calcott Hall Farm Shop, Brentwood, Essex, May 2017

People of Essex! You have an awesome farm shop on your doorstep.

The McTurks have been farming at Calcott Hall for nearly 40 years. Their former dairy farm is 120 acres. They started out selling potatoes and sweetcorn from crates in 1974, and renovated an old Essex barn in 1983, using more and more of it as their shop needs grew.

They sell almost all of their produce through the shop, with lots of fresh fruit and veg on display as you enter.

As you wander around, you discover more and more treasures. A meat counter, with pre-packed meat next door. Extensive ranges of sauces (I stocked up on some of my favourite Tiptree sauces), jams, chutneys and pickles follow, with freezers full of fruits, veg, potato products (chips, wedges) and even Yorkshire puddings.

Turn the corner and there’s an excellent range of frozen ready meals, with portions from 1-4 people, and lots of cuisines on offer. And then there are biscuits, crisps, sweets and more. And bird food.

Finally, we get to the booze section, with wines nestled next to ciders (lots of Aspalls from just across the border), and beers. Lots of beers, mostly from literal neighbours Brentwood Brewing Company, and some from other Essex brewers. Definitely keeping it local. I picked up some new (to me) ones from Billericay Brewing Co.

Nestled just next to the A12, this is a true gem. Perfect for all of your food and drink needs, so much under one (ever-expanding) roof.

600th post!

Another 4 months have passed, and another milestone has arrived, in the form of the 600th post. The end of 2016 saw a load of round up posts, including beer of the year and brewery outlet of the year, which always bump up the numbers.

January began with Wainwrights’ Inn in Chapel Stile, swiftly followed by a visit to one of our Lakeland favourites, The Mortal Man in Troutbeck.

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There was also something new, a rant about a bus. How on earth can you justify a bus fare of £3.50 for a journey of 3 miles/6 minutes on the 555 alongside Thirlmere? After that, we had a couple of trips to the same pub, which lacked beer on both occasions. And those were followed by another pub lacking in beer.

You might have expected this lack of beer to have put a dent in #tryanuary but thankfully it didn’t. Over the course of the month I sampled 44 different beers, with Cloudwater Brew Co’s Autumn + Winter IPA Mosaic Exp 431 coming out as the beer of the month for January 2017.

February started with some shopping at the Needle & Pin, picking up the inaugural dark beer selection as well as some other things that I’d reserved since Xmas. I think there are three beers that I’ve not yet opened in this photo…

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We opted for a spot of culture with a trip to the King Richard III visitor centre in Leicester, and then a few trips to Leicester for the comedy festival and various pubs. Next up was the first dark beer night at the Needle & Pin. This one turned out to have a little twist on all of the previous beer tasting events. There was a little bit of food involved, pairing some little nibbles with a selection of 5 dark beers. It was another one that felt like one of those events that you expect to find in London bars and brewery taps, so it was really great to have it in our sleepy little market town.

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February ended with an underwhelming trip to Pizza Express. March soon cheered things up with the arrival of the next craft beer selection box. All of these (except for the Double Chin) have now been sampled.

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There was a special birthday trip up The Shard for a lovely afternoon tea, and then another Leicester trip saw another visit to The Lansdowne, and then there were two consecutive trips to The Needle & Pin. First up we held a “halfway between birthdays event” with some friends, and the following night saw the first Belgian beer night, which was brilliant. Sean handed over the reins for this one to the N&P’s resident Belgian beer expert Iain, who was to guide us through the landscape of Belgian brewing past and present.

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We took a journey through some delicious Belgian beers, with a brief stop for some hot and salty fries and mayonnaise.

There are still several outstanding posts for April, and it didn’t start brilliantly with “labelgate” at The Field Head. Things soon improved with our trip to York, which got off to a great start at the York Tap:-

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and saw visits to the Pavement Vaults, Walmgate Ale House, BrewDog, the Brew York 1st birthday party and a few more. The rest of April was dominated by our trip to Hope, and there are lots of posts from that trip still to write up, although Beer District in Buxton was just one of the many highlights:-

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There are also a few May posts to catch up with, but that has already brought us up to 600. As with all milestone posts, a quick stats peek shows new visitors from Romania, Puerto Rico and Taiwan, as well as plenty from the commonwealth as usual. There are another 33 posts still in draft, so I’ll be tapping away at this keyboard for a while yet 🙂

The Tea Junction, Hulme End, May 2017

The Tea Junction at Hulme End opened in 2009 after much controversy over the costs of refurbishing the former railway shed, even though the railway that it served closed in 1934!

We first came across it in 2013 when we were camping just a few hundred yards away. It’s the perfect place for some food and drink at the start or end of your journey up or down the Manifold Way, which runs along the old railway bed from Hulme End to Waterhouses (near Leek). If you start at Waterhouses, then it’s perfectly placed in the middle of your “there and back” route.

There’s the usual selection of hot drinks including several teas, various soft drinks and plenty of home made cakes to accompany them. Savoury options too, including soup, Staffordshire oatcakes and sandwiches.

Today we dropped in at the end of our walk to Wetton Mill and back (via Ecton Hill and the Manifold Way). A well earned cup of tea and some cake was our reward for a lovely walk. An added bonus is the delightful mish mash of crockery that you are presented with:-

There’s always the opportunity for a chat with the lovely owner Rebecca, who is genuinely interested in everyone who comes in, what they’ve been up to, what they’ve encountered whilst out and about and anything else you want to talk about.

This quirky little cafe is a delight, and a great place to stop for refreshments on the Manifold Way.

The Lazy Trout, Meerbrook, April 2017 #1

The Lazy Trout in Meerbrook is our “home” for the next three nights. We are camping just down the road, on the outskirts of Leek. With Suzy the Ninja Hound joining us this weekend, we needed a dog friendly pub nearby. This was the closest and best one on our radar, so we decided to book in each night of our trip (it’s not the right time of year for BBQs, so pub trips are in order).

First up tonight, a Rye Pale Ale from Shipyard (another Marston’s empire brewery). How on earth can you call this a pale ale though? Barely a hint of hop inside this glass. That’s no surprise from Marston’s though…

An interesting cider option for Mrs MOFAD, a Fire Dancer from Lilley’s Cider (and their 1990s TFI Friday fonts). A lightly sparkling cloudy cider.

Dinner arrived soon afterwards, the Friday classic of fish’n’chips for me, a whale of a fish, lovely crispy batter, great chips and some nicely smashed up peas and home made tartare sauce. Pub poisson perfection.

Mrs MOFAD opted for one of several pies on offer and was not disappointed by this delicious pie with the same tasty chips and seasonal (ish) veg.

Another drink to accompany dinner, Burke’s Special from the very local Wincle Beer Co, a classic malty bitter.

No pudding tonight (we haven’t earned one yet), so we supped our drinks and played some card games for a while, enjoying the warmth of the fire.

When your first trip to this lovely little village pub is so good, it has to be a good omen for the rest of the long weekend…