Porchetta – The famous Italian pork

A year or so ago we saw porchetta on one of the Italian cooking programmes (Not sure if was Jamie, Gino, Gennaro….). It looked delicious but quite complex and I wasn’t sure if my skills were up to the test.

A very rainy Sunday, a little bit of confidence and the desire for a roast spurred me on. 

Porchetta is an Italian roast pork dish stuffed with herbs.  Porchetta has been selected by the Italian Ministero delle Politiche Agricole, Alimentari e Forestali as a prodotto agroalimentare tradizionale (“traditional agricultural-alimentary product”, one of a list of traditional Italian foods held to have cultural relevance).

I’m sure that they wouldn’t approve the authenticity of my recipe!

I’m led to believe that there are many regional and international  variations of this dish. Many of the recipes available online are designed to feed 8-10 people. As there were only 2 of us for dinner today, this wouldn’t work and I couldn’t be bothered with the maths to scale them down. 

Waitrose had a recipe that served 4. Perfect for leftovers (apparantly very good in a crusty roll with garlic mayonnaise.) 

The meat

The recipe calls for a rolled joint of pork belly (1kg). 

After scouring the shops, I could only find a flat pork belly joint. When I got towards the middle of the recipe I understood why this joint was important. 

It worked out ok in the end but I wish I’d been able to get the rolled joint. 

Preparing the stuffing

The stuffing for the pork belly was slow cooked onions and fennel, orange and lemon juice, garlic, breadcrumbs, herbs, raisins and pinenuts. 

Slice the onion and fennel very finely and cook slowly in olive oil until soft and caramlised. A top tip from my Italian cookery lessons is to start with a cold pan and cover the veg with a pan lid to get a perfect, soft onion mix. 

  

When the onions and fennel are ready, add the garlic and herbs and cook for a few more minutes. 

Then add the pinenuts, breadcrumbs, orange and lemon juice and raisins.

  
Leave to cool completely. 

Citrus fennel salt

Before stuffing the pork, you need to coat the flesh with a citrus fennel salt. This is an interesting touch but I can understand how it might help tenderise the meat. 

  
Crush 2 tablespoons of fennel seeds with half a teaspon of Maldon sea salt in a pestle and mortar. Add the grated zest of half a lemon and half an orange and leave for a few minutes for the flavours to combine. 

Stuffing the meat

Once the stuffing has cooled, lay out the pork on a board and press the citrus fennel salt into the flesh and then place the stuffing on top of the salt leaving a 2cm boarder all the way around. 

  
Now, this is where I went wrong with the cut of meat. The rolled joint would give you an idea of how much ‘roll’ you have. I found that the flat belly pork joint would only fold over once. 

I ran a boning knife between the skin and the flesh to allow more ‘give’ and managed a full roll. 

It’s important to tie it properly and after a quick tutorial online, I was able to tie butchers knots all the way along the joint. 

  
Roasting the joint

Roughly chop 2 carrots, 3 sticks of celery and an onion and place in the bottom of a roasting tin. 

Place the meat on top and add a quartered apple and a bulb of garlic halved lengthways. 

Put 250mls of dry white wine and juice of half a lemon and half an orange into the pan and roast at 150c (140c fan) for 2 and a half hours. 

  
Gravy

Remove the meat to rest for 15 – 20 minutes and strain off the fat from the roasting pan. 

Add a tablespoon of flour to the meat juices and cook over a medium hob heat for 2 – 3 minutes until the juices reduce. 

Add 500ml of chicken stock and boild rapidly until halved and then strain into a clean saucepan and cook for 10 minutes. 

Slice the meat and serve with the gravy, veg and mash. 

Buon appetito!


                 

Our holiday in Scotland – Part 2 

After our fabulous day on the Isle of Mull and the excitement of the ferry trip we decided another ‘at home’ day was in order. 

Sleeping late was impossible because of the lack of darkness and we were up and ready, as usual, by 8.30am. 

The Knapdale Forest and the pretty harbour village of Tayvallich were a couple of miles down the road. 

Guess what, we found a TARDIS – in the middle of nowhere. 

  
The views were beautiful and it was a perfect, misty Scottish morning. 

  
The nearest town to Crinan is Lochgilphead. The only place to pick up supplies with a small selection of local shops and a small supermarket (Co-op).

Earlier in the week I’d eyed up Murray Smoked Products and their beautiful display of fresh fish and seafood. A bag of prawns with heads and tails later and I was set for a dinner that evening!  

Now I’m not good on a boat. I’d very seriously taken my Kwells on Monday for the trip to Mull and they’d worked like a dream. It worked and I was done. 

We knew that there was some beautiful scenery to be enjoyed around Crinan. But only accessible by small, fast boats. I’d opted out early on in the planning process but I wouldn’t begrudge @jbboardman the opportunity.

He booked an afternoon trip with Venture West to see the beautiful Corryvreckan Whirlpool and a close up of the nearby islands of Jura and Scarba. 

It was amazing apparently. Much wildlife was spotted including porpoises, mountain goats, a golden eagle and plenty of seals. 5 star reviews for Venture West from us. 

  
  
In the meantime, I had a lovely glass of wine at the hotel and watched Royal Ascot on the tv….. Bliss. 

Now, back to those prawns. De-shelled and de-veined, I cooked off the shells with shallots, garlic and white wine. Strained, added cream, seasoning and and parsley and served with the prawns, a little bit of crab meat, linguine and a handful of parsley. It was beautiful and exactly how I wanted to be eating in Scotland. 

  
  
Wednesday was a big day – huge in fact. 

We were well aware of just how much there was to see and we’d planned a big drive. Getting as many miles under our belt as possible.

We started on the road north to Oban and then onwards to to Castle Stalker. Setting to a Monty Python film.  

Further north took me into a world of childhood memories. 

The Glenfinnan Monument was just as I’d remembered. Alleged to be the place that Bonnie Prince Charlie raised the Royal Standard and claimed the Scottish and English thrones in the name of his father, it didn’t let us down. 

A bonus was being a member of The National Trust. They have a reciprocal agreement with The Scottish National Trust and this saved us a fortune on parking and entrance fees. 

The railway line from Fort William to Mallaig stops at Glenfinnan and was on the wish list but sadly time did not permit. It’s frequently referred to as one of the most scenic railway journeys in the world. One of the highlights of this journey is passing over the Glenfinnan Viaduct, made famous in the Harry Potter movies as the route to Hogwart’s. 

I’ve never seen any of the films but I’m assured by @jbboardman that this is the spot. 

  
The further north we travelled, the better the views became and we were blown away by the view from the Royal Marine Commando monument at Spean Bridge. A small village north of Fort William, Spean Bridge was the heart of the Commando training ground just before the Second World War. 
The views over Ben Nevis were stunning – snow in June!!

   
 After a hearty lunch of soup and Irn Bru (Scottish national drink – not good), we headed towards Glencoe. 

We had a bit of an agenda here. I’m not a movie lover but @jbboardman is a huge James Bond fan and had tracked down the location of the scene where Bond and M take a pause before the final approach to Skyfall. After a lengthy Google Earth research project, the location was found and off we went. 

Glencoe was as stunning as I remembered but was sadly shrouded in cloud so were weren’t able to appreciate the true beauty. 

A long drive down a single track lane and we found the spot. It’s a long time since I’ve seen that man so happy!

Apparently we got the staging a little wrong and not quite the Aston Martin but who cares….

  
Homeward bound and an evening with a bottle of wine and some venison purchased en-route. We’d driven 240 miles but achieved everything we wanted. 

We woke up on the last day to a little bit of rain and overwhelming exhaustion. We’d planned a bike ride along the canal but sadly this was not to be. 

A quick trip into nearby Lochgilphead for some fresh crab and a bottle of Sancerre and we were satisfied with the day. It never really got cold enough for a fire but we were determined to light the beautiful log burner (with the windows open!). 

  
Three hours later we awoke from our seafood and wine induced slumber and decided to head over to the hotel for a final evening at the seafood restaurant. 

Arborath Smokies were amazing and I wish they were a little more accessible in the ‘South’. 

We were sad to be spending our last night in Crinan but ready for a good sleep before the trip home. 

  
Friday didn’t start well. We were a bit grumpy. Loading the car didn’t go well either. After a lovely harmonious week we put it down to tiredness. 

It was only 30 miles down the road when we realised that we were a bit teary and very, very sad to be going home. 

On the last night I had a nice chat with a local resident. “Do you like it here?” he said. “Yes – Very much” I replied. “You won’t tell anyone about it will you?”. “No – of course not”.

  
  
  
  

Our holiday in Scotland – Part 1

There’s been very little time since we returned from Scotland to blog, and this may give you an idea as to why this holiday was so important. 

In addition to this, I’ve been (we’ve been) missing my (our) holiday so much that it’s almost been too emotional to write about it.

Nervous and excited, we set off after work on a hot Thursday evening to drive the 280 miles to Glasgow. 

Traffic was a problem until we passed Manchester but the rest of the journey was glorious. The setting sun over the Lake District and Cumbria was stunning. 

We approached Glasgow and for what remained of the evening was spent in a Premier Inn with a take away McDonalds for dinner. Not quite what I had in mind…..

Friday

Determined not to wake up too early, the day didn’t start too late and we left the Premier Inn just after the Glasgow rush hour traffic had cleared. 

A quick visit to the supermarket to stock up on essentials left us slightly red faced together with a new understanding for Scottish law. You can’t buy wine before 10am. (Of course wine is an essential!) The cashier was terribly understanding and held our trolley for 10 minutes until it was time to buy. 

The journey through Glasgow was easy and we were soon on the road to Loch Lomand and beyond and the sort of views we were hoping for. 

  
A quick lunch stop in Inverary (What a castle! – see below) and a visit to the fabulous Loch Fyne shop to pick up some treats, we were full of anticipation to see where we’d be spending the week.

 
We’d spent a lot of time looking at Google Maps to see where we were going to be staying but nothing could quite prepare us for how beautiful Crinan really was. 

The weather was fabulous and as we pulled into the car park, the famous Clyde Puffer was just arriving into the sea lock. 

 
Bags were unceremoniously dumped in the garden and we began what would become a week off boat spotting and other important nautical business. 

Seaview Cottage in the beautiful and tiny village of Crinan had been on our minds since January. We’d poured over reviews and photographs and convinced ourselves that we’d made the right decision. We weren’t wrong. 

   
   
Cosy, comfortable, warm, beautifully furnished and our own lighthouse – must I go on?

Tired and over-excited it was an early night in readiness for the week. 

Saturday

Did we sleep well? Oh yes. 

Did we get up in the middle of the night to make sure the sea was still there? Yes. 

Saturday morning saw us on a small drive to explore the area and to see what was on our doorstep. The problem with this area of Scotland is that 28 miles takes an hour to drive. 

First stop was the fascinating and slightly spooky island of Easdale. A fascinating place that used to be one of the most important slate mines in the country. Flooded in the 19th Century, the industry declined and now the car free island is home to just 60 residents.

You hail the council run ferry with a claxon from the mainland and you’re there in less than 5 minutes. Well worth the visit. It’s a long and winding road but stick with it. 

  
 When we booked the holiday, we planned a comprehensive (transport-wise) day trip to Islay, one of the Whisky producing islands in the inner-Hebrides. After a lot of tutting and teeth sucking from the locals we soon realised that this was a bad idea. “Too risky for a day”, “too far”, “you need to stay at least 2 nights”. 

After our boat trip tp Easdale we took a trip to Oban and fell instantly in love with the Cal Mac ferry that was going over to the Isle of Mull. 

  
That was going to be our boat day out!!!

One of the things that appealed to me most about Scotland was the fabulous seafood. We’d read that the hotel across the canal (The Crinan Hotel) served amazing seafood and best of all, it was landed at 5pm every day at the end of our garden!

True to their word, chef was waiting in anticipation and took the catch ashore at 5pm every day. (Excuse the quality of the photo. 

  
They (whoever they were) weren’t wrong. It was amazing!

  
Sunday

A day off! Or at least a day ‘at home’ in Crinan and the cottage. 

Another beautiful sunny day and we took a walk and a trip to the supermarket to buy Sunday lunch stuff. 

The weather was spectacular and towards early evening we spotted a fabulous ship coming in. The new birthday binoculars were proving to be a godsend. 

  

It was a Dutch charter which spent the majority of the summer sailing around Scotland and the Islands. 

After safely seeing it into the lock,  single handedly of course – we were experts by now, it was a pleasure to meet the captain and have him into the garden for a nip of whisky. 

  
He announced that Crinan was where he intended to retire. “The most beatiful place in the United Kingdom” – we agreed. 

The sunset over Jura, Scarba and Mull was amazing that night – just as the books had said. 

   
   
Monday

Up early – today was the big boat trip. Much excitement. 

Cal Mac ferries make it so easy. We were foot passengers so a quick ticket purchase and a Wetherspoon’s bacon sandwich (yes really – very good indeed) and we were onboard for the minimal sum of less than £5 each.
 
It was a busy ferry but plenty of room and we spent the short journey on deck. A bit of porpoise spotting later and we were there. 

We took the local bus to Tobermory (Ballamory to those of you with children). A beautiful little harbour town. The usual craft shops and distillery but worth a visit. A lovely place. 

  
A friend of ours said recently that the sign of a really good holiday is when you stop caring what other people think you look like and relax. This was certainly true by day 3. 

  
Part 2 to follow. 

  

   

London Weekend (Part 2)

We really should know better at our age but were wide awake at 5.30 due to excitement. Nothing more. We know how to rock a weekend away and knew this one wasn’t going to disappoint. 

Friday

We’d booked an 8am train to get us into London just before 9.30am. Even better we’d got 1st Class tickets so it was lovely to relax in the lounge and then enjoy breakfast on the way.

  

The partial eclipse was due to begin whilst we were travelling and managed to get a glimpse somewhere near Bedford. 

  

Arriving at St Pancras we went our seperate ways for the day. @jbboardman went to the office due to an annual leave shortage and I headed off on the Thameslink to Blackfriars to drop the bags off at the hotel. 

By 9.45am, the travel admin was done and I was free to enjoy the day. 

I headed over to Sloane Square on the tube and had a lovely walk up to Knightsbridge passing by Julian Assange’s hideaway in Hans Crescent. (Not a great photo but didn’t want to get shouted at by the Police!)

  

Next on the agenda was a bit of shopping in Marylebone High Street. A lovely bustling area with plenty of shops, bars and restaurants. After a quick glass of wine and some olives I headed over to Monument on the bus ready for my trip to the Sky Garden. 

The Sky Garden is a new 3 storey public garden located 40 storeys above Fenchurch Street. The building, famously called ‘The Walkie Talkie’ is the fifth highest in London and access to the Sky Garden is completely free of charge. 

  

You need to book a ticket online, 3 days in advance of your visit. I understand that weekends are incredibly popular.

It was nice and quiet when I arrived (3.30pm) and was through security and at the top within 5 minutes. 

The views are amazing and it’s a lovely relaxing environment with a bar and restaurant so you can enjoy a drink whilst taking in the views. 

  

  

I wouldn’t fancy his job!!

  

I met up with @jbboardman at Covent Garden tube and had cocktails before heading to Mishkins for dinner. 

The gin based cocktails here are amazing and as ever, the food brilliant.

  

A firm favourite of mine and I can confidently say it’s now a firm favourite of the OH!!

Deciding that the night shouldn’t be over just yet, we had a bright idea to take a Thames Clipper down to Greenwich and back. Perhaps not the best idea at 10pm but we do like a risk and what fun we had!!

  

It’s a brilliant way to sightsee. The boats were empty and with a bar onbard, what’s not to like. 

We eventually made it back to Blackfriars Pier and with just a 2 minute walk to to hotel, we were grateful to collpase into bed. 

Saturday

Guess what……. Wide awake at 5.30am!

A little hungover and very excited we were ready to leave the hotel at 8.30am

We headed over to Borough Market for breakfast and a look around before it got too busy. 

Borough Market is a beautiful food market located just near London Bridge Station. It’s hard to describe what they sell. It’s probably better to start with what they don’t sell. 

We agreed that if we were heading home that day, we’d have bags full of stuff but had to manage with just breakfast and coffee. 

A couple of buses later and we were at Selfridges for a bit of shopping. 

I managed to talk @jbboardman out of buying a drone and an underwater scuba scooter and we made do with an I-Spy Road Trip book for our holiday.

A lovely walk through Mayfair took us across to Carnaby Street and my favourite Kingly Court for lunch. 

Senor Ceviche was the choice for lunch and for my first time trying ceviche. 

  

This dish was sea bream ‘cooked’ in lime juice. It was beautiful. Really tender. 

I felt quite virtuous afterwards – raw fish for lunch!

Another stroll over to Covent Garden and a visit to London Transport Museum

If you travel to London by train, you can download ‘2 for 1’ vouchers for most major attractions. Just present the voucher with your train tickets.

To celebrate the anniversary of the James Bond franchise, Covent Garden was full of Aston Martins.

  

By the end of the museum tour we were exhausted and headed over to London Bridge ready for the highlight of the trip – a visit to the Shard!

I’d been given the tickets as a Christmas present and we’d had to take a risk with the weather but all looked good for the day. We’d timed our visit to see the sunset and it couldnt have worked out better, 

It’s incredibly well organised and we were in the lift within about 10 minutes. You change lifts half way up. The whole journey only taking 2 minutes. 

It was higher than i’d ever imagined and you could see for 40 miles in every direction. 

  

  

The sun started to set after 20 minutes and it was lovely to see the city light up beneath our feet.

  

The descent was just as quick and true to form it was ‘exit through the gift shop’. Fancy a pair of Shard earrings? Here’s your place to buy them. 

We had reservations at Wahaca for dinner, the restaurant owned by Masterchef Winner Thomasina Miers, but by this stage, exhaustion was setting in. 

A bar adjacent to the restaurant provided us with a ‘livener’ which seemed to do the job. 

  

Wahaca was a beautiful restaurant serving Mexican street food and we feasted on all manner of small plates. 

  

  

The restaurant was a short walk from the hotel, next to St Paul’s Cathedral, but we had to take the bus down the hill due to fatigue. 

  

Sunday

Thankfully we managed to sleep until the late hour of 7.30am but we were both shattered. 

Again, up and out early for a visit to the Churchill War Rooms, the underground bunker from where Churchill and his cabinet ran the war. 

All of the rooms are untouched and the vast majority of the content is how it was left on the on the day the war ended.

It was a truly fascinating experience and I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in the Second World War. The recently opened Chuchill Museum was excellent. We agreed that there was almost too much to see and spent at least 2 hours in there. 

  

German Bomb

 

  

 

A highlight of the tour was overhearing a war veteran who was scolding a curator for being too dramatic when describing the Doodle Bugs. “They weren’t anywhere near as bad as you’re making out”.

After re-surfacing and a short stroll along Whitehall, we had a quick lunch and made the decision to get an earlier train home. Only an hour earlier but neither of us had the energy to do anything else. 

We were shattered and our feet were killing. 

No trip home from St Pancras is complete without a pre-departure drink in The Betjeman

A  smooth first class journey home and we were back in Derby for 6.30pm and fast asleep by 9pm. 

A truly wonderful weekend. 

London Weekend (Part 1)

Last year I was lucky enough (or unlucky enough) to get 2 complimentary first class return tickets from our local train operator between Derby and London. They were part of a compensation package for a terrible work journey taken earlier in the year. 

Despite spending many years living in London and both mine and my partner’s job taking us there on a very regular basis, we rarely spend time together in London for leisure. 

After a lot of date juggling, we’ve settled on a 2 night break in a few weeks time. 

We’ll be travelling down early on Friday morning and sadly due to a shortage of annual leave, my OH will be going to the office and we’ll meet up for drinks early evening on Friday. 

The planning has been quite thorough to ensure we make the most of the weekend. 

The key things we want to cover are:

  • The Shard – I received a gift voucher for The Shard viewing platform for Christmas.
  • A good restaurant for Saturday night. 
  • A bit of culture. 
  • A bit of shopping. 
  • Sunday brunch

We’ve eschewed offers of accommodation from friends and booked 2 nights at the Premier Inn Blackfriars. We won’t be spending much time in the hotel so this is perfect for us. I spent a couple of nights there last year and it’s amazing value, perfectly located and far exceeded my expectations for a budget hotel. At a little over £200 for the 2 nights we can’t really complain at the price. 

Booking The Shard was tricky because this far out because we’re not sure what the weather is going to be like. We’ve taken the risk and booked a 6pm slot ready for sunset. The website showed that there was limited availability on the day we want so finger crossed…… 

Friday night dinner is going to be at the tried and tested Mishkin’s. A Jewish-ish restaurant offering the staples including homemade pickles, salt beef and chopped liver. 

Saturday morning we’re planning an early trip to Borough Market. You have to get in there early to beat the tourists and get breakfast on the move. 

A little shopping will take us up to lunchtime and then a visit to the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden. We’re both suckers for a bit of infrastructure and we also have eyes on this in the museum shop. 



The actual London Underground routes

After The Shard, we’re hoping we can have cocktails in the hotel bar but it’s a no booking policy and i’m sure we won’t be in the mood to queue (we never are!).

Dinner is booked at Wahaca near St Paul’s Cathedral. Thomasina Miers won Masterchef a few years ago and has opened a successful chain of Mexican street food restaurants. A little mainstream but I imagine we’ll be shattered by dinnertime and it’ll be nice to eat out without having to go and get changed. 

Sunday morning will hopefully be a visit to Churchill’s War Rooms in Westminster. Again, queues permitting but it’s something we both want to see. 

Lunch will be an old favourite like  Balans and then a final drink at The Betjamen at St Pancras. 

Watch this space……..

Dude food Sunday

Today is our annual pulled pork Sunday. 

For those who don’t know, pulled pork is a very long, slow roasted shoulder of pork which pulls apart when cooked. 

This can generally take anything up to 4 hours depending on the size of the joint so requires a day at home to give it the care and attention is deserves. 

The pork sits in a marinade of deep and spicy flavours for up to 12 hours prior to cooking and is served with a selection of side dishes. 

Today we’re having pulled pork with homade corn bread and BBQ sauce, homemade pink pickled onions and coleslaw (sadly shop bought!). 

Pulled Pork

Getting the marinade right for the pork is the trickiest part of the dish. The flavours should be smoky, sweet, tangy and spicy. 



A 1.5 – 2kg shoulder of pork is plenty for 4 (or 2 with leftovers). 



It’s as simple and putting all the ingredients in the food processor to form a paste, rubbing over the meat and leaving in the fridge for anywhere between 3 and 12 hours. 

Make sure you get the marinade in all the nooks as the salt will help draw out all of the moisture.

It’s always important to marinade the pork in a plastic bowl. Metal will taint the flavour. 



Take the pork out of the fridge 30 minutes prior to cooking. 

Preheat the oven to 170C and roast the meat, uncovered, on a rack over a roasting tray for 3 – 4 hours depending on the size of the joint. 

The meat should be a mahogony colour and be rested for 10 minutes before ‘pulling’.

Corn Bread

We first tried cornbread with pulled pork at the fabulous Smoke BBQ in Sheffield. 

It’s tricky to find it ready made in the supermarket so i’ve had a go at making my own.

It’s a pretty unusual set of ingredients. 



Basically soften the shallots in butter. Add to the eggs and buttermilk and combine. 

Combine the dry ingredients together then add the wet mixture and mix until you have a batter consistency. 

I added some jalapeños to the wet mixture  for a bit of spice. 

Bake in a 220F oven for 25 minutes until golden on top. 

Once cooled, slice into wedges. 



Homemade BBQ Sauce and pink pickled onions

The homemade BBQ sauce is super easy and the best receipe i’ve ever made. 

Fry a finely chopped small onion, 2 table spoons of white wine vinegar, 150g of dark brown sugar, 3 garlic cloves, a red chilli and a teaspoon of fennel seeds in olive oil until soft. 

Add 300ml of tomato ketchup and 50ml of soy sauce. 

Bring to the boil and simmer few a minutes to combine the flavours then pass through a sieve so you’ve got a smooth sauce. 

I first make pink pickled onions a few years ago and they’re so simple and go with everything. Traditionally, they’re from the Yucatan in Chile and are usually served with steaks and fish. 

Boil sugar, peppercorns and pickling vinegar in a large pan. Finely slice red onions and put in a sterilised jar. Pour over the vinegar mixture and store in the fridge. 




Rutland weekend

We felt the need to get out of town for the weekend and after a few hours scouring the internet found the highly rated The King’s Arms Wing, a couple of miles from Oakham. 

A rural ‘pub with rooms’ and excellent reviews on Trip Advisor, The King’s Arms prides itself on using local produce, and ‘nose to tail’ cooking. It also has its own smokery and distillery on site. 

Anyone who knows us well knows of our love of a good road trip so an early start saw us in Oakham by 11am. It’s really only big enough to fill a couple of hours, so after a poke around the castle and a visit to the excellent Farmers Market (don’t miss a visit to Hambletons Butcher and Baker) we were back on the road an hour later to Stamford for lunch.

Inside Oakham Castle. An unusual tradition whereby any Peer of the Realm passing through the town must present a horseshoe to the Lord Mayor of Oakham. (Picture courtesy of @JBBoardman)

Stamford was a first for both of us and a beautiful town. We found lunch at the excellent Crown Hotel in the town centre for lunch. Part of a small chain called Knead, it offered table service, roaring fires and lovely staff. 

Perfectly sized portion of Welsh Rarebit with a Thyme and Mushroom compote. 



Several antique shops later, we hit the road for Wing and took the scenic route as we were a little early for check-in. 

We stumbled upon the beautiful Welland / Harringworth Viaduct which is apparently the longest viaduct across a valley in Britain. Again, pictures by @jbboardman but we managed to see it just before some dramatic weather rolled in. 



The pub was everything we hoped it would be an our room ‘The Damson’ was a first floor room in a mews cottage just adjacent to the main pub. Beautifully furnished and decorated, The Damson had everything we needed and more. 

The King’s Arms is mainly a dining pub but had a beautiful fire as a centrepiece and we bagged a lovely spot to enjoy a few drinks before dinner. 





The most arduous task of the weekend was trying to choose what to eat for dinner from the extensive menu featuring all manor of game and smoked meats and fish together with more traditional pub food.

I particularly enjoyed watching the emotional turmoil that @jbboardman suffered whilst trying to chooose.

Orders were taken at your bar table and you were called through to dine when the first course was ready. 

I chose a home smoked meat platter. (sorry about the quality of the photo – I was trying to be discreet). The Bresaola was amazing and still slightly pink in the middle.



Followed by Venison with red cabbage and Dauphinoise potatoes. 



It was beautiful food with the lady on a nearby table exclaiming that it was the ‘the best meal I have ever eaten’. 

After all that food, the need for a lie down was overwhelming and bedtime was slightly earlier than planned. 

Still full from the previous night, we skipped breakfast (which was a little bit too early between 8.30 and 9.30am) but we had been promised various dishes including smoked eel or trout and other lovely breakfast meats and fresh eggs from the brilliant chickens in the pub garden. 





The journey home was punctuated with a stop at the tremendous Iron Horse Ranch House in Market Deeping. So lovely to see a reasonably priced restaurant full of families enjoying Sunday Brunch. A stack of real American pancakes and maple syrup served by a charismatic biker set us up for the journey home.  

A really excellent weekend had by all.