Monthly Archives: February 2015

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. 


Ageing :-(

I’m reaching the penultimate year of my 30’s and it’s becoming apparent that i’m needing more ‘process’ time before bed. 

In fact my OH just said that he’s having to reach across more stuff every night just to reach the toothpaste. 

It’s costing me 20 minutes sleep a night and i’m not amused. i’ve gone from zero to high maintenance in a matter of weeks. 

It’s started with the lovely ladies at the Clinique counter recommending more ‘products’. 

So to start with, cleanser. Depending if I’m showering or not. Liquid soap if I am, cream cleanser if I’m not. 

Next, clarifying lotion…. To sweep away the dead cells.

Then the all important moisturiser – or facial oil. Depending on the day. 

Next, teeth. Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean (recommended by the dentist) with Sensodyne toothpaste and Corsodyl Mouthwash (recommened by the dentist of course) 

So in total, my new bedtime routine is probably costing me the same as a luxury weekend away each quarter. 

Is it worth it? I really hope so.  

We’re going to Scotland!

After some scrimping and saving of annual leave, we’ve managed to save up enough days to have a week away together alone for the first time in almost six years. 

We have been away of course, albeit to kid friendly destinations and squeezing in many and varied weekend breaks. 

What we’re really craving is some time alone away in the middle of nowhere. Scotland felt like the perfect choice. 

I have great childhood memories of hitting the road at Easter when the weather was still wild and dramatic and driving for hours to the west coast of Scotland. 

The criteria for accommodation was:-

1. Comfortable and a little bit luxurious

2. Within walking distance of a pub

3. Near the sea

We’ve managed to tick all the boxes by booking Seaview Cottage at the mouth of the Crinan Canal overlooking the Sound of Jura. 

It’s a refurbished lock keeper’s cottage dating back to 1815 with a lighthouse in the garden!

We’re looking forward to plenty of fresh air, boat trips and finding lots of local goodies to cook up in this beautiful kitchen. 

I imagine we’ll be ready for a lovely sit down in front of the log burner after a long day out. 

June can’t come soon enough for me but the planning is part of the build up. Just need to find myself some sensible shoes and a waterproof coat now…..

Sunday Roast Duck with Plum and Red Wine Sauce

It’s not very often, in fact, probably only a couple of times a year that we have a whole Sunday without plans. We always like to make the most of it by cooking up a storm, reading the papers, trip to the pub and a bit of TV.

A couple of months ago I got a bargain on a Gressingham duck crown at Ocado. It’s been in the freezer since, nagging me to be cooked.

After a little reasearch, a Sunday roast duck crown with a rich, fruity sauce, veg and roast potatoes seemed like the perfect choice.

I’ve adapted a receipe from James Martin for a plum sauce with red wine.

Step 1

Fry a finely chopped shallot until soft but not brown (approx 5 minutes)

Step 2

Stone 250g of red plums and cut into wedges. Add these to the softened shallots along with 50g of brown sugar. Cook until the sugar is dissolved taking care not to burn.

Step 3 

Once the sugar has disolved, add 50ml of a dry but fruity red (we don’t drink much red wine at home so I got a mini bottle for £1.70 in Lidl – a bit for the pot and the remainder for the chef) and 300ml of beef stock. I like to use Knorr Rich Beef Stock Pot if I don’t have any homemade in the freezer.

Step 4

Simmer for 15 – 20 minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly and leave to cool at room temperature for the flavours to develop before reheating to serve.