I would walk 500 Miles

With the expected announcement today by the Welsh Government that two households will be able to meet again, socially distancing and only travelling 5 miles to do so, tanker loads of Beer and tonnes of Barbeque packs are expected to be consumed from North to South.

Although I totally understand why things are being eased gently gently I can’t help but feel a little sad.

Whilst families will be reunited, Grandparents get to see their Grandchildren again, like many who live away from Family, I won’t.

I moved to Wales over 15 years ago now and I adore it, the land, the people,the culture, the life, the fact my children are 100% bilingual to use the corny phrase ‘love where you live’ , I genuinely do.
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A few months ago in a discussion somebody mentioned how proud they were that their children had gone off to Uni / College but they had all returned home to live very close by and how this was a sign of being a good parent.

This statement hit me like a ton of bricks, and left me a bit of an emotional wreck. Did my parents think the opposite? I didn’t go home because I wasn’t happy? or did they believe that I thought they hadn’t done a good job?

After weeks of barely being able to think about it, but with a need to address it I worked out what was so shockingly short sighted with this statement.

What if my parents made me feel so safe they gave me extra confidence, the confidence that they will always be there wherever I am, the confidence they will drop everything and drive that monotonous journey to help and support, like they have done many many times, one phone-call and the wheels are on the road.

What if they gave me the confidence to go out and meet new people, to learn about new places without having to live by their sides.

I never felt guilty about moving away until I had the children but in normal times we see each other regularly and the time we spend with them is extra special.

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So for those that have children who flew the nest and didn’t come back to live close by, don’t go walking 500 miles you’ll have epic blisters and quite possibly a ride home in a Panda Car.

Seriously though it is a hard time, but with all the mod cons we can do those awkward video chatty things and as everybody keeps saying ‘We’ll meet again’ fingers crossed it won’t be long. 

Pumpkins and Politics……………….

School is out this week and I for one am over the moon! Don’t get me wrong my children go to a wonderful village school where everybody knows each other, they have great friends and teachers, but for me it’s the desperately boring routine! Preparing lunch boxes in the evenings, and putting out clothes for the next morning. Getting all of us out of the door by 8.30(ishhhh) each morning, frankly I find it so tedious, day in day out, so when the holidays come around I celebrate too!
We are making the most of our free range time and joined the country in the new craze and hit the fields at the weekend for some pumpkin picking.
It’s the first year we have been and it was great, the children loved it.
I wasn’t sure I agreed with yet another ‘experience’ to keep up, but after listening to Radio 4’s Farming today programme at the beginning of the week it made me think otherwise. They were reporting from a farm that grows thousands of pumpkins for Halloween pick your own, you could clearly hear the sound of hundreds of people getting outdoors in the fresh air, connecting with the growers and  learning where their food comes from. This teamed with the diversification opportunities that it enables I concluded it could only be a good thing.
Halloween was never really a ‘thing’ in the UK when I was a child, and living on a farm in the middle of nowhere meant the closest we got to trick or treaters was a visiting stray cat, so I have really enjoyed all the activities involved this year too.

I admittedly moan about the monotony of the school term but I do understand that whatever our children wish to do with their futures their education is so important.
Reading this week about the the changing times ahead, Agriculture is most definitely going to see modifications to tackle climate control that will require careful management planning.
Last week the FUW and the NFU for the first time joined for a briefing in Cardiff to tackle the government on their new ‘Public Money for Public Goods Proposal’. The Unions joint paper ‘A Welsh Way Forward’ highlights for me just how many people any new policies will affect in rural communities. It also made me consider the fact that we are going to need knowledgeable and passionate new blood for positions in such Unions in the future.

So for this week for us there will be no schedule, and no clock watching and we will enjoy our week off…..then back to it next week, aiming to get out of the door for 8.30ishhhhhhhh!

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Step Away from the Dishwasher

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This week we saw #worldmentalhealthawareness day and I read lots of posts some very sad, in particular the 52 pairs of wellies all lined up by the DPJ Foundation to represent every Agricultural workers that has taken their own lives in the last year.

Day to day I’m usually pretty upbeat, I’m a do-er, I get the job done. I joke about my chaotic life.  

Ultimately I love it, I love it that every day is different, the variety.

But managing family life, work, a business, a marriage, friendships, looking half presentable, it does feel like a juggling act and I’m starting to realise that sometimes I just have to put those juggling balls down and take a step back!

Two things are really my sanity,  firstly this fluffy little pictured hound. He gives me a reason to get out for a walk, a reason to have some quiet time, some peace.

Secondly my writing, my posts, my blogging, I love it.

I love writing about the things that matter to me. So thank you for humouring me with your follows, likes and comments! 

I’m realising it’s ok to take a break, leave the 3rd dishwasher of the day, the three peaks of washing, the mounting emails.

Finding time to take a break will make me a better Wife, Mother, Friend and a happier person.

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#mentalhealthawareness

#takeabreak

#lookafteryourself

#thirtyminsofmetime

Cooking with Cheaper Cuts: Moroccan Lamb

Local Lamb …..

So if you have followed me for very long you will know I’m passionate about Local Foods.

I often get the question, well isn’t it more expensive to shop at the Butchers or a having a local Vegetable Box delivered? I usually reply, it depends what you do with it!

I was also quite sad to hear on a Farming Programme recently that some Farmers don’t feel like they can afford to buy the meat they are producing and opt to purchase cheaper imported meat for their own tables.

So I have decided to write a few posts on recipes and rather than opting for the more popular cuts to go for something a little bit cheaper and show what can be done with it!

So I will start with Lamb, the picture above is taken from the BBC Good Food Page and highlights the cheaper cuts, they have a great range of recipes and I have adapted this Moroccan Lamb from one of theirs.

Moroccan Lamb
500g diced Lamb Shoulder from my local Butchers @dmorrisbutchers Denbigh. I got them to cut it into bite size pieces.
Half a large Aubergine
Half a large Courgette
Two tins of chopped tomatoes
2 teaspoons Paprika
3 teaspoons of Cinnamon
Salt & Pepper
Handful of Coriander chopped save a sprinkling to garnish

Brown the lamb in a frying pan with no oil, add the spices and keep on the heat for 1 minute, add the Courgette and Aubergine and chopped tomatoes, and stir in the coriander, season with the salt an pepper and leave to simmer for 30-40 minutes, and it’s done!

I worked out the approximate cost at £7.85 for 5 good adult portions = £1.57 per portion.
My children would have half to 3/4 of an adult portion.

I Served with Couscous & Rice which is relatively cheap.
My foodie pictures are exceptionally rubbish but it was really delicious!
The meat was so tender, it was quick, so easy, healthy, supporting local businesses and using welsh lamb 👌
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#farmingfortnight #welshlamb #lovelamb #goodfood #healthyfood @hccmpw #recipe #supper #shoplocal #lovelivelocal #bbcgoodfood #lamb #rurallife #

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Cooking with Cheaper Cuts: Texas Barbecue Brisket

So I’m continuing with my recipes using cheaper cuts of meat.

If you didn’t see my last post on Moroccan Lamb firstly take a look because it’s delicious but secondly just to recap, I strongly believe that by opting for cheaper cuts, we can make delicious meals from really good quality meat at a fraction of the price.

So yesterday we had friends over for a Barbecue, and I wanted something that was a bit different to the Traditional Burgers and Sausages.

The picture above is again taken from the BBC Good Food Page as is the recipe. The picture shows the cheaper cuts of Beef and this recipe uses Beef Brisket.

Now the original BBC Good Food recipe said to use 5kg of Beef, I about had a fit when actually I saw that much on the Butchers block! 😳, so I used just over 3kg.

3kg Beef Brisket from our Butchers @danielmorrisbutchers
500ml Beef Stock

For the BBQ Sauce;
1tbsp of Rapeseed Oil
1 small onion finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
500ml of Passata
100ml Worcestershire Sauce
75ml Lemon Juice
2 tbsp Brown Sugar
1tbsp Malt Vinegar
2 tsp Dijon Mustard
1 tsp crushed chilli flakes
1 tsp Tabasco Sauce
1 tsp dried thyme

For the rub;
2 tbsp chilli powder (I used mild)
2 tbsp mustard powder
1 tbsp each of Paprika, ground cumin, garlic powder, ground black pepper and caster sugar.
1 Bay leaf crushed.

So I made the Barbecue Sauce by frying the onions and garlic lightly until soft, then added all of the other sauce ingredients and simmered for five minutes. Then put it all in the blender and whizzed until smooth.

Then I made the rub and covered the brisket with it.
I placed the Beef stock in the bottom of a deep roasting tin and added half of the Barbecue Sauce to it. I then put the beef on top of it and then covered tightly with foil.
I cooked slowly at a low heat, 150 degrees C for 4 hours and 30 mins.
Then took out and finished off on the Barbecue, about 20 minutes on each side. I think this would work really well in the slow cooker too.
This made 10 really good portions. I worked the cost out at £2.48/head for all of the ingredients you need.
I sliced thinly and served with wraps and Greek Salad, spinach and homemade Coleslaw.

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Cooking with Cheaper Cuts: Pork Steaks

So I haven’t done one of these for a while..but just to recap if you are a new follower.

I think it’s important that everybody can enjoy good quality meat, I have been saddened to hear even Farmers don’t believe they can afford the food they are producing, to me this is madness.

So I try to share some recipes of how to utilise cheaper cuts, those that you might not usually pick up.

Head to your local Butchers, have a chat and discover these brilliant cheaper cuts that are high welfare, full of flavour and wonderful quality.

So tonight we had Pork Steaks. I think Pork is often underrated and overlooked but Pork Steaks can be the perfect alternative to a joint of meat for your Sunday Roast.

So I kept it really simple today, I cooked the steaks in the oven for around 15 minutes at 200 degrees, then I poured over them the Juice of a large lemon, sprinkled over some rosemary, salt and black pepper and popped them back into the oven (turned down to 170/180) for another 20 or so minutes then checked to see if they were just starting to brown, cooked through but still juicy if not leave for another 5 minutes before checking again.

These were quite big, thick steaks so obviously cooking times will vary.

I served with potatoes from the garden roasted & some courgette, onion and chard that a pan fried lightly with some garlic and apple cider vinegar.

It’s a bit difficult with this one to work out how much it cost as some of the Vegetables and potatoes were from our garden, however I would say an adults portion was around £2.00 and a child’s was about £1.00.

It really was a super quick alternative to the traditional Sunday Roasting Joint.

Pig Image credit to BBC Good Food .
(My food photography is useless please don’t ‘rate my plate!’ It tasted wonderful believe me!)
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#cookingwithcheapercuts #pork #qualitymeats #qualityfood #shoplocal #seasonalproduce #shoplocal #localfood #eatwell #careaboutwhatyoueat #backbritishfarming #eatseasonal

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A Cucumber with Potential!

I have been in the recovery position since our Village Show on Saturday. It was positively exhausting but a brilliant day.

This picture of the big girl in the Farmers Race is how I felt going into it, I have been Secretary for the last three years but it’s the first year I have done lots more of the organising and there was an element of ‘winging it’ involved!

However the entries were good, including the sheep section despite movement rules which always makes it difficult.  Another local show is the Thursday before and basically the fact that if they come to the Show they can’t sell the next week.

It is bound to reduce entries, Farms are Businesses  and if they have stock to sell it’s going to come first however despite this thankfully the turnout was good.

The Cattle also had a nice few entries in the Dairy and Beef Sections. As well as a selection of fancy Bantams and a hen totally outnumbered with her week old chicks.

We had to make a decision back in July to cancel the ever popular Horse Section due to outbreaks of Equine Flu in the area, disappointing for many but all being well they will be back next year.

The fancy dress was fabulous, anything beginning with ‘N’ , a handful of Noddy’s, Nigella Lawson, a Nest and a couple of Newsreaders to name a few!

It’s was all finished off with a game of rounders, I watched as by that time running was far too energetic for me! All topped off with a couple of gins in the pub.

Most of the Committee give their time for free, the meetings throughout the year, setting up the week before, on the day and now onto the taking down some may ask why?

But when you see all the people enjoying the day, discussing entries and the random text messages they have received about potential show winning Cucumbers!  

The community coming together enjoying the sunshine and an ice cream it makes it all worth it.

Now onto next year’s planning! C94F6889-16F1-49B9-9360-815513FF8E9A.jpeg

Shows’ over…..

The trailers were being loaded, the stands were being dismantled, the performers were singing their last sets and the caravans were hitched up and weaving their way home to various parts of the Country.

As we enjoyed our final Ice cream  we reflected on our week at The Royal Welsh Show and what a blooming fantastic, scorcher of a week it has been.

When people ask me what our holiday plans are and I reply by saying, ‘four nights at The Royal Welsh Show’ I get mixed responses. Some think we are bonkers, why would you go to a Show for your holiday?

Whilst others just get it.

What ‘it’ is is impossible to explain unless you have been part of the full experience yourself. 

For me it starts when those members badges hit the doormat, I know it’s not long to wait. I start making plans, what to take, what to wear, what bottle of alcoholic  beverage shall I treat myself to!

The children start getting excited, and along with a couple of die hard show fans they hit the playground promo hard!

By the Sunday evening most of the ‘weeklongers’ are set up and the atmosphere is buzzing. Cattle are in the stalls, sheep are penned, people are catching up with those they may not have seen for the last twelve months.

Well dressed Ladies and Gentlemen are pouring into the Showground for the Sunday Service, Moliant y Maes that marks the start of the Show.

On Monday morning some are up at the crack of dawn to act as judges or officials, or to put the final touches to their potential prize winners. Whilst others who it may be said have ‘peaked too soon’ nurse the first of the week’s hangovers.

As the week goes on we see the very best in all areas crowned Champions, from cheese and chocolate eclairs to floral art and fine Welsh Ponies.

Sheep of every breed and teams of cattle are strutting around the rings,   their proud owners waiting in anticipation for that nod, that slap of the back or the judges meaningful walk towards them to exchange a red rosette for the handshake of all handshakes.

Countryside skills, shearing, traditions and ‘ways of life’ are all displayed for the public to understand, learn about and appreciate.

There’s Shops shops shops,  full to bursting with beautiful welsh brands, clothing, accessories, mouth watering foods and of course the biggest selection of scaled down machinery for all those enthusiastic carpet farmers.

The entertainment runs well into the evening, whilst some prefer the Grand stand and main ring offerings, others enjoy the many bars and meeting points around the Showground, neighbouring campsite or the pubs in Builth Wells that are well prepared for the sea of people that head there for the week’s  celebrations.

Lots of exhibitors form  their own social settings by the side of their stock, with plenty of chat and singing that could be mistaken for any reputable Welsh choir.

I could go on, but I think you probably get the idea, it’s not just a Show, it’s so much more than a Show. It’s a celebration of Countrylife, it’s a celebration of Farming and it’s a celebration of the Industries Future.

So all being well, we will be back next year, for an extra special week when Clwyd will be the feature County and I for one cannot wait!

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