The Bogtrotter

Tag: Britain

Joining the Pudding Club

by on Feb.01, 2009, under Britain, British Experiences

Do you ever wonder what happened to traditional British puddings? You know – like the ones you used to have when you were younger. When everyone else started moving to fancy new deserts in the 1980s it was necessary for someone to step in to protect the good old British deserts.  Up stepped the Three Ways House Hotel in Mickleton with the now legendary Pudding Club, where members come along every week for an evening of unadulterated eating pleasure.

The evening starts with an introduction from the host – who explains the background to the club and the house rules. Then, just to get your juices flowing, he talks everyone through the seven puddings that are going to be consumed.

Display of Puddings ready to be eaten

Display of Puddings ready to be eaten

After a (very) small main course it’s on to the serious business of the night. The puddings are paraded into the room to rapturous applause. Amongst the familiar favourites such as Syrup Sponge, Spotted Dick and Eton Mess were unusual surprises such as Lord Randall’s pudding.  The object of the evening (aside from enjoying eating some fantastic puddings) is to try all seven dishes, and then there is a vote for the favourite pudding of the night.

This means you have to pace yourself.  When you start off, the idea of eating seven deserts seems easy.  But after three or four you realise that it’s not as easy as it sounds.  They were all fantastic, and made me realise how rarely I get to eat proper puddings these days.

House rules dictate you must empty you bowl before you can move on to your next pudding, so portion size control is key.  I managed to try all seven, and after much deliberation Eton Mess got my vote.  However the room was fairly evenly split, and the eventual pudding of the night was the good old Syrup Sponge.

For those who want to take the experience further, you can also stay in one of the hotels themed desert rooms.  Personally, having eaten seven deserts the last thing I wanted was to try to go to sleep in a room that reminds me of more puddings.

I joined the pudding club as part of the Activity Superstore package that included the Pudding Club meeting and overnight accommodation for two people – a perfect romantic treat for pudding lovers everywhere.

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Brancaster Circular Walk, Norfolk

by on Jan.26, 2009, under Britain, British Walks, Walks

This is a great 5 1/2 mile walk taking in several of the best things about walking in Britain in one go – salt marshes, a small harbour, some woodland, a common and a Roman fort.

Small harbour at Brancaster Staithe

Small harbour at Brancaster Staithe

Starting from the village of Brancaster the path goes across the marshes – mainly on a raised boardwalk to stop you getting your feet wet – to Brancaster Staithe.  You can often see the piles of reeds where the local reed-cutters have been at work – collecting the harvest for thatching local properties.

Brancaster Staithe is a small fishing port in the middle of the saltwater marshes, and seems miles from the sea itself.  Most weekends in the car park here you will find the cockle van, selling an amazing variety of seafood along with the obligatory cups of tea.

From here the route continues along the coastal path past the back of the White Horse hotel and the round mussel beds until you reach the track up to Burnham Deepdale. You then turn inland and the next stretch (the only bit of the walk along tarmac) takes you up the road towards the woods of the Downs.  In the summer the fields near here are awash with poppies, completely overshadowing the wheat crops beneath them.

Field of poppies near Brancaster

Field of poppies near Brancaster

You then get to cross Barrow Common – surrounded by the coconut scent of the Gorse bushes. The views from here stretch right across the marshes, giving you a full panoramic vista even though your only 50 metres above sea level.

The route then drops down towards Brancaster, and after crossing the coast road you end up in the Branodunum – the roman fort that gave the village it’s name. Although no remnants of the fort remain you can still clearly see the earthworks and outline of what was once there.

And then you’re back to your starting point at Brancaster.

You can download a routemap for this walk from the Norfolk County Council web site – it is the first half of Walk 09.

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Loseley Park Walled Garden

by on Jan.21, 2009, under Britain, English Gardens

In the few days that count as an English summer there is nothing better than a stroll around a beautiful garden.  Last July I was lucky enough to visit Loseley Park, near Guildford in Surrey, for a wander around their walled garden.

Gazebo in Loseley Park gardens

Gazebo in Loseley Park gardens

The garden is based on a design from Gertrude Jeckyl, and is split into several smaller themed plots.  The Rose Garden contains a good mix of traditional roses surrounded by low box hedges, in keeping with a historic garden.  The focal point of this area is the gazebo, with white roses crawling across it’s frame.  Other areas include the Flower Garden providing an almost garish splash of colour, in stark contrast with the tranquil serenity of the White Garden opposite.

My particular favourite was the Moat Walk, an old moat lined with a grass pathway and borders containing a magical array of flowers.  At the end of the moat is a stairway up through windswept flowers towards the dovecot.

Steps near the moat at Loseley Park Gardens

Steps near the moat at Loseley Park Gardens

And not forgeting the old Wisteria against the wall nearest the Hall, with it’s old branches that you think could have come straight out of a fairytale.

You can find out more about Loseley Park on their web site at www.loseley-park.co.uk.

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