Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019
On the Archduke's Path in Mallorca

Friday 20 August 2010

Layered Crunchy Summer Pudding

Layered Crunchy Summer Pudding Last night we enjoyed this lovely dish together with Andrea and Thomas, our valiant house-sitters.  We hope they enjoyed the treat, which after a champagne, olive and stuffed pepper start, moved on to crab, melon, cucumber and watercress salad with a dressing of ginger, lime, mint, olive oil and sugar.  Delicious.  Thanks go to Nigel Slater for that – June 24 in his Kitchen Diaries.

Our main course was from the same source – August 7 – grilled Fleetwood monkfish with rosemary, served with garlic mayo, accompanied by green beans, stir fried cabbage and mushroom, and pan fried new potatoes.

The Layered Crunchy Summer Pudding that followed reminded me of one of the desserts I enjoyed at the Loch Tummel Inn when I stayed there in May, on the TGO Challenge.  It was delicious.  Here’s how Sue concocted it (for 4 people):

6 slices of medium-cut white bread, veering towards being a little ‘tired’
icing sugar, for dusting
140gm mixed strawberries and raspberries
35gm icing sugar
1 tbsp raspberry or strawberry jam, at room temperature
170gm raspberries
340gm strawberries, hulled
100ml double cream
35gm icing sugar
1 vanilla pod, halved and seeds scraped (optional)

1.  Heat oven to 180C/fan160C/gas4.  Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper and dust well with icing sugar.  Toast the slices of bread, remove the crusts, then cut through the width, splitting each into two very thin squares.  Scrape away any excess crumbs from the untoasted sides, then cut each slice into a 7.5cm disc using a cutter, so that you have 12 discs.  (A scone cutter can be used.)

2.  Place the discs, untoasted side up, on the baking sheet.  Dust the tops generously with icing sugar.  Cover with another sheet of greaseproof paper, then top with a second baking sheet.  This will prevent the natural curl of the melba toasts when exposed to heat.
(Do this in batches with the bread fully flattened between the baking sheets.)

3.  Bake for about 12 mins, or until dry, crisp and golden.  Remove from the oven and transfer the toasts to a cooling rack.  Dust 4 of the melba toasts with more icing sugar and grill-mark with a heated skewer to create four lines, then do this again at a different angle for a criss-cross finish.
(For a heated skewer – Sue used a cake tester – hold one end of it over a gas flame until very hot, or heat under a hot grill.  Beware of burns.)
The toasts can be made 1-2 days ahead and kept in foil or an airtight container to retain their crispness.

4.  Place all of the sauce ingredients in a blender and blend until puréed.  Strain through a sieve for a smooth finish.
This can be made up to 2 days ahead.

5.  Arrange the raspberries and strawberries around the edge of 8 crisp melba toasts, trimming the strawberries at the hulled end to give a level height.  Place the trimmings and any remaining fruits in a bowl and crush to a chunky purée with a fork.  In a separate bowl, softly whisk the double cream, sugar and vanilla seeds.  Stir in the crushed fruits.

6.  Spoon a dollop of cream into the centre of each toast.  Place one toast onto each plate then top with another one.  Continue to give 4 stacks, topping each with a skewer-marked toast.  Drizzle sauce around, offering any extra sauce separately.
(Sue made the bottom layer with strawberries, the second layer with raspberries, and by some standards flooded the plates with sauce, but it was absolutely delicious.)

And I’ve just realised why it may be similar to the dessert I had at Loch Tummel – their dessert chef trained under Gary Rhodes, and this is based on one of his recipes.

Shame about the lighting in the picture, but Thomas was desperate to tuck into his pud!

Wednesday 18 August 2010 - Visiting Oscar

Oscar - aged 7 weeks

Introducing Lord Oscar of Osborne (aka Oscar Milnes), Kate and Simon’s new ‘baby’.  So I have a ‘Granddog’?

Sue and I visited him the other day.  Sue took the easy route.

I took the cycle paths – to Stretford beside the Bridgewater Canal, then beside the River Mersey to Simon’s Bridge in Didsbury.

Shortly before leaving the river bank, I passed this sad sight in Northenden.

The Mersey valley at Northenden

Below, is Simon’s Bridge, linking Northenden with the more affluent suburb of Didsbury.

Simon's Bridge, Didsbury

From here I tried to follow the Trans Pennine Trail, but tram line workings (perhaps the trail has been taken over by a new tramline project - not a bad thing) and confusing signage, with a few missing signs in the scally zone of Brinnington [that’s a first – blaming scallys for my pathetic map reading skills!] hampered my efforts.

I was on the route (briefly) at this spot in Heaton Norris…

The Railway Warehouse at Stockport

…and here in Reddish Vale.

Reddish Vale

Here’s confirmation…

On the Trans Pennine Trail

…and this tunnel in Brinnington is definitely on the route.

The tunnel at Brinnington

The off-route excursions were mainly through housing estates, and along a busy but thankfully downhill main road between Brinnington and Haughton Green.  Here I regained the trail beside the River Tame and enjoyed my lunch at a picnic bench before continuing on to encounter Aussie Chris and his Belgian girlfriend, pootling along on their way from Lands End to John o’Groats on their heavily laden steeds almost as vintage as my own.

Here, tall barges may easily navigate the lift bridge, but could come a cropper on the pipe line!

A lift bridge on the Peak Forest Canal

The Peak Forest Canal, part of the Cheshire Ring Canal Route, sports a selection of Information Boards, Dukinfield’s contribution being this plaque to David Livingstone’s mother-in-law, bless her soul.

A historic plaque to Mary Moffat

There’s lots of industry around Dukinfield, where the River Tame runs along beside the canal.

Industrial scene above the River Tame at Dukinfield

I turned right at the canal junction, headed towards Stalybridge, and left the towpath too soon.  Then I became stranded on a horrific traffic island between Ashton and Stalybridge.  It housed, amongst other things, a bus station.  After a couple of laps I spotted an underpass that provided a partial escape route, leaving just a scary dual carriageway to negotiate.

Soon, though, I was to be seen heading north up Ridge Hill, ascending into the Pennines. pausing near Hartshead Pike to admire the flatlands of Greater Manchester some 150 metres below.

Hartshead Pike

Up at Scoutshead, The Old Original (“renowned for the best steaks and grills in the area”) looks a nice place to visit.

But not today.

The Old Original - Scouthead

There’s a very pleasant view from here across the Pennines to the northern ramparts of the Peak District.

Pennine View

Here’s today’s route – 52 km, with 800 metres ascent.  It took me a little less than 5 hours, including stops.  I was slowed by the realisation of the fact and the resultant discomfort – from last Friday’s ‘vineyard sprinting incident’ which appears to have torn a cartilage that is sensitive to cycling, especially uphill.  Ho hum!

The 52 km route, with 800 metres ascent, taking 4.75 hours

I finally reached my destination in Sholver, north of Oldham, where Sue was already cuddling the good lord, Oscar.


Thursday 19 August 2010

Tuesday 17 August 2010 – Around Keckwick

Today we had planned to stroll from Bury to Ramsbottom along the route that we abandoned (without setting off) last Thursday evening due to a monsoon hitting north Manchester.

But the local Metro tram was out of order, so we headed out to junction 11 on the M56 in less time than it would have taken to pick up the Metro in Old Trafford.

Turning right from the motorway, we headed north towards Daresbury for a mile before turning left opposite the turn to the village and left twice again to double back to a dead end.  We could have parked in Daresbury, perhaps at the Ring o’Bells (SJ 579 829), but we weren’t in need of sustenance.

After a reasonable amount of recent rain, the hedgerows are lush with growth just now, with lots of yellow and purple flowers.

 Common Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea)

A short way down the lane a timber-lined entrance led left up steps onto Keckwick Hill.  Amidst all the bracken are a few picnic tables.

Keckwick Hill

It was a sunny afternoon, with light shining prettily through the canopy.

Sunlit fern

The lush deep greens of late summer have been joined by the succulent clumps of berries that are the precursors of Autumn.


Various signs direct you to a viewpoint where an information board, as part of the Timberland Trail initiative (the trail passes through this area) describes the view, which today was obscured to some extent by summer foliage.  There was a good view of the Runcorn-Widnes Bridge, though.

Retracing our steps from the viewpoint, after a few metres a left turn took us down to Delph Lane, after passing through the area known as the Daresbury Firs, a fairly recent fir plantation, the original one having been felled shortly after WW2.

Daresbury Pines

Our route turned left up Delph Lane, passing a new house on the left which could well be owned by a footballer.  No doubt a fine old house has been demolished to make way for this slatey monster (you’ll have to go there to see it for yourselves).

We took the first right, along a track to Crow’s Nest Farm, which could probably do with some attention.  At least the slatey house was in pristine condition.  A left turn in the farmyard led to a field path (below), following stiles and waymarks, and peering in at workers in an office complex, to Red Brow Lane.

On the path to Red Brow Lane

Turning right down the lane, we soon dropped steeply through a gorge, where the damp walls were covered with mosses, liverworts, ferns and lichens.

Red Brow Lane

After passing under the Bridgewater Canal, a right turn led up steps onto the towpath, where we turned right again.

More lush vegetation adorned the towpath.

Cats-ear? Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium)

Damp berries drooped from heavily laden branches.

More berries

A barge full of youths being educated steamed past.

A barge on the Bridgewater Canal

We strolled on, towards the M56 motorway, turning right just before the motorway bridge, across the old wharf to the Marina Village.

This is ‘Bridgewater Way’ country, and its signs can be followed.  Basically, a right turn leads through a new housing estate, from where a further right turn leads back to the canal edge opposite the Marina.

The Bridgewater Canal, after it has deserted the main ‘Cheshire Ring’ route, continues on towards Runcorn.  A bridge leads over the canal and the towpath continues on the right hand side.

The canal heads towards Runcorn, and the coast

A heron was fishing, and a mallard family were sunbathing, as we progressed along the towpath, under a couple of bridges, to Norton Town Bridge (the first bridge after a railway bridge).

Heron Family Mallard

The sky had been darkening, despite the sunshine.  Now the buzzards buzzed off and it started to leak.  Turning right at Norton Bridge, a footpath along a farm track passes much ‘Private Land’ before passing under two railway lines on its way to rejoin the canal.

The distinctive flower heads of the Tansy filled the soggy undergrowth in the vicinity of the canal.

Tansy (Tanacetum parthenium)

A left turn, and we were on the last lap, heading along the towpath towards Keckwick in the drizzle.  On the other side, various picnic benches and a covered area in the grounds of Daresbury Laboratory filled our view, beyond which the next bridge provided our exit from the canal and the road back up to the car, past the nuclear physics research laboratory, the first part of which was opened by Harold Wilson in 1967. 

Most of the buildings look much newer than that, and the huge concrete tower, built much to the disgust of the locals, dates from 1975.

A concrete tower

This is a 2 hour walk of 8 km (5 miles) with 120 metres ascent.  It passes through a nice selection of countryside and is easily reached within 30 minutes from Timperley, so is a good venue for a short jaunt from south Manchester.


Our route - 8 km, 120 metres ascent, around 2 hours

Wednesday 18 August 2010

Dunham Massey on a Monday Morning in August

Dunham Massey House

I know.  We’ve been here before.  But I wanted to try out the dinky new camera again, even though I bought it for use in the rain and on the bike.  This morning was neither wet nor wheely.

The rest of the album is here.

Thanks go to Julia for deciding to ‘holiday’ in Timperley and getting us out on such a lovely morning.  The 23 images in the album were taken in the grounds and the gardens of Dunham Massey on this mid-August day.

Tuesday 17 August 2010

Friday 13 to Sunday 15 August 2010 – A Camping Weekend with the Pixies in the Yorkshire Dales

The private camp site at Redmire


By lunchtime our jolly little band had assembled in a large field at Redmire.  Nick and Margaret, our caterers for the weekend, provided an excellent lunch, after which we headed off with the Pixies to Castle Bolton.

The village is dominated by Bolton Castle!  Home of medieval banquets.

Castle Bolton

After a visit to the Castle and a stroll in the gardens during which some got lost in a maze and I managed to pull a muscle during a vineyard race, we returned via a southerly route. 

This path revealed that it would be unwise to be reincarnated as a mole hereabouts.

Dessicated moles

Alastair and Sue, with assistance from assorted Pixies, managed to combine their culinary and pyromaniacal tendencies to assist with the catering, though we did think it rather unfair on Margaret that she was shrunk and magiced by her devious son into the bubbling pot.

Strange brew

Luckily she survived the ordeal and our resident magician converted the pan’s contents to ‘diced brains’.  They tasted much like potatoes.


Some of the brains survived until the following morning, when breakfast could be described as ‘sumptuous’.


Morning exercise was up nearby Penhill, which emerged from the mist as we ascended, taking late evasive action to avoid an imminent volley of bullets that would no doubt accompany a fast approaching line of ‘beaters’.


We had forgotten that this was the first weekend after ‘the glorious twelfth’.  That explains the early morning baying of hounds…

A couple of cows took refuge on the campsite.  They were remarkably clean!

Cows are allowed on the campsite?

The afternoon saw us transported to the mysterious world of Forbidden Corner, “a unique labyrinth of tunnels, chambers, follies and surprises created in a four acre garden in the heart of Tupgill Park and the Yorkshire Dales. The temple of the underworld, the eye of the needle, a huge pyramid made of translucent glass, paths and passages that lead nowhere, extraordinary statues - at every turn there are decisions to make and tricks to avoid.”

Here, the Pixies chuckle at those progressing down a deceptively narrowing pathway.

Forbidden Corner

The garden sported a profusion of flowers, and ice creams.

A flower

After another fiery cooking session, copious quantities of red wine, and the sleep of the contented, we woke on Sunday morning to Alastair’s tending of a roaring fire below a ‘full English’.

The cows soon abandoned the camp site, then the rest of us strolled off to explore the banks of the River Ure around Redmire Force, part of which can be seen below.  It’s just a little down river from Aysgarth Falls.

At Redmire Force

Here’s where we spent the weekend….

… we walked all of 10 km!

The weekend's venue

The sunny afternoon continued into the evening, when, after a pleasant journey home via Wharfedale, we enjoyed a stroll to Marsland Bridge with Julia, who was on holiday here in Timperley.

Back by the Bridgewater Canal

The above images are just a small selection from the weekend, the participants of which (and anyone else interested) can view a full set of about 80 images, including many from Forbidden Corner, here.