‘Let them eat cake’ revisited

Food & Cooking, France

It’s almost the end of the month and I haven’t yet revisited a post from our years in France. Becky introduced her readers to Flashback Friday. That’ll do me. Especially in the week of the Great British Bake-off final.

‘LET THEM EAT CAKE’ 27th November 2012

Back in the UK, I hear everyone’s gone baking mad, that the entire nation was glued to its screens to watch the final of  ‘The Great British Bake-off’.  Here in France, it’s the one branch of cookery in which the average French person will allow the average Brit some supremacy.

The French are rightly proud of their high-end patisserie, the delectable tarts and gâteaux which traditionally come to the table at the end of a family celebration or Sunday lunch: from the baker’s naturally, no shame in that.

More day-to-day baking is a different matter, however.  Plainish cakes, loaf-shaped and known in France as ‘cake’, are a big disappointment, especially if they’re from the supermarket.  I find them over-dry, over-sugared, too strongly flavoured with something, such as vanilla, that should be a subtle undertone.  I never thought I’d find myself saying this, but even cakes available in any old British supermarket can be quite a treat in comparison.

McVitie’s Jamaican ginger cake, for example, dark and sticky, is just the thing with a hot cuppa after a brisk country walk in winter: it even has its own website.  And while I’m not sure that Mr. Kipling makes exceedingly good cakes, they’re – well – not too bad.

No wonder then, that when we run our cookery workshops at Découvertes Terres Lointaines, and announce that we’ll be turning our hands to British tea-time treats, the group is immediately oversubscribed .  Scones, coffee and walnut cake and a nice of cup of tea anyone?

Supermarket scene in France

Postcards of a drystone wall – or two

Colsterdale, Nidderdale, North Yorkshire, Wharfedale

You can’t live near the Yorkshire Dales and not love a drystone wall, carving up the landscape into pasture-sized segments. But are they better photographed in black and white or colour? They are after all, fairly monochrome themselves, Only you can decide …

Near Grassington, Wharfedale

Near Hebden, Wharfedale

Enough of decisions. Here are a couple in good old-fashioned black and white.

Near Slipstone Crags, Colsterdale

This one’s for Monday Window. It’s not often you see a window above a dry stone wall. And this one’s not quite in the right place. The view could have been better framed. And a bit of double glazing wouldn’t come amiss.

Near Lofthouse, Nidderdale.

And finally…

Near Burnsall, Wharfedale

The featured photo shows part of Brimham Rocks, Nidderdale

2030 Photo Challenge #47

Monday Window

Noticing the notices: a Saturday smile.

England, India, Scotland, Spain

Trawling through my photos looking for something I couldn’t find, I came across these.

The featured photo comes from RSPB Saltholme.

Cee’s Friday Funny Finds

Six Word Saturday

My neighbours the animals

North Yorkshire, Walking, Wildlife

Lockdown again.  Forensic exploration of our own neighbourhood again, as we set off for daily exercise.  Yet one way or another, I’ve posted dozens of shots of the area I call home, and I can’t expect others to delight in it as I do. The other day though I noticed, as I hadn’t since the car-free spring lockdown when birds were vying for territory and nesting, distant birdsong.

It made me think about the creatures who share our daily round.  Not the elusive ones – the stoats, weasels, foxes, deer who decline to stick around as you get your camera out.  The types like Basil and Brenda, as our neighbours call the over-sexed pigeons who stomp across their roof, noisily indulging their passion at 6.00 a.m. 

Basil? Brenda? Who knows?

The horse who moved in with the Jacob sheep in the next field at the beginning of lockdown when her stables closed for business.  She’s still here. The hens next door, who sometimes deliver eggs for our breakfast.

The large flocks of sheep who are part of every farmer’s daily round in these parts – no cattle for us..

The heron who nicks fish from our landlord’s pond.

The mallards on the village pond, and the crows on the rooftops.  The squirrels dashing across our path and up the nearest tree.  The pheasants who are even more abundant this year, as lockdown’s put a stop to the shooting parties they were specifically bred for.  Rabbits too.  So many rabbits.  Why haven’t I got any photos of them?

The featured photos shows our much-frequented path through Sleningford Hall at Easter time, with all the new lambs.

Lens-Artists Challenge #123: Found in the Neighbourhood.

Black and white postcards from not-far-away

North Yorkshire

It’s lockdown again. Best not travel too far for our day out: we’ll whizz round North Yorkshire, and send a few postcards, old style, in black and white.

Annoyingly, I don’t seem able to label these photos, but there are clues in the tags. But – they’re all in North Yorkshire…

…except for one: here are godwits at Slimbridge:

2020 Photo Challenge #46

Grim thoughts, rather flawed

England

With apologies to Robert Browning and his celebration of an English springtime: ‘Home thoughts from abroad

Oh to be in England,

Now that Covid’s here.

And whoever comes to England 

Will find people unaware

That masks are meant to hold germs in

Not languish, limp, beneath the chin.

We’ve got to keep the rules somehow – in England, now.

Autumn’s gone, let winter follow:

‘Our Christmas spoilt! How grim the morrow!’.

Ah!  Where once our weeks were crammed quite full

Of work and friends and all that kind of biz, 

Our new life’s this, it’s really rather dull.

Get used to it, ‘cos that is all there is.

Our freedom’s lost and with it all recapture

Of any carefree sense of rapture.

But though our lives look rough, with pleasures few

All will be fine when once the vaccine’s due.

The hugs and handshakes all will start again

And this past year will all feel quite insane.

MTL: November 2020
Yarolsave Darylche (Pexels)

The featured image shows a socially distanced Masham Market during the first lockdown.

Autumn in Glorious Black and White

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, National Trust

Suddenly, autumn is almost over. Those rich burnished leaf tones of copper, gold, brass, bronze and rust are all but gone, released onto the woodland paths beneath the trees. It’s that final burst of colour that we love to celebrate: so how odd of me to choose trees as my subject for Jude’s Photo Challenge this week, where she invites us to look at shadow and texture in black and white. I thought it might be fun to allow craggy, nubbled trunks and bark centre stage, and to contrast them with the leaves, glossy this autumn from the rain that’s so often beaten them to the ground beneath the trees where they’ve been since spring time. And at the end, just a couple of trees reflected in different ways, at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

The High Ride at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal

Two from the High Ride at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal. The last image was taken a Kiplin Hall

The Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

2020 Photo Challenge #45

One Misty Moisty Morning …

North Yorkshire, Walking, Weather

… yesterday in fact, I woke up to this.

It’s the same window I showed you last Monday, but now November mist has descended. I went downstairs. This.

It wasn’t raining. It wasn’t particularly cold. What’s one of the Commandments of Lockdown? ‘Thou shalt exercise daily’. So I did. I took my camera, and explored the local lanes: familiar sights blotted out, as others loomed out from the general obscurity. At just 11 o’clock, I stopped, just for a while: it was Remembrance Day. I heard what a rarely notice as I walk – the constant undertow of birds murmuring and chittering on more distant shrubs and trees. It reminded me of John Lewis-Stempel’s book – Where Poppies Blow. This wonderful account examines the restorative role of nature to those soldiers confined to the trenches in the First World War. For just a fleeting instant, this was a moment I could share with them. Except I came home to a glowing wood-burning stove and a hot cup of coffee.