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Lot 31 - Grade 8 year old grey Percheron mare sold by John E. Yoder, St. Lot 60 - Grade 2 year old black Percheron gelding sold by David H. Lot 64 - Grade 7 year old black Percheron gelding sold by Henry A. Lot 67 - Grade weanling blue roan Percheron stallion colt sold by Rudy N. Belgian Highlights. Lot - Grade 12 year old sorrel Belgian gelding sold by Daniel L.
Lot - Grade yearling red sorrel Belgian gelding sold by David H. Mast, IA to Toby F. This time, we are at Tonbridge Castle, which looms behind the stage in the twilight. After a remarkably reliable summer of endless blue skies and not a drop of rain, the clouds are gathering over Tonbridge tonight. Fortunately, the rain holds off, as we delve enthusiastically into our picnic baskets and chat with wandering cast members. We have also noted the tip to bring wine and cake, but I think most of us left the candelabras at home!
We have wisely brought umbrellas and raincoats, too, although the poor cast, on the roofless stage, is not so well protected, as the thunder rumbles overhead and intermittent rain douses them from head to foot. It might have been both. The five actors are appealingly animated and amusing. It is a polished, high octane, performance, with the cast taking on four or five roles apiece, using different costumes and different accents to signify the changes. We are struck by how well they keep track of their various parts, making it remarkably easy to follow the plot. The performers remain undaunted by the weather, never veering from the script, regardless of the rain, although, by the final scene, we can barely hear them, as the rain pounds down heavily on our umbrellas, and torrents of water pour off the stage.
The final lines are delivered in a roar to compete with the storm, an yet, somehow, the cast finishes the play without any appearance of being drenched in the downpour, apart from the occasional need to swipe dripping locks out of their eyes. I particularly loved the fact that the actors obviously enjoyed performing as much as we enjoyed watching them. And it was great to see so many families, with kids of all ages, engaged in the show. We were staying in a remote rural village, being treated like royalty, when our hosts offered us chicken for dinner.
We simply found ourselves in a front row pew for the beheading of an aged chook, who squawked once and then ran headless around the yard for several minutes, gushing blood from her headless corpse. So, not surprisingly, we were hardly inspired to eat the leathery offering that landed on our plates a couple of hours later. Recently, in the UK with friends, there was much discussion about one of the family hens that had taken to eating its own eggs.
Not to be encouraged, their first thought was to send it to heaven care of the neighbourhood fox, no one quite having the stomach for a mercy killing. A timely visit from an expert friend saw the chook dispatched with professional alacrity, and we were left wondering what to do with the corpse. I remembered a fellow Gastronomy graduate assuring me that we should all experience killing the food we eat, so as not to take its death for granted.
Eventually, consensus was reached. We would not bury it, or feed it to the foxes, but prepare and cook it. Unfortunately, none of us was certain how to achieve this. How did one gut and de-feather a hen? Google — an awesome modern resource — showed us how best this operation could be performed. Placing the dead hen in boiling water would loosen the feathers. A swift attack with a sharp knife would remove its head and feet.
Donning rubber gloves would ensure a relatively tidy removal of its innards. Nevertheless, it was done. Poor Betsy was carried to the laundry and removed from her shroud a large sack. Poised at the side of the sink, as the Holder of the iPhone and Supervisor Extraordinaire, I guided the proceedings. Lacking a large enough pot, we doused poor Betsy in boiling water and discovered that the feathers, thus soaked, came off in our hands.
No rubber gloves could be found, so a pair of plastic bags stood in as understudy, and Betsy was gutted forthwith. She looked like she had just curled up for a nap. Well, how could I eat a chicken with a name? But reports were less than admiring: poor Betsy was as tough as the proverbial shoe leather and the fox doubtless feasted on her remains anyway. There is a rather pretty little path between the villages of Otford and Shoreham in north-west Kent that cuts across the golf course and is largely shaded by overhanging trees. On a degree day in August, this is a blessing, as I ramble the long-familiar footpath with old friends.
Even the fear of flying golf balls has been removed, as the usual proliferation of golfers has either retreated to the shade or, presumably, to the pub. Shoreham village is an old favourite. The pub is strung with hanging baskets and the tables are brimming with beers and baskets of crisps, consumed energetically by families who have been out walking their dogs up in the hills or along the river.
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We wander past picturesque cottages draped in roses and wisteria, a church steeple rising above the yews, to discover an unsealed driveway off Church Street. Meandering along the track, we pass an elegant Victorian country house accommodation available hemmed in vineyards and sprinkled with sunshine, before reaching the cellar door. The Mount opened for business in , four years after planting eight grape varieties in the surrounding acres. Maybe it is a sign of the growing passion for wine all around the globe; maybe it is a sign that Trump is wrong and global warming is a reality, but I would never have expected to find vineyards in Kent.
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Hops, apples, strawberries, yes, but not grapes. And yet the Romans were here planting villas and vineyards that survived for centuries to reappear in the Domesday Book, where vineyards were recorded as far north as Suffolk. The vineyard has expanded its attractions considerably since I was last here, to include secluded areas for outdoor weddings and a new patio dining area with a retractable roof. There is also a terrific sparkling brut. Unfortunately, they had run out of supplies when we were there, but the alternative choices were perfectly acceptable.
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The Flint Key has a definite aroma and taste of elderflower, with a whisper of honeysuckle and peach, and a splash of citrus. Made from Bacchus and Siegerrebe grapes to create a fun, flavourful white wine, it was a chilled and chatty accompaniment to a light lunch on this hot and sticky summer afternoon. As always, passing walkers are welcome to sit on the lawn or at the picnic tables for a quick glass of wine and a snack. However, if you prefer to drift through the day, indulging in more filling fare and some quirky conversation, then perhaps book a table on the patio with good friends, and enjoy both the company and the extended menu.
We threw a selection of everything into the centre of the table and all but licked the platters clean.
Its been an exceptionally hot, dry summer in Europe this year. Fabulous for us and our tent, but not so fabulous for the farmers. I was born in one of the driest states in the world, where we grew up with summer hose-pipe bans, water shortages and droughts, as a matter of course.
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We had two-minute showers and recycled the washing-up water to save the lawn from burning to a crisp. Bushfires were a constant threat throughout the summer, but on the other hand, you could rely on good weather for a picnic or a party.
Two weeks camping in Norway, and the nights were cold, but the days were hot. There, we were gobsmacked to see a landscape that reminded us so clearly of a South Australian summer: parched and yellow, dry as dust under wide blue skies.
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We were warned that a typical Scandinavian summer might be damp and dreary in a tent. Luckily for us, the only rain we saw was a ten-minute shower in Oslo, from our hotel window. We did none of them. We were well off the beaten track, where the scenery was rural, the villages cosy and pretty, and tourists were rare. Here wide sheets of blue sky lay before us, stretched tightly over a mattress of yellow corn and wheat. Instead of the tall, lean French poplars, farmhouses were announced by lines of pollarded willows that looked like green lollipops.
Closer to the coast, a thick band of forest separated the shore line from the farm land, and once we reached the beach, we found squeaky white sand and dunes decorated in a spiky, spinifex-style grass. It was pure South Australia. The beach is regularly bludgeoned by wind and sea, so, perhaps not surprisingly, we were dodging scattered driftwood and gnarly old tree trunks, roots attached, like petrified octopi.
The sand was also thickly coated with bathers, some clad, some not. Yet barely two hundred metres from the car park the beach is empty of any bodies but ours.
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During this mild and gentle summer, the coast was calm and peaceful. Children danced among the waves, or built castles in the sand. In many places, the beach had been torn away to reappear further down the coast, and cliffs had collapsed under the barrage of raging wintry waves, leaving houses perched precariously close to the edge. As a pagan symbol of fertility, its tall central pole with two round hoops at the top certainly send the right message.
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We explored several small seaside villages, looking almost English with their homely, white-washed or brightly coloured cottages, but the cobbled streets are wider here, the red roofs lower. Then, getting peckish, we indulged in a mixed seafood platter by the port, sampling local specialities such as smoked eel and smoked mussels, gravadlax, pickled herring and smoked mackerel accompanied by cold beer.
Back inland, attractive village churches stood out on the skyline, their steeples or stepped roofs rising high above the crops. Mostly whitewashed, they showed off a variety of architectural eras, from the Romans to the nineteenth century. We wandered among gravestones kept beautifully neat and trim, admired the simple decor within. As we drove down empty country lanes, wildflowers ran amok through the wheat and barley, and along the verges: poppies, red and orange; dainty white daisies; splashes of purple and yellow; feathery grasses.