Saturday, 25 October 2014

Probably the best fish and chips in the world

I have just returned from a few days break in Northumberland; a place I have wanted to visit for a long time and I was not disappointed. We had a marvellous time exploring castles and the coast, some of which will be coming up on the blog over the next week or so.

On the way to and from home we stopped at Beamish - The Living Museum of the North. I have been so eager to visit Beamish and I absolutely loved it! I want to return already! It is an open air museum which tells the life of people in the North East in the 1820's, 1900's and 1940's. For example, there is a 1940's farm - all the farm buildings, equipment, cottages and a farm house that you can wander around and learn about life at the time from people dressed in period costume, carrying out day to day tasks.

I have a couple of Beamish posts coming up but today I just want to focus on one important thing - fish and chips.


Beamish has a 1900's pit village showing what life was like in a coal mining community at that time. In the midst of the village is Davy's Fried Fish Shop. Fish and chips were a popular meal at the time, by 1914 there were 452 such shops in the North East. This one is named after the last coal fired chip shop on Tyneside which closed in 2007.

This photo shows one of the three coal fired ranges that were used to cook the fish and chips.


This shows the side of the room opposite the range. Here the potatoes would have been prepared and turned into chips. Potatoes were rumbled (shaken about and rubbed), by hand or machine to remove the skins. Chips were first cut by hand but later mechanically, powered by a gas engine.


We have followed the mouth watering scent of fish and chips into the adjacent room and are leaning on the counter, waiting for the new batch of chips which have just gone in, to cook. The room is tiled showing sea scenes and the range has seagulls and a yacht decorating it. In the middle of the range you can just see the glow from the coal fire.


Our order has been taken and we watch the preparations whilst we wait. The batter being whisked, fish being dipped in batter, bowls of raw chips waiting to be cooked, newspaper being folded into cones.

It was most definitely worth the wait! Our fish and chips come wrapped in paper with liberal sprinkles of salt and vinegar. As this is the 1900's the menu is very simple indeed, no mushy peas, no ketchup, no battered sausage, no pies. Just good old fish and chips.


They are cooked in beef dripping, which is prepared by saving the meat juices from your Sunday roast, leaving them in a pot or tin too cool. Other meat juices can be added and you end up with a white layer of lard and a brown jelly layer underneath. I understand that it sounds gross and fatty and a heart attack waiting to happen but it really is delicious.

Dripping reminds me of my maternal grandparents. Grandma always made dripping and had a tin of it in the fridge without fail. Grandad was most often in charge of sorting out breakfast and he always made us dripping on toast. Perfectly toasted bread cut fresh from the loaf on the yellow formica covered board, spread with a layer of dripping that melted on contact with the hot toast. Grandad always got the perfect balance of white and brown and sprinkled it with salt from the brown Bakelite salt cellar. He made pieces and pieces and pieces, carefully cut in half, piled up on my Grandma's floral china and my sister, cousins and I used to wolf it down. Grandad stood on duty by the grill until we were full up. Those are very happy memories, indeed my cousin and I spoke fondly of dripping on toast last time we met up.

I wish you could smell these fish and chips. You should be wishing that you could taste them! They were perfect! Eaten out of the paper, with our fingers, sitting outside on a wooden bench in the autumn sunshine, on our second wedding anniversary, thinking of my grandparents. Happy, content and full.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Seven snaps for seven days - week forty two


It feels like autumn now that the beautiful squashes are around. The first of an autumn collection.


My niece enjoying playing with the big clown button my friend gave her.


Shuffling about on the floor playing games.


Enjoying watching the leaves changing colour whilst out walking my dog.


Attending my first Boxing Club show with my fellow Level Two friends.


Ready to sew up the cable cuff 1940's mittens that will be heading over to KateEmVintage.


Making knitting plans in my beautiful notebooks.

Vintage treasure hunting

In the past couple of weeks I have had success in my vintage treasure hunting. I am always on the look out, I rummage, I act on hunches, I dig through piles, I grab anything that looks interesting, I examine,I check regularly and I ask. But often, it is just simply a case of being in the right place at the right time. Sometimes you have great success, sometimes you walk away empty handed. I always enjoy the hunt though!

These are from a local charity shop.


Perfect for Kate-Em! They need a clean up and the mounting needs sorting out but I couldn't leave these cross stitch pictures behind. They are Kate Greenaway figures and I already have the K one as my Godmother stitched it for me when I was born!



Charity shops are a fantastic source of buttons, once you have dug through all the little plastic bags of men's shirt buttons and random oddments. I don't know what I will use these on yet so into the button tin they go.


This piece of fabric was hard to photograph as it has a slight sheen to it. It looks a bit like a brocade but I don't think it is. I liked the delicate pattern and there was a decent length of it so I snapped it up.

I collect Stitchcraft magazines so when the lovely Lucy from 1940's style for you was selling some recently I was able to fill a few holes in my collection.


Very glamorous! Wish I looked like that answering the phone. Love the jumper.


Camels! Need I say more!?


Fabulous hat and mittens set.


Great hair, twinset and parrot!


Beautiful. I think I might like a nice fluffy bolero.

The vast majority of this haul I found at the fabulous Hebden Bridge Women's Institute Rag Market. This twice yearly event is run by some members of the WI and is a fantastic place for crafters to go shopping. The hall is packed with stalls piled with craft related goodness; fabric, wool, buttons, thread, patterns, notions, paper, books etc. Some of the stall holders are selling their stash, some are shop owners, some are selling the contents of their granny's attic. Everything is priced reasonably and it is a great place for a rummage. The recent market was so very good that I spent my budget by 9.45 (I was helping set up, it didn't open until 11am), and I had to pay a visit to the bank! It was worth it.

I found some fabric:


Gorgeous colours, heavy weight and a really good length for £2!


Modern John Lewis but looks very Mid Century.


Some small pieces of tweed for a project that is half formed in my mind!

I found some knitting patterns:


Apart from the lovely gloves I love the styling of this one.


I will probably be selling this one on as I am fairly sure I have it. Great hats!


I have to try this and see if it can indeed be knitted in 2 hours.


Intrigued by the peculiar cone hat which can be styled slouched or straight up!


I love the Growing up in Sirdar range for their colours and styling as much as the patterns.


I had to get this as the socks match the yoke of the jumper.


 Just a lovely set.

I found embroidered goodies:


Tablecloth with baskets of flowers in each of the corners.


Tablecloth with garland of flowers in each corner.


An oval cloth for a dressing table.



A really gorgeous tray cloth.

I found books:



I found buttons:


For 1950's Tyrolean knits.




Magnificent!

I found some random bits and pieces:


Boxed embroidered hankies.


Close up.


A marvellous crocheted doily.


Close up. Look how fine that work is.


A lovely cheery tin.

I found Stitchcrafts:


Great jumper and hat set.






I was very happy indeed with all my finds! Lots and lots of projects and ideas to be getting on with!