Archive for December, 2011

Lovely walk at Staple Hill

The other day we went for a lovely walk at Staple Hill.  It’s only a 5 minute drive from here and is managed by the Forestry Commission as part of Neroche.  There are signed paths and viewpoints.  The forest is dense pine forest.

Pine Forest at Staple Hill

We did the short loop walk, where there is a proper made up path so not muddy, and various benches along the way for people to sit.  This path is suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs too.

An unusual shaped tree at Staple Hill

Along this walk are a couple of viewpoints with fantastic views across the west country.  On a fine day you can see as far as Wales.  It was a bit overcast when we went but still the views were marvellous.

View to the west

The car park is free, which is nice to find in this day and age.  We met several people walking their dogs or their children!!  So we asked someone to take a picture of all 3 of us.

Us 3 at Staple Hill, the day after Boxing Day

There are longer paths/walks starting from Staple Hill car park, called Herepaths but these looked to be a bit more muddy, after all the rain we have had recently.  Still it’s a lovely place to visit and so near to here.  If you want to come for a visit look us up at

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Xmas lunch

Our Xmas lunch was lovely.  The turkey we had won was delicious.  I cooked it slowly for 3 and a half hours at a low temp, with streaky bacon over the top and then foil over the top of that.  It was moist and lovely.

carving the Xmas turkey

The turkey we won was jut 9lbs weight so just right for 3 of us.  I carved all one breast for Xmas day, and then we had the other side as cold meat with chips on Boxing Day.

We had the traditional vegetables to accompany our turkey.  Roast parsnips, carrots and potatoes, and brussel sprouts and cauliflower, sage and onion stuffing and redcurrant jelly.  Absolutely delicious.
serving up Xmas lunch

Here I am serving up Xmas lunch with Neil’s sister.  For pudding we had traditional Xmas pudding, that I had won in the Xmas bazaar, and mince pies with cream.  And then we sat down to watch the Queen at 3pm.


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Sloe Gin competition

The other night we went down the local pub for the Sloe Gin Competition.  Lots of local people came armed with their home-made concoctions and these were then poured into small glasses and labelled with raffle ticket numbers.  We were then given a straw and you had to take a sip from each glass and determine which sloe gin you thought was the best, and then write the number on a slip of paper.

The sloe gins ready for tasting

There were different categories.  Ours was entered into “This Year’s Sloe Gin” which was the first category.  Later there was a “Vintage Sloe Gin” category and lastly “Other things made with sloes” category.

Tasting the various sloe gins

Some Sloe Gin was very dry, some was like cough mixture and some more sweet.  I think it is obviously very much down to personal taste, and of course we both thought ours was the best, but we didn’t win.  Nevermind, we have a full demi john of our sloe gin to make our way through, and  I am sure some of that will disappear over Christmas.

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Carols around the brazier

Last night we went to Bishopswood Chapel to sing carols around a brazier.  It certainly kept us warm, especially when it started to rain, but luckily we had taken hats with us.

Singing carols around the fire
We were lucky too to have someone playing the accordion to acoompany the singing, well in fact to lead it.  We could hardly see the song sheets for the dark and the rain!!
But many of the carols we know by heart anyway.
The accordion player

Afterwards we went inside for a nice cup of tea and a minced pie.  Very social.  This was the last of our Carol singing before Xmas.

The tree and all the decorations are up.  The shopping is done, the presents wrapped, we are ready for Christmas!!

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Christmas Carol Services

We have been to two Christmas carol services in the past few days.  The first one was at Buckland St Mary church on Thursday evening.  The children from the Buckland St Mary C of E primary school led the proceedings by coming in by candelight, singing “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine” – very cute.  We then had various carols and readings, some by children and some by parishioners.  The children sang “Oh Little town of Bethlehem” to a different tune to the one we know!! 

It’s jolly cold in Buckland church, so we had to wrap up warm, and after the service we were offered mince pies and hot mulled wine.

Then on Sunday (yesterday) we went to the Bishopswood village hall for the 3pm carol service organised by the free evangelical chapel in Bishopswood.  This was quite an informal affair, with people sat around tables which were decorated with Xmas trees or baubles and a dish of Quality Street sweets!!  Again we sang several carols and there were readings and a georgie poem about Xmas read by the new pastor. We were reminded by the pastor of the true meaning of Christmas, which can sometimes get lost amidst the presents and decorations and commercialised hype at this time of year.

After the service there was a feast.  I had been asked to make a cake, but there was lots of savoury dishes, quiches, sandwiches etc followed by lots of different types of cake and desserts such as trifle and cheesecake.  There was so much to eat that when we came home we decided we were too full to have dinner last night!!

Lots of people attended both services and which one did I prefer?  Both really, had their own merits, so I didn’t have a favourite.  It’s just nice participating in events held by the local community.

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Christmas Turkey Bingo

We’d been wondering what to do about a turkey. There are only going to be 3 of us on Christmas day, being Neil and his sister and me.  So we didn’t want a really big turkey or we’d be eating it all week long.  The free range Bronze turkeys from a nearby farm were over £50 and much too big for us, and I was coming to the conclusion that I would have to go to Tesco and buy a frozen one.

Then we heard about Turkey Bingo.  It’s a Christmas tradition around here that happens every year.  The villagers from Bishopswood and Buckland St Mary get together for Turkey Bingo, and that was last night.

You play 10 games and a bonus game.  For each game the person to get the first full line wins a bottle of wine, and then the person to get full house wins a fresh turkey each time.  We weren’t doing very well, needing at least 3 numbers each time by the time someone had called full house. 

Then came the bonus game.  In this game the person with the first full line won a bottle of sherry and £3.00.  The person with the first 2 full lines won a bottle of whiskey and £5.00. And the person getting full house won a turkey and £10.00.  And what did Neil do?  He only went and won the turkey and £10.00!  We could hardly believe our eyes.  Neil has never played bingo before in his life and didn’t really think it would be his thing.  But he got the best prize of the evening.  So here he is back home showing his winning ticket, the £10.00 and the turkey.

Neil with his turkey prize

And what is more this turkey is exactly the right size for us, not too big and not too small, just right for 3 people for a couple of days. Talk about beginner’s luck.

Want to share a cold turkey sandwich with us?  visit us at

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Chickens in the mud

The chickens are paddling.  We have had so much rain this week that the run outside the hen house is just squelching in mud and puddles.  But do the chickens mind? No not one bit.  In fact they just paddle in the mud and drink from the puddles.  Mind you their feathers get wet and muddy and then the eggs they lay are muddy too.

I think the chickens like paddling.  Earlier this year we put out large trays of water for them, as they were drinking their water drinker dry daily, so we wanted them to have access to more water.  Rather than perch on the side of these trays to drink, they get right in, and stand in the water to drink. They are funny creatures.

Anyway Neil is trying to cure the problem by creating a new drain to drain water away from the hen run.  He has dug a big trench, about one foot deep, running from the hen house down the hill to the french drain.  He is going to get some porous drain pipe to put in the trench to lead the water out to the french drain.  Hopefully this will stop the land around the hen house from being so squelchy with sitting water.

It’s strange to think that in the East of England there is still a drought, with reservoirs short on water for this time of year, and here we are with an excess of water!!

The mud has not stopped the hens from laying.  We are regularly getting 6 or 7 eggs a day, and the blue ones have begun to get bigger as the Cream Legbar gets more developed.  We  have 2 Cream Legbar hens, so hopefully the other one will come into lay soon, and then we will get 2 blue eggs at a time.

If you want to taste blue eggs visit us at

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Little blue eggs

The hens are laying again.  We went from one egg a day to 3 then 4 then 5 for a couple of days, then yesterday 6, so now we are back in business selling eggs to friends and neighbours.

On Thursday when we went to collect the eggs, there lying in the straw was a little blue egg.  How delighted we were to see that.  It is the Cream Legbar hens that lay blue eggs, and this was the first one she had laid.  Then Friday we got another one and Saturday another one again.

Little blue egg

How lovely, little blue eggs.  They say “duck egg blue” but you never see hens’ eggs in the shops that are blue.  Anyway curiosity got the better of us so today for breakfast we had boiled eggs and had 2 of the little blue eggs.  But they don’t taste any different, not that we really expected them too.  I’m just amused by them, little blue eggs from our Cream Legbars.  I wonder what makes them lay blue eggs rather than brown eggs?

one of our Cream Legbar hens

We’ve got 2 Cream Legbar hens, so in theory we should get 2 little blue eggs a day, so can’t wait for the other hen to start laying.

Anyway if you want a blue egg for breakfast, come and see us at Lodge House B&B.

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