08 August 2009

Coffee mornings

Glorious morning full of sunshine – at last!

Yesterday, after a quick swim, I went along to the Coffee Morning at the Machado Gallery. Sue Machado’s “first-Friday-of-the-month” Coffee Mornings are an institution in Barford, and yesterday was no exception.

I arrived around 11:30 AM to find a gathering of familiar faces. Sue Machado maneuvering graceful in her wonderfully bright and hearth-y kitchen area. Her formidable AGA was working at full tilt producing an array of beautifully baked breads, and goodies. (I opted for the spelt & ricotta pancakes with rhurbarb & maple syrup and homemade vanilla ice cream – yum!)

Out in the garden, the “Old Barfordians” were basking in the sunshine. The Old Barfordians are a group of ladies who re-unite at the Machado every month. All roughly in their 80's, these women grew up together in Barford, went to school and were in "Girl Guides" (British equivalent to "Girl Scouts") together. They have seen many changes of live together over the ways, some of them now live far away, but make the journey to Barford every month to reminisce over coffee and nectarine flan. They shared some of their old photographs with me.

Another regular feature of the Machado Coffee Morning is Di Hadley from Middle Watchbury tempting us all with lists of her farm offerings: locally raised and reared beef, pork and lamb. Her “Mutton and Mint” sausages are to die for. I ordered a pack of these, and put in a tentative order for a small Goose for Christmas.

Orders for Christmas, in August? Good grief, but, it will be here before we know it. I’d love to have a go at cooking a goose. Reminds me of one of those old English carols we use to sing in Choir, in junior high school.

For my life, I can’t remember the title of the song, but one of the refrains is: “Christmas is coming, the goose is going fat. Please to put a penny in the old man’s hat.”  I used to love that tune! And whenever we sang it, my thoughts would drift away to this blessed isle, and images of happy, English Christmases with plump roasted goose, steaming puddings, hats and Christmas crackers.

Last year, the D.E.B. and I had another English classic, a sexy alternative to traditional roasted fowl for Christmas dinner: “Sirloin Steaks and Stilton.” It was absolutely gorgeous, but this year, I’m thinkin’, “Bring on the poultry!”

 My thoughts about Christmas are only fleeting at best, I’m one of those people who likes to hang on to summer till the bitter rainy end. The D.E.B. is dying for us to go for a camping holiday in our little camper van. We should be away to the Cotswolds this weekend, but we feared that the weather wouldn’t cooperate, and of course, it’s sunny instead.

Ah, British weather you have to love it!

Our holiday plans have also been complicated by the fact that we were recently invited to a wedding in Spain. (One of my former students is getting married.) I’d love to go – any excuse to wear a hat – it falls at a somewhat awkward time for us to get away.

But, if we don’t go to Spain, we could delay our summer holiday to September instead. The weather here may in fact be better then, than it is now. We’re thinking a trip to visit the rellies in the Lake District, or a road trip on in search of my ancestors in the mountains of Wales.

For now, morning cups of tea in bed… 

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