How many Food Festivals can boast one of these?!

How many Food Festivals can boast one of these?!

That’s the Hercules as opposed to Ella the kettle. This has been our view most of today whilst setting up for Cosford Food & Drink Festival – should be a good un

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Out with the old

I hadn’t planned on getting up so early, but I guess with it being the last day of the year might as well make the most of it! 3.45am it was, due to a wet nose from an elderly Border Collie who doesn’t always go through the night and too many years of milking cows followed by early breakfast radio means once I’m awake, I’m awake.

 Not sure where the year has gone, but it has and it certainly will leave its mark especially with losing Glyn’s Mum in November.

Early on we had to say goodbye to our woolly and furry friends as we lost our patch of rented ground. We still have regular updates and all are doing brilliantly I’m pleased to report. Blossom and Ruby both in calf, Lily, Lottie and Shirl in lamb and dear Gracie still growing and best friends with fellow Highlander Button. Never a day goes by without me thinking about them but with all the rain we’ve had I know it would have been tough going here as I’m not the best on a slippery bank and where they’ve gone they stil are on grass and not on hay where as here, we’d have started feeding them end of October so they’re much better where they are. I’ll probably look at having something on our own 3 acre patch next year, but I won’t keep cattle again, not until the lottery of TB is addressed.

Then there were the highs, what a summer for the Country as a whole with The Olympics, Paralympics and Jubilee Celebrations and proud to say we were part of both the Herefordshire and Shropshire events that took place marking Her Majesty’s visit.

This was the year that saw our new business ‘Wots Cooking’ come to light. For years we’ve both worked for Food, Drink and Gardening Festivals either chatting or supplying sound and visuals for other peoples cookery demonstration kitchens, but now we have our own and we’re loving it. Huge thank you to all those who have supported us and if you’ve not seen it, there’s a video thank you on the front page of our website!

I’ve not worn a pair of radio headphones this year due to working most weekends, although have made the occasional appearance usually involving calories and that’s where I seem to be heading now. My existing column for Worcestershire, Herefordshire & Wye Valley Life Magazines is now a foodie one, and the last month has seen it included in Warwickshire Life and Shropshire Life too which I’m thrilled about, especially Shropshire having written for them 3 years ago.

Farming side too I didn’t think I’d ever have to buy a new boiler suit, but I’ve met and helped out a local estate (think Downtown Abbey) with relief milking duties early on in the year and more recently looking after the youngstock and even though my body is way too old for all things physical now, I loved every minute of it.

Friendship is something I care hugely about and I’m lucky to have some wonderful pals so it was lovely in the summer to catch up again with an old school friend who I hadn’t seen or heard from in 30 years (I’d like to say since primary school but sadly not)!

So, wonder what 2013 has in mind for us all, here’s hoping for a drier one, a kind one and maybe if we’re lucky, a warm one. Whatever it throws at us, let’s hope we catch the good stuff.

Happy New Year x

 

Just got a few things to do first!

Well, if you’re anything like me then we’re not ready for Christmas and what happened to people not sending cards this year?! I love receiving them, especially because our postie Dave is still in shorts – long story but involves him, a colleague and a yearly bet!

Been a bit of tough one this last month as sadly we lost Glyn’s Mum, Brenda. She went into hospital with a broken arm and never came home. His Dad has been amazing, especially when you think they’d only just celebrated 70 years together, we’ll all miss her but will raise a glass or two in memory this Christmas.

So our last working weekend for the year has come and gone with the last few days spent at Plassey Leisure Park near Wrexham for their Festive Food & Gift Fair, always nice to be asked back as we supplied our cookery demonstration kitchen for their summer event too. Was lovely to catch up with Chef Brian Mellor who’s doing great things with his Harthill Cookery School in Cheshire, he’s been a good pal to us with regard to our business which started at a similar time to ours and thank goodness we’re all still standing, although maybe with a slight lean as we’re a bit bushed!

Delighted to say my  food and drink column is now in Shropshire and Warwickshire Life Magazines from this month which is all very exciting, and if you are a food or drink producer in one of those counties or  Herefordshire or Worcestershire, please feel free to let me know what you’re up to, you can always contact me via my website or on Twitter @katiejjohnson

So our special family recipe Christmas pudding is ready, as is the mincemeat so all we need to do now is get the tree, presents, food, oh yes and decorate the house! I do have the cards though and it’s thanks to St Richards Hospice in Worcester for those, fell in love with them when I was kindly given a tour of what is truly an amazing place with some incredible people inside. Here’s hoping we can help with a spot of fundraising next year.

If they ever need a man in shorts in December, at least I know where to look!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Never a dull moment

That’s the affect that Alan Titchmarsh has on me, having posted a picture in June that was taken at Chelsea Flower Show this year I’ve not been heard from since!

It’s been a busy time for our new business www.wotscooking.co.uk which is wonderful, although have to admit to slight disappointment that will all this physical activity I’m still not a size 12 and in all honesty, never will be now as I’ve been asked to write my monthly food and drink column for Shropshire and Warwickshire Life Magazines as well as Herefordshire and Worcestershire. All very exciting and delighted to do so, first one will be out for December.

It does appear that calories have become my life and let’s be honest, there’s not many I’ve met and didn’t like. Speaking of tasty! was lovely to catch up again with the gorgeous Jean-Christophe Novelli at Malvern Autumn Show, he really is one of the nicest people and a great Chef too, I always seem to learn something from him each time and that doesn’t often happen. I’m looking forward to working with Mary Berry for the first time at the end of the month at this years ‘Allpay Flavours of Herefordshire Food Festival’, we’ve chatted on the radio a few times but never met.

At home we still need a new kitchen door and with all this wet stuff we’ve discovered it can rain indoors – well we always wanted a home with character! Poor old hens had a visit from the fox the other day which has put pay to all egg production now. He didn’t get them thankfully, infact I was there at the time thank goodness, I was sorting the water out in their pen so they’d headed away from me towards our fence line and I heard one of the girls making the most unusual noise, looked up and there he was standing 5 feet away from her. Needless to say a few choice words said loudly accompanied by a lot of arm waving moved him on, but it’s been enough to do them a mischief.

We were working at Tenbury Applefest last weekend which was good fun, except when two teenage girls thought I’d like to buy toffee apples for my, and I quote, grandchildren! Now I appreciate that if I’d started young I would possibly have maybe one, but they referred to a few and if they’re eating toffee apples they’re probably 6 years old! I know it was cold, and I was edging towards tired, but I’m changing my face cream, it’s a load of ‘Boswollox’

It’s a writing day today then later in the week I’m off to Herefordshire to watch the apple pressing for cider making, followed by a very posh doo where we’ll see who has won various food and drink awards in Worcestershire and Warwickshire. It has a dress code of black tie, which just about sums up the contents in my wardrobe.

Too old now for early mornings!

Not sure where the time goes, but goes it do and can you believe Christmas is now less than 4 weeks away!

Been up early the last couple of mornings writing my new look columns for Worcestershire, Herefordshire & Wye Valley Life Magazines, think I was on my third cup of tea by seven o’clock! We’ve been out and about a bit of late too, Ellenden Farm Shop near Evesham hired our mobile cookery demonstration unit so popped over there to see it in action. I also caught up with some former listeners from Pershore who I’d not seen for a few years, the lovely Butcher, Ken Tallis and Darren from Revills Farm Shop who used to pop in every year with a bunch of Asparagus for me along with some homemade Hollandaise Sauce, happy memories.

One thing I have learnt recently is that no longer can I be a dirty stop out and get away with it. Friends of ours run a Restaurant and having run into them at a meeting, we were invited back to theirs where they ‘rustled’ something up to eat. Now, my rustling would end up as toast perhaps, or just a biscuit, believe me it would look nothing like what arrived on our  plates which was out of this world. Anyway, long story short and all that, we got home at two in the morning and didn’t it show the following day!!!

All’s quiet on the animal front, hens are coming to the end of laying for the winter, we’ve borrowed ‘Rocky’ the Ram for the sheep and I’ve had to increase Ruby’s food intake as Gracie is still very much suckling off her and it’s beginning to show. Lots of pictures of both Mum and little one on Facebook if you’d like to have a look.

 

 

It’s been a week of highs and lows

Herefordshire said goodbye to Mike Hamilton this week, one of life’s gentleman. I had the privilege of knowing him following an interview I did with him on radio when he first set up the veg box scheme Flights Orchard Organics. From there I worked with him when he did cookery demonstrations for Heart of England Fine Foods (HEFF) and then laughed with him when he became a friend with that big beaming smile of his. The celebration of his life was held last Tuesday and it was standing room only which in itself was a true mark of the man. 

Glyn and I have just spent two days at Staffordshire County Show working with the Cookery Theatre which is based in the Food Hall. I do think, and this goes for all county shows, they should give priority to their local producers to be in the main area and then if not full, offer it out to others. Was lovely to meet a couple of new chefs in the form of Rayeesa from Rayeesa’s Indian Kitchen at Mordiford who we’ll see again at Shobdon Food Festival, and the rather gorgeous Marcus Bean from New Inn, Baschurch. I predict a sweet-smelling future for this chap, who is not only talented and good-looking, but lovely with it, and that doesn’t often happen.

It’s been weird not having the dogs at home having dropped them off at my Sisters for the week, just wouldn’t be fair for them to be at home with us away so much. Going to be seeing the ladies from the Prostate Cancer Widows Support Group tomorrow of which I’m proud to be Patron and then somewhere in between it’s all change again for the cows as we yet again move them so they have a bit of grass to eat. It’s lovely to have the sunshine but we still need more rain to get it growing, the rate we’re going we’ll have to feed them hay!

Have had confirmation today that I’ll be yet again compering for the fabulous Herefordshire Food Festival in October, and it’ll involve working up close and personal with chef Jean-Christophe Novelli, I do so love my job!

Not enough hours in a ‘May’

I definitely have a weakness for old farm equipment having just added a vintage potato grader to our collection, not sure where it’s going exactly as it’s not like a new pair of shoes you can hide in the wardrobe only to bring them out and tell the other half you’ve had them ages! Been a busy few weeks what with the Spring Show at Malvern which I always enjoy, especially when it involves working alongside the lovely James Alexander Sinclair and Joe Swift. Had the pleasure of working with Mike Dilger for the first time too which was enjoyable and it was lovely to see so many youngsters getting involved with the nature trails he hosted. Staying with all things gardening for a moment, must say Congratulations to Cleve West for winning not only Gold for his garden at Chelsea Flower Show but for Best in Show overall and Paul Hervey Brookes who designed the RNIB garden won a Silver Gilt.

Ludlow Spring Festival was a first for us this year as usually it clashes with Malvern, but me and him ran the cookery stage which was fun and always nice when you don’t have to travel too far to get home and put your feet up. Birmingham Symphony Hall was the destination last Sunday for the Worcestershire Young Musicians Gala Concert and yet again the quality defied their ages. This year we had the youngest ever participant at the age of 4, ably assisted by her teddy bear Fluffy who went to every rehearsal and sure enough was there on the night too. I got my own dressing room again which was very swish and my name on the door too, only problem was their towels are just a little too big to get in my bag.

Looking forward to the first ever Malvern Food Festival this Saturday, I’ll be there chatting during the cookery demonstrations for Heart of England Fine Foods and on Monday, Glyn and I will be working at the Asparagus Festival at Breforton with our old pal Felice Tocchini, so should be fun.

Away from work, we’ve had to move the cows back home a bit earlier than planned but like many areas in the country, the grass just isn’t growing and sheep wise, hopefully we’ll be able to get them shorn fairly soon. Still wondering what gender one of the four chicks born two months ago is, we’ve definitely got two pullets and a cockerel and then whatever this one chooses to become, I’m sure we’ll find out soon.