The column that never was!

When Herefordshire, Shropshire, Warwickshire & Worcestershire Life Magazines ceased printing at the end of June it meant that my July column was never printed, so here it is (with slight change to the County extras) and it’s all about fish!

I feel very proud at the moment and it’s all because something has been named after me. At this point you may be thinking animal, perhaps a friend’s baby, if not then a sweet pea or rose? Well, none of the above, my name has been linked to cheese – a fermenting Cheddar to be precise called Katie 3 & 4, carefully crafted by Head Cheese maker Dudley Martin at Ludlow Food Centre when he used the milk from the weekends I relief milked for the Earl of Plymouth Estates – how lovely is that.

Summer is well and truly with us then, although I’ve only just removed the electric blanket from our bed and must admit to keeping a Kagool within easy reach. I reckon it stems from being brought up on the east coast in Grimsby, once the busiest fishing port in the UK.

I do wonder if I overdosed on fish as a child as I have to admit it doesn’t regularly feature in my diet. Apparently we should aim to eat two portions a week yet, four out of five households are more likely to eat fish only once a month with Salmon, Cod, Haddock, Tuna and Prawns being our favourites but we need to be looking at other species such as Saithe, Hake, Ling and Gurnard which sound more like members of the Swedish version of ‘Take That’ to me.

When fish is the topic of a cookery demonstration at festivals, you can always guarantee a large audience and alongside learning tips and hints on preparation and eating, you also hear about fishing practices. You’d think the same standards of care and attention is taken with fish as we do our farm animals, but sadly that’s not always the case. Some fish are being taken out of the sea faster than they can replenish themselves, and it isn’t just how many fish are being caught, it’s how we catch them. Something I can’t believe is legal is the use of dredgers on the seabed, dragging everything in their path destroying the habitat as it goes – horrific. There have been EU talks discussing the disgraceful dumping of unwanted fish so that’s a start, but a lot more needs to be done.

There are ways we can help and it’s down to the fish we buy although labelling is under scrutiny too. The only official requirement is for species name, approximate catch area and whether it was caught or farmed in fresh or seawater. Use your local Fishmonger if you’re lucky enough to have one and if you want to know which fish to eat and which to avoid, there’s the website of Marine Conservation Society based in Ross on Wye.

When you think Shropshire is the largest landlocked county in England it is blessed with experts when it comes to fish. For instance Fish House in Ludlow owned by Andy and third generation Fishmonger Louise Hackney and Fiona Asson who founded Fish in a Box and now runs Fiona on Fish with cookery courses and underground supper clubs. Fiona will be demonstrating as part of the very first RAF Cosford Food Festival this month and all being well with the weather, it will also feature the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Flypast.

One chap who knows his stuff is Tom Court from The Granary Restaurant at Shenstone near Kidderminster in Worcestershire. He’ll be taking part in the Five Chefs event celebrating the best of the county at the end of the month and we’ve just booked him to do a demo for Tenbury Countryside Show 3 August. Then there’s Martyn Emson who brought fish to the attention whilst chef patron at The Jolly Frog at Leintwardine and now runs Ludlow Traditional Smoke House from his home at Wigmore in Herefordshire and when he’s not doing that, he and Fishmonger Tony Wilkes from The Fish House in Ludlow  run courses at the local college.

Things I have also learnt about fish whilst writing this column – most of them have taste buds all over their body which means they can taste without opening their mouths, and flat fish aren’t born flat, they begin life shaped round whereas I seem to have gone in the opposite direction – maybe it’s too much cheese!

It’ll be like having an extension!

Fingers crossed we may have found somewhere to store our ever-growing equipment, it might just mean I get the spare bedroom back and also half the lounge which has become the latest overspill area! This is after Glyn has filled the garage and his office, I was beginning to think he was turning into one of those ‘hoarders’ you see on the television!

It’s been a sad time Herefordshire and Worcestershire with so many news stories involving the counties and my thoughts and prayers are with the Boughton family from Combe and Rippingtons at Alvechurch.

I finally got my columns written after getting up in the middle of the night, but somehow I do find I write better that way. Log fire burning, cup of tea, lamp on and no one else around, good job I don’t write full-time as I’d never see anybody!

Won’t be long before Glyn and I start with the Food, Drink & Gardening Events and it’s lovely hearing from organisers all over the country, either our reputation is getting out there or perhaps we’re too cheap!

I fancy sampling the atmosphere at Ludlow Racecourse this week having driven over it that many times recently, I’ll have a word with Mr Johnson, that’s if I can find him!

I used to catch the 3F

I’ve decided my blogs are like buses, none for ages and then 2 come along at once, perhaps more the fact that I’ve got loads to do and I’m just delaying for time, it’s either this or have a cup of tea which will then include a biscuit, so writing this is the low-calorie option. Libby the Golden Retriever is obviously happy we’re both home today judging by her tail wagging, I’m going to have to put a cardigan on at this rate.

Heading to Ludlow once I’ve got myself into gear, that’s if I can get in. We’re definitely in ‘spot the tourist’ season which is fantastic for the shops and local trade, and wait for the Food Festival in 2 weeks, you’ll not be able to move!  We’re very lucky where we are in as much as we are close to 2 super towns, but dear old Tenbury is struggling, not helped once we lost the cattle market several years ago and then of course the floods, and from January next year the bridge is closed for repairs with only a footpath alternative for those who want to shop! I know there is huge resistance to Tesco coming in, but the town needs something, personally I wish it was a Marks & Spencer or Waitrose as that wouldn’t be in competition with what the town offers and it would then attract out-of-town visitors. I’ve always felt Tenbury would benefit from belonging to another council in all honesty. It comes under the same banner as Malvern and Upton, and try as it might, it can’t compete with towns who have the facilities they do. Having said all that, it offers its own charm and I for one shop at Bowketts, buy my fruit & veg from Moody’s, the Doctors and Dentist are second to none and try as you might, you’ll not be able to walk through the town without someone smiling at you or passing the time of day – which reminds me …… lots to do!