Fed Up

Ah, the London summer.  What a lovely thing it is.  Those first sunny days; drinking cider in the park, eating outside, tanning your legs at the bus stop.  Those are good days.  Those are the days that make you happy to live here.  But, then, after a month or so, you start to notice the other things that constitute a summer in London.  I don’t know if it’s just me, but after a while, I cannot handle the heat in this city.  It smells worse, the tube is simply painful, and sometimes just leaving the flat seems a daunting task.  I can’t get to sleep without the window open, but it seems the brakes on every single overground train need a good oil, and I can’t get to sleep with the window open either.

I was starting to long for autumn.  I was getting excited everytime it rained.  I bought some woolly jumpers, just hoping if I bought them, perhaps, perhaps autumn would hurry on over.

And then there was one day, one horrible day, which involved sitting at a bus stop for over an hour, feeling far too hot, a dead rat, and a very very bad nights sleep.  So I booked a train to the peak district, and the next day, I was so keen I arrived at Euston a whole half hour early.

And then I remembered how good the summer holidays are.  Having a burger with my dad, driving through the mountains, we played tennis, had tea and cake on the grass, played croquet, ate outside. Yes, it was still really hot, but there was a breeze.  There was space.  It felt like a whole different kind of weather. And then, oh how I slept.

So, feeling renewed and refreshed, the victoria line a distant memory, I headed to Snowdonia.  There aren't many things I can think of better than some time in a little cottage with a beautiful view to make you feel better about not just the summer, but life in general.  There were some walks on the beach, shoes off.  There were cups of tea watching the birds.  I almost stroked a horse, I saw my first woodpecker.  I heard an owl.  I picked a raspberry and ate it, straight away.  I picked a pod of peas.  I had a nap in the middle of the afternoon.  I played with the dogs.  I drank more tea.  Lots of tea.  And Eccles cakes.  And a lot of staring at that view.

And food just seems to taste better on holiday.  There's a fish and chip shop on the high street near my flat, and it always smells so delicious, and yet I've never tried them.  And it is because I know that they would never taste as good as the fish and chips bought on a beach, raced home, and eaten outside on your lap.  The fish and chips we ate, looking over the welsh hills, are, in my mind, impossible to beat.  They even throw in a lemon.  It's classy.

I was fed well on my little holiday, we ate some really good things, and they often came from the strangest places.  The little butchers down the road has the best Welsh lamb I've ever tasted.  There's another in the nearest the town with some really fantastic meat pies.  I had a really amazing homemade eccles cake in a cafe off the A55.  It was a strange place, with a plastic tweety bird in a cage and a portrait of Harry Hill, but the eccles cake was really delicious.  But with all that really good food, it seems strange that the recipe I am posting is the typical end of holiday meal that we all have.  But I promise it's a good one.  There's nothing like bubble and squeak to use up those little things that you can't take home with you, and a whole wheel of sausage each makes it into something special.  I thought I should justify this post with a recipe, but I'm sure that there are very few people out there who can't make a mean bubble and squeak, because it never fails to be delicious.

Bubble and Squeak
for four

6-8 big potatoes
1 onion, finely chopped
3 leeks, shredded
cabbage, shredded
100g lardons
whole milk
salt and pepper

Boil potatoes till tender, drain and mash with butter and milk, and season with lots of salt and pepper
Warm a big knob of butter in a big pan.  When melted, sweat the onion for about five minutes, add the lardons, and then add the leeks.  Cook over a low heat until the leeks are very soft, and then add the cabbage.  When the cabbage is cooked, mix with the mashed potato.
Add a big handful of chopped parsley.
Shape into patties and place in a hot pan with butter, or make just make one big cake and hope you can flip it over when the bottom is crusty.

Serve with a good sausage.  And some ketchup.

So now all is well.  I'm happy to be enjoying the summer once again, and although I'll miss the dogs and the cows and the owls, those trains don't sound so bad anymore.