Last year I grew some red sunflowers and collected the seeds at the end of the season. This year I planted some of these saved seeds and so far I have a few short sunflowers starting to appear in the flower bed. A lot of seeds must have been scattered around the garden because there are a few sunflowers in the vegetable pots too. Most of the courgettes and tomatoes have sunflowers as neighbours where seeds must have landed in the compost. Ironically these 'accidental' sunflowers are all taller than the ones I deliberately planted. I may have to move a few of them since they are likely to get a bit big and compete with the vegetables.
Today was a rare warm bank holiday monday and we decided to go to Kenilworth. We started off with a pub lunch at the Queen & Castle (which is a Beefeater chain pub but has a better atmosphere than most other chain pubs). We then had a walk around the outside of the castle.
We passed this ruined barn on our walk. It looked like there might have been a barn on the site for quite a long time. Some of the stones were suspiciously castle coloured and were probably 'borrowed' from the castle before such things were frowned upon.
The hamster club is a regular fixture at various country shows. During time off I had a quick look around the site.
The hamster club tent was next to the ferrets. Here, one of the ferrets is being shown off before one of the 'races'.
A stunt display in the main arena.
After visiting Wroxeter we went to the nearby Attingham Park.
Some photos from Wroxeter, near Shrewsbury.
A view of the roman baths.
A reconstruction of a roman villa.
Yesterday Emma finally finished building the 'house' for George Henry B.E.F.T, our new dormouse. We put the glass in the doors and left it overnight before we put him in it this morning. Here are a few photos of the new cage along with some occupants.
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Tonight we ate at Bombay Joe's on Walsgrave Road. We were walking up the road looking at the different restaurants looking for one to eat in.
We started with the traditional poppadoms with chutneys. For the main course we shared a South Indian Garlic Chilli with chicken and a Chicken Dansak. For side dishes we had pilau rice, chilli naan bread and Tarka Dahl. The curries were both very nice - the first was one of the restaurant 'specials' and had huge pieces of garlic in the sauce. The Dansak was described as 'sour and sweet and fairly hot' and we hoped the heat would offset any sweetness. The end result was well balanced without any obvious sweet or sour flavours. The Dahl was very smooth and buttery - we would never dare to add that much ghee into a meal but somehow when you eat out it seems ok.
As usual in Indian restaurants, the portions were well sized and we were both feeling rather full when we left. Recommended and worth visiting again.
At the weekend we were driving near the Millet's farm shop near Abingdon (on our way home after collecting our new Dormouse). We both really like going round shops like these. They have an impressive range of food available. A lot of it is fairly pricey but the fresh cakes are always excellent value. While we were there we bought a cream-filled 'Viennese Slice' and a really nice flapjack. In addition to those we also bought some cheeses. Tonight we used the smoked sheep's cheese.
We used ready-made puff pastry which we rolled out then spread with red pesto. Next we added a layer of sliced onions which had been gently fried to soften them. The next layer was prawns and sun-dried tomatoes before finally being topped with the grated smoked cheese.
It was baked at gas mark 6 for approximately 20 minutes, until the pastry had puffed up and turned golden.
We tried a couple of new recipes at the weekend. On friday we did rustic roast cod. It was ok but took much longer to cook than the recipe suggested, possibly because our roasting tray completely fills our tiny oven and the heat doesn't get around it properly. Last nights recipe was completely new: Baked chicory with chicken. It's not very often that we try a new ingredient and neither of us had cooked with chicory before. We didn't have any dijon mustard but we had wasabi paste (which is similar...) and some yellow mustard seeds, so they went in instead. We think it worked well, we could probably make the recipe again using different veg depending on what we had in the house.
Yesterday we drove down to Abingdon to collect our latest small furry animal - an african pygmy dormouse we have named George Henry Big-Ears-Fluffy-Tail. Since they live for 5-6 years, Emma decided she wanted to give him a 'human' name. The 'Big-Ears-Fluffy-Tail' bit was just a joke name until we could think of a proper name for him.
I got back home this morning so here are some photos from my trip.
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Here is a view of Chicago from the lakeside path. The picture has been stitched from 4 overlapping images.