All this has been reflected in client needs and wants, we've created some lovely dishes for picnics to be taken to Kew Gardens and Goodwood Revival which has kept us on our tippy toes. So by way of relaxing this weekend, Man and I decided once the deliveries were made we should pop off to the Bedfordshire Steam & Country Fayre as it's just down the road in Shuttleworth.
As with most country fayres it was in the grounds of an old country house with stunning views of the countryside. The difference with this event was that although there were the Sheep Dog trials - with sheep and geese, rows upon rows of stalls and general country paraphernalia, the remaining stalls were filled with odds-and-sods from a past industrialist era. We bought a flat iron (to match the one I have already) as we needed another door stop, along with butchers hooks, locally-made honey and funnels. Yes, The Man felt that we needed some funnels to help the hedgerow booze making - apparently spooning the sugar into the Kilner jars is too much work, compared to pouring in through a funnel!
The difference to this fair was the gargantuan steam machines that were littered liberally around the the ground. These enormous beasts needed two or three people to drive, one to steer and the other to manage the power. I was completely blown-away by their shear size and suddenly their power was very apparent. You could really imagine how the labourers of England's Industrialisation era must have felt when these monsters of the road and industry came into regular use. We watched these enormous circular saws powered by the steam engine made simple 'mincemeat' of cutting enormous trunks into perfectly planned timber planks. The job was still phenomenally arduous and lordy if our current day 'Health & Safety Pack' had anything to do with it, we'd still be using hammer and chisel.
I was hauled away from the bric-a-rac stalls by The Man who finds my ability to shop for tat quite extraordinary. I was desperate to purchase a fantastic Tractor Milk Jug as it would bring so much joy to the morning tea tray and would give me an alternative to Colin The Cow (another gimmicky milk jug) but I was told that it would be denied entry to the home, so I had to leave it on the stall. A gutting experience, as if not for me, it would have made a fantastic present for a friend who like me has a love of all things completely tacky!
The joy of the day was finding a new dish that I'd never heard of or seen before. Sadly there wasn't a local food tent but there where plenty of food stalls to entertain - mainly PIE STALLS. I wish I could have tried all of them but being allergic to gluten means that I just have the option to try many. However, The Man isn't which does mean that although he gets no homemade pies, when we are out, he does get to indulge.
One of his favourites is a local delicacy called the Bedfordshire Clanger which was originally the food of farm labourers. Basically this is a suet pudding with a meat filling one end and the other is a sweet filling, that once cooked became a portable savoury and sweet meal. These 19th Century pies where served either cold or hot (when returning home from the fields), and were considered affordable, filling; albeit very calorific. The latter hardly seems to matter if you'd been out in the fields tolling away but perhaps they can only be considered a delicacy today being that we spend so much time behind a desk.
For centuries hungry fieldworkers all over the county tucked into their Bedfordshire Clangers as their lunchtime snack. I've done a wee bit of google research and the only explanation to it being called a 'Clanger' is that the meal in itself was considered a little bit of a mess ... draw from that your own conclusions.
As we trundled home after a few hours strolling and sampling and purchasing, we were inspired to finish our hedgerow booze making and disappeared into the supermarket where we picked up 3 litres of Brandy and 2litres of vodka. Lordy, when the 'loyalty card team' review the spend over the last month, they are seriously going to think that we have an alcohol problem - in fact, those of you reading this blog may indeed begin to think there is one in this household too.