The hedge at Peasmarsh before starting
The site at Peasmarsh could loosely be described as a farm. At the top of the hill sits the house surrounded by outbuildings and along the valley the once vast arable field has been divided into still large paddocks by hedge plantings (which we are now laying). On the high ground along from the house, oak standards can be seen above the chestnut coppice and considering also the typical
East Sussex scene in which land sits, the place is very attractive. Perhaps this was one of the inspirations for the owners to set up eco-camping or glamping (I'm not quite sure on my expensive camping terminology) on the land to help make it pay. During the winter months there is little evidence of this summer enterprise but near the end of our current stretch of hedge stands two compost toilets grandly signposted ' The Henderson ' and ' The Mountfield '. No doubt there are some amusing connotations attached to the names but I'm afraid they are lost on me. Today for the second time since we've been at the job, I found myself dashing for ' The ' before it was too late! I shan't expose you to yesterday's episode, but this afternoon the tall weather board tower became my target before nightfall. Again C managed to keep astride of all non-laying activities and I reached my goal having put down over 40 m of hedge. This morning's frost felt like a distant memory as we left in high winds which swept mild air in great gusts across the field to test the C’s binding. The completed hedge, snaking downhill didn't move a fraction which is a testament not only to good workmanship but also to a system which was developed hundreds of years ago. Henderson
Slow roasted shoulder of mutton with mashed potatoes, roast squash, red cabbage casserole, carrots and gravy. Followed by Peary Pudding and custard. Dinner was undoubtedly today's main event and should have taken the lead in today's entry. However Em has discouraged me from blogg titles with unrelated pictures and as I was far too concerned with eating tonight's food I totally forgot to take a photo! Mutton has negative connotations for most but the product my parents produce from their small flock is stunning. A couple of wethers (castrated males) are kept each year and left to run with the ewes until they are three, feeding entirely on grass. There is plenty of fat on the carcasses, but this only adds flavour to the dark marbled flesh which is closer to beef than lamb in looking and texture at least. Em cooked the half shoulder for about seven hours in a low oven and the meat was so yielding I was able to pull the shoulder blade straight out. Rich, tender and crunchy on the outside, it was the best piece of roast meat I have had for a long time (which is saying something considering we are blessed with no end of fantastic meat). Pudding was something a little special to mark the fact that C and Kit were dining with us - a recipe which I invented years back to use us seasonal ingredients. It is a take on figgy pudding and turns out dark, rich and rather boozy.
5 fluid oz plum wine (or sweet desert wine)
4 oz dried pears
5 oz plain flour
2 1/2 oz grated suet
4 oz honey
1 egg beaten
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- Put pears in a saucepan and cover with plum wine.
- Warm gently for half an hour until the fruit is soft but not too squidgy.
- Drain pears and cut roughly.
- Combine pears and half the reserved wine liquor with all the other ingredients, adding more wine if necessary to make a thick batter consistency.
- Pour mixture into a greased 2 pint pudding bowl, cover with foil, tie down the cover and steam for at least two hours.