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Blog, Food

A Great Day Out

Every year, my daughter and I have a great day out. It’s an autumn treat called The Forest Showcase. This is held annually in the grounds of the Speech House Hotel near Coleford, in Gloucestershire. Food producers, craft workers and other small businesses set out their stalls to show what they have on offer.

Not Such An Autumn Treat

This year, DD and I bought advance tickets online at a discount. We expected that would save time on the day. How wrong we were! We arrived ten minutes before opening time, and there were already three long queues. One was for card payments, one for those who had bought advance tickets, and one for cash payments.

Ten o’clock came, and the visitors were allowed in. Everyone paying by card or with cash vanished pretty promptly into the showground. There was only one long line of of people waiting to be admitted. It was the advance ticket holders. Before they were admitted, their names had to be ticked off on a list. That stretched to dozens of sheets of paper. It took FOREVER! Here’s a photo of advance ticket holders still left waiting after we’d got through into the show.

Queue at Food Tasting Session - Autumn Treats
Table with paperwork Food Tasting Session - Autumn Treats

We won’t be buying tickets in advance next year. It would be worth missing out on the discount in order to avoid hanging around in the queue. Perhaps it’s all part of a cunning plan to sell more full price tickets on the day, in future!

Once inside the showground, we forgot about the delay. There were only the finest wisps of cloud in the high blue sky. The weather was warm for October, but I didn’t feel the need to take my top layer off.

There were dozens of attractions, from handmade glass and jewellery to brightly coloured trays of pansies and wallflowers. Above all it was the food we went to see, taste and buy.

The Food Tasting Begins…

The wonderful fragrance of barbecuing over charcoal made from Forest of Dean trees filled the air. Who can resist onions fried in the open air? And the smell of bacon sandwiches might easily tempt a fair-weather vegetarian to sin.    

Pies and sign for Pie Creche atFood Tasting Session - Autumn Treats

Inside this marquee there was a Pie Creche. You could leave your purchases there until you were ready to go home. Outside there was a large sign advertising an “Adult Creche”. It was a pop-up pub!

The Isle of Wight Garlic Farm had a stall, so I stocked up with virus-free heads of garlic to plant. I got three of the variety Provence, which did so well here last year, and another called Mersley. I’ve already picked out a sunny spot for them in the vegetable garden. They’ll get plenty of home-made compost, plus some calcified seaweed. Maybe that will remind them of their origins on the Isle of Wight!

Thirsty Garlic

My mistake in previous years had been to think that garlic didn’t need much water. Last year, I tried following better instructions. I watered our garlic regularly, and got a bumper crop.  Fingers crossed I can do the same next year, and there aren’t any hose pipe bans in Summer 2024.

I’m not a vegetarian, but I love vegetarian food. There were some real treats on the Parsnipship stand. Their onion bhajis and pakoras were delicious. As Forest Showcase day is a no-cook day at Tottering Towers, we bought some of their savoury pies for tea.  The Glamorgan Crumble (leek and cheese) and Tandoori mash-up were both absolutely delicious. They were really rich and full of flavour.

We all decided that the Glamorgan Crumble needed a texture more like the Tandoori Mashup.  I’ve studied the ingredients of both, and will try to create a hybrid. If I can create a mixture of the two types of treat, I’ll include the recipe in my October newsletter. I’ll be sending that out in a couple of weeks’ time. Sign up here to subscribe, and find out if I manage to make a crunchy Glamorgan Crumble!

My next book, Royal Passion will be published on 24th of October. Sign up to my monthly reader newsletter here to download the prequel to Royal PassionRoyal Rivals, for free.

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