There’s a standard phrase in our house: ‘I want to move to Marlow!’. It’s uttered every time we see something fabulous happening in this lovely little Buckinghamshire town. We go as much as we can, but it’s an hour from us (though actually, right next to where Mr E works). It’s gorgeous in the summer, and magical in the winter. I’ve even earmarked my perfect house on West Street (you don’t even want to know how much it is). This weekend, we were lucky enough to be invited to the launch evening of The Pop-Up Festival, a unique pop up cinema experience combined with delicious food from the fabulous Tom Kerridge. I’d heard all about the Gourmet Picture Company as my lovely mate Amanda from Online Stylist attended one last summer at Chewton Glen. It looked absolutely gorgeous, so I was so excited to see how the Gourmet Picture Company would keep us all warm and cosy in December!
There aren’t many prettier towns than Marlow, right next to the River Thames in Buckinghamshire. We spent a sunny morning wandering the shops (Sweaty Betty, Fat Face, a massive Jigsaw, Whistles, Mint Velvet, and loads of stylish independent boutiques and shops) down to the river, and then – all set to walk along the river’s edge for a while – the sky suddenly got really dark and fat blobs of rain started splashing on us. Ah well, instead we headed to West Street, to try the bottomless brunch at The Botanist, a pretty, quirky bar and restaurant on West Street. The front window completely rolls back, so when the sun finally came out again, it was a lovely spot to sit, sip a cocktail and watch the world go by while waiting for our table.
So I’ve been reading up on our new abode (I know I should think of some funky new name, but I also know it will continue to be English Towers – why fight it?). The village was listed in the Domesday Book (thank you Wikipedia), and the hill overlooking the village is not only a site of special scientific interest, but crossed by the Ridgeway as well. There’s also a very old windmill here, and it’s suitably mental as it has a Bedfordshire postal address, even though it’s actually in Buckinghamshire. Perfect.
So that’s geography and stuff out the way – what else is there? Well, very near there are beautiful fields with snaking chalk paths through lovely woodland:
… and lots and lots of rosehips and crab apples (I’m thinking jelly – once I’ve got to the bottom of my Dispreputable Dad’s cooking apple mountain – another mahoosive bag appeared yesterday):
Anyhoo, with most of the unpacking done (it still looks like an explosion has occurred, but we’ve ordered chests of drawers, so it’s Not Our Fault, okay?), and a spectacular cackling and chocolate biscuit session with the gorgeous Glamorous C (she walked – WALKED! – from her house up to here. I was duly impressed), it was time to hit the kitchen…
One of English Dad’s students has his own bees and brings him pots of the most amazing Buckinghamshire honey known to man – it’s fragrant and delicious, and was used accidentally as I was making my usual soda bread but realised at the last minute I didn’t have any black treacle. I’ll never use black treacle again now as this honey makes a spectacular loaf:
100g white bread flour
450g wholemeal flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
400ml buttermilk (or just add the juice of 1/2 lemon to whole milk and allow to sit for a while)
2 tbsp oil (I use the amazing local rapeseed oil)
2 tbsp honey
So preheat your newly clean, sparkly oven to 200 degrees/gas 6 and oil a loaf tin (do it well, or better still, line it with bake-o-glide, it sticks like a biatch this stuff).
Sieve the white flour and bicarb (make sure you sift the bicarb well – otherwise it will manifest itself in the finished bread as little green dots – not pleasant) then add the wholemeal flour and the salt.
Measure out the buttermilk (or lemony milk) then add in the egg, oil and honey. Whisk well.
Add to the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Flop the mixture straight into the loaf tin and straight into the oven. This is lazy person’s bread – no rising or kneading here.
Bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until the bottom is hollow when you tap it (ooer missus). I take it out of the loaf tin around 45 minutes just to make sure the bottom is baked and gets a crust too.
This recipe is gorgeous with added nuts and seeds, but won’t keep, so if you’re not going to scoff it straight away, slice and freeze it for instant yummy breakfast toast.
Thank you Buckinghamshire bees! I can see I’m going to be very happy here.
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