Friday, 16 August 2013

Dr Foster went to Gloucester . . .

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"Dr Foster went to Gloucester
in a shower of rain.
He stepped in a puddle
right up to his middle
and never went there again."

I thought I would tell you a little bit about our day down in Gloucester this morning.  Obviously I will go into  much more detail about it on my cooking page, because that was the page the EBLEX people sponsored me to go on, but it was such a fun day I want to tell all my Oak Cottage readers about it too.

As you know I often get to try new things or go to special events via my cooking page.  It's just one of the perks of having a successful food blog I guess.   At any rate it's a perk I really enjoy and I was ever so happy to be able to take Todd with me on this latest adventure.  He often gets to enjoy the fruits of my labors (ie the cooked food) but he has never been able to go on one of the trips with me before.

This day was entitled the Farm to Fork day and it was all about how our meat gets from the field onto our plates and was so very interesting.

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We left Chester at silly o'clock to go down to Gloucester on the train.  We had three different trains to take to reach our destination.  From Chester to Crewe, from there to Birmingham and from there to Gloucester.   Our train was a few minutes late getting in to Birmingham for some reason, which meant we reached the platform for the Gloucester train just as it was pulling out.   That was really annoying, but it meant we had time to use the loo and such before we got the next train.   So we arrived an hour late to Gloucester but a cab (and Julie!) were waiting for us.   It was really nice to see Julie!  Added bonus!

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This is a photograph she took of me as I was getting in the cab to continue on our journey.   I don't often like photographs of myself.  But I did like this one.  She said she had only captured what other people see when they see me.   I guess I never see myself the way others see me, so I was happy with this little glimpse.  Thank YOU Julie!  This picture makes me smile.

The trip got really interesting from there on  . . . an hour and a half later we were still not at our destination.  This cabbies Sat Nav was taking us all around the houses.  The meter was clicking up and up and I could tell the cabbie was getting rather annoyed.  I finally called the PR people who helped to set us right and we did finally reach our destination . . . phew!  Poor cab driver.  Poor us!  Just goes to show electronics don't always know what they are doing!

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We got there just in time for the lecture part of the day, having missed the tour around the farm.  This part was quite interesting though.  We learned about how they grow meat for our table and the differences between good farming practices and poor farming practices, etc.   It was very comforting to know that when you buy a piece of meat which has one of these on it . . .

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You are getting a good piece of meat that you know is fit to eat.  You know where it came from. The EBLEX Quality Standard Mark Scheme (QSM) for beef and lamb was developed to address key consumer concerns about the eating quality of red meat, such as succulence and tenderness. It provides one of the highest levels of independently inspected quality assurance for meat in the United Kingdom. The standards contain combined guarantees of food safety, animal welfare, care for the environment and eating quality. It was all very interesting.

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We were treated afterwards to a butchering demonstration.   We saw several cuts of meat and were able to see the difference between two same cuts which had been hung for different times, and dry aged versus not dry aged.  It was all very interesting.   It was also interesting to see how much better a piece of meat ends up if it's been butchered properly, and the real difference that comes when meat is reared properly for market, etc.

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I tell you that butcher was a really brave man as the wasps were thick and heavy around him as he was working.  I was quite nervous about them myself!  As you know I hate wasps, but he was just picking them off and flinging them away!

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Their little Jack Russell, Spot . . . was chasing them too!  Not only was he the cutest Jack Russell I have ever seen, but he was the bravest too!

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All of that lovely meat which was butchered was then barbequed by a chef for us all to try and it was lovely.  There were an array of delicious salads etc. for us to eat as well, but I didn't get any photos of that because . . .

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We were being given a quick run through of what we had missed earlier.  This is what Todd really enjoyed, was seeing the animals on this particular farm.   They have the world's number one Bull on this place . . .

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He was truly a majestic animal.  I think that's the closest I have ever been to a bull without feeling afraid!  Todd was a cow man for many years, having worked on Dairy farms, so he loves these animals.  Mind, these are different than dairy cows as these will all end up on someone's plate.   These animals were all Aberdeen Angus.  It was kind of sad to think that someone was going to be eating them all one day . . . but it was also very interesting to learn the process that takes them from the field to the fork.

It wasn't too long after this that we gobbled down a little bite I didn't get any photos of that because my camera was acting up by then.  I suppose it's been used multiple times a day, every day . . . over a span of several years so it's beginning to wear out!  Next thing you know we were in a cab on our way back to the station to begin our journey back to Chester.

All in all, as exhausting as all the travel was, we both really enjoyed our day in Gloucester.  We both learned an awful lot.  We got to meet some nice people, see some beautiful animals and eat some lovely food as well!  I will never look at a piece of meat in quite the same way again!  Many thanks to the EBLEX people for sponsoring us.

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I finally was able to sort out the printer yesterday, or should I say Todd was and I was able to scan a bit of my newest artwork.  This is the spring page for the project I am working on.

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This is one of the characters of a little children's book I am working on as well.  It's a caterpillar.  I think he's quite cute.   He's dreaming about pie.  We'll see how it all pans out!

I am off to teach with the missionaries this morning, so I best be getting on with the rest of my day.  I hope you enjoyed sharing the visit to Gloucester with me and it wasn't too boring!

A thought to carry with you through the day . . .


One of the most tragic things 
I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. 
We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon, 
instead of enjoying the roses blooming outside our windows today.
~ Dale Carnegie

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Cooking in The English Kitchen today . . . Hot Turkey Poutine . . . a tasty play on a delicious sandwich.  You have chips, turkey, stuffing, gravy and cheese . . . Chips, gravy and cheese, totally Canadian, it's poutine.  I have added a tasty twist.

Don't forget to enjoy the roses blooming outside your windows today!

PS-It didn't start raining until we had begun our journey home. 

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