Advent Sunday is (according to my God Mother Betty) my Official Birthday, my annual email from Betty arrived when we got to Banbury on Friday.
When I was a child, Betty would join us on Advent Sunday for a meal. Her presents would be the first I received for Christmas and Birthday, getting on for four weeks early. They were the start of the present pile. The Christmas tree hadn’t even been thought about at that point, so another position was found for the presents to wait for the big day. The big day being both Christmas and my birthday.
Those two presents would be carefully studied, weighed, shaken gently and squeezed. There was never any idea what they were. They always turned out to be something quite quirky, a giant pencil to hold pencils (back in the 70’s this was quirky), a penny whistle are the two I remember the most. Oh and a really hard jigsaw, one side just lizard shaped pieces the other just a mass of baked beans. Now I just get an email from her, which is fine as she turns 90 this coming year.
Advent Sunday has since always involved a good meal. We quite often have a roast on a Sunday, how to make it a touch more special. We could have gone out and spent way more than twice as much as eating at home. I checked out the options in Banbury. The place I liked the look of most boasts about it’s honey glazed carrots and parsnips which is a serious no no for me.
So on Saturday whilst out trying to get some Christmas shopping done I kept an eye open for a butchers. Normally there would be several butchers in a town the size of Banbury, maybe I wasn’t looking in the right place. Must admit I narrowly missed one by turning off Church Lane to go and have a browse in Books and Ink Bookshop, the rather fab bookshop we’d found last year.
Rounding the corner I quickly realised that the shop was no more. Relocating to Winchcombe which is closer to Gloucester than Banbury. Lucky Winchcombe, they will have a great book shop. Any books this Christmas will have to be bought via Waterstones, I’m trying my best to avoid spending money with Amazon this year and even though it means spending a touch more I’d like to support a bookshop where you can browse.
There were a couple of craft fairs around, one in the town hall which meant I got to see inside the big function room with it’s high ceiling and portraits. The crafty things on sale were of better quality than the usual tat, but nothing took my fancy so I left empty handed.
In Castle Quays there is now a zero waste shop, Nothing but Footprints. This is another shop where you can buy dried food stuff without packaging. They also stock household cleaning products for refills along with shampoos and soaps.
A check on google for a butcher brought me to Steve Betts Butchers, the only shop in the centre. No wonder it was heaving. I ogled through the window like Tiny Tim trying to decided what hunk of meat to buy, then had a wander around.
A joint of pork, some gluten free sausages and some veg. Here I could pick up a couple of carrots, a shallot and not have to buy a whole bag or bowl of one type of veg all for £10.
Mick headed off to do shopping on Sunday morning leaving Tilly and myself at home. Well Tilly spent most of the day coming and going, Spice Ball Park seems to be an alright outside. I started to collate information to do our accounts. The boat behind us moved on wards and was replaced later in the day by a boat from Cropredy.
In the afternoon Mick had his Christmas towpath haircut, I just need to brave the hair dressers for mine now.
My new sour dough starter has started to show some promise. After day two it is already starting to dome up in the centre of the bowl and was very bubbly under the surface. This, so far, is more successful than my first starter was.
I decided that I’d have a go at gluten free Yorkshire Puddings today. I’ve succeeded with them before, but wanted to try out a recipe which is made with corn flour, eggs and milk. They turned out the best I’ve made, but as the recipe says, they are not so good once they’ve cooled down. So I was glad I’d only done a third of the recipe.
An apple and shallot added to the gravy whilst the pork cooked adding some extra flavour.
Our plates groaned under the weight of food. I think my Mum would have been proud, she was famed for her Yorkshires. Although I can feel her scorning me now for serving them with the meat and for cooking them in a teeny tiny muffin tin. I inherited her 1lb and 2lb bread tins which were only ever used for Yorkshire puddings which rose right up the sides leaving plenty of space for gravy. Those tins are in the roof space in Scarborough and have most probably lost their magic not having been used for over five years, there just wasn’t room for them on the boat.
Happy Advent everyone.
0 locks, 0 miles, 1 butcher, 1st attempt at Christmas shopping, 1 favourite shop moved, Day 2 into 3, 1 candle, 1 calendar, grade 3, 6 not 4 yorkshires, 1.1 kg pork, 4 gluten free sausages, 2 green veg, 2 fat boaters, 1 tree climbed cat.