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Black Pudding Gaiters

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Camping, but not as we know it

As a kid, the family spent many nights under canvas until one morning we woke to find a large portion of the tent getting blown down the camping field. We chased it down  but the bright orange tent had to be dumped in to the nearest skip.
Rather than replace the tent, our UK trips were spent in static caravans.
In the evenings, Mum would prepare dinner, Dad would have the map out, planning the next hike and I would head out on adventures around the site with my brother. Climbing trees and wading through streams. Happy days!

It’s been many years since I’d last slept in a caravan but, for a a few days in August, I’d be spending a few days with the family in Lakeland Haven Leisure Park.
A few days before the trip I read the reviews on TripAdvisor. Oh dear, it didn’t look good! I didn’t build my hopes up.

The journey down there was interesting.
Being a family holiday which included three kids aged 5 and under, there was a lot of stuff to take. My little Abarth 124 wasn’t big enough so for the four days I drove Mum’s 2004 Renault Clio. That was a shock to the system, but on the bright side, I wasn’t going to be getting a speeding ticket!

20180817_160540On check in, it was nice to see Haven had listened to my brothers request for caravans close to each other. The kids loved running along the grass between the two.
Both caravans were spotlessly clean and surprisingly comfortable.
On the first night we stayed in the caravan and cooked  the food we’d brought with us. It was raining quite heavily so the night was spent curled up on the sofa watching Disney Dvds and playing cards.

After a decent night sleep, I rustled up some breakfast then the family went their separate ways.  While the others visited the miniature village down the road, I took the footpath just outside the Haven main entrance.20180818_121147
I walked along the coastal path to the West,  along the sheep filled marshes until I reached Cowpren Point. Here, the route headed North, eventually coming out on to a road at Sand Gate.  A track, just off the road to the left,  lead to the village of Cark where The Engine Inn provided a good refreshment stop!

Fully refreshed I headed West out of the village towards Cassen Wood.
I passed a “residents only” sign but decided that I was a resident for a few days so continued until I hit another sign stating “No access to Holker Park“. My OS map showed paths and the gate was  unlocked so I continued to the next gate, beyond which several dear were grazing.
After Googling the hall I discovered entry to the park and gardens was £8.50, which explains this second gate had been padlocked!
I wandered back the same way to Cark and took the B5278, Station Road, out of town and towards the entrance Holker Hall. I found a footpath to the right, just after the Hall gates.
My walk became a circular loop as I took the next path on the right back to Cark.
From the village it was  a straight route South, through the village of Flookburgh to the caravan.
Not quite the route I was planning but a decent 8 mile walk. The route without the dead-end is available to download as GPX.
20180818_143838

We headed back out up the road to Flookburgh in the evening. There is just the one road in/out of the holiday park and at the Flookburgh end is the Hope and Anchor, a large Robinsons pub serving food.
If you don’t want burger, the choice is limited to what  is on the special’s board.  Luckily I did fancy a burger, more precisely a Black and Blue Burger, a beef burger topped with blue cheese and black pudding. The black pud was slightly mushy  but not bad at all!

I woke to light rain the next morning.
The kids were spending the some time in the pool so I headed out for another walk, this time I would be heading East towards Grange over Sands.
I took the road out from the camp, taking a right down the road opposite the Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding shop. Apart from crossing a field to cut a corner near Allithwaite, the route mostly followed quiet country roads until I reached the coastal path in to Grange over Sands.
The rain was off and on. It started again just at the time I purchased a coffee from a small stall and sat drinking outside.  To the left of me sat a family consuming pop, coffee and chocolate bars, to the right a young couple who were making their way through to large plates of beans on toast. In true English style, we all sat in the drizzle watching the world go by as if we were on a sunny terrace in Sicily.

To be honest, Grange-over-Sands isn’t hugely exciting on a damp August afternoon.  I did a quick loop at the end of town through some woods and past a garden I can see no mention of online!  After a stop at The Commodore Inn, I took a road to the North of the town back towards Allithwaite. From there, I retraced my steps back to the caravan park. I didn’t realise at the time, but I’d soon be back at this village.

The rest of the family were eating at the onsite bar/restaurant. I’d read bad reviews and wasn’t over keen on taking a meal there, also, I was back from my walk quite late on in the afternoon, they were already eating when I arrived to pick up the key.
Their meals ranged from ‘Okay’ to inedible, it seemed I’d made the right decision to eat elsewhere.
After a clean up and change of clothes, I once again, headed up the road to Cark to the furthest pub, the Rose and Crown, it was packed.
A few minutes down the road, I popped my head in to the Engine Inn, they’d stopped serving walk ins. Seems a bit daft only serving people who had pre-booked given how many free tables there were.
Back down to the Hope and Anchor, they stopped serving at 6, although the choice would have been either Sunday roast or another burger.
A quick look on Google revealed the Pheasant Inn in Allithwaite served food until 9, and I’m so glad I went there!
Sitting in the adult only conservator, my starter came in a brown bag, I unwrapped it to reveal a lovely black pudding.
Main was a very nice slab of pork belly with crackling.
8.2 mile round trip for food, I felt I’d earned this, especially after the 12 miles earlier in the day!
Happily fed and watered, I put on my head torch and wandered down the country lanes with bats zipping round me.

Back in the caravan, the others had settled down for the evening. I too climbed in to bed and got comfy under my duvet.
Not my usual camping but no complaints!

Boudin Noir – French Black Pudding

It’s not just us British who like our black pudding/blood sausage, call it what you want, it appears on menus around the globe in various guises.

I visited France recently and had the opportunity to try boudin noir, one of France’s oldest charcuterie dishes.  In the past, the raising and subsequent slaughter of the family pig was common and no part of the animal was wasted.
Like the English black pudding, the main ingredient of the boudin noir is pork blood stuffed in a casing.

The boudin I ordered on my first night was served still in its casing,  covered with onions and served with salad potatoes and bacon.

French black pudding

Each producer has their own recipe but a traditional boudin  contains equal quantities of blood, fat, and cooked onions.
The spices are different to those used in the English black pudding. The inclusion of apple and omission of barley or oats are other notable differences.
The French apple brandy Calvados is often added to the boiudin noir mix along with cream. Even chestnuts can be added to some recipes.

I found it to be a lot softer and crumblier than it’s English counter part.
Very nice, although I think the English black pudding still beats it!

Back to Bled

Saturday 4th June
For the first in a long while, I was flying out to my holiday destination at a decent time, I didn’t have to leave my house until 10 am. The traffic  flowed freely and I arrived at Manchester airport before check in opened.  It was interesting to see how many pairs of  shiny new walking boots I saw  in the check in queue, perhaps new to walking? During the course of the week it became worryingly obvious how little experience and knowledge of the outdoors some people have.

Adria airways view from window This would be my seventh time  to Slovenia. The first visit was when the former Yugoslavian country was still outside the EU and my old passport has a few Brnik stamps.
I was now returning to the area where my love for the country first started, Lake Bled.

So what’s changed?
Well flight wise, a lot. Slovenia’s national carrier,  Adria Airways  still have the traditional check in at Manchester i.e. no online check-in (although it is slowly being rolled out) The only seat choice you get is aisle or window.
I was sat by the window on seat 9A on the Airbus A319. The place between me and the aisle seat was free which allowed me to spread out a little.
Gone are the days of the free meal and drinks, the only free beverage now is water although various drinks and snacks were available to buy.
The airline’s ‘OnAir’ service is good. Connect with the WiFi on your phone or tablet to play games, read magazine articles, play games or chat with other passengers. The aviation section  of the magazine is a particularly interesting read and, when the views were lost beneath clouds, the 2048 game passed the time.
It was a nice flight with a smooth landing.
Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport is small enough to allow you to pass through quickly and, once outside, a number of shuttle buses to Lake Bled were parked up. .Despite the terrible weather forecast, we saw blue skies when we landed and remained as I made my way to the Hotel Jelovica in Bled.

Balcony view hotel Jelovica Bled Slovenia
Balcony view

I was told at check-in that the hotel has no single rooms so I was given a good sized double room (369) with views of the church and castle. As with most hotels in Europe, there are no drink making facilities in the room, but there is a vending machine on the second floor filled with soft drinks and a few snacks.

Dinner is an all you can eat buffet which included free drinks; wine, beer, water or pop. As I entered the restaurant,  I gave my room number and was shown to my table for the week then just got up and helped myself.
My meal started with the Slovenian staple, thin beef soup with noodles. The salad came with a choice of dressing (I went for pumpkin oil), then it was steak  in a porcini sauce with duchess potatoes. There was also an impressive array of deserts which were very popular with those with a sweeter tooth than I!

I took a leisurely  wander to the lake after dinner, returning to room at 9.30 pm  for a drink and early night. Luckily, the church which was a few feet from my balcony turns the bells off at night, however, the ringing starts again at around 6.

Sunday 5th June
Woke fairly early after a decent sleep.
After breakfast, I took a stroll to the shopping centre by Hotel Golf.
Bled hasn’t changed much over the years but the supermarket opening times certainly have! Gone are the days of the Mercator closing Saturday afternoon and staying shut until Monday morning. Supermarket wine
One supermarket just up the road from my hotel on Presernova Cesta is open 7am – 9pm Monday to Saturday and 8am – 5pm Sundays & holidays. It even has a 24 hour vending machine offering drinks, sweets, ham, cheese and sandwiches.  I think this shop also has draft wine for you to fill your own bottles, I’m not 100% sure of this but have seen something similar in Pescasseroli, Italy.

The shopping centre contains a few bars and restaurants, the supermarket, pharmacy, clothes shops and the tourist information office.
Shopping in Slovenia is cheap – although compared to England almost everywhere is!  50p buys a half litre of Cola, 40p for a can.  80p gets a half litre bottle of beer.
Not that you go to Bled for the shopping!

After stocking up on a few drinks for the walk and for the room afterwards, I headed to the lake.
It was 9.15am and still reasonably quiet as I walked along the path on the ‘road side’ of the lake. It’s worth doing the lake walk early as it can get busy later in the day.

The 88 StepsNot far from the bottom end of the lake, there are three paths all heading to Osojnica, I took the third option.
Here came the start of the climb.
Although the path was through woodland and it was still early in the day, the temperature was already quite warm and humid.  I was glad of the drinks in my rucksack!

At one point there are 88 steps to ascend and some climbing, assisted with an iron rope and footholds but the views from the top are amazing!
Staza Hill dominates the right hand side of the lake with Bled directly ahead and Mlino on the right. I could also make out the mountains of the Karavanke range which mark the border with Austria.

Views over lake Bled

I continued on route 6 to Velika Osojnica. My map implied that once I got there I would need to retrace my steps a bit. The lack of markings past the view seemed to confirm that.
chamoisTo be honest, there are better,  unobstructed views along the walk but it’s another peak ticked off (756 metres) I returned to the junction of paths and continued straight on, passing some local wild life!

The path descends through woodland back to the Lake. I carried on around the lake until reaching a path to Visce. The route around the lake was getting busy and I was keen to get off the beaten track again.  (Continuing around the lake would make the walk five half miles in total)

SnakeIt didn’t take long to loose the crowds…. and come across  a snake doing battle with a frog!
Both went their separate ways when the sensed me coming, much to the frog’s relief! The masses on the lake path would probably have no idea of the types of wildlife just a few metres away.

I zig zagged around, passing the monument to Adolf Muhr, a merchant who once owned Bled castle.
The path eventually came out near the castle and from there I returned to the hotel to plan the next route.
This walk  was 7.45 miles/12km in total (starting and finishing at Hotel Jelovica)  and can be downloaded from the ViewRanger website

Given that it was early afternoon and the sun was still shining, I headed out again. I followed the single track roads through some villages to the South East of Bled.
It doesn’t take long to leave the centre of Bled and begin walking alongside fields with views of the mountains beyond.

Ribno
Ribno

This route took in the villages of Koritno, Bodešče and the larger village of Ribno.
Although I was  walking, I imagine it would make a nice bike ride which can be easily extended to include other villages.
I was walking mostly on roads but they are so quiet that it  never caused a problem. I also find the drivers in Slovenia to be extremely patient with walkers and cyclists.
This 5.8mile/9.44km route is available to download.

Dinner tonight was  tomato soup, salad, garlicky cray tails, venison ragu with 3 grains and mixed vegetables. Once again, very nice!

After dinner, at around 9pm I got my head torch and went for a walk round the lake. Initially I wondered if this was the best idea, lots of midges flying around but (unusually) none bothered me (perhaps it was the garlic) so I continued on for around  four miles.
Most of the path has some street lighting but it’s well worth taking a torch as it can get very dark in places particularly on the wooden walk way on the side furthest from town. It’s also worth taking a tripod, there are some lovely photo opportunities.

Lake Bled at night

This brings me on to something else, safety.
Despite being a female travelling alone, I am sometimes a little blasé  especially in Slovenia. I didn’t think twice about a night walk, however,  Slovenia is a very safe country, the World’s  10th safest in 2016 . Yes, there is a small amount of petty crime in the larger cities but the risks can be reduced by taking the usual common sense precautions.

Back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep….another walk planned for tomorrow!
Part 2 >>

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Everything’s better with bacon

BaconSo, you’ve made (or even bought!) some black pudding, what do you have with it, well bacon of course!

porkThe bacon starts as a pork loin joint picked up cheaply at Asda.
This makes good back bacon, for streaky bacon you’ll need belly pork.

CureTo this I added Prague Powder #1,  the most common of curing salts for short curing.

Bacon Mix And, add salt, brown sugar and black pepper.
I use the calculator on the Local Food Heroes website.

The pork goes in to a ziplock freezer bag, rub the mix all around the meat then, just leave it for a week or so in the fridge, turning and rubbing the meat daily (….blimey, that sounds like a euphemism!)

After a week, rinse the bacon in cold water, dry with a paper towel then put it on a rack and leave it to dry in the fridge. After a couple of days, it’s ready to slice!

Wrapped in foil, it lasts a few weeks in the fridge but also freezes well.

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