Bertie’s unpacking & weekly ramble

I have to confess to writing this to you a little earlier than usual as it is a monsoon-like Saturday afternoon as I look across the levels from my desk whilst listening to Broad and Anderson torment the West Indies batsmen on Test Match Special.  The shop has been open on a Saturday for the first time since the madness began and it’s been lovely to see how busy we are.  Steph and Evie have been making copious amounts of bacon butties, takeaway coffees and hot sausage rolls to go with all the well filled shopping bags.

The other thing I have to admit to is that a tiny part of me is hiding here at the smoke this afternoon.  The reason for this is that last night when I got home for ‘Fajita Friday’, something that has become a lockdown tradition, where my three girls and I feast on fajitas as a celebration of making it to the end of another week.  Anyway, last night I bounced into the house to find Nancy and Edith sitting in silence and Mrs P doing her best to compete with the entire percussion section of the Royal Philharmonic during the best bit of the 1812 overture with the help of any pan and baking tray she could lay her hand on.  A swift look at Nancy received her eyes rising to the sky and a very slow shake of the head.  When I tentatively enquired lightly if everything was ok and that I was just off to tuck the boys in I got a terrifying glare and was instructed that I was not allowed to do that as Bertie was in deep trouble!  As you are aware, we are moving house in a week or two and Charlie has done pretty much everything regarding house packing.  Yesterday she finally finished boxing up the last of the books.  It turns out that Bert had asked if he could get a book that had been packed and was on the top crate and was told of course told he could.  20 minutes later Charlie headed back upstairs turn their light out to find the entire contents of five boxes of books spread across the whole landing.  My spies tell me that Guy Fawkes himself would have been proud of the explosion that followed.  It was a very muted Fajita Friday and the fear of returning to a similar scenario later today may lead to a somewhat elongated ramble and possibly even a pint on the way home!

Enough of the Pattisson domestic trials and much more importantly, and almost as scary, we are now into the very last week of July.  This means that our most popular of monthly lockdown boxes our JULY BOX will only be available for one more week.  It has been a huge success with its cold smoked salmon, whole duck breast, smoked nuts, mackerel pate, sliced ham and trout fillets but will come to an end on Friday.

Also, our Family Feasting Box and Salmon Box will come to an end.  So, if you definitely know you or anyone you know would like one even if they don’t need it until September you must order them by the end of this week.

Our whole Hams, cheeses and sides of salmon are also proving hugely popular at the moment and are fantastic gifts to take when arriving as house guests or wanting something to fill the fridge on arrival at your holiday cottage.  We can also deliver direct to the door of any holiday homes that you may have rented which can make life a lot easier I’m told.

Finally, on the theme of it not having been the smoothest week I’ve ever had I thought I might share with you my nightmare when innocently popping up to Goose Slade Farm to collect yet more of their amazing goose and plum sausages.  All was fine, I arrived had my usual chat with Phil, who is the farmer and also an amazing Butcher, loaded up the truck with the made-that-morning sausages, hopped in and turned the key to be received by absolutely nothing except a tiny click and the radio kicking into life, again I tried and again and nothing at all.  Phil came out and rubbed his chin “it’s your starter motor” he said and went and got a hammer.  That didn’t work, neither did a tow round the yard and so the sausages went back into their chiller and I awaited my friends from the AA.  After an hour or so I received a call to say he would be with me in 30 minutes and then another when he was 10 mins away.  At this point I, for no apparent reason, turned the key again only for Barbara (that’s what the loons call the truck) to burst into life almost in unison with the poor AA man pulling up alongside me.  He was delightful about it and when he had done some checks and discovered that I owned the “Smokery at Hambridge” cheered right up.  I on the other hand have rarely felt more stupid, which is saying something, and my distrust and fear of anything with an engine in it has now increased tenfold.  Andrew my hero in yellow shining armour was sent a July Box as a thank you for not being too mean to me and as far as I know Farmer Phil is still laughing!

I cannot delay it any longer and with trepidation will head home shortly although a pint with my mate Dorothy (he of the ruby slippers) at the Barrington Boar en route feels like a prudent idea.

Have a lovely rest of weekend and remember an AA man can always be won over however silly you’ve been but a wife cannot if there are copious amounts of books and a boy called Bertie involved.

My very, very best regards,

Jess

Pattisson’s awards evening & weekly ramble

Good morning from a very damp Somerset.  Having promised the loons a serious family game of cricket today I am banking on the sworn by saying of my dad’s, which he would repeatedly use to cheer me up when I was young and had a cricket match later in the day on a very, very wet morning, “Rain before 7 fine by 11”.  On that basis let’s hope we are all in shorts and T-shirts and smelling of sun cream before the first ball is hurled down in anger later on!

I am under orders to empty the truck completely and bring home as many crates as I can find for storing all the ridiculous number of books we have, and that if I don’t sort through all my clothes today voluntarily Charlie will simply do it herself – if she hasn’t seen me wear it in the last six weeks it’s going to be recycled?!  I did suggest that that would clearly be silly as there had not been much call for morning suits and cricket whites in the last four months to which my eyes were held in a vice like glare and it was pointed out that she was not silly, it had been six weeks since I had first promised to do it, had I remembered we had to move house in three weeks’ time and did I have anything else to offer up in defence?  Clearly when you read this, I will be knee deep in long forgotten rugby shirts trying to come up with a good enough reason to be allowed to keep them!

 

I spent most of yesterday making rather a lot of salmon pate in readiness for the SALMON BOX which is available from today.  We decided to do this following the enormous success of the trout box which we did a few weeks ago.

The SALMON BOX will contain 200g cold smoked salmon, 2 hot smoked salmon steaks and a 200g pot of salmon pate all delivered to any door of your choosing for £29 which is a saving of very nearly £7.  It’s a lovely way of trying all three versions of salmon that we offer and if you are already a salmon lover its clearly mana from heaven.

Our large Friends and Family Feast Box has proved hugely popular and along with our July Box of goodies are all still available through the website www.brownandforrest.co.uk or just call Amber in the office from 9 am tomorrow morning on 01458 250875

 

I think one of the strangest things for the loons, and indeed most of us, through this bizarre locked down world we have been living in is that nothing really appeared to have a start or an end, everything simply merged into one continuous stream of nameless days with a permanent undercurrent of repetition.  The loons like everyone else did 2/3 of their school year in the normal way and the final third at home.  Usually there would have been the huge hullabaloo of changing schools, form tutors, finishing exams and last week of term mayhem, that to my eyes tends to almost border on the insane.  This doesn’t even take into account the long list of teachers that the loons want to give presents too!!   On Monday evening Mrs P was feeling a bit glum about all this and said we needed to do something to mark the end of term.  Her solution was more than a little eccentric, as is her way, but brilliant.  We formally wrote to all four of the loons inviting them to the inaugural awards evening of ‘The Pattisson School of Academic Excellence‘, which had been created by the terrifying headmistress Mrs C A Pattisson sometime in March!  The dress was to be smart, the food delicious and the time 6.00pm sharp at the front door and to please ring the bell.  They all duly arrived and were given drinks and nibbles before the headmistress started handing out the gongs with a citation for each winner.  Thankfully, and by some miracle, they had all managed to win something.  We then had a feast of all their favourites and finished with a family sitting of yet another playing of ‘The Great Escape’ which all four adore and quote every line from repeatedly.  It was a brilliant evening full of madness and a lot of laughter.  The girls looked as stunning as their mother and to my great relief my dress shirt still closed around the collar and my ability to tie my bow tie still remained.  I try not to be too soppy and sentimental about things but the pride I feel in Charlie and the loons for getting through the maddest and sometimes hardest of times is immeasurable and something I know I could not have done had the roles been reversed.

As I look out across the levels from my desk here at the smoke it would appear that dad was right again.  The sun is out and cricket awaits but not before the clothes have been sorted – I promise!

 

My very best regards,

 

Jess

Hair cuts & feastings!

I think the point of no return was on Monday night when I awoke to find my fringe in my mouth! I gagged and then attempted unsuccessfully to sleep for the rest of the night in a cap.

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So, first thing yesterday morning I made an appointment and upon entering the hairdressers was greeted by laughter and the comment “I will need paying double time to take that on”. After much merriment at my expense and a myriad of comments such as “does anyone have a hedge trimmer?” and “I think I’ve found something alive in here” my bonnet was reduced to something resembling normal. I duly sent before and after photos to daughter number one Nancy, and all I received back was a text saying “who are you and what have you done with mullet man?”. Upon returning home in the evening Stan (5) said “oh no! what have you done?” and Mrs P uttered the brutal words “well that will take some getting used to”. This morning as I left them all supping tea in our bed, I thought I would see if any form of humanity had returned and said “does it make me look a bit younger?” Edith laughed somewhat manically and Charlie simply said “not really, just completely different”. I rarely storm anywhere but I think we can safely say I stormed out this morning quite beautifully and slammed the door with great aplomb!

It has been a very traumatic 24 hours and when such trauma occurs one never knows what time is doing and suddenly here we are on Wednesday morning with only 24 hours left to get anything you would like delivered before the weekend.

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The JULY BOX of smoked salmon, hot smoked duck, trout fillets, mackerel pate, smoked nuts and sliced ham has been incredibly well received and is all delivered to any door of your choosing for £35

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The FAMILY FEASTING BOX has also proved really popular for all the lovely bigger reunions going on this weekend with a whole baked ham, 600g smoked salmon, whole side of smoked trout , 4 chicken breasts and a bottle of delicious Rose. This is delivered to where ever and whoever you may choose for £85 (a saving of £30) simply add bread and salad and it will feed two or three families royally for a couple of meals.

 

All our other hampers and products are available like our pates, scallops, pork belly, pastrami, and cheeses. All you need to do to order is either call Amber in the office on 01458 250875 or order on line at www.brownandforrest.co.uk Please also ask if there is anything else you need or would like putting in from avocados to bread making flour via fudge and ginger biscuits, if we have it in the shop you can have it and if we haven’t we can always try and get it for you.

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I hope your week has been less traumatic than mine and that your families are rather less brutal with their honesty or as mine see it their “comedy gold”.

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Have a great rest of week

Best regards,

Jess

Sunny Sussex!

I write this to you very early this morning sat at my parent’s kitchen table in East Sussex.  My darling Dad has just delivered a bucketful of delicious strong tea and we are sat looking at the most glorious of mornings arriving over the Downs in a companionable silence.  Somerset, The Smokery, Mrs P and the loons is home and where I belong but to come to somewhere so familiar and be with my folks after what feels like a lifetime really is the most wonderful thing.  Nancy and Edith who rode shotgun to keep me company and awake on the journey are still fast asleep, as is their Granny.  It wasn’t a planned trip but a last minute essential one and to be allowed at last to do it has been a joy.

We arrived laden with food for what Charlie calls a “Sunny Day Lunch” as my sister and her family joined us and we sat safely distanced in the garden and had a feast.  It made me think that a lot of our orders this week had been a bit bigger and involved such things as whole sides of hot smoked salmon, hams and multiple chicken breasts.  People are definitely beginning to feel a bit braver and like me are having family gatherings, seeing friends they haven’t and are also daring to go on holidays in long ago booked campsites and cottages which slightly to their surprise they are still allowed to fulfil.  On that basis Tim and I have come up with a box for this week which is slightly different and much bigger than our usual offerings.  The idea being that all you need to do is add bread and salad and you have a feast for two or three families.

Friends & Family Feast Box

1 x 600g cold smoked salmon

4 x hot smoked chicken breasts (we will also enclose our amazing coronation chicken recipe)

1.5 kg whole baked ham

1 whole side of hot smoked trout

1 bottle of Gris Marin Rose

The price for this will be £85 delivered a saving of £30.

So many folk have asked recently if we are able to add a bottle of something to their orders that we thought we would put one in.  This Rose is utterly delicious and is from Paddy my local wine merchant.  I hope this might be something of use if like so many others you are taking the first tentative steps of having the odd alfresco social gathering.

As you can imagine the girls and I had quite a fun trip from Somerset to Sussex we left in jolly good time at 7.15am for which I congratulated them both.  So, you can imagine my frustration when at 7.30am we had driven just 200yds up the lane and were still stationary.  The reason for this was that having worked on an enormous playlist for our road trip the girls could not get their phone to ‘talk’ to the car and refused to go any further until I had made it do so.  Anyone who knows me knows that technology of any sort leaves me cold and in most cases is an irritant so in my usual way I simply pressed every button in front of me on the car radio and switched the car on and off about 8 times as the tension and temperature in the car rose dramatically and the air got a good  bit bluer.  Eventually some piece of music by someone called The Vamps blared out at me and I was allowed to recommence our journey!  I also firmly withdrew my congratulations for being in the car at the requested time and drove in silence towards the A303!

I must away as the girls and granny have now appeared and there is talk of eggy bread for breakfast!

My very, very best regards,

Jess

Drinking lego & Test match delayed!

As I dragged myself from my bed this morning, I say my bed when actually it was Stanley’s bed. He is still of the firm opinion that from any time after midnight wandering in to our room and putting his face as close to mine as possible until I wake, see him through one bleary eye no less than an inch from my face, leap at least a foot in the air and desperately try not to wake his mother on landing, that actually my bed is his and vice versa! Anyway, I digress as I looked out of the window to see a good deal of soft refreshing rain, I remembered that of course it was raining there is meant to be a Test Match starting today against the West Indies! So, what I thought would be a glorious day of packing orders, making pate and listening to Test Match Special will now be much the same tasks but with the dreaded Radio One blaring in the background instead! When one feels so grumpy about such disappointments, I fear one must really be getting a tad old!?

However, it also means that it is Wednesday and that in order to make sure you get anything you need for your gastronomic plans in time for the weekend you only have 24 hours left to place your order to ensure you do.

The JULY BOX has astounded us with its popularity (hence I’m making mackerel pate for a good part of the day). It has smoked salmon, whole duck breast, trout fillets, sliced ham, smoked nuts and mackerel pate all wrapped packed and delivered for £35.

Alternatively, if you are thinking BBQ, we have buckets of goose and plum sausages, salmon steaks, smoked Halloumi, pork belly or smoked mackerel which all are all perfect for it. 

As long as you order by midday tomorrow you can have as much or as little as you like delivered in time for any weekend feasting you may have planned.

Have a lovely day and remember never assume that the cup next to your five-year olds bed is water … a mouthful of Lego people and coins is not good at 2am!

My very best regards,

Jess

Aunty Molly, Tik Tok & July!

I write to you this morning from a West Country which is a good bit fuller than it was 48 hours ago! Having headed North on the delightful public highway the A303 for a short while yesterday morning the net worth alone of stationary caravans, surf boards, bicycles and roof boxes would I suspect go a good way towards clearing off the current deficit being looked at in Whitehall.  It would also appear that as in all other things we have now joined the folk on the other side of the pond in yet another of their celebrations by going mad on the ‘4th of July’.  The times are most certainly changing and with every sinew crossed and all single magpies ignored our lives appear to be allowed to gently start again, which in the end is simply the very best news.

Certainly here in our household it has brought about some changes, the most significant being that Aunt Molly (my sister in law) who has had to totally shield throughout, decided she could not survive any longer without hugs from the four loons.  She discovered, and purchased, something which for obvious reasons has been christened her “banana suit” which when she is fully enclosed in it enables her to hug and squeeze them all to her hearts content.  I missed its first outing but am assured by Mrs P and my mother in law that there wasn’t a dry eye in the house (garden).  I asked Stan this morning what his views were on it to which he replied that it was very funny, but I won’t do it again as she didn’t smell very nice!  I attach a picture.

 

The JULY BOX seems to have caught everyone’s attention and I was delighted to find myself packing them as fast as I possibly could for despatch on Thursday afternoon.  I think we can safely say that, unlike my good self when wandering about on a cricket field, this is a really good all-rounder.  If you missed its first mention on Wednesday here it is again: –

 

JULY BOX

200g cold smoked salmon

1 x whole smoked duck breast

2 x hot smoked trout fillets

100g x smoked cashews and almonds

200g sliced baked ham

100g smoked mackerel Pate

All delivered to any door of your choosing for £35

 

Everything can be ordered on the website www.brownandforrest.co.uk or over the phone Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm on 01458 250875

Finally, I thought I would share an ordeal with you that Charlie (my wife) and I had to endure a week or so ago.  In this world there is something called ‘TIK TOK’ I am assured that most of the developed world is entirely au fait with it and knows exactly what it is.  I did, and still do strongly dispute this, but as history has since related it would certainly appear that sadly there are rather a significant number of folk who do indeed know what it is and how to use it!  For those of you that don’t it is basically a method of taking some poor bewildered, probably over tired and definitely naive parents, dressing them up, taking them into their garden and asking them to strike odd poses and stand in strange places whilst continually nodding their heads and then filming them doing it.  I know, I know the questions of “why on earth would you?” and “do you have any control over your children?” followed quickly by “how much do you drink?” are all incredibly valid and all I will say in our defence is simply that a very strictly observed lockdown, two daughters who appear to be nearly as scary as their mother and possibly too many glasses of something delicious over Sunday lunch appeared to have been enough to make us yield.

 

The end result was something no one can possibly imagine but most horrifyingly of all a good many folk don’t have to as the three oldest sent it to their classmates and their form tutors as an example of ‘something creative’ they did over the weekend.  Social services have not come calling yet but I fear it is only a matter of time. I’m afraid a picture is attached.

 

I hope you have a wonderful gently eased lockdown week and remember if anyone of the younger generation walks towards you with a smoking jacket and a Viking helmet under one arm and an iPad under the other, run and hide!

My very, very best regards to you.

 

Jess

June ends, a lovely picture & reports!

Good morning from a rather damp and stormy Somerset.  After the extreme heat of the middle of the week, it was rather a relief to have the temperature drop almost as fast as the torrents of rain we had here on Thursday night.  It is safe for me to admit to this now but the first thing I thought when woken by the noise of the rain in the middle of the night was quite how bad/horrendous a mood poor Amber would be in as having cut and turned their hay earlier in the week they were planning to bale and store it all on Friday!  So it was a relief when having sent my commiserations to her first thing on Friday morning to have a reply of smiling faces saying they had got it all in by midnight on Thursday!

 

It has been a rather strange week at The Smokery as I was stealing a few days off.  The huge heat makes a very old building an extremely hot and hard place to work and then one of our number had a huge sadness out of the blue.  I am always impressed by my amazing team at the smoke but their compassion and maturity in helping one of their own acknowledge, deal and then react to such news has been simply outstanding and I have never been more proud of them.

 

We are now entering the last few days of what has been our popular June Box and our Whole Baked Ham offers so if you would like to order one for any date in the future then you only have until close of play on Tuesday to do so.  Remember you can specify a date you would like your order delivered, so for example if you wanted to order a ham for Christmas delivery you could do that and still receive this months offer price, you just have to order it by Tuesday!  I was delighted with how many people took up the offer of the Trout Box this week and I will definitely do similar offers in the future as it seems a sensible way to introduce folk to products they might not usually try?

 

When I returned from the Smokery late yesterday afternoon Charlie said that someone had delivered a present to the door but that she had no idea who as Bertie had answered the door and as usual he was “away with the fairies”.  Upon opening a beautifully wrapped parcel with a ribbon and brown paper I was truly moved to find a hand drawn picture of our house on the lane we live on in our village.  It is perfect and very poignant as we are soon to leave a house we have loved and lived in for a good few years.  The card simply said “Thank you for keeping us going with fruit and veg through the worst of the lockdown”.  Delivering food boxes of various shapes and sizes to peoples doors locally in the evenings seemed a tiny and sensible thing to do if folk needed it, and was never a hardship in anyway at all.  So to receive such a special gift for such a small service has completely thrown me and as ever moved me to tears. Thank you Gill Cox it will always be up on a Pattisson wall from here onwards.

 

Finally, it was with some trepidation that Charlie and I opened the envelopes that it transpired contained the boys school reports especially having experienced first hand this week the nightmare that is home schooling!  Apparently losing your rag and suggesting in a slightly raised tone (definitely not shouting) “how do you not understand that?” is not a good technique and is clearly jolly frowned upon by both student and his mother!  It appears we needn’t have worried as both boys have clearly managed to pull the wool over their respective teachers eyes.  It was when we informed them how chuffed we were that the trouble began.  In our house if your first ever school report, at the end of your first year, is a good one that child can choose an overnight trip and treat.  The three previous winners of this family award have done such things as the Natural History Museum, Tower of London and Bristol Zoo.  Stanley however decided very early on where and what he would like to do and to our horror has not waivered at all.  Thankfully he seems to be taking the news very well that purely due to Covid 19, and no other reason, we are unable to take him to the Amazon river and Rainforest although his sisters Edith and Nancy have decided it is hugely amusing to explain that the world is opening up in July and to ask again then!

 

I hope you have that you have a good week ahead.

 

My very best regards and remember assuming your child will get a bad school report could be a very, very costly mistake!

 

Jess

Trout box, Bertie & roast lamb!

I hope this finds you in fine fettle and that a good and jolly Sunday lies ahead for you.  I am already rather over excited as one of the big treats for Father’s Day, which I received on Friday evening, was to be allowed the huge honour (in our house) of selecting the main ingredient of today’s Sunday Roast.  As a result, there is a shoulder of lamb at home that has been in the oven since 7am and is by now a good way into its slow roasting journey.  I have also received the most delicious looking bottle of Bordeaux to go with it so I apologise now if this is missive is a little more concise than usual but I am desperate to get home and get feasting!

 

We have had a lovely week here at the Smoke with everyone in good order. Tim is a new man as we have finally had the Wi-Fi downstairs sorted out and he no longer has to stand on one leg, with one arm in the air and his tongue sticking out in order to get any sort of reception.  Amber managed to have Friday off and Tyna and Steph managed to exit the building before 6pm on at least two occasions which is a rare treat indeed.  As for me I actually manged to swing a golf club in anger for the first time in eight months on Wednesday afternoon which was a joy.  The promised thunderstorms duly arrived and as we wondered up the 13th fairway a huge flash of lightning overhead did make me turn to one of my playing partners and suggest we were completely mad.  He simply looked at me and said in a very serious tone and his strong Somerset accent “Tis only sheet lightning – that can’t kill you”.  I stood corrected and we played on.  However, I did chuckle to myself that should he be misinformed it would form the most wonderful epitaph on all four headstones.

 

I had a funny conversation with a lady earlier this week who had ordered cold smoked trout by mistake and rang me to say how utterly delicious it was and that she now had a new favourite that she would never had tried but for her cumbersome fingers on her keyboard.  This got me thinking that in my humble opinion all things trout are slightly passed over and are genuinely delicious and slightly different.  Tim suggested we should do a TROUT BOX offer this week to give you a chance to try all versions of our amazing trout in one go hopefully without breaking the bank.  I am delighted to offer you for this week only: –

 

Trout Box for just £26 delivered to your door it will contain: –

200g cold smoked trout

2 x hot smoked trout fillets

1 x 200g trout pate

 

We appear to be moving at breakneck speed towards July so I thought I would also remind you that our June Box remains available for one more week as does our Whole Baked Ham which can both be delivered for a total price of £35 each.

Finally, I thought I would tell you about a lovely road trip that Bertie (8) and I had yesterday.  We went up to Berkshire to visit some great friends of ours who have just finished building the most amazing winery and wanted me to see it.  With the weather set fair so that we could be outside all the time we set off.  We had the most brilliant morning and their daughter Charlotte entertained and ran Bertie ragged.  When it came time to leave, I was somewhat shocked to see a large box of “junk that Bertie says he would like to take home” being manhandled into the car.  As you may remember we are soon to be moving house and the general direction that ‘junk’ takes is out of the house not into it.  As we neared home I felt an unmistakable wave of anxiety building up as I began to rehearse the explanation I would offer to Mrs P regarding its arrival in the homestead.  I needn’t have worried Bertie was miles ahead of me and from the moment we pulled into the drive he took on the role of Father Christmas greeting and gathering his siblings with cries of “look at the presents I have bought for you” he somehow pulled it off, although I am still unconvinced that there is an essential need of a pink flamingo handwarmer and a bright yellow cushion disguised as an emoji in our lives?

 

I am away to pull the cork on that bottle of Bordeaux as the acceptable hour of alcohol consumption fast approaches and I’m convinced I can actually smell that lamb from five miles away!

 

Have a restful day and remember sheet lightening can’t kill you (allegedly) and life is not even close to complete without a pink flamingo handwarmer.

My very, very best regards to you.

 

Jess