I hope you are in fine fettle and not allowing your self to become too disheartened or indeed totally confused by what we are and are not allowed to do, with how many people, in what order, under cover or alfresco, with one trouser leg rolled up and ones left index finger in your right ear whilst facing East! If anyone does work it out before I split the atom later today I would be most grateful to know! Madness to one side its been a big week in our household as all four of the loons returned to school which three days in appears to have been a huge success although Charlie did feel the need to inform me as I left this morning that it might be rather a “long weekend” as “we already have 4 VERY tired Children”. That has clearly prompted me to ensure that I am now smoking 400 chicken breasts on Saturday so sadly won’t be there to don my riot gear and prevent the inevitable blood shed until at least half of them are in bed on Saturday evening! Before you think it, yes I am indeed a coward and this missive is exactly how Mrs P will discover that she is flying solo on Saturday!
My view throughout the last 6 months and will be going forward is that all we can do is take a deep breath and smile and do our best to help others to follow suit. My pathetic way of doing this is rather unsurprisingly food! So, if you would like anything from a September Box or a hot smoked side of salmon to a selection of pates and some goats cheese to give yourself a gastronomic lift or to send to a chum that maybe feeling a little glum then just go to www.brownandforrest.co.uk or call me in the office on 01458 250875 and we will get whatever you fancy delivered to any door of your choosing. You have up until midday tomorrow to ensure things arrive in time for the weekend.
We are living in uncertain times and it would appear that the water is about to get a bit choppy again but feel safe in the knowledge that everything will feel like a mill pond compared to the rolling seas I am about to find myself adrift in once Mrs P reads this and realises that I intend to spend at least half of the weekend in a different postcode to four exhausted children a mad dog and a soon to be physically violent wife!
My very best regards to you,
We have the most glorious morning here in Somerset the air is almost crisp, the sky is blue as blue and the view from my desk here at the smokery is quite simply good for the soul.
It has been a brilliantly busy week here with so many folk placing lovely orders for this long weekend. I have to confess to feeling more than a tad weary recently which is rather embarrassing as my amazing crew here have definitely been putting in longer shifts than me.
There are two major concerns that my weariness causes. The first is that I yawn a lot and Amber whose throne is two meters away from mine literally looks murderously in my direction as she claims that I have the longest and noisiest yawns in the world and they appear to have the same effect on her as nails scraping down a blackboard have on so many others! The other issue is a new one which has only presented itself in the last couple of mornings. As is our way at home on a weekend morning I make tea and hot chocs and the loons congregate in our room. The conversations that take place are never very normal as you can probably imagine but yesterday as I phased in and out Stan gave my face a little slap and said “Daddy we are waiting!” when I enquired “what for?” there was a collective sigh from all five of them and Stan said, completely seriously, “we want to know which of the Teletubbies would you like to throw off the Empire State Building and what you think would happen to them when they landed”. I’m putting this most bizarre of questions down to my exhaustion as if I don’t then I fear I must follow the path of my own childhood and have them all psychologically tested!
One of the products that has been so popular this week is the whole side of sliced smoked salmon we have on offer for £35 delivered. Due to its popularity we have had to step up production a bit and hence I have been unloading and reloading the kilns this morning. I very nearly dropped a whole rack just now and as I turned to slide a rack out of the smoker daughter number 1 – Nancy was suddenly there brandishing her phone. To say I jumped would be a slight understatement but the product of her labour is here for you to see. I apologise for anyone who is offended by my Harlequin rugby jersey but it would be quite nice if they could beat Northampton today. The photo does also capture the amazing colour of the salmon as a finished product quite nicely too I thought. They remain on offer until close of play tomorrow as does the August Box. It is also the last day and a half to get free delivery on any orders you place. The offer finishes at midnight tomorrow so whatever you would like to order for whenever you would like it delivered, be it a birthday present in October or a dinner party in January if you place the order by tomorrow the delivery will be free.
Finally, I thought I ought to share something that happened this week that not only made me feel old as it was a clear example of the passage of time but also has made me fear for my future quite significantly. On Thursday evening having decided we would have ‘Fajita Friday’ a day early (please don’t ask) I gained permission to pop to the local and meet a mate of mine called Ben for a quick catch up and a pint. All was fine and as I left the house I suggested I would be back by 7pm at the latest. One of the many issues that these mad times has caused is that one-way systems and queuing times in order to get ones libations have significantly added to the time it takes to have a pint (that is my story and I’m sticking to it). So, having had to do this twice, and have a significant chat with Ben about the price of rugby international tickets at Twickenham in 1989 (it was £3 by the way) it was just after 7.15pm and fast approaching 7.30pm by the time I returned. Now, I am not a complete fool so possibly expected a slight scolding and a moderately stern glare from Mrs P. What I was not prepared for was that Mrs P was fine and the tirade that appeared to be bouncing off the kitchen walls was in fact pouring out of my 14-year-old daughter Nancy. When I heard the phrase “7 o’clock should mean 7 o’clock and not 7.30!” I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Supper was not quite ready and feeling a bit peckish I got myself a bag of crisps which before I could open were ripped from my hand by the same child with the words “you will spoil your supper if you eat those now”. I knew then it was indeed time to cry as on the basis that she is only 14 and Edith who was cheering from the side-lines is 11, I am in really deep trouble for the next eight years at least!
I hope you manage to enjoy the elongated weekend and remember teaching children to tell the time can have serious consequences on ones social life in the future!
My very, very best regards,
Good Morning, from a somewhat calmer Somerset than we have had for the last 48 hours! The wind has been fairly whistling “through every nook and every cranny” which has caused to my ears the odd bit of confusion. As you may be aware we are currently residing in a lovely furnished cottage for a month before moving to what we hope will be our forever house in September. It’s brilliantly kitted out including that wonderful and rare thing of a whistling Kettle. We had one when I was little, a million years ago. Anyway, when the wind was at its wildest I was constantly dashing to take the kettle off the hob only to find it was cold and not responsible! My children and wife are slightly less enamoured with it as yesterday when making the early morning brew for everyone I had a call of nature and then started to read the cartoon picture on the wall. I obviously got rather too involved as by the time I switched back to consciousness it sounded like there was someone being murdered in the kitchen. Before I could react it went silent and when I emerged from the downstairs convenience I was greeted by three very cross looking, very bleary eyed ladies one being my wife and the other two my daughters who suggested they were awake a tiny bit prematurely due to me being a halfwit! As ever I had no defence and my suggestion of “I didn’t know it could make that much noise did you?” didn’t seem to pacify them or interest them in the slightest!
Anyway it is the middle of the week again and we have a bank holiday weekend upon us. So if you have any family feasting or long weekend socialising planned you only have until noon tomorrow to place your orders to ensure you get what you need for the weekend.
Also remember that until the end of the week it is free delivery on everything whenever you would like it delivered. So if it’s for this weekend or indeed a birthday gift in October if you place your order before close of play next Monday you won’t be charged for delivery!
I hope the week is going well for you and remember not everyone enjoys the nostalgia of a whistling kettle as much as you may think!
My very best regards,
Good afternoon from my kitchen table where to my right Nancy informs me she is doing some planning for her novel?! It’s book three in a series of eight! If, as we are assuredly taught everything is down to genetics then I can only draw the conclusion that I probably ought to be a tiny bit concerned about her parentage as at 14 I could barely write my name, and if anyone suggested I did anything that involved a book I turned a whiter shade of pale and ran. That attitude certainly had a hand in my impressive GCSE results which when read aloud sounded like an ancient Indian Dialect UUGDUEB, before anyone asks the triumphant B was in Drama!
It’s been a lovely week at the Smoke if a little warm next to the hot smoker. The crew have been in good order other than their constant winging that they are a good deal more smoked than when Tim is at the helm and it’s not me smoking all week. As I have already mentioned a number of times this week it is simply a very unusual wind direction but it falls on deaf ears. By way of a peace offering I sponsored a Cider and Pizza outing for them to Ambers local on Thursday night which gave me much merriment nearly all day on Friday as the heat got more and more oppressive and I talked louder and louder as I watched them yawn a lot and physically wince at any sudden head movements that were necessary.
Possibly the most shocking thing to happen this week is that unlike at the start of it the end of it is August! That means two things, firstly we move house really rather soon and secondly that it’s time to introduce our new box and offers for this month.
All delivered to any door of your choosing for £35 which is a saving of jolly nearly £15As it’s the month of so much summer feasting and congregating I have also decided to put our ever-popular whole side of sliced cold smoked salmon on offer all month at £35 delivered which is a saving of £10.
I hopee you enjoy them and remember you don’t have to have them delivered right now in order to get the benefit of the offers. You can have them at any date in the future of your choosing (as long as it’s a Tues – Fri) so if you want one in October no problem at all you just have to order it this month to get the benefit.
After a busy morning at work yesterday I managed to escape for a couple of hours for a lovely family lunch with Charlie’s family in Muchelney. We were celebrating the 6th birthday of Wilf, Charlie’s nephew and the Loons cousin. It was great fun with a delicious lunch in the garden and culminating with that bizarre phenomena of everyone deciding that they are in fact a world leader in the field of lighting birthday cake candles with a match in a slight breeze and that everyone else is clearly a halfwit. Slowly the box of matches passes from failed expert to failed expert before everyone agrees to just light the sparkler in the middle and to sing Happy Birthday very quickly before it too goes out. The other great excitement was that Molly, Charlie’s youngest sister and my goddaughter (she is very young and we have been together a long time) donned her extraordinary ‘Banana suit’ which allowed me to give her a hug for the first time since early March which was lovely. The only downside being that as a wearer of hearing aids the noise resembled what can only be described as getting trapped under a duvet made of crisp packets! It was a great family gathering which could have ended in a Godiva like fashion had my fabulous sister-in-law Tambo accepted my challenge. She enquired, a tiny bit forlornly, what she had to do to make it into a Sunday Ramblings. I simply replied that anything drastic would do like dancing round the garden naked singing opera? In true Meatloaf style she said “I’ll do anything but I won’t do that!” As a few know I’ve always been a tiny bit scared of her so have decided that being the coolest of aunts, who the loons adore is probably enough to get a mention!
I hope you enjoy the new offers and feast well on them.
And remember a ‘B’ in Drama is never to be underestimated!
My very best regards,
www.brownandforrest.co.uk 01458 250875
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,
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,
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.
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.
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
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.
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”.
Have a great rest of week
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,