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Archive for September, 2009

I used to think Alton Towers had fantastic rollercoaster rides, I’ve been there a lot and everytime the rides were great.

Then I went to Islands of Adventure in Florida and the rollercoasters there were even better – faster, more spins more loops and totally different experiences, the Hulk and Dueling Dragons the clear winners.  Although I was also completely taken in by the Spiderman Simulation “Your Spider-Senses Will Be Tingling. Put on your 3-D glasses for an eye-popping, pulse-pounding, first-of-its-kind 3-D Spider-Man thrill ride.”  That really, truely was a thrill. I loved it!

Then, we went to Thorpe Park at the weekend (for the first time) and I was impressed.  Although compact and small in ground coverage compared to other big theme parks Thorpe Park still has the big rides that attract thrill seekers.   First up was Stealth (0-80mph in 2 seconds) fast, exhilirating and brilliant fun! But over fairly quickly so glad the queue was only 10 mins.   Then a nice ride on the rapids and luckily it was a sunny day as we did get soaked, quickly followed by Nemisis which was a great, fun and exciting ride.

Then the queueing began for Saw..The Ride.  Already just in the queue I was feeling petrified (I’ve only watched half of the first film as I was too scared) but I hadn’t come all that way (well an hours drive!) to wimp out. One hours queue later…  we’re in line, only 20 or so people to go and then we’re on.  Heart pounding, hands shaking and slightly sweaty brow forming…..an announcement is made “Technical fault… we appreciate your patience whilst riders are removed from the ride….” Hmmm, so 20mins later and the suspense has almost gone, very glad we’re not going to be the first people back on it. Anyway riders were finally removed off the ride, technical fault sorted and we were on.  Crickey was I scared.  But we did it, and it was amazing! Probably the best coaster I’ve ever been on, but that is probably somewhat down to how scared I was to begin with! Totally ACE!

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I love this time of year simply because there is so much free food around! Here’s a few pictures of the massive marrow, all the preserves and a really tasty Beef Wellington that we cooked up last weekend – it was fantastic and well worth the effort.

I do get quite obsessed with making and preserving when fruits are so abundant.  Mainly because the results taste great, make fantastic Christmas presents and I feel much better that food is not going to waste.

So much so that I even went out with a step ladder the other night to reach the masses of plums from a tree overhanging a public path where I regularly walk the dog.  I’ve had my eye on the deep purple fruits for a few weeks as the ground became more and more sticky and covered with windfall fruit – I couldn’t watch the waste any longer!  There is still plenty of fruit to be had but I’ll need a bigger ladder….

Also around where I live there is also an abundance of brambles with masses of blackberries.  Last weekend I was far from alone with my tupperware, steadily working my way along the branches collecting the deliciously dark berries and avoiding the thorns! Easily within 30mins I had about a kilo of fruit which is plenty for us, so I continued my cooking/preserving obsession by making Blackberry Jam last night.  I got 4 jars full and I’m really pleased with it as it is still sharp but sweet and hasn’t set too hard.

It’s the first time I’ve made Jam on my own (usually me and my mum have a jam making marathon weekend but we haven’t found time yet)  and my cast iron pan isn’t quite deep enough for good Jam Safety Standards!  With barely an inch to spare from the top, the moulten bubbling syrup was quite intimidating and needed a watchful eye throughout the whole process, but I’m pleased that both Plum and Blackberry Jam set quite well and didn’t cause any sticky kitchen disasters!

Anyway, this year I really have gone a bit mad and stored away to mellow in a dark cupboard (so far) are:

14 jars of Spiced Apple and Marrow Chutney,

6 jars of Red Onion and Tomato Chutney (made by H2B),

8 jars of Plum Chutney,

5 jars of Plum Jam and,

3 jars of Blackberry Jam (the forth is already half eaten!) And amazingly all this fruit and veg has been free!

I still have a few kilos of Cooking Apples from a friends trees (and many more apples still to be picked) and there are still plenty of blackberries and plums out there!  Plus I can’t forget all the tomatos I’ve grown that are still green – I think I might try Green Tomato Ketchup…

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