It’s our first Christmas in Devon and Molly and I have been making the cottage christmassy, by putting up fairy lights and setting up speakers for our cd/tape player to listen to music. Bowls of satsuma’s and apples are on the table and the dogs seem to always be sprawled out on the floor with their legs in the air asleep.
On Wednesday we did a Christmas night market at Piazza Terracina, Exeter, the last market of 2015. A perfect oval of food stalls with music playing by Sandie Horlier and The Locked Horns. A few couples dancing and crowds of people mooching around deciding what to eat. It was on and off rain but we had four hours of clear weather until our journey back when it tipped it with rain. We set up our new front board which we couldn’t wait to see what it looked like. Just now needs painting black now and then chalk added on.
This morning we went for a long dog walk on Dartmoor in the blistering wind and rain. A sheet of mist covering our view. Both dogs drenched from head to toe. Wind whistling through our ears. Back home, we made a fire, opened a few pressies and put the chicken in the oven ready for Christmas dinner. Molly is preparing the veg and stuffings. I made a fruit cake for pudding.
Can’t believe it’s Autumn already. Seems unreal that we have been living in Devon for four months already.
Last weekend was dad’s 57th birthday. His first birthday in Devon and with both Molly and I at University, he decided to drive up to Dorset to spend the day on a farm, where they were holding a harvest film festival. He was invited by a friend (whom he met when dad and I went to Dorset about a month ago to talk about cooking for Diwali festival). He took the dogs with him and spent the day watching short films, meeting people and walking the dogs.
He phoned me the next day to say that he had a lovely time, but classic dad, he lost his keys while walking the dogs on the land, but found them again with a metal detector.
I booked tickets for dad to go to the Powederham Food Festival at the beginning of the month. Hoping for dad to book some festival dates for 2016. I wanted dad to check out the buzz of the place and see what the stalls and atmosphere was like. Dad phoned to say that there were lots of people, amazing smells and a few stalls he had seen before.
The farm is looking good. Took longer than expected but slowly slowly. Just need water on the land and then sometime dad will go back to Wye, Kent to pick up Dusty and Mo!
When we decided to cook rice, dhal, masala potatoes and cabbage instead of masala dosa, the last thing we thought would happen would be not being able to cook rice. But the day came on Saturday at Bath market.
Half cooked rice and dad nearly in tears, we were all ready to pack up by midday. Saved by Stephanie from ‘Pothead and Panface’ who let us borrow her rice cooker.
Met some amazing people again who all wanted masala dosa! And some great tips from a few people about having chutney or pickle.
We did it! After our first Bath Market we were slowly getting the hang off everything. The cooking quantities, packing the ice boxes and the van, the tea and sandwiches for the car journey, the unpacking, setting up, dishing out and going home.
With rain drizzling in Lifton, we were praying that it would disappear. But as soon as we passed Okehampton the sun shone in our favour. The drive was only 45min away and in our huge transit van we felt ontop of the world.
I left dad to do most of the setting up, the tent, tables, cooker… and then we were came across our first problem. Wind. As dosa is such a sensitive dish, the heat has to be controlled perfectly for it not to stick. This time though we made a makeshift wind guard.
Around 6:30pm the crowds came. The salsa was on and the smells were wavering in the air. Next to us we had Good Game – meat in buns and on the other side the beautiful colours of homemade macaroons. The customers kept coming and coming. At one point we had a huge crowd just watching as dad made the dosa pancake on the hot plate and then added dried potato curry and served it with tomato chutney and dhal.
My dad told me a story of when he went to mess (communal eating place) in Sri Lanka, there would usually be 40 children there and the guys making dosa would have 1 large rectangle hot plate and one would wipe with water to clean and the other would make 20 dosa’s at one time. Dad used to shout at them to hurry up, and they kept saying ‘ok, ok, it takes time’.
Will be at the Piazza Terracina again in Exeter on the 17th September. So if you are around feel free to pop over for a bit to eat. There are lots of other wonderful stalls there, from meat to vegetarian.
Wednesday – Picking up veg from Linscombe Farm and soaking urid dhal and idly rice
Driving down back roads to Linscombe Farm from Exeter St David’s station. The windscreen wipers sliding from side to side. Dribbling rain smudging the windows. We drive down a narrow road, stopping to ask a woman walking her dog in the rain directions to the farm. Still can remember her face. The kind of lady who could tell you lots interesting stories about her life.
We make it to the farm. Red soil gravel and rain. Dad knocks on the door. A dog barks. We see a jack russell and a cat snuggled up in deep wooden boxes. The dog doesn’t get up but just barks as to say ‘someone is here guys’. Helen’s husband calls to Helen and we get invited in. Tea and a chat before we collect the veg. 18kg potatoes, 4kg toms, garlic, chilli and ginger. So many wonderful colours.
We then drive home and unpack. Before bed, I help dad measure and wash urid dhal and idly rice in prep for grinding on Thursday. The kitchen is beginning to get swamped.
Thursday and Friday – grinding and cooking
Most of Thursday was taken up by grinding urid dhal and idli rice. It was our first proper time using our 2 litre dosa grinder and with a lot of trial and error we completed grinding by 6pm and put the batter in large buckets upstairs on my window sill to ferment.
After grinding we began to cut onions, garlic, tomatoes and ginger. Teary eyes and sore nails. 9 kilo’s of potatoes washed and peeled. A long process. Dad was in charge of the cooking and I did most of the prep. With a little reggae music and cider we managed to complete the cooking.
Saturday – Market day
My motto is once you try something first the second time is always easier. Woke up at 4:30am. Dad was still asleep! Dad is alway the early riser getting up at 5am every morning. Must be an Indian gene.
Anyways we got ready, walked and fed dogs, finished packing the van and chucked the dogs into the garden with there new doggy play house to sleep in. We were off by 6:30am.
Driving down the M5 the sun kept blinding us. It’s deep oranges, reds and yellows, danced behind the clouds peeping out to annoy us every so often. It was a long 2 ½ hour drive but we got to Bath by 9am. After a little struggle putting up the gazebo snuggled inbetween two other tents (BBQ Pulled Beef and Cajun food) and a little madness we were ready to roll.
Then came our first glitch, the sticking. With the dosa batter sticking on the pans, dad started getting frustrated. But after about 10 stuck dosa’s, the pans were more or less ok.
Reggae playing on the stereo from the next door tent, groups of people passing through, the next door stall owner who kept calling me grandma, lots of freshly made lemon juice, mouth watering smells and lots of laughs with customers we were slowly starting to settle in.
Afternoons + evenings working on the farm. Homemade ham, cheese, salad and avocado sandwiches, crisps, apples and hot tea with biscuits for our lunches. Sleeping dogs, sunshine, rain and hard work clearing.
Our priority is to get fencing, drainage, water, topping, harrowing and rolling done before we buy sheep. Dad, Molly and myself have been spending our afternoons and evenings removing barbed wire from fence posts, cutting branches and strimming before the fencing contractors come to add new sheep netting and new posts. A rewarding feeling after 5 hours of work each day.
First the sad news, a call from Kumar’s sister in India brought news that their dad passed away in Sri Lanka. I had only met him about five times but my fondness memories was his amazing rich fruit salads. A mix of papaya, bananas, grapes and apples with cream and sugar. Kumar flew out to Sri Lanka a couple of days later for the funeral and stayed a week, meeting all his relatives and friends.
I came back a couple of days ago from Uni to be greeted by two enormous lambs. Couldn’t believe they had grown so big! All that milk I guess. They have been lying in the shade snoozing. They are off to a friends farm this weekend where they will stay till we get the land.
We have a new moving date! A little later than expected due to Kumar’s trip to Sri Lanka but he is planning to move all our things on the 2nd June with a friend of his and then come back to Wye, Kent for a couple of days to pick up the dogs and wait for Molly to return from Portugal.