The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Girly day out with Celia – a much needed tonic


Photo: Stuffed wild boar to hang on the wall of your castle

Photo: Stuffed wild boar to hang on the wall of your castle

For the first time in months I was woken by the alarm clock. I was going out with Celia (who writes the excellent Purple Podded Peas blog) and didn’t want to oversleep. The dogs, who are used to a very leisurely awakening, crept deeper under the duvet while I flew around the cottage, taking a shower, preparing their breakfast, chicken feeding and all the little jobs that make up the cottage smallholder morning.

“I’d like to drop into Daily Bread, on the way to my mother’s,” said Celia.
We were going to dig up a Cambridge Gage tree from her mother Janet’s orchard in Willingham.

I’m always up for a trip to Daily Bread. Quality ingredients and very reasonable prices. Their herbs and spices are particularly good value. Well worth a visit if you live near King’s Hedges in Cambridge. So we stocked up on essentials and treats. The first stop off on a day which was to become a bit of a foodie day out.

Celia is upbeat and good fun and it’s great chatting to another blogger. And being chauffeured is such a joy – time to look out of the window and notice things that you’d miss if you were driving.

We stopped at a very superior roadside vegetable stand. I invested in a Romanesco cauliflower, which turned out to be quite delicious – must grow these next year.

We collected Janet and drove to the butchers at the farm shop in Willingham in Highgate Country Store. This is no ordinary butcher’s shop – in fact it was the sort of store that I dream about. They had fresh pheasant and partridge, and I spotted Old Spot pork chops in the wonderful selection of meat. We have been living on a bit of a dull diet recently so I decided to splash out on some pork chops and some Barnsley (butterfly) lamb chops. Then a chunky joint caught my eye. In large bold black letters it was marked with two tempting words “wild boar”.
After a gentle adjustment to the price I stood holding my first ever joint of wild boar, flushed with excitement.

Back at Janet’s house, which incidentally was built by Celia’s father, we all went out to dig up the tree. Apparently all the runners are true as the Cambridge Gage is not grafted onto other rootstock. It is deemed to be the tastiest greengage and as I’m a greengage addict it is a fabulous present. Janet showed me how to prune it to keep it compact.  Thank you Janet, I love growing fruit trees in our garden and can’t wait to pluck the first greengage.

Then it was on the view the lots for this weekend’s Willingham auction. A massive affair with lots of intriguing things to inspect from fine antiques to toys and collectables. Lots of tempting bits and bobs to gawk and giggle at – including the stuffed head of a wild boar. How about that for keeping on a porky themed day? Incidentally there is a good tea room style restaurant on site where we took a pit stop for (ham of course) club sandwiches and a pot of tea.

Celia drove me home through the Fens. The winter crops bright green against the black earth and the sky immense. There was just time to heel in the precious gage before it was too dark to see.

Last night I cooked the best pork chops that I had ever tasted. Using Celia’s wonderful recipe – which I will post tomorrow. This morning Danny was planning a regular trip to the Highgate butchers and also taking enthusiastically about increasing our menagerie with a pair of micro pet pigs!

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  1. Be warned the micro pet pigs although start about 6 inches tall ( at around £600 each) do actually grow into normal sized pigs and aren’t of the keep me eat me variety. I have pestered long and hard ( about the last 8 years) and squealed with utter delight when the ‘micro’ piglet first appeared on our tv a couple of years ago, and nearly.. very nearly got my husband to relent and allow a pig into the warren clan, only for him to read up about them and find they don’t stay very micro for long and you have to have special licenses to keep them 🙁 But if you do go ahead, I would just like to say I will hate and envy you forever LOL

  2. We are big romanesco fans here! Try it with a tomato sauce; the tomato seems to really bring out the flavour. We love pasta with the romanesco cooked gently in a tomato and bacon sauce, and I add fresh red chilli for a kick. Also lovely in a cheesy pasta bake with romanesco and salmon.

  3. Dear Paula, you would be doing me a favour if you would have one of ours :), wild boar are an absolute nuisance here in Latvia as there are getting to be too many of them. So here’s to real wild boar joints (not farmed ones) on as many menus as possible. Sustainable meat! Definitely!

  4. That sounds like a lot of fun! And honestly? I think I’d be tempted to buy that mounted boar’s head….really.

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