Easter would have been a complete washout if it hadn't been for the pheasant and the lamb, the wine and the whisky, some good company and, of course, Easter Eggs. There may have been other things, but I forget....
The truly mouthwatering pheasant had been cooked to perfection by Lionel Strub, resident French chef at The Clarendon Hotel in Hebden, which recently beat strong opposition to win the coveted Oliver Award for Best Rural pub at a ceremony sponsored by Evening Post newspapers. If our dining experience was anything to go by the accolade was well deserved, not just for the excellence of our meal but for staff friendliness and cosy all round ambiance. After we'd turned the radio off....
Lamb has just got to be on the menu at Easter - hasn't it? Well, it's traditional according to Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, who appeared on television cooking a Cordon Bleu feast for none other than Mary Berry whose appreciative remarks rang with superlatives. So much so that my wonderful partner was inspired to experiment with her own version of Dr Sentamu's recipe but omitting the half bottle of wine which we preferred to drink separately! Truly delicious.
It may have been noticed that the above treats, along with the afore mentioned malt whisky, chocolate easter eggs and some limited socialising, all took place indoors. Al fresco, the weather was pretty diabolical and though the wind and driving rain was fair dinkum for hardy yachtsmen ploughing back and forth across Grimwith reservoir, it was no country for old men. I much preferred the comfort of a rocking chair not too far from a warm stove, and preferably with a glass of something interesting to hand.
We did manage to run round Grimwith, again, on Saturday and back to the car before the weather gods actually spotted us. There glee was probably focused too much on the chaos they were inflicting with Storm Katie a bit further south. We could see the rain smirring the hills across the water, moving towards us, so didn't hang about.
Greylags, perhaps anticipating the coming storm, were taking cover among the reed beds while a raft of Whooper swans, thirteen in number, held centre stage out on the water. There was a vast number of Oystercatchers too, a solitary pheasant, some interesting twitters high in the treetops, but precious little else in the way of bird life.
A shaft of sunlight across the garden on Sunday lured us outdoors for a toddle up the crag and across the sodden moor to Mossy Mere, looking for anything of interest. Gliding majestically across the water were thirteen Whoopers, presumably the same raft we'd photographed at Grimwith the morning before.
We'd no sooner spotted them than it began to rain, heavily, and we began to run, as fast as we could, back down the crag. Predictably, it bated and the sun came out as we staggered into the village, breathless, knackered and very wet. "Yeh, got you that time" I suspect the weather gods were shouting.
On Monday my wonderful partner was anxious to record the first wood anemones and suggested we run to Appletreewick where we might find some. I had a better suggestion - that she should go on her own while I kept the stove well stoked and the coffee pot ready so the cottage would be nice and warm when she got back. The plan worked admirably. She found her anemones while I enjoyed a gentle snooze!
The morning after, as I travelled home, the weather gods played their trump card. "I think it's time we took the winter tyres off the car" my wonderful partner had said at breakfast time. As my bus left Grassington we were hit by a snowstorm of blizzard proportions. In little more than ten minutes the landscape was transformed into a white wonderland with contrasting clumps of Easter daffodils in roadside gardens. Windscreen wipers were struggling as the driver, Peter, squinted through the snow. I'd a very short email when I got home. "Forget about winter tyres" is all it said.
I hope everyone had a Very Happy Easter.....
|Ceremony for Best Rural Pub - Lionel Strub 2nd from right (Click to enlarge)|
|Simply the best.......|
|Al fresco Easter gloom - rain sweeping over Hebden|
|Yachtsmen enjoying the choppy water at Grimwith|
|Beating the rain round Grimwith|
|Flags across the soggy bits by Scar Top|
|Whooper swans - a baker's dozen|
|Breaking into a run to beat the rain - but failed|
|Peter squinting through his snowy windscreen. Easter's grand finale|
I hope everyone had a Very Happy Easter.....