Bog Roll ::

It's Not Magic, It's Work!

17 Sep 2014

Apple and Damson Jam

I made damson jam, it's something I've not made for years. It's the first year we've had fruit from our damson tree. Sadly we were on holiday when the fruit was at it's prime so we lost some to birds and age. In the end we had about 1.5 kg of fruit that was okay, to which we added a further 1.5 kg of cooking apples we collected from a box in the village.

I gave everything a wash and picked out the past redemption fruit, and put the cleaned damsons and roughly chopped apples in the jam pan and added 400 ml of water. I then heated the mixture and gave it a good mashing until it was all broken up and soft. Previously I've tried making jelly but the yield is dreadful, so instead I forced the mush through a collander to hold back the stones, pips and coarse material.

Next I cleaned everything up and started on the jamimg process. I added 1.5 kg of sugar, 300 ml of water and the juice of a lemon into the jam pan and heated to boiling. I then poured in my 1.5 kg of apple and damson puree, and brought quickly to the boil. I let it have a full rolling boil for about three minutes (damsons and apples have a lot of pectin and if you boil for too long you just get rubber). I then potted it up and left it to cool.

From this batch I got 9.75 jars of jam, which isn't too bad at all. It's not as clear jelly, but it tastes plenty good and it's a lot easier to make than proper whole fruit jam. When I put it in the jars it was very runny and didn't lool jam at all, this morning when I inspected it had set well, I'll find out tonight if it's over cooked!


08 Sep 2014

Summer Holiday 2014 (Days 16/17)

Our last day in Denmark. It has been a fantastic holiday and a country I strongly advice anyone to visit who likes good food, rolling countryside, bike friendly roads, pretty towns & villages and coastlines. It's not for the mountain lovers though as it's not very high anywhere...!

After our final Danish breakfast (which has been consistently good) we cycled around town occupying ourself on a sleepy Sunday before we headed off to the ferry port. The forecast wasn't great and that is what happened, it wasn't hot or cold, and it sort of rained but didn't.

We cycled up the coast to the beach north of the town and had a look at Mennesket ved havet or "Man by The Sea", a giant set of figures sitting on stools looking out at the sea. We took several pictures and with the flat light none came out all that well. We then went up the cycle path and had lunch.

After lunch we went to find a flea market - that was coming to an end when we arrived, and all the classic Lego on sale I was looking for was long gone... After that we went back to town and spent an hour in one of the squares watching the world go by before heading off for our ferry at the port.

Boarding the ferry was a bit drawn out and tedious, but we made it to our cabin without any problems and managed to get rid of our change in the shop on some sweets. In our defence we had brought healthy food with us and we'd been cycling so a little chocolate isn't going too hurt much...

In the morning we woke up in the middle of the north sea. The cabin wasn't as hot and stuffy as the one on the way out, and as the sea was mill pond calm we weren't kept awake with the constant shake, rattle, roll and squeak that made the journey out so miserable.

After breakfast we ventured outside, it was nice and sunny and there wasn't too much wind so it was quite pleasant. Would have been nicer without the smokers, but you can't have everything. We went back inside after a while and watched the end of Danish TV (seems to be mostly old British TV with subtitles...)

Eventually we arrived in port and were called down to the car deck. A nice member of staff suggested we moved our selves and our bikes so that the unloading team could see us - a bus had parked next to us. As a result we were the first of the boat and first out of the ferry terminal.

We then retraced our steps through the rail network, which is always stressful. As it happens we were early after the first leg and were able to take a late running train that got us into London more than an hour early. Cycling through London was HORRIBLE, cars drifting in and out of the bike lanes as if we were not there, the final straw was some w****r of a cab driver who turned left into the cycle lane and caught my rear panniers and almost pushed me over. Banning cars, cabs and lorries from the centre of our big cities can't come soon enough if you ask me...

We made it to Waterloo station and were able to catch an early and quiet train home, giving us time to do a load of laundry and other stuff before it was time for bed and work tomorrow.

We did 929.73 km or 577.707 miles in medieval money... Annoyingly I caught the reset button, so I only have total distance and I don't have rolling averages and elapsed time, but on the section I do have time we were averaging just over 18 km/h, which isn't bad as that is with all our belongings almost all the time and includes walking and slow in-town stuff when we got lost.


06 Sep 2014

Summer Holiday 2014 (Days 14/15)

We left our B&B after another hearty Danish breakfast and cycled on to Kolding on the mainland. At lunch we stopped at the fantastically named Middlefart. Kolding Danhostel was the first we hadn't booked, we didn't know the weather would go so we didn't book in advance, which we probably should have done as we just managed to get the last room when we arrived!

After unloading and having a shower we went for an explore round town. Like almost all the towns we've been to, its cycle and pedestrian safe in the most, pretty and the shops close early so good for window shopping if you arrive late!

Today's picture is Koldinghus Castle an ancient royal castle, that the Spanish who were billeted there during the Napoleonic wars burnt to the ground by accident while trying to keep warm. Restoration was completed in 1991, the tower to the right of the picture is the only bit that survived the fire and is apparently more original, the rest is a twentieth century rebuild.

After dinner we had the TV room to ourselves and were able to watch the Vuelta on Danish TV.

In the morning we cycled back to Ribe, we couldn't stay in the town as everything was booked up because of a festival this weekend. Instead we had a walk round, went into a toy shop and looked at Lego - which we didn't buy as it's not practical on our bikes no matter how much I wanted it...

Then it poured with rain, making everything very wet and emptying the streets in less than a minute. Today's picture is the cathedral at the centre of Ribe: Vor Frue Maria Domkirke, apparently it's the oldest building in the country, and its bulk shielded us and our bikes from the rain...! Once the rain had stopped we cycled on to Esbjerg for our last night in Denmark.


04 Sep 2014

Summer Holiday 2014 (Days 12/13)

Today we had to take the train to over the bridge to our next destination so we didn't really need to cycle anywhere specific. So we went to the Trelleborg ring castle and museum and then on to the near by beach.

The fort was started in 980 and abandoned only ten years later. It's possible that it was never completed, was destroyed by fire or became obsolete because of the ever changing politics of the Viking era. We don't know and at the museum they still don't know.

The fort consists of a large circular earth bank and ditch outer, and within the centre a number of timber long houses. Today's picture is a reconstructed long house built in the late 1930s, and though no-longer though to be correct it's still an interesting building and at least it's posts are in the right place as their layout is taken from those in the fort (out of shot to the right). Trelleborg Long House

The visitors centre was small but quite interesting with some nice models showing what they think the fort looked like and plenty of Viking things to touch and dress up in. The stainless steel ring mail they have to play with is awfully heavy when you put it on, I can't imagine anyone walking about in it, let alone fighting in it...

On the other side of the site they had newly built houses for normal villagers which are much smaller and a lot more modest.

After lunch we cycled out to the coast and spent a few hours lounging about and digging holes in the sand. Eventually we cycled back into town to take our train to Odense and another B&B. Unlike British trains which begrudgingly take bike on them, Danish ones have load of space for them and boast about the bikes with nice clear signs to can see, without needing a microscope...

Today we had another light cycling day and had just a short cycle out from our lovely B&B to Ladby where there is a Viking ship burial. All the nice stuff was removed in the Viking period and the wood has totally rotted away, but some of the iron rivets survived and the impression of the wood remained, and in the mid twentieth century it was excavated and preserved.

Today's picture is a shot of the end with the anchor and chain in of the Ladby ship, which I'm pretty sure is not the original one but a recreation, but I can't remember. The site has a modern dome on top and the remains are boxed off behind glass to maintain the humidity and temperature and stop people from poking it!

After visiting the burial site we went back to the little museum where there is a recreation, the king was buried with horses and dogs, the remains of which were not removed so they know how many and how they were arranged. The museum is also building a replica of the ship with the help of the Viking Boat Museum that we visited a few days ago.

Again another smashing place and well worth visiting. We were very lucky too, as other than a clueless pair of Brits who where there some of the time we were we had the boat to ourselves for quite a while...

We then cycled back to town, were we had a wander round the H. C. Andersen trail in town which was free and occupied ourselves for a few more hours until dinner time.


02 Sep 2014

Summer Holiday 2014 (Days 10/11)

Today we left our B&B in the city and cycled in the sun to Roskilde. Like Ribe, Roskilde is a former capital of Denmark and is famous for the scuttled boats found in the harbour that have since been dug up, preserved and put on display. They think the boats were deliberately sunk to block the channels into the harbour, to prevent raiders from attacking the city about 1000 years ago. The period was famous for a lot of in fighting and combined with dendro dating they know when the wood for the ships was felled.

The Viking Boat Museum is fascinating and has lots of modern experimental archaeology going on, as people try to understand how these old boats were actually built and used. The main exhibits are the remains of the boats that are on display in a purpose built exhibition hall that from the outside looks like a concrete u-boat pen, but on the inside is a stunning light and airy building with the boats all for display.

After visiting the museum we checked into our Danhostel, which is physically next door to the museum and had dinner - which was a bit harder than planned as the kitchen's microwave didn't work. Unlike previous Danhostels there was no cycle provision which is a bit of a pain.

After dinner we went for a walk round the city, which is very pretty and has a large and impressive cathedral. We followed the historic town trail backwards, which was mostly okay but sometimes you can miss a turn..!

In the morning we left or Danhostel and cycled to Slagelse. The national bike route was a bit naughty today and sent us on some dirt tracks that were okay on a hybrid but would have been no fun at all on a road bike. No broken spokes or punctures though so we did manage to survive okay.

After a short section on the road we were sent on another off-road section through a wood, where we saw a cute red squirrel and lost the cycle signs entirely and the track was so poor that it was unridable even on a hybrid - you needed a mountain bike and no panniers with all your belongings in! In the end we did come out in the right place but it wasn't fun. So far it's been the worst experience on bike.

We eventually arrived at our Danhostel, had a shower, did some shopping in town and then went to the kitchen to prepare diner. So far every Danhostel has been spotlessly clean and well equipped, our room was perfectly clean but the kitchen was unsanitary and the microwave smelled like something had drowned in the rancid liquid that was swilling around at the bottom of the oven.