Saturday, 25 February 2012

A new shop in town!

It was good to see workmen busy putting up a new sign on the former deli/ coffee shop at the bottom of the High Street yesterday. Being a nosey sort of person, I knocked on the door and went in to find out what was happening. There I met a lovely guy called Wayne who is opening a designer menswear shop today.

Wayne has had a shop in Hanley for many years and has now decided to come to Stone. I think he could do well. The young fashion conscious male has had very little to tempt him to buy in Stone up till now - I think this shop will fill the gap.

So good luck luck to Wayne and Acapella

Birds galore

It started over breakfast. I was just beginning to enjoy my bacon, tomatoes, mushroom and poached egg (it was a red day on my diet!) when I became conscious of the fact that I was being watched. I glanced to my right and there, staring at me from one foot on the other side of the patio window was a most handsome cock Pheasant! I don't know who was the most surprised - him or me! He blinked and then strutted across the patio into the border and then made his way into next door's garden. So another first!

Which got me to thinking that our bird feeders and table were looking at bit grubby. So I spent a while taking them down, emptying them, washing them and then refilling them all with fresh nuts, seed and fat balls. Back up they all went and I retired to the kitchen to make a well earned cup of tea. Five minutes later I sat down at the kitchen table and looked out onto the garden and couldn't believe my eyes! I'm not sure how birds communicate with other but somehow the word had got round and every bird in the neighbourhood was in our garden enjoying the feast I'd just prepared for them. I'm delighted to report that the Blackcap I mentioned a few days ago is still with us and the Great Spotted Woodpecker was busy dominating one of the nut holders.

Tomorrow I'm going to see what needs doing to make sure the nest boxes are clean and in good shape for the coming season. It would be wonderful if we could become home to a few broods of of our feathered friends!

Thursday, 23 February 2012

What a saving!

Jan's just come back from town with the biggest grin on her face! "Just look what I've saved you" she said as she struggled through the front door with three full shopping bags. "15 pence off every litre at Morrisons! Here's the voucher for you." she exclaimed.

I was puzzled. She popped out an hour ago with a shopping list with only three items on it. It turns out that she got into Morrisons and saw the notices that there was a special promotion on petrol. Provided you spend £60 or more in store you will be given the 15 pence off voucher. So, to take advantage of this bargain she's spent a fortune to 'save' me 15 pence a litre!

Oh, female logic !!

(Full details on Morrisons website)

So which was best?

This week I've had the pleasure of eating in the sister restaurants - The Wayfarer and the Swan with Two Necks. On Tuesday there was a Food and Drink Festival working lunch with one of our sponsors. At one o'clock the restaurant was over two thirds full and everyone seemed to be enjoying their meals. I love The Wayfarer and am delighted it is continuing to do so well. We've dined here in the evenings before but this was my first time for lunch. The lunch menu is  most unusual and brings a totally different meaning to the word 'baguette'! I thoroughly recommend the crispy battered haddock variety!

Then last night Jan and I went over to the Swan with Two Necks. An almost full car park was the clue to the fact that they were busy. However that in no way diminished the wonderful experience we had. Initially we were shown to a table in a rather dim corner. Whilst in our younger days a table for two away from the crowd lit by a flickering candle may have had its attractions, at our age the eyes are slowly letting us down! We  need to be able to read the menu and see what we're eating! With no trouble at all, we were moved to another table and then spent a most enjoyable evening eating some outstanding food. I had the grilled mackerel starter (well cooked, firm and very tasty) followed by the belly pork main dish. Wow!

So of the two venues, do I have a favourite? No. They're both great restaurants serving great food at reasonable prices. But above all, it is so obvious that the management takes customer service seriously in both venues. All the staff were efficient and knowledgeable - and so friendly. These restaurants are an asset to this area. If you haven't been yet, then I can recommend them both. You won't be disappointed.

And my diet? Well, last weekend I totted up a weight loss of one and half stones since New Year's Day but I think I'll stay off the scales for a few days now!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

A winter visitor!

Gazing out of the kitchen window this morning, I was puzzled by a bird on the fat balls half way down the herbaceous border. Was it our resident Coal Tit? Same approximate size and shape but it just didn't seem right. So I grabbed the binoculars and - lo and behold - immediately identified it as a male Blackcap!

We haven't seen Blackcaps in the garden for several years so this was a lovely surprise. Obviously the recent cold weather has encouraged him into the garden attracted by the food we've put out for the birds. Let's hope he stays around for a while longer.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Top Totty for me, please!

I can't believe the furore caused by the sale of Slaters Top Totty ale in the Strangers Bar of the House of Commons. As everyone will now know, a totally unknown politician - Kate Green, shadow spokesperson for Women and Equality - objected last week to the cartoon (see picture right) of a bikini clad blonde on the pump clip of Slaters fabulous ale! And by alleging that it 'demeaned women', the parliamentary authorities banned Top Totty immediately!

Well, I think this incident proves that there are some MPs who don't live in the real world. If this spokesperson believes that she has struck a blow against sexism on behalf of other women, she should speak to people outside the Westminster bubble. Perhaps the Telegraphs opinion poll - over 90% believe the ban was wrong - should convince her that she's spending too much time at her desk. Get out, lady, and get real!

And what a coup for Slaters, one of Staffordshire's fabulous craft brewers! They couldn't buy that amount of publicity! (Just take a look at their website!) Top Totty has always been a favourite tipple of mine. It sold out by Saturday evening at last year's Stone Food and Drink Festival. And now that the whole country has heard of it, I can see that the brewery will be going into overtime and, perhaps, expansion to cope with demand!

Incidentally, another favourite brewery of mine, Wye Valley, produces a lovely tipple called Dorothy Goodbody! If Ms. Green ever set eyes on that pump clip she'll need immediate CPR treatment from Vinnie Jones!

Now the Food and Drink Festival has recently been pondering on who to invite to open the 2012 Festival! I wonder if Ms. Green will be doing anything during early October!

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

The Slimathon - interim target achieved!

Latest update on my slimming campaign - over one stone lost since New Year's Day. That's the equivalent of seven bags of sugar - wow! But still more to do yet!