Chorley. Leek & Potato Soup

The weather in my part of the UK is currently bouncing to and fro between wet, windy or just plain horrible and it’s been like this for the past few weeks. I finally ran out of patience a couple of days back and decided I had to get out of the house come what may. I had counted all the flowers on my wallpaper more than once and my camera was sat in it’s case feeling lonely and neglected.

It was Tuesday, that meant Flat Iron Market day in the nearby town of Chorley. I believe the name comes from the practice in years gone by of turning up at the market with an old blanket, the corners of which you weighted down with anything to hand, old flat irons etc and that was your stall and that name stuck. Things are more organised today. Due to building work the Flat Iron isn’t on it’s usual site, a large car park instead the stalls are threaded through the streets around the covered market. I must admit I like it, the arrangement means you get the best of both worlds, the regular shops, Chorley has a fine selection of independent traders, mixed in with the market stalls.

You would have to put a lot of effort into going hungry in Chorley, the choices of places to eat is really wide. To warm up on this visit I took myself to Bees Country Kitchen on the side of the covered market. This place is a true gem, an almost bewildering selection of food comes out of a single market stall. I went for the Leek & Potato soup, perfect for the cold weather. Seating is in a couple of pavilions alongside so you get to eat and watch the world go by. Perfect if you are looking for inspiration for that project/image/idea.

The Bees Country Kitchen

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Knutsford. Market In The Street.

The weather’s been frightful, as the song goes. I needed to get out of the house for a couple of hours and give my car a warm through as it had been standing for a couple of days in the snow and the rain.

I live near the northern part of Cheshire which puts a clutch of market towns within easy reach. For this trip I set my sights on the town of Knutsford, I knew from previous visits that the town was quite lively on Sundays with plenty of eating places open, along with quite a few of the towns shops. What I hadn’t planned for was the pleasant surprise of the monthly Makers Market being held. I have visited this event before but for some reason my Winter addled brain was convinced that it would not be restarting until after Easter. Note to self, check the internet more often before planning journeys. At the moment car parking is free on Sundays but if an event is on it can get a bit tricky. Luckily I found somewhere fairly quickly and it was only as I turned the corner onto Princess Street did I discover why this Sunday was such a busy one.

04/03/18  KNUTSFORD. Makers Market. Cakes and Biscuits.

KNUTSFORD. The Monthly Makers Market. Home made cakes and biscuits.

The Market fills the length of one street an a few of the side streets running off. I decided to make lunch my first call and looked into a favourite venue of mine, the Cheese Yard on Cotton Yard. The inspiration for the menu is in the title, and a very pleasant menu it is too. I opted for the potato cake, scrambled eggs and bacon, perfect food for a cold day.

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The Cheese Yard. Potato Cake, Scrambled Eggs & Bacon.

The market offers a very wide range of produce, artisan breads and cakes through handmade craft good to real ales and cheeses. There’s also always a wide spread of street food vendors and live music on offer.

04/03/18  KNUTSFORD. Makers Market. Pickled Vegetables.

KNUTSFORD. The Monthly Makers Market. Pickled Vegetables.

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Ormskirk. Hot Soup On A Cold Day

It was Thursday which meant it would be market day in Ormskirk. I needed to get out of the house for a few hours as I had a couple of errands I needed to sort out and as I hadn’t been over that way for a little while I thought it would make a pleasant change.

Ormskirk is a market town in West Lancashire, an area of broad flat plains stretching out to the coast and the Irish Sea. The resort of Southport is only a few miles further on. Its a farming area with a rich dark soil. The market is held on Thursdays and Saturdays and straddles through the pedestrianised centre around the clock tower. Its a general market so it’s probably got whatever you are looking for.

The weather had been reasonable when I turned out but as I stepped off the train the rain decided to visit Ormskirk as well. I quickly sorted out the bits of business I needed to and after a short look around the stalls getting colder and damper, I decided I needed to warm up somewhere. I’m a great fan of cafes, something I inherited from my parents who were great people watchers. Ormskirk has quite a wide choice, it’s my mission to try a different one on each visit, on this wet market day I picked Cobble Coffee.

I found a window seat so I could watch the world go by while I had my very pleasant bowl of hot soup and my coffee while outside in the unfriendly weather the Thursday shoppers scurried about getting everything done, while the stallholders put on the brave face and did their best to keep warm.

(PS. The soup was a excellent, lightly spiced Parsnip, perfect for a cold, inhospitable day )

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Edinburgh. A Drink in An Elegant Bar.

It was a friend’s 50th birthday and he decided that an appropriate way to celebrate would be lunch in Edinburgh at the Malt Whisky Society. Three of the attendee’s, Andrew the birthday boy, Niall and myself live in Lancashire, the fourth guest, Gavin lives on the outskirts of Inverness. So train tickets were booked and lunch reservations made.

A travel note, it took as long for Gavin to travel from Inverness to Edinburgh as it did for us to travel up from England, Scotland is by no means a small country.

We all rendezvoused in Jenner’s cafe overlooking Princes Street, there’s a photo of it in a previous Edinburgh post. After a coffee and catching up session it was a taxi to the Malt Whisky Society in Leith where excellent food was provided along with excellent wine. The finale being a measure of a gorgeous cask strength Bowmore single malt.

Extremely happy and satisfied we made our way back into Edinburgh ready for our early evening trains home. There was time in hand though for one last relaxing drink, a little bit of head scratching produced the Cafe Royal in West Register Street, just off Princes Street and convenient for Edinburgh’s Waverley station.

A quiet drink was had in the elegant surroundings and was the perfect end note to what had been a very, very pleasant day.

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The Cafe Royal

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Edinburgh. City At Festival Time.

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Cheese on Toast In A Blackpool Cafe

If only walls could talk as the old saying goes. I had decided to take a trip out to Blackpool, it was still a little early in the year and so the days were a bit on the short side. To make the most of the available time I decided I would drive but that I would park my car at Fleetwood and use Blackpool’s world famous trams to get about. There is a day ticket which covers both the tram service and the bus network. So after I had parked the car and grabbed a quick-ish coffee I walked over to the tram terminus and boarded and was on my way.

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One of Blackpool’s new trams.

Blackpool’s trams operate from Fleetwood in the north, down the promenade through Blackpool itself to the southern terminus at Squires Gate. Travelling south the Irish Sea is on your right and depending on the day’s weather and tide is either forbiddingly gloomy or as on the day of my trip, a sparkling ribbon on a distant horizon.

A ride on a Blackpool tram is always an interesting affair as you cross paths with other people’s lives. Catch happy or otherwise expressions or dip unintentionally into conversations that are not as private as the participants would like to think. For this journey I travelled down as far as the South Pier, one of three that Blackpool proudly possesses, I crossed over from the promenade and made my way up Waterloo Road This was a busy part of town which faded a little, though now it’s on the way back up after some refurbishment. Blackpool South railway station is at the top of the street, though it is now very much a pale, single platform shadow of it’s former self but the station still has an hourly service through Preston to East Lancashire so it still can be a busy place.

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Blackpool South railway Station.

By this time my internal clock was telling me that food would be a good idea. One of the many delights of Blackpool is the almost endless supply of cafes and tearooms. I chose one, went in, checked the menu and ordered cheese on toast, a personal favourite and a mug of coffee. I had picked a corner booth from where I could watch the coming and goings. I have a great affection for places like this cafe, one that has it’s regulars, customers who don’t need to order at the counter, their meal is almost ready the minute they step through the door.

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Lunch for two on Waterloo Road Blackpool.

Two sets of people caught my eye almost immediately. The Lady in the header photo and the couple. The Lady on her own was sat at her table and radiated a sort of inner peace and calm. Her expression throughout was one of reflection and meditation. As though she was happily engaged in turning over in her mind past personal events and happenings. The couple were sat at a table near to the Lady. Their conversation was polite and considered, as though they had reached the stage of a comfortable form of conversational shorthand, where whole sentences could be conveyed in a couple of words and a glance.

It began to feel as if I was a theatre play or a film. I ordered another coffee and a cake so I could spend a little more time watching these quiet events unfold, like the petals of a flower in the sun. But eventually it was time for me to go so as discretely as possible I clicked the shutter. on my little ‘go-everywhere’ camera and made my exit.

I will go back, the coffee and the cheese on toast were both excellent but I really want to see if I can catch any more of the quiet drama of everyday Blackpool folk playing out

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