Public service announcement:Visit Northumberland.

Kielder Water is the biggest man made lake in Europe,construction began in the 70's and finished in 1982. It was widely accepted that the valley would take ten years to fill but in practise it took only two.Perhaps the planners were still suffering after affects of the heat stroke incurred during the long hot summer of 76..
Constructed initially to satisfy expected increased demand for water in a booming UK economy(a novel idea-got that one wrong too),its now also a major tourist venue attracting over a quarter of a million visitors each year enjoying the wide range of outdoor activities on offer.
Interestingly, Kielder is also the least light polluted place in Britain[citation needed, I've heard Chef mention this  but couldn't find corroboration on the interwebs,but I can confirm its very dark up here..]so if you fancy a bit of stargazing there's no better place,also there is an observatory so it must be a good spot.
Ooh and LOOK at this,it also has the freshest air in England,well it did in 2003.
Last Monday on the hottest day of the year so far,we flung our bye cycles  in the back of the pick up(it has its uses after all) and headed up to Kielder with the Chap for some fresh air and exercise.

Looking out over Kielder Water.Looks a bit gloomy but it was steaming hot.I find it quite an eerie place,strange to imagine that a whole village lies under this lake complete with station and church.
Plashetts station ,now submerged.
A few years ago the water levels dropped and some of the tips of the buildings were exposed.
Water levels adequate today
We followed the curve of the dam,some stunning views,great tracks for cyclists.

Looking down from the dam,this is the point where the river emerges.
The Chap was flaggin a bit by now,it was exceptionally humid.We wondered why he kept stopping and lying down on every available drain cover.Eventually we realised it was a valiant attempt to cool down in the pleasing updraught.Hes not daft,well it blew Marilyns skirt up didnt it?

Chef ended up carrying him under his arm..  he looked distressed.
Despite the quarter of a million visitors we didnt see a soul throughout our visit,well not until we arrived back at the car park.
There were a couple of seniors sitting in their Porsche doing the Times crossword, whilst tucking into some cream cakes.
Just as we got to the car Lady Senior emerged from the Porsche to dispose of her Marks and Sparks meringue box in the car park bin.
Unexpectedly The Chap went for her,luckily I managed to restrain him just in the nick of time.
I dont suppose I've told you about the Chaps' behavioural problems.
Hes just a pussycat really..

Well,I wouldnt really call them behavioural, more phobic.He has two phobias,the first is gentleman( or women) sporting facial hair,specifically moustaches.The second is TARTAN.If he happens to glimpse either of these two abominations the metamorphosis from cute friendly doggy to baying Hound of the Baskerville guardian of the Gates of Hell is a sight to behold.
Now Lady Senior being blissfully unaware of the Chaps' disposition had no qualms whatsoever in striding directly past wearing the nattiest pair of tartan trews ever.
In the commotion and in an attempt to salvage some plausible excuse for the Chaps' disgraceful behaviour I shouted:

'Im really sorry, its because he doesn't like your trousers..'

Which actually was intended as a statement of fact and in no way as a  personal insult or affront or indeed any opinion on the validity of the tartan trews(though personally I wouldnt have been seen dead in them).
Though admittedly,I could well have chosen my words more carefully.
Lady Senior looked angry.
Chef motioned the slice off your head by the neck with your hand action(shut it),then the head gesture to the car.
We beat a hasty retreat before further damage ensued.
Though had Lord Senior fancied giving chase to defend his Ladys' honour, I wouldn't have fancied our chances in the pick up...

Not far from the reservoir is this lovely pub.We stopped for refreshment.

Its just as nice inside as it it out,cosy and traditional,unspoilt and in a stunning location.
As we approached the bar,the Chef came out from the kitchen and served our drinks.
We chose our lunch from a blackboard in the bar.
For me:A Ploughmans with local cheese.
Having noticed sirloin of beef on the menu Chef cheekily asked if he could have an off menu beef sandwich.
I pulled him up on this, reminding him of one of his favourite mantras:
'If they want to write the menu themselves, why dont they stay at home and cook it themselves'
Apparantly on this occasion it was permissable as 'the beef will have been left over from Sunday lunch and they'll be wanting rid of it'
We retired to an outside table to enjoy our drinks.
Ginger beer pour Moi,Fosters for Chef and a mineral water for  the Chap.
Self:Im really looking forward to my lunch
Chef:Whys that?
Self:Didnt you notice how clean and tidy the Chef was?Im going to be confident about eating his food.
Chef:Ah yes, definitely not a skiprat.

We both commented on how good menu the menu read and how we were spoilt for choice.
The food arrived.Cue Family fortunes wrong answer fail horns.


Theres nothing actually wrong with this but the last time I saw a tomato cut like this was on my mothers buffet table in 1977.She used to painstakingly cut the tomatoes into crowns like this then scoop out the pulp,mix it with grated cheddar and chopped onions and refill the shell.
Stufffed tomatoes.
There was always way too much filling to fit back in.During the 70s everything had to emulate a Vol au Vent.You had no chance of getting onto a buffet table unless you were stuffed.Particulaly heinous were the hard boiled eggs with the yolk scooped out and then mixed with sardines in tomato sauce then forced back into the void,left on the buffet to develop a crusty skin.Otherwise known as bombs,for some reason they always ended up on the carpet...
Beef sandwich
The bread was compacted so flat that I wondered if our ex apprentice had found his way up here.

Theres a lesson to be learnt here,if youre not that great at cooking,BUY GOOD ingredients,then do as little as possible with them.The good local cheeses which I felt by passing my stomach and going straight to my thighs and the decent beef made this an ok lunch.
Perhaps Chefs' time would be better spent learning to make some home made chutney and simply cutting the tomatoes in half.

Chef said it was a nice menu but in practice poorly executed.

As we sat at the table I noticed an iron cross in view of the garden.

I sent Chef over for a closer look.A memorial for two German pilots who lost their lives here when their  bomber crashed during the war.

Chef summed with things up with typical brevity.
'The locals must be friendly'

We might go back next Monday.

Have you ever visited Northumberland?

Its not all about Lahndan you know..


Last weeks disappointing lunch reminded me of this place which we visited last year.Thought we'd pay it another visit yesterday to see if the Ploughman's was still as good.
There must be half a pound of cheese on there.
It was.Simply presented,a menu of twelve mainly local cheeses to choose from.Pickles,Branston(no reason why not) and a decent bit of bread.No time wasted on silly presentation which adds nothing to the dish.
If only they'd ditch the butter portions.

Home baked ham and cheese sandwich.
Ploughmans with 2 local cheeses.
Ham & cheese sandwich.
2 Packets of Tyrell's crisps.
1 pint Fosters
1 Appletiser.
Total Bill: £15.60



Nicky said…
A good ploughman's should be the simplest thing in the world. We ate at the Northumberland Cheese Farm last weekend - any 2 cheeses from a choice of a dozen or more,lovely bread, fresh crisp crackers and salad, an apple, a pear, some good (if overly sweet) chutney. Surroundings were a bit '80s grim, but what a feast - and all for £6.95. It can be done ...
The pictures have convinced me to visit Northumberland, and I'll be sure not to wear tartan trousers just to make sure I'm safe.
Northumberland is lovely in Summer, but to be avoided in Winter. Kielder water is next to the Army Artillery range at Otterburn, and I can say from bitter experience that the wind comes howling over the Northumberland plains like a cryogenic banshee.

As a bearded Scot, who oft wears a kilt, please warn the Chap that if he comes near my true Scottish state (nothing under the kilt, which makes us a tad nervous of agressive doggies. With teeth.)and growls, he will regret it. Briefly.

Pity about the Ploughmans, and why oh why do so many pubs insist on using portion controlled packets of butter?

Lovely post. I always enjoy the read.
Nicky-My point exactly,such a simple thing to do and no skill required.

Gin and Crumpets-Yes leave the tartan at home:)

TSB-The portion controlled butter,I didn't mention that but one of my pet hates too ,just spells naff/motorway service station.
Nicky said…
Dipton Mill - luverly :) Great choice!
Young at Heart said…
just one of the many useful things the pick-up can do...... I hate wrapped butter too....why not just a chunk?
I've just spotted the Postscript. THAT looks like a proper Ploughman's (apart from the bloody butter portions). Agree about the Branstons, it goes really well with cheese, and I like the way you're offered a choice; those pickled onions look great.

BTW I read a while back that the whole idea of a ploughman'slunch was a 60s marketing ploy to get fast cheap food into Pubs.
As yes - good, simple food. Clearly you and I sing form the same hymn sheet! LLGxx

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