Follow the fortunes of Muddyboots & Family on their East Yorkshire farm which has changed from dairy farm to luxury ice cream manufacture

Friday, 27 February 2009

?? Spring

Time to move the Egyptian bit down the page and behave in a more serious and business-like manner as befits a country dweller in deepest darkest east Yorkshire. Oh my LOL, must be the vast improvement in the weather, no rain for several weeks now, the temperature has risen by at least 10 degrees, the mud is drying up and the large winter lakes are starting to recede. Spring MUST be on its way.

At last, things are starting to pick up along the coast, half term saw a busy week for us with many new customers coming through the doors, enjoying the farm walk to the sea plus a good calorific burst of yummyness! I think this has been the busiest February half term for a while. I know that many of our customers up and down this part of the coast are expecting a good year as the portents seem to predict an influx of English visitors opting for the traditional seaside holiday as opposed to holidaying abroad and being at the mercy of the valueless pound. I do hope they are right!

This time of year always seems to be manic, new customers to visit, maintenance, development of new flavours plus as an added bonus tree planting. The farm has the bulk of its acreage put down to the Countryside Stewardship scheme,[ is that grammatically correct?] and also we have planted over 2000 trees under the woodland grant scheme, anyway another 2000 trees and shrubs have gone in this week plus additional bird boxes and owl houses, so, in about 100 years time there should be wonderful broadleaved woodland surrounding the farm, that is provided the sea hasn't reached the back door! Ever the optimist you see.

New flavours of ice cream for this coming season are - cookies and cream and peach shortcake. And for those readers of this badly spelt and grammatically incorrect jotting based here in Yorkshire, you should be able to find a selection of 4 of our 500ml flavours in your local Tesco. well that is the theory.

As a little something for anyone in search of a change of life style can l recommend this rural gem?

Mistlehall Farm

Monday, 16 February 2009

Egypt - Luxor and Back

the Nile @ dusk

Holidays come and go, you look forward to them, struggle though the airport and then after a what seems like no time at all, you are back home faced with bags of dirty washing. is it really worth it? Yeap, it sure is, can't LIVE without my holidays, keeps me sane! In our line of work, holidays tend to be taken in January and again in September, the January break normally being a case of where do the special offer long haul flights go followed by a scramble around Trip Adviser for the out of the ordinary accommodation, normally some thing along the B & B lines whilst in September we do pre-book.


This year, after dying from flu over Christmas and discovering that the cheap flights might be cheap but the accommodation in US$ zone was not, it became clear that a rehash on destination was required pretty damn fast! Where was cheap then? Egypt. I have always said that 'if' l did a trip down the Nile then it would be with Bales in a dahabiya, traveling in style. This 'style' does not go with 'credit crunch', whilst teletext does! After much searching and cross referencing we narrowed the choice down to a £300 deal ex-Manchester, cruising down the Nile from Luxor or ancient Thebes to Aswan and back. At this price we were prepared to rough it for a week, and certainly the revues on Trip Adviser were not exactly raving, things like 'this boat most certainly isn't 5*' and 'All they [the locals] want are tips'........... What had we let ourselves in for?

Temple of Horus, Edfu

The plane landed safely at Luxor in the middle of a power cut, money was handed over for visas, transfers picked up and we were taken to our boat, well actually the wrong boat, the one WE were taken to had loads of marble and Waterford glass chandeliers, very QE2! Good start! An hour later the correct boat was found and our expectations were as expected, this boat was more North Sea Ferries than The White Star Line, pretty basic but spotlessly clean. We could only wait in anticipation! During the evening the boat started to fill with another 10 English travelers, who indecently were really good company - the rest of the passengers were french & Russian, of them l will say no more, bar that they would help themselves to pudding before mains? What about the food? Not gourmet by any stretch of the imagination, but wholesome and bland, International cuisine because not all nationalities like spicy food!

waiting for the lock @ Esna

Well, enough of the boat, we had come to overload on temples & tombs, which we most certainly did! I had booked the Maxi trip package back in the UK, which covered the main highlights, the temples of Edfu & kom Ombo, at Aswan Philae temple, whilst in Luxor the big ones - Valley of the Kings, Medinet Habu, Luxor & Karnak.

Art work on the pylons @ medinet habu depicting Osiris

The sights were truly awesome, l have always been an avid fan of programs like Time Team & anything to do with archaeology and here we were right, slap bang in the middle of one of the largest archaeological sites in the world. The tour package provided us with a guide who led us through the crowds to gawp at the huge lumps of stone whose every surface was carved with hieroglyphics, wall paintings and rock carvings of the gods and pharaohs.

the pylons @ Phillae

Best sites - edfu virtually intact and gives you a pretty good idea of the layout of the temples which are all built along the same lines, Valley of the kings - you get to visit 3 tombs in with your ticket, the colours inside the tombs are the first thing that strike you, they are so vivid, blues and golds, the the pictures, totally awesome, they could have been painted yesterday instead of over 2500 years ago, Ramses IV's tomb had frescoes of the pharaoh wearing a linen kilt, the art work was fabulous! Madinet Habu - a gem, often missed out on tours with people heading for the Ramessium, whilst karnak is, well amazing, despite the fact that restoration work is going on, with the aim to rebuild? The site is truly huge but you can wander to the perimeter and explore without the presence of too many tourists! Luxor temple, another interesting place, with hieroglyphs of Alexander the Great dressed as the Pharaoh.

queen Hatsheput temple

Things l did find interesting was that good old Emperor Hadrian, him of the Wall, had left an impressive entrance gate at philae temple, early Christians had plastered over the inner sanctuary at Luxor temple then painted christian saints over the top, the Greeks ruled over Egypt before the roman occupation, the Ptolemaic Dynasty. Most of the temples and tombs have been defaced by the early Christians who objected to the false idols so chipped out the faces of gods and pharaohs.

The not so goods - queen Hatsheput's temple is over restored and although looks good from a distance isn't, philae temple - this was moved due to the flooding from Aswan dam,good that it has been saved but it doesn't 'feel' right, you will be taken to perfume, alabaster and papyrus factories by your guide, well we didn't because we said we didn't want to go! We were a bit concerned with the plans in place to totally restore Karnak temple, the government, so we were told, are buying up land and properties between karnak & Luxor Temples with the aim of excavating and once again linking up the 2 temples.

valley of the kings new dig KV 64

karnak temple

Egypt itself is a fascinating country, we had previously visited the Gulf or Aqabar several years ago, but the Nile did feel more of an exotic destination. We personally had no problems with the locals constantly trying to sell you some trinket or other, we just said 'no' and emptied our pockets turning them inside out. We traveled around Aswan and Luxor again not having any major problem, shop keepers do call out trying to get you to buy and l guess you would''t really be able to window shop, now some people did find this hassling a real problem and vowed never to return as they felt that the place was full of people trying to 'rip them off'.

luxor temple - one of the sons of Ramses II

One point l would recommend, if you are thinking of traveling down the Nile, do your research thoroughly. read up on the boat, you get what you pay for, read up on the temples as it helps you to understand more about what you are actually seeing, take you digital camera as you WILL take loads of photos, for those extra trips not included in your 'tour' you can book at a fraction of the price in many of the travel shops in Luxor, & finally... watch what you eat and if you are female dress sensibly, loose linen clothing keeps you cool deters any unwanted advances by the local men!!

early morning hot air balloons over the west bank @ Luxor

Finally, sorry if this is boring but l was asked for an Egyptian blog!

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Dogs, Holidays and caramel shortcake

The dogs are howling outside the back dog just begging to go walkies, down to the beach, it's not that they HAVE to go out right at this precise moment, it is that they know l am in the office and a mere hurling themselves at the back door possibly isn't gaining my attention quickly enough. " OK you horrid lot, l WILL be out in a moment but first...."!

My dogs are a bit like me really, loud and unruly though l do not have a penchant for eating well rotten raw rabbit, l leave that to dear Gordon, such a wonderful dog all looks and no brains, the canine version of a male bimbo l guess. Now Lucy-Piglet is more like, well an utter nutter really. She has had 3 close shaves with the grim reaper and is still here to terrify scrap men and any other suspicious looking characters found lurking around the farm. The pair are well trained, they see wellies and coats plus the reaching up for dog leads as the red light to get ready to erupt out of the veranda door and leap down the drive, heading for the farm track hoping to terrify some poor unsuspecting animal to death.

This weekend sees the start of half term, here in the East Riding, so Jenny , our demon baker, is busy in the kitchen, so far we have plenty of florentine slices, crispy doodles and a mammoth bake of caramel shortcake which l reckon must be our biggest seller, we just seem to be constantly making it! Next week, as it's half term, Jenny & Harry will be making ice cream, loads of chocolate and frudge brownie flavour. Fun!

It's amazing, every year we seem to suddenly get into over drive mode about now, new customers making inquires, plans for the coming year and all that, so we should be all fighting fit after our mid winter breaks last month. Farmer and l managed to sneak a quick week sightseeing down the Nile, overloading on all thing Egyptian and ancient whilst Hazz spent 10 days in Nakiski, Alberta, skiing c/o Travis, KT & the team. So, we are now, de-jetlagged & raring to go...................

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Dratted weather.

I am not exactly obsessed with the weather, but being married to a farmer l know many people who are. They watch the TV weather forecast with an irritating regularity, today's weather is........... Well it certainly isn't warm and sunny or even springlike, it is wet. Wet as in precipitation and windy as in storm force 12. I understand other parts of the UK are having snow. the news broadcast show pictures of children frolicking in the white stuff, adults wearing skis being towed along by a neighbour's car, schools being closed, the news reporter urging us to stay at home........... Hello, we have no snow, and l repeat this time VERY LOUDLY we have NO snow.

What we do have is yet more rain. I drove through to Driffield this afternoon, in the rain, and every field has glistening lakes spreading across the farm land, rain falling on icy waterlogged fields. Now, if the temperature seriously dropped we could perhaps have some fun ice skating around the fields or up and down the drainage dykes. Was it in Tom's Midnight Garden that the children skating along the fens? Good book that.

In between showers, Harry and myself, with dogs in tow, have manged to get down to the cliff top,walking is a little tiring as you have to walk with your back bent at a 45' angle leaning into the wind whilst the dogs have wrinkly ears similar to Winnie the Pooh's & Piglet in the illustration showing them hunting for the woozle, we haven't, however actually gone down onto the beach. Normally it is a gentle hop down into Withow Gap and then off you go, this week it looks to be more like a large leap onto a piles of rocks, pebbles and concrete that have been hurled up against the cliff base, as for the sand - there is none, not a solitary grain - all washed away, so last year the beach was on a level with the lowest point of the cliff say 10 foot, this year we are looking at a drop down of 15 foot. the beach just looks like a bomb site, literally. Plenty of waves for those ultra keen surfers looking for that special rip curl or whatever they call it.

So then, there it is never a dull moment so far as the weather is concerned, we all love to moan and groan about it but, just think, if we had glorious sunshine with blue skies everyday we would loose one of the most important topics in English conversation, 'What's the weather doing where you are today then?'.

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