Monday, January 21, 2008

Blue Monday

Taking into account factors such as weather conditions, debt level (the difference between debt accumulated and our ability to pay), time since Christmas, time since failing our New Year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and feeling of a need to take action, Dr Cliff Arnall has calculated that January 21st - Blue Monday - is likely to be the most depressing day of the 2008.

Jon in particular had good reason to feel a bit down in the dumps suffering as he was with a rare case of Delhi Belly after his recent holiday on the Asian subcontinent. We figured that under such circumstances there was nothing to lift the spirits like a bit of fresh air and exercise, a couple of beers with friends and a slap-up meal TCA-stylie. Assembling in Hambledon we eventually decided to experiment with a new route: Heading east out of the village following the steep ascent past Bury Lodge we used the country lanes and tracks which follow the ridge above the village, eventually emerging at the Bat & Ball pub. Jon's extended period of post-Delhi convalescence were telling as he lagged behind the other two in uncharacteristic fashion; John and Al made the most of the novelty of having to wait for Jon a the top of the climbs for a change. A shifty early pint was tempting but the consensus was that we pass by now we were back on familiar territory: We continued the ascent towards Mercury Park but on John's suggestion we took a flier on a lane which promised a short cut - it followed the perimeter of Combes Wood - and rather suprisingly (given past TCA experiences) it emerged exactly where we wanted to be; on the road joining Old Winchester Hill and Butser Hill. Having reached the summit of our ascent we followed the road and were treated to excellent views of a barn owl hunting along the verge. Although it was a mild evening we were heading into a stiff wind and were happy to reach Teglease Down and start the descent off the downs towards Brockbridge.

As the lane approaches the main B2150 the gradient steepens and it was within a few hundred yards of the road, at full speed into the wind that Al had to pull an emergency stop with grit behind a contact lens (protective glasses left on the top of the trundle some weeks before). Leaving the others somewhat in his wake, Al made haste for the sanctuary of the pub with eye clamped closed and streaming with tears. Oblivious to the rain that had started to fall outside Al grappled with his lenses in the toilets of the White Lion and was rather surprised when Jon and John appeared to have got a soaking as they brought up the rear.

A Toast to Absent Friends
White Lion, Soberton
(Left to right: John, Jon, Al)

Contact lenses and soaking were soon forgotten as, with beer in hand, we chatted to a local couple who had been walking their greyhound crossbreed. Having finished our beers (we all plumped for Pride of Romsey from the Hampshire Brewery) and put all our gear back on we were pleased to see that the heavy shower had passed through - we paused briefly to hose our bikes down (Jon also seemed to get hosed too courtesy of John) before heading up and over the hill towards Hambledon and the completion of our 14-mile circular route.

Back at base the hard work began - tonight the regular hoosh (yet another chilli) would be followed by a dessert of Clootie Dumpling with Creme Anglaise - a by-product of Al's pre-Burn's Night experimentation (see recipe below - click to enlarge)


Jon, whose culinary capabilities are limited to the operation of slow cookers, settled down in front of the TV while Trudy took charge of the main course. John arranged the sliced dumpling in a gratin dish while Al heated the double cream and vanilla. John and Al then took turns at the arm-achingly tiresome task of whipping the egg yolks with the sugar and careful observation of the boiling cream before construction of the final dish. Finally Al crossed his fingers as the rather unlikely concoction was placed into the oven. Needless to say, with such a high fat and carbohydrate content, Nick Nairn's delicious twist on this traditional Scottish speciality put a smile on everyone's faces. Blue Monday? Get some clootie dumpling inside you!

Route Map (click to enlarge):
Elevation Profile:

(Posted by: Al)

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10 Comments:

At 5:49 pm, January 23, 2008, Blogger Maalie said...

That looks one huge dumpling if you start with a pound of flour! I suppose you could scale it down, but then you'd be using fractions of an egg.

Glad you all got over the Monday Blues.

 
At 6:20 pm, January 23, 2008, Anonymous Mrs BB said...

Creme Anglaise!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Isn't that just a poncy name for custard? My my the TCA are getting flash! Sounds like a good way to beat Blue Monday :o)

 
At 8:20 pm, January 23, 2008, Blogger TCA said...

Call a spade a spade Mrs BB eh? Custard is out of a packet or a tin in my book - if you have to start faffing around with boiling double cream and egg yolks then you may as well go to town and call is something poncy so everyone knows it was a load of bother!

You'd never see it on Kiwi Kitchen that's for sure!

Al

 
At 8:21 pm, January 23, 2008, Blogger TCA said...

Maalie - I reckon the dumpling would serve about 10-12 people, nay bother. It consumed 100mL of whisky!

W

 
At 9:58 pm, January 23, 2008, Blogger simon said...

I am pleased to see fellow riders out even if feeling crook...

I once had a wasp fly onto my glasses and then crawl underneath...

 
At 8:45 am, January 24, 2008, Blogger TCA said...

I hope you didn't use the good whiskey for that clootie dumpling!

B.B

P.S. have you watched the mutton bird episode on Kiwi kitchen yet?

 
At 1:14 pm, January 24, 2008, Blogger Fat Lad said...

I think I've put 4 pounds on just reading that...

Fat Lad

 
At 7:58 am, January 25, 2008, Blogger TCA said...

BB, for this prototype dumpling I used a combination of two minture bottles: cheap Johnnie Walker red label, supplemented with Bowmore when I realised that 5cL would be insufficient to reach "dropping consistency" (whatever that means). For tonight's Burn's Night dumpling I thought I would push the boat out and use Ardbeg (only 10 yo though - don't worry our special bottle will not be used for culinary applications) as the recipe specifies. I may also substitue some of the marg for butter and/or suet...

Fat Lad, we feel a gentle weaning from the Christmas diet during January is preferable to a crash diet. Cabbage soup and fresh fruit salad next week...

 
At 8:47 pm, January 25, 2008, Blogger Maalie said...

Cabbage soup! Yum! Does well in a slow burner!

 
At 4:23 am, February 04, 2008, Blogger simon said...

ordinary life is back up W!

 

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