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Thursday, 29 April 2010

Food Week donates £4500 to Community Centre

After all of the great fun that was had during Milford on Sea Food Week we have recently had the great pleasure of donating £4500 to the Milford on Sea Community Centre. Food Week was never run as a fund raising event, but thanks to everyone who bought a programme or raffle ticket, our sponsors & the participants who made a donation, we have raised some valuable funds which we know will be spent for the benefit of everyone in the village. We were also very happy to hear that a number of charities that joined in with our various events managed to raise over £1600 for their own good causes.

In addition to the Community Centre donation we have also been able to retain a ‘fighting fund’ to enable us to create more future initiatives in the village & to prepare for next year’s event. Thank you to everyone who parted with their hard earned cash in whatever way you did. Milford on Sea is, as we all know, a special place, & this is in no small part because of people who live & work here. Hopefully you tried something new in the village during Food Week & it would be great if we can all continue to support our village shops & eateries – they are worth it! Off to start planning next year now, & if there is anything new you would like us to include please just let me know.  |

Take a Guided Village Tour

Our parish Community Tourism Group are running a number of Village Guided Walks. The first walk is next Wednesday 5th May 2010 & it is a great opportunity to find out a bit more about Milford on Sea & the village in which we live. All of the family are welcome, simply meet at the Village Green at 10.30am to join the tour, which will conclude at All Saints' Church at noon for refreshments. The cost is only £1 per adult with all children free.

Our Community Tourism Group will also hold guided walks at the same time on Wednesday 2nd June, 7th July & 4th August 2010. In addition to this, the Lymington Town Tours team are also running guided walks in the village. Dates for all of these walks can be found in our ‘Whats On’ pages.

Jazz Swing in May

The next Jazz Swing session is on 28th May at South Lawn Hotel and features ‘SubbDance’ who we hear are a great band to dance to. Everyone is welcome & the admission is £4. After that there will be no more Jazz/Swing evenings until September 24th when it will be held at the new Community Centre and will feature a perennial favourite ‘The Regular Joes’.

Danes ‘Stream' or 'River’? - An Update

Since recently publishing the story below, I have heard from Terry Langford. Now this is quite scary on two levels, firstly it means that someone reads the nonsense I write, & secondly he knows what he is talking about, something I have never claimed to do!

Terry writes: Dear Ed, As a freshwater biologist for over 50 years, I regard the Dane stream as a "stream", one of the suite of New Forest streams, albeit more urbanised than most. Actually, the definition is immaterial...a stream or river to most of us is what we want it to be. In America the Dane stream would probably be called a ditch. The Danes stream is quite interesting ecologically in that it suffers urban run-off but still manages to hold a head of sea-trout, quite large some of them. It has mayflies too, but the fauna is not a diverse as those of the less urbanised streams. There seem to be no major inherent problems apart from the urban run-off in the stream above Milford, but it is interesting. Probably a bit too much silt near the bridge but that is because the channel is too wide for the low flows and silt settles out then.

So there you have it, you can call it what you like, you can fish for the odd sea-trout, & if you hear an American call it a ditch, tell them that it is a river which is full of salmon.

You may recall that a few months ago I had a debate on these pages (mainly with myself), as to which was correct ‘Danes Stream’, Danestream’, or even ‘Dane Stream’. That research was inconclusive & as you may recall that I put several ridiculous arguments to ensure the confusion continued. Anyway, my friend Dan (who ludicrously claimed the stream was named after him!), wanted to know whether it was a stream, or as he suspected, was it actually a river? Naturally, I had no idea, & Dan is normally wrong about most things, but I felt that it was another excuse to do some more inane research. I thought it might be best to start with a definition of a river. "A river is a natural stream of water, usually freshwater, flowing toward the ocean, a lake, or another stream. Usually larger streams are called rivers while smaller streams are called creeks, brooks, rivulets, rills, and many other terms, but there is no general rule that defines what can be called a river.” Blimey, we may have a ‘Creek’?! I had been hoping that my research would have ended with the definition & I could then go down to the Smugglers, but a statement like ‘no general rule that defines what can be called a river’ really doesn’t help. To steel myself for the next phase of this challenge I did what all self respecting sudo-geographers do, I asked my wife to get me a beer from the fridge. A couple of minutes later I was back, having been to the fridge myself as my darling had gently suggested this was a better option. Back to work, my next discovery was a New Forest District Council planning application which contained ‘an advisory comment from the Environment Agency, that no development should take place within 8 metres of the Danestream River.’ River?, it’s a river! Next, I found on the web the Parish Council News from October 2003, which referred to the ‘Footpath & Danes Stream River Revetment Work’. Oh no, Why is my life so complicated? I now have to find out what ‘Revetment’ means. Hang on a second. Ah, right, Revetment means ‘a facing of stones, sandbags, etc., to protect a wall, embankment, or earthworks’ or ‘A barricade against explosives’. My guess is that they were referring to the first definition. The Department of Geography at the University of Portsmouth, have a record of the ‘Hampshire Olim Pars Belgarum County Map’ by John Norden in 1595, on this our little waterway is indexed as Danes Stream & it also shows two tributaries that flow into it upstream. (Just like a river?) By now I was getting bored reading maps with silly names, & my wife’s legs still had no intention of going anywhere near the fridge, so I used my own to pop down to The Smugglers. A couple of pints later I was on my way home when my quest returned to haunt me. Walking down Sea Road & over Danes Stream, I spotted a road name sign saying ‘River Gardens’, now even more fuel was added to the fire. My final investigation found that our very own Parish Vision 2020 refers to the ‘Danestream River.’ So there you have it, our stream may well be a river. Unfortunately, Eastenders had now finished & my wife had decided to take an interest in what I was up to, rather than Pete Beale or whoever else shouts in that daft soap. I suddenly wished that it had been an hour long episode when she said “I'd say that any water that flows could be considered a stream, but a large stream is a river, & boats go on rivers not streams” Great, just when I thought that I had sorted it for all mankind. Only one answer to solve it then. If you see a large man in shorts, with a canoe on his back heading towards the river/stream’s mouth at Sturt Pond, don’t stop me, I will be on a mission to see if I can get from one end to the other!

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Sunday | Milford on Sea Food Week Diary

Shorts have had a long week, but they were still on duty for the last day. Today was an early (if what fuzzy headed), start as I arrived in the High Street at 7.30am. The local residents had done a great job in keeping the High Street clear of cars overnight, so we were immediately ready to start setting up the arriving market stalls on the village green and in the closed High Street. The first Milford on Sea Food Market opened at 10am & immediately throngs of people started to arrive. It soon became clear that in addition to the locals, large numbers of people were attending from outside the village. All of the stalls were buzzing as they presented their wares & it was great to see people so interested in the local produce available. As the day continued, the crowd just kept growing & it was not long before people could only shuffle between stalls. The village was vibrant & there was a great atmosphere everywhere. All day our squadron of raffle ticket sellers attacked visitors from every direction, obtaining any loose cash they could from unsuspecting market goers. Around midday a reader of these pages arrived & introduced himself. It was Rick, an ex-resident of Milford on Sea, who had travelled over specially from his home in Germany, he had also been joined by his sister from France. Oh yes, Milford on Sea has international appeal! Rick (who used to be called Rex, but that’s a long story), had generously bought me a large glass keg of his local German beer to enjoy. The Plonkers were now in full swing with their cider enhanced agricultural music & every hot food stall had constant queues for hours. Our local village shops had enthusiastically supported the Food Market & many had opened specially for the Sunday, so it was great to see them also doing a brisk trade. Our local restaurants, cafes and pubs also happily fed the hungry visitors, & available tables were at a premium. By mid-afternoon many of the stalls sold out of stock, as no-one had really expect the number of people who came to visit. We estimate over 5000 passed through the Food Market. Whilst feeling a bit daft in my (far too small) high visibility waistcoat, I chatted to lots of people during the day. I was particularly pleased to hear from some local B&B owners that they had some extra bookings this week from people who had just come to visit the Food Week. Some had even already rebooked having discovered the pleasures of Milford on Sea for the first time. I also discovered from Katie that the Food Market had been mentioned in the church service this morning, how good to have an endorsement in such high places. When telling my wife, I asked her if she thought the Vicar might do a quick advert for this website next week, but she didn’t reply and just wandered off muttering ‘Why did I have to be the one who was lumbered with the village idiot.’ In the late afternoon we decided it would be fun to have the local children draw the winning raffle tickets. All went well until one little lad decided the ticket he drew could be kept, as he ran back into the crowd to Mum & Dad. A few seconds later he was dragged back by his brother & sister, but he still used all the strength he had until I could prise the ticket from his hand.

As the market drew to a close, & the stalls packed up, it soon became clear that the great team effort had created a magnificent close to an exciting first Food Week. Also all of the visitors had kept the market area clear of litter, this may seem a silly point, but to me it shows a respect for our village by everybody that came. With so many visitors to the Food Market from outside of the area we hope that many will continue to return having now discovered the delights our village has to offer. Our charming little seaside village certainly eats well & knows how to throw a party, perhaps Rick Stein and Padstow should keep one eye our vibrant community, as we are looking to get on the map fine food!

As we sat in the warm sunny Sunday evening with our friends Colin & Trish, and Steve & pregnant Liz, we enjoyed Rick’s German beer & reflected on the fun we had all enjoyed during the week. My wife even liked me for a little while. It was pretty special to spend time with my Mum, many friends & neighbours. It was also heart-warming to see the whole village pull together to make everything happen, and to see the joy on people’s faces at lots of events was a complete delight. Food week has gone way beyond our expectations in terms of support and popularity, and despite us both aching in muscles we did not even know we had, it has been really rewarding to see everyone having a great time.

Today’s weight: 0 stone 0 lbs (Scales only go up to 20 stone! & have now exploded) | Off to plan Milford on Sea Diet Week now.

*Steve has done a ‘You Tube’ montage of images from the Food Market. To watch, please click the link below.

Saturday | Milford on Sea Food Week Diary

I woke up regretting the night before as predicted, but I was pleased to discover my shorts were still working as another clear blue sunny sky greeted me in the morning. Dave was up bright & early, as he was off to the FA Cup semi final after breakfast. I was ready for another day meandering around the village on a food hunt. On my travels around the village all week I was now regularly bumping into the same people that had been at the many events. A few looked at the big bloke in shorts quite suspiciously, I think they may have been concerned that they had gained a personal stalker during Food Week. Undeterred by the strange looks I may get, I popped into the village for a bacon sandwich at Polly’s Pantry.

At the Church Hall, Judith was once again holding a cookery demonstration on ‘Cooking for 1 or 2’. Yet again we had another well attended event & I played my part by sampling all of the food available. At one stage I became a bit concerned that she was making cooking these meals look a bit too easy, fortunately I never retained any of the information & can continue to rely on my wife being in charge of our kitchen. (If anyone would like to see Judith’s recipes, they are now in the ‘Village Recipe Book on the Food Week website:

At lunchtime our friends Steve & Liz arrived to stay for the weekend. As we had lunch in the garden at the Smugglers Inn we were about to receive some very unexpected news.... Liz was pregnant! Fantastic news, but I never thought I would see a forty something confirmed bachelor chatting about the merits of terry towelling nappies. So many unexpected great things have happened this week. Over on the village green we were entertained as we watched Lindsay, sat in a bath getting covered in baked beans. The kids seemed to really enjoy the fun & making a tomato mess. Apparently she doesn’t do this every weekend, but the way she enjoyed it I’m not so sure. I heard later that Lindsay raised £303 for the Women for Women Charity. Next stop was ‘Michelle’s Vegetable Patch’ to see how she successfully grows vegetables in Milford on Sea. The front of her family home in Keyhaven Road held no clue to the great work she had done in her back garden. Michelle enthusiastically explained to the hoards of visitors about her experimental growing methods, whilst the chickens at the end of the garden just happily clucked away.

The evening was enjoyed by many attending the meal in the Church Hall, prior to the ‘Music for Spring Concert’ performed by Milford Musicale in All Saints Church, the Five Course Gourmet Evening was also taking place at Westover Hall Hotel. We opted for a takeaway curry from Zaika, a bottle of wine & an early night ready for the Food Market tomorrow morning. Well that was the plan, but at well past midnight we had failed on the ‘early night’ bit, & the bottle of wine had expanded into a variety of alcoholic beverages. With friends & a wife like mine I never learn.

Today’s weight: 19 stone 15 lbs (Scales really struggling now)

See the photo’s & stories from each day at:

Friday-Milford on Sea Food Week Diary

Blue sky, shorts on, I was ready for another day munching across the village. I headed for the start of the ‘Make More Room for Food’ Walk. The assembled crowd seemed keen for an energetic ramble, & I mused about joining in. But, on reflection they looked a bit too keen at walking for me, so I decided to go for a bacon sandwich in Polly’s Pantry instead. My mate Dave was due to arrive for the night, so unfortunately no time to get to the First Friday Charity Lunch. The plan for the afternoon was to enjoy the Pudding Afternoon at Westover Hall, my wife had decided to miss this one as she is not a chocoholic (I know, she’s very strange). Dave’s eyes however lit up at the idea, so the two of us skipped up Park Lane to the hotel. I guess it looked a bit odd, but Dave seemed to enjoy it, & the exercise was good for me. A menu greeted us with around twenty pudding choices, from which we could select two each. Over a coffee we made our selection & waited in anticipation. When they arrived, each dish was art on a plate, which came as no surprise when we learned that the chef had been trained at the Michelin starred Le Gavroche Restaurant in London. In my normal style a hiccup occurred when my phone rang to tell me the skip for the Food Market was arriving in the village. By the time I had returned fifteen minutes later, Dave had eaten his two puddings. In fact to be more accurate he had eaten one of his, & the banana one I was particularly looking forward to. To make matters worse I had wanted to take photos of them all for the website. Dave’s yelp as I kicked him in the shin was only heard by the closest waitress. Ignoring his pain, I tucked into his sticky toffee pudding and my amazing chocolate stove. Yes, a model stove made out of dark & milk chocolate, filled with chocolate mousse & complimented with two chocolate saucepans containing two fruit sauces. All of the puddings were exotic & delicious creations. As we left we gave our compliments, Rachel told us no one has so far been able to eat a complete chocolate stove, little did she know that I had left an empty plate.

After a swift beer & afternoon nap it was time to head for Ashtons Real Estate’s ‘Cheese & Wine Evening’, a lively throng of local residents were already enjoying themselves & it was not long before we all had a glass of wine in hand. There was also an impressive spread of fine cheeses & olives which I quickly tucked into. All of the food & wine served had been generously supplied by Paul from Hollands. We had heard all week that people had been having a fun time at Belle Epoque, and had planned to pop in, but unfortunately time was against us, as we wanted to get to Braxton Gardens to see the village’s Total Voice Choir’s second performance of the week.

Tonight people were also arriving at South Lawn Hotel to enjoy the ‘Chefs Fish & Seafood Night’ & Westover Hall were hosting a sold out ‘Five Course Gourmet Evening’. As we drove past the village green we spotted Dave Gregory’s village minibus operating a free shuttle bus service that was taking people up to Braxton Gardens. On arriving, there was no available parking spaces & the closest we could park was near Lytton Lawn Touring Park. I suggested calling a taxi, but Dave & my wife thought it would be fine to walk to the concert. On arrival we found there had been an unfortunate hiccup with the cocktail & canapés, but the assembled crowd of around 200 were still in good spirits & spread across the gardens in anticipation. As the choir paraded onto the floodlit terrace everyone became very excited. The outdoor performance gave the night a special atmosphere, as our local choir demonstrated their fine harmonies & impressive solo’s. The fine dry evening had a slight spring chill, but no one seemed to notice, as after every song the audience burst into rapturous hand warming applause. During a minor technical microphone hitch, a wag in the crowd started an impromptu acapella song & he was soon joined by other members of the audience in party mood. It was impossible for anyone there on the night not to have been proud of the new choir we now have in the village.

On the way home we grabbed a takeaway pizza from Piccolo Mondo. Once home, we opened one of the bottles of Row Ash Red wine we had bought on a Food Week special offer from WineShak, the wine had been made in their own Wickham Vineyard in the countryside near Southampton. Not normally someone who would buy English wine, I was very pleased to find it had the flavour of a good French Beaujolais. The evening then took its expected course, as Dave & my wife encouraged me to stay up late enjoying more drink & conversation. I think I will regret this in the morning.

Today’s weight: 19 stone 14 lbs (Scales creaking a little bit)

See the photo’s & stories from each day at:

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Thursday | Milford on Sea Food Week Diary

My wife awoke startled this morning as I shouted ‘I’ve done it!’ at the top of my voice. What have you done she asked blearily. ‘It’s sunny, my shorts have worked, I’ve done it!’ I repeated. She took a swing, but with the restriction from her nightie she missed. Mum & friends are going home today, so we have a treat in store for lunchtime, but before that my wife thought a walk along the beachfront was in order. I joined in, but as they got halfway through their marathon trek I made a weak excuse & disappeared to ‘learn how to taste wine’ at Braxton Gardens. Shorefield also had another fun day running. Now peckish, I returned to collect the family & we made our way to Verveine Fishmarket Restaurant. The restaurant was full and the food exquisite. We all had the full three courses with all the special extra touches the team took so much care over. The world felt a great place to be, & it got even better when Gary insisted on paying, which I think was his way of trying to repay me for causing my morning headache.

Over the road the RNLI were having a very well attended Cheese & Wine Lunch with a Quiz. Late afternoon Mum & friends were off on their way home & I suggested to my wife an afternoon tea at Polly’s Pantry. Although she didn’t reply I could tell by her snoring that she was a bit too tired to go out just yet.

The evening was a bit of relay to take photo’s at various venues. First stop was Westover Hall Hotel where we were greeted by trees decked in Spanish Flags & bunting around the door. As we entered the Spanish guitarists were in full swing & champagne was flowing. The dining guests looked very smart & were already creating a party atmosphere. I tried to discreetly take some photo’s, but that is quite difficult when you are six foot two & of portly build. (Portly?, porky more like.) Next stop was the Folk Club & Chilli Night at South Lawn Hotel. When we arrived the chilli had already been served and a floor singer was up on stage. I got quite confused as to what he was singing about, but the sixty or so folk music aficionado’s seemed to understand. My wife reckoned it was about his dead dog & cider. I am not sure she was right, but before we could find out we were off to our next venue. Our final stop of the night was at Bon Appétit where we fortunately got a table to enjoy the late night Sweet & Savoury Crepes Evening. We decided to have one of each kind, and there are no prizes for guessing that I had the sweet one. By now it was getting a bit too late to make Verveine’s Tasting Banquet, so we called it a night with a swift night cap in The Smugglers.

Today’s weight: 19 stone 12 lbs | See the photo’s & stories from each day at:

Wednesday | Milford on Sea Food Week Diary

Had a bit of hangover this morning, why are all of my friends such a bad influence? My wife’s singing is quite painful at the best of times, but this morning she was hitting notes which I am sure would have permanently deafened passing seagulls. I’m not sure why she was singing, but I think my delicate state was enough cause for her solo celebration. Around 10 o’clock our friends waddled in having had another full breakfast after their stay at Westover Hall. This morning was the Family Food Fun at Shorefield and Horrid Henry’s Lunchbox at the library, however as I have yet to perfect the art of being in two places at once I was already committed to the Church Hall Food Day, so resplendent in my shorts, I headed off bright and early to let everyone in.

As the various stalls set up, there was an air of anticipation as to what would happen when the doors opened at ten o’clock. There turned out to be no need for concern, as the hall immediately filled up as soon as we opened. The first point of call for the families was David Rogers pottery wheel, where the kids could ‘throw their own pot’. Little did he know that he was going to be welded to his chair without any sort of break until closing time! The visitors also made a beeline directly to the WI stall, where the girls had their home baked cakes & marmalade. Their stock lasted less than an hour in the constantly full hall. As people wandered around the stalls Jenny was explaining the concept of Raw Food For Health, Amanda had full audiences at her canapé demonstrations and Claire had to find some more stock for her Spice N’ Easy stall as people just kept buying. By now I had only eaten a few canapés & some crackers with dips, so it must be time for lunch. The WI girls having anticipated they would sell out quickly, had volunteered to do tea & coffee for our visitors, & also to serve a lunch of potato & leek soup with French bread, and amazing chicken liver or smoked salmon pate, all homemade of course. We were all struggling to decide what to have, so I ensured that I did not choose the wrong one by ordering both courses. My mum, ladened with bags from the day was happily chatting to the friendly locals as I tucked into some cake for pudding.

Whilst all this was happening Nicola from Yum was holding her second Kids Cookery Course in the front meeting room, with her mum at hand she had them baking & decorating cakes. For the sake of research it was necessary for me to test the icing, & I can confirm that it was just as icing should be. As Nicola is pregnant, it was fortunate that she could have the evening off. Oh no she couldn’t, as she was also doing the cakes & tea for the Choirs interval tonight. Ah well, that’s life in cakes.

In the afternoon more new faces kept arriving & the hall remained full all day with over 500 estimated visitors. A number of the people had come straight from the Fish Filleting Demonstration & Lunch at Verveine, & they were full of praise for the experience. Our speakers for the afternoon kicked off with Richard Barnett, who gave a talk about the New Forest Transition Group. He explained how the world’s natural fuel resources were declining, & how everyone can help by shopping locally, buying local produce & growing a small amount of produce for themselves. I have to say I found the argument compelling, unlike the scepticism I have for global warming. Ironically, Richard’s statement would be happily accepted by many, & if taken up by the masses would solve the global warming issues at the same time. Perhaps the world’s governments are making the wrong argument. (Sorry, not sure what happened there, I seem to have got a bit unexpectedly political.) Later on I was chatting to my wife & mentioned my surprise that Richard had normal ears. ‘Why wouldn’t he?’ she asked, ‘well, I know that he is a vegan’ I made the mistake of replying. Her heel caught me square in the shin & I went down like a sack of potatoes. She then bent down, and growled in my ear ‘Vulcans, its Vulcans that have pointed ears’. As I got up, & trying not to limp, I calmly walked away muttering to those that could hear, ‘Anyone got a mop? Someone seems to have spilt a drink making the floor slippery’.

Our next speaker, Charles Dowding was just as interesting. Being a renowned author on growing vegetables, he explained how he had proved that better vegetables can be grown without digging. It was a process that takes a few seasons to implement but for the keen gardener it must have been music to their ears. As someone who is not a gardener I was a bit disappointed to find out that chocolate is not a vegetable & his method would not help me grow some.

In the evening The White Horse had their curry & bottle of wine offer, and the WineShak were holding wine tastings, but I was already back for duty at the Choir & Cake Night in the Church Hall. We had no idea how many people would arrive, but when we had all of the seats full & a queue still going out of the door I anticipated we may have a problem. I went to the front of the hall to ask if any of the seated audience would be happy to stand at the back to allow our older friends to use the chairs. Without exaggeration about half of the hall immediately stood & it was a warm moment to see such instant gallantry. After a bit of shuffling & squeezing, we had over 150 in the hall & lined up the hallway to watch the 40 strong Total Voice Choir come onto the stage. The village choir was only started in January by our local resident Christine Mulgrew, and we were soon to discover the great job she had done in preparing them for their first public performance. The choir burst into song, giving us all the amazing sound of voices in harmony. With each number their confidence grew & the end of each song was greeted with rapturous rounds of applause. More than a few of the audience had lumps in their throat during some songs. The night was a complete triumph & everyone returned home on a high.

Chance for an early night I thought, chance for a drink & a late night Mum, Gary & Joy thought. Guess who won.

Today’s weight: 19 stone 9 lbs | See the photo’s & stories from each day at:

Tuesday | Milford on Sea Food Week Diary

The early morning was dry & bright with a hint of a ‘blue moon’, so I started the day with a stroll on the beach with the ‘hound dog’ & ‘old Shep’. On my return I was surprised to find my wife making us bacon sandwiches in her dressing gown. Well, she was not actually making them in her dressing gown, she was making them in the frying pan. That’s ‘The wonder of you’ I exclaimed, & then went on to tell her how I had met ‘The girl of my best friend on the beach’, who had told me that she had received someone else’s post. She was worried that the letter may contain something nasty, but I just told her ‘Don’t have such a ‘suspicious mind’, just ‘return to sender’. My wife walked over, & I thought; ahh, she’s going to give me a ‘whole lotta love’, but instead she caught me just below the ear with her hot spatula. Ouch, ‘burning love’ I thought to myself. In a quietly aggressive tone she told me ‘Elvis is not until tonight & if I hear anymore of your stupid comments, this spatula will go up the trouser leg of your ridiculous shorts’. ‘Don’t be cruel’, I shouted as I quickly escaped into another room.

My ear still smarting I went for a chat with Keith Metcalf and discovered that about 50 people went on the Monday morning ‘Feed the Birds Walk’ around Sturt Pond & into the bird hide. The kids were thrilled to feed the birds with the bags of bird feed available. Unfortunately there was nothing to eat in the Parish Office other than bird seed, so I moved on to the Church Hall to see Nicola & the kids at the Cookery Class. Hands, elbows & chins in bowls of chocolate ensured a room full of happy faces. Giving them a quick hand by sampling some of the ingredients felt a good start to the days eating marathon.

At lunchtime it was time to visit the Britannia Thai to watch Sineenart demonstrate her skills in decorative vegetable carving. It was standing room only & the audience were enthralled by the various designs she created with simple flicks of the wrist. (& with a knife of course.) Pictures taken, I then moved on as vegetables are something I only eat when forced.

Around two o’clock my Mum arrived to stay for couple of days along with my old friends Gary & Joy. We wasted no time in heading for the ‘Taste of France’ event at Bon Appétit, but disaster!, they were full. Plan B was a trip to Inger-Lise’s where we enjoyed some Scandinavian open sandwiches & a hot chocolate. Next was a flying visit to Braxton Gardens to taste a glass of wine & some very fine cheeses. Mum being a fine cook didn’t object when the next stop was at The Gun Inn to visit ‘Morwenna’s Bakery’, it was worth the visit as we sampled a number of her delicious cakes & nice cup of tea in the garden. As I was on my way back for a third cake, I was swiftly tripped & my arm was forced up my back in a split second. My wife tenderly told me that it might not be a good idea to have another one. Being a big & strong man, I said ‘I will if I want to’, luckily she didn’t hear me, so I just agreed with her. It was now time to return to the Church Hall where Judith from New Forest Marque was in full flow with her ‘Quick & Easy’ cookery demonstration. Fortunately the food samples from the demonstration were just going around, so I sat down & tucked in. A selection of savoury treats, was followed by Eton Mess. Having eaten a little bit more than usual today I was finding it difficult to eat it all, but in the name of Food Week I carried on.

In the evening we returned to the village, where we were soon in Zaika ready for Indian Elvis, Gary & I of course started with some Indian beer & the ladies with some white wine. No sooner had we ordered our meals, Elvis arrived under a fanfare. Well, he didn’t actually, it was Roy Orbison who arrived, explaining that Indian Elvis was on his way, but had been delayed in New Delhi airport. The first half of the show was great fun, with ‘Roy’ blasting out old classics. Following our meal the speakers blared once again as we heard Elvis was now in the building. He appeared in a white rhinestone studded suit & within moments had the restaurant rocking and singing along with napkins waving, - it was all happening & even the waiters were spotted dancing to? the tables. When the show was over, Elvis was forced back by the audience to do a couple more numbers & he was obviously enjoying it as much as us. What a great night, hearing Elvis singing Bhangra was great fun, I doubt Milford on Sea has seen anything quite like this before!

On the way home we had a quick pint in The Smugglers, (did not eat any food this time, as I’m watching my weight), then a quick stop at Piccolo Mondo to see how the Italian Opera evening was going, & it was great to see the restaurant full of smiling faces. When we eventually got home we all sat talking until the early hours, & Gary kept refilling my bottomless glass despite my weak protests. I am sure I will pay for this later in the week.

Today’s weight: 19 stone 7 lbs | See the photo’s & stories from each day at:

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Monday: Milford on Sea Food Week Diary

Having spent the last week listening to various conflicting weather reports it was still unclear whether we were going to have a heat wave or monsoon rains today. Waking at 6am I thought it might be best to just look out of the window. Clear sky, gentle wind and calm sea – this could be our lucky day! I turned to inform my wife, but her side of the bed was empty – what a time to choose to leave me. Ah well, I will have to make my own breakfast. On arriving at the kitchen, I was quite relieved to find that my wife had actually got up just before me, which was great news, as it now meant that I did not have to make my own breakfast after all. Getting set for the eleven o’clock start I decided wearing shorts would be appropriate. My wife quickly disagreed. Ignoring her ladyships advice I set off for the Needles Eye Cafe, legs in glorious view. By now the wind had decided that it would whip off the sea with an icy chill. It was not long before the wind claimed two victims for the day. The Charity Candy Stall soon found out that their gazebo would not survive the wind, they were soon followed by The Plonkers who could not play in the now semi arctic conditions. Disappointed, but undeterred we set up the BBQ, the Recipe Book Swap Stall and Feed Your Brain Stall, whilst our Raffle Ticket & Programme sellers stocked up & disappeared on their mission like an SAS platoon.

At eleven o’clock the seafront was full of hoards of people, (in warm coats!, no one else had shorts on?) within minutes the stalls were crowded, and queues forming for burgers & sausages, which had been homemade with the compliments of our village butchers Dave Gates of The Butchers Shop & Dave Gregory of DJ Gregory Butchers. Simultaneously, the Children’s Egg Hunt & Face Painting at the Pre-School kicked off. We were to hear later that the attendance was busier than previous years, with many holidaying campers braving the weather. Many were impressed with our vibrant village, and were already planning to visit other events in Food Week. The funds raised by the Pre-School will be spent on plants and wheelbarrows etc for the ‘Children’s Growing Garden’. At The Marine the new building was resplendent in white, & the hog roast was well underway with over 250 servings made in the first hour.

Back at the Needles Eye Cafe 100 of the village butchers sausages & burgers had been sold by twelve thirty & the cafe had sent out search parties to find more BBQ food & buns. By one o’clock The Marine was rocking with the music of ‘Saxuality’, a girl saxophone duo. Due to the weather Richard had decided to open the unfinished downstairs bar in addition to his outside terraces. The replenished stocks & constant queues at the Needles Eye Cafe lasted until three o’clock with many hungry people fed. (Yes, Jon & I did have one!) Recipe books were flying off the table, & the strategically placed raffle girls were not letting anyone pass without an approach to part with some cash, although I don’t think any of them actually helped themselves from anyone’s pockets.

By the time I arrived The Marine, the bar was awash with happy revellers enjoying the special offer bar prices & more than one bottle of champagne could be seen on the tables. By two thirty it was standing room only, & it was quite an amazing atmosphere, particularly as the walls were still un-plastered breeze blocks & the floor bare concrete. It soon became clear that all people from Milford on Sea need for a party is a bar, band & friends. It was not long before ‘Saxuality’ had dozens of people up dancing & a full party was underway.

Whilst all of this was happening The Smugglers had started their Pirates of the Caribbean day, the team were all resplendently dressed as pirates & the pub decked out in pirates themes. It wasn’t long before the bar was three deep, every inside table taken, & the garden full with friends & families partying to the quite amazing Caribbean Steel Band. The dancing was not restricted to The Marine, as the Smugglers customers also showed that they could move with the best. As the late afternoon arrived, we saw the sun appear just as the wind dropped & the Smugglers garden was a great place to be.

As the afternoon events drew to a close we had met or seen hundreds of people, consisting of many locals, day-tripper’s & holiday makers from far afield. Many had been well fed, & after the food had run out several made their way to the village to find sustenance, so we hope all of our village eateries benefited. I had also discovered that having extremely attractive legs does not protect you from cold winds!

No sooner had we arrived home for a quick sit down & check of the e-mails, we discovered reports had been received from friends that had been on food (pub) crawls & we heard that Belle Époque had been really busy in the afternoon with a fabulous atmosphere. Soon it was then time to pop into the Britannia Thai Restaurant to watch & photograph the Thai dancing. The two dancers were charming & looked beautiful in their traditional Thai costumes. The intricacies of their dancing was much appreciated by the evening diners. Over at the Smugglers the night band was underway with a full bar in good spirits.

On returning home my wife & I realised we had forgotten something, we hadn’t eaten! It was too late to go back to the village, so there was only one thing for it – cheese on toast with Worcester sauce! We won’t make the same mistake throughout the rest of the week.

Milford on Sea is always a special place to be, but today it became just a little bit more special.

Today’s weight: 19 stone 4 lbs
See the photo’s & stories from each day at: