Paint Splattered Sheep in green pastures
As we drove through the lush green countryside we noticed some cute sheep grazing in the distance. When we got closer I noticed the sheep had black feet and paint splattered on their white fleece ! I was baffled and thought perhaps some pranksters had use them for targets for their paintball guns! The thought of that was just shocking, 'who would do such a thing ! I thought.
Later we were chatting with a local and I asked about the sheep, why did they have paint spattered on them ? He gave me the true explantion. Farmers attach sacks of colored dye onto the necks of the male sheep, each male has a different color. When they mate with the female sheep the sack breaks and marks the female and the color shows the farmer which male was the partner !
Hmmmmmm Most of the sheep we saw were marked red, that red male lamb sure got around ! Also we saw a few female sheep with fleece of many colors, the popular ones LOL Well you learn something new every day. I never would have guessed the true reason and I am glad I was wrong in thinking anyone would use those cute sheep as paintball targets !
Exeter's Latest Chinese Restaurant - In A Pub!
The last time I passed through Exeter by train I was in no particularly hurry (I think I was heading back to work) and as is my wont I dropped into the Jolly Porter, opposite St Davids Station, for a couple of beers.
I was also kindof peckish and was looking forward to getting one of the excellent burgers from Peeps burger van once I'd worked up the motivation to head onwards.
However plan A went straight onto the back burner once I discovered that the JP is now host to a new Chinese restaurant which has taken over the left-hand room. Chatting to the guys at the bar most of them had tried it out and were unanimous with their praise.
Well here I was with a few trains that were easily missable and the prospect of a few beers which were pretty much unmissable and so I decided to give it a brief workout.
This turned out to be an excellent change of plans.
The restaurant occupies what was formerly the pub's lounge area and it still retains the pub fittings and furniture. The tables though have been laid up with, admittedly a bit wrinkly, tablecloths and some plasticky orchids whilst the only change to the decor is the addition of a couple of hanging lanterns and other ornaments. It was obviously early days but the young couple running it were welcoming and enthusiastic and the couple of guys on the other table occupied were making a lot of appreciative noises as they ate.
The table menu was the same four-fold giveaway as they use for their takeaway but that was OK by me - the less frills the better and of course this means the eat-in prices are the same as the eat-out. The menu covers pretty much all the Chinese takeaway staples and lacks a "house specialities" section but as I was to discover everything IS the house speciality. A basket of very prawny prawn crackers with a nice chilli kick got the gastric juices working as I perused the 140 or so dishes and finally I settled on the Hot and Sour Soup to start, to be followed by the Duck with Ginger & Spring Onion accompanied by Egg Fried Rice.
HA! I suppose it's the Chinese way of doing things but instead of getting my soup to start everything arrived at once but that wasn't worth complaining about especially considering the assualt of delish aromas my palate was assailed by - the chillies, the garlic, the ginger and the aromatic spices - I just tucked straight in!
The soup was definitely worth writing home about - rich, sweet, sour with a good depth of flavour and a tongue-tingling heat. The duck too zinged, meaty but not fatty, cooked with copious quantities of onions and an unexpected slathering of Chinese mushrooms all bound together in a rich soy-based sauce. The rice too was exemplar and tasty enough to have been eaten as a meal in its own right (though maybe I should have stuck to plain boiled rice as a foil to the richness of the soup and duck).
Having thoroughly enjoyed my meal I went to the counter to pay and the chef popped out to ask if everything had been OK. I didn't tell him I am a cook myself but I did tell him that it was one of the best Chinese meals I've eaten and we passed the time of day having a little natter - about how long he'd been there (a couple of weeks) and how trade was (picking up).
The bill came to the princely sum of £9.10, I gave them £12 - I'm not normally an extravagant tipper but at even at £12 it was still too cheap. We shook hands and as I left I did mention that us philistinical Brits do expect the starter to come before the main course.
Then it was back to the bar where I added my profound praise to the consensus.
The minstrels Gallery
The minstrels' gallery was built in 1350 and has twelve angels playing contemporary musical instruments, many of which are still readily identifiable.
A cast of this gallery may be seen in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
"Exeter - a boring city??"
Exeter has had a bit of bad press recently, being named as one of the most boring cities in the country. According to a certain national newspaper, I don't recall which, but obviously one without actual reporters, Exeter is supposed to be nothing but "High Street Chain Shops, Coffee Bars and Pubs".
What absolute tosh!
My little darling here, having a quick scratch before going for a swim, was photographed not even ten minutes walk from the High Street.
Okay, on the High Street itself are the usual culprits: Dixons, Waterstones, M&S, All the banks,Costa Coffee..........and etc. But criticising kind of misses the point, most of the population of Devon live in rural areas and we actually need to go shopping in these sort of shops from time to time, go to the bank, and whilst we're here drop into Burger King for a treat!!
The High Street itself is maybe 400 yards (metres if you prefer) long and as soon as you get off it, left, right, up or down you find yourself in EXETER, with its myriad little shops, interesting little pubs, restaurants, The Cathedral, theatres, gardens, the river........the list is endless! And the great thing is you don't have to go very far to find things.
"Polemic Continued, Chapter2"
Even though I haven't been in for a few years, McGahey's has long been a lifeline on the tobacco front for me. Not only do they stock my particular brand, but will send it out to me when I'm stranded in "Gauloises Free" regions. As an invertebrate (sic) smoker this sort of service is absolutely essential.
But to return to my polemic - McGahey's is slap-bang in the middle of the "boring" High Street. And it is not the only "exception that proves the rule".
There is of course "Dingles", ok it's now owned by House of Fraser, but still keeps its particular Exeter character and only a matter of paces off the High St proper there's Gandy St, with its idiosyncratic collection of oddbod shops -- I might even write a shopping tip!
And at either end of the 400 yards of Nationals, you have Sidwell Street , with its really useful little minimarket - watch batteries, hand tools, mobile accessories...........and heading towards the river down Fore St, a little arcade with "Gay Dogs" - specialist in purple poodle jobs, "Star Child" - herbalist and tarot readings, continue and you have "Chuckle Shoes" - made to order or from stock, "The Yellow Emperor" - herbal viagra now available! And thats just a lucky bag type pick!
And of course no page of mine would be complete without at least one pub!
A little trendier than I normally prefer for a pub, but a decent pint of beer, even though they use a strange sort of electric pump, last seen in Manchester in the late seventies, good bar food and pleasant laid back atmosphere. A little oasis in the City Centre and there are quite a few others - try out The Well House, overlooking Cathedral Green or the City Walls Hotel just before the Iron Bridge (and the barber shop next door is where I get my hair cut when in Exeter - that's a digression and a half!! Pubs to haircuts all within the same brackets - but there is a reason............it's like this: I never go straight to the pub, I only allow myself to have a drink if i've done something to justify it and a haircut is as good a justification as any!)
If you are a pub person here's a really good pub site for Exeter, Cheers Stu!: Exeter thro' the bottom of a beer glass
Just to round things off, Exeter is Exeter and I love her just as she is and she is certainly not boring!