Rye Bay Scallop Week - A day out in Britain

Every year the second weekend of february marks the Rye Bay Scallop Festival. A joyous occasion where the whole town's pubs and restaurants offer Scallop themed menus, demonstrations and evenings of fun and music.
Rye is one of the five medieval Cinq Ports and its catch of herring, mackerel, wiring, cod, plaice and sole used to be reserved for the king's table. King Charles I mentioned Rye in 1628:
“The cheapest sea-towne for provision of fish for our house.”

Today Rye is situated two miles from the sea with the river Rother, Brede and the Tillingham connecting the port to the sea, in medieval times however Rye was almost entirely surrounded by sea before terrible storms destroyed neighbouring town Old Winchelsea and changed the course from the river Rotherin the 13th century. After these events the ships were only able to reach what is now the Strand in Rye.
Rye's economy as one of the most important of Cinq Port towns declined with the coming of larger ships that needed deepwater ports. Rye turned to fishing and smuggling where the Mermaid pub, which is still a buzzing pub in the town, played a key part. By the end of the 17th century the wool trade became important throughout Kent and Sussex and the Romney Marsh sheep are still favoured today for their juicy lamb and wool.

The last decades the scallops have become a main source of income in the winter for the 'Scallopers' of Rye harbour. I met up with retired fisherman John who now does the 'chucking' and sorting of the scallops his sons 'catch' on their overnight boats.

The Foodie Bugle Shop - the online store for British artisan food, homeware, art, vintage finds and other little lovely things.

Silvana de Soissons is the founder and the heart of The Foodie Bugle, an online journal dedicated to good food and creative people. She also accepts articles from other writers with the only condition that they are thoughtfully written, balanced and well researched. Due to the quality of her work for The Foodie Bugle she was honoured with an award by The Guild of Food Writers in the category 'New Media' for the year 2012. She had only been running The Foodie Bugle for a year at that time but it had grown rapidly into a solid brand that is based upon celebrating good British artisan products and creative people - writers, artists, photographers, producers - anyone with an inspiring vision and work ethic.

On the website you'll find a mix of recipes, book and food and drink reviews, stories about British producers, artisan businesses, writers, artists and photographers. And there is also information about food events, including her own The Foodie Bugle Lectures:
"The Foodie Bugle Lectures are an opportunity to bring together food and drink artisans,  growers,  entrepreneurs, writers, bloggers and food lovers, to share experience, knowledge and wisdom over speeches, conversation and a seasonal supper of regional and local produce with wine and ale." 
Hodmedod’s Dried Pulses
The online food journal on thefoodiebugle.com wasn't enough for Silvana, she listened to her readers who asked for a print edition of The Foodie Bugle and The Foodie Bugle Print Magazine was born. 
A magazine that is more a coffee table book to enjoy sitting in your favourite nook than something you take along with you on a train. It is beautifully published with quality paper and genuinely interesting content. Silvana has always been an inspiration to me, she is stylish, clever, witty and a tough nut to crack. A woman I would love to have as a mother to look up to, with her cocktail of Italian passion with British solidity and perseverance. I have learned a lot from her, especially when I sent her an article and she gave me her honest remarks on my writing, and again recently on how my writing has evolved. Needless to say I was honoured to be featured by her in the second issue of The Foodie Bugle Print Magazine. 

The beautiful magazine

Proud to have my pictures in the magazine

Passion fruit, Persimmon and Pepper Pavlova - I had a love/hate relationship with merengue

For a history geek like me it is interesting to see how the Valentine's traditions came to be. There are a lot of theories surrounding its origins but it seems that the first time Valentine's day was linked to love can be traced back to the 14th century.It was the English poet Geoffrey Chaucer, mostly known for The Canterbury tales who mentioned Valentine's day in his The parlement of foules C 1381.
For this was on seynt Volantynys day Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make. 
In modern English: For this was Saint Valentine's day, when every bird of every kind comes to this place to choose his mate.

Cardamom and yoghurt spelt cake and the number 13

 My grandmother always wore a number 13 on a golden chain around her neck. She had a tough life, raising 4 children on her own after grandfather didn't come home from sea. She worked from dawn till dusk. Nanna died from old age many years ago because her body was just completely worn down. I remember her stern nature and I'm sure my father didn't have an easy childhood. I know he wanted to go to school to become a carpenter, dreaming to work with wood and create his own furniture, but he had to work instead.

My father is a man with ambition, a fighter, a daredevil and a great teacher in life. He worked hard to become a paramedic when I was born, and got the degrees needed to save lives. His precious weekends off he spent them as a volunteer with the Red Cross and the Flemish Cross, aiding people in need of care on events, disasters and accompanying disabled children and adults on trips.

I used to joke that the reason he always went to be on the Flemish Cross care unit on big Raves was that he knew I was safe at home but that other parents didn't have that luxury fearing their children were somewhere possibly doing drugs or drinking way to much. He had many teenagers on his gurney and I know he was secretly happy about me being a New Waver and a romantic rather than a raver wearing neon trainers.

My dad taught me - not by telling me this but by example that when I wanted something, I should just go out there and do it.

2013 has been anything but unlucky and it reminds me of my grandmothers golden number 13 which I inherited after her death and is one of the only things I have to remind her by. For her, and as for many other cultures, number 13 was a lucky number. 

I got to do fantastic stuff last year but most importantly, I found a way to live with an autoimmune condition. When I got diagnosed in the summer of 2012 I found myself on a roller coaster of emotions. I got worse before I got better in 2013. I know found that living a balanced life, especially with your food is the best way to stay stable and healthy. I am fortunate to be at a stage with my condition that it can stay stable if I rest enough and stay healthy. For someone who is used to running through life rather than walking, it hasn't been easy to slow down. But I did it.

Enjoy my round-up of favourite happenings of last year.

I went on a pig keeping course and it was one of the most splendid days of my life, I have a -not so- secret dream of having a little pig farm one day. You can read the full story here.

You see, I ain't afraid of getting down in the mud with a pig!