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Recipe Number Seventeen June 2004

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It was on one of those rare sunny afternoons in between showers of rain that I decided to have a break from the kitchen and grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the warming rays of the sun just outside the back door of the restaurant. My thoughts of tranquility were soon to be broken, as I knew that in a few moments I would have the pleasure of the commis chefs company. This information was being relayed to me by a strange whirring noise that was fast approaching the restaurant, slowly the sound was getting closer. Then as it turned into the car park the noise came to a stop. Yes Dan the commis chef had arrived, and so also had the unforgettable sound of a little bright red Peugeot 309 with a slipping fan belt. On seeing that the car park contained only one other car, and that belonged to me and for a reason that only commis chefs that drive red Peugeots understand; Dan then decided to show me and the cat from next door, who seemed quite amused by it all, a demonstration of his latest driving skills. This was to be a pre-planned and detailed maneuver, so concentration would be required. It meant that he would have to extract full power from the Peugeot as he propelled it around the car park. All this combined with the sounds of a badly slipping fan belt, and the smell of burning rubber, made the next door cat escape to the safety of a garden two houses away. After the smoke and dust had settled down I was surprise to see that his car was parked so close to mine in fact I donít think that you could have got a blue Ritz paper between the two cars. The look on Danís face as he surveyed the gap between the two cars was one of amazement and sheer relief. ďSorry I think my foot slipped.Ē Was his only comment. As a punishment to the commis chef I set about recalling all the forms of transport that I have, and in some cases unfortunately, acquired over the many years of driving. I suppose it all started in the early 1960ís with a collection of two-wheeled power. A little red Norman Nippy was my first new bike, well hardly what one would call a motorbike, with a 50cc engine the size of a sewing machine; then came the BSA C12 and for the first time I was being propelled along at a speed of almost fifty mile per hour. The purchase of a dainty little Italian racing bike, painted in a deep blue with a white racing faring, was next. It was the beesí knees but it didnít last long due to a very sharp corner that only became apparent to me at the last moment. I walked away, but sad to say the little Italian job did not. It left me with no transport so I had to hitch hike around for the next few months.

They always say leave the best till last, and my best bike was a Matchless 500 strapped to a Watsonian sidecar. She was a beast of bike and I must say she was all British. It was the bike that I had when I was courting Mrs R. It was in the days when although you were driving on L plates you were allowed to carry passengers in the sidecar. So it was decided that the Mrs R. to be, and my sister would like a trip to the seaside at Cromer. All went well until the return trip, as we came down this steep hill heading towards a little village green. Once again a sharp corner caught me out, it seemed as if the sidecar wanted to go one way and I on the bike was intent on going the other. Three old boys that sat outside the village pub drinking, moved like bats out of hell as the best of British engineering at the time, in a cloud of dust and smoke, powered passed them, missing the front of the pub by inches. My sister on arriving home had a few words to say and vowed she would never set foot in my sidecar again.

After getting married I sold the Matchless 500 and decided to move up a wheel or two if you count the steering wheel. We moved into the world of the three wheeler, mini bond, Isetta, and ones that looked like wedges of cheese, and what a collection of these contraptions did I own. Each one truly had a mind of its own. We had three Isettas and once again the law was either an ass or making a ass out of some one. Oh yes, you could drive a three wheeler on a provisional license as long as you did not have a reverse gear. Ok but what about the guy that parks his Isetta in his garage too close to the back wall? Hard luck old chap, you could not open the door that was at the front and of course you could not reverse back because the law said no reverse gear, damn good law that was.

As time progressed we moved up to the last three wheeled motor that took pride of place outside the front gate. It was a Dell Boy special only painted red. A Reliant Robin, the body work was never going to rust as it was made from fibre glass, but this construction has, as I can see it, one big draw back and there was a golden rule not to get to close to any cars that contained smokers. The problem was if they flicked the fag out of the window and it landed on your bonnet, well I donít have to tell you what happens when you set fibreglass alight do I?  Winter time when it snowed and froze always presented problems for the hardened three wheeled driver as you had to drive with the front wheel in the rut of frozen snow left by normal cars, and after a few miles of that, I believe even James Bond would have given up in  and probably asked for a very large Martini, of course, shaken  not stirred. 

After the three wheelers I bought my first car that had a wheel at each corner, a smart new NSU, and it was in this car that on a straight road  I now at last had enough power under the bonnet to, for the first time,  pass my dear old dad in his ageing Humber. He wasnít amused. The day came when we sold the NSU so we could put a deposit down on a house, and being left with just a few quid I set out to obtain a new set of wheels.  Returning home with a large two coloured Vauxhall FB built around the same time as the ark. When I say two colours the car's main colour was blue but it had many specks of another colour called rust. From that day on, it seemed that I changed my car every few months, there were Minis, Ford Escorts, Triumph Heralds, GT6, Lotus, Vauxhalls, BMW, Morris Minors, Rovers, to name a few. Each came and went, but each car holds memories, like the time four of us drove to the lake district in a Mini non-stop. But I also remember the very happy days and outings my sister and I had, when we were youngsters, in my fathers old Humber; slowly driving along country lanes towards the place that we always stopped for a picnic. Salmon paste sandwiches, or egg and cress were always enjoyed, packets of Smiths crisps that you hoped would contain a little blue bag of salt and it was all washed down with a bottle of Throwers fizzy pop.  Then a real treat as you helped yourself to one of mother's homemade fruit scones that would often be filled with strawberry jam. It's sad but I suppose that after all these years the old Humber that was getting on in years when father bought it, has long gone to the great scrap yard in the sky, taking with it happy memories of the people that owned herÖ.maybe Dan the commis chef will be able in years to come remember the happy days of his little red Peugeot 309?  

Fruit Scones

Pop the oven on to 200C/ 400F or gas 6 grab a good size mixing bowl and into it sift together 8oz self raising flour, half a tsp of baking powder and half tsp of bicarbonate of soda, add 2ozs of caster sugar. Give this dry mix a stir and then drop in one and a half ounces of softened butter, next with your fingertips rub the mixture until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add a handful of sultanas then add 150 ml of milk. You may need just a tad more milk and by coaxing the mixture together to form a light dough, you should finish up with a slightly wet but firm dough. Using a rolling pin roll on a floured surface. Roll out the dough until its just under one inch thick, use a pastry cutter to cut out six to eight scones. Next place the scones on a baking tray and carefully brush only the top of the scone with a little beaten egg and place in pre-heated oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Bake these scones on a Friday, thatís the day when you can buy a jar of real strawberry jam from the ladies WI market. Homemade fruit scones, a good splodge of whipped cream and handmade strawberry jam it doesnít get any better. 
Colin Rushmore

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