OUTER SUBURBS 134 – TAKING A CAMERA TO LUNCH … AND A FUN COMPETITION WITH FUN PRIZES!!!

 

 

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Out for lunch, and lunch taking awhile to appear. Well, it was a Monday, the school holidays are over, and maybe the restaurant hadn’t expected such a tide of (mostly) oldies.  Anyway, the TG-5 camera was in my pocket, as it often is, and so to looking around at the things on the table in front of me.  When you’re into photography, there’s always something to look at …

But when it eventually appeared, the large mixed grill couldn’t be faulted – a carnivore’s dream, accompanied by tomato, onion rings, mushroom and (an inexhaustible supply of) chips, and probably with more than a whole day’s quota of calories.  In fact it was almost more than I could eat; must be getting old …

And, as always, the Olympus TOUGH TG-5 camera was wonderfully compact, and very capable and adaptable.  I used spot metering; and also the Microscope Mode, which enables extreme close up shots with illumination from the camera; 1600 ISO; processing in Lightroom.  Each picture can be enlarged by clicking onto it to open a larger version in a separate window, and clicking onto that image to further enlarge it.

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3 >>> COMPETITION!!!  BIG PRIZES!!!  QUESTION: WHAT DOES THIS ARTWORK SHOW???  >>>  First prize: a night out in the Outer Suburbs with The FATman!!!  Second prize: two nights out in Outer Suburbs with The FATman!!!!!!  And furthermore, really entering into the spirit of the thing, The FATman will on this occasion lower his usual standards and dress code so that black tie will NOT be de rigueur!

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PEOPLE 373 – HUMAN TRAGEDY

 

 


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Every picture tells a story, but here the two words tell the whole story.

So really, now, its just a case of whether I accept the offer of the hard-hitting assignment in social commentary photojournalism or become a lensman with Visit Bristol!

Clicking onto the image opens a larger version in a separate window, and clicking on that image enlarges it still further …

Technique:  strong stomach, almost averted gaze, and TG-5 at 25mm (equivalent); 800 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Vivid profile; south Bristol; 14 Sept 2019.
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SOMERSET LEVELS AT 400 – TIME FOR A LITTLE LOOKING BACK …

 

400 POSTS

Well, my 400th post about the Somerset Levels.  This feels like something of a milestone.  Questions arise.  What are the Levels?  What are they to me?  And why do I continue to visit and photograph them?

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And rather than post a new image, here are some pictures from my earliest Somerset Levels posts, eight years or so ago – I hope you like them.  Click onto them to open larger versions in separate windows.  LOL! >>> and two of them concern food >>> well, this is FATman Photos ……

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1 – The view eastwards along the North Drain from the Jack’s Drove bridge on Tealham Moor; 17 Sept 2010.  Early morning mists are starting to be dissolved by the rising sun, just after 7am.  I walked on up Jack’s Drove to the low bridge, which is a favourite place of mine – and this scene was unfolding to the east.  Canon G11 Powershot; 140mm; Silver Efex Pro.

WHAT ARE THE SOMERSET LEVELS?

In summary: the Levels are fens and wet lowlands that cover around 650 sq. km. of the county of Somerset.  In the UK, they are second in extent only to the fens of East Anglia.  They have only relatively recently been reclaimed from the lakes and marshes that formerly covered the area, and they have a rich history going back to Neolithic, Roman and Anglo-Saxon times.

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There is a good general source of reference here .

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And the link to my first Levels post – on 21 May 2011 – is here .   It also has much background information.

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2 – The Chapter House Steps in Wells Cathedral, Somerset; 7 Jan 2005.   Near the top right of this photo, the steps can be seen turning right into the Chapter House.  Straight ahead, through the illuminated doorway, is the bridge that allowed the clergy to come directly into the cathedral from their lodgings, rather than having to be exposed to worldly temptations by mixing with the townspeople.  Olympus OM-4; 21mm; Agfa Scala monochrome slide film, rated at 400 ISO.

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THOUGHTS

I was brought up on the edge of the Levels and cycled on their welcoming flatnesses as a kid – and then left my native Somerset for a long time, much of which was spent abroad.  And it was 25 years ago, in 1994, after my return to England, that I started visiting the Levels regularly once more – mostly for birdwatching but, increasingly, for photography.  I’m something of a loner, and this trait is increasing as I approach my 70th year – my psychological friend thinks I’m happy with my own company and, for me, photography is something mostly done toute seule – wandering with a camera, not straining things or anything, but just looking at anything and everything.

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And the Levels, at least the parts that I visit – between the Mendip Hills to the north and the Polden Hills to the south –  are wonderful for this.  There are never that many people around and, quite often, there are only quite muted, natural sounds – running water, the wind, birds, cows.  The Levels have a great simplicity, they have nothing to prove; in an age increasingly dominated by the relentless onslaught of hype, image, buzzwords and the mass media, I see the Levels as a great antidote to all of this rush and increasing complexity, a great antidote to the pace of modern life.

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You might say that I’m getting back to Nature and I suppose I am, but it must be stressed that the Levels are not a natural landscape, they are an artificial, drained and farmed landscape. They certainly contain natural creatures – willows, skylarks, roe deer and (xxxxx!!!) horseflies to name a few, but that is not the same as being totally natural places – but then, in the Anthropocene (google it!), very few places remain actually “untouched”.

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3 – Meadow at Allermoor Farm, on Aller Moor, south of Wedmore; 24 May 2009.  The meadow itself is a pale, yellow-green haze – a friend said that she could almost smell the air scented by the thousands of blossoms.  The sunlit branches of the tree, just starting to come into leaf, seem to be reaching out over all of this late spring colour.  Nikon D700; 300mm; 400 ISO.

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4 – A busy morning in the kitchen at Sweets Tea Rooms, on the Blakeway between Bleak Farm and Turnpike House, on Westhay Moor; 25 July 2009.   Note the still warm rock cakes on the tray-  absolutely delicious!  There are three tearooms in this area and this is the one I know best – friendly owners, excellent, simple food and drink, toilets, parking – and an intriguing Peat & Science Museum in the adjoining building.  Nikon D700; 24mm; 1600 ISO.

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5 – Irate bull, Westhay Moor Drove, northwest of Lower Godney, in the Brue Valley; 28 Oct 2009.  This bull was in a field along Westhay Moor Drove and, as I walked along the drove towards it, I could see at once that he resented my presence.  As a first show of strength, he did what I’ve seen large animals like Eland and Buffalo do many times in Kenya – he turned sideways on to show me just how big he was.  He didn’t have any trouble impressing me.  His hind quarters were lean and strong, in the peak of physical condition and,  if he had his way, I knew that those powerful hind quarters would soon be driving his front end ferociously towards me – and his front end was an enormous, bludgeoning battering ram of bone and muscle, that would be guided on its course by two, very irate eyes.  However, feeling halfway secure – mainly because he and I were separated by a fence, a gate and a water-filled ditch (albeit the gate was only secured by a single rope), I continued along the drove and drew up level with him, whereupon he advanced right up to the gate, giving me the most malevolent of glares.  Not being able to resist the photo – and also being not a little out of my head – I knelt down in front of him and focused on his right eye to get this shot.  He kept pushing the gate but the rope held firm – and I’m still here to tell the story.  I like this picture.  His whole mien radiates malevolent bad temper, right on the edge of unstoppable violence.  His right eye is sharp, as is all the wonderfully tangled hair on his face, and I have rarely seen a glare of such malevolence.  Nikon D700; 400mm; 800 ISO.

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6 – A Cottage Special served up in the Cottage Café, Burnham-On-Sea, Somerset; 29 Apr 2010. Though I’m prone to slightly high cholesterol, I’m a complete sucker for a full English breakfast, as long as its not too greasy. I don’t eat many of them but they are amongst my favourite meals, with the taste combination of bacon, eggs and grilled tomatoes often being more than I can possibly put into words. This particular breakfast was a slight disappointment because the beans had been poured over the fried bread, demolishing much of the latter’s superb taste and, especially, texture. But just look at the locally made sausages, the slightly blackened tomatoes …. the black pudding …two eggs …. the lean rashers ….…. DO I EAT IT OR GET DOWN AND MAKE LOVE TO IT!!!???  The Cottage Café’s breakfasts are in general superb, possibly due to all of the ingredients being fried together in same large frying pan, which makes everything extremely flavoursome. Since we first started going there over a year ago, this eatery has moved up market – so what used to be the Belly Buster has now re-invented itself as the Cottage Special!  And, quite apart from all that gastronomic gush, I like this as a picture.  Canon PowerShot G11; 400 ISO.

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7 – Pollarded Willow in the mist, Tadham-Tealham Moor; 8 Aug 2003.  Originally in colour, I’ve reduced this image to low contrast and misty monochrome, so that it more resembles a pencil drawing than a photograph.  Olympus OM-4; Fuji Velvia 50 colour slide; Silver Efex Pro.
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OUTER SUBURBS 116 – BREAKFAST IN THE OUTER SUBURBS

 

 


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Lifestyle suggestion: Scottish salmon fillet, cod fillet and prawn, Thai style fishcakes with fresh kiwi fruit, strawberries and melon, and cooked tomatoes, along with seafood sauce and sauce béarnaise.  And all washed down with mugs of hot, strong tea. 

Sets me up for my six mile daily walks >>> its a FATman thing!

I lived in Kenya long ago, and developed a great liking for very tasty curries covered in fresh fruit, nuts, chutneys, pickles, etc., all washed down with Kenya Breweries’ Tusker Premium lager – I used to think of them as taste explosions – and to some extent this meal mirrors this, with the combination of spicy fishcakes, fresh fruit and tangy sauces – absolutely delicious!   Such breakfasts are highly recommended >>>>>>  and especially so in view of the fact that, these days, the emergency services are never more than one short (and quite possibly desperate) phone call away …

The first image in the Outer Suburbs series, with context, is here: 1 .  Subsequent images are here: 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 53a 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 .  Each will open in a separate window.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it further >>> recommended.

Technique: TG-5 at 25mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Vivid film simulation, and adding a faint pale vignette; chez FATman, in south Bristol; 27 May 2019.
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OUTER SUBURBS 91 – LUNCH IN A PUB

 

 


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Those of you outside the UK will probably have heard of British pubs or public houses – the “local”, the boozer, purveyors of The Electric Soup.  At 69, I can still remember, long ago, glimpses through open doors of rough, raw, smoke filled “spit and sawdust” establishments where men got drunk, and women were either absent or few; as I can recall pubs not being allowed to open on Sundays; and also pubs opening on Sundays where often the only things to eat were packets of crisps – not so good for those looking for warmth after a freezing winter’s early morning birding!  But now, pubs are for all, children included, and in many cases, especially away from city centres, they only survive in a very tough marketplace via their food rather than their booze.

And so to a quiet lunch in a pub way out in the south Bristol suburbs, on the edge of the city, on a weekday – this place is far busier on the weekend, and maybe on Fridays too.  Range of clientele?  Well there a baby’s buggy on the left –  children are allowed in until 9pm – and there’s an old woman with a walking stick at top left.  And so to modern life: sauce bottles on the tables (excellent!), a large TV up on the wall (groan!), and a flight of white-edged steps for falling down on your way back, laden with drinks, from the bar, which is out of shot at top right.  All in all, reasonably comfortable and congenial, and certainly affordable.

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This is the pub’s Mega Mixed Grill!!!  The friendly manageress has been known to exclaim “You’ve eaten it all!” but, well, you know, its a FATman Thing.  Nice touches to this meal, things that catch my eye??? Well, some blackening on the tomato, the ritual steak knife, and the jug of pepper sauce – a delicious meal except for the steak, which is often a problem in this particular pub. 😦

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And all washed down with pints of Stella, an above average, Belgian, mass market lager, tasty and fairly strong, a pleasure to drink – though simply not up there with brews from the likes of Duvel or Westmalle!  The above is a balanced diet – a pint for each hand …

The first image in the Outer Suburbs series, with context, is here: 1 .  Subsequent images are here: 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 53a 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 .  Each will open in a separate window.

Click on each image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it.

Technique: TG-5 at 25mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; Lightroom; south Bristol; 11 Feb 2019.
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OUTER SUBURBS 80 – A GOOD PLATEFUL

 

 


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The Mixed Grill, in a south Bristol pub.

Rather like a Full English breakfast really – but with chips, peas, onion rings and more types of meat –  and usually downed later in the day.  Although, having said that, I could certainly have a go at this for breakfast – and especially so if the morning were bitterly cold and I had little planned for later in the day other than sitting beside a fire with a few, contemplative glasses of whisky.

So, what is here?  Ah, the steak sits atop the gammon, which sits atop the chicken, which sits atop the (really not at all bad) sausages.  So not a meal for vegetarians then.  But also eggs, half a grilled tomato, and the other, aforesaid vegetables.  All downed with lashings of salt, pepper and tomato sauce.  And all aided and abetted by a steak knife – for practical purposes of course, but also to enhance the atmosphere of delicious and almost ritualistic hedonism.

And all washed down with a couple of pints of just about adequate, cold lager – well, you can’t have everything and, still, this was a “A Good Plateful” and, even just looking at the picture,  I for one can still feel the vibrations.

The first image in the Outer Suburbs series, with context, is here: 1 .  Subsequent images are here: 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 53a 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 .  Each will open in a separate window.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it.

Technique: TG-5 at 25mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Vivid film simulation; south Bristol; 19 Feb 2019.
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OUTER SUBURBS 68 – MODERN LIFE 7: BRING IT HOME

 

 

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Modern Life and bins of by-products.

There are earlier Modern Life posts here: 1 2 3 4 5 6 .  Each will open in a separate window.

The first image in the Outer Suburbs series, with context, is here: 1 .  Subsequent images are here: 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 53a 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 .  Each will open in a separate window.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it.

Technique: TG-5 at 25mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Vivid film simulation; south Bristol; 29 Jan 2019.
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OUTER SUBURBS 24 – BREAKFAST AT POPPY’S KITCHEN

 

 


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Yesterday, I had been going to do an early morning visit to the Somerset Levels, but Storm Callum was forecast to hit the UK from the southwest and, for once, I didn’t feel like hurling myself out into the raging elements at unearthly hours.  Must be getting old.  But, anyway, I chose more sheltered pursuits, and so to a breakfast in Poppy’s Kitchen, a newly opened café here in south Bristol.

You may remember my description of another recent full English breakfast, from a local pub – you can find that here .  I don’t want to take you on a long tour through all of the full English breakfast ingredients again, but I do want to say that my breakfast at Poppy’s Kitchen yesterday morning was the best I’ve had in south Bristol.

OK, OK, a few details.  First class ingredients (incl baked beans, which are not shown): in particular, I don’t think the mushrooms were tinned, and they were large, really succulent and full of taste.  The hash browns were even darker and crisper than at the last meal – wonderful! – and, yes, at top right (some of you Americans might like to look away right now) >>> that’s two slices of Black Pudding!  Finally, the presentation of the breakfast’s ingredients attracted the eyes of even this gastronomic hooligan.

And when I chanced my luck and enquired if the Big Breakfast might possibly be accompanied by chips (fries to you people Across The Pond), there was not the slightest hesitation – and what chips they were!  A large portion, of all shapes and sizes and manifestly cut from actual potatoes (as opposed to being artificially manufactured, extruded, whatever), and fried to a lovely light golden brown.  I’ve always enjoyed simple pleasures, of which one is relaxing in a comfy armchair or sofa, forgetting everything, and letting myself drift away into a daydream and a nice doze – heavenly!  And another of these very simple (and inexpensive) pleasures that never ceases to be an outright luxury is eating chips with my fingers and dunking them into tomato sauce – and I’ve met many others who think exactly the same!  Ah, simple pleasures …
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Anyway, breakfast at Poppy’s Kitchen – the menu is above (click on it twice to enlarge it) – and we shall be going there again!  And, as a final point, the very friendly staff said that they will cook anything on the menu at any time of day – so that, should we fancy a lunch for breakfast, they’re up for it – wonderful!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

The first image in the Outer Suburbs series, with context, is here: 1 .  Subsequent images are here: 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 .  Each will open in a separate window.

Click onto each image to open another version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it.

Technique: TG-5 at 1600 ISO; Lightroom; Poppy’s Kitchen, East Dundry Road, south Bristol; 12 Oct 2018.

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OUTER SUBURBS 21 – A FULL ENGLISH

 

 


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I cannot by any stretch of the imagination be thought of as a foodie or gourmet.   I simply enjoy eating (and drinking!!!), I not infrequently over indulge, and I have but one simple requirement – which is, if at all possible, that my food and drink should taste at least reasonable or actually nice.  I am not asking for exquisite gourmet cuisine, nor for world class wines – but then neither do I want to stuff my face with either tasteless supermarket stodge or some liquid that, while undoubtedly powerfully alcoholic, equally powerfully reminds me of cats.  Much as I like cats.

Now full English breakfasts can taste very nice, but one has to be careful.  Loads of eateries produce them, they really are loved here, but their quality varies widely.  I mean, anyone can put together the ingredients and serve them up, but the quality of the ingredients – and to a lesser extent their mode of presentation on the plate – can make or break the treat.

Let’s look at this breakfast.  Firstly – and very crucially – it arrived on a warm plate.  Cold plates can crucify hot food, especially in winter.

Then, the classic ingredients (including modern upstarts like hash browns) were all there.  The rashers of bacon were hiding under the toast – Come on out, we know you’re in there! – and they were tasty.  Sausages can be the Achilles Heel of breakfasts, with an almost corpse-like pallor, no texture and very little taste – but these bucked that trend: they appeared burnt but in fact weren’t, they actually had pieces of meat inside (but I could have sworn this pub had a cat last time I was in … ) and they were tasty too – an achievement for this certainly not up market eatery.

So what else?  Well, real (as opposed to tinned) tomato, not quite fried enough but, as always, tasting like Heaven & Chips when eaten with the bacon.  And tasty mushrooms, probably tinned, but certainly good.  Hash browns don’t usually shake my tree, but these these were both tasty and quite crispy, not bad at all.
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There was a rush of customers just as we arrived and so I expected a hastily cooked meal with very runny eggs, but the eggs were reasonably solid, and the beans – well beans are always good!  And then quite a big and thick slice of black pudding – in the picture, that’s the round black thing with all the little white bits of fat in it >>> delicious!

And the accessories?  Well, toast made from bog standard, thin, white, sliced bread – adequate, and certainly better than nothing.  And finally a big, steaming, glorious mug of hot sweet tea, just the thing for washing down (or dissolving away …) all that fat!!!

Click onto each image to open another version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it further – but don’t blame me if you feel suddenly ravenously hungry or, on the other hand, unaccountably nauseous.

The first image in the Outer Suburbs series, with context, is here: 1 .  Subsequent images are here: 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 .  Each will open in a separate window.

Technique: TG-5 at 25mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Vivid film simulation; south Bristol; 5 Oct 2018.
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STILL LIFE 190 – THE FULL FARMER AT PRIDDY

 

 


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The name of this blog is not an idle flight of fancy!  Quite unashamedly, I enjoy my food (and Belgian beer too!) and, although I was far more flabby those seven years ago when I gave this blog its name – despite having lost over 40lbs, I am still not what one might term svelte.  And I am a fan of Full English Breakfasts, which are large, highly calorific, cooked affairs which either set you up wonderfully for the day ahead – or make it hard for you to rise from your chair and do anything at all – whichever way you want to look at it.

But a good Full English is an elusive thing.  In many instances, all of the classic ingredients can be present, but the whole thing can be pale and washed out in appearance, and really quite drab to taste.  I’ve found that the tastier versions of this culinary gem are often those with more brightly coloured ingredients, not garish technicolor to be sure, but also not pallid either. And when I find one of the relatively few eateries serving up such fare, it quickly becomes somewhere to visit over and over again.

Such a place is Priddy Good Farm Shop,, in the little village of Priddy on the top of the Mendip Hills south of Bristol.  Its most of an hour’s drive away, but eating there is always an eminently enjoyable occasion, the food is always good quality, simple and tasty – and lots of it!  And as well as the usual breakfast fare, this little shop also sells some of the best meat pies I’ve ever eaten in my life, and luscious fruit pies just like the ones my dear old Mum used to bake.

And so here is the farm shop’s largest Full English, which they imaginatively call The Full Farmer.  Those with smaller appetites can order The Farmer’s Wife or, smaller still, The Farmer’s Kid – yes its a real family business 🙂 !  And as well as the food shown here, it comes with thick toast (made with real bread, not sliced!) and great steaming pots of tea or coffee.

So, what was good about this meal?  Well, on the veggie side, the fried mushrooms were extremely tasty, as was the roasted tomato (which was not tinned!), and there were a lot of beans – and beans are always good!  Sausages can often be the Achilles Heel of breakfasts, they can be largely lacking in  texture and taste, but this shop uses meat from its own farm, and these had plenty of both.  The bacon too was thick and tasty, and the eggs were fried to perfection – still just a little runny.

And this is where those of you with weak stomachs and/or a more civilised take on Life than I’ll ever be able to muster should turn off your computers/phones/etc now, because the round black disc at lower left is a sizeable chunk of black pudding, a really tasty confection for which, as ingredients, google lists pig’s blood, salt, pork fat or beef suet, allspice, oatmeal, onion, milk and black pepper.

And the final good thing about this substantial repast?  It was served, as it is always served here, on a very warm plate, which is just the thing – serving any hot meal on a cold plate ruins it in my view.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and then click onto that image to enlarge it further.

Technique: X-T2 with 10-24 Fujinon lens at 36mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; Lightroom, using the Astia/Soft film simulation; Priddy, on the Mendip Hills, Somerset; 19 Jan 2018.

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