Sunday, 18 August 2013

Caithness in July

The upside of the poor July salmon fishing highlighted in my previous blog was the excellent weather that Caithness shared with the rest of the country, albeit a few degrees lower. The photo above shows the stacks of Duncansby from the south with the tip of the lighthouse and Orkney behind.
     In Caithness, July is the month for agricultural shows and Highland Games. The annual Caithness County show was held in Wick this year at the riverside in brilliant sunshine on firm dry ground.
At the judging, North Country Cheviot sheep as well as black cattle seemed to be the best represented. Entries in all cattle classes were down on previous years, a result of the restrictions imposed when farmers move cattle these days.

 The highland dancing proved to be a popular event, the ever keen dancers appreciated by the spectators and their competitive mums and the Caithness Junior pipe band played throughout the afternoon.

 The WRI tent showed off the county ladies' skills in baking and all manner of crafts

 The flower tent had the wow factor with gorgeous displays of the hard work of local gardeners and some amazing prize winning flower arrangements.

The show is now a major commercial event with all the big agricultural machinery suppliers represented. Tractors seem to get bigger (and more expensive) every year thanks no doubt to the largesse of the EU Common Agricultural Policy.

Finally, this is the haul of shells  we collected from Caithness beaches over our stay in the north. I'm looking for ideas for ornaments, jewellery etc. All contributions welcome.
Novels by Alan Calder
The Glorious Twelfth, set in Caithness.
The Stuart Agenda published by Willowmoon 

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Thurso River Nightmare

My posts on salmon fishing in previous years have been exuberant affairs fuelled by good catches of fish under favourable conditions, notably a good flow of water in the Thurso or Wick rivers.In the run up to my week on the Thurso beginning on July 15th, I watched with horror as the river level and catches fell sharply through June into July when heat added more fishing misery to the drought. As the week began, only Beat 2, nearest the sea was recording small catches of the fish who come and go with the tide into the lower reaches of the river.
    Standard tactics for low water require small flies and early mornings before the sun gets on the water. Beat 5 was my Monday territory including the Island Stream shown above. Under normal good fishing conditions, only the green island in the distance is visible so all the extra 'islands' reflect the drought. I fished the beat without success until the sun was well up before giving in to the conditions. I repeated the exercise the following morning on Beat 3 before giving up for the week faced with even more sterile conditions on the higher up beats. The Thurso is fed from Loch More above Beat 13 and the picture below left shows a vast shore which is normally deep under water. In the picture on the left, the river shows her bones at Westerdale. Fingers crossed for my next week in September.

     The following week I was invited to fish with friends on the Alness, about 80 miles south of Wick. It was suffering from the drought but still seemed to have a better flow of water than the Thurso. The fishing was unsuccessful but the saving grace was the scenery and the streamy boulder strewn water providing plenty of lies for fish. It's marked down for a revisit under better conditions.

Novels by Alan Calder

The Glorious Twelfth

 The Stuart Agenda published by Willowmoon 


Monday, 22 July 2013

John O' Groats Update

The Natural Retreats development of chalets and self catering appartments at John O' Groats is almost complete. The effect on the overall ambience of the northern outpost is very positive both visually and in the Tripadvisor reviews of guests who have already stayed there. I really like the brightly painted wood and serrated roofs of the old hotel extension, contrasting with the stark white outline of the nineteenth century building with it's eight sided tower, copied from the original built by Jan De Groot to make his many sons feel equal. I'm sure that Jan, the Dutchman after whom the village is named will be smiling in his grave. Seafarer Jan was given the franchise to run a ferry to Orkney by James IV in 1496. His descendants carry the name Groat. I was pleased to discover recently that an Isabella Groat is my GGGrandmother.

 The chalet and apartments are now complemented by a new upgraded cafe/restaurant, The Storehouse and Natural Retreats have provided a new high speed launch for wildlife cruising, especially round the island of Stroma to the north. The harbour remains the base for the Orkney foot ferry seen here overtaking the Gills car ferry against the background of the south end of Stroma. John O' Groats remains a Mecca for the walkers and cyclists who want to cover the length of the British Isles.
The moors around the north have an exceptional crop of bog cotton this year to the point where it looks as though it could be harvested. This shot comes from the road between Freswick and John O' Groats.
Needless to say given the long hot dry spell, the salmon fishing is a disaster- more later.

 Novels by Alan Calder
The Glorious Twelfth


The Stuart Agenda published by Willowmoon 



Monday, 15 July 2013

French Holiday 3 - Beaujolais and Burgundy

Julienas is typical of many villages in the Beaujolais, nestling in a valley surrounded by vines. Its a pattern that repeats all the way down to the south of the region. We stayed at Chez la Rose, a Logis in the village centre. It was a real find and we talked to other guests who had been using it as a stop over for years. The room was excellent and the food wonderful. There is an added bonus for walkers with a map from the hotel. Four different 8-12 Km walks start and finish in the village centre. We did the Circuit de la Montagne de Remont in about 2 hours giving us great views of the surrounding areas. I know that Beaujolais wine has a mixed press but the dark side of it's reputation is based on the banality of Beaujolais Nouveau. Single village Beaujolais in good years, eg 2009 and 2011 is not only excellent wine but very good value red when you think of the prices being charged in Burgundy just up the road. We bought halves of Domaine de la Combe Darroux, Julienas that we tasted at dinner. Further south we bought some 2011 Chenas at Chateau de Chenas as well as their gold medal winning Thesaurus, 2009 veille vignes wooded cuvee.
Where the Beaujolais ends in the north, the Maconnais begins. Just off the Macon-sud interchange it's a stone's throw to the cave at Vinzelles with it's enormous range of whites from the area. It has all the Pouilly villages and districts plus Saint Veran. We got a nice mixed case. Going deeper into the area took us to the village of Fuisse and the Burrier cave. Again the selection was vast but we concentrated on his excellent
classic Saint Veran. We tasted expensive wooded offerings that were.....not nice! Our next move took us north to Puligny Montrachet, pretty near the top of the tree for white Burgundy. We stayed with Celine and John Nicholls at Domaine des Anges in the central square for the first night and at Hotel Chouette round the corner for the second, both highly recommended. Again walking and wine was the theme. John kindly introduced me to local producer of village Puligny Monrachet, Alain Chavy before we struck out to Auxey Duresses to find the cave of Michel Prunier where we'd bought his veille vignes cuvee on an earlier visit. A quick stop at Wine Society favourite, Henri Prudhom followed by a visit to Mersault finished our tour .
 We then did a fantastic walk all the way up through the vines, first the village wines then the Grand Crus on the slopes. Near the top we caught sight of a horse and plough being used to turn the ground between the vines. At the top we were rewarded with a view of St Aubin on the other side of the slope where the wines are mercifully cheaper. On the way back we passed  a sixteenth century oratoire that commemorates the couple who owned the vineyard then. 

We dined at the Hotel Montrachet and next night had the tasting menu at Olivier Levevre's establishment. Both were excellent. Our overall impression of the Burgundy whites that we tasted was that they all seemed a bit too acidic and weak on the 'butteriness' that we expect and hardly value for money, but it's nice to have some in the cellar. Below is the total of our wine purchases on the trip, another reason for having a sturdy Volvo.
We were highly amused to hear every day from the French that 'pas de problem' has been systematically replaced by 'pas de soucis' so 'no worries' has translated well into the French vernacular, doubtless to the chagrin of The Academie Francaise, guardian of the language.

Novels by Alan Calder
The Glorious Twelfth published by Museitup
 The Stuart Agenda published by Willowmoon

Saturday, 13 July 2013

French Holiday 2 -The Vaucluse


From our base in the medieval hilltop village of Sablet, we have easy access to most of the Vaucluse wine villages. One of the key objectives of our visit was to do a recce for a wine walking holiday with friends in 2014. The first task was to find a suitable base for about twelve people. Trawling the net threw up a number of chateaux and hotels that might be appropriate but one stood out, Chateau Juvenal at Saint  Hippolyte le Graveyron, conveniently sited  on the road between Beaumes de Venise and Caromb.

It ticks all the boxes on accommodation, food etc and makes good wine as well in the Ventoux appellation. We can now plan the details from a long list of walks, restaurants,wine tasting opportunities, cooking classes and other outings.
On Monday morning we went to Bedoin market, which seems to get bigger each year that we visit. It has all the usual Provencal products and was less crowded than I remember it in the school holidays. Bedoin is the main launch point for the trip up nearby Mont Ventoux, especially for the hordes of cyclists who punish their way up to the limestone capped top of the 2000m high icon.
 During the week we tasted wine at a number of properties, focussing for a change on the delicate whites as opposed to the beefy reds which I tend now to buy en-primeur from the Wine Society. The whites are made from viognier (good examples of 100% cepage from Ferme St Pierre at Flassan and Chateau de Trignon in Gigondas.) Otherwise most of the whites are blends of local grapes, Viognier, Grenache blanc, Clairette, Rousanne, Marsanne and Bourboulenc. Good examples were tasted at Domaine le Clos des Cazaux at Vacqueras, Domaine Saint Gayan Sablet blanc and Mourchon, la Source from Seguret.
We didn't entirely ignore the reds. We particularly like the Vacqueras from Les Amouriers, both Signature and Geneste cuvees. We also liked the classy but expensive Moulin de la Gardette Gigondas at their cave in the centre of Gigondas next to the Cave des Vignerons where you can taste the output of almost every property.
On the restaurant front we found some good new addresses. In Le Barrou we enjoyed lunch at L'Entre Potes, the bistro attached to the classy le Gajulea next door. Out on the Plan de Dieu near Cairanne we found the newly opened Coteaux et Fourchettes. Excellent value with a wine shop attached. Across in Carpentras, Chez Serge delivered an excellent lunch. The restaurant is conveniently sited across from the Platanes car park. We first met Serge by coincidence in a vineyard in the Languedoc. He's a larger than life character who has made a considerable reputation for himself.

One of the highlights was visiting the artist Marysia Donaldson at her lovely home near Tulette. We rented a holiday property from them a few years ago. I was able to present her with a copy of my first book, The Stuart Agenda, which used her house for a scene and mentions a painting by her late husband, David Donaldson, a portrait of the Queen in Holyrood Palace.
We did a nice walk up from Suzette, another charming village, higher up at the back of the Dentelles. We enjoyed coffee in it's only restaurant, Les Coquelicots. At the end of the week we looked forward to stopovers on the return journey at Julienas in the Beaujolais and Puligny Montrachet in Burgundy.

Novels by Alan Calder

 The Stuart Agenda published by Willowmoon


Monday, 1 July 2013

French Holiday- Going South to Sablet


Having lived in France in the 1980’s and taken annual holidays there every year for nearly twenty years, a four year gap except for a winter visit to Paris left us with withdrawal symptoms. Our two week break in France consisted of one week in our favourite area, the Vaucluse or at least the part that has a view of Mont Ventoux, bounded by a two stop journey south and a more leisurely return taking in the Beaujolais and Burgundy wine areas. We left Yorkshire fairly early to catch a midday tunnel crossing, giving us time to visit the Crystal d’Arques factory shop to replenish our stock of wine glasses. Our first stop over was at Le Sapinière, a Logis in the village of Wisqes, just off sortie 3 on the A26. It was our first visit there. The rooms were reasonably priced and the food excellent so we used it on the return journey as well.
     Our second night was spent at the upmarket Beau Rivage in Condrieu on the Rhone South of Vienne. For dinner we had the tasting menu with wines included, giving us the opportunity to taste a number of expensive and marvellous bottles. We particularly enjoyed the tartare of dorade and the langoustine set on a bed of tomatoes and peas, dressed with vinaigrette of mango pulp. On the wine front we were particularly impressed by the white Saint Joseph. In the morning we consulted the Concierge on wine addresses. He advised avoiding the expensive big names around the village. and directed to the property of Stephane  Montez, Domaine de Monteillet, at the village of Chavanay, a few miles to the south.



The property is set high up on the lip of the Rhone valley with a great view of the river and one of the many nuclear power stations that adorn it. We bought some of his petit Condrieu as well as some 2011 white Saint Joseph. We then hurried down the left bank to get to the Cave at Tain L’ Hermitage before the midi shutdown. We bought some more white Saint Joseph and Saint Perray. Rejoining the autoroute at Tournus we reached our objective at Sablet, a classic fortified medieval village in the late afternoon. It consists of three concentric levels of houses leading to the church at the top. Our apartment was comfortable and well equipped, with good internet connection and British TV via satellite. The restaurant that we remember in the village has been modernised to serve pizza, tapas etc so we searched out a new one, Les Abeilles (The bees), on the edge of the village. It turned out to be pretentious and expensive- we were stung!

Next morning we rose early to walk in the cool, leaving Sablet for the vines of Chateau de Trignon, one of our favourite Gigondas makers, passing Domaine de Gayan and enjoying the marvellous view of The Dentelle peaks on our circular walk back to the village for breakfast.
To be continued.




Novels by Alan Calder
The Glorious Twelfth published by Museitup

 The Stuart Agenda published by Willowmoon



Wednesday, 12 June 2013

A Star is Born and Dies

Full marks to BBC4 for putting on this science epic describing the life cycle of the stars and how they formed the universe. I wanted to preserve a simple summary and now offer it. Hopefully it will add something to blog readers appreciation of the night sky. 
     Everything started in clouds of gas and dust which can be triggered to coalesce under gravitational attraction. As the condensation takes place, heat is evolved and light emitted. At high enough temperatures, hydrogen fusion to helium occurs in a chain reaction that releases enormous amounts of energy. That is the position of our middle aged sun. At the moment after 5 billion years, it is half way through part one of its life cycle, having used up half its hydrogen. It’s relatively stable as the gravitational attraction crushing it is balanced by the nuclear fusion which is pushing to blow it apart.
     After all the hydrogen in the core has fused in another 5 billion years, the sun will turn into a red giant, swelling several thousands of times to gradually swallow the planets in its solar system including the earth. So there’s plenty of time to plan an escape to find another solar system. In any case the male Y-chromosome is said to have only another 200,00 years of viability so perhaps we won't be around to be bothered. At this point the red giant fuses helium to form carbon and oxygen, important building blocks for life on earth. They have cooler surface temperatures hence the red colour.
     The final evolutionary star state is the white dwarf, where an inert mass of oxygen and carbon builds a kind of cinder at the centre. Sirius B, the smaller component of the Sirius binary star, is the nearest example at 8.6 light years away. It no longer has a fusion energy source so becomes very dense under gravitational attraction balanced only by electron repulsion pressure. There are mass limits however above which electron pressure fails to hold the white dwarf together and a supernova explosion occurs triggered perhaps by accruing material from a companion star. This occurs through rising temperature igniting carbon fusion to iron, triggering a runaway nuclear fusion that generates the heavier elements above iron and expels them into the solar system, helping to form new stars.

     The planets of our solar system are but the debris left over from the formation of the sun; a kind of afterbirth and a far cry from the earth-centric doctrine of the medieval Catholic Church that Galileo was severely punished for challenging.

Novels by Alan Calder
The Glorious Twelfth
The Stuart Agenda published by Willowmoon


Friday, 7 June 2013

The Highland Clearances- A visit to Caen village in Kildonan Strath

The Highland Clearances were a dramatic ethnic cleansing where the usurpers were not other humans but sheep. The origins of the debacle are complex but were labelled by the landowners of the time as 'Agricultural Improvements,' made in the name of increasing the profitability of their estates. We also have to understand that by the early nineteenth century, the relationship between landowner and tenants had changed dramatically during the previous hundred years. Before the 1745 jacobite rebellion, tenant farmers were mainly part of the feudal clan system and valued for their ability to bear arms and fight fiercely for their chief. After the rebellion the clan system was supressed and many of the chiefs anglicised, a condition that required money rather than men at arms for support. Sheep were much more profitable than tenant farmers.
     The Countess of Sutherland, in whose name the worst of the excesses were perpetrated, was born in the south and spent most of her life in Edinburgh and London. She had clearly little emotional attachment to her tenants, although considerable funds were spent on unsatisfactory resettlement in coastal villages; for many, just stopping points on the way to the emigration ships. Around 100 displaced residents left Kildonan in June 1813, including a boatload who went to Hudson's Bay in northern Canada and had to survive the harsh winter before moving on in spring to the red River Settlement around Lake Winnipeg. The Timespan centre at Helmsdale has a message board for descendants from all parts of the world to reconnect via the Timespan project.
     The ruins of Caen village (not to be confused with Caen in Normandy) lie a few miles up the Kildonan Strath from Helmsdale in a beautiful side valley with its own burn. The visit was part of Timespan's Excavation project aimed at better understanding the sequence of events that led to the removal of the inhabitants. The visit was guided by enthusiastic heritage officer, Jacquie Aitken.
 The outline of the township, a few longhouses and other buildings could be discerned, wedged in time between, the sheepfolds of the supplanters and the neolithic cairns of long distant generations who lived there 5000 years ago.  Higher up the valley with an awesome view, better preserved walls suggested a superior dwelling while a nearby Neolithic souterrain kept the timescales in parallel. During our visit archaeologists from Orkney were conducting a geophysical survey to understand the layout and help choose the most fertile digging sites. Included in the project is a Virtual World application which will enable visitors to see inside the houses as they might have been in reality. It is intended that the archaeological details gleaned from the dig will paint  more authenticity onto the virtual canvas.
My final question, I'm sure asked by many was, 'Did the brutal lairds do the people a favour by obliging them to leave supposedly for a better life?' For me the answer has to be a qualified 'Yes.' Certainly not for the generation that endured the stress and hardship of removal but for successive generations thereafter. I'm sure that they were able to progress with more land and opportunity than in the mid nineteenth century Highlands or the slums of Glasgow. It's obvious that in time with or without clearances, depopulation continued in the Highlands and Islands as the young moved away seeking opportunity to the tune of the relentless march of modernity.

Novels by Alan Calder
The Glorious Twelfth- Buy Links

Also by Alan Calder, The Stuart Agenda published by Willowmoon

Sunday, 26 May 2013

A Hoy Old Man

We were blessed with a good day for our visit to Orkney and The Old Man of Hoy. A misty morning yielded as the John O'Groats ferry arrived at Lyness on the island of Hoy and the sun broke through. The Highland Council Rangers herded us onto the bus for the journey round the edge of Scapa Flow. Just outside the village we pass the Naval Cemetery, a reminder of the sacrifice paid by many sailors during WWII when Scapa Flow was a major Navy base. The bus then meandered, following the shore as far as Graemsay, the westerly guard island opposite Stromness on the mainland. At that point the bus turned east to cross the wilderness on upland Hoy, past the Dwarfie Stane to Rackwick Bay, nestled between two high headlands. From there the steep climb up the northern headland takes us past the cottage once owned by master of the Queen's music, composer Sir Peter Maxwell Davies currently in hospital in London being treated for lukemia.
A well made path heads north towards the final objective, the mighty red sandstone stack standing 450 feet tall on its basalt plinth. It's one of the most famous climbs in the world, first executed in 1966 by Chris Bonnongton, Rusty Baillie and Tom Patey. Nowadays, it is climbed around 50 times a year, including during our visit. The photo shows a climber spreadeagled across the crack that furnishes the main route to the top. The other picture looks north from the stack towards St John's Head, the highest sea cliff in Britain. We ate our picnic lunch overlooking the stack on what was turning out to be the warmest day of the year, an amazing bonus. On the walk back we were entertained by a pair of eagles harassing wildfowl on a lochan.

On the ferry back to John o' Groats we passed the Cantick Head lighthouse that highlights the south east corner of South Walls. We had hoped to spot orcas or dolphins on the sail back across the Pentland Firth but none obliged.

The Glorious Twelfth by Alan Calder- Buy Links

 Also by Alan Calder, The Stuart Agenda published by Willowmoon



Saturday, 18 May 2013

NSM - New Smoking Materials


This  acronym is emblazoned on my heart.  If you Google the letters, you are offered variously, A Naval strike missile, The College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Nationstar Mortgages, The National Seating and Mobility Company and less desirably, The National Socialist Movement.
     For me however it means New Smoking Material, the subject of a major 1970's joint research project between Imperial Chemical Industries and Imperial Tobacco. The objective was to produce a safer smoke. In the Times at the weekend, I noted an article on electronic cigarettes that deliver only nicotine, a niche market with prospects, now attracting the major tobacco companies. The article actually mentioned the NSM project that I worked on and brought back memories.
     From 1970, I spent six years on the NSM project in a variety of roles. The work ethic was awesome, driven by a director who survived WWII as a Japanese POW. It had become clear fairly early on in the research that it was fairly easy to make a substrate that would burn at the same rate as tobacco in a cigarette, producing far less toxins. The big problem was making it taste like tobacco and the imponderable within the problem was nicotine, the poisonous and addictive component that defines tobacco. While research continued on deconstructing tobacco flavour and looking at means of delivering nicotine, the project priority was to produce a neutral healthy substitute that could be mixed with normal tobacco to reduce cigarette toxicity by dilution.
     The UK government was an interested party within two of its departments. The problem of regulatory approval of tobacco substitutes was delegated to the Hunter Committee chaired by Professor Robert Hunter. They developed a list of short and long term toxicological tests to which such materials had to be submitted. Some of the long term tests were performed on dogs (The Smoking Beagles), attracting lurid tabloid headlines and the aggressive attention of the animal rights lobby. This exposure was partly responsible for a change in sentiment within ICI. One ICI director referred to Imperial Tobacco as 'the merchants of death.' The manufacturing plant eventually built to produce NSM was a 100% investment by Imperial Tobacco.
       The other UK government department that took a keen interest as we approached commercialisation was the Customs and Excise. They were concerned that their lucrative takings from tobacco might be threatened by substitutes, so they decided to tax them more or less in the same way. A minor concession was the application of the so called 'commonwealth preference rate' designed to give then Rhodesian tobacco a marginal advantage over the American flue cured variety.
      There were competitors, most notably American Celanese with their Cytrel product. ICI had a patent dispute with Celanese requiring visits to arcane counsel chambers in London and a session at the patent court. We were keen to protect our discoveries with patents. I have a vivid memory of smoking a substitute cigarette in the US Patent Office in Washington on my first ever visit to the US. We got the patent.
     In July 1977 Imperial, Gallahers and  Rothmans launched a dozen versions of cigarettes containing 20-30% of NSM or Cytrel. Health groups criticised them for still delivering substantial doses of toxins, an unproven half measure, they said. In addition many consumers said that they didn't like the taste. Sales turned out to be very small and the products were withdrawn after a few months.
      For ICI, it was an object lesson in how a long term project with laudable aims can be undermined by changing times. The wind had turned round, blowing the smoke back into ICI's face.

The Glorious Twelfth by Alan Calder- Buy Links

 Also by Alan Calder, The Stuart Agenda published by Willowmoon



Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Gravadtrout- A delicacy from a humble fish

Fishers often wonder what to do with the trout they catch. The fish can be bland and boring and soon disappear from the menu. Cold smoking is a good option if you have access to a facility run by a friend. An even better option available to the home cook is to make the trout equivalent of Gravadlax (literally grave salmon) which I'm calling Gravadtrout. It works especially well with fish around 3lbs or larger, the weight of the two tiger trout in the photo, caught when the snow was still on the ground in Yorkshire.

First of all, wash and gut the fish, then remove the two fillets with a good filleting knife. Take out the pin bones with tweezers feeling carefully with the tip of your finger to locate each one. As an alternative you could  buy ready prepared rainbow trout fillets from the fishmonger/supermarket. They will probably be smaller so scale down the ingredients.

2 fillets from a 3lb trout, skin still on.
2 tablespoons of vodka or whisky
60g salt
60g sugar
1 teaspoon of  ground black pepper
Large bunch of dill, coarsely chopped
200g cooked beetroot, grated (squeeze out most of the liquid)

Mix the sugar, salt and pepper together. Lay the fish fillets flesh side up on a piece of kitchen foil and rub with half of the salt/sugar mixture. Drip the alcohol over the fillets. Mix the dill, beetroot and remaining salt/sugar mix and place on one of the fillets. Place the second fillet on top of the mixture skin side up to form a sandwich. Wrap the foil around the fish carefully to retain the liquid that will be generated. Slip the foil parcel into a plastic bag and retain in a small roasting or baking tin. Place in the fridge to cure and leave for 2-3 days, turning occasionally to expose both fillets equally to the curing mixture.
     To serve, remove the foil, scrape away the dill/beetroot cure and pour away the liquid. Pat clean with kitchen roll. The fillet will be the deep red colour illustrated left. At this point its a matter of personal choice whether you cut carefully along the fillet to slice in the manner of smoked salmon or take slices across. For presentation I prefer to cut across. With a sharp knife or better an electric knife, cut just less than half centimetre wide slices across the fillet, removing each  from the skin. Take each slice and roll it up starting with the thick end. These little rolls shown in the picture right, resemble roses, especially since the beetroot colour only penetrates the upper layer of the flesh giving an attractive variegated petal effect as shown in the photograph.
    In the starter presentation shown, I served with equal amounts of the same trout cold smoked, along with asparagus and dill sauce. For a centrepiece I cut down a hard boiled hen's egg and topped with fresh crab. An alternative centrepiece would be quails eggs topped with lump fish caviar. Enjoy with a glass of Sancerre.

The Glorious Twelfth by Alan Calder

 Also by Alan Calder, The Stuart Agenda published by Willowmoon