The Smell (and taste) of Spring

You can’t go far in the Cotswolds at the moment without passing fields of bright yellow Oilseed Rape. The smell fills the car especially on warm days and its another reminder that Winter (should) be behind us.
Whenever I have Japanese visitors in the car this time of year, we bond over this common staple crop that our farmers grow. It’s used in cooking oil all over the world, but it’s also eaten as a side dish. The flowers can be used to make tempura and the stalks and leaves boiled and eaten much like sprouting broccoli.
So I did a bit of ‘foraging’ this afternoon and brought home a couple of plants. I boiled them for a few minutes and then roughly chopped down to about 3cm lengths, stalks, flowers, and leaves all in. I added dashi stock, soy sauce and some English mustard. The result was pretty good but I made the mistake of putting in a mixture of different size stalks. The thicker pieces should have been boiled longer or not used at all. The younger fresher stalks, leaves and petals though made for a great little dish that you could eat along side some lamb chops or even fish.

Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Steam railway

Steam railway in the Cotswolds

One of the best days out in the Cotswolds has to include the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Steam railway (GWSR). A dedicated group of volunteers have restored and reopened a section of the Honeybourne line, which ran from Cheltenham to Stratford upon Avon. Currently you can ride the trains between Cheltenham racecourse and Laverton but in the next few years when restorations are complete the trains will run as far as Broadway.

Last weekend we did the round trip from Cheltenham racecourse to Toddington. The boys love trains anyway but it’s impossible not to get excited and feel nostalgic when you hear the whistle and see the first puff of steam. Each of the stations have been restored and there’s plenty to see along the route which also stops at Gotherington and Winchcombe. At Toddington there is a cafe, kids play area, museum and a narrow gauge railway which will take you up to the train sheds. If you’re in the area May bank holiday weekend there will be a ‘Steam celebration’ with up to 7 engines, fairground rides, traction engines, brake van rides and engine footplate visits as well as hot and cold food and a beer tent! There are events all year, but check the website for news and the timetable.