Tag Archives: ice cream

Ice Cream and Chips

We started the day by heading to Roskilly’s, a working dairy farm and cafe! Before we got as far as the ice cream we had a look around the farm. The first piece of entertainment occurred almost as soon as we got out of the car, as a goat we were looking at casually jumped the fence keeping it in. It stood happily grazing just outside its enclosure as if to say “because I can”. We went into the cafe to let someone know, and upon reporting the goat’s antics were told that it was a regular occurrence and someone would come around and stick it back behind its fence soon. We were also asked if we would like a goat.

We moved on to the chickens and other fowl, and clearly inspired similar thoughts of escape. These fancy chickens lined up along the fence to pose for us.

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We went back down to the cafe and had some delicious ice cream outside in the sunshine. There weren’t many people around, but it was nice that the place was open given it’s November. After we’d finished, it was back in the car.

I snapped a quick picture of Goonhilly as we went by. The huge satellite dishes just appear over the brow of a hill – very impressive.

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The next stop was Perranporth. Perranporth is named for the patron saint of Cornwall, St Piran, who apparently arrived here from Ireland. It’s a popular seaside holiday destination because of it’s beautiful beach. Something about the place rung a bell for me…

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There was another reason for visiting Perranporth, as if you needed one. Pieces of Lego have been washing up on Cornish beaches for a long time, and I had read about this recently in a BBC news article. It would be interesting to find some Lego washed up here.

We walked along the beach for a while and had a quick hunt around the more stony areas but to no avail. But what a gorgeous beach! It was when I saw these pools that I was certain – I came on holiday here when I was about eight.

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By this stage I’m really starting to think that Jon’s stories of Cornish bad weather are purely a fabrication.

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We left the beach to go on a hunt for fish and chips – an ultimately fruitless search! Lots of cafes and chippies about, but none of them open when we were hungry. Happily, we managed to get our hands on some when we got to Truro, and they disappeared very quickly when we got back to Jon’s.

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Meeting fellow cachers, DNF knockout and Geocaches 96-99

Today was the day of our very informal geocaching meetup – Amphitheatre (GC5AGWM). We were looking forward to this, and ticking off the Event souvenir for the Seven Souvenirs of August as well as meeting some local cachers. We got to the coordinates right on time and set out our coats to sit on. It was really windy, and we hoped it wouldn’t put too many people off. I had backed the logbook in gold paper to make it stand out and catch the light. We saw a few potential attendees hovering around the area and were discussing whether any of them would approach us. Just then, Jesmond Lynam strode towards us from across the amphitheatre asking “Are you geocachers?”. The direct approach scored him the invented honour of “First to Approach”…

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No FTF for an event, but first to approach deserves a tip of the hat – many others had been circling for longer!

We had a great time meeting fellow cachers, swapping stories about caches we’d done, caches we’d DNFd, puzzle solving and more. Some people stayed for the full two hours, and others only made a flying visit. Ice cream was eaten, tips were shared and it was great fun putting faces to names. It was the first event for both of us, so we were really chuffed people had got into the spirit of it and come along.

After the event, and buoyed up by others’ stories of finding caches that we’d previously DNFd, Terri and I headed back to Whitburn Colliery (GC32WNP) which we had both (separately) DNFd in the past. Inside the clump of trees we spotted the cache half exposed and full of slimy water…not great! Terri signed the log for us and we hefted up the rock to replace it.

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Nicer than the cache!

Now you know what it’s like – you find one cache that had previously eluded you and then you just have to find another. We went to the site of Aunty Claire’s Birthday Cache (GC3TVH1) which has had us frustrated many times! It was a lot less green than on previous attempts. Within about two minute we had found it! It’s a disguised one, so I didn’t photograph the container…. but we were very pleased to finally get it!

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Always good to showcase a bit of bird poo and masonry…

Two nemesis caches in one day? We definitely needed to make it three… so this time it was Freddie’s Birthday Cache’s (GC3TV59) turn. We must have racked up a good few visits to this one in the past, leaving no stone unturned.

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Off to the cache site.

Once again, this time, the cache was in our hands in the first place we looked! Given what was around in the area, I was absolutely certain I’d tried this particular spot before. Maybe it had been away for maintenance or someone was signing it on our previous attempts?! In any case, we were very pleased to find it!

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One for Lin…

Ice cream and Geocache 56

Terri was in need of ice cream and I reluctantly agreed to put myself out for the sake of our friendship. We enjoyed a Minchella’s in the sun and once there was no ice cream left, our thoughts turned to a very nearby geocache (GC3NXTP).

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Suitably energised, we headed to the cache site. Somehow I put my hand on it straight away this time, after at least 4 previous attempts. We found that we had no pen, so dashed to the cafe quickly to sign it and bring it back. Once we rounded the corner, we saw two more people checking in between the wooden slats… Geocachers!

It was really nice to meet fellow cachers on the hunt!

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Jacks and more Ice Cream

Mohan came to pick me up in the evening and we went over to his place to meet Sellappan when he finished at work. While we waited, and between phone calls, Mohan and I discussed fruit – mangoes in particular. He picked my brains about the mango market in the UK and what products mangoes were in, what the quality of mangoes was in the UK and how expensive they were. It turns out that he is interested in exporting mangoes to the UK and needs a man on the ground to check out the market – maybe I’ll get some free samples..?

He brought in a couple of stones from the heap that has been unceremoniously dumped outside his house and we played jacks for a bit, feeling like we were dong OK until Kowshalya came out of the kitchen and wiped the floor with us, with much criticism of Mohan’s technique which he didn’t take lying down!

Sellappan arrived and the stones were put aside for us to have our food, expertly prepared by Kowshalya. We finished it up quickly and then ice cream was suggested… Who could say no? We went to a nearby ice cream shop with lots of awards to its name, specialising in fruit flavours. Kowshalya and I both had the strawberry flavour which was lovely, and a very nice end to the evening.

Agravation

S arrived promptly and we checked out and set off towards the Fatehpur Sikri, two monuments built in the mediaeval period. We paused for breakfast at a rest stop (poori) and continued to the hills. The roads in and around Agra had more than their fair share of potholes and I felt lucky to arrive with all my teeth still intact! S recommended we get a guide, which we did, and he parked up while we got into a rickshaw for the final hill with the guide hanging on with the rickshaw driver.

After getting tickets and avoiding the souvenir sellers we went into the palace, which was built to house Akbar and his three wives. The guide explained that Akbar was the grandfather of the builder of the Taj Mahal, and had ruled in a very secular way, taking a Catholic wife, Hindu wife and Muslim wife to show his great impartiality. He had had trouble producing an heir, and finally succeeded with the Hindu wife, who had the largest living quarters as a result.

We also saw the Catholic wife’s palace, and the Muslim wife’s palace, which was tiny. Our guide was quick to explain that though the palace was small it wasn’t a reflection of Akbar’s attitude towards her, as hers was the most richly decorated with beautiful stone screens and carvings. Though the air temperature was cool, the sun was relentless and I enjoyed having the chance to duck into the different rooms.

We also saw the royal bedroom, a massive bed raised six feet in the air with space for at least ten people! Something tells me that Akbar didn’t suffer if it was a cold night. Another highlight was the court which had a central pillar decorated with motifs from many world religious and cultures. This pillar supported spokes where the advisers would sit and… Advise. There was also an astrologer’s consultation room, and in the centre of the palace complex a huge stone throne sat, where Akbar would play pachisi with servant girls as pieces. He always won…

From the gardens and in the distance we saw the tomb of an elephant, which took the form of a huge cylindrical tower.  This elephant had been Akbar’s favourite and also the palace executioner; people judged guilty would have their heads cracked open by the great beast’s foot.

Next was the neighbouring mosque, a beautiful and bustling place with tonnes of white marble forming the inner part of the mosque, very striking within the red walls. It was about here that we acquired a fourth member of our party, a small girl trying to sell us pens. We all went around together and saw the mosque and its tombs. We even went out to the front gate which revealed a set of steep steps where we perched precariously to look at what had been the biggest door in the world back in the day. A baby goat nestled in the steps, bleating, and was given a good stroke by an incoming worshipper.

We went back to the rickshaw and rode down the hill, with the pen seller hanging on the back like a limpet. Even as we were getting in the car to go to the next site, she stood with us repeating her offer. Maybe she just wanted a free lift down the hill, but I’m not so sure…

The guide came with us to the ATM where we paid him, and S drove us back towards the city with my spine getting slowly compressed by the bouncing. He finished his water bottle and flung it cheerfully out of the window exclaiming proudly that he was able to do so with impunity because (beaming grin) “This is Agra!” He chatted to Sellappan along the way, occasionally pausing to spit out the remnants of his paan, and told us all about his family waiting at home – he could talk for India and definitely lent some excitement to proceedings…

We proceeded to Agra Fort, yet another spectacular red sandstone complex with gorgeous carvings and impressive arches. We emerged onto a rooftop courtyard and spotted the Taj Mahal shimmering in the distant haze – our first glimpse! Naturally this prompted a million photographs and a declaration from Sellappan that he was bored of this style of architecture now and we should get underway. I could certainly see his point (though it may have proved unpopular with Agra tourist board if there is such a thing) and we headed back to S to go back to town for lunch, excited by the prospect of the Taj Mahal in the afternoon.

S took us to a restaurant called the Silk Road which was popular with tourists. It seemed to be a purpose-built tourist attraction, heavily decorated, air conditioned and with very smart service and knives and forks. Most of the customers were westerners, some sitting with a local who seemed to be guiding them (though I wouldn’t like to make assumptions…) through the menu choices and dispensing advice. Two couples sitting near us were French, so we eavesdropped a bit as we ate our lunch.

I have to point out that at this point I was feeling very odd and touristy, and I think Sellappan felt the same! The one of the French couples was struggling a bit with the menu due to a communication failure about dal/lentils, so we heroically intervened to save them. They were very pleased and chatted with us for a while, asking for recommendations. They were from Lyon and said they had been eating the same thing every day because they didn’t have the confidence to try something new, they ended up ordering what we had – i hope they enjoyed it! It turned out that their daughter worked in Newcastle. Small world… I was feeling very weird by this point!

We piled back into the car with S and  he took us to a marble factory and  jewellery shop where we inspected the goods – this is a common theme and i think the drivers work on commission or get paid to bring people to the shop. It’s a good arrangement for them and sometimes maybe for the customer too, as long as you aren’t afraid of bargaining or the incredibly-hard sell. It’s perfectly possible to come back out of the shop without making a purchase as we demonstrated at the jeweller’s – he lost our business as soon as he fingered the necklace Rajini had given me!

Dear reader if you have made it this far you must be almost as ready as we were to just get to the Taj Mahal!  But no, this was the time to pick up some of the local speciality sweet, made from lotus plants. The closest I cancan come to a comparison is those big fruit jelly sweets you get at Christmas, but somehow lighter and not coated with sugar. These came in plain batons or colourful balls decorated with silver leaf. Sellappan quickly bought a couple of kilos for the folks at home.

Off we went on the rollercoaster to the West gate of the Taj Mahal. S dropped us off and told us to watch for pickpockets and scam artists, ignore everyone and walk quickly. The walk to the ticket counter was a kilometre gauntlet of horse/camel/auto drivers and souvenir sellers, which six-foot Sellappan strode through with me trotting beside like an overheated chihuahua. We got to the ticket counter and paid for our ticket (mine was 25 times the price of Sellappan’s, which sounds bad until you realise that it’s still only £2.50 for this amazing place) and we went through the security check. Separate queues for men and women and the imbalance of the gender of visitors meant I whizzed through the process and then had a little wait for Sellappan.

The Taj Mahal was still nowhere in sight, and we walked around to the gate in the red wall to see it framed beautifully in the archway. Excitement! We went along with the crowds and went through the arch, as the gardens and fountains revealed themselves below us. The manicured gardens were so simple they didn’t pull focus from the main attraction, and we walked alongside them towards the building.

After some fuss with shoes and getting in the right queues to get in, we entered the tomb itself and made the circle around the cool marble room. Signs calling for silence were wilfully ignored, not least by the security guard who blew his whistle at people who touched things. We came back outside and did two laps around the building before descending and getting our shoes back on.

One thing I had insisted on (and Sellappan agreed) was that we should spend plenty of time at the taj Mahal, so we left a full three hours to relax and really enjoy it. I was so glad that we did, because I ended up getting suncream in my eye which took up a good quarter of an hour! Of course, we took far too many pictures from every possible angle and with every imaginable pose, but the best part was finding a shaded bench and just looking at the building through the gardens. Despite the thousands of other tourists, we found a very peaceful spot and even managed to relax a bit for the first time since leaving Jaipur.

The Taj Mahal changed slowly under the setting sun, and despite having been inside and walked the marble halls, I could still hardly believe we were really sitting there. I have spent the first 27 years of my life looking at this incredibly beautiful, faraway thing on posters and book covers and being there just felt totally surreal. The scale of the building really blew me away too. You know it’s big before you go, but it’s just… HUGE! The hours disappeared and we headed out to run the gauntlet again, very happy that we had made it to this lovely place.

Next stop, bus station! I think it’s fair to say that we had both found Agra fairly stressful and a bit uncomfortable at times, despite the amazing places we had seen. When we got to the bus station, S squeezed us for a little bit of extra cash and sent us off with a cheerful paan-stained and aromatic grin as we promised to send more business his way if we ever had friends visiting Agra. It’s true that our visit wouldn’t have been the same without him! Sellappan visibly relaxed as we found our stop, and he bought chocolate to celebrate our triumphant Agra adventure. We boarded the bus to Delhi (big air conditioned Volvo) and settled down to chew over the day as well as the big bar of Dairy Milk.

By the first rest stop we hadn’t slept (it was only just outside of Agra) so Sellappan bought ice creams which we munched on the bus – talk about emotional eating! This new sugary snack trend was most welcome. At some point we dozed off and Delhi appeared, a little later than expected. We got off at the terminus near our hotel (The Southern) and Sellappan got us a rickshaw to cover the last few kilometres.

We finally arrived at the polished front desk at about 11pm, but happily the restaurant was still open, so we had a very southern meal of dosa which was gobbled down quickly! We filled in the millions of required forms and finally got upstairs. Sellappan went to the travel desk to arrange our cab for the next day, and we arranged to get up to leave by 8am. I soaked and washed my filthy feet (sandals) and read a bit more of Three Dog Night before sparking out.

Indian Takeaway

Predictably after the late night, the 6am alarm call was severely unwelcome. After a quick phone call it was agreed that we would be better off going tomorrow. We caught up on some sleep after the late night instead, and decided brunch would be best done by takeaway.

We went to a Chinese restaurant and grabbed some rice and a cauliflower dish. And I went to Kowshalya’s place to spend the afternoon. I ate my brunch and as soon as I finished Kowshalya brought out yesterday’s unfinished origami ball, and asked if I had any music with me. I did have some, so we listened to that for a while, and we finished the assembly of the ball.

Kowshalya went immediately back to the book and selected “daffodils” as our next challenge. The unit was a bit simpler and we were really into the rhythm of it, so 30 units went by in about 90 minutes as we listened to some Tamil songs. We began the assembly of the ball and finished it fairly fast too. Just as we were finishing off 12 units for another model, Mohan came home. We watched some TV which was a recreation of a famous wise man’s life. It was very dramatic with lots of reaction shots and spectacular costumes.

Once Sellappan got back we went to the Tibetan Mall, which was full of discount clothing stores and was just about to close, which advanced our dinner plans. I experimented with the familiar butter chicken with garlic naan, something I would often order at a takeaway at home. The naan was much thinner and even a little crispy, and the butter chicken tasted extremely buttery, even more so than at home. I dread to think how much butter is in it actually. I also tried some new gravy dishes, and apam which is a spiderweb-thin construction made of rice flour, cooked in a hot pan and swirled around to make a bowl shape. You can also get them with eggs in the bottom.

Dessert was found in an ice cream parlour making natural flavours,  mainly from fruit. I tried a fruit that I hadn’t even heard of before: the jackfruit. It was really nice in the ice cream, sort of like mango and peach but a little citrus too. The flesh of the fruit is orange, but the outside is green and spiny a bit like a pineapple, and I’ve seen ones being sold at the roadside the size of footballs.

The last food item on the menu was sweet paan. I’d only heard paan in the book The White Tiger, and it was described as something that you chew and spit out. This sweet paan was actually a leaf or two which wrapped something with an incredibly powerful perfume and mint flavour, and there was no way I could have it all at once. I took a small bite and it was so overpowering it came straight back out, much to the amusement of every one else!

At least we got to sleep at around midnight, ready for the second go at the gardens!

B. Jannetta’s

I am a big fan of ice cream. When I was younger it was a rare thing to find an ice cream shop with more than the standard vanilla, strawberry and chocolate. Occasionally I’d come across a shop with mint choc chip or perhaps banana. If it’s variety of flavour you’re looking for then visiting B. Jannetta in Saint Andrews, Fife is perfect. This business recently celebrated its centenary as it opened in 1908 and has not moved since! There are other branches around Fife and some local venues also stock Jannetta’s ice cream.

I mentioned flavours, and the range at Jannetta’s is unbelievable, in fact it’s a good thing there’s a huge queue on a sunny day as it gives you a chance to pick which flavour you’d like.

I have yet to choose a favourite from the many on offer – their website says 52 are available, but I will be sampling many more of them in the future! The two flavours pictured are Dutch Chocolate and Turkish Delight.

I’m not sure what it is about the chocolate that makes it Dutch, but there is no standard chocolate on offer. In any case, I hardly ever get ice cream from Jannetta’s without a scoop of that flavour. The Turkish Delight flavour was a new choice and was absolutely delicious, like having a bar of the stuff with a whole lot of double cream added (no surprises there!).

In addition to the delicious ice cream they have an adjoining cafe where you can grab a light lunch or a snack, or even a sundae or milkshake. The mint chock chip milkshake is gorgeous and there are 8 different flavours to choose from.

Jannetta’s fully embraces social media and customer interaction, and there are ongoing competitions running. One is to design a flavour – no mean feat given how many they’ve tried. The other competition involves photographing a Jannetta’s tub or wafer in a far-flung location. All of these photographs seem to end up posted around the ice cream shop’s walls, and it’s amazing to see how far some people have taken the challenge.

All in all, B. Jannetta’s is not to be missed.