|Clay oven - being re-lit - again!|
Whilst the valiant oven lighters were doing their best outside, a happy group were working inside the polytunnel to make it look lovely. Tracey helped the Gateway to Nature gang and some of our own volunteers to create a swag using ivy, hedge cuttings, ribbons and tinsel to create a lovely effect.
|Jon with the swag|
We then got to work on a fun activity that someone showed us on Facebook - a bicycle-wheel wreath! The spokes of the wheel make a great base for threading in foliage to create a nice, well-covered wreath, and are also good for tying decorations on. The final effect was really impressive, even sprouting "bells" made from foil cups (blame Tracey's custard tart habit!).
Making the wreath
|Finished wreath looking splendid|
Then the final touch - clove pomanders with a twist - the base is an apple, not an orange. This actually works really well if you use enough cloves, as these prevent the apple from going mouldy and help it to dry out. Our apples may not have had quite enough, but they only needed to look good for a wee while, so it didn't matter, and we added some extra glittery bits to make them look even more festive.
Apple pomander making
|More lovely pomanders|
Once we had organised the decorations, we moved onto getting food ready. Pre-prepared ingredients made it easy, so cubes from one of our green-point orange squashes, onions, garlic and sage went into one of our famous pumpkin risottos. We also used dough that had been warming on the oven top to make beautifully thin pizza bases which we spread with a pizza sauce that was made this Summer using only our own home-grown ingredients and cheese. There was also a treat as some of the delicious new potatoes we grew in the Autumn made an appearance as mini-roastie toast-racks (scrub leaving skin on, cut 5mm thick slices about 2/3rds of the way into each potato, as if you were trying to slice it up but didn't quite. As they cook, the spuds open, and rubbing them with olive oil or coconut oil makes them into yummy crisp bites that just need a tiny bit of salt to taste good enough to make a snack on their own). A great and very healthy alternative to chips or roast potatoes.
|Pizza ready for the oven and pear|
frangipane tarts - yum
Guests brought along lots of other wonderful stuff, so the polytunnel table was soon groaning with a huge spread - though everyone did their very best to get through it.
|Didn't get to the table quickly enough to take|
a photo of it in full glory!
|Danny and Dan took charge of the pizza oven with great skill|
And our guests also washed up - it made a great early Christmas present!
|Joy of Washing Up - and Frogs!|
Thank you to all the volunteers who have helped us this year and worked so hard. Special thanks to Hassan, who has been a brilliant support and really made a difference to the site. Also to Chris, who has as always got us to get going, had some excellent ideas and kept us well entertained with his singing. Joyce - lived up to Tracey's nickname for her - Joy of Gardening, and was a wonderful friend, being especially willing to turn out for early and late calls. Andrea, Ellie, Mark, Guy, Brian, Dan, Danny and Jason have all been stalwarts during the week, with Kathy, Lynn, Rosie, Steven, Sibel, Ash, Rowan, Jeremy, Dianne and Derek being a big help at events. We also welcomed back Helen, Ellis, Matt and Dan for visits, and had help from many visitors especially Gateway to Nature and classes from Robert Shaw Primary (thanks to Sheila for organising this).
What a great year - here's to the next one!