Travelling from Oldham to Delph on the bus yesterday I was asked by another passenger if I knew what the particular bit of the town we were travelling through was called. Fortunately at that point I spotted a school, Waterhead Academy, and was able to tell her confidently that we were in Waterhead. We have so many “…heads” around here - Springhead, Scouthead, Waterhead - it’s hard sometimes to be sure where you are. She went on to ask me if the bus went directly to Ashton. Well, no, not really, not what you would call directly. It sets off from Oldham, heading almost completely away from from Ashton, and goes through various bits of Oldham, into and put of Delph, through the bottom of Dobcross, through Uppermill, Greenfield and Mossley before, finally, eventually, arriving at Ashton. If you want a direct bus to Aston from Oldham, there is one available but it’s not the one we were travelling on.
In fact it suited her better as she really wanted to go to Mossley. I suspect that the direct bus to Ashton and then a bus out from there might have been quicker but someone must have told her that ours was the bus to catch. She had had to go to Oldham, she told me, because her local bank branch had closed and now the closest branch was Oldham. Such is modern life. She was a little disgruntled and declared that her morning had gone rather badly so far.
We had reached the point on the journey where you start to leave urban sprawl behind and see the expanse of hills looking out towards Derbyshire (I think). When I used to commute to Salford daily that’s the point where my heart lifted - after bits of motorway and lots of urban sprawl, the view of the hills was very welcome, as well as a sign that I was only ten minutes away from home. So I pointed out to my fellow traveller that the journey might be long and convoluted but that it was going to get a lot prettier from now on. It was helped by the fact that the sun was shining but by the time I got off the bus at Delph crossroads, she was saying that her day had improved considerably. It was worth taking this bus ride, she declared, just to see the views.
She’s right, of course. Even on rainy days, or grey ones like today with the cloud resting on the hilltops, the hills are quite impressive. But on a clear sunny day the horizon seems wider, the colours more intense and it is hard to be miserable. There are worse places to have spent a lockdown!
On Sunday, half expecting at least some of the family for tea, I made a moderately large chicken and bacon pie. Nobody came for tea - they had gone to a child’s birthday party instead - so we had leftover pie for tea last night. Because there was chicken we had to have a glass of red wine. It’s become a sort of house rule. Not that we partake of vino every day but chicken does demand red wine! It was a good pie.
Today I came across this as the headline to a cookery article:-
“There are two types of people in the world: pie people and crumble people.”
Oh?! I like both. And as regards fruit, well, some shout pie at you while others, such as rhubarb, insist on crumble. The article proceeded:
“As we all know, you cannot trust a pie person. Their need for structure is too restricting; their pursuit of rules loses them friends and respect at every turn.”
Really! This was getting a little too biased. It all depends on the quality of the pie crust, I suppose. If a person cannot be relied on the make a good piecrust, then maybe you cannot trust them. Though I say it myself, my piecrust is trustworthy!
The article went on to say this about crumble:
“Give me the loose informality of a crumble any day. A warm bowl of crumble, lazily spooned out of a dish and drenched in custard, is one of the greatest things on this planet. Better yet, a crumble refuses to be pigeonholed. Sure, there are apple crumbles. Yes, there are rhubarb crumbles. But there is also a multitude of equally worthy less traditional crumbles.”
Agreed! It went on to list possible fruit crumbles, all of which were fine. But then it gave ideas for Leek and Cheddar Crumble, Sausage Crumble and even Coconut Curry Chicken with Oat and Peanut Crumble. Maybe a step to far. Even the writer seemed to acknowledge this:
“And then there is Yotam Ottolenghi, who has gone berserk and made a curry crumble. True, it is a little more nuanced than that – this is a delicious coconut chicken curry that is served with a cooked “crumble” of oats and peanuts sprinkled on the top – but you have come this far. What is one extra leap?”
I might even have to try that last one.
Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!