Red spaghetti… and a grumpy old woman’s take on the rest of my Chelsea Flower Show 2012 piccies
Part food post, part flower show
As I’d already posted some of the food-oriented images from our trip to the Chelsea Flower Show, I originally set out to focus this post on a staple recipe that has sustained both my husband and I during these last few turbulent weeks. The idea was that I would post my recipe and throw in the rest of the pictures I’d taken at the show; that was until I went through my iPhone and realised I had 60 photos of the Chelsea Flower Show to share, and they don’t even include the ones I’d already posted!
So, basically, I’m doing an about-turn and will make today’s story more about the show than about the food, which actually seems quite fitting since food hasn’t really been our priority for a bit.
That said, that will change – I have spent the day (Saturday) at Godalming’s village fete (in honour of the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations) and with 3 more days of holiday to go before we return to work, I’m planning a BUMPER baking session in the kitchen over the next few days and I can’t wait to share what I’ll be cooking.
Firstly, to the food…
As you know, I haven’t had much interest in food or cooking recently. However, we have still had to eat and this dish has really been the staple that has kept us nourished and satisfied. In four weeks, I’ve made at least three batches because I’ve given lots of it away too, and this recipe is basically my take on a basic italian pomodoro sauce. I use it as a base for our home-made pizzas or we’ve added additional ingredients – everything from roasted peppers to minced beef – to turn it into different pasta sauces.
I love it best as it is, with freshly cooked al dente pasta, with nothing more added other than extra fresh basil torn over the top and freshly milled black pepper. The best thing about it is that it freezes so well, so you’ll have plenty left over to save away for a rainy day. My husband loves it chunky whereas I love to whizz it up with a hand mixer – it turns the most vibrant orange colour when you blitz it, making it look exactly like Heinz cream of tomato soup!
Here’s the recipe:
800 gram tin of chopped tomatoes
500 gram tin/box of passata
1 large red onion, finely chopped
3-4 large shallots, finely chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons of dried oregano
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon of chilli powder
3 tablespoons of regular olive oil
3-4 teaspoons of sugar
1 tablespoon of sea salt
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (plus extra for drizzling)
25 grams butter
3 large handfuls of fresh basil (keep 1 large handful for garnishing)
Fresh black pepper
Saute the shallots, onion and garlic in the regular olive oil and butter over a gentle heat for 10 minutes until the onions are translucent. Add your tinned tomatoes, passata, vinegar, salt, dried oregano, chilli powder and sugar and stir well (after a generous addition of freshly milled black pepper too).
Simmer this for at least 50 minutes over a medium/gentle heat, stirring occasionally. Add two handfuls of roughly torn basil and your three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Season to taste (adding more salt/sugar if needed). Stir well and allow the sauce to simmer for another 10 – 15 minutes.
Serve with freshly cooked pasta or use this as a base for other sauces or a base for pizzas. Garnish with whatever you like – more fresh basil, grated parmesan etc.
A Grumpy Woman’s take on the Chelsea Flower Show 2012
Now I say again, I have about 60 photos to share from the Chelsea Flower Show so you’d best be sitting comfortably if you’re planning to go through all of the pictures… I seriously didn’t realise I’d taken that many.
We had a great day out that day; the sun was shining and I was fulfilling one of the biggest wishes of all time to go there but there is a but, a big BUT, because on the whole, I was slightly disappointed by the whole experience.
It had nothing to do with the fact that anyone under the age of 50 genuinely stuck out like a sore thumb, that was actually quite funny, but the sheer number of people at the show almost did my head in.
We went on an RHS day that was only open to members of the Royal Horticultural Society and even then, it was rammed! Mind you, don’t think these little grannies are push overs, they were quite merciless and even vicious (mind those walking sticks!) in pushing their way to the front of the displays
Don’t get me wrong, the Chelsea Flower Show IS beautiful and the mind boggles at the work the landscape architects, designers, nurseries and gardeners must endure to pull it together. But what really irked me was that no one from the public was actually allowed to enter the actual show gardens at all!
Each show garden is cordoned off so you end up with this mob of people that are only allowed to gather at its peripheries – it’s just a bit odd that basically your £25 ticket (and that’s how much each ticket costs!) only gets you to the edge of each garden. As many of them are about the designs of both the hard and soft landscaping, you’re only allowed to look at it from a distance. I think it’s a real shame because I know many people like me actually miss out on seeing some of the small details that are part of each design because we’re not allowed in to see the gardens. Shame really.
Plus, after being seriously elbowed, pushed aside and even stepped on quite a few times by many grumpy OAPs, I gradually didn’t even bother trying to get close to any of the main show gardens – it was far too dangerous!
The other thing I noticed was that almost every single show garden seemed to have a water feature. It seems no garden is perfect without a water feature.
On a sunny day like the day we had, I can understand the beauty of a water feature but let’s face it, we live in the UK and really only get about two weeks of sunshine every summer. The rest of the time it’s grey, wet, rainy and more wet. I know they can be beautiful but I really don’t think every single garden has to have one…
There were however some real gems though, and I fell in love with this design. It was on one of the smaller plots and featured a shiny but small caravan parked in a typically classic and slightly wild-looking English country garden – delightful!
But what I really loved was the splash of contemporary design thrown in because sitting amongst the lovely planting was a really modern looking bench, and for once, I really liked this simple water feature though I think the garden would have looked just as nice without it.
I said to my husband that if I could have a dream garden, it would look something like this. Then my husband had to burst the bubble by whispering in my ear:
“Darling, it looks great now but you won’t love it as much when it turns into a rust bucket at the back of the garden.”
And he’s probably right though one way it wouldn’t rust would be if he helped out in the garden and kept it in good nick, hah!
And now we come to some of the slightly more ornate features that I think only truly rich people can indulge in.
I said in my last post that another rather disappointing feature (for me anyway) was the sheer number of artists that were there to display sculptures. It’s not that I don’t appreciate sculpture and art but the vast majority of people cannot possibly afford to own any of these things!
I’m all for garden furniture too but I’d also like garden furniture one can really sit in.
I think these chairs look fantastic, but they’re just like some of the millionaire-dollar interior-designed houses you see in flash magazines – beautiful yet totally impractical. Why is that??? I guess it’s because I just don’t operate in the kind of income bracket that allows one to buy furniture and things purely for looking at, LOL
To prove my point further about how some of these gardens really are only for the incredibly wealthy, here’s a picture of another display – it features moving animation projected onto the rear of a specially designed wall. My husband loved it (he would because it requires electronics and computers etc) and it was really beautiful – the project had fluttering butterflies and fairies and so forth, but c’mon! Seriously, how many people can put up a screen and projector in their garden, especially in generally wet England!?!!
However, still on the whole electronic wizardry theme, I did think this QR code wall created against a living wall was kinda clever
But then I saw this garden, and I’m sorry but nothing can get me to like it.
It looked like some kind of giant worm had decided to eat Jason’s technicolour dream coat, along with a 1,000 disco balls and 10 tonnes of skittles before deciding it had eaten too much and needed to bring it back up again.
Still, each to their own, eh?
Then we come on to the weird and wacky gardens and things
I know that everyone has their personal taste when it comes to any art form but for me, gardens are restful places, even the wild ones can be pretty, so I find it a bit odd that anyone would consider putting sculptures like the skeleton to my right into theirs.
Frankly, I’d be a bit afraid to sit in someone’s garden if they had art like this displayed, LOL!
Needless to say, animals featured in a lot of the sculptures and some I loved, like the fish swimming through a sea of grass. I also really loved the sculpture of the wild boar below.
And before I finally take you into the pavilion to where all the pretty flower displays were, I couldn’t resist snapping a picture of the astroturf display. The car is covered in fake grass but the base is made from real grass. Cute, huh?
It was ironic that their stand also happened to be opposite the guys that were selling ride-on lawn movers and this little robot lawn mover for the chronically lazy.
Inside the pavilion
And finally, we get towards the end of my photos from the Chelsea Flower Show.
The pavilion houses just as many elaborate displays as the outdoor show gardens but it also holds all of the flowers and plants that are judged.
For someone like me who loves colour, it’s a real treat for the eyes!
Whoever designed this stand has either been growing up on a diet of teletubbies or has popped one too many scraps of funky paper, LOL
Then I stumbled on this amazing stand that featured nothing but orchids. They created two orchid ‘trees’ which consisted of LOTs of individual orchids set in test tubes which they’d hung onto a tree frame. I mean, the amount of work that went into this display was totally awesome!
Then I stumbled upon a very cute display. The designers had tried to recreate a traditional English canal boat and lock, complete with water leaking through the lock. It was very, very cute. The only problem was that the canal boat they built wasn’t quite long enough, which made it look a little bit like a floating coffin…
This picture on the right makes the whole display look a lot better but I still think it looks like a floating coffin.
I also came across a display that warmed the very cockles of my heart because it made me think of my family – the Thai temple display. It reminded me of home, only I’m not from Thailand and I’m not Thai. It just made me think of South-east Asia, which is where I come from, if you get my drift.
And finally, ladies and gentlemen, this wraps up my very, very long post today. I’ll leave you with the last of the photos I took. I actually have quite a few more but even I’ve had enough of pretty floral pictures for now!
There are also two Chelsea Flower Show videos that my husband shot below.
For those of you in the UK, I hope you have a brilliant Queen’s Diamond Jubilee weekend.
I’m spending it making some good old fashioned English party fare, namely sausage rolls, a Victoria sponge and maybe some scones thrown in as well if we can find room in our tummies.
For everyone else not with us in the UK to celebrate this special occasion, have a lovely weekend anyway.
Lots of love
Here’s the video my husband shot of some of the show gardens he liked:
Here’s the other video my husband shot of the pavilion displays: