The Gaddum, Windermere

Nestled on a hillside and with fabulous views of Lake Windermere stands The Gaddum restaurant. Part of the Brockhole visitor centre in Windermere, the estate was originally owned by Manchester silk magnet, William Gaddum. He purchased the land in 1896 and commissioned architect, Dan Gibson to build him a summer residence in the Arts and Crafts style, named Brockhole House. The family eventually made it their main home.

When William died in 1945, the house was sold and turned into a convalescent home. At this time the Arts & Crafts interior of the house was ripped out. How it pains me to write that. I have a special affection for this era and its style, but thankfully the story has a happy ending. The estate was eventually sold to the Lake District Park Authority and opened in 1969, as the first National Park Visitor Centre. Today there are a wealth of activities on offer and the part of the house that accommodates the restaurant and conference facilities has been sensitively and beautifully restored to its full Arts & Craft glory.

We drove up on a sunny Saturday morning, taking our time and admiring the stunning scenery. I have clients in Windermere but rarely get chance to see anything other than their offices, so it was nice to be there as a tourist. The Gaddum had only opened two months before and when we visited it was open for lunch and afternoon tea but will soon start an evening service too. I would imagine the views of the sunsets from the house will be stunning.

We were shown to the lounge area by the delightful Henry, who brought us menus and took our drinks order. Sat on a delightfully, squashy sofa and with our mouths already watering, we tried to make our dining choices. The kitchens are under the command of South African chef, Gerald van der Walt and he brings with him a wealth of fine dining experience gained in his homeland and lately at the 2 Michelin starred L’Enclume and Rogan & Co.

We were shown to our table in the charmingly elegant, period dining room, which has William Morris wallpaper and fabric, heritage paint colours and the original fireplace, which provides a focal point for the room. On the walls are Gaddum family photos taken on the estate. The room gives a real sense of how the house would have looked and felt during the Gaddum family’s tenure. While we waited for our starters I quickly went explore the Orangery that leads off it, where diners can also be seated. It was absolutely delightful; airy and sunlit and with a grape vine suspended from the glass ceiling.

Our first courses arrived.  Mine, a Beetroot & Cumbrian Goat’s Cheese Salad with candied walnuts and sorrel, was so prettily presented, it almost seemed a shame to eat it. The beetroot on the dish had been prepared in three different ways; sweetened, roasted and pickled. Goat’s cheese and beetroot is a classic combination and two of my favourite foods but the addition of peppery radishes, a verdant nasturtium leaf puree and the sweetness and crunch of the candied walnuts elevated this dish to a whole new level.

My dining chum had chosen the Fish Cake, consisting of lightly smoked haddock with potato and Gaddum chives and served on a bed of dressed mixed leaves and homemade Tartare Sauce.  The fishcake itself is generous in size and the fish is not Day-Glo yellow, which means it has been naturally smoked and this is apparent in the subtlety of the flavour too. Simple food at its best.

Our mains were equally joyous and pleasing. With the weather having been so wonderfully warm, I had chosen the Cumbrian Shorthorn Beef and Cracked Wheat Salad with a Garlic & Chive Flower Puree. Oh, my lord, the beef was simply amazing, and I quizzed Gerald later on what he done to it.  He takes seared beef skirt and then cooks it for 20 hours at 85 degrees and then air dries it overnight. The result is like nothing I have never eaten before, both in terms of flavour and texture.  This was so good and totally my kind of ‘happy’ dish.

My pal ordered the Cumbrian Chicken Paillard with crispy chicken skin. The term paillard refers to a piece of meat that has been pounded flat and then flash fried or in this case grilled. The meat was exquisitely tender and juicy and was served on a bed of buttered kale, with a warm kohlrabi salad and cubes of sautéed butternut squash. Proper summer comfort food.

Of course, being in the Lakes I had to order Sticky Toffee pud for dessert. It’s the law. The Gaddum’s is served with chocolate soil, fig puree and creamy Lakeland ice cream. The sponge itself wasn’t as rib sticking as the Carmel original, in fact it was quite light in texture, but to be honest for a summer menu it was quite appropriate and I enjoyed it. My friend ordered the Lemon Tart, which was presented as a dome of glossy lemon set custard on a cardamom shortbread, delicately piped with Italian meringue and accompanied by strawberries, a white chocolate crumb and a lemon balm granita. She loved it and I confess I did have a bit of pudding envy.

After our lunch I bumped into Gerald and he asked me if I would change anything about the dishes we had had, in order to improve them. I answered honestly, no. The restaurant is gorgeous. Frankly, I want to live there.  The staff are so professional, warm and friendly. A special shout out to our waiter, Henry, who had the skills and demeanor of a man twice his age. We loved the fact that he took the time to explain every dish to us and could answer our questions without hesitation. If he decides to stay in the hospitality industry, this lad will go far. As for the food, Gerald has brought all his haute cuisine and fining dining experience to bear but with a relaxed feel and at prices that won’t break the bank and more than justify the cost of the petrol to get up to Windermere. I really hope we can go back soon. Maybe I’ll take my local clients.

We were guests of The Gaddum but as always, the review and opinions are our own and unbiased.

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Photos: © Taste Today. Do not reproduce without permission

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Kit and Kaboodal

Well, what a summer we are having. If the weather carries on like this we’ll beat the halcyon Summer of ’76. Now, I don’t know about you, but it drives me mad that the high street is already starting to put out its Autumn/Winter lines while I’m still building my summer wardrobe. Guys, it’s only early July.

God help you if you have booked a holiday in September and not got around to buying your clothes and accessories by mid-June. As for bikinis and swimsuits, forget it after the May Bank Holiday. If you leave it too late, or heaven forbid book a last-minute break, you’ll end up going away with jumpers and knee-high boots, as I have learnt to my cost in the past.

However, this year I have discovered an online clothing company called Kit and Kaboodal, who still have plenty of summer stock in and are bringing on new lines every week. They are a family run business, based in the gorgeous market town of Boroughbridge, near Harrogate. They stock Lagenlook clothing, cosy knitwear and premium linen clothing and I have fallen in love.

For those who haven’t seen the term Lagenlook before, it translates from German as layered look. A good exponent of Lagenlook fashion is Helena Bonham Carter. It is quite a quirky, bohemian look, often very relaxed and perfect for hot summers and cold winters. I love this look. It is so easy to wear, especially when your waistline is expanding through the menopause, like mine is. But, it isn’t about hiding your figure, it is about complementing it with elegant draping, asymmetry and feminine detailing. It is a celebration of all shapes and sizes and it looks good on anyone.

Kit and Kaboodal is run by husband and wife team, John and Helen Marsden and Helen’s daughters, Naomi and Laura, who between them have decades of business and retail experience. All of which has made this company a huge success, not only on the UK but abroad too. The American and Australians are particularly in love with Kit and Kaboodal clothing.  Originally started in their own home, the company now operates out of purpose-built offices and warehousing just up the road. The stock flies out so fast that they have their own in-house photographic studio, in order to shoot it as soon as it arrives. Another thing I love is that they shoot their clothes on ‘real’ people; themselves, their staff and their relatives. No stick thin teenagers, who should be studying for their GCSE’s here.  Several times a year they open the warehouse doors to the public, so it is well worth keeping an eye on their social media.

This year I have bought several bright dresses and tops, a pair of wafty harem pants, (see below) and 2 pairs of sparkly espadrilles. All of which were exceptional value. Kit and Kaboodal also have frequent flash sales, so if you sign up for their regular newsletters you won’t miss out.

But don’t just take my word for how lovely Kit and Kaboodal clothes are. Whilst writing this piece I put a shout out on the Kit and Kaboodal Members Facebook page, in order to gauge what others think about the company and their products. Here’s just a few of the replies I received:

Karen – ‘I love K&K because it’s the best way to look original and stylish – but the best thing of all is it’s comfortable and affordable.’

Elaine – ‘Best thing that’s happened to me in a long time, lovely, well made clothes, just that bit different and affordable.’

Janine – ‘It has an edge. When you wear it you know you can be an individual. It’s for those women who don’t want to be beige.’

Jane – ‘Finally found my groove.’

Trudy – ‘Have to mention the K and K staff , they are amazing and their customer service is as well, nothing is too much trouble for them.’ (Have to say I totally agree).

Kit and Kaboodal have very generously offered you lovely readers an exclusive 15% discount. Shop online at https://www.kitandkaboodal.co.uk and enter the code WARM15 at checkout. Share your purchases with us on our social media. Discount code is valid for the next 28 days.

All photography is copyrighted by Kit and Kaboodal and cannot be reproduced in any format or on any platform without their express permission.

 

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NATURE’S BOUNTY

I love the countryside and have been lucky to have always lived in semi-rural places. To me, there could be nothing worse than living in a city. I need grass, trees and wild life. Having two dogs I spend a lot of time walking the local country park.

I am so blessed living where I do, perched on the side of the Pennines, two minutes from the site of a long gone country house. The grounds are open to the public and there is a variety of landscapes to explore from woodland to fields, winding pathways and the ruins of the old hall, its predecessor and the stable block. There are always amazing views over the Cheshire plain, Manchester and up towards the Peak District.

Foraged rosehips

In amongst the vegetation there is also a wealth of plants to forage. I have been walking here for the last seven years’, but it was only last Autumn that I realised I was regularly wandering past a treasure trove of nature’s bounty. It started with picking blackberries, which I have done before but then realising that there were also elderberries, rosehips, sloes, wild raspberries and apples.

Freshly picked blackberries

I started gathering the fruits and berries and looking up recipes. I made blackberry and apple crumble and a blackberry syrup for pouring over ice cream and pairing with prosecco instead of Chambord. I remembered the Delrose rosehip syrup I was given as a child to boost my Vitamin C, D and A intake, which I loved and decided to make some of that. In the end, I didn’t have enough hips, so I combined them with the elderberries. Rosehips have a wealth of health benefits besides the vitamins, especially for those of us with creaking joints. Elderberries also have great immune system boosting properties and are helpful when suffering with winter colds and coughs.

Recently the parklands’s verdant fields and hedgerows have bought forth another jewel. Blossom. Hawthorn, blackthorn and rowan trees have been heavy with frothy, tumbling blooms. The hawthorns have been particularly spectacular this year. In the last 3 weeks the white, lacy elderflowers have also appeared on the branches of the elder trees.

Elderflower blooms

I love the elderflower season because their delicate, floral taste can be used in so many dishes and drinks and it is one of the true flavours of a British Summer. It is such fleeting season, so you have to gather them quickly. But please remember, never strip a tree, leave plenty of blossom to continue to feed the insects and to develop into berries in Autumn to feed the wild life. Collect on a sunny, dry morning when the flowers are at their most fragrant. Don’t wash the flowers but gently shake to dislodge the tiny bugs. Elderflowers have antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. Steep as soon as possible after picking to make cordial.

Steeping the flowers

ELDERFLOWER CORDIAL RECIPE

Ingredients

½ litre boiling water
500g caster sugar
Zest of 1 lemon and 1 lime, unwaxed
50ml of lemon and lime juice
10/12 elderflower heads

Method

Pour boiling water into a boil with the sugar and stir until dissolved. Add in zest, juice and flower heads and stir. Cover and allow to steep for 2 days. Strain through muslin and decant into sterilised bottles. Makes approx. ¾ litre. Keep in the fridge. Dilute with water and add ice for a cooling drink or even better, add a little to your G&T.

 

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