Foraging from the garden – Nasturtiums

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Here at Clavelshay, we are passionate about using fruits and plants from the garden, fields and hedgerows.

Nasturtiums have always been a favourite of mine, bright and cheerful - a somewhat chaotic plant – spreading everywhere, but such a riot of colour that I don’t mind.

We are using the peppery flowers and leaves in salads this summer and customers are loving them. Our talented Head Chef Phil Verden, said he had found a recipe to make Nasturtium Vodka. As we already make fruit vodkas I thought I would give it a try and it was so easy.

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Step 1: Pick your flowers – enough to fill a large jar

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Step 4: Strain and bottle

Step 5: Drink with tomato juice for the ultimate Bloody Mary - this will blow your head off!

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Nasturtium originates from the Andes, where the fresh herb was originally used as an expectorant for coughs and catarrhs. The leaves contain mustard oil glycosides, which break down into a substance with antibiotic properties called benzyl mustard oil. This has been shown to inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungi. For this, Nasturtium is used in the treatment of respiratory and urinary tract infections. It is contra-indicated for gastro-intestinal ulcers, kidney disease and should not be given to small children. (Black’s Nature Guides – Medicinal Plants of Britain & Europe)

Dawn Chorus Walk & Breakfast

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As my family will readily testify, I am not a morning person – treat me gently until coffee time then I am wide awake. It is probably the result of working late at night for so many years, although that is an excuse - I have always been a night owl.

Despite my allergy to early mornings, I had the brilliant idea of organising a walk to hear the dawn chorus followed by a full breakfast. I have wanted to do this for years – anyway decided to run it this past Monday 25 May.

Alarm clock was set for 4.30am and a restless night when I kept waking because I was afraid I wouldn’t wake up at the right time. Came the hour and I woke to hear the birds already singing. On my way to the restaurant kitchen I saw a fox cross the lane about 50 yards away, a great start to the day.

My friend and bird expert Roy Osborne arrived and had a walk around to check out the area. We decided to do a circular walk, beside the pond and wood and back through the fields.

Our guests arrived, armed with binoculars and wellies and we set off. Spotting our first bird in the garden – a sparrow  - a quiet start.

On our way to the pond we heard, wrens, blackbirds, robins, song thrush, -  walking at a leisurely pace with time to stop and listen. It was a rare privilege to be up and about so early and to really have the chance to appreciate the peace and beauty of the countryside and to hear the amazing birdsong.

We stopped by the wood and heard and saw long-tailed tits, heard a greater spotted woodpecker but didn’t see him, heard chaffinch, blue tits, robins, wrens singing their hearts out. I was so absorbed in listening that I totally forgot that I had my camera with me and didn’t take any photos.

Leaving the wood, we saw a hare run across the field – another rare pleasure.

We walked back to the farm across the fields and followed the stream down the valley - we stopped by a small copse and heard beautiful birdsong. It was a male blackcap – it’s song only second to the nightingale in Roy’s opinion and rightly so.

Back to the restaurant for a full English breakfast and chance to talk about the birds we had seen and heard - here they are in the order we heard and saw them:

House sparrow, Song thrush, dunnock (hedge sparrow), jackdaw, blackbird, wren, robin, chaffinch, blue tit, greater spotted woodpecker, warbler, crow, chiff chaff, long tailed tit, stock dove, blackcap, swallow, pied wagtail, goldfinch, house martin, great tit.

Also saw - fox, hare, rabbits, pheasants, squirrels.

This just shows what an abundance of wildlife there is on the doorstep - can’t wait to get up early again and take some photos next time!

Music Night: Bare Bones Trio

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We're thrilled to have fantastic local band Bare Bones Trio will be playing again at Clavelshay Barn this Thursday 29th May 2014. Bare Bones, are a acoustic trio based in Bridgwater, and play a variety of classic and modern cover tracks on the night.

Chef Verden will be cooking up a delicious main meal - Duo of Clavelshay Pork with Spring Carrot & Pea Hash, and for dessert - Somerset Strawberry & Mint Mille Feuille, all for a fantastic deal of £17.50.

If you would like to join us for a fun night of live music and good food, contact Sue on 01278 662629 or email query@clavelshaybarn.co.uk