Friends from our Salad Days

 We’ve had a brief sojourn in Cerne Abbas.  This is home to two long-standing friends who celebrated their Ruby Wedding Anniversary.  Before we were due to arrive there we took a short detour on to Weymouth to visit my mother and take her out to lunch.  There was a choice of possible venues but the Crab House Cafe which is sited more or less at the ‘gateway’ to Portland is a great little restaurant for dedicated piscivores such as Nick, Mum and me!

If you blink you might miss the turning for the track that leads to the wooden surf-shack which overlooks its own oyster farm on the Fleet which is a renowned international SSSI with an incredibly long list of fauna and flora.  Until recently it supported the only British Isles population of a tiny rare mollusc.  (Now some of us in Conch. Soc. have found 2 more populations in southern England.)

But to return to the shack, it sits amid a setting which has a slightly Caribbean feel, this being reinforced by the choice of music.  It has only been running for about 4 years and has always been busy when we are there.  There is a splendid array of fish sitting on chilled ice and the menu has many options.  We all choose grilled whole plaice. 

The sound of hammering at a neighbouring table draws my attention (I’m known as the Meerkat by my daughter) and four lunchers are enjoying half crabs Spicy Chinese Style.  Another time…………

Arriving at Cerne we find some guests have already arrived and there is a cream tea with coffee and walnut cake.  How glad I am not to have eaten a pudding!  Although there has been a ‘no gifts’ directive, one couple has had the brilliant idea of varying the idea of taking flowers to the hostess.   They have filled a basket with pots of deep deep red cyclamen, a red cabbage, a bunch of beetroot, red chicory, red potatoes.  It is a lovely arrangement….

The dinner to which Stuart and Angela treat their guests takes place at the New Inn, under relatively new management.  Nineteen of us enjoy tuna in tempura with a wasabi mayonnaise, then succulent slow cooked duck with lentils.  The dessert is a strawberry confection.  It is a convivial, lively evening and how great to cross the road, slip back indoors and so to bed…..

On the following day there is a morning walk followed by a buffet lunch chez Palmer.  This is a family affair, the girls are very competent cooks having been taught by Angela. 

Neighbours come in for drinks later on in the evening and the celebration continues.  Nick and I are privileged to stay on for two days more during which we take life at a leisurely pace which culminates in a late birthday dinner for Stuart at Le Petit Canard in Maiden Newton.  We recommend it warmly.

On Wednesday we leave the impeccable hospitality and comforts offered by our Cerne friends but knowing we will meet up soon in St Vaast for our cavalier wine-tasting week.  It is now onwards and upwards, quite literally to the folks who live on the hill.

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