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Step away from the screen. Take time out with a digital detox. October 17, 2016 07:58

Pheasant Plucker & Son's digital detox package

At this time of year, it's very easy to start feeling a bit frazzled. The long, lazy days of summer are well and truly over and the short, dark days of winter are just around the corner. 

It's a good time to pause for a few moments and slow down for a while, before the mad hectic rush of December starts and a good way to do this is to literally press the off button for a couple of days and have a break from your phone, laptop and tablet. We're as guilty as anyone of being slightly addicted to the virtual world but after we lost our phone for a few days recently, we started to see the benefits of not having the internet at our fingertips 24 hours a day.

Here are five simple ways to reap the benefits of taking a digital detox: 

1) Cosy up with a good book – studies have proved that reading can alleviate stress and also suggest that mental stimulation helps retain brain power. So pile on some stylish wooly knits, snuggle up under a blanket, light some scented candles to create a comforting, calm atmosphere and spend an evening reading. There’s nothing like a gripping page-turner to while away an evening.

2) Pamper yourself with a long, hot soak in the bath or shower. Slap on a mudpack, play some relaxing music, light some more candles and indulge yourself for a while. Our Bathing Beauty soap is so gentle babies can use it and with a tiny added splash of organic lavender essential oil, it’ll help you chill out and wash your cares away.

3) Keep in touch with old friends. Let’s not pretend that it isn’t easier than ever to keep in touch with people now we have all the benefits of social media. But when was the last time you sat down and really thought about what you wanted to say to someone? Receiving a hand written letter is so much more personal than a text or an email and who doesn’t know someone who would love to have a beautiful card land on their door mat one morning? Set yourself a challenge to write to one person every week for the next month. 

4) Take a moment to take stock of your life. Write down 10 things that make you happy and use a page for each to explain why. Then think of five things that make you sad or frustrated and write down what you can do to make these things better. Finally think of 10 things you want to achieve over the next year and how you’ll go about them. By writing them all down in one place you can then come back to them periodically to check in with yourself and see how you’re doing.

5) Throw a party. It doesn’t have to be a big one that costs a lot of money but go to a bit of effort with it. Send out old-fashioned invitations, dust off your records and have some fun with real people. Your instagram following will never be able to dance round your living room with you the way your mates can.

We’ve put together a special digital detox package full of things to bring your focus back to the here and now and away from the screen. It contains:

  • One of our luxury hand-poured scented Dusk candles, with relaxing notes of lavender and thyme.
  • A bar of our Bathing Beauty soap
  • A pack of five Jack Russell ‘Hello’ notecards
  • One of our best selling Blue cockerel notebooks
  • A mixed pack of our bright pink and citrus green invitations

All this is available for just £37, a saving of over 15% than if you bought the items separately. SHOP NOW


Introducing our latest products September 7, 2016 00:00

If you’ve been following our Facebook and Instagram posts over the past couple of months, you might have noticed that we’ve been carefully developing some new products. Being a small, independent business means we’re always on the lookout for good things and we love having the freedom to experiment with ideas that don’t break the bank.

We begin by sourcing manufacturers who share our high standards of quality and good service and we’re proud that everything on our site is made right here in the UK. We then begin working on the designs, not just for the products themselves but for the packaging as well.

Pheasant Plucker & Son's new iPhone covers

 

We launched our new iPhone covers a couple of weeks ago and we’re already ordering more stock. They come in two designs – Rabbit and Owl – and have a tactile, matt finish which offers superior protection for your phone without being cumbersome or clunky to carry around. We’ve been using the prototype we had made since April and are pleased to report that so far the case hasn’t scratched or worn at all (despite carrying it around in our back pocket and dropping it more than a few times) and the design is as clear as the day it arrived.

 

Pheasant Plucker & Son's new artisan soaps

 

The other new product to hit the Pheasant Plucker & Son shelves recently is a range of artisan-made soap which comes in two lovely flavours: Bathing Beauty is so soft and gentle you can use it on newborn babies and it’s lightly fragranced with organic lavender essential oil to promote relaxation, making it excellent for long soaks after hard days; Peppermint and Pumice is designed especially for hardworking hands. Its volcanic pumice removes dirt, grease, mud and grime whilst the organic peppermint essential oil soothes and refreshes. The soaps are cut by hand in our studio so they're all slightly different and we individually wrap each one in its distinctive packaging. Neither of them are tested on animals and they don't contain any of the chemical nasties that find their way into some commercial soaps.

 

Pheasant Plucker & Son's new artisan soaps

 

Both the iPhone covers and the soaps make wonderful gifts – the phone covers are an inspired choice for people who are tricky to buy for as they’re both sophisticated and practical. The soaps are great as a little 'thank you for having me’ gift and or to have on hand if you have guests to stay. 

Are you on our mailing list? Sign up now and get 20% off your first order. 


Beautiful Blackcurrants August 23, 2016 15:15

Pheasant Plucker would make a very good witch. After all, the concept of a sisterhood of like-minded individuals and the opportunity to concoct new recipes and potions in the company of a cat is an appealing one.

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve spent a considerable amount of time hunkered over a heavy black cooking pot, bought for 50p at a village fete, stirring with great intensity and muttering to ourselves. In the absence of a cat, Louie the chicken has stood guard by the kitchen door and inquisitively poked her beak in from time to time.

 

Louie the hen poking her nose in

 

Unfortunately we haven’t been mixing up hexes or evil spells but just making jam. This is the high season for it, and although raspberries, redcurrants and strawberries are more or less over, there is still time to turn your attention to blackcurrants, plums and damsons. A lot of people think there’s something complicated about jam making and are put off by scary-sounding recipes that use terms like ‘jam thermometers’ and ‘test for pectin’ but Pheasant Plucker has no time for any of that. We like our jam quick and easy and on a piece of toast as soon as possible.

 

Blackcurrants picked fresh from the garden

 

Here then, is the easiest blackcurrant jam recipe you could think of. It contains only four ingredients and once you’ve prepared the blackcurrants, you can be done and dusted within half an hour.

Ingredients 

1kg blackcurrants

800g granulated sugar

100ml water

Medium size knob of butter

 

Method

To prep the blackcurrants, remove the stalks and any large, dried heads where the flowers used to be and wash them thoroughly.  Put a saucer in the freezer.

Place the blackcurrants in a large, heavy bottomed cauldron (or saucepan) and pour the sugar on top (it’s important to put the sugar on top of the fruit rather than the other way round, so that the sugar doesn’t burn and stick to the bottom of the pan). Then pour in the water and bring to the boil over a high heat.

As the mixture comes to the boil, skim the surface if you need to and add the butter, which will prevent it from frothing too much.

When the fruit reaches a rolling boil, so that it can’t be stirred down, look at your clock and time 10 minutes. In the meantime, sterilise some jam jars by washing them in hot soapy water and drying them in a warm oven. (You could swish them out with some boiling water out of the kettle without too many problems instead of the full sterilising method but to be honest, it’s not really that much effort).

When the jam has boiled for ten minutes, take the plate out of the freezer and pour a teaspoonful of the jam onto it. (Be careful because it will be HOT). Leave it a minute and then poke it with your finger – if it wrinkles a bit and isn’t too runny, it’s done. Use your initiative at this point, you may prefer a slightly runnier jam or you may like it really thick. If you think it needs a bit longer, continue to boil for another five minutes and then test again. I’m of the opinion that it’s better to have a slightly syrupy consistency than a jam that’s too hard and chewy (if you decide it’s too runny when you’ve put it into jars, you can decant each jar as you use it and boil it up again for a couple of minutes in the microwave. It usually does the trick).

When you’re happy with it, let it cool for 5 minutes and then very carefully ladle it into the jam jars. Let it cool further and then seal with some greaseproof paper circles and put the lids on. Once it’s cool completely, store it unopened in a cupboard for up to a year or in the fridge when you’ve opened it.

And that’s it. Delicious blackcurrant jam in the time it takes to learn to fly a broomstick.

 

Homemade blackcurrant jam on toast

 

Homemade jam makes a great gift - give it to someone with one of our greetings cards for a lovingly made, one off present.


Lovable Labradors August 11, 2016 13:50

Pheasant Plucker & Son's Baby brother at a pet show with Duke the Labrador

Baby bro with Duke the Labrador at a pet show. Literally nothing runs like a Deere.

We had a succession of adorable but stupid Labradors when we were little.

First up was Sam, who was already old when we came to know him. Poor old Sam was epileptic and from time to time would have fits out in the yard. He was always very embarrassed about them afterwards and would hang his head sheepishly for the rest of the day and lie listlessly in the shade. He probably felt awful, the poor old boy.

Next came Duke, star of a previous blog post and the most stupid of them all. If Duke was an actor in a film, he’d be an exasperating rogue that the leading lady, despite her better judgement, fell head over heels for in the end. You couldn’t help but love him, with his big brown eyes and endlessly wagging tail which somehow worked independently to his body. He lived in a kennel out in the yard and would chew anything he could get his teeth round: wellies, toys, sticks, school shoes, large rocks… he really didn’t mind. His food bucket was an old, large plastic tub that had once contained something to do with the horses and he would wander aimlessly around with it in his mouth, tail going non-stop, making funny whining noises with his dog biscuits spilling out behind him, like some kind of doggy Hansel and Gretel trail. We spent hours trying to train him to be the good gun dog he was supposed to be, hiding dummy pheasants around the garden for him to find and trying to make him recognise different whistle sounds but it never seemed to have much effect. He just snuffled around chewing stuff and trying to lick us. However, apparently out on the shooting field proper, he would rise to the occasion in front of the other, posher retreivers and didn't let himself down too badly most of the time.

Pheasant Plucker family with Duke and Sam the Labradors

A classic family portrait with Duke and Sam the Labradors. (That pink jumpsuit paired with blue jelly sandals and extra thick plaits is still a favourite go-to fashion choice.)

The last Lab we had was our golden girl Molly. She wasn’t anywhere near as crazy as Duke and didn’t feel the need to chew everything she saw, although she’d have a quick gnaw of your trainers if you left them in her way. Poor old Molly once had a problem with her legs and had to be taken to the vet, who said she needed an operation and would have to stay in for a few days. Pa Pheasant hated to see animals suffering and it upset him to see her in so much pain. However, the operation went well and the vet called a few days later to tell us she could be collected. Pa Pheasant duly set off to get her and bring her home. Molly was in a pretty sorry state – she’d had to have her front legs shaved as part of the operation and was obviously sore and tired. Pa Pheasant gently put her on the backseat of the car with a blanket and began the drive home.

Pa Pheasant in the yard with Duke and Sam

Halfway back to the farm was a village called Blyton where a dairy farmer had diversified into making delicious ice-cream and we often called in for a treat in the summer. Being from a family where food, particularly sweet things, was seen as a tonic for all ills, Pa Pheasant couldn’t resist it and called in, got out and came back with two vanilla cornets, one for himself and one for Molly. Although I wasn’t there to see it myself, I have an enduring image of Pa Pheasant, with Molly next to him in the front seat, enjoying an ice-cream together in the sun and slowly feeling better with the world.

Do you have any photos of you as a child with your pet you want to share with us? Email them to us and we'll send a bag of Pheasant Plucker goodies to any that we feature on the blog.


Lambing season April 25, 2016 21:30

Pheasant Plucker & Son's blog about growing up on a farm - photo of a little girl stroking a lamb

These months of the year irrevocably bring back memories of lambing season – a tense, exciting, tiring, happy time with all the ups and downs you can easily imagine. Our lambing shed was in the main barn, a large, corrugated tin roofed building that smelled of the accumulated cycle of farm years – cattle in the winter and the potatoes and hay they were fed on; a dusty tang from storing barley, wheat and oilseed rape in the summer, dried mud all year round, oil and exhaust fumes from the tractors and the particular wooly, milky, ovine smell of the spring.

The shed had an atmosphere of quiet calm and it was dimly lit, with warm, intermittent spotlights above the newborn pens. I remember watching my first lamb being born and the ewe quietly panting as her stomach began to contract more frequently. Pa Pheasant had a very easy way with animals, years of experience and a natural empathy and kindness towards them paying off as he carefully pulled the lamb by its back legs out into the world. We looked on in fascination, as this tiny, slimy, yellow bundle slipped out onto the straw and Pa cleared its airway before passing it up towards the ewe to clean. A few minutes later, the lamb struggled up on its wobbly, gangly legs to suckle. Some of the lambs, for all sorts of reasons, had to be bottle-fed and we had to hold the bottles tightly as they sucked forcefully on the teat, gulping the milk down and waggling their tails behind them.

Pheasant Plucker & Son's blog about growing up on a farm - photo of a little girl stroking a lamb

Everyone learnt to give Pa a bit of a wide berth during lambing and to choose their moments carefully, as he’d be up at night checking the ewes and feeding the babies himself. He would bed down on the sofa in the hall in between shifts and be bleary eyed and a bit snappy in the mornings (so many things learned on the farm jump back at you when you have your own children).

As the lambs got bigger, they were taken outside into the fields and one of my earliest memories is watching them gambol around the paddock outside the kitchen window with Gran. There was a slope with a slight lip at the top of it which they’d race to the top of before jumping off, twisting their little bottoms in mid-air in what seemed to be a general celebration of life.

Pheasant Plucker & Son's blog about growing up on a farm - photo of a little girl stroking a lamb

Lambs’ wool would often get caught in the fence wire and it felt soft and kind of slippery with an oily smell of lanolin. We docked the lambs’ tails painlessly with elastic bands, and they'd drop off in the fields. I didn’t realise at the time but they were also castrated in the same way and I shudder to think what the wool collection that I kept in a glass jar next to my bed really contained.

It always seemed a shame that the lambs lost their sparkle and grew up. I guess if there’s a lesson to be learned it’s to try to be more like the lambs in the fields, experiencing the joy of fresh air and life, rather than just simply turning into a boring old sheep.

For your own slice of country living, browse the Pheasant Plucker & Son collection of stationery and homewares. 


Baby Bro's Bunnies March 26, 2016 23:56

Rabbits, illustration from Wandering with the Woodman by Hugh Brandon-Cox

When Baby Bro was 16 he appeared home one day with a new pet rabbit. Ma Pheasant isn't the world's biggest animal lover and certainly doesn't like them at close quarters so she wasn't thrilled when he announced his plans to housetrain it and keep it inside. Poor old Ma tried in vain to keep the house in the region of clean when we were all living at home but with a herd of scruffy, clumsy teenagers, it was easier said than done. The thought of a large fluffy bunny added to the mix was probably a step too far but Baby Bro was banking on Ma's easy going nature and she let it slide, on the proviso the rabbit lived outside. Which he did. Sometimes.

The rabbit was named Mayot, which is Lincolnshire for Mate, and whenever Ma Pheasant went out, he was smuggled in for 'housetraining' which entailed him going about his rabbity business and Baby Bro cleaning up after him. He was a friendly little thing and we got used to him hopping about the living room or appearing from underneath a pile of dirty clothes in Baby Bro's stinky bedroom. It was strangely comforting to have him curled up next to us on the sofa, happily dozing away, while we watched tv.

Everything was going well until one day when Baby Bro picked him up to put him back in his hutch outside before Ma got home. Our old cat happened to prowl past at the same time and she glanced in Mayot's direction, licking her lips with possibility. Mayot smelled the whisper of anticipation in the air and, faced with fight or flight, decided to make a run for it. He jumped out of Baby Bro's arms & landed on the floor in a heap, breaking one of his little legs in the process. It was devastating. We took Mayot straight to the vet who said the only way to save his life was to amputate the broken leg, at a cost of over £150 (I'd recently seen a similar operation involving a guinea pig and a pair of scissors on Vets in Practice and so generously offered to do it for half the price but sadly my services were declined). The distant spirit of Pa Pheasant was heard scoffing and humphing loudly in the background at the idea of spending such a lot of money on a rabbit and Baby Bro made the sad decision to have Mayot put to sleep.

One of our aunts heard of Mayot's sad fate and, worried that poor Baby Bro was irreparably heartbroken, bought him another rabbit, this time a little grey doe called Jenny. Alas, Jenny was not the generally chilled out specimen that Mayot was and yearned for wide open spaces and adventure. She made a break for it one morning and was last seen heading for the hills. A few weeks later Baby Bro found out that one of his friends had found a small, pale grey rabbit hopping down the middle of the main road and had stopped to pick her up. She'd taken her home and a few days later, the rabbit had given birth to a litter of kits, half of them pale and fluffy like their mother and half of them brown and wild like their father. 

After Jenny, there were no more rabbits. Baby Bro moved onto girls, skateboards and underage boozing but at this time of year with rabbits everywhere, it felt a fitting time to remember Mayot, Jenny and Baby Bro's attempts at housetraining.

Happy Easter everyone xx

Say thank you for your Easter eggs with our Rabbit thank you cards

Illustration by Hugh Brandon-Cox, from Wandering with the Woodman, 1948


Signs of the countryside March 10, 2016 10:46

When you live in Lincolnshire there are things you see on a daily basis that you take for granted as an everyday part of life. We were downloading some photos the other day and noticed a subconscious theme unfolding that someone with a more city-slicking inclination than us might find quaint and charming at best or downright eccentric at worst. This then, is the first in an ongoing, sporadic photoseries highlighting some of the signs we see around us.

signpost to the Kissing Gate - part of Pheasant Plucker & Son's blog about signs you see in the countryside

If you lived here, wouldn't you be hotfooting it off down that path every night of the week? We would.

You can do almost all of your weekly shop at gate stalls and judging by these prices, they'll save you a pretty penny too:

Pheasant Plucker & Son's blog about countryside signs featuring a gate stall selling apples and tomatoes

Gate stall photo of a sign advertising eggs for sale

Gate stall sign advertising honey for sale

There are reminders all around that the countryside is a living, working environment which can sometimes be hazardous. This sign reminded us of a time when Herbert, who worked on our farm (introduced last time in Happy Birthday Crofty), forgot the electric fence was on and climbed over it. Poor old Herbert. If only we'd had these signs back then it could have saved him a double dose of excruciating pain and severe piss-taking.

A sign warning of an electric fence

And finally, our favourite: Ma Pheasant is a very keen and accomplished gardener and every summer hundreds of middle aged ladies flock to her gate to look round her garden. The poor old duck was going through a tough time a few years back and driving past a sign like this we suddenly saw a sure fire way to cheer her up. On slammed the brakes, out we jumped and two old feed bags of horse muck were chucked in the boot and duly delivered to her door. She was so touched she burst into tears. 

A roadside sign advertising horse manure


An Ode to Valentine's Days past February 9, 2016 13:17

'Hey Up Beautiful' - Pheasant Plucker & Son's Blue Tit Valentine on an egg yolk heart

Growing up on a farm, whilst not without some incredible perks such as unlimited pets, learning to drive before we reached double figures and the freedom and space to tramp over miles of beautiful countryside whenever we felt like it, was not without its drawbacks. This was never more so blatantly obvious than during the awkward teenage years, when it slowly became clear that for some unfathomable reason boys aren’t particularly drawn to girls who can carry a bale of hay under one arm without breaking sweat, who sometimes smell a bit like they've just mucked out a stable and who enjoy scrabbling around in the bottom of hedges. Add this to the fact that you live miles from another house, most of your clothes come from Peacock and Binningtons and the hottest competition for your attentions are two brothers from the local Pony Club called Doggit and Tatty and you begin to get an idea of what we were dealing with.

As they surely are for everyone, those early adolescent years were a hormonal wilderness but Pa Pheasant, whilst not the most outwardly emotional man to walk this earth, tried to do his bit to make them easier. When he quickly realised his plan to set us up with two neighbouring farm boys*, on the basis that they wore leather patches on their sleeves so were obviously thrifty and good with money, was doomed to failure, he resorted to more subtle tactics to smooth the adolescent transition. Every year without fail, he would send all of us at least three Valentines cards, always anonymous and with mysterious messages inside (such as “to a devil, from a devil, who the devil sent it?” Or the even more cryptic “Now then?”). It was his way of demonstrating to us that he could begin to understand the complexities of youth, and although he always denied sending them, he knew we knew who they were from. If some inner voice shouted “ever so slightly tragic” at the back of our minds, we ignored it long enough to answer honestly at school, when grilled by the Mean Girls, that yes, as unlikely as it may seem, the postman had indeed been kind to us. Of course, we didn't let on who they were really from but they gave us the space to breathe on one of the most awkward days of the school social calendar.

Although no longer here to send us cards, Valentine's Day is synonymous with Pa Pheasant and it always means something more than a cheesy excuse to buy a bottle of cheap champagne and a box of chocolates. So thank you Pa Pheasant - this card is for you.

*It turns out one of those farm boys is now a professional tennis coach in Miami. If only we’d listened to Pa we could be living under palm trees now….

Shop our Valentine's cards here.


January's Retro Pet January 26, 2016 19:17

Every so often (we aim for monthly but sometimes we forget) we like to showcase a photo of someone with a pet from their childhood and this month we have a corker.

Please meet Kit Maplethorpe from East Barkwith and his black lab Pepper (or is it actually Macaulay Culkin circa 1990? We're not sure. Maybe he was taking a break between Home Alone and Home Alone 2 and decided to vacay in Lincolnshire?). We are particularly loving the Turtles t-shirt and mismatched laces, a look Hoxton hipsters bravely try, but fail, to pull off. 

Kit - thanks for sharing your photo - a pack of Pheasant Plucker & Son treats is on its way to you.

My Retro Pet - every month we showcase a photo of someone and their pet.

Do you have any photos and stories of your childhood pets? Send them to us at myretropet@pheasantpluckerandson.com and every month we'll publish the one we love the most and send the winner a Pheasant Plucker goody bag.


After the Races pie January 9, 2016 22:20

Photograph of handwritten recipe for After the Races Pie

Following on from our last blog post, in Ma Pheasant’s special handwritten recipe book is a mouth-watering dish perfect for these dark, grey, wet January Days. After the Races pie is one of the first recipes scribbled in her psychedelic notebook and it’s probably the one that’s been cooked the most since she first wrote it in, back when she was but a newly married slip of a girl and something called the Jumbo Jet had just been invented.

It’s essentially a chicken and ham pie packed full of slow cooked vegetables that have been allowed to simmer away on the hob for a couple of hours. It is rich, velvety with butter and perfect comfort food for rainy evenings. The antidote to fast food, it’s leisurely food and although it’s not complicated you need to take some time over it as it requires a lot of chopping, stirring and simmering.

After the Races Pie is easily adaptable - if you want to tart it up a bit, a handful of chopped tarragon and the juice of a lemon elevates it in a fairly cheffy direction; heated up the next day with big squeeze of brown sauce on the side is a failsafe hangover soother.

Photo of some of the ingredients used in After the Races Pie

Ingredients

Large knob of butter

3 onions

3 peppers

4 sticks celery

3 leeks

2 cloves garlic

1 tbsp chopped parsley

100g flour

225g mushrooms

3 bay leaves

750ml chicken stock

450g cooked ham

750g cooked chicken

350g pastry

1 beaten egg

Method

Roughly chop the onions, peppers, celery, leeks and garlic. Melt the butter over a low heat and sweat the vegetables in it until they are soft (this will take at least half an hour but the longer you take with this stage the better). Add the mushrooms until they’re also soft and then stir in the flour and some salt and pepper. Allow the flour to cook out for a couple of minutes, add the chicken stock, bring to the boil and then simmer gently.

Add the ham and chicken and simmer for a few more minutes. Put the filling into a pie dish, top with the pastry and brush over the beaten egg. Bake in a medium oven for half an hour or until the pastry is done.

Photo of unbaked After the Races pie 

Photograph of rolling pin, a chick shaped cutter and a rabbit shaped cutter

And the pie is done. Delicioso. 

Photograph of After the Races pie

 


Getting lucky on Boxing Day December 27, 2015 12:45

Pheasant Plucker & Son riding a pony aged two years old. Black and white photo.

Pheasant Plucker’s Old Man, Pa Pheasant, loved a bet on the gee-gees and it was his ambition to visit every racecourse in the UK. Rather than being an out and out gambler, although that was definitely an appealing part of it, he loved horses and the glamorous sense of drama he found during a day at the races. I think some of his happiest moments were watching the horses’ leggy, graceful movement, ears pricked in anticipation, as they circled the paddock before a race. He loved hurrying over to the winner’s enclosure afterwards and seeing the victor, sweating and triumphant, three quarters of a ton of power, stamina and strength with its head held high and crackling with adrenaline.

It was inevitable that some of this would rub off on us and Pheasant Plucker’s baby brother’s fate was sealed one Boxing Day when he spotted a horse in the racecard called Master Cornet.

We often went to the races on Boxing Day and Pa Pheasant would always give us £5 – we could keep it or spend it, it was up to us. We were too young to put bets on but if there was a horse we fancied he’d go to the bookies on our behalf and place our 50p stakes.

Baby Bro was about nine or ten at the time and, being greedy like the rest of us, his eye was caught by a name that reminded him of ice-cream. He went uncharacteristically large and put his last £2 on – it was Christmas time after all. They were under starters orders and then they were off, racing round our local racecourse with all the focus and energy of the Gold Cup. Halfway around Master Cornet was third and Baby Bro was pissed off that he hadn’t backed it each way. Three minutes later, none of that mattered as our conquering hero romped home and Pa Pheasant was ushering us over to the Tote where he’d put the bet on. We queued impatiently and I remember standing there while Dad spoke to the woman behind the till. Then there was a slight commotion and the woman went away and came back with someone else – all three of them seemed to be studying the ticket incredibly carefully. Dad looked over at us and we looked back apprehensively – maybe there’d been some mistake, or maybe they knew that he’d put the bet on for a child and we weren’t allowed the winnings. Then Dad mouthed, almost inaudibly, “he’s won £400”. We couldn’t believe our ears – Baby bro had backed a winner at 205 – 1. The woman at the till had to go into the back room to get some more cash as she didn’t have enough, then she counted it out in crisp £20 notes and handed it to Dad. We walked away and Dad passed it over to my brother who stuffed it nonchalantly in his back pocket. £412! We had never seen so much money.

Over twenty years later, Baby Bro has never had such a big win again. Fortunately, he’s a fairly sensible lad and his stakes haven’t increased much since he first got the taste for gambling but every time we go to the races, we remember that little boy who came away with a bundle of cash and think “… maybe this time it’ll happen again.”


Stuffing our face Lincolnshire style December 6, 2015 13:16

This week we've been thinking ahead to Christmas but rather than the usual list of presents to buy / cards to write / things to do, we’ve been thinking about the serious issue of what we’re going to stuff our faces with. Pheasant Plucker is greedy by nature, which is lucky given the abundance of delicious Lincolnshire products being made these days. The amount of mouth watering food and drink that comes out of Britain's second largest county is not to be sniffed at, so here, in no particular order, are some of our favourites. You might want to let your belt out a notch now….

Lincolnshire food and drink including Cote Hill Blue, Tom Wood ale, Duffy's chocolate and Piper's Crisps

 

1) Cote Hill blue cheese

Lincolnshire's only soft cheese, with its velvety smooth texture and delicate flavour, would probably make Pheasant Plucker’s top 5 list of food anywhere in the world so we thank our lucky stars it’s made just down the road by a family who've been milking cows for over 30 years. However, for those of you not so lucky to live within earshot of Lincs FM, fear not. It’s now available to buy online so you can stock up to your heart's content.

(Also worth a mention is the famous Lincolnshire Poacher – a hard, mature cheese full of flavour which goes well with Mrs H Neave's chutney).

Both are frickin delicious and worth being fat for... 

2)... which brings us onto Duffy's Chocolate

We could go on and on about how this award winning chocolate is roasted by hand, produced in small, artisan batches and has incredible credentials to boot but seriously, just buy some and taste it for yourself. Chocolate will never be the same again.

3) Sausages

Pheasant Plucker has long family arguments about which Lincolnshire sausages are the best and it’s an issue that’s unlikely to be resolved any time soon. We’re happy about this as it means we have to keep on tasting them to get a fully-rounded opinion. Newells, Curtis, Pettits – the truth is, there really are no sausages as good as Lincolnshire sausages. We bought some to take a photo of for this blog post but we ate them before we got the chance. Sorry. 

4) Tom Wood beer

Lincolnshire is not known as being particularly fashion forward but when Tom Wood started a micro-brewery 20 years ago on his family farm, he was one of the first in line of a trend that's seen London bars falling over themselves to get on the back of. Producing three core ales - Best Bitter, Lincoln Gold and Bomber County - as well as extra seasonal beers throughout the year - there are stockists across Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire, as well as the Tom Wood taphouse, the Yarborough Hunt pub in Brigg. Again, we bought some for this post but drank it before we had chance to take a photo of it, although the  bottle did make it into the picture (it washed those sausages down a treat). 

5) Piper’s Crisps

One of Lincolnshire’s biggest success stories these posh crisps are sold everywhere from the Royal Opera House and Harvey Nichols to our local pub. Crunchy, moreish and in eight different flavours, these aren’t just any crisps. These are Piper’s crisps.


My Retro Pet November 27, 2015 22:47

My retro pet

This is Pheasant Plucker's brother with one of his best childhood friends, our black labrador Duke.

As kids, we had a lot of badly behaved dogs but Duke was one of the naughtiest. He'd chew anything - toys, shoes, wellingtons, buckets, stones, any old bit of wood he could get his chops round; he must have had the constitution of a soldier. He was incredibly greedy and once made the bold move, while Ma Pheasant's back was momentarily turned, of jumping up on the kitchen table to steal a freshly roasted leg of lamb. Needless to say, Ma Pheasant blew her gasket and Duke was chased out of the house in no uncertain terms, wellies flying past his ears, while we kids looked on and learned a few choice new words. 

Do you have any photos and stories of your childhood pets? Send them to us at myretropet@pheasantpluckerandson.com and every month we'll publish the one we love the most and send the winner a Pheasant Plucker goody bag.

 


Big Sky Thinking November 19, 2015 17:39

Two of the things we love most about our home county of Lincolnshire are its big skies and soft landscapes. Pheasant Plucker enjoyed a beautiful, Autumnal walk along the south bank of the Humber recently, in late afternoon as dusk was falling. The fresh air, mild breeze and stunning views made us very happy indeed. As did the couple of pints we had in the pub afterwards. Countryside fun at its best.

View across the Humber bank in Lincolnshire

View across the Humber bank in Lincolnshire

View across the Humber bank in Lincolnshire

Pheasant Plucker & Son's Dusk candle, with its soothing, musky tones of lavender, thyme and rosemary is the perfect luxury for post-walk, post-pub relaxing.

 


Mrs H Neave's Apple Chutney November 12, 2015 22:08

Jar of apple chutney

Pheasant Plucker’s mother (try saying that three times after a couple of glasses of sloe gin) has a notebook which she’s had since the beginning of time that she writes interesting recipes in. Inside its swirly, bright purple and turquoise 1970s cover, are well thumbed pages, covered in splats and splodges with usually the vaguest of details and instructions (a particular favourite: “cook until done or longer if needed”). Accompanying some of the recipes are brief feedback notes written in the margin – a recipe for beetroot soup has “disgusting!” underlined three times beside it and a complicated dessert has “a complete faff” written determinedly above it, giving an insight into Ma Pheasant’s personal culinary tastes and expertise.

Some of the recipes have been cooked so many times over the years that the book is no longer needed and some of them are cooked regularly but only every so often due to seasonality. One of these is very special to us: Mrs H Neave’s Chutney.


Mrs H Neave's chutney recipe

Mrs H Neave was Pheasant Plucker’s great-grandmother. Although we never met her and don’t even have a photograph of her, when we make this chutney every Autumn we like to imagine her cooking it in her farmhouse kitchen in a completely different age to the one we’re in now but using the same processes and ingredients as us. What did she think about as she made it and what her life was like? Who was she? Did she achieve everything she ever wanted? She could never have dreamed that her recipe would end up on a blog a hundred years later.

True to form, the recipe details are spectacularly imprecise (see photo above and note the quantity of onions required) but it somehow always turns out to be delicious. We’ve been cooking this for a few years now so here's the recipe below as we make it, to save you the uncertainty.  

Ingredients:

1.5lbs apples (strong, sharp tasting ones work best) peeled, cored and chopped

1.5lbs onions, chopped

11/2lb dates, stoned and chopped

1/2lb raisins

11/2 pints vinegar

1/2lb sugar

1oz salt

1.5oz ground ginger (although we sometimes use freshly grated ginger instead)

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Put all the ingredients into a large, heavy bottomed pan and stir well over a high heat. Bring to the boil and then simmer away rapidly until the apples and onions have broken down and the mixture is a rich, dark brown colour with a thick consistency. It will smell quite vinegary but don't be put off by that, it will subside. Be careful as it'll be very hot at this point. 

While the chutney is cooking, sterilise some jam jars by washing them in hot, soapy water and drying them in a low temperature oven. Transfer the chutney to the jars when it's ready, filling it all the way up to the top. Add a waxed paper circle and then put the lid on. You can eat it as soon as it cools, although it tastes better if you leave it for a couple of weeks to infuse inside the jar.

And there you have it. Chutney just like they made in the olden days.


Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. It can only mean sloe gin. November 1, 2015 19:05

There is little Pheasant Plucker & Son enjoys more than getting snugged in by the fire on a cold, rainy evening and getting nicely toasted with a few glasses of last year’s sloe gin. Now is the time to set to and make it, with the abundance of fruits and berries ripening in the hedgerows. It’s super easy and if you can’t find sloes then damsons or plums work brilliantly too.* 

Recipe

1lb sloes

1 pint gin

½ pound of sugar

Prick the sloes all over with a fork so that the juice can seep out and they can begin to break down in the liquid.

Sterilise a large jar with an airtight lid and add the sloes, the gin and the sugar. Give it all a good stir and then leave in a dark place, giving the jar a shake every once in a while.

Sloe gin

After at least three months but no more than 12, strain it out, bottle it and leave it to mature for a few more months, if you can resist the temptation to drink it straight away.

If you’re feeling creative, you can also experiment with adding additional flavours to the original mixture. Pheasant Plucker has had various success with adding a tablespoon of vanilla sugar (yum), almond oil (floats on top, no thanks), a luxurious splash of Cointreau (yes please) and a couple of sticks of cinnamon (spicy and autumnal). Let us know how you get on.

*the premise is the same for any other fruit drink you want to make: fruit + booze + sugar left to stew = usually delicious. We've tried bramble brandy, strawberry vodka, damson gin all to great effect.

Sloe gin

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