Over the years we have enjoyed some excellent evening events at Pool Cottage, some planned some not. The not so planned generally involve a neighbour or two popping round to say hello, drop something off or to borrow a tool. This then leads to a thorough testing of the latest cider or a few beers for the boys, and wine for the ladies. One thing leads to another and snacks appear, time passes and little work is done, but with good friends, a drop of alcohol and fine food, life should be savoured.
Other events are more organised, one of our favourites is the pizza evening. We fire up our oven, which is pure wood burning, and gets up to a temperature of nearly 400C. We make up a huge batch of dough and put out a selection of toppings for everyone to try. In true Titanic style it is then women and children first, to roll out their own pizza base and select the topping of their choice. Once made up we put them into the oven to cook, approximately 2 minutes later, out comes the cooked pizza ready to eat, Now that's fast food!
Over the years we have made some of our evenings a little more competitive. Our first was the "Inaugural Pool Cottage Sausage Fest", in which neighbours and family alike were invited to submit a batch of 6 identical flavour sausages for scrutiny by a panel of "judges". The judges were Edgar our local proper farmer and a couple who had attended a smoking and curing course earlier in the day. With the rules drawn up (Click here to see the rules) and some 14 entries the judges took their duties extremely seriously and with awards for best overall sausage and best home reared pork sausage, competition was fierce. When all the marks were added up, checked and verified, the results were announced. To our great surprise the overall winner was brother John, we took best home reared and our son, Ben took second place. A fine result for the Williams family and we can honestly say we didn't rig the result, even though we organised the event, made up the rules and hosted the competition!!
Our second competition was more for the ladies and was the "Inaugural Pool Cottage Pudding Fest". Once again we invited all and sundry and following the success of the sausage fest, entries rose to 30. All the wonderful creations were winners given the amount of time and effort each pudding must of taken to make. With multiple entries from a number of the competitors and with a total of 40 guests, everyone had lots of pudding to eat, so much so that many of us felt quite sick at the end. Judging of the puddings was carried out by everyone, in that for a donation to McMillan Nurses, everyone received a judging sheet, a bowl and a spoon. Once everyone had had their fill the scores were totalled and the winners announced. For this competition, there were trophies and medals for overall winners and a children's section was keenly contested and unlike the sausage fest, the Williams clan did not win all the prizes, though Ruth received a highly commended for her excellent Admirals Pudding.
Next up was the year of the "Pool head Pie Festival". The competition had just 2 categories; savoury and sweet, but all pies had to have the filling fully encased (no stew with a hat). Judging was once again carried out by everyone, for a donation to charity. For the donation you got to sample over 30 pies ranging from huge hand raised pies to delicate fruit filled pastry, topped with meringue. We even had an entry from Italy courtesy of a couple visiting friends locally. This easily took the furthest traveled pie award. Once all the judging and awards were presented, we gathered round the fire-pit and the beer, cider and wine flowed long into the night.
In honour of "The Great British Bake Off" TV series, we held the "Showstopper Challenge Festival", where anything goes as long as it had that wow factor. There was much plotting and secrecy, but on the day the entries were truly magnificent. The rules and judging followed the same, now time honoured tradition, of make a donation and you get to try it all.