Friday, 27 December 2013

Fishy logic.

It's the day after Boxing Day, so why on earth are you still hungover?
Oh... still drunk you say? Fair enough.


For the last time this week, we return to that wet and windy garden centre...

Finally managing to rouse ourselves from a soupy stupor, we had a wander round the garden centre, beating a very hasty retreat from the outside section. There may have been a roof over the walkways, but the rain was being blown in horizontally, and with some force.

One mad dash to the car later, I got the heater and the wipers going, and we waited for the windows to demist. Of course, it was after we had put our seatbelts on that Julie suddenly realised something...

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Excuse me, but I believe there may be sand in your logic.

It's Christmas, don't you know? Well, felicitations of the season to every single one of you, and please accept our wishes for a wonderful new year.

OK. That's out of the way. Let's get back to the Gems...*


So, there we were in the garden centre cafe, thoroughly enjoying some hot soup. Seriously, it was use-the-bread-to-mop-up-the-dregs good. If you're interested in visiting this place, it's on a small road, just south of Hailsham in East Sussex (Click here for more info).  Having saved the cafe some washing-up, we regretfully pushed the sparkling clean dishes away and sat back to sip tea.

Cue Julie.

She had me there.
By the way, when I said it was blowing a gale, I wasn't joking; for the last few days, we have had tree-felling winds and field-drowning rainfall. Sod white, I'm dreaming of a DRY Christmas...

*I know. Just call me Grinch-lite.

Monday, 23 December 2013

A time for family get-togethers.

Last Saturday, we wanted to get out of the house, despite the poor weather. Going into town during the lead-up to Christmas was out, and the weather was bad enough that we didn't fancy going for a walk. In the end, we opted to visit a local garden centre, one we knew had a half decent cafe.

When we got there, we found that their soup of the day was a creamy tomato and red pepper. Yes please!

There was a large queue for the cafe, so I was sent to grab a table while Julie waited in line. On the next table along, there was a group of people in their fifties or sixties. One had obviously been waiting for the mobile technological revolution, as his ear was permanently glued to an iPhone. I wasn't paying much attention to him, but you couldn't help but hear the occasional phrase drift over. By and large, it was the usual "I'm alive and so are you, isn't the weather awful?", with a random mention of the festive season here and there.

And then one very worrying snippet made itself very clear.

This arrived in my ears just as Julie arrived with our food & tea. Judging by her reaction to my face though, I don't think she had managed to catch it herself. Ye gods...


As you may or may not know, our format of Monday/Wednesday/Friday means that there is a slight clash in scheduling for the next Gem. However, you never know...

Friday, 20 December 2013

In a septic fish tank.

There are times when curiosity may not kill the cat, but it will certainly turn its stomach. Anyone who may have wondered what all the fuss was about with 'two girls, one cup' and googled it will know exactly what I mean. No, I'm not linking to it. If you are dumb enough to ignore the less-than-subtle warning signs I'm putting out here, then you can do it on your own.

And don't blame me.

My own, latest 'curiosity vs cat' moment came today as I was searching for an image to include with this post. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's go back in time, quite some months now, to a point when Julie and myself were in a local cafe and looking at all the different food they had to offer. Julie was having a quick look at the 'specials' board* while I perused the main menu.

As I had my head down, and was trying to make up my mind between two very good options, I wasn't listening to Julie as closely as I could have. That said, it seems my subconscious is excellent when it comes to picking up on Julie's Gems...

Joking aside, I realised I have never seen this dish, let alone tasted it... You can see where this is going, can't you?

These, ladies, gentlemen and others, are quails' eggs. Either that, or an eagle has made its nest in the hand of a giant. You will note a distinct lack of aspic. This is for two reasons. First, I wanted to show the relative size of the eggs, as I'm well aware that a lot of people will not have even heard of them.

Second, I googled 'quails eggs aspic'.

I had flashbacks to the time I inadvisably tried jellied eels.
To put this into context, some of you will be aware of my views on sushi. I would willingly chow down a plate of sushi before even glancing at anything that has been 'jellied'.

Excuse me, I think I need to go and rinse my mouth out. With Marmite.

* No, the classic 2-Tone band has not gone into catering.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Time to pause and reflect

I'll be honest - I haven't got anything set up in advance, and I'm away from home right now.
However, it seems like a good time to look back on the year and see how things have gone.

Bugger that.

Anyhow we hope you are all in good health and have enjoyed our posts, irregular as they have been. What have been your favourite Gems of the year? Drop us a line by either commenting directly on this post, or email us at You can even visit our Facebook page (THIS ONE) or, as of this year, our twitter page (

I might have something for you on Wednesday, but in the meantime, we look forward to hearing from you.

Monday, 9 December 2013

A very feathery fish

On one of our many forays into the eateries of town, me and Julie popped into Roots.

The food and drink is good and there is a fair choice, too. Not only that, but there are things that you won't often find in your average cafe, such as quails' eggs. The thing is, if you don't have more than a basic knowledge of flora and fauna, then even the word 'quail' will mean nothing more than a sensation of fear or trepidation. Julie is one such person. However, I will say right now that my wife is not unintelligent - far from it. A lack of knowledge is nothing to do with your mental processing power.

That said, Julie does ask some interesting questions...

I know quail eggs are small (and very delicious!), but they're not that small.!

Here's a quail.

Friday, 6 December 2013

The Tea-Room Trilogy, part 3: Puppies!

There is a bit of a NSFW element to today's post, so be warned...

At the tea-rooms, we had both finished our drinks and cakes. And, as we saw last time, Julie had made use of the facilities. This time around, it was my turn to need the loo. Julie asked for the car keys and said she would wait in the car for me. Fair enough.

When I came out of the toilet, there were a couple of ladies at the table where we had been sat moments before. Each had a small, cute dog on a lead, both of which were very interested in everything going on around them - especially if there was food involved. In the absence of any food, though, I made a passable alternative. After a brief moment of mutual fussing, the ladies' food arrived, and the pups' attention span departed. I said my goodbyes, bid the staff a good break over the winter period, and went to the car.

I got in, and as I buckled myself in, Julie knew immediately why there had been a delay in me leaving the loo. She has said many times before,
"If I can't find my husband, all I have to do is look for the nearest dog, because he'll probably be making a fuss of it."
Guilty as charged, m'lud.
Still, the question needed to be asked, something that really should have been phrased better, knowing me as  well as she does.

As I post this, I'm really hoping that my international audience knows of the slang word 'puppies' meaning 'boobies'. And I'm not talking about the blue-footed avian...

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

The Tea Room Trilogy part 2: Dogged by innuendo.

So there we were in Duddleswell Tea Rooms, on their last day of opening for the year. Looking at the menu, I was reminded and again gratified to see a wide variety of teas - including my favourite, Lapsang Suchong. Unfortunately, they didn't have any soy milk, so I had to opt for either a green tea or a herbal infusion... Hm... gunpowder green tea, methinks...

Julie is a lot less fussy when it comes to tea; tea, milk & sugar, and that's it. Just tea. No fancy stuff. Especially no smelly ones.

Another thing the tea rooms are good for are their cakes. There was some massive meringue concoction in the chiller cabinet, which looked very inviting, but we decided to be sensible and go for a scone.
OK, Julie was sensible.
I had a slice of cherry, apricot & almond tart with a small jug of pouring cream. Very nice.

Unfortunately, tea has a side-effect; it's a diuretic - it makes you pee more. No sooner had the last sip been taken than Julie was off to the loo, leaving me to eye up the cakes - and the waitresses, of whom more on Friday.

When Julie returned, she sat down with a happy sigh and a little smile. I laughed, and asked her:

Yes, we were heading on to Last Chance Animal Rescue afterwards, but the schoolboy in me just went straight for the 'dogging' joke.

Monday, 2 December 2013

The Tea Room Trilogy, part 1: The short arm of the wotnot

I love it when a single day out results in a plethora of Gems. Even better - and rarer - is when I can cull a week's worth of Gems from about an hour's time in a tea room.

Visit for more information.

Duddleswell Tea Rooms are in Ashdown Forest, Kent (UK). You need to be concentrating on your surroundings though, as it is the epitome of 'blink and you'll miss it'. We were lucky; today was their last day of opening before closing for the winter period. It's a very friendly place, and the food is home cooked and locally sourced. They don't do soy milk, though, so you will need to take your own. The tea rooms are very pet-friendly, and will bring out a saucer with a couple of doggy treats should you decide to stop for a cuppa while out on 'walkies'.

We decided to stop for a drink on our way to Last Chance Animal Rescue to discuss fostering a dog. It was relatively quiet; the staff nearly outnumbered the customers. After sitting at a table by the window, we ordered our drinks - gunpowder green tea for me, as I forgot the 'no-soy' thing.

Chatting away, I became aware that Julie was having a problem with the table. She was trying to lean her elbows on the top so she could have her cup held by her mouth. Unfortunately, every time Julie moved slightly, one elbow or the other would slip off the edge of the circular table.

Uh. If you insist, love.

If you are in the area and fancy dropping in for a drink and a bit of cake (after they reopen), you can search for it on Google maps. Here's a little bit of map for you to get started...