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A Potter's Moll: Clinking Glasses

...Lunches are light, salad and fruit and the evening begins at six pm when we take out drinks and nibbles to the studio as a signal that the working day is over. Jim puts the glasses close together on the tray so they make a pleasant clinking sound...

Liz Robison has been serving up meals for a group of students in her husband Jimís pottery studio. Good fun for all concerned, particularly when the time came for the glasses to clink.

Do visit Jimís Web site http://www.jimrobison.co.uk/

Phew, writing this on the sunny patio after an exhausting but fun five days of catering lunch and evening meal for ten people. Eight of them have been students in husband Jimís pottery studio and they have been a brilliant bunch Ė very keen, but also lots of fun. Five of them had been before, at least once, so that is a good recommendation.

Lunches are light, salad and fruit and the evening begins at six pm when we take out drinks and nibbles to the studio as a signal that the working day is over. Jim puts the glasses close together on the tray so they make a pleasant clinking sound. I make a different pate each day with cruditťs, Melba toast or pitta bread, so that serves as a starter to the evening meal which we all eat together in the house.

This year I made hummus, guacamole, tsatsiki, smoked mackerel and kipper pates. Some people seem surprised that you can actually make all these yourself rather than picking up a tub in the supermarket.

Fresh vegetables and fruit are the keynotes of my catering with fish and a little chicken. All were meat eaters this week Ė we usually have at least one vegetarian or vegan, which is a nice challenge, and everybody else usually enjoys the variety.

The one thing I regard as a chore about all this is the shopping, but since I bought a really big fridge I can do most of the shopping in one mammoth go. We start again with a second course on Sunday evening. This time one person is tenting in the garden and one is caravanning. I hope the weather remains as nice as itís been the last few days, but donít bank on it.

At last a bit of heat has brought out the nasturtiums, the floosies of the garden as Monty Don called them. The climbing variety I have has browns as well as yellows and oranges and I love itís blousy habit. Morning Glories are another favourite, with each flower lasting just one day, but of such an intense colour.

I went on a Historic Houses Association study day recently to Littlethorpe Manor near Ripon. We toured the gardens with the head gardener who outlined the planning and implementation of the walled garden, the sunken garden, the lake with its boardwalk, the croquet lawn, the terrace and its balustrade etc over the last ten years. Beautiful, but it must have cost millions. The owners are the Thakeray family, generations of medical instrument makers in Leeds, who donated money for the Thakeray Medical Museum at St Jamesís Hospital in Leeds.

After lunch we visited Field cottage across the lane, an acre garden lovingly created by two horticulturalists and bursting with colour and beauty. There was a large stand of upright delphiniums at the bottom of the garden and as they swayed gently in the breeze you could see the tower of Ripon cathedral through them in the distance.

We are off to British Colombia at the beginning of August where Jim has five dayís work at the Kelowna Ceramics Festival, then we will have ten dayís holiday. We are being hosted in Vancouver by a couple who will then drive us the two-day journey to Kelowna. By a huge coincidence their last e-mail told us that their son had just moved from Chesterfield to here in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire. We hope to meet up with him before we go. More from me when we get back from .Canada.

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