The beast from the east landed in the Deerness Valley (and pretty much everywhere else) this week. Since the snow must go on, we rose to the challenge! The Asda delivery was sledged down into Lionmouth and thankfully Flynn was on hand to resuscitate a fallen angel [that'll be you, Sharon], sadly not with brandy from a mini barrel around his neck, but with a good old lick! Lionmouth does look beautiful in the snow at the moment. While the weir has frozen over, the salmon pass has continued to flow - as inspected by that dogged dog - atta boy, Flynn! Normal service resumes Monday, we hope!
Or Happy New Year! We are kicking off the year with a building project... how do you like it?
Don't worry, these are definitely the BEFORE pictures, showing the back of the current tearoom. Work is now underway to build a conservatory extension in this space. Once done, we will "break on through to the other side" and experience enlightenment...
Or maybe just some more light... Either way, we are going to put up lots of bird feeders on the bank view and are really looking forward to the light flooding through from front to back.
An integral part of this project is the expansion of the kitchen work space. We now have a fully-equipped dedicated kitchen which staff and clients are using to prepare all sorts of very tasty scones, cakes, quiches etc!
The tearooms are fully open during this building project, so do keep popping in. We are hoping that the extension will be complete in a couple of weeks' time, so watch this space!
Last week we started a six week Healthy Living Course, delivered by Steven and Ellie from the Councils' Well Being Team. They showed us all how to prepare a tasty stir fry using only healthy ingredients. Some of the lads took part in preparing it, but everyone took part in the tasting!
The frivolity was followed by some serious questions about what type of food people had eaten during the last week. Now, I know at least two people expanded (or rather under estimated) the truths on some of the dietary questions..
This weeks Foody Friday was truly a team effort, especially the pudding. Still on the post Christmas 'slightly healthier' theme we had a veg filled ham broth (with some herby dumplings on top for those who needed some naughty indulgence), followed by a strawberry cheese cake (made from cream cheese and no sugar, and a butter free base).
People ask us what we do during the winter, when we cant get outside into the garden. Well, that's when we bank up the fire in the workshop and get down to some serious woodwork. This week we have been concentrating of bird and bat boxes to fill our woods with, as the creatures will soon be starting to nest for the year.
We, do also manage to jump outside during gaps in the rain and snow, and warm up the muscles by digging over and sorting out problem beds and borders. This week it was the strawberry patch, which we weeded and covered over ready to replant the plants back into (after they have had their runners taken off for propagation)
Unfortunately the council put up a road closed sign at the top of the road that leads to the centre this week for work to some new houses several miles further up the road, so we didn't have many visitors to the tea rooms (which was as always filled with stunning home made cakes) or the plant nursery (where we have beautiful winter bulbs for sale). Happy to report that the signs were removed on Saturday (which was quite fortunate as the Broadgate Ford flooded Saturday afternoon, which would have meant all the residents and business's unable to go anywhere .
Last week we did what all good horticulturalists do; we dug out all the good, well rotted garden waste from compost bays number 3 and 4 and barrowed it onto the vegetable terraces. Our thirsty produce will have plenty of crumbly nutrients to grow big and strong on this summer. Bays 1 and 2 were turned over and put to bed for the year.
In the art room there was much hilarity as Jackie had the sketch app going, and everyone found themselves turned into multicolored cartoon images. We also started designing the images that we are going to use on the decorative tiles in the newly painted 'easy access' toilet. It going to have a fishy theme....
Over the Christmas period the staff put in extra hours, sweat and tears (and I'm sure some blood as well) stripping out the Art Room and the Sun Room in order to create two re-organised and refurbished areas.
They say you have to create a mess to build order, and that is exactly what we did! We broke down the existing monstrous sets of drawers (to be turned into bird boxes etc), removed plasterboard and stripped out redundant wires.
Then the building began. A bespoke cupboard was built along the back wall to neatly house all of the art equipment. The stainless steel bench was boxed in creating a separate section for the Foody Friday demonstrations, as well as housing all the pots and pans. Finally the floors were painted and all the pens and pencils etc. tidily stored away in cataloged boxes in the new cupboards.
So now we have a clean workable art room for the clients and a light and bright sun room for all our tea room (& doggy) visitors.
Liz Brown, our Plant Nursery Manager attended a cheque giving ceremony hosted by the Rotary Club of Durham this week and was overjoyed to receive a substantial amount of funding . This will go towards enhancing the meaningful, hands-on work that the day service users, referred clients and volunteers undertake in the horticulture unit and grounds at LionMouth Rural Centre.
The course was funded by the donation handed over last month by the Freemen of the City of Durham.
We look forward to seeing what Sharon and the service users can 'bodge' in the lead up to next Christmas.
10th May 2016
Back to the Future
A major donation from the City of Durham Freemen has enabled a groundbreaking community project to plan for the future – by stepping back in time.
A £7,000 grant from the freemen has underpinned ambitious new developments at workshops run by the LionMouth Rural Centre, including the revival of the ancient woodland craft of bodging.
The freemen’s cash injection will pay for a range of tools to extend the capability and range of the centre’s woodworking sessions. They include a pole lathe and shave horse, two key pieces of equipment used by bodgers - craftsmen who once operated in forest workshops transforming green unseasoned wood into chair legs and other furniture parts.
Additionally the money will provide a new cover for one of the horticultural poly-tunnels, landscaping and strengthening vegetable growing terraces and improving a barn where pottery and glass making kilns are sited.
Project manager Brigid Press said: “When we started much of our activity revolved around horticulture and working outdoors. Now we have a large clay and small glass kiln and are experimenting with woodworking ideas and furniture. Ultimately our aim is to be self-sufficient by selling what we produce to the public.”
Chairman of wardens Eric Bulmer, said: “Over the last five years we have provided grants totalling £100,000 to community projects in the city and we feel privileged to have given our help to such a worthwhile organisation.
“Lionmouth’s dedicated staff and volunteers provide a social, learning and caring environment for a vulnerable and often overlooked group within our society. I hope our support will go some way to unlocking the potential of this wonderful site.”
Every Friday morning we gather the lads round the tables in the multi function room and assign the tasks for the day. On a Friday though this means who will be chopping, cutting or peeling which particular vegetable, salad or fruit. This is because every Friday we prepare, cook and sit down to eat a two course meal. Everybody takes part in the preparation process, some will help with the cooking, and the others with the clearing away and washing up.
This week we went Mexican. Gary like to chop the garlic and onions in to fine slices, whilst John, who cant use a knife, peels the carrots. Half of them he gave to the other John to chop finer, but the rest he continued to peel for carrot shavings to go into the coleslaw. Chris tackled the cucumber and courgettes, whilst Alan bravely took on the chillies, as well as the better behaved mushrooms. Brian quietly peeled and chopped up several apples which were to go into the rice, milk, raisin and sugar mix that would create a large, belly busting rice pudding.
Needless to say the queue for service was noisy and loud. Tacos were slapped on offered plates and the spicy mince ladled on top. A colourful array of salads jewelled the table which were used to decorate and fatten the rolled up tacos. Needless to say seconds were on order, but even that didn't deter them from devouring ladles of rice pudding with warmed cream.
The washing up was done at a slow pace as everyone's belly weighed them down, but we ended the week as we did every week, replete and content from eating good food in great company.