‘Nothing burns like the cold. But only for a while. Then it gets inside you and starts to fill you up, and after a while you don’t have the strength to fight it.’ George R R Martin.
It was cold today. So cold that as I pulled into the car park at Epsom RDA the horses were all neatly lined up at the gate waiting to come into the yard. Being local celebrities with diva style temperaments this is a very rare sight. Moss forced his nose into his head collar before I had even undone the strap. And no it wasn’t the big fat hay net waiting for him in his stable that caused such a turn around in behaviour. He was so full of grass he could barely walk. So full indeed that he disdainfully glanced at his hay net upon entering his stable, closed his eyes and started to snore. I always worry when Moss doesn’t want his hay. He is very much a food man like my husband, normally tearing at his hay net with great enthusiasm. It was the cold. Even the horses couldn’t take it any longer.
Epsom Riding for the Disabled Association is a charity that provides disabled people with the opportunity to ride to benefit their health and wellbeing. I have been a volunteer there for just over a year and love every minute of it.
Being really cold always reminds me of potholing in the Yorkshire Dales. You know the kind of cold where your fingers are so numb you can’t even do up the button fly of your jeans when changing out of your caving gear. Luckily my fleece and waterproof were both large enough to preserve my modesty.
Thinking about caving also makes me think of lamb, beef, gravy, yorkshire pudding and potatoes fluffy on the inside but crispy on the outside. It was always tradition to tell tales of our near death experiences over a roast and a pint in the Wheatsheaf pub in the village of Ingleton.
Every year we would do a system called Alum Pot which contains the most famous squeeze in the Dales, the ‘Cheesepress’. The passage is so tight you have to turn your neck to one side and drag yourself along. Alfred Wainwright who first explored the system in 1870 wrote:
‘It is quite possible and in fact easy to die a horrible death by straying off route. The dangers of Alum Pot are manifestly obvious. Other deathtraps, unseen, occur in the black interiors of some of the caves.’
My husband is a keen white water kayaker and he has paddled some serious rivers. In fact we actually met in a kayaking club. Despite this I have never managed to persuade him to go potholing with me. This is apparently because he falls into the healthy range of mental rather than being certifiable like his wife! (His words not mine). He has in fact been to the Wheatsheaf pub (and will confirm the roast lamb is indeed excellent) when we went to visit a show cave open to the public. May my serious caving friends never know I have committed such a blasphemous act.
Anyway enough caving, back to the roast dinners. If you are looking for a recipe a little different from the usual garlic and rosemary infused lamb, then how about giving Greek style roast lamb a whirl instead. After marinating the lamb is roasted until it is moist and falling apart, dripping with lemon, garlic and oregano. What a meal! Plus the lamb sandwiches we made with the left overs the following day were out of this world.
A large leg of good quality lamb (approx 3kg)
6 cloves of garlic
1 bunch oregano
A pinch of paprika
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Vegetables to serve or olives and salad
1) Preheat oven to 180C. With a pestle and mortar grind the garlic, paprika, half of the oregano and lemon zest.
2) Drizzle olive oil and lemon juice over the paste and continue to bring for another 2-3 minutes. Leave to one side.
3) Place the lamb in a roasting tray. Using a very sharp knife make small incisions over the leg of meat, abut 2 cm deep.
4) Push as much of the oregano paste into each hole. Sprinkle with sea salt.
5) Place the meat in the oven and roast for 1hr 15 mins – 1hr 30 minutes if you prefer your lamb medium. Leave in the oven for a further 15 minutes if you prefer it well done.
6) When the lamb is cooked to your liking, remove from the oven and set aside to rest. Thickly slice the lamb and serve with roast potatoes, vegetables and gravy to beat the cold. Or if you want a reminder of summer serve with potatoes, olives and salad. Delicious!