Upper Slaughter previously appeared in this blog in 2012 when we walked through Little Sodbury on the South West Odyssey. Little Sodbury is a ‘Thankful’ or ‘Blessed Village’, phrases coined in the 1930s for settlements that lost no servicemen in the First World War. A 2010 survey established that there were 54 civil parishes in England and Wales which were so ‘blessed’, three of them in Gloucestershire (none in Staffordshire). The only village in Gloucestershire to be ‘doubly blessed’ (i.e. 'blessed' in both World Wars) is Upper Slaughter – suggesting God has a macabre sense of humour. Actually, the name derives not from death, destruction or abattoirs but from the Old English ‘Scolstre’ meaning a wet place or slough. I attended a preparatory school in Slough from 1958 to 1963. That much maligned town has changed a great deal since, but not then, not now, nor at any time in between has it ever remotely resembled the Slaughters.
We checked in, took a stroll, changed and arrived in the bar for aperitifs and canapés. They make a good dry martini, though not as good as the Sheraton in Hong Kong, though that may be impossible as my memory has enshrined that drink as the Platonic Ideal dry martini of which all others are inferior copies. After the unfortunate ‘drowning of the gin’ at our last wedding anniversary meal, Lynne was pleased that they left her to pour her tonic herself.
Canapés involved a mini-egg sized ball of smoked fish, which was good, a petite cylinder of paté shot through with hazelnut, surmounted by a little crisp disc and a nut, which was excellent, and a tiny chicken manifestation - I wish I could be more precise - which was spectacular.
|The Lords of the Manor, Upper Slaughter|
The modest original building has grown into this.
On another day we could have enjoyed our pre-dinner drinks out here, but even July cannot be trusted
From the five choices of main course Lynne had guinea fowl, while I selected pork. I was disappointed when the food arrives. The guinea fowl involved sizeable slabs of meat and a little pile of vegetables but beside it my pork looked meagre, small islands of food adrift on a vast dark plate. I was unlikely to go hungry, but the disparity between the two plates struck a discordant note.
The recommended Loire Valley Malbec (isn't Malbec known as Côt on the Loire?) was well chosen; a lightish red, but well-built and full of fruit. It was not, though, half as good as the outstanding Austrian St Laurent that accompanied Lynne's guinea fowl. I have only come across this grape once before and that was a long time ago - I wish I had seen more of it.
The village defibrillator, Upper Slaughter
Find a use for a redundant red phone box. There was no phone inside but a notice said that to use the defibrillator 'just dial 999' and added, 'You do not need a mobile signal to make a 999 call'.
|Simon Weaver Brie|
Doddington Dairy, Northumberland