Thursday, 14 July 2016

Free Food and Shiny Hair

I love free food. And I’m not just talking about the delicious ham and cheese sandwich which was prepared for me moments ago by Anthea Morshead, our Clerk of the Course. Is there nothing that Anthea won’t do to ensure that racing at Cartmel runs according to schedule?  

We replaced our hanging baskets after the June meeting with some fresh displays, planted exclusively with a creamy-white variety of nasturtium called ‘Milkmaid’. The peppery leaves are delicious in a salad, while the flowers are edible too – the perfect garnish for a classy picnic or barbecue at the races. Which is my way of reminding you that, if you’re heading this way on Saturday or Monday, we’re offering a prize for the most stylish picnic at the races. There’ll be a hamper full of delicious local produce, for the winner, as well as tickets to a future race-meeting. 

We don’t expect racegoers to dress up – although you're welcome to do so if you wish... Perhaps we’ll give a prize for the most colourful wellington boots – although I hope it won’t be necessary; the forecast for Saturday and Monday is looking increasingly fine. The judges will be looking for colourful picnic blankets and innovative food – so if you’ve ever wanted to have a go at smoking cockles, under a ceramic pot, over a few oak chips (à la Jamie Oliver & friends), now is the time to give it a try.

But if it were me, I’d stick to the free stuff. At the north end of the racecourse, on the far side of the track in the overflow car park, you’ll find several patches of wild sorrel – delicious when mixed with the nasturtiums from the hanging baskets. If we’re lucky we’ll even be able to find a few un-ripened seeds from the nasturtiums which, when mixed with cream cheese, are an excellent replacement for capers and make a fantastic accompaniment to Furness Fish & Game's delicious venison burgers. The venison burgers aren’t free – but they can be purchased in packs (ready for your own barbecue) from their stand in the Tented Village.

Eat like this and you’ll be healthy too. Apparently the nasturtiums are packed full of Vitamin C and have a natural anti-biotic and anti-viral effect – staving off the symptoms of cold and flu. Plus, when mashed to a pulp and steeped in water for 12 hours, they create a beneficial hair supplement – stimulating the tiny capillaries in the scalp to promote growth.

I’ve read that somewhere – but, now that I think about it, I’m not entirely sure whether you’re supposed to treat the resulting paste as a lotion or a potion. Perhaps we could experiment by giving some to the jockeys in the £10,000 Banks Lyon Jewellers Lady Riders Handicap Hurdle. Some can drink it, some can use it as shampoo – and we’ll see who has the shiniest hair. I bet it’s Lizzie Kelly – who rides this week's selection, Lyric Street, for trainer Donald McCain.

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