Pasty Tax Day

I confess that Francine and I hardly ever listen to the radio. I am usually particularly critical of local radio announcing that, once again, the fire brigade was called out to rescue Mrs. Smith’s cat, Tiddles, who was yet again stuck up a tree. However, several years ago during a trip with Guillaume, we surprised ourselves by becoming hooked on a BBC Radio Cornwall breakfast programme hosted by James Churchfield and Pam Spriggs. We even tried to get a sticker for the car. Weirdly out of character! So, now we’ve returned to Cornwall and have Wi-Fi access, we wanted to listen in again, largely for weather forecasts but also for the entertainment value. The programme immediately proved educational.

Back to one of Cornwall’s favourite gourmet delights, the Cornish pasty. It seems that today, Monday 1st October, sees the beginning of what I can only describe as one of our dearly beloathed government’s more governmental ideas: Pasty Tax. ¿Que? Yes, Pasty Tax. Here’s what I THINK the idea is though, as usual with governmental implementations, the precise rules seem to have those concerned in some confusion. A business can cook food on the premises and sell it fresh, hot, straight from the oven whereupon 20% VAT would notapply. If, however, Mr. Purveyor cooks his product and then keeps it hot in a warming cabinet, 20% VAT would apply. How are most Cornish pasties sold? Quite right, from a warming cabinet, hence the local vernacular tag of Pasty Tax for this latest barking mad government money-grabbing scheme which applies to hot foods in general. The unpalatable choice we have been forced into making is between a 20% price increase or pasties varying, in an unpredictable way depending upon how long ago it was cooked, between hot, warm, tepid and stone cold, with all degrees in between. Who wants a cold pasty? Indeed, who wants an unpredictable pasty? Rule Britannia!

2012-10-01 11.52.17 Jamaica Inn2012-10-01 11.52.32 Jamaica Inn signFollowing our educational breakfast, we packed the mothers and their rollators in the car and shot off inland to Bodmin Moor. Francine and I have visited Cornwall several times before but, other than driving across part of it on the main road, have never before visited the moor. Our first target, thinking that les dames night be interested, was Jamaica Inn, made famous for smuggling connections by novelist Daphne du Maurier. As well as a museum, there is the more interesting Smugglers Bar selling another of Cornwall’s gastronomic delights, Cornish Rattler cider. It seems that rollators cannot quite handle cobble stones, many of which led a considerable distance to the bar’s front entrance. My already salivating taste buds envisioned their pint of Rattler drifting off tantalizingly into the distance. Damn! (I wonder if there are any 4WD rollators available?) Saving my sanity was a back entrance with two separate single steps which the rollators could apparently manage, given the correct driving skills. Finally settling down to my Rattler with considerable relief, our English accents were greatly outnumbered by American accents quizzing the barman about beer/ale/bitter.

The rain began soon after that first port of call and intermittently followed us around our moorland tour. Our weather luck is running true to this year’s established form.

I had discovered an award-winning business not two miles from our rental cottage and decided to call on our way home hoping hoping to find something to appeal to les meres for dinner. Tregida smokehouse produces a wide variety of hot and cold smoked goods, mainly fish but also duck, chicken and cheese. Having rattled my car load of females and mobility equipment down several mud-covered, single track lanes, we came across a most unlikely looking business premises. “All visitors please call at the office”, a sign said. The office turned out to be a ramshackle old static caravan up on blocks with it’s bent and buckled door hanging off its hinges. I parked and approached the office. A lady somehow managed to open the office door to come out and meet me.

“I come in search of smoked goods”, I announced brightly.

Although the Tregida website seems to make no mention of it, there is another Tregida business in Launceston with facilities to sell to the public. These premises were really just one of two smoking operations and not intended as a retail outlet. Actually, the business really concentrates on wholesale. Nonetheless, they were very accommodating, let us in and sold us three packs of oak-roasted trout fillets from their meagre store room. (Most goods are at the other business in Launceston.) We even won a sizeable discount “to make pricing easier” (a round £10). What pleasant, helpful people.

P1020836 Crackington HavenP1020844 Crackington HavenOddly, some sun began to appear so, having dumped les mères unceremoniously back at the cottage, we went out again to Crackington Haven, our closest coastal point, for Francine to chance her arm at some evening light photography. The wind was strong, blowing straight into the opening of the now inappropriately named haven and piling rollers into the shore. The wind was also blowing salt spray all over Francine, Francine’s tripod, camera and expensive set of Lee filters.

In such conditions and with light rapidly disappearing, we returned to feed our charges on Smoked Trout and Leek Risotto. It went down a storm.

Posted in 2012 Cornwall

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