What Is A Carvery?

A Carvery Is A Very British Thing

Most British pubs these days offer a selection of food to entice visitors through the door, and many also offer a Carvery, because a roast dinner is something that is always popular in the UK.

While many visitors to the UK from overseas might expect there to be pubs everywhere, they might be amazed at the number of foreign restaurants that the country has, especially Indian restaurants, which number in their thousands.

The good old English “Pub” (which is short for “Public House”), used to traditionally be a place where men from the community would go in order to drink beer and gossip over the latest news. However, in the last 30 years, with the drink/driving laws becoming ever stricter and with pubs losing business as a result, plus with people now being able to access news and events via television, radio and more recently social media, the traditional pubs have been forced to change or as has happened with many, they have ended up closing their doors.

Over the last 25-30 years many pubs started to offer food to entice people to visit,  most offering fairly simple food, with typical English fare such as:

  • Ploughman’s Lunch – fresh bread, cheese, salad, pickled onions, relish
  • Cottage Pie – minced beef and vegetables in gravy, baked with a topping of mashed potato
  • Shepherds Pie – same as Cottage Pie but made with minced lamb
  • Steak and Kidney Pie – chunks of steak and kidney in gravy in a pastry crust
  • Toad In The Hole – Yorkshire Pudding cooked with sausages in in, usually served with mashed potato and gravy
  • Lasagne – layers of pasta with bolognaise sauce and cheese

With increasing competition, and with the popularity of more exotic food, some then offered foreign dishes such as curries or other Indian meals, and others opened up full restaurants with a wide selection of meals. Others went in another direction, offering more American style dishes, like Chicken Wings, Burgers and Ribs.

Lately there is a new phenomenon, the “Gastro-Pub”, which is a type of pub that not only prides itself on it’s ales, but on the quality of it’s food. Here you will often find more up market cuisine, but at a price. It’s often “nouveau cuisine”, which to me means food that is attractively presented, costs 3 times as much, but leaves you hungry.

Many pubs are now either changing towards more English food, but a wider choice of offerings, or switching to include a Carvery, which is becoming more popular than ever.

So after that long pre-amble, back to the original question of “What Is A Carvery?”

A Carvery is the closest thing that you will get in England to a Sunday Roast, which used to be a tradition in most English households years ago.

An English Sunday Roast would usually be either Chicken, Beef, Lamb or Pork, served with Roast Potatoes, Roast Parsnips, Yorkshire Pudding (especially if Beef), Stuffing, and a selection of vegetables, usually 3 or more of the following seasonal vegetables, and served with thick brown gravy:

Brussel Sprouts
Cauliflower (often with a white or cheese sauce)
Leeks (often in a white or cheese sauce)
Swede (aka Rutabaga)

At the Carvery, customers form a queue to be served, and the chef carves for them the meat of their choice, usually from a choice of 3 types. If you want, you can have any 2 or all 3 kinds.

You then take your plate and help yourself to the vegetables and potatoes, and back to the table to enjoy it. A carvery meal really does go down well with a pint of good English Real Ale.

Unlike many buffets in the USA, many carveries in England only let you go back once, or if you can go up multiple times, it’s for the vegetables only. Prices for food are higher here in England, so to keep the prices down, they limit how much meat you can take. However, for most people, the amount you can get on one plate is adequate, even for me!

The price for a carvery meal varies, and so does the quality, but paying a higher price doesn’t necessarily mean a better meal. Prices vary from around £3.50 ($5) to £7.50 ($10), depending on the pub.


Personal experience

Under Shelf Picture Hanger Looking For A Solution

Under Shelf Picture Hanger
Click for a larger image

I want to hang a photo on the wall in our office under a shelf, but I can’t find what I am looking for, so I am hoping that someone might be able to help with some ideas for a solution.

You see, what I want to do is to hang some photos under a 6 inch deep shelf, but I don’t want to drill into the wall or the shelf.

I am thinking that if I could find a hook that was shaped like the one in my diagram that this would hold even a heavy photo firm, with the hook passing behind the shelf and resting on the top of the shelf, providing a firm support, so that  a photo frame could either be hung directly onto the hook, or the cord from a photo frame could be hung onto the hook.

The photos are to hang in our home office, which Debbie uses for working from home. Currently papers, a calendar, photos of her kids, and other things are on the desk, which is cluttered and frankly a real mess. By hanging things onto the wall it would help to give her a much nicer working environment.

Try as hard as I might though, I have seen nothing that will remotely do what I want.

There are plenty of shelves to fit photos on, or photo hangers that you screw into the wall. There are countless types of S-shaped hooks as well for hanging things from a picture rail, but not a single one that is shaped anything like I want.

It would be nice to find something, otherwise I might have to buy some strips of metal and make them myself, which is another option, but without a vice and the correct tools, I might just make a mess of it.

So, if you do have any ideas, or do know of a product that might work, please can you leave a comment on this post. Posting links to products is fine, as that will help me to find the product that you are describing.

Any comments which are obviously spam will be deleted.

Hopefully someone out there knows something that will help, so I can assist Debbie in organising her office.

Shaving Gel Or Shaving Foam

Shaving Gel or Shaving FoamShaving Gel or Shaving Foam, which do you prefer?

When shaving foam came out many many moons ago, I found it a vast improvement over trying to lather up soap to put on my face. I was only in my late teens at the time and I don’t really remember much about what I used before.

However, in more recent years (probably the last 15 for me) I have switched over to using shaving gel, which I find vastly superior.

So imagine my frustration a couple of weeks ago when my shaving gel ran out and I went to use my new one, only to find that I hadn’t read the label correctly and had bought shaving foam instead.

Now I assume that most people reading this, whether male or female (since most to my knowledge shave parts of their body as well) are familiar with at least one of these, but if you aren’t, these are my experiences.

Having wet my face, I only need to put a small amount of shaving gel in my hand, and when I run my hands together this expands into a thick creamy mass that I can spread onto the parts of my face that need shaving. The nice thing is that shaving gel sticks to your face and stays put where you spread it.

Now shaving foam in contrast comes out of the container as a huge mass of foam. By the time you rub your hands together and try to put it onto your face, it’s already disintegrating, and when it touches your face you can practically hear it shout “no way, i’m not sticking to that!”, and it’s a really tough thing to try to get enough of the foam onto the parts of your face that need shaving.

Then of course the better it sticks to your face, the smoother the shave, but with the foam I find it just keeps thinning out and vanishing as the alcohol evaporates, so by the time that I finish shaving it’s just hot water that is lubricating my face.

Fortunately the can of shaving foam is almost at an end, and I can’t wait to get back to my shaving gel, which should be sometime next week.

Well that is my experience with using shaving gel and shaving foam. I assume that there are some people out there who must prefer shaving foam, otherwise they wouldn’t produce it any more.

I would love to hear your experiences with shaving, and which of these two products you prefer. maybe you have some funny shaving stories to tell as well.

A New Beginning Spring 2015

Spring is in the air, and since Spring is the season for new beginnings, I thought that it was time to give this site “Off The Record” a new lease of life.

Writing articles regularly on your own web site or blog is easy, provided you can find things to write about and also providing you have the time to write.

My problem is that I frequently struggle to find the time to write, but more importantly I find this compounded by not knowing what to write about at any given time.

This doesn’t mean that I can’t think of anything to write about, far from it, but it does mean that I might have a potentially great article to write, but to do it requires some research, and I just don’t have the time to do it, and therefore I skip it in favour of something that is simpler.

I also struggle when I have too many tasks to complete, not knowing where to start, and in the last year not one but two web sites where I have published many articles have closed down, leaving me with close to 1,000 articles to edit and to find new homes for, in addition to wanting to write fresh content.

Over the last six months work at my day job has become more complex, requiring me to work longer hours and to use more of my remaining grey cells, so I am finding little time to write articles during my lunch break, and I find myself fairly brain dead by the time I get home.

So where to begin in order to give this site and my others a new lease of life…

Thanks to my good friend Nancy Carol Brown Hardin who is also a former lensmaster on the now defunct Squidoo site, I feel the time has come to begin writing again here.

I plan to create some new articles, as well as to revamp as many older ones as I can.

The older articles fall into two main categories. Firstly there are those where I have written about events or my opinions on something that is topical, and secondly there are articles about travel and places that I have visited. It’s this second category that I really would like to expand upon, in particular places in the UK where I have lots of photographs and many good memories of my visits there.

Finally, there is the new Wildlife category, which focuses on the creatures that visit our garden, and which is why we purchased a trail camera. Sadly the camera is not living up expectations so far, being buggy and not triggering when it ought to, so we have had events when animals have obviously visited us during the night, but no video recorded. We have however been able to capture some video of foxes and badgers in our garden, and with luck and lighter nights we will get more and better video in the coming months.

So there is “hopefully” lots to look forward to here, provided I can get myself into writing mode and begin to make progress.

Tea With Queen Victoria

Tea With Queen Victoria At Osborne HouseJust imagine if you could be transported back in time and have Afternoon Tea with Queen Victoria.

This is what it felt like for us a few weeks ago when our best friends won a competition in the local paper to visit Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, which was the country home of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, a lovely place that was designed by Prince Albert and where the couple could get away from the affairs of state in London and escape to have a family life.

The day started with a short drive to the Red Funnel ferry terminal in Southampton to catch the 9am ferry for the hour long crossing to Cowes on the Isle of Wight.

It was a lovely day with clear blue skies, but oh boy was it a cold day, frosty and cold and the winter sun did little to warm you up.

Osborne House is only a couple of miles from Cowes, and so we arrived shortly after 10am, to be greeted by lots of people in Victorian costume as there was a special Victorian Christmas festival taking place all weekend.

We enjoyed listening to a military band, the “girls” went on a carousel, and then we looked around the house itself, which has a lot of artifacts and memorabilia of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

Then early afternoon came the time for our Afternoon Tea with Her Majesty, but to be truthful we didn’t realise until the staff at the restaurant said “ah you are the people” that it was indeed a private reception with Queen Victoria, and we were led upstairs to an apartment which the public don’t generally get to see, and where the mother of the “real” Queen Victoria used to stay when she visited the Royal Family at Osborne House.

The room had a lot of memorabilia, and was very interesting in itself. In the centre was a large table, with a wonderful selection of cakes and scones.

We didn’t have long before the Queen arrived, and were briefed by her servant as to how to act and respond in front of her, which was all very important, because although this was only someone playing the role of Queen Victoria, the location and experience gave the feel of being in another time and it all seemed very real.

The Queen arrived, walking slowly, accompanied by a finely dressed lady who was introduced as Lady Ponsonby, one of her closest friends. Lady Ponsonby had been a “lady in waiting” for the Queen, but had married a wealthy man and as such had left the Queen’s employment, but they had remained good friends.

Queen Victoria herself poured the tea for us all, she said that the liked to play “ma’am”, and we helped ourselves to cake and scones which were delicious. It just seemed impolite though to be eating while the Queen was talking, a little bizarre.

Her Majesty gave us many insights into Osborne House and her life with Prince Albert, which really did make history come alive.

After almost an hour, it was time for photographs, and then to bid farewell to the Queen, and off to spend time looking around the rest of the house and grounds and then back home.

Even though they were only actors playing roles, with this being in a genuine setting and also a private party rather than us just being part of a larger audience, it did feel very special and very much like we were living in a time warp.

I understand that this was only the second time that this had been offered at Osborne House, so I feel very privileged to have been part of it.

More Photographs Of Us With The Queen


Photographs Of Osborne House And The Victorian Christmas Festivities


The Musings Of Debbe & Tony