3 November 2000

rOAST & TOAST &

LONDON EYE PLAYED HOST

Last Sundays Roast and Toast Day saw families,

friends and colleagues around the country get

together to enjoy a roast and toast British Farming.

The farmers weekly team, as always, was

championing the cause. Tim Relf reports

IT was the Editor who suggested it. There we were, wondering what to do for our Roast and Toast Day celebrations when he came up with the idea.

"Take a lamb up in the air over London," he said.

Sorry?

"Have your meal in the air over London," he said.

We had visions of the team in planes, hang-gliders, micro-lights or other such small, scary contraptions. Thankfully, however, he meant the London Eye. Thankfully too, he had a pre-cooked lamb not a live one in mind.

And so our plan was hatched. Celebrating the occasion in the London Eye would combine, we decided, the most traditional of meals and the most modern of settings. Wed be eating some of the finest traditional British meat in one of the finest examples of British-designed technology.

Where better, too, at a time when the urban-rural divide needs to be bridged, than to champion British meat in the heart of our capital city.

Just one problem – food wasnt allowed.

Still, Farmlife managed to smuggle a joint of beef into France last year when it was banned so with a bit of discretion (and a few big handbags) we figured we could have this one sorted.

Our lunch choice was a delicious lamb Guard of Honour stuffed with mixed fruit, apricots and mint from F Conisbee & Sons first-class butchers shop at East Horsley in Surrey.

We ate it as the wheel turned 135m above the Thames. We stopped pointing out the sights to temporarily concentrate on the more pressing task of lunch. We opened a bottle of English wine and toasted British Farming, as people were doing across the country.

The London Eye wasnt, as it turned out, the most comfortable of places to eat. And there certainly wasnt a soft chair in which to have a nap afterwards. But nobody was sick and, boy, what a setting. What a view.

We could see 25 miles in every direction, including a great view of the Houses of Parliament – one place they do need to be reminded about the merits of British meat.

The Eye, built to mark the millennium, is a symbol of regeneration. Lets hope that the British meat industry can regenerate itself after the catastrophes of recent years.

Everyone who took part in Roast and Toast Day should feel proud that theyre contributing to that regeneration.

More than meets The Eye… members of the FW team tuck in to the lamb prepared by butcher Stephen Conisbee (right).