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Showing posts from June, 2009

Tuesday morning and getting warmer

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Who would believe that 60 years had passed since this photo was taken. This is me aged one year. I had a great day with phone calls and cards for everyone - Elaine dropped me off a large bunch of flowers and some lovely extra virgin olive oil from the girls. Our friends came over at about 10 am and we then made our way over to Faversham to collect the half pig, which I am glad to say fitted nicely into the large cold box in the car where it stayed while we had a very nice lunch in the George at Newham. By the time we got back and unloaded the car it was hotter than hell so our friends made their way home and I went off to my bed for a snooze. It was about 7pm when the sun had gone down sufficiently to make moving around a little more comfortable. So I got on and made my sourdough loaf and brined the pigs head and trotters which are in the pan boiling as I write. I think they will be ready in a couple of hours but then they will need to cool down before I can make the brawn so i…

Monday and the heat is here to stay

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Basso being sent to retrieve - Well by 6pm when the tide was up I was completly out of gas and all I could manage was to cook the supper and do a spot of dead heading in the cool of the evening. I find this hot weather very sapping of what little energy I have. Today I am in the process of making another sourdough loaf but I don't hold our much hope for it as it seems to be too wet - anyway if it fails totally then I'm sure the hens will not mind. They are gradually getting the message that when I go up in the evening it is to send them to bed and they are being a bit more compliant. They are also starting to sit when I approach which indicates that they should soon start to lay.

We are going out for lunch today with some friends and on the way we are picking up half a pig for the freezer - not very good for dieting so I guess it will have to be put back yet again. With the half head and trotters I am going to make brawn which I love and to this end I am now going to prepare a …

Sunday and a day of rest

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Basso and I wait to do our hunting test. Well what a day we had the journey down was uneventful and Tom Tom got us there with no trouble. The day was structured to offer both training and testing of the dogs. I was in the special beginners class for which there were 19 entrants. In the morning we did hunting, retrieving and basic heel work including recalls. Basso did well at the hunting but decided to play around for the more formal stuff - this was disappointing but after the hog roast lunch we repeated the same sort of exercises in test format and he behaved much better. He was required to do a blind retrieve which is something he has never done before but he acquitted himself well. The only real problem I had was with his recall he comes back no problem but refuses to come right up to me. Anyway this is something we will have to work on. Once all the testing was over we then went to do a water retrieve which required a long walk through the woods and over styles to a fas…

Saturday and Basso's big day

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The first water lily is out and the fish are enjoying a good feed. Today we are off on a Spinone training day in Guilford and we need to be there for 9 am so it is an early start. I have made a round of sausage and tomato and a round of bacon and tomato to take with us for the journey and by way of breakfast. The sour dough bread looked like it was going to be chicken food as it went into the oven but much to my surprise it turned out rather well and made a delicious addition to some dolce late cheese that Mike had bought. Anne, you were sorely missed yesterday I hope all is well with you!!! as my regular contributor I do read your comments each day. Anyway must dash, much to do before I leave, you will get a full round up of the day tomorrow.

Friday and the end of the week

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This is a photo of Basso at his last show being handled by Louise. Last night at ring craft class they had what they call a match night in which two of the dogs are shown and then judged against one another in a sort of knock out competition. I showed Basso and got knocked out in the first round. However, this was not so bad as at least he stood up and allowed the judge to examine him, which for him is an improvement. Somehow, I don't think showing is going to be his thing and it very certainly isn't mine. We have decided to give him a year at ring craft to see if he will make the necessary improvements before we decide to withdraw him from competition. He seems to take being a gun dog much more seriously and is not turned on by prancing around looking beautiful. The lady who had been bitten in the face 2 weeks ago came to class and we were all amazed at the way she had healed. The scaring is hardly noticeable and at 80 plus she isn't too worried about it. James my youngest…

Thursday dull and overcast again

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The photo shows the water returning to the pond from the UV filter and guess what we have another leak it is not yet significant but I think it will have to be dealt with at some time. Yesterday I was pottering around in the vegetable garden sorting out the chickens and doing odd chores but I was still in my dressing gown. By the time I came back in I was frozen there was a nasty north easterly wind blowing which made it very chilly. We only saw the sun for a few hours around mid day, then later the cloud rolled back in and is still with us. Shooting went well though I shot badly again it seems to be something about Wednesdays perhaps I am just tired after the exertions of Tuesday nights dog training. I hope it is just a bad patch that I am going through but it is very disconcerting. The food went down well and the house finally emptied out at around 4pm by which time I was very tired but it was too late for an afternoon siesta. Anne, the weight problem is an ongoing battle I los…

Wednesday and bin day

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Tumbling tomato plants in the kitchen window box are now setting fruit - time to start feeding them.Last night was a long one at dog training and Basso was not too bad we had a couple of moments when he decided to run off and play but given that the class has all bitches and he is the only dog he did quite well. I'm glad to say he was not the only one who misbehaved and at least he did his retrieves quite well. We spent a long time marching up and down the field trying to keep in a straight line, this sounds easy but it really isn't. We also had our first practice with a gun being fired and I'm glad to report that Basso was brilliant so all the days I have taken him shooting with me have really paid off and he is definitely not gun shy.We finally got home at around 10pm and I made us a bacon sandwich each by way of dinner and we piled into bed exhausted. This morning the sky is again overcast but I don't really mind as it will be easier for shooting if there is not…

Tuesday and the sky is blue

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The sage is now in full bloom but as you can see from the photo we have been bereft of sun for days. We seem to have been sat under a blanket of cloud which has made it so dull and depressing. I got going yesterday morning in anticipation of John the gardener coming - the veg beds got a good hoe and I planted the peas, the grass was mowed and a hundred little jobs got done. Then came the phone call to say he was indisposed and would not be coming, perhaps all I need is the threat of a gardener to spur me into action!!! Today they have forecast sunshine and boy do we need it I find the dull weather a real drag.
We drove over to the gun shop and did the deal on the part exchange of my old gun for the new one and as there was a discrepancy in price they threw in 500 cartridges so I only lost £50 on the deal which for a years use of the gun is not at all bad. The reams of paper work have been sent to the firearms department so that they can amend their records. Lets hope I shoot well tomor…

Monday morning and the start of another week

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Rubus tibetinus, the Tibetan raspberry this very spiky plant is just what the bees like and it tends to be smothered in them at this time of the year. Unfortunately the fruit it bears is very insignificant but it does have white stems that stand over the winter. Talking of bees, I had the hives open for an inspection yesterday afternoon and all seems to be going well. The colony sizes are increasing rapidly and they are busy making honey in old hive so I have now added a super [the honey making frames] to the newer colony and hope that they too start to make stores. Shiona's expected visit did not happen as she had to stay at home and sort out the installation of the new banisters and she also had an appointment to get Mary scanned to see if she has any puppies on the brew. This meant that I cancelled the shooting expedition which was no hardship as I was not really in the mood anyway. Instead I mended my gun slip which had split a seam. Today John the gardener is coming an…

Sunday morning and still overcast

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Clematis "Madame Julia Correvon" This is one of the plants that suffered in the major cut back but it is at least showing signs of recovery as is the wisteria that got such a brutal hair cut. The weather here yesterday was very dull quite cold and looked as if we were brewing for a storm with huge black clouds overhead. Today looks much the same which shouldn't be a problems as I am off to give the new gun another workout before I make the final decision as to keeping it. Shiona is coming over with Mary who may or may not be pregnant following her mating.

High tide was at 11am yesterday so I took the dogs for a swim, or in Basso's case a paddle. I took one of his retrieving dummies to throw for them but the two terriers ripped it to pieces in minutes so that was a bit of a waste of time. I got thoroughly soaked but the dogs had a really good time.

After lunch I decided to have a kip but just as I was drifting off Mike appeared at the door saying your bees are swa…

Saturday morning and still quite chilly

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Cistus "Alan Frad" growing in a large pot. The flowers are lovely but fade after one day however there are usually plenty to come the next day. I was watching Gardeners World last night and they were planting Florence fennel seed. It is planted this late in the season as it is very susceptible to the length of days and will only make the bulbous root if the days are shortening. This suddenly brought home to me that we are approaching the longest day and then it is down hill again towards the winter. This morning feels as if we are well on the way as we have a cold wind blowing and the sky is very overcast. Yesterday, I released the hens into the main run and it took them quite some time to venture from the safety of their small enclosure. I was anticipating a bit of a battle to put them to bed in the evening but as luck would have it they were scared enough of me to make a dash for safety so it was not very difficult at all. I'm sure as they get older and bolder th…

Friday and the end of the week

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Samubucus Nigra the Black Elder. This is a really pretty shrub but difficult to photograph to advantage. Now I know you are dying to know how I got on yesterday so here goes. We set of for Dartford at about 10.30 the shooting ground is not that easy to find as it is at the bottom of a dirt track which looks as if it is going under the QE2 bridge. Anyway to my horror, it was not just Jeff's friend that we met but a group of 5 blokes. The first shooting we did was what they call "down the line" this was a revelation as the clays fly out of a small hut at all sorts of angles and very low and you just have to try to blast them. Well that was a bit of a washout though I did hit some. Next we moved on to Skeet which is where the clays come from a either a high tower or a low tower and you get to shoot one of each and then a pair together, well that was better I managed to hit a few more of them. Finally we moved on to what is called sporting which is where the clays represent t…

Thursday morning and off shooting

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This pretty rose is called Pat Austin - it is one of the David Austin roses and is a lovely reliable and fairly disease resistant one. Well true to my word I had a nice relaxing day yesterday and only did the ironing - the rest of the day I frittered away - I read magazines and watched programmes that I had recorded on the TV and slept soundly for 4 hours in the afternoon. I think I must have needed it as I was feeling pretty shattered. Anyway, I am up bright and early this morning feeling refreshed and eager to go shooting. Let's hope the new gun gives me back my confidence and I shoot reasonably well and don't make a total idiot of myself. Basso, is in the garden hunting and has found a prey worthy of his skills -SNAILS - I'm not sure if he thinks they are edible but they are certainly a cross between stones and balls both of which he enjoys playing with. The older dogs just look on in dismay at his stupidity. The new hens are settling in but are terror stuck every …

Wednesday and a day of rest

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Peace, a very well known rose but still very beautiful. Today I too am hoping for a peaceful day as I am pretty shattered after yesterday. The shooting lesson went well and I am gradually rebuilding my confidence which is what the instructor feels is wrong with my shooting. I managed to bang off a hundred cartridges in the hour but I also managed to wrongly mount the new gun once and have paid the penalty with a super bruise on the collar bone. We drove back from Canterbury via Brogdale Hall which is the place that holds the national collection of apple trees. They also have a mini shopping area with local produce which also includes a butcher - I bought some local lamb and some calves liver but as yet they are not stocking veal, however they are due to have some next week so perhaps another trip will be on the cards. I made us a nice sea food risotto for lunch and then took to my bed to recharge my batteries in time for the evenings dog training. Basso was an absolute handful a…

Tuesday but only just

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Oriental lily with a beautiful perfume - well what time is this? 3.30 and I am awake with a streaming nose, not what I had in mind, as I have a shooting lesson this morning at 9 am which will mean leaving at 8 to get to Canterbury for 9. Yesterday, was a very hot and sultry day with the air as heavy as lead. We went out to the pig farm and ordered half a pig which will be taken to slaughter and then be ready for collection on the 29th. In the mean time, I am running the freezer down and to that end we had the last pack of sauteed cucumber from last years glut to accompany our lamb chump chops for dinner. I took the dogs for a walk but my legs felt so heavy I didn't walk very far and the dogs were not that keen as it was a bit warm. After lunch and once the washing was hung out the heavens opened and we had thunder and lots of very heavy rain. It only lasted a short time and then it cleared only to return again later that day. The washing is still on the line having been tho…

Monday morning

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Another member of the royals this one is Prince Charles and as you advised Anne I have kept him some distance from Princess Diana in the interest of harmony!!!! Yesterday, I started with a good walk with the dogs in the hope that I would have a bit more energy and it worked to some extent but I suddenly realised just how unfit I have become. I wrote a list of jobs that needed doing in the garden and by 11 am I had completed the list so I was very pleased. We are all set up for the chickens who we are going to fetch this evening I have made them a nice nest and filled up all the food and water containers. They will have to spend the first couple of days locked in the small run so that they learn to recognise home. I got the lawn mower over the grass and sorted out the glass house before it became to hot to work in there. For lunch I made pizza, the dough was made in the bread machine which takes about 45 minutes I then topped it with tomato chorizo and mozzarella and whacked it in…

Sunday and still very cloudy

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Good morning all, Anne I hope your day in Brighton went well. I expect the weather was a bit better than ours which went from sunny and hot to black clouds and back again at regular intervals. The photo shows the fig crop coming along well and those that are out of Basso reach should ripen well.
I took myself off to the gun shop yesterday expecting to have a battle about the left handed gun but as it turned out the gunsmith couldn't have been more helpful. He immediately offered me my money back but in the end I opted for the loan of a straight gun [Beretta 687 sporting] which I can use for the next two weeks before I make the decision to part with my original gun. I was mightily relieved as I thought I would have much more trouble. I came straight home and booked another lesson for Tuesday morning at 9am and we will see if I shoot better with this gun. At least I will know now that if I am shooting badly it is all down to me and not anything to do with the gun.
I spent some time in…

Saturday

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Rosa "Princess Alexandra" a birthday present last year. It seems that I have most of the Royal family in my garden as I also have clematis called Prince Charles, Duke of Edinburgh, and Princess Diana. It is looking like another rather dull day today, but that suits me fine as I have the grass to cut and some other chores in the garden. I need to get the chicken run sorted out and prepared for the new arrivals which we hope to get on Monday. John came and did his stuff in the garden and has cut back the cotoneaster in the front garden and all the box hedging is now beautifully trimmed. The broad beans are now finished and need digging in which will give me a veg bed ready to take the curly kale which is coming along well. I went for my shooting lesson in Canterbury and have found out why I tend to shoot down the left hand-side of the clays. Apparently my gun is for a left handed shooter!!!! I of course am right handed. Now I have a dilemma as either I stick with it and …

Friday and the sun is shining

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Clematis "Princess Diana" Well where to start!!! Yesterday evening I persuaded Mike to come with me to ring-craft classes, the group is one that I have only been to once when Basso was very young but I thought I would give it another try as they are a more relaxed bunch and things are on a less formal footing. Basso was an absolute nightmare especially when Louise, the girl who has shown him in the past, arrived with two of her Tibetan mastiffs. I was trying to keep Basso under control when there was a sudden commotion and the lady running the class had been bitten in the face by a little beagle who was up on a table for examination. There was blood everywhere and I was pressed into action as I was the only one who had medical training. Anyway to cut a very long story short I spent the rest of the evening in the casualty department of the local hospital. The ladies husband had recently had a quadruple bypass and was unable to drive so we stayed with her and finally took he…

Thursday morning and still raining

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A very bright campanula that is growing around the pond. Well it rained on an off all day yesterday but we did manage to get in a round of shooting between the showers. I shot very badly to start with but finally go my eye in and managed to shoot a 10 on one stand which made me feel much better. I think it is time for a lesson as I am having problems and need to iron out what I am doing wrong. The only problem is that lessons are very expensive at about £80 per hour. As there were only the two of us shooting we managed to get round quite quickly and arrived at the Chinese at about 1pm where we ate our fill it was then home to clean the guns and drink coffee. At about 3pm I took myself off for a rest but was unable to sleep so after a supper of spaghetti bolognese I went off early to bed. The weather today looks much the same with a heavy sky and a stiff breeze. I have organised a dog walk with my friend and the 2 chocolate labs but as neither of us is feeling up to much we are j…

Wednesday and a shooting day

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Double clematis "Duke of Edinburgh" Yesterday, was a pretty damp one with frequent heavy showers but this morning the sky looks more hopeful for shooting. Jeff rang and is keen to go so we are going to shoot then have our lunch at the Chinese buffet which lets me off the hook for cooking. I must admit that I bottled out of gundog training last night - it was throwing it down with rain and I didn't want to be exhausted for today so we all had an early night after we demolished the remaining cold beef. I just don't seem to have the stamina that I once had!!! I will have to make up for it with some extra training in the garden or Basso will get behind in class. Jane came yesterday and passed the hoover over the house so it is quite respectable and a little tidy is all that is required. I have three loads of washing draped around the house just waiting for me to get going on the ironing. I always feel better once the washing is done ironed and put away. If I have th…

Tuesday morning and pouring

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So whose fault is the rain? people who taunt the Gods by putting out their summer furniture!!!! Yesterday was a nice day in the end we went to visit our friends and then went with them for a nice walk in a park at the foot of the north downs which was once a zoo so it is laid out rather oddly but with lovely specimen trees. The dogs had a wonderful time and played with lots of other dogs. We then made our way to the gun shop in West Malling which is a nightmare to get to as it is down a very narrow lane that only allows one car and the passing places are few. Anyway they very kindly mended my air rifle and reattached the telescopic sights. They then re-calibrated the sight to fire the kind of pellets that I am using. Basso drew a crowd as not many people have seen his breed of gun dog. Then it was on to the "walnut tree" at Yalding which has a good reputation for fish. I had linguini with crab and asparagus followed by American blueberry cheese cake. Copious wine was…

Monday morning blues

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Basso with a flower pot - he thinks he is helping!!!!!! Well the weekend went very well yesterdays breakfast of boiled goose eggs and toast soldiers went down very well and with a break in the weather we were able to take the dogs for a walk down by the river. The tide was up so the dogs had to have a swim but Basso is still scared of getting out of his depth so I think I will have to take him in but not until it is much warmer. Lunch of roast chicken was very acceptable and we followed with strawberries and cream a real taste of summer. As it was warm and sunny I decided that it would be alright to have a look at the bees who are doing very well and I am getting some honey in the super above one of the hives so I will need to keep an eye on them and make sure that they have sufficient space. It would be easier if you could just provide them with empty jars but it doesn't work that way. My brother in law David just about managed to squeeze into my observers suite and was able to…

Sunday morning and wet

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The bay trees have had a serious hair cut - no doubt they will grow back with a vengeance. Yesterday went well and after breakfast we set off to buy some asparagus for supper and also some fabulous cheeses. For lunch we just had a bowl of pasta a la carbonara with a green salad, we then spent the afternoon playing with the the air rifle and had a shooting competition which all ended in a mess as the telescopic sight became detached and non of us could hit a barn door without it as there are no sights on the gun. This now means a trip to the gunsmiths to get the sight realigned and re calibrated. Dinner went well the gazpacho soup was very nice and I served it cold but not freezing from the fridge which meant it had a bit of flavour. We followed this with the asparagus and browned butter then on to the cold sliced beef which we had with horse radish cream. Then on to rhubarb and ginger served with strained yogurt and a shortbread biscuit and finally the cheeses which had been sat…

Saturday morning

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A shrub in flower but I have no idea what it is called - if you do please tell me!!! Well yesterday was a day of disasters averted, first my computer completely seized up and neither the mouse not the key board was working [both wireless] so I fiddled and fiddled around and eventually go things back on track. No idea what the original problem was but anyway all seems to be well now. Then the door bell packed in and we had a game and a half installing a new one but again all is now well. The food preparation all went well and our visitors arrived around 5pm which meant I had time for a short siesta so I was on good form. The panna cotta turned out easily and were just the right consistency neither to firm nor too soft so I was relieved and pleased - the weather meant that we actually put the heating on for a while in the evening as it was really cold especially after such nice hot weather. Needless to say we ate indoors and watched the rain fall. Unfortunately it only rain a little …

Friday and getting ready for the weekend

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Anne I thought you might like to see where we started from. This is a picture of the garden shortly after we moved in some 35 years ago. Since then it has been through several reincarnations but each time I think we have improved on the original. As you can see it is very long and narrow so we have now divided it horizontally into different rooms. Yesterday, I spent the day in the kitchen cooking which should leave me free to enjoy the company of our visitors over the weekend. They are due to arrive late this afternoon so I have made a lemon drizzle cake to have with cups of tea - however they will be driving down from Peterborough which on a Friday can be a bit of a bind as the traffic at the Dartford crossing can be very heavy. Anyway, I have planned a cold meal so there is no stress if they are late in arriving. We are having smoked salmon pate and chicken liver parfait with toast to start, then a salad Nicoise with fresh tuna and finally a panna cotta with raspberries. N…

Thursday and the sun is shining

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The devastated wisteria!!! I had a grand sweep up yesterday morning and I now feel a little better about the rather drastic hair cut. It was such a shock when I came home to find it so bald. This morning is pretty chilly but bright - and I have a days cooking ahead of me. According to the forecast we were due for rain but I haven't seen any sign of it yet thought the garden really does need it badly. Still wimbledon is coming so we should get plenty soon!!!!! I need to make panna cotta and raspberry sauce, roast the beef and press it for cold meat, make a chicken liver pate and gazpacho soup so I think that should keep me out of mischief for most of the day. I am also trying to fit in a couple of training sessions with Basso so we are not going to let ourselves down at gundog training on Tuesday. At the moment he is doing his morning patrol of the garden he wanders around and examines every nook and cranny to make sure nothing has changed over night. At present I ma trying to teach…

Wednesday and bin day

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Basso and I make our way up the field for gundog training class. as you can see it is a rough field and on a pretty steep incline. By the time we got home last night I was pretty shattered two and a half hours of working the dog left me aching from head to foot. Anyway he got to do plenty of work retrieving the dummies and even included a jump which was great fun. I got told off for too much praise which is something I have learned from obedience classes. As usual the problems are not in the dog but in the handler. Earlier in the day John had come and I left him to cut back the bay trees and also the over hanging plants coming from next door. I had to leave him unattended as I had a dental appointment and did not get back until he was finished. I was absolutely gutted when I saw what he had done not only did he cut back the overhanging stuff but my poor wisteria has been massacred - no doubt it will survive but it is going to take a couple of years before it flowers again. Today I wil…

Tuesday and a busy one

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The urn returning water from the filter to the second side of the pond. You can see what an awkward place it is to work but at last the leak is fixed though I expect the bamboo will not appreciate the reduction in water. Fortunately we are not on a water meter or it could have been an even more expensive problem. The water is finally beginning to clear now that the new filter is taking effect and we can finally see the fish again. Today is destined to be the last of the really hot days and we have Jane coming to give the house a birthday and John to do the garden. Meanwhile, we are off to the dentist for our 6 monthly check up. Then its back for lunch via the shops and off to gundog training tonight so I think a siesta is in order if I can fit one in. Shooting has been cancelled for tomorrow so I will have a bit more time to get on with the preparations for the weekend - I have a panna cotta to make and a chicken liver pate and possibly a piece of sirloin to roast, press and slice for …