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Showing posts from 2010

Friday morning and the year draws to a close

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A lovely bunch of yellow roses - a gift from Mary who has come to stay for new year.
Yesterday started with a bit of a drama Margaret rang to say that Tuc was unwell and she was worried so as soon as we had seen Jane into the house we dashed off to go and pick the dogs up.  When we arrived Tuc was sitting forlornly in his bed and didn't even bother to come and greet us.  I ran my hands over him and discovered that his belly was blown up like a balloon  so my thoughts were that he probably had belly ache.  Anyway we took them home and Tuc sat for a while in his bed then eventually went for a sortie in the garden where he duly unloaded!!!! and hey presto he was cured.  I think he was suffering from a common Christmas illness "overindulgence" anyway a supper of plain boiled rice and the same again for breakfast this morning should see his pipes cleaned out.  Mary arrived at about 1pm just in time for a lunch of trout quiche and salad.  We then went off in search of some woo…

Thursday morning

Although we are above zero it is the sort of weather my mother used to call "underwater weather", as it resembles living on the bottom of the sea.  Cold, damp, dismal and misty with a watery sun some way off in the distance and viewed through the murk.  I think it is a phenomenon peculiar to these islands and I for one find it very depressing.
The bins got put out yesterday after I had trawled the garden and gathered the dog poo which had been left because of the snow.  Talking of bins, as I took Basso for a walk I passed house after house with mountains of refuse piled high outside the doors and really felt for the bin men - they must really hate the post Christmas collection.  On our walk I met a small boy who was testing, what was obviously, a new bike so I enquired if it had been brought by Father Christmas and if so how did he manage to get it down the chimney.  Well if you had seen the look of utter perplex-ion on the boys face.  It had obviously never crossed his min…

Wednesday morning

What a change in the weather it is +7.2 this morning and the last of the snow is melting fast.  Yesterday was very murky with thick mist and not a glimmer of the sun and today looks very similar.  Owing to the holidays our bin collection will be one day late so I will have to remember to put the stuff out tonight or very early tomorrow morning.  The bins contain 6 large gold fish and a huge mirror carp which have all died due to the cold weather.  This is no tragedy as we were over stocked with fish as they keep breeding but I was sad to see the 4lb mirror carp go.

I had a quick trawl around Tesco yesterday and was struck by just how miserable everyone looked there was not a smile anywhere the women looked harassed and worn out and the men looked hung over.  Of course this is not a sweeping generalisation but a carefully studied observation!!!!  I bought a nice big slab of leg of pork which should roast up well.  I would have preferred loin but they had removed all the skin so no crac…

Tuesday morning

No snow  but rain and 2.8 degrees so positively warm by comparison with the weather lately.  Yesterday was a day of clearing up so in that spirit I started by peeling and frying the onions, a whole big pan full as I was going to need them for everything.  In the end I made lots of cottage pies both individual and also one large 3 person pie.  I then tackled the turkey and made lots of pies with puff pastry tops.  We had the remaining stuffing with bubble and squeak and stuffed tomatoes for lunch.  James was then packed off with an assortment of 6 pies - rabbit, pheasant, chicken, turkey, cottage and shepherds, a large lump of blue cheese and half the fruit bowl and the remaining mince pies.  Which should keep him going for a while.  Last night for supper we just had a bowl of the wonderful turkey broth which for my money is the best bit of the turkey.  Today some of it will be used to make a nice plain risotto which will be nice and gentle on the stomach after all the indulgence of th…

Monday and clearing up day

James and I took all the dogs for a nice walk round the rugby field but it was very dangerous in some places where the compacted snow had turned to sheet ice.  Our pavements are like this and completely lethal so people are walking in the road.  Good job I took the time to clear a path in the garden to get to the hens.  Len and Margaret came for lunch yesterday and helped to reduce the big pile of left overs.  I just put all the meat on platters in the kitchen and everyone went and helped themselves.  The only cooking I had to do was to make a big tray of roast potatoes and toss a salad.  I had a bit of a spend up in the morning and bought us a Nintendo wii reduced in the sale and quick before the VAT goes up.  I also bought some new pillow cases and some tumblers from Nisbet - as they supply hotels they do some very good deals.  Cotton Percale Pillowcase. Oxford Style. 100% Percale cotton pack of 10 = £31.60 including VAT postage next day and free.  As all my bedding is simple white …

Boxing day

Well that's the main event over, the house looks like a bomb has hit it, we all piled off to bed and left the debris until this morning.  Having said that the dishwasher did sterling service and most of the dishes have been washed up and put away.  I was showered in compliments on the lunch preparation which if I say so myself was a real success.  The timings all worked out well and the meal all came together at the right time.  Len and Margaret went home with a portion of the trifle in a Tupperware box and today they are coming to help eat the left overs.  Fortunately for me it is all cold stuff today so no cooking involved.  I did put the beef bones and left over gravy in a pot with carrot celery leek and onion so I now have some wonderful beef stock and the turkey bones are destined for the same treatment.  Once we had finished the hot meal I put the beef under a board and weight to press it ready for carving cold.
The dogs had a wonderful time Elaine had  bought them some fluf…

Christmas day

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Well it is here Christmas day and the huge cookathon!!!!
Yesterday was a day of great preparations the final clean of the house, a dog walk through the very icy woods to pick a bit of holly.  The turkey for boxing day onwards is cooked and carved and the bones in the stock pot.  The huge rib of beef is out getting to room temperature, now all I have to do is do it justice when I cook it. Once it is in the oven it is just the roast potatoes, sprouts and Yorkshire pudding that are left to do.  Everything else is ready and only needs heating.  I do have one major job to do and that is iron the table cloth.  I never bother to iron it when it is washed as it always needs doing before putting on the table and rather than do it twice I put it away un-ironed and then curse!!!!
When I got up this morning I followed my usual routine and went to switch on the computer and coffee machine but as I entered the kitchen and switched on the lights - bang - the fuses blew!!!  This better not be an omen.…

4am Christmas eve

What a stupid time to up and around!!!!  The forecast snow for yesterday never materialised and we are above freezing this morning.  We set off for the shops bright and early and got the meat from the butcher and extra milk and potatoes from Tesco.  Parking outside the butcher was not a problem but Tesco had marshals in the car park directing traffic.  Thank goodness, I only had a couple of items to buy as it was total bedlam in there.  We then took the dogs for a run on the way home but Basso was a little sod and refused to come back until HE had had enough fun!!!  This has to be one of the most difficult things in dog training.  When the dog eventually comes back you must be pleased and not beat him to within an inch of his life, which is what you feel like doing.  However, he is going to find himself on a lead today and we will be doing plenty of recalls just to reinforce the fact that when I say come back that is exactly what I mean and it is not up to him to decide if and when to…

Thursday morning

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It's a dogs life!!!! don't they all look stressed out about Christmas?
Today we start in earnest - first port of call will be the chemist to pick up Mikes prescription we don't want any problems over the holidays.  Then it is on to the butcher to pick up the meat and finally I need some potatoes and cream which I may have to run into Tesco for then that is it.  The snow is due to start at lunch time but lets hope it is not as bad as the last couple of falls.  I managed to get the mince pies made and put safely away and the trout quiche made and adequate lunch and supper. All the ironing got done and put away so we are almost there.  I also went with Basso to play postman and deliver all the local cards.  It was not much fun as the snow was very slushy and slippery but we made it without incident.  The cutlery has been through the silver dip and the final presents wrapped and ready. But guess who forgot to put the bins out?  Fortunately we don't have vast amounts of rub…

Wednesday and only a few days to go

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Nip got the hump yesterday when he discovered that he was not going to Len and Margaret for his Christmas holiday break!  He sat in the snow with his back to us and refused to come inside for ages.  As anticipated Jane was not going to make it, she did offer to walk with her son in tow but I told her not to bother.  However she may come another day if the weather improves.  In the mean time I got on with what needed to be done.  I dug the paths out again but it was much easier this time as the temperature was up and the snow had not frozen hard.  No sooner than I had cleared it all than it began to rain so perhaps it was a bit of wasted effort.  I then got all the beds changed and the sheets into the washing machine so as you can imagine the house looks like a Chinese laundry this morning and I will be doing a mountain of ironing to get it cleared and out of the way.
For lunch I had made some breaded chicken and for supper we had bubble and squeak to which I added not only fried onio…

Tuesday morning, deep and crisp and even!!!!

I have just had a peek outside and all the nice clear paths have disappeared under another blanket of snow.  So I guess today is another snow shovelling day.  We were due to take Nip and Tuc to stay with Len and Margaret for a few days but I rang and cancelled that.  I really didn't want to be responsible for either of them breaking bones taking the dogs for a walk.  Fortunately, the heavy snow didn't fall until Mike was safely back from having his flu jab so at least the initial snow shovelling was not in vain.  I walked up the road yesterday to post a few letters and stopped at the baker and bought a nice crusty loaf.  I needed to drop into the bank but of course they were not yet open so that may be a chore for today and this time I might remember that they don't open until after 10am.  I go so rarely that I had completely forgotten that they have strange opening hours.

Basso has just returned from his morning patrol of the boundaries and his huge paws are double their …

Monday morning

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The paparazzi were out in force yesterday and managed to snap this photo of me in my glorious outfit shovelling a path through the snow.  I manage to clear a path right up to the chickens when I noticed that there were lots of dog like prints in the snow.  Well it was not my dogs so it can only have been foxes.  I then spotted something in the middle of the vegetable garden and when I got closer I saw it was the rat trap with rat which the foxes must have dragged around trying to extricate the it.  Well they were not the only ones who were unable to get it out of the trap I couldn't shift it either as it was all frozen solid so I have left it in the middle of the shed floor to defrost at which point I will be able to remove the offending rat.  I don't expect this to be any time soon as it has been under zero all day and is now -3.  We had a little more snow yesterday just enough to give my newly cleared paths an icing sugar dusting so nothing significant.  Once the back was cl…

Sunday morning

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What a day we had yesterday!!!  The drive to the shoot was uneventful and though there was a little snow around the roads had been gritted and the motorway was clear.  The shoot was set for 7 drives 5 in the morning then 2 after lunch well it didn't turn out that way.  Basso completely blotted his copy book on the fist drive when he stole a partridge and ate it for breakfast which meant that he spent the rest of the shoot on the lead and was not allowed to pick up any further birds.  By the end of the 4th drive it had begun to snow and I rang Mike to see what the score was at home.  He was getting concerned as the snow was falling fast and beginning to settle.  I decided that discretion was the better part of valour and and made my way back to my car.  The drive home was pretty horrendous with traffic on the motorway down to a crawl as visibility was next to nothing.  Getting off on the slip road was an act of faith as there was nothing to indicate the turning.  As I got closer to…

Saturday morning

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Well the white stuff fell for a couple of hours yesterday lunch time and has left about an inch.  It is well below freezing and the thermometer on the house wall is reading -3 so I guess it is probably a couple of degrees below that.  As some point I am going to have to make the decision as to whether I am going to go to the shoot.  I don't want to be whimp and bottle out but I also need to be sensible.  The thought of standing around in a field in these temperatures doesn't fill me with joy but I know that Basso will love every minute of it.  I suppose if I dress up well with multiple layers then I should be all right.  The weather forecast is not good, the morning looks OK, but come the afternoon the snow is due to fall in large quantities. I suppose there is one saving grace and that is with the ground frozen there will not be too much mud which should make walking easier.  Basso was trying to tell me he wanted to go as yesterday he kept bringing me things that had fallen o…

Thursday morning

Well it is definitely sub zero this morning but none of the white stuff yet.  We had a relatively successful shopping expedition yesterday until we got to Tesco at around 11.30 it was absolute chaos.  We drove into the car-park and found not a single space so we drove straight back out again.  There was nothing urgent that I needed so this morning I am going to hit the place early.  I intend to be there by 5am which should see the car-park empty but for the night shelf stocking staff.  I am hoping I can whistle through and get home in time for breakfast and probably before Mike is out of bed.  With that in mind this will be a short missive typed as I slosh down a cup of hot coffee before I go and defrost the car.  Some times there are advantages to getting out of bed at this ungodly hour.

Well it is now 6am and I am back from the shops and have driven round to a friend to hand deliver a birthday card.  Shopping in Tesco at this early hour is quite fun as it is a bit of an obstacle cou…

Thursday morning

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This photo is of my lovely rechargeable flickering tea lights in three colours - a difficult photo to take as the flash wipes out the flames.  They look very realistic but are completely safe and will last 12 hours on one charge.  Buried in some greenery they should make a nice decoration.
Yesterday was a long slog starting with the pheasants which are now made into jarred pate with venison and pork and brandy.  I have kept a few breasts for separate meals - then I made up some pheasant pies which are now in the freezer.  For lunch we had some of the hare pate and crusty bread which was easy as we had the dining room in uproar with the man steam cleaning the carpet.  It looks brilliant this morning so I am delighted.  It cost me £34 to have both the dining room and the hall done.  I asked what the full price would have been and was quoted £55 which seems very reasonable so I may be having it done again next year.  We moved back just the essentials last evening and today the rest of th…

Wednesday and bin day

Good morning folks, the temperature is dropping and we are only just above freezing. Yesterday went well and I managed to accomplish all the out door chores.  The 50 kilos of chicken feed seem to be heavier than the last time I shifted them or maybe I am just getting weaker.  Anyway they are all safely stowed in rat proof containers.  Unfortunately if I leave it in the sacks the rats nibble the bottoms and I have the feed all over the floor.  The hens accommodation was given a good clean out and their feed bowls washed and refilled.  They have new nesting material which they don't seem to appreciate and scatter far and wide however at least it provides some entertainment for them.  The garden has been cleaned of dog poo which is a task that I really don't like doing but as I have dogs it is my responsibility to clear up after them.  Several loads of laundry have been done and passed through the tumble dryer and are now ready for ironing however I still have a couple of loads t…

Tuesday

At the moment we are above freezing but only just.  The weather forecast is not looking good at the end of the week so we are bracing ourselves for another dousing of snow.  I am up very late this morning as I didn't go to bed until late as James came down for supper and a sub towards his boiler repair which turned out to be relatively cheap.  I was dreading a complete replacement of the boiler but it was just some leaking pipework that needed fixing.  The microwave oven is a right off as that had shorted out and caught fire. That will no doubt be easily replaced in the January sales.  Fortunately I had had a bit of a cooking session and there was a large cottage pie ready which was enough for three so now I will have to have a look at my menu and rearrange it some what.
Today I have a few outdoor chores that need to be done before we get more snow so the chickens will get a good clean out and the garden is in need of a dog poo picking session. I also have 50kg of chicken food to…

Monday

Yesterday ticked along fairly well and I got to grips with some of the cleaning that needed doing.  I have a panelled glass door in the dining room which gets very heavily slobbered but is a real pain to clean as each individual panel has to be done on both sides which means you never seem to get rid of the smears.  the kitchen cupboards also got a bit of a birthday but the kick-board will have to wait until I do the floor.
Shiona arrived with my DVD's but she was not happy as the arrangement to do her hair on Sunday had misfired and the shop was closed.  There must have been some mal-communication somewhere along the line.  Anyway we topped her up with coffee and commiserated then wished her a happy Christmas as we will not see her again until after the holidays as she will be up in Scotland.
I spent quite some time trying to get Basso's coat sorted out he had burs deeply buried in very awkward places which in the end I removed with scissors and finally to get the mud from b…

Sunday morning

It is Sunday but only just, half past three is a very silly time to be awake but I have slept for 7 hours.  Both Basso and I were totally pole axed after the days shoot - If I walked a thousand miles he must have done 7 and at full tilt.  The shoot was quite good with a bag of 65 and I had an opportunity to have a nice chat with the game keeper.  Apparently the national average for birds shot is only 33% Some are lost through natural predation but even so that leaves a fair few survivors.  Basso did his fair share of retrieving and behaved extremely well - he is really getting the hang of this game now.  He is a bit of a pain for the first few drives as he is inclined to whine with excitement and can't wait to get going but as the day wears on he settles down. The guns are beginning to recognise him now and call him the "big Italian cappuccino", but he looks more like an espresso this morning as he has brought home a considerable quantity of the field.  He has handed in …

Saturday morning and a roasting 5 degrees

After the bitter cold of the last couple of weeks 5 degrees feels like summer.  I must admit I am delighted as standing around for the shoot today will not be quite as onerous as I first thought.  However, for some unknown reason I am terribly anxious about today, I woke just before 4 in a cold sweat of panic.  Why?  I have no idea.  I really could have used a couple more hours sleep but once my mind switches on and starts working there is no chance.
Yesterday was successful, with the lunch for Len and Margaret going down very well, they are nice easy people to feed and always appreciative so a pleasure to cook for.  I packaged up a parcel which needed posting so Margaret and I and the three dogs had a walk up to the post office.  It was useful to have Margaret with me as it meant she could hang on to the dogs while I did the posting.  I am loathed to tie the dog outside a shop as there have been a spate of dog thefts in the area lately.  Interestingly we had to walk up the middle of…

Friday morning

Here is a story to gladden the heart, I got a panic phone call from Len and Margaret yesterday as they had lost their central heating, they had called out the boiler man but he warned them that if a part was needed then it could be a while before they got it mended.  They were looking for alternative means of heating and wondered if we could help.  As luck would have it, buried deep in the far end shed, there was a valour gas fire which worked on bottled gas.  It had been sat there waiting for just such an emergency for the last ten years.  I had rescued it from my Dad's garage where he had used it to keep off the chill when working on engines.  I was not hopeful that it would still be operational and felt sure they would need to buy some gas but they were welcome to try it.  Their plumber was not due until late afternoon so in the mean time I went to have a look at it and extricate it from the rest of the rubbish piled in the corner.  To my surprise it had a gas bottle in it so I…

Thursday morning

Only seriously mad people would consider going shooting in the sub zero temperatures so you will know that we did go.  They had managed to clear the grounds paths with a JCB and had tipped tons of salt and grit so it was not to treacherous given that it is a steep sided old gravel pit.  Now this is what you really want to know.  How did I shoot with the new gun arrangement?  My final score was 2 shots behind Jeff so I am a chuffed as ninepence and my wellie boot socks kept my feet from freezing.  We gave Mike a call as we left so that he could put the oven on and while the guns were cleaned the chicken pie developed a burnished gold crust.  Oh god I sound like Nigella!!!! pity I don't look like her.  Anyway the pie was demolished in moments and the polenta cake made a nice dessert then a good hot coffee and we were all happy warm content.  Needless to say supper was a piece of toast and some baked beans and I was off to bed tired but content.
Today we are off to the dentist in Ma…

Wednesday morning

The house is clean and the laundry is done - only the ironing to do, but that can wait, today I am off shooting.  Well at least I hope I am, the weather forecast is for more snow but as yet I have seen none.  It was due to snow in north Kent after midnight but we seem to have escaped so far.  Lunch for the shooting party is done in the form of a large chicken pie which just needs popping in the oven to reheat and cook the pastry.  Then I fished the second half of the lemon polenta cake out of the freezer and a small slice of that should round things off nicely.
I test drove my new wellie socks yesterday while I cleaned out the chickens.  There is still plenty of snow to wade through so my feet should have felt the cold but not a bit of it they were toasty and warm.  As I came back down the garden I noticed that the ice on the pond had all been smashed up and I wondered how it had happened.  Then I saw Nip!!!!  His back end was dripping wet, he had obviously tried to take a short cut a…

Tuesday morning

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Yesterday turned out to be a cooking day, by the time I had dismantled the chickens and made a 3litre pot of stock I found I had enough meat left to make one large and two individual pies, so it was on with a cream mushroom and tarragon sauce.  While I was in the mood for pastry I also made a batch of mince pies but sadly they are somewhat deplete this morning so I guess another batch will be in order.  For lunch I made a tray of sticky chicken wings which we ate cold once Mike was back from having his hair cut.  He had stopped off at the animal food chandler and restocked us with 2 x 25 kilo bags of chicken food which I will have to carry up to the end shed some time today.  I would normally use the sack barrow but with the ice still on the ground it may have to wait a while.  Talking of animal food I picked over the bones from the stock and made supper and breakfast for the three dogs.  I made the cranberry sauce and got that into the freezer and by the time it came to supper I was …

Monday morning

Yesterday saw me out with the dogs for a nice run for the fist time in a week.  The walking was a little treacherous with the snow/ice still on the paths but it was great to get out and get a breath of fresh air.  Then it was on with the cooking, I roasted the 2 chickens for lunch and we ate the legs and thighs for lunch and supper but the rest is awaiting dealing with.  I also made the pigs in blankets and stuffing so that is all ready to go in the freezer. I also made a nice beef skirt stew in the slow cooker while I was at it. While chatting with my chef friend he told me of an interesting way of doing pig in duvets.  Take a small baking potato and run an apple corer through the middle then insert a sausage and bake, sounds like fun I must give it a go some time...
Today, I would like to get the gravy and the cranberry sauce done which will only leave me the bird and the potatoes to do.  I brined the chickens to good effect so I think the turkey will also get brined in an effort to…

Sunday morning and damp

Despite plenty of rain yesterday and a positively balmy 4 degrees we still have a covering of snow.  However it is going, all be it slowly.  Yesterday morning we resolved to get some shopping done and were out of the house by 9am which is just as well as we were not the only ones with this idea.  We managed to get round M&S so I am now restocked with underwear and then it was on to Sainsbury which was some what depleted, the bread department looked as if it had been attacked by locusts.  Anyway, we managed to get all the items on the list and a few more besides.  I now have all the ingredients I need to make the Christmas goodies that can be made ahead of schedule so that will keep me occupied in the coming week.
By the time we were finished the whole place was heaving and the car park completely full.  Unloading the car was fun as we still had heaps of snow to tramp through so as I ferried stuff from the car Mike took it in an dumped it so that when I finally took my wellies off …

Saturday morning

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Well what crazy weather we are having this morning it is hosing down with rain and blowing a force 9 ...Yesterday I spent some time getting the snow off the path outside the front door and then I tackled the car and got that cleared then ran the engine for a little to melt the ice off the windows and finally drove it backward and forward a few yards to make and escape run.  Then it was a walk up the road to the shops for milk.  I decided to take Basso as he was going stir crazy being cooped up with all this snow but no sooner than we reached the gritted part of the road than he started limping and worrying at his feet.  Then I realised that the salt must be stinging his little paws..he has no wellies you know!!!  so I had to stand him in the fresh snow from time to time.  I was a little concerned that if he pulled I might be in trouble with the ice but he seemed to understand and walked very nicely.  We were stopped by a family who were shopping but the kids were desperate cuddle Bass…

Friday morning

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Not much is moving even the post man didn't make it through yesterday.  It snowed all day and we now have approximately 2 feet but according to the weather forecast things should start to improve over the weekend.  We cancelled all our arrangements for the weekend the shoot seems to be a bit risky to say the least.  Shiona is marooned in Goudhurst and we cancelled lunch with Len and Margaret on Sunday.  Today the guy is due to come and shampoo the carpets but I don't think he will be able to make it through so I am assuming that that too is off.
Basso, Nip, Tuc and I had a bit of a lark around in the garden, the two small dogs like snow balls but Basso just wants to run and jump in the snow.  The little dogs come in with clean wet feet but the big boy comes in with white snow boots on which slowly melt on to the floor leaving puddles in the kitchen and on the carpet.  There is no point worrying about it but you do need to be careful not to slip in the kitchen.
We are due for …

Thursday and still snowing

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I am so glad I spent time shovelling snow yesterday to clear the paths - you would never know, it has all been obliterated in with a fresh fall of snow.  The forecast has warned us of another 20cm today so I think I will just forget the paths.  I though I would have a game with Basso and throw his pretend pheasant for him to find but unfortunately it buried itself in the snow and he got soaked digging it out - not a very good idea.  So I though snow balls might amuse him, the other dogs like it but he just looked at me with a hurt expression and wondered why I was throwing things at him.  It looks less and less likely that the shoot on Saturday will be a goer and I am wondering if Shiona will make it from Goudhurst on Friday.

We have been house bound for the last couple of days but I think we may venture out today as I have a fairly long shopping list.  None of it essential but stuff I could use to get ahead for Christmas.  Yesterday I did a tub of glazed carrots and some peas with b…

Wednesday

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I really do need some wellies!!!
Yesterday the snow fell continuously all day, not heavily but constantly, however it made no significant impact on the 4 inches we already had.  Over night we don't seem to have had any more but apparently it is Thursday that we are due for another dousing.  I must own up to playing snow balls with the dogs on my way to the chickens and while Nip thought it was great fun Basso just looked at me in dismay and didn't see the joke.  My good intentions of clearing out my wardrobe came to nothing but I didn't waste my time I sat and wrote all the Christmas cards.  Now do you believe in telepathy?  while writing the cards I came to some friends who live in France but I know that they have moved and don't have their new address so I would have to send them an E mail instead.  Then when I checked the mail on the iPad there was a letter and some lovely photos of their new house - still no address mind you.
The wonderful Jane rang to say she was …