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Showing posts from April, 2010

Friday morning and raining

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New cones are appearing on my Korean fir tree, they start off this bright pink colour and then turn a deep shade of purple. We had a few drops of rain yesterday evening but nothing significant and then we have had the odd shower over night. The forecast is for rain over the weekend but the garden is in desperate need so I for one am not complaining. While doing my chores yesterday I collected the usual 4 eggs from the hens but left them by the pond as I was distracted by an opportunity to catch a couple of the larger fish and transfer them to the other side of the pond. When I finally remembered the eggs I went back to find that the container had been tipped over and one egg had vanished. There was no sign of broken shell so I can only surmise that the magpie had helped himself to a nice breakfast. Had it been the dogs there would have been a mess and all the eggs would have gone. Mike did a big shopping run so we are now fully stocked once more and with the vegetable delivery ar…

Thursday morning

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A new small boy is born! Elaine's horse has finally given birth to this rather lovely little chap. Mother and son are doing well. I am hoping to visit and see the little chap on Saturday, I need to drop off Elaine's birthday present so it will be an ideal time to have a look at the new boy. Yesterday was a fairly busy day which started with a trip out shooting - I am gradually getting better and managed a 9/10 on one stand. We all had a burger for lunch and while we were sitting in the lovely plastic garden chairs it looked like it was snowing as the breeze was blowing the petals from the blossom on the trees. The to our surprise a young fox approached - he could obviously smell the bacon cooking!!! He was very bold and come to about 15 feet of where we were sitting. Needless to say people thew bits of bread in his direction but sadly he was only quick enough to get one bit as a big magpie swooped down and gathered the rest and flew away. The look of sheer disappointme…

Wednesday morning and bin day

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The columnar cherry in bloom but somewhat out shone by the amalancier behind. Yesterday was a busy day starting with mowing the grass and while Mike was having his hair cut. Then it was off to Shiona's for lunch which was a delicious risotto made with the first cut of asparagus. The 5 dogs played like idiots all day and chased around her garden. Then it was off to dog training and we were promoted up one class to novice but what a disaster Basso decided to play the fool and made me look like a total wally. Fortunately, Sandi was there to agree with me that he was just being stupid and trying to wind me up. Things he can do perfectly well he refused to do. By the time we finished at about 8.45 when the light failed I was completely exhausted and we headed swiftly for home via the chippy. I motored through my burger and chips and crashed out into bed. I was out cold withing about 5 minutes and slept solidly until 5 am but when I tried to get out of bed I found that my back was so st…

Tuesday and a busy one

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Everything seems to be in flower and the garden is looking very good in the sunshine. Yesterday, after coffee, we headed out with the dogs for a walk which was very pleasant with no wind and just enough sun to keep us nice and warm. Margaret and I went with the dogs and Mike and Len sat in the car and chatted. Once that was done we headed off in search of a nice pub for lunch. We drove for some time along little country lanes running parallel with the Medway and eventually found a pub that looked OK. Well, as it turned out, it was more than OK it was very nice. It turned out that it was under new management and the publicans had only been in situ for two weeks. The portions were huge and the cooking was very good I had crispy chorizo with black pudding and a poached egg to start with and followed it with a rib eye steak cooked blue with a pink peppercorn sauce and hand cut chunky chips. Mike had pate with toasted brioche then followed with calves liver and a creme brulee. Ple…

Monday morning and double figures

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The newly installed rope edging which keeps the plum coloured slate from wandering into the beds. It is actually 10 degrees this morning so the temperature is gradually climbing up at last. Yesterday's shooting went well though I started shooting pretty badly by the time we had finished I was shooting well and shot 7 out of the last 8 which was a pleasing way to finish. Before I went shooting I had take some analgesia as my sciatica is back with a vengeance but it had worn off by the end. However, I think that was just coincidental and not an excuse for my poor early performance. The weather was very overcast and we had a minor shower but it was pretty ideal for shooting. We had our usual sausage and egg baguette for brunch and I had cleverly done some chicken wings in a sticky sauce which we had cold for supper so I was off the hook for cooking yesterday. The chickens were flying up on to the top of their run so I nipped up there with a pair of scissors and did a bit of win…

Sunday morning and off shooting

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What a glorious day yesterday was with wall to wall sunshine and it was considerably warmer. I started the day by making a batch of hand cream and getting it all packed up for posting, hopefully this time it will reach the correct destination. I then decided to make some "cullen skink" soup with the smoked haddock and leeks I had knocking around. I then settled down to doing the general knowledge crossword in the Telegraph which take me a while as there are always things to look up and things which I know that I know but can't recall from my memory. For example could I think of the name of the man who shot JFK, no, but I knew that Jack Ruby had shot him. It took ages for the name Lee Harvey Oswald to surface from the depths of my brain. I'm sure this is a manifestation of age and I put it down to the fact that there is so much information in my brain that it takes some time to sift through. Well that's my story and I am sticking to it. The phone never stopped…

Saturday and it should be getting warmer

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Frog spawn and marsh marigolds in the small pond. Where has April gone? Suddenly we are at the end of the month which just seems to have flown by. The mornings are getting lighter and the evenings are lengthening too. Tuesday sees the start of dog training for the season which doesn't start until 7 pm. With this in mind I did a bit of practice with Basso yesterday while we were out on the walk and he seemed to be very obedient let's hope he keeps it up once he is in the company of his mates at school. My cupboards were fairly bare so I had the pleasure of a trawl around the shops. The butcher first then on to Tesco for the other odds and ends and finally home for lunch. Did I get any gardening done? no, none at all, I didn't even get the lawn watered so that must be my first job this morning especially as we are set to have a warm day today. The wretched birds have dug a big hole in the lawn taking bits for their nest building enterprises. Mike brought down all the…

Friday morning and still sunny

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Sandi arrived bright and early yesterday morning so that we could have a nice cup of coffee before setting out to the shooting ground. I was in a bit of dilemma as to what to wear as it was perishing cold but beautifully sunny. In the end I decided that a sort of fleece top under my shooting vest would be the best option - which is was until I was in the sun for some time then it was too hot. I shot on my own with Mike operating the buttons and Sandi walking the dog "Yoda" around. He was largely unfazed by the sound of the gun and once I had finished we gave him a couple of retrieves by way of a treat. Then it was off to the club house for a bacon and egg baguette and a mug of tea for lunch. I had left my three dogs at home so when we got back it was a case of putting the two terriers in the crate and letting Basso and Yoda play. The terriers object to Yoda as he is a real boy so a threat to them. The two gun dogs played really well with each other until someone pushed…

Thursday morning

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Well what a productive day I had yesterday. Mark the gardener was here at 8am sharp and we got stuck into laying the rope edging which had once been along the bed in the chicken run and is now redundant. There was sufficient to lay along all the beds that I wanted and my chipped slate is now well contained instead of wandering off into the flower beds. I managed to get a good bit of weeding done and when we removed the boxes from the roof I was able to save some of the better plants and relocate them. All in all a very satisfying mornings work, but my back sure knows that I did it so I am starting the morning with an ibuprofen breakfast as I am due to go shooting in a couple of hours. It was really cold again last night and it is only 4 degrees now even though the sun is up. For the first time in days there are vapour trails in the sky as well as a few clouds. Elaine and her kids finally made it back from Tenerife and she is back in time for her horse which is due to foal at any m…

Wednesday morning and bin day

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Where has April gone? I suddenly realised that dog training starts again next Tuesday which is the 27th and April is nearly done. Now for the saga of the chipped slate Mike managed to cancel the delivery so the problem is solved and I am mightily relieved. Mark the gardener is due today and the weather looks good so we will be able to get on with lots of the other jobs which are legion. I did manage to get quite a bit done yesterday despite having to roast a duck for lunch. Fortunately, I had prepared all the bits and pieces very early so it was largely a matter of turning a few knobs. The carcass made a beautiful broth which we had for supper with a little pastina and lots of Parmesan. I had not intended to go shooting this week but Sandi is keen to have her 18 month old puppy "Yoda" shot over so we are going to take him to Dartford where I can shoot a bit of skeet and she can get the dog as close as she would like. Basso is completely unfazed by guns going off as …

Tuesday morning

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This is what the pigeons have left of my cabbages - It is no wonder that farmers want them shot I know I do!!!! Mind you I was in the mood to shoot Mike yesterday as he decided in his wisdom to order some slate chippings for the garden. Currently we have about 6 tons of plum coloured slate covering the first third of the garden so he ordered another ton but of midnight blue slate!!!! I was not a happy bunny and his task this morning is to change the order or even cancel it before it is delivered tomorrow. I don't know what possessed him to do this. Mark, the gardener, is due tomorrow and I can see him spending his three hours barrowing slate at £20 per hour while I spread it with a rake - definitely not what I had in mind..... OK that is my rant over I expect we will sort things out. I did manage to purchase a mower yesterday which is absolutely tiny and ideal for my small patch of grass. It is a bit feeble but will do the job and I am sure I will be more inclined to do the …

Monday morning and still dark

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One of my four egg machines - yesterday I was so inundated with eggs that I decided to take a few to my friends and neighbours. I boxed them in half dozens and then went for a walk up and down the road delivering them. If the truth be told, what I was actually doing was trying to avoid mowing the grass. Suddenly other jobs took on major importance but in the end I was left with no choice but to get the mower out. I went round the lawn edges with the shears first and trimmed it all nicely then to my delight the mower absolutely refused to start. It is an electric flymo so not a great deal I could do except check plugs and fuses and still nothing so I decided that the Gods didn't want me to mow the grass and I gave up and watered it instead. The pork pie was not as successful as I would have liked and the jelly was not set by the time I came to cut it . I should have left it a lot longer or even over night but you live and you learn. The flavour was not too bad but there was…

Sunday morning and pie making

Yesterday, it was frosty first thing so I made some jars of skin cream with oats and honey. I have kept one jar for myself and posted two jars off to friends who have troublesome dry skin. Now all I need to do is sit back and wait to see if it does the trick for them. I have been using it on my hands and a patch of dry skin on my elbow and it seems to work quite well. I had intended to work in the garden but got side tracked and once the dogs had been walked and lunch cooked I sort of lost the impulsion. I made a "bagna cauda" which we had with crudites and followed it with scallops and asparagus. A rather nice lunch for a Saturday!!!! Today I am going to make pork pies and who knows I may even get out to the garden. It is quite some time since I made hot water crust pastry so that will be a bit of a novelty. I thought I would actually make it in a loaf tin rather than risk raising it round a jam jar. I also thought I would put hard boiled eggs in the middle like a g…

Saturday and lets hope it is a bit warmer

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Well yesterday was a lovely sunny day but it was still freezing cold with a bitter wind which obviously was coming from Iceland!!! I rang my friend Shiona as she was due to fly out to meet her Caribbean cruise. Talk about good fortune!!! the day before the eruption the cruise company rang to admit they had made a mistake and over booked so they asked if she would accept a cruise, free of charge, on another date AND a full refund - Well as she said, that was a no brain-er so she accepted their offer then came the eruption which would have cancelled the holiday anyway!!!! Some people are born lucky. My other friend Elaine is stuck in Tenerife with her parents and 3 children - well if you have to be stranded that is as good a place as any and certainly better than Heathrow. She was however worried about her cats which are in a cattery some 3 doors down from my house so I went along to check that it was OK with the owner to keep the cats until they manage to return. I know the catt…

Friday and another week is over

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This is what happens when you don't hold the gun correctly - poor James has a lovely bruise to prove the point. I am glad to say that by the time he left last night the swelling was subsiding and he was looking a little less battered. We had a relatively quiet day yesterday and took the dogs for a nice walk then stopped of via Tesco on the way back to stock up on a few bits and pieces. We ended up having a very late lunch as I had omitted to put the oven on before we left so the roast chicken took longer than anticipated. I saved the meat tin with all the chicken juices for supper and then just turned some tagliatelle through it and gave it a coat of Parmesan. Very tasty and relatively light as we were pretty stuffed from lunch. Today, I need to get on with some more of the garden chores so I hope the weather is a bit warmer. The chickens could do with cleaning out and the grass needs to be watered as I forgot to do it yesterday. The wind seems to have dropped so it shoul…

Thursday morning and another week is winding down

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Yesterday went well - we all got together for coffee at around 10 and then set off to do a bit of shooting. As it turned out the weather thought dry was absolutely freezing - there was not a glimmer of sun and the wind was icy. Shooting seem to be very popular and there were loads of people there but we made our way around with little trouble. I shot well and even beat Jeff on some of the stands which made me feel good. I started with a 9/10 which gave me confidence to do well on the other stands. James who has only shot a couple of times enjoyed the experience until he got a whack in the face from the gun stock which was incorrectly mounted. This has happened to all of us, it is a very good lesson in reminding you to mount the gun well. Anyway he shot reasonably well and what is more important he enjoyed the experience. We decided that we would have a burger at the van for lunch which by the time we had finished we were all in need of. The burgers contained everything bacon, egg, che…

Wednesday and off shooting

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I always find it a miracle when these fabulous painted leaves of the arum italicum pictum appear from the dead bare earth. Yesterday was a very productive day I did all the cooking before anyone was out of bed and made Anglesey eggs for lunch and prepared buffalo wings for dinner with a stir fry of onion tomato and cauliflower accompaniment. Jane arrived on the stroke of 9am and whistled around the house while James and I got stuck into the garden chores. On the patio I have piles of large pebbles which act as a dirt trap and need to be lifted so that the area can be cleaned. It is a tedious and boring job but between us it took no time at all. We then made a construction designed to stop the back fence being climbed - it is chain link and backs on to the golf course. We vertically threaded in canes that I cut last year from my black bamboo and then wove some canes in horizontally which has made a rickety fence some 7 feet tall and quite difficult to climb. Pots of bulbs that …

Tuesday morning

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The first of the clematis in bloom and heavily scented as well!!! Yesterday was a bit of grim day Mike was feeling very under par and his chest was very bubbly. He rang at 9am for an appointment to see the doctor and was told he would have to ring back at 3pm, which he did and was given an appointment to see the doctor at 5.10. Great - he was given a prescription but of course the chemists were all closed at 5pm so James and I headed for the late night chemist in Rochester and got the pills for him. By the time it was time for bed his chest had stopped bubbling and I hope he has had a good nights sleep. James arrived at lunch time and so I had company on my dog walk and also on a quick blast round Tesco. We had had courgette pancakes and corned beef for lunch and for supper I made pan fried cod in the prawn and lemon butter sauce served with petit pois and saute potatoes. As there was not much by way of interesting TV James had brought a copy of "Shutter island" with …

Monday morning again

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The magnolia is in full bloom so we are really out of the winter but you would never know by the temperature. I went out to mow the grass yesterday morning and was cut in half by the blast of cold wind from Siberia. I needed to get the chores done bright and early as we were out to lunch with the wonderful dog sitters who had Nip and Tuc. I was delighted that the dogs had apparently behaved extremely well and had been a joy to have. It makes it so much easier to leave them if you are secure that they are not going to run a muck. They were pleased to see us but had had a super holiday living in the lap of luxury. Three walks a day, sleeping either on the sofa or in the humans bed!!! Well it is down to earth with a bump for them now they are back home, the old rules still apply. I managed to get the washing done before we left and with the wind it was nice and dry by the time we got back so now it's on with the ironing. Washing always smell so nice when it has dried in the fr…

Sunday morning and still pitch dark

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Fairly early on Friday morning taking the dog for a walk at Rutland water. You can see by the water that there was not a breath of wind. Well the chairs are all safely delivered and we are now back after a very pleasant break. It really is very nice not to have to think what to eat for once and just sit back and wait for meals to turn up. We had had a fairly miserable journey up to Peterborough with various problems on the roads but I am glad to say that when I drove back yesterday morning it all went very smoothly. We were truly blessed with the weather which was sunny and warm which made things easier with Basso. I am pleased to say that Basso was very well behaved and soon settled into the new surroundings and the complied with the new rules. Poor Mike developed tooth ache while we were away so he was several degrees under hence the reason I drove back. David was having trouble with his computer which happily I was able to sort out for him. I am no technical wizard but I do ha…

Thursday morning and a bit of a rush

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I was up pretty late for me at 6.30 so I am in a bit of a rush now to get everything together so that we can take Nip and Tuc to Len and Margaret where they will be staying for the next couple of days. The back home to get our stuff together and pack Basso's bits for our trip north. I also need to make sure the chickens are fed and water with enough to last until we return on Saturday afternoon. Shooting went well yesterday and I shot reasonably well, not my best but not bad. We were incredibly lucky with the weather as it was dry while we shot but no sooner had we finished than the heavens opened and it continued to rain all afternoon. Jeff thought we had a flat tyre so on the way home we stopped to inflate it and while we were at the air line Mike did all four tyres. He was rushing as there was a guy waiting to follow us and when he got back in the car he was in a terrible state of breathlessness which just goes to show how badly his health has deteriorated over this last…

Wednseday and not bin day

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Some people have gnomes, we have a large owl which is a chainsaw carving with new forest oak. I'm pleased to say that I got most of my chores done yesterday including putting Basso in the bath! As I suspected it was a pretty messy affair - he was reluctant to get in the bath despite the fact that there was no water in it at the time so I had to manhandle him in. Once I started to shower him and wash he was very good but when he got fed up he just jumped out and there was little we could do to stop him. Fortunately he was well rinsed but he then gave one good shake and the entire bathroom was soaked. Oh well it is one way to make you clean the bathroom!!!! He then headed for my bed which seemed a good place to roll and dry himself but once I got the hair dryer on he was happy to allow himself to be blown dry. By the time we were finished both he and I were exhausted!!!! To my great surprise we managed to fit all eight of the white plastic chairs in the car with enough room for Basso…

Tuesday and the weather is looking good

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The magnolia is just bursting into flower but as you can see by the photo it is not quite light yet. Yesterday morning, I decided to be brave and tackle the boiling of the frames from the bee hive - what a rotten job it is everything gets sticky with propolis which the the glue that the bees use to weld everything together. Anyway to cut a long story short it took me all morning to get the frames boiled, dismantled, cleaned and hung to dry. This morning I have the dubious pleasure of emptying the pan of the 18 litres of sticky water and sorting out the wax which is now cold and set and floating on the top. I have designated an old frying pan for this task as wax does not come off easily. Once melted I pass it through an old sieve lined with muslin then set it into a block for future use. I am giving you a full description of what is going on so that when you find yourself paying huge sums of money for a jar of honey you will fully understand why!!!! On a slightly more interesting …

Bank Holiday Monday

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With James at home Nip gets the chance of a nice cuddle. The weather was supposed to be very wet but it was actually very sunny and looked lovely until you ventured out and discovered there was a biting wind from Siberia. Once the leg of lamb was in the oven we wrapped up nice and warm and took the dogs for a run down by the estuary. In one area there is a large expanse of concrete which was once the foundations of a wharf and a scrap yard but now it is an excellent place for the dogs to run and wear down their claws. There are a couple of large expanses of water which puddle there to a depth of about 8 inches which seem to be huge fun to run through so we invariably get wet dogs to take home but at least they are not muddy. Today I intend to have a quiet day just relaxing I might do a bit in the garden if the weather is good but other than that and keeping the meals coming I have no plans. My foot is still quite swollen from the bee sting though it is completely painless. I do …

Easter Sunday Morning

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According to the weather forecast yesterday was supposed to be a wet one but we decided to go ahead and try to get some of the garden chores done anyway. As luck would have it it stayed dry all day and didn't rain until the evening. This meant that both sheds got a tidy and I managed to mow the grass. I put one of the supers of frames back on the bees but found that the second one had been destroyed by mice and the frames will need boiling and re-waxing which is a very miserable task. In the process I managed to get stung and reacted very badly to it. I was stung on the foot which then swelled and I had a systemic reaction where my skin felt as if it was crawling with ants and I would happily have rubbed myself down with sandpaper. I shot into the house and stood in a cold shower then took a piriton tablet as my eyes and throat were swelling. This doesn't bode well for my beekeeping future, however, it is my own fault as I failed to put my wellingtons on. James was a …

Saturday morning and very cloudy

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Left over hyacinths from an indoor arrangement of Christmas past have settled into the garden and are now in flower. Like a fool I had to venture into Tesco yesterday as I needed some lemons - what a mistake - it was packed to the rafters with people who don't usually do the shopping and have no idea what they are doing or where they are going. My dog whistle was hanging around my neck as I had just walked the dogs and I was struck with a desperate urge to give a couple of good blasts and bring the shop to a stand still. You will be pleased to know that I resisted the urge so I was not arrested for causing a stampede. Just as we were settling down to a lunch of bits and bobs James arrived so he joined in . Fortunately, I had got my timing right as the heavens then opened and it rained hard for most of the afternoon. For supper I did us each a portion of salmon with frozen parsley sauce, broccoli and potatoes. This idea of doing bechamel sauce in a large batch is definitely wo…

Good Friday morning

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Yesterday was a glorious sunny day but very windy which meant that we all shot extremely badly. The clays were flying about all over the place which made for some very difficult shooting but though it was pretty cold it did stay dry and sunny so we had nothing to complain about. Basso and Hamish accompanied us and were given a good run in one of the fields but sadly with the land so marshy they both got absolutely filthy. Lunch was a bacon and egg toasted sandwich and we shared a bowl of chips between the four of us. Shiona bought herself a light weight shooting vest that was on special offer so she was well pleased. Once home it was down to gun cleaning before everyone departed on their merry way and Mike and I collapsed on out beds for a rest. I was shattered having been up since 4 am and slept solidly until nearly 6pm when we decided that a take away was in order for supper. James is due down today at around lunch time so I think I might get some salmon out of the freezer which we c…

Thursday and really cold again

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The fish are always hopeful of some food but they don't get fed until the water temperature reaches 10 degrees. Given that today we are down to 3 degrees there is not much chance of that. Yesterday went well and I managed to get all my shopping done by about 1pm. I now am the proud owner of a nice navy blue shooting vest which will get its first outing today. It is a very clever design with an expansion flap to the front zip so you can get a thick coat under it and today that is going to be the case as it is freezing cold. The last shop on my list was the fish monger and I purchased some nice salmon for over the Easter period but I also bought some soft herring roe and some sprats for lunch. The fish monger gave me masses of sprats so there was easily enough for Mike and I and also a portion for the dogs who go absolutely mad for them. We didn't get around to eating till gone 2pm so neither of us was in the mood for supper so we just had a bit of bread and some slices of …