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Showing posts from October, 2010

Sunday

Don't for get the clocks go back one hour - my body didn't realise so I am up at 3.30 not 4.30.  I find this a total pain as it is my job to go round and change all the clocks.  There are some like the computer and the radio operated clocks which make the change themselves but stupid things like the oven, microwave, washing machine and car don't bother.  Then there are the things you forget like the camera and telephone handsets.  I heard on the news that they are going to try doing away with this time change and get in line with Europe which would apparently be good for business.  One wonders how the Americans cope with their time differences!!!  I for one would like to stick to GMT and have done with it - it is the changing that is the problem.  Right that is my first moan of the day over with.

Now on a more mundane level yesterday started well with lots of bright sunshine so dog walking was an early task.  I took them to some woods near Elaine's house so she and her…

Saturday morning

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I am not normally prone to photographing my vegetables but this radicchio has to be as stunning as any flower.  Sadly it is not one I have grown myself but it came in my vegetable box.

Yesterday the weather was reasonable so the dogs got taken for a good blast of fresh air down at the estuary where they also had a good session paddling and getting filthy.  Fortunately as they dry so their coats seem to shed the dirt: I guess most of it must end up on the carpet but not so as you would notice.  We stopped off at the fish monger where I took delivery of 2 x 4lb trout caught over night at Bewl water the local reservoir.  They had been filleted so all I had to do was pin bone them and divide them up into sensible portions.  The result was 12 good sized portions and 4 tail end pieces which we will have for lunch today.  I also bought a handful of shell on prawns to decorate my lunch of sea food risotto - I have kept the shells for making some seafood stock so they got put back into the fre…

Friday and the end of another week

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OK first in reply to the omelet question - for the full guide it might be worth your taking up the 14 day free trial http://rouxbe.com/myrouxbe.  However the essentials are, to cook the omelet in butter and at a very low temperature constantly stirring and shaking the pan which of course is very non stick and also the right size. This way the butter doesn't burn and the omelet takes on no colour at all.  Once it is more or less set you leave it to complete cooking then turn over one edge with a rubber spatula and flip it out on to the plate.  It is not easy to describe but the video makes all clear.  Oh I forgot to mention that you should beat the eggs with a fork until all the white is completely incorporated before pouring into the pan.  A whisk adds too much air and makes for the wrong consistency.   I hope this helps.  I have made hay while the sun shines with the free trial and picked up quite a few good tips.  The explanatory videos are very good and very clear.

Now on to y…

Thursday and warmer

So far so good, it is dry and relatively warm so shooting today should be fine.  Yesterday, I made a shepherds pie and was surprised how long it took by the time I had diced and sweated all the vegetables boned and minced the meat, made stock with the bones, peeled boiled and mashed the potatoes then finally assembled the whole thing I seem to have dirtied every utensil and pot in the kitchen.  Mike was delighted as I also made him a bread and butter pudding which is one of his favourites.  What is it about men and nursery puddings!!!!  Anyway the shepherds pie will make a good shooting lunch today and though it was designed for 4 we will only be 3 but I am sure we will manage some how.  Poor Shiona has a dental abscess so she is going to stay at home in the warm and take her antibiotics.  Getting a slap in the face from the gun stock is not to be recommended and you can bet it would happen today.  So it will be just Jeff and myself shooting which does make for a quicker round.

Just …

Wednesday morning

Yesterday was a race against the weather which we knew was on its way to us.  Mark turned up at 8am finding me still in my dressing gown and not expecting him until half past.  However, I can jump into a pair of jeans and sweat shirt in moments.  It was then up to the chicken run and dismantle the house and run so that they can be exposed to the elements over the winter which is by far the easiest way to clean them. The house is made of a very strong plastic so it comes to no harm in the wind and rain.  I then left him to sort out the base of the run which is paved and the surrounding land which needed a rake over to break up the surface.  He was astonished to see just what a mess the hens had made of the green house - the centre path no longer exists it has been completely buried under a layer of soil that they have dug up.  One thing is for certain not a single bug or slug will survive their assiduous scratchings.
In the kitchen I was in the process of making a roast leg of lamb whi…

Tuesday morning

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If only you could smell these lilies the scent is almost overpowering.  As cut flowers go I think they are my favourites along with roses, chrysanthemums and carnations.
Yesterday, was a gloriously sunny day here, cold but lovely, so once I had caught up on the chores it was out with the dogs for a nice jaunt.  We now look at sunny days in a different way and consider how much electricity we would be generating if we had our panels installed.  You can bet that once they are up we will have endless dull dark days!!!  However as this is a long term commitment the winter is not the best time to judge.
Lunch was a simple affair as I had stuff already made in the freezer so it was a case of boiling a bit of rice then adding the meat balls and a tub of tomato sauce and a good grating of parmesan cheese.  For dinner I thought we could have a cauliflower cheese as I had one that needed using up.  To go with it I had some turkey breast slices which I normally hate as they are tasteless and d…

Monday and the start of another week

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"There is no such thing as inclement weather only inappropriate clothing"
Never was a truer word spoken - I went shooting yesterday and was definitely inappropriately dressed - I froze to death.  It was much colder near Dover than here and there was a gentle icy breeze blowing so as we stood in the woods waiting our turn to shoot we gradually froze.  Oh how I wished I had put on my long Johns and a thick wind proof coat.  It is very difficult to shoot straight if you are shivering!!!!  Well that is my excuse for an appalling score.  As we drove home and my hands gradually thawed out I had terrific pins and needles so when we finally got home I dumped everything and and went and cuddled under my duvet until I was at last warm again.  By which time I had lost all enthusiasm for the day and spent the rest of the time slopping around in my dressing gown watching rubbish on the TV.  This means that nothing significant got done - the kitchen is in uproar and the dishwasher remains …

Sunday morning

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"Hare today and gone tomorrow" pate   This is the pate that we made yesterday afternoon and as it turned out there was about a quarter more meat left over so Shiona took that home to put in her jars and her oven.  I think 6 jars is enough for anyone unless you are intending to open a shop!!!  To add a bit of sweetness we put a few prunes which had been softened in red wine. It also has brandy and Marsala in it and shed loads of garlic.  The spicing is with thyme  juniper and sage.  We fried a little off to check the seasoning and it seems to be fine but we wont know for certain until we open a jar.  I think I now need to make some nice labels for the jars - would you be pleased to get a jar for Christmas?  This was my original idea but Mike is saying that I mustn't give it away but we will see who prevails. Don't waste your money betting who will win...... The sky is looking pretty clear from what I can see as the sun rises so it looks like shooting will be on today wh…

Saturday morning and hosing down

Yesterdays outing went well we took the dogs for a nice run in the woods and Basso was definitely in hunting mode.  It is very noticeable as his behaviour is quite different from the usual "off for a stroll".  I don't think there was a square inch of the woods that was not covered and had there been a pheasant he would have found it.
Lunch was very frustrating Mike and I ordered the paella which was for two and we were warned that it would take 20-30 minute.  This I felt was a good sign as it was going to be freshly made.  When it arrived it looked just as one would have expected but the first fork full was a crashing disappointment NO saffron but a bucket load of turmeric so it tasted more like curry than anything else.  Had we not been in company I would have complained - as far as I am concerned it was a way of saving money, saffron is expensive and turmeric is cheap and both make rice yellow.  Given that it cost £22.50 for the two of us and there was about £5 worth o…

Friday morning

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It is still pretty chilly here but not quite as cold as yesterday and still no frost, I think we are blessed as we are so close to the coast we always seem to be a couple of degrees warmer in the winter and a couple of degrees cooler in the summer.  We had a really lovely day yesterday shooting. We started off with a round of skeet.  You can just see the clay as it emerges from the top tower where the white triangle is.  The clays travel so fast it is very difficult to catch them with a camera, almost as difficult as it is to hit them with a shot gun!!!  We followed this with a round of sporting which was marred by two things one we could not shoot the easier stands as there was some sort of corporate jolly and they were using all the easiest stands and two we shot really badly on the more difficult stands which were available to us.  However, as you can see it was a glorious sunny day if a bit windy and very cold [thank heavens for long Johns].  We came home for lunch and I made a bi…

Thursday and down to 3 degrees

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Well there it is all installed and working you may just be able to see water coming through the spouts as it rinses itself prior to making me a beautiful cup of coffee which I am now drinking.  The machine also comes with an insulated jug so that you can make up to 6 cups at a time which is so much easier for entertaining.  As yet I haven't put it through all its paces but so far so good.  We used to have the previous machine on a time clock but this one heats very fast and switches itself off if you don't use it.  All the controls are the touch screen type and are very sensitive so it really is very easy to use.
While the house was in uproar the fish monger rang to say he had a hare and would I like it delivered - well what could I say - that is now stripped of the meat and the carcass boiled for stock.  I think I will either make a ragu for pasta or some pate out of it but at some other time as I still have the meat pies to make and I am off shooting this morning.
Now here…

Wenesday and bin day

The temperature is down to 5 degrees so winter is really on its way.  I woke really early this morning but that is because I am excited my coffee machine is coming this morning and as I had a major cooking session yesterday the kitchen could use a bit of a blitz. I managed to make loads of beef stew a portion of which was for lunch the remainder is going into pies which I will do today.   I also made the mince up into the various dishes and they are all in the freezer. We are also experimenting with the dishwasher to see which is the best time to put it on so that we are using it to its maximum capacity and during daylight hours.  For lunch I have organised some stuffed squid which I can get all prepared, it then needs 45 minutes in the oven which means I can stay out of the kitchen while the men are working.  The pile of ironing didn't get done so that is something I can be getting on with.  I have no idea how long it will take them to put the machine in but if it is anything lik…

Tuesday morning and bucketing down

Yesterday went largely according to plan - first a trip to the butcher where I bought a large amount of skirt for stews and also plenty of mince which will end up as bolognese, cottage pie, meat balls and plain mince.  then it was on to walk the dogs and finally home via the vegetable farm shop to restock on onions and mushrooms. Then home to prepare Kidneys Turbigo with mash and peas for lunch which we had to have nice and early as the men were coming to measure us up for the solar panels.  I also bought some liver to make liver cake for the dogs.  Liver is too strong for them to eat in any quantity so the liver cake is an excellent idea as I use it as treats.  It is not too unpleasant to make as I put the liver straight into the food processor and blitz then add a head of garlic a large cup of wholemeal flour and an egg.  The batter is then poured into a square silicone mould and cooked at 180 for about an hour - Once cool it can be divided into bite sized pieces and put in the free…

Monday morning and the temperature is dropping

Three rabbit pies in the freezer and two consumed for Sunday lunch.  It seemed to take ages to get the pies made as it is quite fiddly making them in those foil boxes. In the end I got 5 individual pies and 6 meals for the dogs out of 3 rabbits costing a total of £6 - economical if you don't add in my labour costs.... It would be interesting to know just how much I am worth per hour.  Perhaps I will write a CV for a house wife!!!!By the time I was finished the kitchen needed a good clean down as there was flour everywhere.  I also spent some time trying to organise the blue-tooth connection between my phone and the computer.  It is all done now and the phone has a distinctive ring tone.  Mikes rings like a phone but mine plays "Black and Gold" so we can tell them apart easily.
Today the engineers are coming to measure up for the solar panels and work out a route for the cabling and see what scaffolding is required.  I have been thinking how best to take advantage of the…

Sunday morning

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Even though this is bit sad and pathetic here is the trophy that I won.  It does however encourage me to do better!!!
Yesterday was a day of two halves I spent the early morning in the kitchen dismantling the rabbits and making stock with the bits and bones.  The livers I made into a parfait which was rather delicious and formed part of lunch along with the remaining mussel soup and some good crusty bread.  I seem to use just about every utensil in the kitchen so a mega wash up before breakfast was in order.  Then it was off out to hunt down a mobile phone replacement which proved relatively easy as I didn't require any fancy stuff as I have the iPad for that.  All I required was a phone that made and received calls and had a camera in case of a car accident.  Having accomplished that task it was off to the gunsmith for some bullets - when you buy them they kindly put them in the car for you but you only realise how heavy they are when you have to unpack the car at home.  2000 car…

Saturday morning

We are down to single figures already, only 8 degrees this morning however we didn't get any frost as forecast.
Yesterday's cooking session went well and the mussel soup was very tasty but a lot of faffing around - in future the mussels will be eaten in a less labour intensive fashion.  The squid and rice dish turned out well but again mega amounts of labour for a dish that was OK not particularly special and definitely not worth all the washing up.  Cleaning squid is a bit of a chore at the best of times.  The rabbits were put into the brine and this morning I will strip them of their meat and make the stock ready to have a major pie making session on Sunday.  I made up a big bag of short crust pastry mix and put it in the freezer so that I can just weigh out say 8oz and then just add water and hey presto pastry.
Today we are off to the gun smiths to buy bullets or should I say cartridges.  The shop is about an hours drive away so we are going to incorporate a trip to pick up…

Friday morning and there goes another week!

Firstly, Anne thanks for the description of your lovely meal it sounds just wonderful and you must be chuffed to have had chat with the man himself.  We too had a nice lunch even though it was only in a local pub we started with scallops and black pudding with cauliflower purée then I had twice cooked belly of pork served with seasonal vegetables and crushed potatoes and Mike had the fish pie which had white fish salmon and prawns he then finished off with an individual treacle tart and clotted cream.  Not too shabby for a pub in the middle of nowhere.  Having started the morning very early I got stuck in to moving money around and sorting things ready for the solar panel installation.  It is amazing that I can move money at the press of a button but it take the bank 3 working days to do the same.  Anyway I think I have everything covered and nothing should rebound!!!!
When we got home from the pub I suddenly remembered that I had not been to sort out the hens so that was my first pri…

Thursday morning

Well a really early start this morning the dogs woke me at 4 barking which is unlike them especially Basso so I think we had an intruder in the garden probably of the foxy kind.  Anyway, the perimeter has been secured and they are now back in bed asleep but I am left wide awake and at a loose end.

Yesterday I went shooting in the morning and shot really badly, my only excuse is that I was frozen to the marrow which certainly didn't help.  I was hoping to have a nice photo of the trophy I won on Sunday but no such luck they had forgotten to bring the trophies to the shooting ground so I will have to pick it up next time.

We made the decision last evening to go ahead with the solar panel idea as it looks pretty cast iron as an investment with a return of approximately 9% pa tax free on our investment which in this financial climate is pretty good, however, it does require a considerable initial capital out lay. It is index linked so we should be shielded from inflation.    The mone…

Wednesday morning and bin day

What a day to remember for the miners in Chile I have just watched the first man emerge from the mine to arms of  his loved ones.  Amid all the doom and gloom we are usually treated to in the media it is nice to have some heart-warming good news.  I was deeply impressed with the courage of the people who went down to sort the rescue from the bottom.  Once they are all out I hope the put some dynamite down the hole and blow the mine to bits and never send another soul down there again!!!!

Yesterday was a good day and plenty got done.  Jane came and worked her magic with the hoover and Mark came and gave me a hand in the garden.  The broad beans have been planted now so everything is up to date in the vegetable plot.  The runner beans have been taken down and disposed off but the chicken run still needs to be sorted out which will be the next major task.  The hens seem to have settled into their winter quarters and are laying 4 eggs a day as usual.  Both Mark and Jane left with half a d…

Tuesday morning

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Basso having fun on our walk yesterday.
I had a nice busy day yesterday and got lots done.  I finally planted the garlic and onions but didn't get around to planting the broad beans so they are top of the list for today.  First I will need to prepare a bed and get it clear of weeds.  I was delighted to notice that my saffron crocuses are poking their noses through the soil so I may yet be picking my own saffron come December.  I am hoping that Mark will come today and we can tackle the climbers on the fence which have gone berserk and need a firm hand to tidy them up.
I am trying to make the most of this window of good weather and get all the outdoor jobs done.  Once it turns I have a long list of indoor jobs which need doing one of which is the freezer - chaos is not to strong a word to describe the filling system.  We have a chap coming on Friday to discuss the solar panel business and while it is a green system the main driving force is financial.  Money invested at the momen…

Monday and the start of another week

What a grand day I had yesterday, the weather was fabulous with lots of sunshine but a very cool wind blowing.  I set off to meet Shiona and her friends at Dartford and once off the main road the drive up to the shooting club is through glorious woodland which was carpeted in butter coloured leaves.  However once I arrived I could hardly believe my eyes there were hundreds of people there and cars everywhere.  I eventually managed to park the car halfway down the big hill - the shooting ground was once a quarry.  General introductions were made and it was decided that Simon should use my gun as Shiona's has a very short stock.  Pleasantries dealt with we got ourselves on the stand with the fewest people - perhaps not such a good idea as it was probably the most difficult in the competition.  Having made a general hash of that we gradually move on down and shot the last few stand then back up to shoot the earlier ones.  The two girls who were not shooting were getting a bit bored b…

Sunday bright and early

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This is a picture of the new machine on order which will hopefully be a good replacement for my old one.  I also hope that it will be easier to get parts for it if and when it goes wrong.
Yesterday went well though I never did get to the garden.  I did manage to get the hens sorted out and have given them a heavy ceramic dog bowl for their food as they have been tipping the other one over regularly. I also cleaned out and refurbished their nest box so hopefully they will all lay in it.  One has been laying elsewhere so I have to have a good look around when I collect the eggs.  I swung by Tesco on the way to walk the dogs and bought some packets of gnocchi which I fried as seen on Nigella and made into fairy roast potatoes - well worth a try.  Then it was off to the butcher for a chicken which I cooked to perfection with the thermometer, what a great toy!!!! The last of the runner beans completed the meal.  By the time I had cleared everything up and done the general knowledge crossw…

Saturday morning

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Yesterday was a day of mechanical death in this house.  My wonderful built in coffee machine, which I love dearly, has been unwell for some time and yesterday it finally turned up its toes and started to leak water all over the place.  The company from whom I had bought it has also gone out of business and as it comes from Italy the chance of repair is minimal.  So a decision had to be made and we have decided that we will replace it with a completely new machine.  Of course nothing is ever that simple so after hours of trawling around on the internet finding the machine I wanted it was then a case of organising for a fitter to install it and make the required adjustments as the new machine is slightly smaller than the one we have now.  Anyway that is now all in hand and should be completed within the next 2 -3 weeks.  In the mean time we thought we would put the old counter top Nepresso machine  back into service.  No such luck, after 5 years in a cupboard it was seized solid and onl…

Friday and the end of another week

Where did this week go?  I can't believe it is Friday already.  Yesterday went well, Jeff arrived shortly after 10am and we had coffee and chatted for a while before setting out for Dartford.  The weather was really lovely, warm and sunny, but as we approached the club the road was coned off with lots of signs about fly tipping.  The area is marsh land with lots of drainage ditches and open fields and has been a magnet for fly tippers for some time.  We stopped the car and had a chat with one of the council workers who then allowed us through after warning the workers we were on our way.  They had a huge JCB which was hauling tyres and sofas out of the ditches, what a terrible mess!!!  There were also police officers with them presumably looking for any evidence of who has been dumping all the stuff or perhaps supervising the young men "paying their debt to society"  - well that is what it said on their yellow fluorescent jackets!!!!
Eventually we made it to the club and…

Thursday morning

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Yesterday was a good day the weather was warm but dull however it was dry which was nice.  Henry and Angela had to leave as they had commitments in Bristol for today.  It was decided that the best time to leave would be around 12 which should get them home before the rush hour so we had a full English breakfast at around 11 with lots of toast and marmalade and coffee. We then divided up the spoils so they could take them home.  As my hens had been laying well there was a dozen eggs, I had also run up some lemon curd so there was also a jar of that to go with the Parma ham, pigeon pate, the last of the bullace gin,  a jar of wild damson jam and a head of my home grown garlic.  It is nice to manage to get rid of some of the stuff as lots of it Mike and I don't really eat.  Once they had left I had a bit of a clear up in the kitchen and then piled into bed for a rest.  For supper we had a bowl of soup which was made from all the trimmings and bits and pieces left from the last few da…

Wednesday morning

Blowing a gale and hosing down with rain but still very mild.  I am up very late but that is because I had a pretty late night.  I was still dancing around at 1.30 this morning and couldn't sleep for no apparent reason except, as my mother would have said "over excitement".  I hadn't done anything daft like drinking strong coffee so I was a bit put out.
Yesterday went off smoothly - Mike had a good day with lots of cards and phone calls from all our friends and family wishing him a happy birthday.  Henry and Angela had brought him a lovely bottle of Tawny Port from Portugal which will no doubt sit tight until Christmas.  Henry and I set to and made loads of pigeon breast pate which is nice and cold this morning and ready to be dealt with.  The majority is in Kilner type jars and one lot in a terrine which will go in the freezer.  We managed to get the dogs out for a quick blast before the drizzle set in for the day and also drove around to demonstrate the Tomtom Sat…

Tuesday morning and Mikes birthday

First lets start with yesterday.  Our visitors arrived on the dot of 5pm and after an initial cup of tea we got stuck into a demonstration of the iPad, well I think I should be an Apple salesman.  Actually you don't need to sell the thing it sells itself.  When people see what it can do they are absolutely gob smacked and can't leave it alone.  Eventually, we got hungry so a bottle of wine was opened and the Parma ham from the garage was brought down and duly carved.  Well an entire plateful disappeared helped down with some sliced peach in lieu of melon or figs. I guess the months of waiting have proved that it is definitely worth trying to make your own.  Following this protracted starter we got stuck into the cold chicken and pate that they had brought with them.  The chicken needed eating so it was only sensible that they brought it with them and the pate was one that Henry had made some time ago.  This was followed by the Ambassador cake that I had made when the beautiful…

Monday morning and raining

Having been in the doldrums for some time this morning I really need to get my act together and get going with some house work.  To that end, my bed is already stripped and the sheets are in the machine as I drink my first cup of coffee.  Yesterday, I put all the dogs bedding through so that smells a little sweeter.  I know that it is raining as Basso has just returned from his morning trip to the garden and he is soaked.
Our friends who have been travelling around Portugal in their motor home are now back in the UK and are swapping the to the car to come up here from Bristol.  However, they have hit a small problem in that when they go away they disconnect the battery to the car.  Well now that they have a very nice new Lexus  it doesn't seem to like being disconnected and they are having great difficulty getting it started.  This may well delay their start this morning but they have promised to ring and keep me informed as to progress.  I really only need to know for catering p…

Sunday morning

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Here is the product of yesterdays trip to fetch some free pigeons!!!  There were thirteen in all, which are now all dismantled and in the freezer.  On the way back we stopped off at the wonderful food emporium in Faversham and bought the coffee we needed and as I was wandering around I noticed they had wood pigeon for sale at £5.40 per brace.  I was stunned at the price but suddenly realised that had I bought the birds there it would have cost me £62+ so all in all quite a saving!!!!  We then dropped by the butcher where I bought a chunk of belly of pork which will make a decent terrine with the pigeons.  Then it was off for a walk with the dogs and home to cook the chicken for lunch.  While the chicken was cooking I dressed the birds which only took me about 3/4 hour so not a very labour intensive job.  However by the time I had cleared up the lunch things I was shattered and it was off to bed for a snooze.  There was plenty of left over chicken for supper and still enough for lunch …

Saturday morning

We certainly had some rain yesterday it poured most of the afternoon and evening - just as well I didn't have any outdoor activities planned.  Instead I made a big batch of leek and potato soup which is now happily in the freezer then I set to and made some nice sticky chicken wings for lunch.  I chop off the very tip portion of the wings and those are for the dogs.  Then cut the remainder in half and slow roast them with balsamic vinegar,  maple syrup  and finely chopped garlic.  We had half of them with some lovely runner beans and the other half for supper with a bit of mash potato with some savoy cabbage run through it.  All in all a very economical day.  Today we are off at the crack of dawn to go down to Bridge near Canterbury to collect some pigeons which I will take the breasts off and put in the freezer.  Roger had been out shooting all afternoon and bagged quite a few.  So I had better not spend too long typing as I need to have a shower and get ready to leave by 8 am.  …

Friday morning and the end of the week and beginning of a new month

Can you believe it is October already where did the summer go?  It seems only yesterday that I was looking forward to sun and warmth and green leaves and suddenly it is all over and we are heading back towards winter.
Yesterday was a gorgeous day with lots of warm sun and I managed to get out of the house for the first time in nearly 2 weeks.  I took the dogs for a nice walk down by the estuary but as the tide was well out I made sure we walked clear of the mud.  There was no way I wanted three mud covered dogs to deal with when I got home.  I put Basso through his paces and made sure that he had not forgotten his whistle commands - he was a bit reluctant at first but soon fell into line.  He will need to behave well if he is to go hunting this season.  For lunch we had the tomato sauce I had made with some pasta and a salad of oak leaf lettuce and mizuna from the garden.  It is nice to be still picking stuff to eat and my Japanese vegetables are doing well. I had a little look to see…