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Showing posts from February, 2011

Monday morning and the start of another week

Well as February draws to a close it has not been too bad a month we have had our fair share of rain and cold but have been spared the ice and snow of previous months.  However, I am not counting any chickens just yet as I know that March can be a very cold month too.  Yesterday as I drove down to Dover the sun was shining and the countryside looked glorious with the newly ploughed field just waiting for their crops to be sown.  There is not a glimmer of green on the trees as yet but I do have some mini daffodils in bloom in the window box out side the kitchen.  My shooting was a bit patchy but I really enjoyed myself which is the main point.  It was pretty chilly in the woods with a cutting easterly wind which made the targets move about in some very odd ways but all the more of a challenge for that and for once I had got the mix of shirts and jackets spot on and didn't freeze or boil.  There were fewer people than usual so we got round in very quick time and by 11am I was on my …

Sunday morning

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Well so far so good it is dry but cold at 4 degrees.  According to the weather forecast it is due to be a fine day so let's hope they have got it right as I am off down to Dover to shoot. The clay pigeon shooting ground is buried deep in some woodland so it doesn't benefit from the sun and is usually pretty chilly. Yesterday's pigeon shooting was cancelled owing to the nasty wet weather which meant I occupied myself in the kitchen instead.  This is not so good for the figure as some one has to eat all this food I am cooking.  Fortunately, most of it will go in the freezer so can be used over a period of time.  Mike has a portion of the heart stew left for his lunch today and I will get a couple of the fish pies out for supper tonight.  I will have a sausage baguette for brunch at the shoot which will keep me going for the day.  It is a long time since I shot at the Dover club so it will be interesting to see what progress I have made since the gun alterations.  Mike and Ba…

This miserable weather

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It seems that it is bringing the baker out in all of us.  There is nothing quite like a day in the kitchen when the weather is miserable and instead the whole house is filled with delicious smells from the kitchen.



The finely sliced veal heart which had been marinating all morning was grilled really fast and served with a courgette salad with a sharp lemony dressing.  The flavour was wonderful and the texture more like that of sirloin steak.  For desert we tucked into a slice of the above pie/cake - it is the one featured on the hairy bikers program and is essentially a chocolate brownie inside a pie crust - most unusual but also very nice with a splash of cream or custard or just as it is with a cup of tea.  It is sort of dual purpose either a desert or a tea time treat.  There is a flaw in the recipe on the net in that they have forgotten to add the raising agent so I added 1.5 tsp of baking powder and it seems to have done the trick.
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The Gillingham pasties out of the oven and cooling - for once I managed to get the amount of filling correct for the amount of pastry, I normally end  up with one or the other left over.  I am pleased to report that the filling of veal shin has worked perfectly and the ones we had for lunch were very pleasant.  Now as if this was not enough I also made a big tray of roasted roots half of which were converted into soup. Well I thought it was a good time to use the oven as the solar panels were generating like mad in the sun so the electricity was free.  I then ploughed on and made 6 luxury individual fish pies.  I say luxury, as each one contains a griddled scallop and two king prawns together with some cod, smoked haddock and salmon.  The mashed potato topping had been passed through the potato ricer and the last of the double cream was incorporated.  I think I managed to dirty every item of kitchen equipment I possess and that is quite a lot.  Anyway, the freezer is now full of ready…

Friday morning

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Yesterday was a glorious spring day it was warm and the sun shone from time to time making it very pleasant.  Jeff arrived on time and after we had had a cup of coffee we loaded up the car with the guns and also with Basso and off we went to Dartford.  We had both decided to wear our thick jackets as the club is on marsh land down by the river and almost under the QE2 bridge which links Kent to Essex and therefore usually windy and cold.  As it turned out we were slightly over dressed but not uncomfortably hot.  I am getting used to my gun alterations and I shot rather well so I was pleased.  We shot three rounds of skeet which amounts to 75 shots each and by the time we had done that my arms were getting quite tired.  We made our way back to the club house where the lady who books us in was waiting with her dog Frank and he and Basso were turned loose to have a good run around.  It was lovely to see the pair of them really running at full pelt and obviously having such good fun.  The…

Thursday morning

Can you believe it! it is up to 8 degrees this morning so positively balmy and the cloud is very high and white so hopefully no rain.  I hope I have chosen the right day to go shooting - Jeff is coming over from Surrey so we will have coffee before we set out.  My appointment at the hairdresser went well and my hair is now much easier to manage as there is a lot less of it.  I have been blessed with fine hair but plenty of it and have left it to go grey naturally which has saved a fortune in hair colour and hairdresser's bills.

Shiona is safely back from the Caribbean cruise with no untoward events to report.  At least this time she didn't have her case stolen so she is pleased that all went well.  Today our neighbours are due back from New Zealand and I expect to have a full report on the earthquake in Chistchurch.

Yesterday, was a really miserable and it drizzled the whole day, once I had got my cooking chores sorted I was taken with the writing bug - I had a phrase running …

Wednesday and bin day

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The temperature is rising but only up by 2 degrees however it is set to go on up until the weekend but we are in for some rain to go with it.  I am up late this morning but I had a pretty late night and Basso, bless him, decided to bark like sin at the fox in the garden at 3.30 but I managed to get back to sleep once I had quietened him down.  He is not a barking dog so this is a rare occurrence and I know if he is barking then there is a problem.
Yesterday, I decided that as my iPod classic had died and it is really my only source of music I would take a trip to the Apple shop at the Bluewater shopping centre and see what could be done.  I had been through all the web sites and tried the hard reboot options and also reset the factory settings but still the screen was blank.  The music was all still there but there was no way to select a play list or a track.  Well to cut a long story short I ended up part exchanging it for a new iPod nano which is so tiny it is truly amazing.  As soo…

Tuesday morning

It is still bitterly cold and dull here and this morning we are only just up to 3 degrees so it looks like another cold day.  Yesterdays plans got turned on the head as Sandi rang early to say she had got out of bed feeling terrible following a rotten night and was going to stay in the warm which I agreed was a good idea.  When Mike got up we re-planned the day and decided that we would go and buy some cartridges and do a bit of shopping in our newly opened Tesco extra store.  The decision was made to go to Tesco first as it would be better to leave shopping at the gun shop rather than a car full of cartridges at Tesco.
The new layout of the car park confused us first as all the one way bits have changed and there new arrows all over the place.  Once in the store we discovered that the layout is exactly the same as the Tesco we use in Suffolk which gave a strange feeling of deja vu.  We skipped quickly past all the new stuff and headed for the items we needed which was no easy task as…

Monday morning and the start of another week

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The veal and ham pie has turned out OK but the recipe called for a teaspoon of ground mace which I feel is rather over the top and has dominated the flavour.  If I do this again I will cut back on the mace and let the meat flavour come through more strongly.  It is on the menu for lunch today so we will see what Sandi had to say and if she agrees with me.

Basso had a lovely birthday with a special long walk - this was a sacrifice on my part as it was very cold and drizzly but he really enjoyed it so it was worth it.  Then it was home and his present which was a large marrow bone filled with what looks like sausage meat but I bet it is sawdust and gravy.  Anyway the dogs love it so that is all that counts.  Tuc is an expert with these bones and knows that if you throw them up in the air and let them fall with a thump then some of the meat will be knocked out of the centre.  However, the noise of constant thumping drives us mad and they are eventually confiscated so we can have some pea…

Sunday morning

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Today is a special day.  It is Basso's third birthday so I reckon that makes him an adult and 21 in our years.  It is hard to believe that three years have passed since he was born and from my point of view they have been years packed with all sorts of excitement.  The photo is of his mum and her litter of 9 pups.  As you can see she was a brown roan but his dad was a white and orange so there are a mixture of colours among the offspring.
This is his dad so you can see where he gets his good looks from!!!  who would have guessed the irresistible puppy would have made such a handsome dog.

Saturday afternoon

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Boy am I glad that roost shooting is off due to the hunt.  It has been drizzling all day with just sharper bursts to punctuate but seldom a dry moment.  So what do you do on a dismal wet day?  Cook is the answer - so far I have made 2 chicken and mushroom pies 2 chicken and ham pies all in the freezer.  The veal and ham gala pie is in the fridge getting loaded with its jelly which needs to cool and set.  However against the odds I manage to get it out of the tin in one piece.  The hot water crust pastry was fun to work with and reminded me of very soft play dough lets hope it doesn't taste the same.  
Tomorrow when it is fully cooled I will cut through and see what it looks like on the inside.  The bits of left over ham went into sandwiches for lunch which we had with a celeriac remoulade, all a bit strange but it was what was available in the middle of the cookery.  The rest of the celeriac was made into mash with some potatoes which will accompany tomorrows lunch of veal spare ri…

Saturday morning

It is still very chilly here at just over 3 degrees and still pitch dark but dry at the moment.  Yesterday was one of general rest and relaxation.  The chicken lunch turned out well and the hen got its three hours of  brine before roasting.  The morning passed quickly as my welsh neighbour popped in for a chat and I am always up for a chat.  I mention that she is welsh as it was she who taught me the welsh national anthem - I love the tune and now I can sing the words in welsh.  It took me quite a while to get the words learned but they are now firmly fixed.  She has been having a pretty grotty winter with assorted sickness problems which at last seem to be resolving and with two teenage daughters she really does have her hands full.
She was very interested in our solar panels and when we got to talking about electricity it came to light that she is paying nearly three time the price for her electricity as we are so we are going to have a comparison of meter readings to see if it is …

Friday and the end of another week

Buckle your seat belts for a bumpy ride  -  Yesterdays lunch out was a very expensive and frustrating experience.  The situation of the restaurant could not have been better though the views were completely shrouded in fog.  The décor is modern, tasteful and warm and our table commanded great views if they had been visible.  So far so good  - the menus arrived and we set to trying to decide what to have.  The restaurant gradually filled but there were only 14 people there for lunch.   I chose a starter of scallops pea and chorizo risotto followed by a sirloin steak with green pepper sauce.  Mike chose the same starter but with the calves liver as a main course.  Our starters arrived in a short space of time and looked the part until you examined them closely.  The risotto consisted of about a teaspoon of uncooked rice floating in some cream surrounded by 3 queen scallops which had no colour at all then in the centre there was the ubiquitous handful of greenery with one wafer thin slic…

Thursday morning

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I seem to be back on track it is nearly 5am so much better.  Yesterday, however, was a miserable day as I was so tired.  We has to abandon our ideas of going to the Scallop Festival as the box of meat I had ordered didn't show up until early afternoon by which time I was past caring. I will have to make a note of the date and try again next year.  The meat was beautifully packed in a polystyrene box with a large freezer pack in it and was still frozen solid so it was merely a case of transferring it to my freezer.  Each pack is labelled with the contents and weight so there should be no confusion.  I don't normally buy my meat this way but as it was on special offer - two for the price of one it seemed like a good idea.  Anyway, I now have a freezer full of veal which we can gradually wade our way through.  I also bought a piece of mutton which is a meat I very much like and find difficulty getting hold of.  In the wee small hours of the morning I made a beetroot and chocolate…

Thursday morning

I seem to be back on track it is nearly 5am so much better.  Yesterday, however, was a miserable day as I was so tired.  We has to abandon our ideas of going to the Scallop Festival as the box of meat I had ordered didn't show up until early afternoon by which time I was past caring.  The meat was beautifully packed in a polystyrene box with a large freezer pack in it and was still frozen solid so it was merely a case of transferring it to my freezer.  Each pack is labelled with the contents and weight so there should be no confusion.  I don't normally buy my meat this way but as it was on special offer - two for the price of one it seemed like a good idea.  Anyway, I now have a freezer full of veal which we can gradually wade our way through.  I also bought a piece of mutton which is a meat I very much like and find difficulty getting hold of.  In the wee small hours of the morning I made a beetroot and chocolate cake which once cold I cut in half, putting one half straight i…

Wednesday and bin day

Good morning all, well it is just about morning I found myself wide awake at 2.30 what a bore!!!  It is my own fault as I felt really tired yesterday and slept like the dead in the afternoon only to wake up at 5.30pm unsure if it was day or night as it was already dark.  It is a most disconcerting feeling to wake and not know if it is morning or evening.  The supper was part cooked as I had run the baked potatoes through the microwave to get them under way so all I had to do was put them in a hot oven to crisp up the skins.  The remains of the Gruyère and some chopped spring onions completed the meal so not exactly taxing.  I have been watching the new BBC Si-Fi drama Outcasts, so it was a quick clear up and off to watch the second episode of the week.  It finished at 10pm and I was soon asleep, so you see I have had ample sleep, just all at the wrong times!!!! the dilemma is what on earth to do at this time of the morning, Mike is still sound asleep so I don't want to make noise.…

Tuesday and the week marches on

Yesterday was a day to catch up on the chores - I booked Basso in for his hips to be X rayed on March 4th at around 2pm which should give us time to get down to Southampton and find the place without having to leave home at dawn.  From what I understand it is not an easy place to find but hopefully with sat nav we should get there without too much trouble.  I then hit a problem I had decided to have the onion soup for lunch but didn't have the Gruyère cheese and with Mike taking the car to have his hair cut I had no chance to get any.  Our local Tesco is closed for a week while they convert it into a Mega store and parking at Sainsbury would be difficult.  The problem was solved when I rang Elaine who was on her way to Sainsbury, she picked up the cheese for me then dropped it back at her house with her frozen goods before she set off to work.  Her husband was still at home so he took the cheese with him to work and as his first job of the day was cutting Mike hair it all worked o…

Monday and the start of another week

Lets start with yesterday.  Having completed the early morning cookery and diner preparations it was time to head off to the shooting club at Dartford.  I had never been there on a Sunday and was surprised to find the car park absolutely packed despite the drizzling rain.  I made my way to the club house to see if I could find my gunsmith but he had not yet arrived so it up to the bar to order a bacon sandwich.  No sooner had I order than he showed up but fortunately he too was after a bacon butty for breakfast.  Once we were comfortably filled we drove down to the Skeet ranges together with another acolyte who was in need of instruction.  The poor chap was only averaging 98/100 it made my heart bleed!!!!!  It is quite intimidating to shoot with a large crowd watching but I am past caring these days and just get on and do what I can.  We had to wait ages before a range became available and it was rather cold and windy with a miserable continuous drizzle.  The shooting ground is almost…

Sunday morning

It is a bright and early start this morning but a self inflicted problem.  As the weather was good I took the dogs for a nice run yesterday morning and then bought the Saturday Telegraph which I only buy for the general knowledge crossword puzzle which I enjoy and I feel keeps my brain from complete atrophy.  I rustled up the lunch of bacon and eggs and then settled to the puzzle but time got the better of me and then I was late leaving for Faversham.  I was to be at Sandi's house at 2pm and only just made it.  We then set off in convoy for the estate where we are allowed to roost shoot.  I parked my car on some fairly dry ground and then piled in with Sandi and her husband to negotiate the next part of the track which was very treacherous and slick with mud which the tractors had churned up.  I was very impressed with Sandi's off road driving skills and she got us nicely positioned despite sliding all over the place.  The valley is a very beautiful place with a wide deep bott…

Saturday morning

Well it is mild and dry this morning and according the weather forecast it is set to stay that way for the day and we may even see some glimmers of sunshine.  As it turned out yesterday was a day of indolence as I did very little except clean out the hens and cook the food - the rest of the morning was devoted to finishing off the tea cosy.  I did however take the dogs for a walk and tried to do a bit of training with Basso which all came to nothing.  On the first exercise as I bent forward to take the dummy from him a tennis ball rolled out of the bag well that was it all he wanted to do was play with the tennis ball so we cut our losses and went home.  The soft herring roes fried in butter and piled on a slice of toast made a most acceptable lunch.  Supper was a nice salad of ribbons of courgette with a vinaigrette dressing and a breast of duck pan fried to render all the fat from under the skin and leave it beautifully crispy.  I also did a desert of rhubarb with the last of the bl…

Tea cosy competed

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As you can see a bit big for the pot but would make a nice hat!!!!

Friday morning

I spoke too soon yesterday, the rain was on its way and it stayed for the whole day, nothing dramatic but constant.  I busied myself in the kitchen and set to making the melanzane parmigiana and while I was at it I decided to make some stuffed peppers.  The stuffing was with some Quorn mince that I had in the freezer to try.  Well it may be low in fat but it is also flavourless so I tried to add lots of flavour with other ingredients however the finished product was not much good and had the texture of finely minced rubber bands with less taste.  I don't know if it will be a bit better in the peppers but the left overs went to the dogs.  No sooner had I finished these dishes than the phone rang - it was the fishmonger offering to deliver some really fresh herrings.  So lunch plans were quickly abandoned and we ended up with lovely herring fillets tossed in oatmeal and fried.  The herrings had plenty of roe so today for lunch will be soft roes on toast.

I made the phone call to boo…

Thursday morning

Good morning all another early start for me but then again I had an early night so no lack of sleep.  According to the weather forecast we are in for a day of rain but so far it is still dry and relatively warm at 8 degrees.  Yesterday went well and I felt very content with my shooting with the exception of one stand where I couldn't find the clays my shooting was better than expected.  I am learning to shoot with the gun down out of my shoulder and only levelled when I see the clay.  This stops me using my shotgun as a rifle which is completely the wrong approach.  We got home about 1.30 and I made a pot of mashed potatoes to go with the chicken pies which only needed enough time in a hot oven to bake the puff pastry top and heat the filling.  Meanwhile Jeff cleaned the guns and Mike laid the table and poured the beers.  After lunch Jeff had a go on the Wii which really brought out his competitive instincts and showed him how badly he is standing now that he has problems with one…

Wednesday and bin day

Good morning all,  I had a pretty terrible day yesterday I was so tired and had no idea why!  My body felt as if I had run a marathon and I just wanted to curl up in bed and sleep.  I pushed through the morning and did my chores but it was a real effort to do anything.  The one bright spot was the weather it was a gloriously sunny day and I managed to get some of the washing out on the line.  It all smells so lovely when it has dried in the fresh air.  The towels were not quite dry so they got a few minutes in the tumbler to fluff them up before they were put away.

I had intended to take Basso for a training session but by the time the wonderful Jane had left at 11am I was almost out of gas so we just had a short session in the garden.  I must admit that though I was not on top form Basso certainly was and got 10 out of 10 for his lesson.  He seems to have turned a real corner since he has been out to work and now takes the lessons seriously.  Let's hope that he is just as good wh…

Tuesday morning

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At last the wind has dropped but so has the temperature we are back down to 4 degrees so pretty chilly.  Things are starting to move in the garden the snowdrops, jasmine and mahonia are all in bloom so it takes off the real deep winter feel and hints at the coming spring.  The one good thing about getting older is that time seems to pass more quickly which means that winter doesn't seem so long.
I had a nice productive day yesterday and after making some chicken pies with the left overs I got stuck in to cleaning my oven and hob and did the filters of the extractor.  That done it was time to walk the dogs and we had a lovely blowy walk down on the estuary.  Basso had some instruction and was as good as gold so we were all pleased.  His walking to heel without a lead is coming on well and he seems to get the whole idea now.  On the way back I stopped off at the wool shop and purchased 3 colours of cheap wool to make the tea cosy that Joy had made.  After a bit of searching I found…

Monday morning and mobile

Good morning all, to follow on from yesterdays saga my first mission in the morning was to ring green flag and sort out the car.  Well I can hardly believe how easy it was.  I rang at 9 am and by 10 am there was a specialised van outside the house.  The van was all set up with assorted pumps and within the hour the 60 litres of mixed fuel was out, the tank cleaned and a new amount of diesel put in.  Then came the difficult bit, parting with £200 so when you add on the lost fuel it has been quite an expensive mistake.  Anyway it is all over now and we are mobile once more.  Poor Mike took it very hard and had a sleepless night worrying so after I made us a sumptuous risotto cooked in the stock from the chicken and into which I added some of the left over meat along with some cream cheese that was lurking in the back of the fridge.   I knew that I had made too much but had intentions of using the left over risotto to make arancini which are balls of risotto filled with a knob of mozzare…

Sunday morning

Before you read this make sure that you are sitting comfortably and have a cup of what ever you like, it is going to be a long saga.....
Yesterday morning started out just like any other morning, I did my usual bits and pieces including the ironing and finally Mike surfaced from his bed and we sat about drinking coffee and discussing the day.
Then came a knock at the door and the postman delivering a small package.  It turned out to be the 4 DVDs I had ordered from Rory Majors on training HPR dogs.  I quickly rushed to get the first DVD on to play.  It started off with buying a puppy and the very first steps in training including an introduction to whistle.  This drove Basso crazy he kept looking for who was giving all these commands.  So we thought it best to leave the rest of the set for another time and instead we would get dressed and take the dogs for a walk via the petrol station where we needed to fill up and get the newspaper so that I could do the crossword puzzle.  I piled t…

Saturday morning

Good morning all another blowy day but the temperature is in double figures.  We had an interesting morning yesterday as I decided that having located the places where we went hunting on Google earth I would take Mike to see so that he might have a picture in his head. Finding farms located deep in the country side is not as easy as you might at first think as I find aerial maps quite disorientating.  We did need to go in that general direction to visit the shop that sells the coffee we use.  Mike was driving and I was navigating and as we drove through the village where Roger lives my phone rang - it was Roger he was in his car and had spotted us and wondered what we were doing in his neck of the woods.  Now what are the chances of that happening???  We managed to find both farms and Mike was gob smacked at the size of the fields we had walked round and the roughness of the shawls of tangled brambles that I had managed to walk through.  I think he now understands why I needed a pair …

Friday morning and blowing

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Good morning all a bit late this morning as I had a late night.  We were out to dinner at Shiona's which is a good hours drive away.  She had some friends staying with her who are now resident in France but had come over to clear out her mother's bungalow as she is now in a nursing home and not expected to last much longer.  The bungalow needs to be sold to pay the nursing home fees.  What a pain at a difficult time!!!  Anyway Shiona had really pushed the boat out and prepare a wonderful Chinese banquet to celebrate Chinese new year.  There were dishes of pork, chicken, fish and pigeon as well as a couple of vegetable dishes and masses of rice.  It was all delicious and all that remained was a portion of rice for each of the 5 dogs.  I drove us back home as Mike had been at the wine and noticed just how windy it had become the car was getting a real buffeting and at 3 tons it take a lot to shake it.
I was given some very pretty glasses that were rescued from the general house…

Thursday morning

Oh the pain of the aching muscles!!!!  It just goes to show how out of condition I am.  I breakfasted on coffee and ibuprofen which kept me going while I cleaned out the chickens and did a few essential chores then lunch was a steak sandwich and paracetamol and finally diner was a fish pie and aspirin.  You will note the assortment of analgesics - I believe in rotting my internal organs evenly so as ibuprofen is bad for the kidneys, paracetamol is bad for the liver and aspirin is bad for the stomach I feel that I have spread the load evenly.  Today I feel somewhat better and will be able to get through the day unaided....As far as chores go, all I have to do is a bit of washing and ironing and prepare the lunch as we are going out for dinner this evening.  I got some sweat-breads out of the freezer yesterday and today they will be poached then egg and bread-crumbed for lunch.  My boots got washed and are now dry enough to polish so that will need doing before I forget.  The house is c…

Wednesday morning

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Take your partners for the last Waltz
What a day we had yesterday - another million miles walked through tough undergrowth brambles and mud.  Basso showed us exactly what he is bred to do and hunted, pointed and put up 6 pheasants but sadly the guns were not up to scratch and missed them all.  The morning started well but then it started to rain which made it a bit miserable however we ploughed on and completed the drives we had intended but did not hang around until darkness fell for the pigeons.  I got home at about 4pm and for the first time ever Basso actually cried for his supper.  By way of celebration I chopped the remains of a tin of corned beef into his food which he wolfed down with great gusto.  Interestingly as we set off Roger asked me to keep Basso at about 30 yards in front so as he reached that point I whistled him back - after about the 4th time he got the message and worked just that far ahead and came back on his own.  He jumped over the fences that last year we had …

Tuesday 1st February end of the shooting season

Well after today the clever pheasants who have survived the season will be safe to breed and raise their young until October, that is assuming they stay away from Mr. Fox.  The farmers will be planting fields of sweet corn to give them cover and the game keepers will make sure that they have plenty of food and water and try to keep the fox numbers down.  I think the foxes have found that there is a better living to be made in town where people leave lots of food all over the place.

Yesterday I though I would give Basso a sharpening up exercise in anticipation of today's hunting so Mike kept him occupied in the bedroom while I took his frozen pheasant out of the freezer and secreted it in the garden.  I thought I would make it as difficult as possible for him so I hid the bird deep in the lower branches of the Korean fir tree, well out of sight!!  Oh stupid person!!! it took him less than 10 seconds to locate the bird and back he came with it in his mouth.  I guess he knows what he…