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Showing posts from March, 2011

Thursday morning

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Who needs a pre-wash cycle on the dish washer when you have a very helpful dog or 3.
Yesterday I finished off the fish pies and what a great idea it was to freeze them first then add the mash - there were no problems of  potato sinking into the white sauce.  It was just like buttering bread and now they are back in the freezer waiting for their moment of glory.  I took the dogs out early as the rain was due and the sky looked ominous however it didn't rain until late afternoon and then only lightly. During the night we had a jolly good downpour which will have saved me the job of watering the new bamboo plants and topping up the pond.  Hopefully it will have rinsed off the solar panels which have been pigeon bombed.  Talking of which I need to send a meter reading today as the payments are going up as of April 1st. so more money coming in.......

A parcel arrived in the afternoon which was the heavy fleece jacket that I had ordered for Mike it is exactly the same as the one I use f…

Wednesday morning

3am a bit to early even for me!!  I was woken by what sounded like a dog scratching at my door but when I got up and checked there was no one there.  That then set me thinking and wondering what the noise could have been which of course put pay to sleeping.  I can only think that I dreamed the noise as all the dogs are fast asleep and so is Mike so it is a mystery.

Yesterday was a good productive day in the kitchen I finished off a lamb stew and made some mince for mince and potatoes then I got stuck in to making fish pies.  In the end I made 6 individual pies and 2 large ones.  I decided to freeze them without the potato topping which I will add this morning as it is much easier to put the top on a solid base then a little grated cheese and they can go back in the freezer.  While all this was going on I had some short ribs of veal in the oven slowly cooking for supper.  I had given them a coating of rosemary, butter, garlic and lemon zest and a big slosh of white wine so as you can i…

Tuesday morning

There are times when things fall just right and yesterday was one of those days.  In the morning I telephoned an aerial engineer to come and give us an estimate to move our TV aerial to the other side of the chimney so that the pigeons that roost on it don't use the solar panels as a toilet.  He arrived at just after 12pm,  minutes after I had got back form my dog walking and shopping trip.  The estimate was reasonable so we asked him to go ahead which he did immediately and while he was on the roof a new cable box Mike had ordered for his TV also arrived so the very nice aerial guy installed it for us.  Now how lucky was that!!!! Mike can now watch his TV in glorious HD so he is a very happy bunny.

While I was out with the dogs I had very nearly come a cropper.  I had put all three dogs on leads as I approached the car park, Nip and Tuc are on a brace lead and Basso on a slip lead but as we rounded the final corner Basso spotted a group of pigeons and lunged in their direction th…

Monday morning

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My new guests are settling in quite well and are beginning to come to the surface to feed.  It is difficult to get an impression of size but each of the fish must weigh at least a pound if not more.  It was another very overcast day until quite late in the afternoon when the sun made an appearance which made taking a photo a bit easier as the reflection was much less.  I finally managed to get round and change all the clocks with the exception of the car which stood idle for the day.  Would you believe even my kitchen scales have a clock.  Mike is still coughing badly and had a pretty rough night so I will be leaving him to sleep for as long as possible this morning.  I think I must have been very tired as I slept really soundly yesterday afternoon and had no trouble sleeping last night.  I hope I am not counting my chickens but my tennis elbow seems to have resolved itself at last but I will have to treat it with care as I don't want a recurrence.

Good news on the solar panel fro…

Sunday morning

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Today is a day I dread - the clocks have gone forward - at least some of them have, now I will have to go round and change all the other and there seem to be hundreds of them.  Almost every gadget and gizmo has a clock on it.  The ones that usually get forgotten are the one in the car and the one on the washing machine.  If only all the clocks were as clever as the computer and would change themselves.  I do have a couple of radio controlled ones which change themselves but the vast majority need to be manually changed which means remembering how!!!!
Yesterdays intentions fizzled out somewhat as Mike was quite rough but felt he would be better today and would like to go to the game fair.  I don't think he will be well enough so the idea will be dropped besides Sandi rang to say that she had bumped into friends who were coming back from the fair and were very disappointed.  So perhaps it is a day for quiet pottering around.  I defrosted some lambs kidneys yesterday which Mike will …

Saturday morning

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Yesterdays plans were turned upside down  so I didn't really get much accomplished.  Mike decided that he needed some tablets to dry his chest up.  He has had these in the past and they seem to work very well and as it was Friday I needed to get a prescription quickly.  I started to ring the surgery at 9am and for an hour all I got was the high volume of calls message then when I finally got through and explained I was treated to a severe lecturing on how to get a prescription - namely that I should present myself in person at the surgery with my request in writing and then come back on Monday to collect the prescription.  Anyway, to cut a long story short I ended up ringing the practice manager who agreed that I had followed the correct protocol and apologised for her staff member.  This went some way to assuaging my indignation - actually I was raging and bouncing off the walls!!!!  Anyway, by this time it was nearly lunch time so any thoughts of pressure washing the greenhouse …

Friday morning

This morning I cursed the birds it was 4am and they were shouting at the top of their lungs and woke me up!!!!It was still pitch dark, stupid birds!!!!  Anyway, as I sat down to write I was struck by the lunacy of taking photographs of your ironing - how crazy is that!!!  Perhaps I am completely loosing my marbles...

Yesterday was a good productive day, I got stuck into the green house and cleared all the bits and bobs out and washed and dried them.  Everything inside is covered in a layer of fine soil which has been kicked up by the chickens.  Next winter I must remember to strip the greenhouse before putting the hens in and then I will not be faced with all this cleaning.  Today I am hoping to get the pressure washer in and give all the glass a good clean then once that is done the earth can be turned over and the beds prepare.  The only problem with using the pressure washer in a confined space is that you get as wet as everything else so it is a job to be done before I have a show…

Thursday morning

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Sunshine is definitely bad for your health!  it makes you take on far more than you should.  My washing line yesterday was groaning with sheets and duvet covers all of which are now piled up waiting for ironing.  I also got stuck in to planting some vegetables and a bit of general weeding.  Mike was not feeling the full ticket and come to that neither was I but the sun shine drove me on.  I have a lovely cold sore developing on my upper lip which, for me, is always a sign of being run down.  By the time the evening came and I put myself to bed I shivered for about 3 hours until every bone in my body ached and I was convinced that I was coming down with some terrible lurgy.  However, this morning it seems to have vanished and I feel fine -  What the hell was that!!!!!  Mike has a dreadful dry cough which kept him awake for hours but he is now sound asleep and that is where I will leave him.
For lunch I made us some leek and potato soup with the stock from the duck carcass and a splash …

Wednesday morning and out go the bins

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Yesterday turned into a bit of a topsy turvy day with the plans not quite working out.  I went over to the shooting school and Roger eventually turned up with my trophy.  I had put on my heavier jacket which as it turned out was very much the wrong choice as it became quite hot and humid in the sun.  After much frustrating shooting we eventually decided to check my eyes only to discover that my eye dominance has changed and I now appear to have central vision which is about the worst thing for shotgun shooting so I don't know what to do about that.  I think I will just have to practice until I learn how to compensate for the distortion.   Anyway, enough of all that - Mike was feeling under the weather so after a very mediocre sandwich we set off for home.  Fortunately I had got some meatballs and tomato sauce out of the freezer so supper was just a case of boiling some pasta and dressing a salad.
Shiona phoned me to tell me her halogen oven had arrived just 24 hours after she orde…

Tuesday morning

I am up much later this morning which makes a pleasant change. It is already partially light and with the clocks going forward on the 27th it will be even lighter when I get up.  Yesterday was a sort of messy day, once I had cleaned out the hens we set off in convoy with Shiona to go to the gun shop where we restocked with cartridges.  This time I had my licence and so I could also buy cartridges for Shiona as well as my own.  By the time we got home it was time for lunch and I had taken out some of the pasties I had made so that was nice and easy.  I was still tired form the previous day so I went off for a snooze.  Mark the gardener was working close by and had a bit of time to spare so he came and planted the bamboos which look really lovely now that they are in the ground.  I love the height and the fact that just a breath of wind will make them move and rustle.  For dinner I experimented with the new halogen oven and a pair of Dover soles. The fish monger had skinned them so all …

Monday morning and the start of another week

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Three meter tall bamboo "phyllostachys nigra" still in its pot but in its planting position.

Yesterday was a day of successes and failures.  First when Shiona arrived we got stuck into cooking the duck in the halogen oven - it was a triumph the meat was juicy and moist but the skin was crisp and crunchy so a definite success.  Next Shiona wanted to have a go making scones with lemonade and cream but the recipe she had was definitely short of flour and they were not much good.  They stayed very undercooked in the middle however the dogs thought they were fine.  We had taken the dogs for a nice walk down by the river and apart from one horrid fight over a stick it was very warm and pleasant.  I am glad to say that both Basso and Mary stayed out of the fight and left it to the boy terriers to have a real scrap.  Fortunately, there was no blood drawn though it sounded as though they were tearing each other limb from limb.
Shiona had brought some nice sausages which had been made…

Sunday morning

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Well it is stupid o'clock but I must admit that I feel a whole lot better than yesterday.  I put myself to bed early with a mug of horlicks and became unconscious in moments.  I haven't drunk horlicks for years and had forgotten how comforting it is.  My stomach seems to have settled down and the nausea has departed - what a relief.
It was such a lovely day that we decided to drive over to the gun shop and stock up on cartridges but as we drove into the car park I suddenly remembered that I didn't have my licence with me, so we had to turn round and head back home empty handed. What a bore!!!!  I took the dogs for a run but my heart was not in it then it was back home for some mince and potatoes which was in the slow cooker waiting for lunch.  Supper was a couple of boiled eggs and some soldiers so a quiet day on the food front.
James is in the process of buying a motorcycle which should solve all his transport problems for a while.  I hate motor bikes as they are really …
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The white camellia is doing its thing but the red one is a couple of weeks behind which is a pity as they would look really good in bloom together.

Yesterday was really miserable as far as the weather was concerned it drizzled the whole day.  Mike took himself off to do the shopping while I played in the kitchen.  The hens just sat around getting wet instead of taking shelter so I put them to bed early.
I have woken up this morning, after a fitful night, feeling very nauseated with cramping stomach ache.  I have no idea where this has come from as I certainly haven't eaten anything to cause it.  I do hope I am not coming down with some viral thing.  I think perhaps copious water is in order to wash the system out or perhaps some bicarb might settle things down.  Shiona is coming to visit tomorrow and I am supposed to be cooking a duck but that really doesn't fill me with joy at the moment.  The kitchen is a bit of tip so I think I had better go and make a bit of order there f…

Friday morning

Yesterday was still very misty and cold here but it made our walk with the dogs kind of magical as it altered all the perspectives.  I set to and made some cauliflower cheese which is divided into boxes and in the freezer.  Len and Margaret arrived and were pleased to be in the warm their boiler is playing up and they have been without heating for a couple of days.  Being cold makes life really miserable!!!!however the boiler man was due at 3pm so they were happy to go out to lunch.  We had a very nice pub lunch and I had a really lovely Irish stew, in honour of St Patrick's day, which came with carrots, purple sprouting brocolli and light fluffy dumplings and a pint of Guinness £7.50 well you really can't complain at that!!!!! As we had had such a substantial lunch we just had bacon sandwiches for supper and I grilled the bacon in the halogen oven which was so much quicker that using the grill in the oven which takes and age to get hot.
James rang when he got home from Hendon…

Thursday morning

Yesterday was another cold an misty day and this morning the thermometer is reading 4 degrees which is not great.  However having said that the garden is beginning to burst forth with lots of buds - daffodils are in bloom as are many of the early shrubs so it is looking rather nice.  I went to plant some tomato seeds only to discover I have not seed compost left so a trip to the garden centre look like it is on the cards.
Yesterdays shooting expedition was good though not reflected in the score and I am gradually getting used to the my gun since the alterations.  When we got home the fish pies were already in the halogen oven and took exactly 10 minutes to be ready to serve.  They were brown and crisp on top and heated right through, in fact they were so quick that Jeff hadn't had time to clean the guns so they were put on hold for a while.  The cake that I made turned out OK in the end but it took quite a bit of tinkering before I managed to get it cooked through.  I ended up co…

Wednesday morning and bin day

The temperature is warmer but it is like living on the bottom of the ocean here, we have been shrouded in thick mist for the whole day.  Not even the merest glimmer of sun shine to brighten proceedings.  I took to the kitchen in desperation and got stuck in to making a few bits and pieces.  I made a batch of pasties, formally known as Cornish pasties.  The excess onion and potato got sautéed with a small tin of corned beef for lunch.  Once my fish had been delivered I made up the parts for a kedgeree for supper tonight and also prepared the mussels which we had last night.  The two lovely Dover soles are in the freezer and will make a nice meal for Mike and I some other time.  The chicken stock is now in the fridge awaiting its fate but it has been cleared of fat so I could now freeze it.  The veg box arrived and the beetroots have been boiled so this morning I can make a beetroot and chocolate cake which I will divide in half to stop us from eating it all!!!!

Mark arrived with the tw…

Tuesday morning

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I had a nice successful day yesterday and managed to get the dogs out for a nice long run in the sunshine though I was surprised at how cold it still is.  The hens have finally been released into their big pen which means that I have to go twice a day once to let them out and once to put them to bed.  I was very pleasantly surprised that they put themselves to bed easily and I didn't end up having to chase them round the pen.  They have been having great fun with all the turf from the lawn and I am sure that given a couple of weeks it will no longer be turf but converted back to soil.  On my way back from the walk I dropped in at the butcher and restocked my freezer with normal meat items - we have been on game and veal for some time so a bit of pork or lamb will make a pleasant change.  I stopped off in Tesco to buy some lard as I had ideas of making some pasties today and while there spotted a load of pousin going cheap [no pun intended] so with the addition of a very good flavo…

Monday morning

I hope you have had a chance to look at the cakes made for James as I did add them rather late.  We set off from here at 8am and headed for Dover, it only took about an hour and then we were parked in the deep woods and on our way to have a good breakfast.  I had a sausage and onion baguette and James had bacon and egg in his.  Faces fed, we set off to shoot the competition.  James marked my card and pressed the release buttons for me.  There were 10 stands of 10 birds so it was nice and easy to mark.  However, the clays were anything but easy and I was convinced I was shooting really badly - by 10.30 I was done and handed in my card rather sheepishly and beat a hurried retreat.  Back at home we settled down for some coffee and a generally relaxing morning.  James set too and cleaned my gun and it was decided that as none of us were hungry we would have scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on toast for lunch.  I offered to make some banana custard but no one fancied it.  After lunch we pa…

Sunday morning

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Things are never quite as bad as you think they are going to be.  James arrived around 10 with the mother and father of hangovers - it had been his last day a work and his colleagues had taken him out for a drink!!!!!  He had also been very touched that they had had a whip round and bought him some lovely items for his new life including a beautiful torch with his name  and start date engraved on it.  One of the girls had baked him two cakes one in the shape of a policeman's helmet the other with a pair of hand cuffs on it.  If I can get him to blue tooth or email me the photos I will show you these works of art.  We headed for the shops to get him kitted out for the first 5 weeks before he is in uniform.  To our surprise we managed to get most of the stuff in Sainsbury's.  Shirts, socks, pants and trousers then a pair of Reebok trainers reduced to £39 in the sports shop.  That done we beetled off home where we demolished an assortment of pasties and pies.  Mike and I toddled …

Saturday morning

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The new patch of lawn
Basso checks out the new facilities
Yesterday was a relatively busy day - first thing I got to grips with cooking some food for the rest of the day.  I made us some cream of cauliflower soup for lunch and made a veal casserole to have with wedges and swede and carrot mash for diner.  The mash will be enough for us to have today with a roast chicken and I was deeply impressed with the wedges which took 10 minutes from a cold start using the halogen oven.  Admittedly they were not huge but it was still very quick and they had a nice crisp and brown finish.  Mark turned up with his mate Mat and they got started on the lawn.  The first job was to rip up the existing miserable grass and barrow it into the chicken run where the hens will no doubt sort it out.  The a layer of sand was applied to level out the ground and make a nice drainage base for the grass.  Once the grass was laid on top and fixed down with large pins a layer of kiln dried sand was top dressed on to i…

Friday morning

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Sorry I missed yesterday but for once I over slept and was in a terrible rush - I didn't wake until 5.30 and was due to be picked up from a lay-by near the river at 6.30 which didn't leave me much time to get my sandwiches together and drive to the meeting place.  The journey up to Crufts was long but we had a smooth run with no roadwork interruptions as we avoided the M1.  There were four of us in the car so there was lots of happy banter to keep us occupied on the journey.  Luckily I was not driving so it was easy for me and we were soon parked up and waiting for the shuttle bus to take us to the conference centre.  Yesterday was the first day of showing and it was gun dog day and as all of us are gun dog owners we were keen to see the dogs.  We decided to split up and into pairs and then to meet up for lunch at a central point, this sounds easy but the halls are so disorientating that we were permanently lost.  Sandi and I made our way straight to the Spinone judging which …

Wednesday morning and bin day

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Yesterday my new toy arrived - having read loads of glowing comments about the advantages of a halogen oven and as the prices are reduced I decided to go ahead and purchase one.  It seems to make sense as we are now only two people and cooking small meals in a big oven has always grieved me.
 As you can see it is a much smaller space to heat than a conventional oven and the baked potatoes took approximately 40 minutes to cook through and were lovely and crispy on the outside.  In future I would blast them for a short time in the microwave first and thus reduce the cooking time even further.    This is not really a fair test but I will keep you informed of my progress using this device.  I was heavily into making pancakes yesterday and made three portions of leek and ham cannelloni in a cheese sauce one of which Mike will have for his lunch tomorrow while I am at Crufts then for supper he can have a fish pie.  I have given him instructions in how to use the new oven so lets hope he can …

Tuesday morning

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Still freezing at -1 degree this morning but what a lovely day we had yesterday, wall to wall sunshine.  It really lifts the spirits but it shows every grain of dust, suddenly things you thought were clean look very grubby.  I knuckled down to pastry making and made the little mutton pies and with the left overs I made 4 small mutton pasties and 4 mince pies which finished up all the pastry.
For once I managed to take a photo without the need of the flash as the sun was streaming in.  I also managed to get a load of washing dry in the garden which is lovely and it smells so wonderful when you bring it in.  Many years ago I bought a whirly washing line that collapses with the line inside so it stays clean which is a real boon when you come to using it after a winter of neglect.  No black marks on the washing or ages cleaning the lines.  However, the pegs are a different matter and have been out all winter so today I will bring them in and give them a birthday in readiness for the summe…

Monday and the start of another week

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Where did the weekend go?  I was disappointed that the shooting got cancelled yesterday but as it turned out it was probably just as well.  I had had a rotten night and by the time I had sorted out the pigeons and made the lunch I was so tired that I fell asleep for several hours.  The pigeons served a dual purpose firstly I hid them in the garden and sent Basso to find and retrieve them then I stripped the breasts off and wrapped them in slices of my own Parma style ham and put them in the freezer for some later date.  The mutton simmered slowly most of the morning and then I served it with caper sauce, carrots and boiled potatoes - it was delicious.  The bananas that were on the blink were given a coat of custard for desert - it is ages since we have had banana custard a real childhood delight.  We were so stuffed that we only had a slice of bread and cheese for supper as neither of us felt at all hungry.
Today I have the left overs to deal with and I am thinking I might make little …

Sunday morning

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So how did the pigeon shooting go?  not so well, there must have been about 6 of us dotted around in the woods and there were plenty of pigeons but they were flying high and fast which meant they were un-shootable.  4 birds were shot but not by me, however, I do have them in the garage as no body else wanted them.  I think it is a pity to shoot them then not used them so they will be dressed today and ready for the pot. I didn't get home until about 7pm by which time it had started to rain but we had been fortunate and stayed dry.  I was due to go clay pigeon shooting this morning but Roger has torn a ligament in his leg and can't drive so that has been cancelled.  I do, however, have some good news and that is I am off to Crufts on Thursday.  One of Sandi's friends has a spare seat in her car and is going up there on gun dog day so I couldn't really turn down the offer.  Janet, Basso's breeder is doing the Spinone judging and has 174 dogs to see - of course the be…

Saturday

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Waiting our turn
Yesterday was an interesting experience the journey down to Southampton was pretty uneventful just one motor way after another M2, 20, 26, 25 and M3.  The Sat Nav took us to the very door of the house we needed which is up an unmade road.  Once we had found the place we then back traced and went and had lunch in Twyford at a nice pub with big car park so the dogs could have a leg stretch.  I also took a walk to the post office which is a general store and bought some cheese which I wanted to finish off the fish pies that I had made before we left.  Lunch was the usual sort of thing stuff that comes from the freezer and either goes in the deep fat fryer or the microwave.  However having said that Mike had a steak which was both cooked rare as requested and tender so full marks for that.  By lunch time the sun had come out and it was warming up nicely so it was back to the x ray place.  We parked up and a lady came and checked who we were and took our forms to make sure …

Friday morning and there goes another week!

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Spring is really on the way - while I was out in the garden yesterday I noticed that some hellebores that I shoved in as seedlings have burst into flower.  They were a gift from a neighbour who had far too many plants and I had forgotten that I had put them in the back of the border.  The forsythia is in full bloom and the white flowering currant [see picture below] is under way so it is all beginning to look very spring like.  I have a very small patch of lawn which has been a real trial to me and looks a mess.  It is so small that it is hardly worth getting the mower out to cut it so we have now decided to put down some artificial grass which will solve the problem in a permanent way.  The chickens accommodation is now up and running so that I can move them out as soon as the weather improves a bit and then get to grips with sorting out the green house ready for planting.  Mark is a real inspiration as he works at such a rate that it really prods me into action.  With the two of us …

Thursday morning but only just

Well it is stupid o'clock again, yesterday was very stressful and so once the pressure was off I collapsed into bed and was asleep by 9pm so I have no one to blame but myself.  I had known about the fitness test for James for about a week so as you can imagine the stress gradually built up and each time I spoke to him he seemed to be making no improvements with his back.  Anyway, it is all over now and he managed to pass the test by the skin of his teeth.  Now he has a couple of weeks to get fit before he starts training in earnest.  I hope he will come home for a day or two so we can celebrate a little as this is a mile stone we have been waiting for for three years.  No one tells you when you have children that it is a life sentence and you go on worrying about them forever no matter how old they are.  I did however have the privilege of ringing my friends and family to tell them the good news.
I spent the day trying to keep myself occupied so the dogs got a good run in the wood…

Thank you

Prayers answered!!!!!

Wednesday morning and bin day

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Oh wasn't it cold yesterday?  I wrapped up for my foray into the garden and realised that the wind was bitter and blowing straight from Siberia.  Once Jane was under way and Mark had not turned up we decided to take the dogs for a run and swing by the butcher on the way back.  I dithered about putting on a hat and decided that it was not that cold - wrong - I had parked in a sheltered place and once I was in the teeth of the gale I realised my mistake. The wind was whipping up white horses on the river and waves were crashing on the beach.  There was nothing for it but to stride it out and get back to the car as soon as possible.  The dogs didn't seem to notice that they were without their big winter coats and took it all in their stride.  We called in at the butcher on the way back and I bought us each a goose egg for supper as well as some mince to make bolognese sauce with.  The eggs were pretty pricey at £1.39 each but when you think it is enough for a meal it doesn't …

Tuesday morning

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Well it is silly O'clock but I am wide awake and having had 6 hours sleep that is plenty.  I missed my afternoon nap so fell asleep really early.  Yesterday was a good day first there was the news of all the Oscars won by a British film, I was worried that after all the hype it would crash and burn.  I was slightly disappointed that Geoffrey Rush didn't win best supporting actor as he was truly brilliant in the film but I suppose you can't have it all... It is nice to have a bit of good news what with all that is happening in North Africa at the moment.  Secondly there is the shaggy dog story!  well they are no more I have three sleek and heavily scented pups.  I felt somewhat like a mother leaving her child for its first day at school and the similarity didn't end there, when it came to picking them up the hall way was crowded with anxious owners waiting for the darlings to emerge.  I could just glimpse Basso on the table getting the final touches to his beard and eye…