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Showing posts from November, 2012

Friday morning

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Yesterday was cold but today is even colder it is under freezing and last night the gritter lorries were out so they were expecting ice.  I only know this because James took Zoe out to a restaurant and I was the the taxi.  I am not usually out and about in the car late in the evening.  They had a nice meal but James paid me a lovely compliment as he felt it was not anything special as he ate so well at home normally.

Earlier in the day we had taken the dogs for a walk in the woods which was not a good idea as poor James found that his crutches were sinking into the mud and it was a bit of a trial so we turned for home rather soon than normal.  The dogs don't seem to mind the length of the walk just the fact of going out seems to satisfy their needs.

Today I am roasting the duck we got from Aldi which is now thoroughly defrosted and I intend to follow John Torode's recipe for the perfect roast duck which gives it half an hour steaming under foil before giving it an hour gettin…

Thursday Morning

This morning the temperature has dropped like a stone and it is a mere 2 degrees outside but at least the rain has stopped.

The bed in the front room has been put into the attic which we decided would be the best place as the wooden slats would get damp and warp in the shed.   The curtains should be ready early next week so I will finally have the room back to normal once the furniture is rearranged and the room given a good hoover.  The pheasants got dealt with and I put them through the sous vide wrapped in parma ham and so ready to flash in a hot pan full of butter and then dress with a splash of cream.  The monumental pile of laundry also got finished now all that is left is the monumental pile of ironing which I will tackle this morning.  I went to Aldi and purchased a 2.5 kg duck which I have left to defrost and will then roast tomorrow.  I also took the time to pay a visit to the butchery counter in Dobbies where I got the fabulous beef.  The butcher was apprehensive as I menti…

Wednesday morning

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Well it is cold but quiet this morning.  Yesterday, we finally dismantled the bed from the front room the mattress is now waiting to go to the tip and the frame is ready to go to the shed.  Jane came and did her thing but she is really suffering and it is painful to watch her.  I am very glad that we have come to an amicable arrangement about her leaving.  She was amazed at Basso - I had thrown laundry down the stairs and she was about to pick it up and take it to the washing machine when I asked her to leave it and let Basso bring it.  It is a bit of a slow process as he can only manage one piece at a time but he went back time and time again until the whole pile was brought.  Jane stood and watched incredulous at how the dog was working.  He then went and sat next to his treats which he felt had been earned so Jane gave him a biscuit for his trouble.  Talking of laundry I think I have about 10 loads to do what with all the beding from the front room on top of a weeks normal washing…

Tuesday morning

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Yesterday was a pretty miserable day weather wise  it was wet and windy for most of the day.  The Sunday beef provided another 6 portions making a total of 11 in all.  We had it sliced cold with a leak and butternut squash gratin for lunch and for supper we had it made into a salad with sliced raw onions and capers and then dressed with olive oil and pepper and served with a big mixed salad to accompany.  It was just as well it was a cold supper as I went with James for his outpatients appointment.  We arrived at the outpatients department having booked in at the main entrance desk then we discovered that the clinic was running an hour late.  We sat and waited.   An hour and a half after our allotted appointment time we were issued with an Xray form and proceeded to the Xray department for another hour long wait then back to outpatients to wait for the doctor.  By this time the clinics were all shutting down as it was 6pm but I made sure we got the to ask the questions that needed as…

Monday morning

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It is bright and early but then I did fall asleep very early last night.  At the moment it is pitch black outside but the wind is howling and the rain is bucketing down so it looks like a bit of a miserable day weather wise.  
Yesterdays beef was an absolute triumph.  You really do get what you pay for.  The meat was so tender you could have eaten it with a spoon and as for flavour it was that of the memory from long ago.  This piece of beef had been 40 days matured and it was worth every one of those days.  I gave it a sealing coat of flour and english mustard powder with the salt and pepper then cooked it until I had an internal temperature of 63 degrees and then left it to stand while the roast potatoes and yorkshires cooked.  I had made a base gravy with saute vegetables and white wine which when added to the meat juices was sublime.  The sprouts got an unusual treatment.  That morning I was leafing through a Mark Hicks book on english cookery and came across creamed brussel spro…

Sunday morning

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Well I am sure that by now you are pretty certain that I am crazy and yesterday just went to prove the point. It poured with rain from start to finish of the shoot and in the picture you can just see Basso searching for a lost bird in the now quite well grown rape.  As it happend the shoot was the most successful ever with 147 birds shot over 8 drives.  I arrived home at 4.30 soaked to the skin covered in mud exhausted but happy.  Every single stitch of my clothes is now in the washing machine and there are two brace of birds hanging in my garage.  Basso ran a muck on one drive when I sent him for a runner and just at that moment they shot loads of birds which were falling all around him.  Suddenly he became confused and ran from bird to bird not knowing which to collect.  He ignored my frantic commands and ran round like a headless chicken, quel dommage.  On another drive he had the gun in stitches as he was determined that he could pick up two birds in one go - sadly even with his …

Saturday morning

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I'm not too sure how many of these we will see today and certainly not against a blue sky.  The weather forecast is dire.  Cold with high winds and torrential rain sounds just the weather to go tramping across ploughed fields.  I must admit that were I the shoot captain I would postpone until next Saturday.  Anyway, I will be dressing for the weather and hope that it is not too much of a washout.  I will be testing my new Aldi thermal insulated waterproof trousers and I think plenty of layers of shirts vest and jumpers are called for.  A thermos of hot tea will also make up part of the packed lunch together with  couple of rounds of egg mayo sandwiches and some cold chipolata sausages.  I take a bag of dog biscuits for Basso for lunch time as he usually really needs them together with a couple of bottles of water and some dry towels.  He very much understands lunch time and happily settles down for a rest in his bed in the car.  The afternoon is usually not as taxing as the morni…

Friday morning and too early

It has been a really wild night with very high winds and lots of rain - nothing by comparison with what I have seen on the TV but wild none the less.  I am always glad we live on the top of the north downs as we will never be flooded we do however get hammered by the winds.  
We had a real panic yesterday as James had misplaced his wallet.  We searched the house and were convinced that the only place it could be was in the car however Mike had decided to go to Bluewater so we had to wait until he returned.  As usual he didn't have his mobile switched on anyway, as soon as he got back we flew out to check and there was the wallet, panic over.  The thought of all the hassel if he had lost it was awful so the relief was wonderful.  
The toad in the hole made with the venison sausages and a good gravy of onion mushroom and white wine was really just what the doctor ordered.  Some times meals really hit the spot and are truly satisfying.  Supper was a bit of an invention we were going…

Thursday morning

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Well shooting got cancelled and just as well as the day turned out to be foul.  Rain and wind made it most unpleasant and when we were out with the dogs we discovered just how cold the rain was.  I spoke rather too soon and my miserable back came back with a vengeance so I spent the afternoon laying flat in the hope of getting rid of it.  I think I must now admit that I think it is self inflicted as it seems to come on if I sit on the edge of my bed watching TV and knitting.  So last night I made sure I sat straight while I knitted and so far the back seems OK.  
I took my curtains to the dry cleaners yesterday expecting a significant bill but was pleasantly surprised that they were only going to cost me £15 but then I went to buy the piece of beef for the weekend and discovered that I needed a second mortgage.  It puts an added pressure on you to get the cooking right if the ingredients are so expensive.  Anyway I hope I have sufficient experience to cook a joint without messing it …

Wednesday morning and bin day

According to the weather forecast this morning is supposed to be very wet and windy which dosen't bode well for going shooting.  At the moment it is blowing a bit but dry so I am not quite ready to cancel just yet.  
As you know James is one of those unlucky people and true to form he sent his driving licence off [recorded delivery] to the insurance company as proof if identity.  Well to cut a very long story short they have successfully lost it so now we will have to go through all the hassel of getting a replacement from the DVLA.  Fortunately he still has the counter part so we have a head start and he has just had photos taken for his passport so it should be a relatively easy thing to deal with.
I finally got the curtains down in the front room yesterday so they are on their way to the cleaners, but in the process I noticed that many of the hooks have become brittle and broken so I will need another packet of hooks before I can rehang them.  This is the first step in convert…

Tuesday morning

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Today we are set for wind and rain which will bring down the last of the lovely autumn leaves.  Well that is what the weather forecast has said but as yet there is no real sign of it.  Yesterday I set to and made the shepherds pies and a big macaroni cheese for lunch.  Then it was time to leap in the car and take the rabbit tails to Shiona who was feeling pretty rough.  She has now made some 20 rabbits for the school fair so that will have to do.  The slightly heavier crochet and stuffed tails actually helped to make them sit up very nicely.  The dogs had a splendid time charging around her very large garden then it was back home for lunch.  I had put some grated cheese mixed with breadcrumbs on top of the macaroni which made a very nice brown crust on the top.  
Now the strangest thing happend just before we left to go to Shiona's my back suddenly became really painful and I actually had trouble getting my trousers on and had to sit down as standing on one leg was impossible.  T…

Monday morning

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Good morning all, here we are at another Monday morning and the beginning of another week.  The weeks are slipping by at an alarming rate, I don't seem to be doing much but the time is whizzing by.    Yesterday was a peaceful day and largely spent in the kitchen and chatting on the phone.  The roast leg of lamb and all the trimmings went down very well and for supper I had done some of the giant couscous which I dressed with an assortment of vegetables and lots of olive oil and lemon which actually made a really decent supper.  
Today the plan is to drive over to Goudhurst and deliver the rabbits tails to Shiona who is feeling rough with a head cold.  However, I do have to make a shepherds pie with the left over lamb and also a macaroni cheese which is on our menu for lunch.  Both jobs are largely assembly rather than cooking as the Termomix will make the cheese sauce for the macaroni and all that is missing from the shepherds pie is a couple of fried onions and a bit of chopping…

Sunday morning

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Well my cunning plan succeeded and the filing cabinet is now built, but what a job, nothing fitted as it should and it was a real pig to put together.  The draw runners where all in the wrong place and had to be realigned.  Anyway it is considerably sturdier than the one it is to replace which is on the point of collapsing.  It was James who built it as Mike decided that he had urgent shopping to do and I was largely occupied in the kitchen but available to lend the odd hand.  While I was fiddling in the kitchen I decided to make a dessert out of the thermomix book which was a layered custard with the bottom of vanilla flavour and the top of chocolate on to which we sliced a banana.  This was very successful and so easy that it will be a standby recipe when an instant desert is needed.  The ingredients were:
½ litre milk  2 eggs 50g sugar 2 tsp vanilla extract 2 tbsp cornflower 2 tbsp cocoa powder
You cook everything bar the cocoa powder then pour out half into glass dishes and add t…

Saturday morning

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Yesterday morning was spent trawling around the town doing chores and walking the dogs before the rain arrived. The dog walk takes a while with James on crutches but the dogs don't seem to mind how slowly you walk so long as they can run about doing their thing.  Needless to say all did not go smoothly in the post office with the passpost forms so they are back for correction.  I had an abortive trip to Dobbies to try and get more of the venison sausages but they had been cleaned out.  However they are hoping to have more next week.  By the time we got home it was time for lunch so I was very glad that it was a nice simple linguine with bolognese sauce and a quick green salad.  Supper was the leftover pheasant with some added field mushrooms and I had intended to make a pie however, it was easier to heat up the filling and bake the sheet of pastry separately then cut it into sections and lay on top of the filling when serving.  It really looked lovely as it came out of the oven a…

Friday Morning

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And still we haven't had the usual big blow to remove all the leaves so we can enjoy the autumn colours. 
Yesterday was a kitchen day after I had undressed the pheasants they were wrapped in parma ham and browned in butter, then a lid clamped on and simmered for 30 minutes then 8 tablespoons of cream were added and another 15 minutes of cooking.  It sounds so simple but the results are stunning.  There was no way we could finish two pheasants so the remainder has been stripped from the bone and mixed with some chestnut mushrooms and today a pie crust will be added.     For lunch we had had a couple of sausages but what sausages they were, wild venison, so I cooked them with a red wine reduction and some creamy polenta made in the thermomix.  What a joy! making polenta is a pig of a job as it needs constant stirring if it is not to make a sticky mess.  There was enough left to have with the pheasant for supper so all in all a very satisfying day of cooking.  The dogs did quite wel…

Thursday morning

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Yesterday was very mild again and it stayed dry so Shiona and I were able to get out with the dogs for a nice walk.  Jane came and did her thing which was lovely as the kitchen was a bit of a mess from the previous days cook in.  Nisbets came up trumps with the new functioning salad spinner, arriving as stated, and the broken one sent back with the same courier.  
For lunch we had some delicious smoked mackerel.  I had bought the whole fish rather than fillets which meant it was nice and moist.  We ate it with some crisp toast, horseradish sauce and a big bowl of mixed salad.  Then we set to and made zabaglione in the thermomix - well what a lovely easy dessert, no more whisking like mad over a pan of simmering water.  The recipe also states that if you continue to mix for 20 minutes without heat the foam becomes stable and you can then keep it in the fridge for another day.  The assumption being that there might be some left over - ha ha not in this house.  By the time it came to su…

Wednesday and bin day

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Yesterday it was a hive of industry in my kitchen after my visit to the fishmonger.  Potted shrimps were made for lunch to have with the hot bread straight out of the machine.  Smoked mackerel were skinned and boned, six individual fish pies were made.  A whole side of salmon was portioned vac packed and sous vide cooked.  The slow cooker made some bolognese sauce and for supper I made a cauliflower cheese with crispy bacon.  4 lamb breasts were sunk in goose fat and slowly confit and today they will be sliced and open frozen.  James played his part and acted as commis chef and pot washer which made it much easier and also good fun.  
Now here is a compliment for Nisbets.  At 8 am sharp I telephoned to explain that my salad spinner did not function as expected.  Was there any hassel? no none, my account was found the details of what was wrong with the item taken down and a new one dispatched immediately to arrive by courier today.  The non functioning one will be collected either by …

Tuesday Morning

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First let me reply to Joy with details of the soup which I made yesterday.  When the carcass of the bird is added to the steaming basket it is then lowered in to the jug which is filled to the 2litre mark which in effect covers the carcass with water so it actually boils rather than steams.  However, it just lifts out with little or not mess.  The one correction I would add for future reference is, that I would give the vegetables a little fry in the jug immediately after chopping and before proceeding as per the recipe.  This would get rid of the persistant raw garlic flavour which I did not enjoy.  Other than this it is a perfect recipe and the easiest way ever to make a left over chicken soup.  
Yesterday was quite a busy day, James and his friend had come in very late so I made the mixture for blueberry muffins and loaded it into an old squeasy tomato ketchup bottles so that they could make them as soon as they woke up.  We were already out taking the dogs for a walk and paying a…

Monday morning

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Everywhere you look in the garden the leaves are turning to wonderful colours and as yet we haven't had a major blow to strip then all from their branches.  The weather is cold with clear skys so at least we are in for another dry day I hope.  Mark the gardener is due tomorrow and if it stays dry he will be able to use his magic blower on the leaves and tidy the place up.  The peas I planted in the green house are coming on well and so far I have remembered to water them from time to time.  As yet there is no sign of the onions, garlic and broad beans but there is plenty of time yet.
Yesterday was one of rest following the my soaking and the exertions of Saturday.  Basso was also very happy to doss around and snooze between meals.  I did a simple roast chicken with parsnips puree [TM] buttered cabbage, bread sauce [TM] and roasted potatoes.  The left overs I made into chicken soup which was a joy in the TM as it all happened in the one place.   For Joy here is the recipe so you c…

Sunday morning at the crack of dawn

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One soaking wet dog sadly looking at his already empty plate.  He ate his own supper and that of his brother and was still looking for more.  Well fair play, he had worked his socks off all day in the pouring rain.  And he was not the only one.  It didn't stop raining until the shoot finished.  It was pretty chilly but just because it was wet.  I think I came home in a worse state than the dog I certainly had more mud on me.  It was a case of pealing off all the wet clothes and putting them straight into the washing machine and then putting myself through the hot shower.  Meanwhile  Chinese take away was ordered and then it was off to bed but I fell asleep at the end of strictly hence the early start this morning.   I was very chuffed as one of the guns asked me what sort of dog he was as he looked so impressive when working.  He had found a couple of lost birds and for the first time Sandy saw him pointing when he found a bird and wait for the command to take it.  It is so grati…

Saturday morining

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The autumn colours are making a real spectacle and until the wind blows them all down we can enjoy the colours.  James is sore but relieved today his tooth is out and it was just as well he was in the hospital with an experienced maxillofacial surgeon as the tooth was a real pain to remove.  Fortunately he was awake and so was I as all his notes called for removal of tooth 6 when in fact it was 7 that needed to be removed.  Good job they weren't amputating a leg!!!!  Anyway job done now we can get on with healing the gum and lots of salt water mouth washes.

The weather forecast for today is for rain for most of the day so I think Basso and I are going to get wet.  Fortunately it is not cold so that is one bonus.  The one joy of going in the car is that I can take an assortment of clothing and change as the weather dictates.

My hair got cut and my mug shots for the passport are done, now all I need to do is get them signed and stump up the money.

Last night for supper we had so…

Friday morning

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A bit early this morning but I have a busy time today.  I won't bore you with all the faffing around we went through yesterday but suffice to say James is finally having the tooth extracted at the hospital at 11.30 today.  Meanwhile I have a hair appointment at 10.15 for a cut and blow dry so that I don't look too bad for my passport photo.  Not that passport photos are ever flattering but at least my hair won't be a mess.  Mike is going to have to be a taxi service and will be running us all to and fro.   
Last nights sausage and bean casserole was a great success and what a difference the Italian sausage made.  There is just enough left over for Mike and I for lunch I don't suppose James will fancy much to eat at lunch time.  I can always do him some scrambled eggs if he is hungry.  Amid the chaos I managed to get the laundry done so I can now spend some time with the iron and get that all done.  There is bound to be another pile over the weekend as Basso and I are …

Thursday Morning

There are times when you should take heed of your gut feelings and yesterday was one of those.  I really didn't feel up to going shooting but didn't want to let the others down.  As it turned out Shiona dipped out as she was feeling under the weather and the boys got stuck on the M25 so they were very late in arriving.  We had a slow round as we seemed to constantly catch up with big groups and have to wait quite a while for our turn.  None of us shot well and although I only ended up about 8 shots behind I shot really badly.  The only consolation is that we would not have starved had it been for real and not shooting clay ashtrays.

I have just returned from casualty with James who has terrible toothache which he has had for days and the dentist told him to if the tooth played up that is what he should do.  However the hospital have told him to ring the maxillofacial lot at 9 am and hope that there is something they can do for him.  The appointment he has is for the 22nd whic…

Wednesday and bin day

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It is a real pity we don't have smelly vision not only does Basso look good but he smells of "all butter puff pastry" that is just ready to come out of the oven.  I want to put strawberry jam on him and eat him!!!  Heaven knows what products they have used on him but the smell is intoxicating.  Nip also looks gorgeous  and smells of talc but is currently unavailable for a photo as he is curled up in bed with James.  They were both exhausted and delighted to come home and were very pleased that I had brought pieces of liver cake [absolute favourite] for them as a treat. 
The wonderful Jane came and we had a long chat about her condition and she has agreed that she would like to hang on till Christmas but will stop after that.  Which would seem like a good idea it gives us both time to get used to the idea.  She has been a fixture with us for many years so it is going to be a wrench for both of us.   
I felt pretty rough through the day but as the evening drew on I began …

Tuesday morning

Remember remember the fifth of November.  Well guess who forgot!!!  Thank you all for your good wishes they were much appreciated.  We went out to lunch with our friends but I was feeling a bit off and had a raging head ache.  We had a simple lunch of sirloin steak and chips and got home at around 2.30.  I had already made some pea and watercress soup for supper so it only needed heating and some croutons frying.  James was waiting for his care coordinator to visit so I went off to bed with a couple of asprins.

I slept for about an hour but still felt pretty rocky.  The care coordinator had failed to turn up again. Out of 5 appointments he has failed to turn up to 3.  Does he phone to cancel? no just doesn't turn up.  One bit of good news though is that James now has a date to have his broken tooth removed 22 November so not too much longer to suffer with tooth ache. Can you believe he broke the tooth while he was an in patient, and it would have been so easy to deal with it then…

Monday 5th November

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Yesterday I set out to prove that there is no such thing as bad weather only inappropriate clothing.  It was hosing down with rain when I went out with the dogs so it was on with all the wet weather gear including wellingtons and my new waterproof trousers.  I am pleased to report that despite what the elements threw at me I came home warm and dry.  The same could not be said for the dogs who looked like drowned rats.  Nip had initially refused to accompany me but I informed it was time to Man up and show his metal.  The journey home in the car was fortunately very short as there was a delicious hum of wet dog pervading the vehicle.  On the weather theme I had a chat with a friend who lives in Bath and she was reporting an inch of settled snow!!!
We had a very traditional lunch of roast chicken which I did in the halogen oven with potatoes and green beans and some roasted butternut squash that needed using up.  I also made a traditional accompaniment of bread sauce.  This was done us…

Sunday morning

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Well the rain of yesterday morning soon subsided and we were left with a glorious sunny autumn day.  We took a trip to our lovely shop in Faversham to restock the coffee beans and of course managed to buy a few other goodies.  Then it was home again to make the stuffing for the sardines which were very tasty but as the fillets had been pre prepared and frozen they had not been properly scaled so there were nasty clumps of scales on our plates.  Fortunately we are not of the squeamish type so we just pushed them to one side and ate the fish.  For dinner we had some fried rice in the style of the Gok book with some strips of pork belly.  
The fireworks started almost as soon as it was dark and continued late into the evening fortunately neither of my dogs are affected and completely ignore the noise.  Basso very definitely knows the difference between a firework bang and gun.  The sound of a gun even in the distance will bring him to instant attention but fireworks he ignores and sleep…

Saturday morning

Well I am doing my bit for the Great British food revival.  Following on from the program on brown shrimps that is exactly what we had for lunch and in the freezer I now have some cornish sardine fillets some of which we will be having for lunch today.   I did the recipe for potted shrimps with light curry spices instead of mace which I must admit I did prefer not being a lover of mace as a spice.  The sardines fillets I will do following the Giorgio Locatelli recipe which looks really nice served with a tomato salad.  It is nice to have cooking programs to watch as it gives me inspiration for my menus.  
I spent some time yesterday training with Basso as I am introducing a new whistle command.  The instruction is for him to "search" so I have taken every opportunity to hide dummies around the house when he wasn't looking and then send him to search, giving both verbal and whistle commands to begin with and finally just the whistle command.  By the end of the day he was…

Friday morning

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Yesterday was clam day after walking the dogs we dropped by the fishmonger and picked up the clams for supper.  Apparently the new Billingsgate is still called that but is in fact on the isle of dogs by canary warf.  When they were moved there they were given a 50 year lease at the cost of one fish per year by the city as the land was essentially wasteland.  However, the growth of docklands has made the land extremely valuable and they would like to get it back but there is still 20 years to run on the lease.
For lunch we ate the left over pheasant made into a soup with some left over pasta, the only problem was there was enough for about six so as we didn't really fancy a return visit the dogs did very well for supper.  Somehow it feels quite right that Basso shares in the spoils of his labours.  
James had his interview with the psychologist who agreed that treatment for his PTSD was necessary and so he will be put on the list for treatment - now don't laugh, there is an 18…

Thursday November 1st

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We have been having plenty of wind and rain and the garden is deep in leaf litter.  Gone are the days when I used to religiously sweep them all up to make leaf mould now Mark and his magic blower get rid of them for me.  The fig tree is one of the most messy as it has large leaves and plenty of them.  I did however take a trip up to the green house where my peas are just beginning to poke their noses above the ground.  With no hens to tend I have to remember to go up the garden and despite all the rain the green house needs to be watered.  
We had a rather unexpected lunch yesterday as I spent some time doing the pheasants.  Two of them I skinned and the other brace I just took the breasts.  The two whole birds I wrapped in parma ham and then browned  all over in a pan with  butter and oil.  Once brown the lid was clamped on and they were left to simmer for 30 minutes at which point I added about half a pot of double cream basted the birds and gave them another 15 minutes.  They were…