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Showing posts from January, 2013

Thurday morning

I have woken this morning with terrible waves of nausea, I think I will have to go back to bed until I feel a bit better.  I do hope I haven't contracted the dreaded norovirus.  

After a very wet and windy start, yesterday turned into a beautiful springlike day with glorious sunshine.  Shiona arrived with her two dogs and after coffee we set off to take the pack for a walk.  Then we stopped off at the wool shop where she bought more eyes and more wool and I was seduced into buying a couple of balls of lilac 4ply for my blanket.  We then hit Aldi for a few essentials before returning home for lunch which was a bit late as it took a while for the stew to heat and the parsnips to brown.  I find parsnips a bit like flaked almonds one minute they are white then next they are charcoal.  Supper was macaroni cheese which is now so simple with the thermomix making the cheese sauce while the pasta is boiling.  Then combine and into the halogen oven to brown the top.

While Shiona was here w…

Wednesday morning

Clean, clean, clean, Denny has been and the house is like a show home.  She decided that my windows  and the internal glass doors needed doing and now they are sparkling and slobber free what a joy it is to have a hand with the cleaning.   Mark has had a good tidy of the garden and pruned the roses and we have agreed that the paths need a pressure wash as they are very slippery from all the winter wet.   Once they were both established doing their thing I took the dogs out for a walk and also disposed of several bags of recycling which are not due to be collected until next week.  I didn't want to put them in the garage as the fury creatures would make a mess of them so I took them straight to the tip.  I don't know what is going on in the garage but I am going through rat poison like it was going out of fashion.  Every day I fill the tray and every day they empty it.  I am beginning to wonder if it is rat food rather than poison!!!!
The menu got knocked into a cocked hat.  I…

Tuesday morning

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Yesterday was a vet day we started off taking both dogs down to the vet at 8.30 Basso got his booster inoculation but Nip had to stay behind.  We were asked to ring for information between 2 and 3 when we were assured that he was coming round nicely and all was well.   Then it was down to pick him up at 5.30.  When we arrived he was barking the place down so he was obviously feeling better and wanting to go home.  He was minus one tooth, which was rotten, and we agreed that the tooth fairy should pay 50p for it.  However the vets bill was considerably more!!!  When we arrived home Basso spent some 20 minutes giving Nip a thorough check up. He could obviously smell the remains of the anaesthetic and was quite concerned about his mouth.  Once he was passed fit we gave him supper of some nice mushy risotto which he ate with relish not having had any food since the previous day and despite his trauma he insisted on having a hard biscuit for bed time.  I also rang the dog groomers for an …

Monday morning and the start of another week

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Sartu di riso ready for the oven
Well the snow has certainly gone with the deluge we had yesterday morning.  I made a start on the laundry as all I had to do for lunch was put the dish in the oven and heat the tomato sauce.    The car which was coated in mud doesn't look to bad now that the rain has rinsed it.  Now as for lunch there was little to do on Sunday as I had done all the preparation.  We all agreed that while it was nice the same end result could be reached with far less work.  After all at the end of the day it is just a risotto with meat balls and tomato sauce.  Combining the ingredients into a timbale might look spectacular but didn't lend anything to the end result.  It was a serious quantity of food so it did us for both lunch and supper and there is enough for the dogs to have for breakfast.  Oh dear, I have just remembered, there is only one dog for breakfast as Nip is "nil by mouth" as he is having an anaesthetic to sort out his teeth.  We have to…

Sunday morning

Yesterday was  a bit of a mixed bag the weather was perfect it was quite sunny and relatively mild.  However, the rain which had fallen on top of the ice made walking in wellingtons quite treturous.  The areas which had lost their snow were now quagmires and the car certainly got put put through its off road capabilities.  Being the end of the season there were not many birds left to shoot and as it was the beaters day we only had 6 guns but about 10 picking up dogs as many of the beaters had brought their own dogs.  By lunch time the bag was some 12 birds and we decided that it was time to go home.  Basso might not have got a look in picking up but he had had a grand time with his mates and was covered in mud up to his chest. Sandi had brought both her dogs so the three of them had a great time cavorting together.  When he saw the foot washing trug bucket in the kitchen he turned tail and tried to get in his crate but I cut off his retreat and he got his feet washed anyway. You shou…

Saturday and last day of the shoot

We still have snow on the ground but now there is quite a wind and it is raining.  Not quite the weather I had in mind for todays outing but at least we are above freezing.  
Yesterdays lunch of eggs Benedict with smoked haddock was very acceptable and making the hollandaise sauce in the thermomix is just so simple.  Throw in the ingredients and set for 4 minutes at 80 degrees and speed 3.  Then ladle liberally over your poached egg and smoked haddock.  To accompany it I made a large green salad which included a couple of avocado pears which were just right.  Supper was a more mundane affair with just some beans on toast with crispy bacon rashers.  
I spent most of the day organising the timbale for Sunday and it is now assembled and in the fridge so all I have to do is put it through the oven and grate some parmesan.  I have gallons of tomato sauce to serve with it and loads of left over meat balls which the men can have for lunch today while I am out.  I will be having my usual of …

Friday Morning

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And still the snow lingers, it seems very reluctant to melt and disappear.  Shiona came over on her journey to take her dogs to the groomers.  Their period in Scotland over the christmas holidays has resulted in a huge growth of coat and her two dogs looked like demented scrubbing brushes.  I'm sure that after a day in the groomers hands they will come out looking gorgeous.  I must get round to booking Basso in once the season is over.  The last shoot is on Saturday and is known as Cocks day where the beaters get their opportunity to shoot the remaining cock birds.  I was offered an opportunity to shoot but I would rather work Basso picking up so that is what I am going to do.  The last time a shot it nearly killed me carrying my gun and cartridges over great tracts of mud.   Field guns are much lighter than mine and also much more expensive.  

The field gun in the picture sold for £113,000 admittedly that was a record but they are very expensive pieces of kit.
Shiona was given a…

Thursday morning

The snow is still with us and is taking its time to melt which I suppose is better with regard to flooding although that is not one of our problems.  We are perched on the top of hill which means it is very slippery when icy.  
There was just enough of the meat loaf left to make lunch for the three of us and we all decided that if you can eat the same dish for three meals in succession and not be unhappy then it is a really good recipe.  We were all marginally disappointed that it had come to an end.  Supper was a cottage pie which I had lurking in the freezer from the last bit of roast beef.  Today Shiona is coming over so I will get out the faggots which we will have with either peas [traditional] or savoy cabbage and then by popular request I will make a queen of puddings with the stale bread in the bread bin.
James had a session with the physio yesterday and she was very pleased with the progress he is making.  He religiously does his exercises and they are beginning to pay off. …

Wednesday morning bin day

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It's a dogs life!  This is definitely not allowed but who got caught on camera snoozing in the bed?  The snow is gradually melting and we are no longer in minus figures.  Yesterday was largely spent cooking I finished off the ox cheek stew and as there was so much gravy with it I syphoned off half and added it to some faggots I got from the butcher.  The meat loaf was duly stuffed with mozzarella  and baked in the oven with potatoes and tomatoes.  We had it for lunch and then again for supper with the addition of a cauliflower cheese.  My vegetable box contained two tiny cauliflowers so it seemed that was the best idea and as it takes moments to make a sauce in the thermomix that's what I did.  I am gradually getting to grips with how easy things are in the thermo and how little effort it takes.  Just put all the ingredients in and switch on and hey presto a perfect sauce. No standing and stirring and gradually adding, just bung it all in and away it goes.  
James managed to …

Tuesday morning

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So what do you do on a miserable cold day, why a bit of dog training of course.  Once I had finished shovelling snow from the drive and off the car I hid a frozen pheasant in the garden and sent Basso off to find it.  I though in the freezing conditions it might be a bit of a challenge for him - not so - he located the pheasant in an instant and came pounding back with it.  That big brown nose of his works very well even in the snow and ice.  
The left over chicken made a nice curry for lunch and for supper we had the broth from the carcass with some cheese fuelled polenta squares.  Today I am making the polpetone stuffed with mozzarella and roast  with potatoes and tomatoes.  In the slow cooker there are 4 ox cheeks slowly stewing in guinness to which I will add some vegetables today and that will do for tomorrow or the day after.  Perhaps with some nice fluffy dumplings.  
We were promised more snow yesterday but each time we looked at the weather forecast it was due later and lat…

Monday morning

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Well the met office got it just right it started to snow at about 8.30 in the morning and it didn't stop until 6 in the evening when this photo was taken.  It was never very heavy just constant fine sand like snow.  The dogs think it is wonderful and keep dashing out to play in it.  I suppose in the end we have been left with between 2-3 inches but apparently we are due for another fall this afternoon.  I do feel for those who are going to have to struggle into work this morning but I suppose I used to do it when I was working and now its my time to stay in the warm.
I must admit that I spent most of the day watching the snow from the comfort of a warm house.  The roast chicken with all its accompaniments made a very adequate lunch, so much so, that none of us was in the mood for supper.  The carcass has been through the pressure cooker and a broth/stock made.   It just remains for me to strip the bones of all their bits which the dogs can have for breakfast.  I have a plate of c…

Sunday morning

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This is a photo of our last major fall of snow which was some years ago however if the met office are to be believed we are in for another significant fall today.  As yet we only have yesterdays thin scattering.  The new fall is not due until around lunch time.  
Yesterdays lunch of sort of coq au vin went down very well with the polenta made in the thermomix.    This was a real god send because stirring the pot for 40 minutes is a bit of a bind.  The quantity was a bit much for us so with the left overs I stirred in lots of butter and parmesan then let it set and cut slices from it for supper.  This was one of those economy meals - Mike had bought a packet of chicken wings which I first put in the oven to brown a bit then into the pressure cooker with the usual vegetables and finally the wings were put back in the oven with soy sauce and honey and allowed to glaze.  The resulting broth was eaten with pastina and parmesan and the glazed wings with the leftover polenta - very satisfac…

Saturday morning

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This is a photo of my neighbours car which has been moved from the position on the far side of the tree up to their bay window.  You can see the clear snow shadow where the car was.  Now what is all this about you ask? well it is about the mean spirit of said neighbours who came banging on the door in the middle of our lunch and insisted that James move his car which was overhanging their dropped curb by about 6 inches.  Obviously they need two parking spaces for the one car.  

As you can see it is really tight for parking !!!!  We lived through their 4 daughters attempts at parking which resembled abandonment more closely. Did we complain? no they were youngsters what do you expect.  So on a snowy slippery day James has had to move his car to the top of the road where he can stagger on his broken foot so that our lovely neighbours can have two parking spaced for one car.  He was given an ultimatum that either he moved the car or they would call the police.  I'm sure that local l…

Friday morning

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Yesterday my kitchen was brought back up to running speed I now have a fully functioning halogen oven and a pressure cooker that works.  All curtesy of Aldi where they were going very cheap.   I find that the pressure cooker makes soups and stocks nice and quickly.  


The guy came and gave us an estimate for doing the patio doors which as we thought really need to be replaced.  We will not be getting the new ones for a couple of weeks so we will just keep muddling along as usual with the dodgy door.  
I also made the polpetone recipe from Memorie di Angelina and it was really delicious there was easily enough for us to have both lunch and supper from the meat loaf.  For lunch we had it hot with the potatoes and tomatos it was roasted with and for supper we had cold slices with some salad.  I also made a sort of coq au vin with added prunes sounds odd but it tastes really nice.  The original recipe used rabbit but I had chicken thighs which worked just as well.
Is it me or have you not…

Thursday morning

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Cold, cold, cold -3℃and falling. The freezing fog which caused the helicopter disaster in London yesterday enveloped us for most of the day.  I hastily cancelled the shooting as we would have been lucky to see the targets.  Anyway, it is supposed to be fun and there was no way freezing to death in an old quarry was on the cards for a fun day.  Shiona came over anyway and we had a nice day chatting and managed to make the pies look silly for lunch.  I also managed to get rid of the beetroot - Shiona loves them!!!- problem solved.  We took a trip to my wool shop and bought some wool to make a child's hat in the form of a dog which one of her neighbours kids has requested.  Though when she is going to find the time to knit it heaven knows as she is still having problems with her mother and is going back up to scotland on a weekly basis at the moment.  Hopefully they will get mum settled into a home where she can be safely looked after.  
Today the guy is coming to look at the double…

Wednesday morning

First let me tell you that poor Basso has a sick note for the shoot on Saturday as he has a damaged pad and the vet has put him on a rest regimen.  Thank goodness he is a dog or he would have been so disappointed.  Nip is going to have his teeth sorted out next week and we have to phone for an appointment for him.  He has no idea so he too is quite happy!!! It must be nice to be a dog and take each day as it comes.
Secondly don't bother with the stew and pasta recipe. It is not good and ruins both items.  Some combinations don't work and this is one of them.  
Thirdly, let me tell you about Denny the new cleaning lady.  She came for three hours and went through the house like a hurricane.  The utility room got all the tiling cleaned even behind the washing machine.  The kitchen is sparkling all the cupboards, skirting board and floor were given a good wash over.  She shunned all the mops and preferred a hands and knees and bucket of soapy water approach.  Which I must admit d…

Tuesday morning

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Oh dear its stupid o'clock and I am up bright eyed and busy tailed.  Overnight we have had a dusting of snow.  We had some yesterday but by the afternoon it turned to rain so it didn't settle.  This morning we need to be up and ready for our new cleaning lady who is coming at 8am but perhaps 2.30 is a little early.  Needless to say we have had a good tidy in anticipation.  Anyway, I have plenty to do to keep me occupied as I have a big bowl of salmon and potato ready to make fish cakes for the freezer so I can get on and egg and breadcrumb them.  The salmon was going cheap in Tesco so it seemed like a good use for it.  Fish cakes make a really convenient quick lunch or supper with a bit of tomato or green salad.  As all our bread is home made and therefore has no preservatives I always have stale bread for making crumbs.  With the Termomix I can blast even the crusts to a fine crumb so nothing gets wasted.



I rang a double glazing company and they are going to come one day th…

Monday morning

As yet there is no snow, although we did have a few flurries yesterday, but the forecast is for some today.  For this reason I have declined another days beating, that, and also my back is still recovering.  The temperature is well below zero and it is feeling pretty cold.  
Yesterday, was a day of things going wrong, first the handle of one of the bedroom windows sheered off and we can't open it.  This is actually a problem as it is a very warm room as it has the boiler and airing cupboard in it.  Secondly the patio doors have been on the blink for ages and are really difficult to close so I think I will have to phone up the double glazing people and get both items fixed.  Then thirdly as I was cooking lunch the bulb in my halogen oven blew leaving my butternut squash raw so in desperation I put in the pressure cooker so that it would be cooked at the same time as the beef.  It was not very nice rather watery and bland however the dogs thought it was fine!!! I will have to have …

Sunday morning

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The best laid plans of mice and men and all that, yesterday turned into a rather busier day than I expected.  James has been on the look out for a car,  it would have to be an automatic as it is his left foot which is damaged, he can manage fine provided that he doesn't have a clutch to bother with.  Well to cut a long story short we shot over the QE2 bridge and drove to Leigh on Sea where he bought a very nice Black Ford Fiesta Ghia 1.6 in very nice clean condition.  I was delighted as not only is this the first sign of normality returning but it also means he no longer will have me terrified with a motor cycle.  It will also give him back his independence so he can take himself swimming or to hospital appointments etc.   It also means that when we can get him back into employment he will have a means of transport.  This photo is not his car but a similar one it was too dark to photo it last night and still too dark this morning.

As you know I have been lambasting my local hospi…

Saturday Morning

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No its not just a brown envelope it is a wage packet!!!!  The last time I received one of these is when I was working at a factory during the school holidays.  Yesterday the weather forecast was for very cold so I was wrapped up very well but as it turned out it was not that cold.  For me it was a long hard day and I felt at the limits of my endurance on a couple of occasions when steep climbs were required.  After the first two drives we stopped for elevenses. A mug of hot vegetable soup and a bap with rashers of bacon, followed by a matchbox size piece of cherry cake and a couple of chocolate sweets.  Needless to say that was enough to keep me going until home time.  However, during the lunch break, while the guns go off for a slap up meal, Sandi and I sat in my car and had our lunch of 2 paracetamol each.  The problem with the lunch break is it is just long enough to allow you to get cold and stiff.  The final drive saw me walking along the edge of the wood atop a steep bank riddl…

Friday Morning

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This is the second spike of flowers from the cheap bulb I bought in Aldi so I am very pleased it has done really well.
Yesterday was a relatively quiet day I made a pie with the pheasant leg meat and topped it with mash.  Then I made the salmon fish cakes which we ate for lunch with a nice tomato salad.  I had some egg and breadcrumbs left from the fish cakes so I made a cauliflower cheese and added the eggs to the sauce and the crumbs as a topping and a couple of sausages made it a meal.  I was shocked to hear that some 50% of the worlds food production is wasted - well not in my house even the crumbs were made from the crusts of some stale loaves.  I think that, as a child of  second world war parents, I learned from a very early age not to waste food.  With no hens at the moment the potato peeling do end up in the bin but as soon as I have restocked all the vegetable waste will go to the hens or the compost heap.  
The kitchen got its birthday clean and the laundry also got done a…

Thursday morning

I had a really busy morning yesterday what with taking the dogs for a walk in the park before joining James in the pool at 7.30.  I had already done the 6 birds and got the rubbish out for the bin men.  The salmon had been through the sous vide and the pheasant breast were in and doing while we were out.  For lunch I made pot roasted partridges with buttered cabbage and then collapsed into my bed for a rest.  I kept some of the salmon back from the freezer and have added it to mashed potato so today I am going to make salmon fish cakes which I hope will be enough for lunch and some for the freezer.  The pheasant legs I have put through the slow cooker and today I will pick the meat off them and then decide what to do with it.
I have made the decision about beating and will go again tomorrow but not Saturday.  From what I have seen of the weather forecast it is going to be cold but hopefully not wet, which I can live with.  I have plenty of thermal clothes so the cold shouldn't be…

Wednesday morning

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Yesterday was a busy one we were out of the house by 7am and on our way to the pool.  It is designed mostly for youngsters so the water temperature is kept nice and warm.  We managed to find a good place for James to get into deep water so that he didn't need to walk without his boot which he still finds impossible.  We were back home by 8.30 and sitting down to a nice bowl of porridge.  We then had a pile of chores to get done so it was back out and take the dogs for a walk and get the bits and pieces that were necessary.  We picked up the fish from the fishmonger and had some lovely smoked haddock and a poached egg for lunch.  The side of salmon was divided into portion sizes and vac packed ready for the sous vide today.  One portion has been vacuumed together with salt and sugar and dill and is in the process of making gravadlax which will make a very nice lunch for us one day over the weekend.  James friend Zoe came to supper and brought with her a lovely apple and pear crumb…

Tuesday Morning

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Much to my surprise I am still vertical and my game larder has a nice brace of plump partridges.  The weather was pretty miserable with a fine misty drizzle which made it feel pretty cold.  It was nice to see how a big commercial shoot is run.  We were ferried to each drive in a big wagon towed by a tractor which was just as well as no other vehicle could have managed the mud.  The seating was on straw bales which were marginally damp but there was a large bucket full of water bottles and cans of coke to keep us hydrated.


I would hazard a guess that each drive was probably no more than half a mile but over some very taxing ground either ploughed fields of mud or quite dense woodland or most difficult a cover crop of maize which is head high.  Each beater is equipped with a flag made from a stick with a white plastic sack nailed to it.  The idea is that the noise they make when flapped sends the birds into the air. Sandi kindly supplied me with a flag.   After the first two drives it…

Monday morning

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Good morning all - I had a quiet day yesterday and only cooked a roast lunch the rest of the time I just pottered around.  There is method in my madness, as today I am going with Sandi to a big commercial shoot but not with Basso.  I am going as a BEATER.  I don't know why I am doing this as it fills me with horor just to think about it.  I will, however, get fed and paid so I suppose that is some small consolation.  The weather looks reasonable it is dry and there is no wind so perhaps it will not be too bad.  One thing is for certain I will burn off enough calories to enjoy my shepherds pie this evening when I get home.  The abandoned men are going to have something on toast for lunch so they too will be happy to eat a meal when I get back.

This is the sort of land I will be tramping across today and shows part of the Lees Court Estate.  I have been there once before on a days roost shooting pigeons which was a total washout as there were no birds to shoot at.  Anyway, wish me …

Sunday morning

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What a fantastic day Basso and I had yesterday.  The shoot was short of pickers up so we had our work cut out but it meant that Basso had lots of birds to pick up.  He worked his socks off all day.   He was too tired to even contemplate his supper and after his feet were washed of all the mud he collapsed and slept and I did the same, however, I did managed to get my takeaway curry into to me first.  All that fresh air and walking really knocks me out.  I have two nice brace of pheasants in the garage and on Wednesday I will deal with them.  I usually give them about three days to hang as I am not keen on them if they have been hung for too long.  We were paid a nice compliment by the game keeper who commented on how well the dog had come on.  Given that he is a pampered pet and gets nowhere near enough training he does remarkably well.  The weather was a bit odd it was relatively warm but there was a fine misty drizzle for most of the day.  I think actually we were inside a cloud fo…

Saturday Morning

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Yesterday went well the Christmas decorations are back in their boxes and the house looks pretty bare but definitely tidier.  I have organised the cleaning lady who is going to come at 8am on the 15th and do three hours then she will come once a fortnight there after which should keep the house in a reasonable state with me doing the bits in between.  I now have to resist the urge to clean the house before she comes.  What I must do however is give it a good tidy so that she can at least see what needs cleaning.  
We ate the last of my sous vide salmon for lunch yesterday along with a Russian salad and a tossed green salad.  The for supper we had something I do very rarely CHIPS.  


I used the Nigella method of putting the potatoes in stone cold oil and then just cooking until they were ready.  I works very well but it does take a good 25 - 30 minutes before they are crispy.  Today I am off the hook for cooking as it is a shoot day so we will be having some of the pasties for lunch an…

Friday morning

Well thats another week almost over - time really flies as you get older.  Yesterday was a restocking day and I was happy to shop in the butchers.  I got us a nice piece of pork shoulder for Sunday lunch and also bought some pork and beef mince so the bolognese sauce bubbled happily all afternoon.  I left it to go cold overnight and this morning it will be put in portion size boxes and frozen.  I then take the frozen blocks and vac pack them.  I do this for two reasons one they take up less space in the freezer and two I can reheat the sauce in the bag.  It would be nice to go straight to bags but I cannot vacuum pack semi-liquids.  I also made some soup for supper with a squash and some carrots but other than being sweet it was very bland so I added some curry powder and gave it a garnish of croutons, coriander leaves and spring onions which made it tolerable.
The galvanised bin certainly did the trick, there was no mess when I went to put the bag out for the bin men so I guess our …

Thursday 3 January

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I am up at stupid o'clock again but I have to confess to sleeping the majority of the day yesterday.  For some inexplicable reason I felt terribly tired.  After my early start I went back to bed and slept for a couple of hours and again after lunch another couple of hours.  I think I must have accumulated a backlog of tiredness.  Being the poor sleeper that I am, I just gave in a slept because I could.  
It was James who tidied my mess of plastic boxes.  They are never going to be really tidy but they are much better and why is it that the one box you need is always at the bottom of the pile!!! Anyway, there are none without lids now and at least they are in size order.  I was not completely idle and cleaned up the fridge and the garden was cleared of dog poo.  
Today, we are going to have one of the turkey pies with some peas for lunch, supper will be cheese on toast or some such snack.  I need to go to the butcher today and look for a nice piece of pork for the weekend.  We all…