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Showing posts from March, 2013

Easter Sunday Morning

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The clocks have gone forward and we are now on British Summer time and it is -2ºC. Who do they think they are kidding? There seems to be no end to this cold snap.   Mind you it does appear that I am up an hour later than usual.  Yesterday, was yet another very cold day but at least it was dry so we must be grateful for small mercies.  Two more mini eggs appeared in the nest box so I have two hens laying and two to go.   Any day now there should be 4 tiny eggs waiting for me.  I do quite understand the excitement of the first eggs it must have been a real cause for celebration.  I did the pork chops for lunch yesterday but was a bit enthusiastic with the vegetables which meant there were quite a few left over.  They were thrown into the thermomix along with a fried onion and a clove of garlic then topped up with some vegetable stock paste and the left over gravy and hey presto cream of vegetable soup for supper and nothing wasted.  With a dessert of a toasted hot cross bun and butter …

Saturday morning

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Here we go, back to egg production though as you can see the egg is just a bit on the small side a bit larger than a quail egg but definitely smaller that a normal hens egg.  As yesterday turned out to be nice and sunny I let the hens loose in the big run fully expecting a battle royal to get them back to bed in the evening.  Actually, I was pleasantly surprised, they seem convinced that I am the cockerel and sit down the minute they see me so it was an easy job to pick them up and tuck them back into bed.  I checked the nestbox and there was a second small egg.  
I got stuck in to making the fish pies and as luck would have it there was sufficient fish to make three pies.  I had a few large prawns left in a bag in the freezer so they were added to the smoked haddock, salmon and cod.  James peeled the potatoes for me which was no mean feat as they were on the small side and we needed a whole bagful to cover the pies. The Thermo made the white sauce to which I added a nice handful of …

Good Friday

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Traditionally today is the day for planting potatoes but as I am not growing any this year that is one job I will not have to do.  However, talking of potatoes they gave me a bit of a headache yesterday.  I was all set to make a fish pie for lunch today until I opened my bag of potatoes to discover they were the size of marbles and looked like new waxy type - no good for mash to top a fish pie.  So what to do?  I decided not to fight nature and if they are salad potatoes then make a salad so for lunch I made potato salad to go with some tinned herring fillets and use up the one little gem lettuce that was lurking in the fridge and the last of the little peppers stuffed with chorizo.



Supper was easy I had made a pie with some of the pheasant legs I had accumulated during the season so it was just a case of defrosting, reheating and browning the top.  
James bought me some baking potatoes while he was out collecting his prescription so today I will get stuck in to making the fish pie. …

Thursday morning

The week is nearly over but yesterday we saw something we haven't seen for ages I refer to the SUN we caught a few glimpses what a treat.  This morning however we are back to the grey overcast sky we have been enduring for what seems like months.  
Shiona did pop over and we made the burger lunch with all the trimmings.  I bought more of the small peppers and stuffed them with chopped chorizo before baking and they made a very nice accompaniment to the meal. She managed to fit her dog bath in the her car for the journey home   and we were both pleased with the size of the baths it should make bathing the dogs a much easier prospect.   For supper I made a duck dish which has to be the simplest dish in the world.  
Ingredients:  Duck legs however many you have. 1 tin of chopped tomatoes Salt a pepper
In a pan place your duck legs, I had three, then over the top tip a can of chopped tomatoes and rinse the tin with a half quantity of water.  Next season with salt a pepper then turn t…

Wednesday morning

Good morning all a very late start for me today I had a bad day yesterday feeling very under the weather nothing in particular just everything in general.  I think I was just very tired so when I woke this morning at 3 I decided to stay put and go back to sleep.  It is yet another grey day but we have broken through the zero on the thermometer.  Looking at the pictures of the rest of the country we have got away very lightly.  We do at least have heating and lighting which is a bonus.  
Dennie came yesterday and went through the house like a hurricane.  We abandoned her to it and went to walk the dogs and do a bit of shopping.  It was so lovely to come home to a clean house which smelt of polish.  I bought some more of those little peppers but this time I stuffed them with chopped chorizo before baking in the halogen oven.  They were very delicious and would make a great starter or tapas addition.  
I am not sure if Shiona is going to come over today nothing was said so I guess I wil…

Tuesday morning

And still we shiver in sub zero temperatures, thank goodness for central heating.  Yesterday was a busy day with Mark arriving bright and early.  We got the wisteria fixed on the new wires and hopefully supported well enough to survive the winds.  He then progressed on to dealing with the compost heaps which were sieved of big bits and then wheelbarrowed out on to the flower beds as a mulch.  Sadly there was insufficient to do the whole garden so on his next visit he is going to stock up with some bagged compost to finish the job.  We are hoping that 10 bags should be enough to do the job.  At least if we get the mulch on nice and early then the weeds should be fairly well suppressed and life will be easier all through the season.  Mark had just returned from a week in Italy and, good boy that he is, he brought us a kilo of parmesan cheese.
No sooner had he left than Sandi and her two dogs turned up.  Basso was over the moon not only his work colleague Yoda but also his girlfriend Ca…

Monday morning

The snow situation here is not bad we had a covering which lasted all day yesterday but didn't get added to.  This morning looking at the thermometer it is just below zero so not quite as cold as it has been.  
For lunch I slow roasted a belly of pork which we had with broccoli and a puree of swede and carrot.    Once the meat was done I took the crackling off and returned it to a hot oven while the meat rested and therefore it came out super crispy.  All in all very successful.  The skin had not been scored which meant that I could do it myself in nice half inch strips which were easy to eat.  Today I am going to roast a chicken which will do us several meals - I have also made a serious stew with the ox cheeks that I bought and that will do for another day or I might put a crust on it and call it meat pie.
We had a real surprise yesterday my Japanese friend came to give Basso a pedicure as the school had failed to clip his dew claws which had got horribly long.  She has some lo…

Sunday morning

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Yesterday was a sort of weather sandwich here.  First snow then rain then snow and back to rain. This morning the snow has settled leaving just a dusting.  It is bitterly cold at -2 and according to the weather forecast we are to expect a miserable week ahead so no change there then.  It wouldn't be so bad if we saw the sun from time to time but I feel like a newt living at the bottom of a pond with nothing but grey and wet above me.  So, by way of compensation, I beavered away in the kitchen and made sunny dishes.  A butternut squash soup for lunch and with it we had the scotch eggs I had been burning to make.

Please note the soft yolks, I followed the instructions from the British Larder recipe and boiled the eggs for 7 minutes exactly and then immediately plunged them into cold water.  This ensured that the whites were stiff enough to allow for pealing but that the yolk stayed soft.  With the oil at 160 degrees it took just long enough to brown the eggs and cook the sausage me…

Saturday morning

I don't know about you lot but I for one am getting very bored with the winter, it is time it finished.  Yesterday, we had a couple of flurries of snow but nothing significant however the wind was bitingly cold.  I suppose I shouldn't complain having seen the pictures of the rest of the country under inches of snow.  At the moment we have very light snow which is not settling just enough to be annoying.   
Did I make the scotch eggs yesterday? well no, the men talked me out of it as they felt it was a lot of mucking about.  So we ended up having more of the Chinese goodies from the freezer and for supper we had a take away from a Nepalese place which was actually very nice.  We have a lot of Nepalese in the area as it was a military base for the Gurkas.    
My only excursion was to clean out the hens who were especially pleased to see me as I had the remains of some dried shrimp which had been soaking for 24 hours and a big bread crust by way of a treat.   I also spent a whil…

Friday morning

Another very early start but I did fall asleep quite early last night.  After nearly a week of no knitting or crochet I have succumbed to making yet another pair of socks.  I find it hard to watch TV with nothing in my hands and I am sure I will find a home for the socks once they are finished.  I must admit I like knitting socks as they are quick to finish and I dont have time to get bored with them.
According to the weather forecast we are in for a pretty awful day with high winds but I think we will miss the snow and get heavy rain instead.  At the moment it is all quiet with the temperature only just above zero.  We are on the top of a hill so we seldom get the heavy frosts as they tend to accumulate in frost hollows but we do get the high winds.  
Yesterday I made an oriental type soup for lunch using up some of the shellfish that was lurking in the freezer and I made, what is in effect, a pesto with ginger garlic and coriander which I have frozen in small pots.  I don't kno…

Thursday morning

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Well I hope you are all tucked up in bed where you should be.  I am awake and up but it is all my own fault, so no one to blame but myself.  Yesterday morning I went back to bed and and had a couple of extra hours sleep only to wake with a banging headache which I know is a consequence of going back to sleep.  Anyway, fortified with aspirin I did the morning chores and made ready to go out with Shiona when she arrived.  We made out way to Woolwich to the oriental supper market where we bought loads of goodies.  This was definitely the best option as the weather was foul it was wet and very cold so not a day for the outdoors.  Once we got home we made a joint effort in the kitchen and in 20 minutes produced a wonderful Chinese feast.  A stir fry of bean sprouts with garlic and ginger, char siu pork, potsticker dumplings and an assortment of dim sum with dipping sauces.



 Once we were completely stuffed we settled down to watch a the film "Due Date" which is a comedy about a ma…

Wednesday morning

It's four in the morning and I am wide awake as usual.  However I still feel tired so I may well try to go back to sleep for a while.  Yesterday we had a bit of a clear out of the freezer and had a packet of pot sticker dumplings for lunch with an assortment of dipping sauces.  Supper was some breaded haddock, with a portion of chips from the kebab shop.

Today Shiona is coming over but we have decided not to go shooting as the weather looks miserable. Instead we are going to the big Chinese super market to re stock on oriental ingredient.  We will hopefully find something good for lunch and dinner.  There is always a good selection of fish and lovely roast pork as well as oriental vegetables and herbs.  I am also short of rice and I can buy a large packet for very reasonable money.

I got the dogs out for a run but it was very muddy and slippery underfoot.  Huge puddles lay in our way and negotiating round them was a pain.  Stupidly I hadn't put on my wellies so it was my own f…

Tuesday Morning

As luck would have it my plans got shelved so the bank account is intact.  James was a bit shattered after swimming and Mike had taken our car off to the local shops so I abandoned the idea of going to Bluewater and stayed at home.  Instead I went and sorted the hens out as they are going through their food at a rate of knots and I also take them up any kitchen scraps - yesterday they had some of the skin from the ham cut into worm like strips which were very popular.  Hens are very definitely not vegetarians.  
The pea and ham soup made a good lunch especially as it was accompanied by a ham sandwich and for supper James made a very good prawn risotto.  I followed Joys thermomix recipe for boiled eggs and was delighted with perfectly boiled eggs. The whites firm and the yolks beautifully runny.  Today's menu is all up in the air, the fridge is bare as is the vegetable cupboard so I will have to have a trawl through the freezer and find something.  My veg box is due today but does…

Monday morning

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Yesterday was a bit mixed the weather was drizzly but not too cold and the wind was down so better than it has been.
The boiled bacon for lunch was a success as the poaching liquid was not too salty and therefore allowed me to boil the potatoes and steam the broccoli in the same pan.  I had added the usual ingredients of carrot onion and celery and the obligatory bay leaves.  The men decided that mustard sauce was their preference so that's what the Thermo was set to make.  There was sufficient meat left for each of us to have a slice for supper to which we added not just a fried egg but a portion of chips from the kebab shop.  A portion for one did the three of us handsomely.  We are still on shop bought eggs as the girls are not yet up to laying.  Yellow split peas have now been added to the bacon liquid and the Thermo has done its stuff and made the soup which we will have for lunch today.  There is still a small chunk of meat left so an accompanying sandwich will be in order.

Sunday morning

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This is the current state of the crochet blanket it is laid on top of a king size bed to give you some idea of scale.  As you can see the stripes are getting narrower and narrower and each is a 50 gram ball of wool which is only making about two circuits.  I have no idea where to stop but as it is crochet I suppose I can stop anywhere and always add to it at a later date if the fancy takes me.  
Yesterday was a truly foul day it rained and rained and the wind blew a gale.  We took the dogs for a run and it was pretty lonely as there were not many mad people walking in that weather.  However it certainly blew away a few cobwebs and we felt not only revitalised but but also proud of our efforts. The fish we had for lunch was nice but it was laking a bit of substance so I hastened to make a batch of scones with loads of cheese and chorizo sausage in them which filled the gap.  We ate them smothered in butter and straight from the oven - for my money the only way to go.  
Supper was post…

Saturday morning

Well there is plenty of weather this morning it may not be so cold but it is blowing a gale and persisting down with rain.  Definitely a day for staying indoors if you can.  Yesterday I made a lasagne for lunch and was very disappointed with the pasta it said it was the type that did not need pre-cooking but as my sauce was relatively dry I thought I had better give it a bit of a boil first.  Despite this it was still tough however as the other ingredients were delicious it was easy to filter it out.  I put a layer of meat mixture followed by a layer of mozzarella fresh tomato and basil then carried on with pasta meat and finally a good dose of white sauce made by the thermomix and topped off with a generous portion of parmesan.  The addition of the mozzarella layer makes a big difference and means that you dont need so much meat sauce.
Today, I am having fish day we are going to have a monkfish tail wrapped in parma ham and baked in the oven and then for supper we are having squid t…

Friday Morning

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Well there goes another week, and up come the temperature.  What a strange week it has been from warm to cold and back to getting warm again.


The mothers day lilies are now opening up and flooding the house with their perfume.  I spent some time in the kitchen yesterday morning as I decided to make pancake cannelloni filled with the last of the meat from the guinea fowl and with a rich tomato sauce over the top.  The little peppers I plain roasted in the oven and then dressed with some nice olive oil.  The pancake mix was large enough for me to make some extra which I folded ready to make crepe suzette for supper.  About half of the fabulous stock from the carcasses made the artichoke soup which we also had for supper.  The dogs had both breakfast and dinner from the bits from the carcasses and I am left with about a litre of good stock for a risotto for today.  This means that I have made 17 portions of food for humans and 4 potions of dog food from the two Guinea fowl which cost me…

Thursday morning

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Yesterday morning saw me getting stuck into a bit of housework, the ironing got done and the kitchen floor swept washed and them steamed clean of the muddy paw prints.  The guinea fowl were just basically prepared and seasoned.  I peeled some potato to nestle round the birds and used up the last of some frozen mixed vegetables.  The birds were roast until an internal temperature of 74 degrees was reached then they were put to one side to rest for about 20 minutes while I made the gravy.  We had had a foray out to the wool shop when Shiona arrived and I stocked up on three 50 gram balls of wool to continue my multicoloured blanket.  Shiona had all but finished a penguin hat and needed some red wool for the beak.  We then headed to Aldi and stocked up on some essentials like chocolate!!!  I also bought some fascinating small orange peppers which look like large chilies but are in fact are sweet peppers which, as yet, I am not sure what I am going to do with.  No doubt something will co…

Wednesday morning

Well what a day we had yesterday it snowed hard all morning and the wind blew it into dense clouds.  It started as that fine polystyrene granule stuff and ended up in proper big fat flakes by lunch time we had a couple of inches then the sun came out and melted it all away.  Well not quite all of it we still have small piles around the garden.  I put on my "nanook of the north", clothes and went and sorted the hens out.  Poor little things were huddled in their house looking very depressed.  I had boiled up some peeling for them and soaked a big bread crust so they a least had some decent grub.  Their water was frozen solid so that had to be sorted out and I refilled their container with warm water so that it would take a bit longer before it froze again.  It is still below zero but I dont think we are forecast any more snow for today.
The busy day we had anticipated all disintegrated and everything was cancelled the house is mess as Dennie didn't come. So today it fall…

Tuesday morning

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What a grotty day all round we set off for the dog groomers in a blizzard and arrived somewhat late owing to the weather conditions.  Basso went in willingly which was good we then made our way to Shiona's house where there was no snow at all.  She gave us a lovely lunch of of roast pork - now not just any old pork but Gloucester old spot  from a lady small holder - which was cooked in the halogen oven and served with mash roasted roots and gravy.  It was absolutely delicious we then settled down to doing her french homework as she is attending local french classes.  As it happend the lesson was all about french cakes so that was relatively easy for those of us who like cooking.  Anyway is it was soon time to fetch Basso from the groomer and now sooner did he see me than he dragged the lad bodily across the room.  His comment was that Basso was very strong but apparently he had behaved very well and the photos dont really do him justice.  He was desperate to go home and slept lik…

Monday morning

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Lovely bunch of lilies with some cherry blossom by way of a mothers day present.  I was also treated to a cooked breakfast and a takeaway Chinese supper so all in all a good day.  The forecast snow has not yet arrived but it is blowing a force 9 outside at the moment and it is below zero in temperature.  Frankly snow would make a welcome change from the terrible grey overcast and foggy days we have had lately.  The couple of days of sunshine really were just a tease....
Our broadband and cable TV packed up on Saturday afternoon and we were told it would not be back till Tuesday as they had a major fault.  However, it came back last night just in time for me to watch the programs I had earmarked to watch.
On Saturday we took a trip out to a huge aircraft hanger of a place where they sell all things animal from pig pellets to horse blankets and everything in between.  We managed to get a 20Kg bag of 17% protein layers pellets and also had a good walk round just looking at all the gear …

Sunday

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Back up and running, we have been off line for 24 hours or more but their forecast of Tuesday was a bit exaggerated.  The flowers are James present for Mother's Day along with breakfast made for me.
Broadband down till Tuesday

Saturday morning

What a lie in!  I was up as usual at 4 but felt really tired so I went back to bed and promptly fell asleep.  Yesterday was such a miserable day here it rained continuously the whole day.  Never very heavy but constant.  The poor hens must think they have landed in hell going from a nice warm shed with all their mates to a miserable cold and wet world!!!!!

It is still very grey this morning but at least the rain has stopped.  Today we are going to track down a supplier for hen food which is 16% protein which is what they need and not that easy to come by.  Having discussed the problem I had with my last lot of hens it may well have been protein deprivation that led to all the feather pecking behaviour.   Anyway this time I will make sure the feed is better and hope this prevents any problems. Given the high protein value of eggs it does make sense that they would need a protein rice feed.

On our menu today we have some lamb shanks which have boiled for 2 hours yesterday and today the…

Friday Morning

What a miserable day it was yesterday, we had drizzly rain for most of the day.  This morning looks like it is not much better and we are sitting in the middle of a cloud so you can't see more than a few feet.  We set off bright and early to go to the poultry farm which is in Faversham.  I bought 4 point of lay brown hybrid laying hens and put them in a cardboard box for the journey home.  We stopped on the way back at a butchers at Brogdale which is actually famous for holding the British fruit collection and has hundreds of acres of fruit trees.  I had a bit of a field day and bought some venison sausages, lamb shanks, 4 ox cheeks and a lump of venison shoulder which I intend to make into burgers.  The ox cheek was frozen so I have put that straight into the freezer but the rest I will play with today.
When we got home I took the hens straight up to their house and with some difficulty got them out of the box in which they were determined to stay.  They are shut in the small ru…

Thursday morning

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Yesterday was not quite such a lovely day in that it was cloud covered rather than sunny but it was warm and pleasant. The shooting party turned up as usual and first there was an exchange of knitted gifts.  Shiona had finished my lion hat which is going to be so warm for dog walking and I gave her her pair of mittens.  Jeff was persuaded to try the hat on but didn't know that James had his camera at the ready!!!!


We went off shooting and acquitted ourselves reasonably the shooting ground was not as crowded as usual so we got around fairly quickly.  We went in Jeffs new Jaguar which was quite a treat.  It has so many bells and whistles you need a pilots licence to operate all the buttons.  Then it was back home for some pheasant breast with cream and mushroom and served on a bed of rice.  By the time everyone left I was shattered so fortunately supper was already prepared and we had some salmon pate with toast and bit of cucumber salad.  
Today we have some shopping to do and then…

Wednesday monrning

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What a fabulous day it was yesterday warm sunny and lovely.  Mark came and made some good headway in the garden which now looks tidy and ready for the coming year.  I got stuck in and got the chicken run sorted out so that we are ready for new hens as soon as I can go and buy some.  I cleaned out the pond-pump and filter and got that back up and running.  Basso and Nip had a nice walk down by the sea side which was crowded with what looked like a coach load of elderly folks on a day out.   I made a potato salad to go with our poached salmon which I had done some time ago in the sous vide and then frozen.  As it turned out it was rather too much for us so the remainder has been made into some individual salmon mousses which will make a good starter with a bit of toast and some cucumber.  For supper we had a big pot of chicken soup made with all the left overs from the weekend.  
Today we are due to go shooting if the weather holds and I have taken out some pheasant breast to have for …

Tuesday morning

Yesterday was cold but it was gloriously sunny and despite the frosty start we made some 9 degrees in the sunshine.

I spent most of the morning coming to grips with left overs in the kitchen and getting the laundry done.  For lunch we had some cold chicken salad and potato croquetes.  The slow cooker was pressed into action to make some bolognese sauce which this time I am hoping to get as far as the freezer.  Supper was a cauliflower cheese and crispy bacon and the chicken carcass has made a big pot of soup and food for the dogs.  All of which takes time and creates shed loads of washing up.  The cheese sauce of course was made in the thermo and all the chopping of veg for the bolognese was also easily accomplished by the machine.  In between processes I booked up our holiday and was successful in getting the pitch I wanted.  Now I know that we had to buy the caravan in the first place and we pay for storage and insurance but this years the holiday for 6 adults and 4 dogs to have a w…

Monday morning

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Yesterday was an extraordinary day.  It was bright, sunny, warm and spring like what a change it was so nice that the patio doors stood open for a couple of hours and the house flooded with spring fresh air. Everyone just felt better and I managed to get a load of washing dry on the line outside.  After what seems like an eternity of greyness it was really lovely to see the sun again.

The roast chicken was done in the halogen oven and we all agreed that even if you cooked nothing else in it, it was worth is place in the batterie de cuisine just for roast chicken.  The addition of mashed potatoes, broccoli and gravy made for a delicious meal.  I have left over, not only chicken, but also mash so I feel some sort of rissole coming on for todays lunch.  I also pushed the boat out and made a victoria sandwich - I don't normally make cakes for one very good reason, we eat them.


And as you can see I wasn't quick enough to catch the cake while it was still in one piece.  A slice ea…

Sunday morning

A good day was had by all yesterday the fish pies were made.  I made one large one and a smaller one for the freezer.  The large one would do for lunch as Sandi and her other half came to visit and have lunch with us.  First we took the dogs for a run at the sea side and for once the wind was not too bad so it was almost pleasant.  James managed a good distance with no crutches so that was a first.  He limps badly but is making progress. 
It was lovely to see Sandi as we have not managed to get together since the end of the hunting season.  We have also decided that we can have a holiday in our caravan over a three week period.  Mike and I would have week one then hand it over to Sandi and David for the second week then James and I would have the third week that way everyone gets a break.  The van has two double beds so it will accomodate us all easily.  As we have the only car that can tow it we have to do weeks one and three.  Now all we have to do is organise the dates to coincide…

Saturday morning

Here we are the first weekend in March so spring can't be too far away!!!  We seem to have been living in a world of grey, cold and damp for ages with sunshine just a distant memory.  
I knuckled under and did my monthly chores and made a splendid lasagne for supper.  I had a mozzarella in the fridge so I did one layer of that amongst the meat sauce layers and finally topped it off with a white sauce made in the thermo and a decent amount of cheese topping.  What a feast it was, served with a nice green salad it was a really delicious supper.  On todays menu will be a fish pie I have all the ingredients that I need and I think there will be enough to make several pies so I will have some for the freezer.
At 12 midday I went off to the hairdresser looking like the Dulux dog on a bad day but now my hair is once again short and manageable.  I really should be more disciplined about going every 6 weeks instead of leaving it until it is completely unbearable before I make the appointm…

Friday morning

Yesterday was a bit of a rushed start.  I can't remember the last time I slept in until 7.30.  That left me an hour to shower and get a cooked breakfast for 5 underway before fetching our friends from the garage where their car was being serviced.  I cooked the bacon sausages tomatoes and mushrooms and put them in the oven to stay warm.  Then all I had to do was take the orders for eggs before serving up.  A cooked breakfast is always a treat.  Once that was done James and I went off shooting leaving Mike to run them back to the garage once their car was done,  which  was not until 12 mid day.
The shooting club was in some disarray as they were carrying out repairs and the site was dotted with big lorries and JCB's.   They had left only one of the skeet stands open so there was a bit of a queue.  Fortunately we could drive the car right up to the stand which meant we could wait in the warm as there was a freezing cold wind blowing.  The site is nestled almost under the QE2 b…