Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Daily Mundanity at FTC

There have been a few vaguely interesting occurrences at FTC over the last few weeks which time and events (namely a nasty cold) have conspired to prevent me reporting until now. Having had a gentle prod from mum yesterday however, I consider myself told and will now do my best to bring you up to date.

I suppose the most exciting of these was Harry’s attempt to drown himself last weekend. We’d set out as we usually do on a Sunday for a gentle stroll in the countryside. In my enthusiasm, I took us down a hitherto unknown track which didn’t seem that far from our normal route … until we resurfaced on the outskirts of a village some 5 miles away with blisters on our heels and a very grumpy hound.

After some discussion and wandering around, we decided that there was nothing for it but to retrace our steps only to find that the farmer had closed AND PADLOCKED the gate allowing us to cut through to the footpath we had just left. Not being the sort of people to let a padlocked gate stop us, we scrambled underneath and proceeded to march right back over to the footpath and off on the long trek home. Had fate, and Harry’s stupidity, not intervened I suspect I would never have heard the end of this entire episode, as it was, we soon had more important things to worry about.

During the walk back, there is a section which runs alongside the river. It’s an amazing stretch of countryside, wild and surprising rugged and completely unspoiled by farming or “easy access facilities” that usually plague footpaths these days. It’s actually one of my favourite spots to be, especially on a sunny day when you could easily forget that there were any signs of civilization within a 50 mile radius.

Anyway, having covered about 8 miles by this point, Harry decided that it was time for a drink. The bank was a little steeper and a lot softer than he realised and inevitably, in he went. This wasn’t immediate cause for concern because Harry is forever jumping in and out of rivers, but this time it became obvious he was swimming for his life but gradually getting swept down stream. There was nothing for it but for one of us to go in after him. The bank was about 7ft high and steep so I went in on the basis that Keith would be better placed to drag us both out if needed.

I went down the bank only to have it collapse under me and for me to end up in icy water up to my waist. Very unimpressed, I grabbed the hound by his harness and dragged him to me. I then tried to turn around 180o so we were facing into the flow and his weight was against me, but I lost my footing and nearly dunked us both under the water.

Harry was still trying to swim so I lifted him as best I could onto the bottom of the bank and then Keith grabbed his harness and hauled him the rest of the way. My exit was equally ungainly and I then had to walk home what can only be described as “p1ss wet through” and sloshing in my wellies. Not ideal, but it did have the rather useful side effect of numbing the blisters on my heels.

No lasting trauma for either hound or human you’ll be pleased to know.

In other news, a few more plants have been introduced to their new homes in the garden. I decided that despite the recent cold spell, I was still going to back the rampaging stallion called Global Warming and get a jump on the growing season.

We now have the start of a herb garden with a potted up oregano on the wall, a little mini purple sage and some chamomile and two little dwarf strawberry plants that Keith was especially keen on. Oh, and vine number 1 has also been planted by the workshop to suck up the first of the spring rays.

Next step on the de-colditzisation are the climbing beans, tomatoes and peppers and they shall be going into the ground as soon as the calendar gets flipped over. For any of you who are especially keen on sampling the first crop of veg, feel free to pre-order now. I have no double I will soon be drowning under a hundred weight of tomatoes and you may well be receiving pickled peppers and tomatoes for Christmas … once we’ve got rid of the last of the fig jam!!

The least surprising of the news from the cottage would have to be the fact that the kitchen has taken a backward step. The fridge has broken. Bosch has promised us a repairman tomorrow and since they are in no way affiliated with MFI, I’m hopeful that they will a) turn up and b) have a clue what they are doing. Still no plate rack incidentally and we’re now only 40 days away from the first anniversary of us making our order but we continue to be philosophical in the face of abject incompetence. Plus we sold one of the old damaged plate racks on eBay the other day so we’re satisfied with that small element of karmic readjustment at least.

And finally, a belated Happy Shrove Tuesday to you all. It was our little family’s first and, as with most things food related, involved something akin to military scale planning. Unfortunately it wasn’t one of my more glowing culinary successes.

The first problem was that I had Keith, who is obsessed by pancakes, hovering beside me watching me try to cook (and what is it about me that makes men want to hug me when I'm juggling half a dozen, usually hot and heavy, pans?!?!). I also had the dog repeatedly creep into the kitchen to lie right behind my feet waiting for any stray pancakes to land.

Feeling hot, flustered and not a little impatient, I tried to improve the situation by enlisting Keith to do the flipping, if for no other reason than to get him out of my way. He managed one perfect flip before the pancakes started heading off at a more erratic trajectory so I went back to flipping them with the spatula. Not that the dog minded, he was ready and waiting at the first gentle “sploot” of pancake hitting tiles.

Then the "wonderful" J-C Novelli recipe I had planned for dinner turned out to be highly complicated and not very yummy. Not his fault I suspect, more the fact that melted blue cheese does nothing for me, especially the smell which was STILL lingering in the lounge this morning, much to my horror.

The pudding pancakes went a little better, mainly because I stubbornly refused to get involved and made Keith cook the pancakes himself. The most rewarding part of that was that it was my turn to hover and offer "useful suggestions" while he got flustered.These were far more successful than the previous batch and this time we kept it simple with good old lemon and sugar. Best of all, with a brunch to prepare this weekend, I fully intend to put Keith and his dad to work perfecting their skills, while I deal with some nice crispy bacon and creamy scrambled eggs. If nothing else, at least the dog will get fed!!

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