Archives for category: cooking

“Usual routine for the dogs.” My clients informed me as they were leaving for the airport “Nuts for the wild birds are in the funeral urn on the hall table.” ┬áThis made us all smile because the last time I sat at Postman’s Cottage I didn’t dare move the urn assuming that it held the ashes of a deceased relative! “And if you wouldn’t mind feeding the badger, we chuck a handful of peanuts and a slice of the tiger bloomer, buttered, onto the lawn last thing before we turn in.” I wondered who else I’d be feeding next-time, damper for the deer? Roti for the rabbits? Or maybe I’d be putting out focaccia for the foxes?

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I do occasionally look after poultry although not all of them are as free to roam as Mr Humble, the handsome blond cockerel and his mother, helpfully called Mother. Every night, after a day spent scratching about the property far and wide, they would put themselves to bed in the barn, roosting on a partition between the stables and every morning they would be waiting for me to give them their breakfast at the conservatory door. This happened so often during the course of my sit that I was quite worried the day they didn’t show up for their slice of toast! I soon found them in the disused greenhouse making the most of the morning sunshine to dig up the grubs!

Dangerous Dave, my clients’ tabby and white cat, doesn’t have that nickname for nothing, especially after he savaged my hand and forearm during a recent sit. I like to think that I know my clients’ pets reasonably well now, however I do still sometimes get caught out. I was lulled into a false sense of security when Dave Dangerous started to lick the back of my hand as I was giving him a tickle, bless him, I thought until he sunk his teeth into my soft flesh whilst all four paws, claws out, did their best to shred my arm. To be fair, once The Tabby Terror of Trethevy had released me from his grip, he looked as surprised by his outburst as I was!

After washing my wounds I rootled about in my sponge-bag for the antiseptic cream I usually carry with me and realized I’d left it at home. A look through the contents of the bathroom cabinet for something suitable proved fruitless. I even searched the kitchen cupboards without success until I came across a jar of runny honey and vaguely remembered reading that it has healing properties. I’m not entirely sure that the honey did help but as I dabbed it onto my scratches (whilst spooning it over my morning toast) it certainly soothed the affected areas.

Whilst working as a Christmas Bookseller for Waterstones one year I found myself squinting at a magazine article my customer had given me regarding an author she was interested in. I apologized for my tardiness in serving her and mentioned I couldn’t see to read such small print without my glasses (which were in the staff-room!)

“That’s a very adult problem!” My young colleague at the next till scoffed. I gave him my best Paddington Bear Hard Stare in response and parried, “It’s my eyes!”

“It’s not your eyes,” he grinned, “it’s your AGE!”

Despite not finding any Christmas presents secreted in my case Alfie and Dolly Ragdoll didn’t hold it against me for long, I was more than forgiven by their `tummy-filling-time!’

Having managed to stay germ free for most of the year I was pretty hacked off when I started snorting and sneezing a week or so before Christmas Day. The cold symptoms did pass quickly, although I was left with a persistent cough and spent the festive season barking at my client’s pets.

Dolly Ragdoll seemed very concerned by all the hacking and hawking I was doing and every night she would curl up next to me under the duvet like a furry feline hot water bottle. Alfie was less committed to my care, having been bounced up and down on the bed like a small dingy on a rough sea by several bouts of my coughing, he left the bedroom in search of calmer quarters!

On Christmas Eve I presented Alfie and Dolly with their present, a cat bed in the shape of Santa’s hat. It was met with suspicion from both felines who tip-toed around it until I put a few cat biscuits on the cushion. Dolly was tempted enough by the cheesy treats to stick her head inside the hat without actually getting into it. Perhaps by next December the felines will have taken to using the hat bed?!

Going out for Christmas Day lunch was a hit with everyone, except the Ragdolls who were hoping for some turkey left overs. There was no need to put the sprouts on to boil at six in the morning, or for us to do the Turkey-Turn-Around Dance whilst the bird took an age to roast. The mountains of washing-up were avoided and as the restaurant was within walking distance, everyone was able to have a drink or two. By the time we had finished the three courses and were eying up the handmade truffles served with our coffee, my Mother, Sister and I had all decided to book again for next Christmas.

Christmas Day will soon be upon us and this year I am really looking forward to it because we’ll be letting the professionals to do all the hard work!

The 25th of December became known as Turkey-Turn-Around Day to our family when what should have been Christmas lunch became Christmas dinner. The fowl, being far too big for our oven which looks deceptively capacious until you try to put anything bigger than a medium-sized chicken in it, took an age to roast. So our festive offering had to be removed every thirty minutes and its tin rotated allowing it to cook evenly! My Sister, who was doing the honors that year, asked for my help with the oven door, which sticks, so she could man-handle the bird. Turning the turkey turned into doing `the turkey-turn-around’ dance because we’d booth had one too many dark and stormys and it seemed like a good idea at the time. The dance involved us doing a half crouching turn whilst flapping our bent arms like wings, not a pretty sight but hugely amusing to us.

Last year we plumped for a goose after watching Jamie Oliver cook one to perfection on television, in a much bigger oven I soon realized! Unfortunately, by the time we’d organised ourselves the only two geese left in the supermarket were gigantic and enormous which resulted in the smaller of the birds being brought home to be contorted into a yogic sort of pose before it would fit in our tiny oven.

As we sat late into the evening becoming more inebriated with our tummies growling like angry bears and muttering darkly about Jamie Oliver’s large appliances, Mother mentioned buying a turkey crown for next year and was immediately pelted with cheesy footballs from all directions. So it came to pass that none of us could face another Yule of underdone meat and overdone sprouts and agreed that we would book a table for next year at the first available restaurant that would have us! Of course Christmas will always be known to us as Turkey-Turn-Around Day!