Now I’ve looked properly, I see that it’s Polly Garter who’s the proud mummy and Slapper who’s sitting on eggs, on and off, in the glazed butler’s sink that’s planted up with flowers (her presence makes watering quite awkward) by Kenny’s shed. I’m still quite confused as I didn’t think that both pale bantams were missing, but evidently I’m wrong because here’s the proof.
The late frost in the spring was disastrous to the fruit of the plum trees on the lawn, the apple tree, usually so reliable, by the beck and the figs. The dry weather has done for pretty well everything else, except the spinach and Swiss chard which were pecked to pieces by the chickens. It’s fair to say that this is not a very good year for fruit and veg at the Zedary. Still, never mind. At least Simon Greengrocer stocks plenty of excellent local produce and I’ll just buy it all instead. I do have plenty of peppers and aubergines in the greenhouse and we had sweetcorn for dinner, followed by an omelette. Tim also picked a large quantity of tomatoes, which I’ll have to deal with tomorrow. Or we will, rather. We also picked damsons or possibly bullaces – I’m not very good on identifying wild plum types – the other day and I just shoved them in the fridge until I had time to deal with them. The damson chutney and jam we made a few years ago, with the fruit from Tim’s garden, was gorgeous but quite a lot of work because of the stones. Worth it once in a while, though.
I mentioned a letter I had, a few weeks ago, from the Office of National Statistics, asking me if I’d take part in a consumer survey about spending habits. I didn’t mind signing up and it’s taken place by phone rather than in person, because of ‘you know what’ – there were a lot of questions directed at me and Tim, and then we’ve been saving all receipts for the last couple of weeks, noting down in a book anything else we’ve bought without receipts. Some poor person has to itemise all the receipts and compare supermarket prices and so on – sounds an incredibly dull and painstaking job, I have to say. They’ll be rather confounded by what we buy and where, because we don’t go to supermarkets much – as I said before, we make everything from scratch, pretty well. I’ve noted on the receipts what I bought at the greengrocer and so on, but that’s not much help without the quantities, which aren’t put down. Today’s receipt was from the feed store, where I bought chick food and mixed corn for PG, because she can’t have food containing growers’ pellets in case the babies eat it. I don’t think we’re average shoppers. I’ve also realised that we have hardly bought any meat in the time: to be precise, two venison steaks from the greengrocer, who is stocked from a local small farm that provides a fridge for their meat, as well as sending veg. This implies that we rarely eat meat and that’s not necessarily the case. We just haven’t done so recently. I’ve spent far more on flowers than on meat.