Z thinks of friends

It hasn’t been the best few days. Nothing has gone wrong here, but several of my friends have told me bad personal news. One dear young friend, whose wedding we hosted here some years ago, miscarried her second baby last week. Another friend, also much younger than me, suffered the death of both parents during the summer. A third has discovered he’s got a cancer of the blood and is about to start treatment and a fourth is about to have a colonoscopy because she has symptoms that need to be investigated.

I went to the greengrocer the other day and, as so often happens, I was completely carried away with enthusiasm for all the lovely produce on offer. The fridge and veg basket are crammed – or they were, we’ve managed to eat quite a lot of it already. Now that I can’t go into a bookshop, a vegetable shop excites me instead.

Today, resolved to Think Positive, I went and squeezed a couple of bantams and we had poached eggs for breakfast. New-laid eggs are so easy to poach, there’s no need to worry about having to add vinegar to the water or swirl it, they just cook in a neat package all by themselves. I decided to make some bread rolls later, as we’d so enjoyed the ones I made for family visits. I put the dough to rise and, an hour later, was just about to drink a pre-lunch glass of sherry before shaping the rolls when there was a knock at the door. It was Wince the gardener, who’d brought me a ‘present.’ A hedgehog had been scuttling round his garden, so he brought it to me as I’d “know what to do.”

Well, I did. I passed the buck. I put the hedgehog, whose name is Jack after Jack Monroe the fabulously economical cookery writer, into a box and put a saucer of cat food in with her. Then I went to phone the hedgehog rescue place in the next village. Tessa is lovely and so dedicated. She phoned back a few minutes later and so I got in the car and took Jack, who’d had a good meal and fallen asleep in the saucer, over to her. Jack weighs less than 300g, which isn’t enough to survive the winter and she’s underweight for her size. She also carried eight big ticks, which is a sign that not all is well. Any animal can attract a tick, but they latch on to anything that isn’t in good health. But at least she’d eaten and was active.

By the time I got back, I was rather late for shaping the dough, but Tim had got lunch ready. So I punched the dough down and left it for a while. It was made eventually and we shared a roll later and have frozen the rest.

Last night, we had a takeaway from our local farm shop restaurant; a mushroom Wellington which was really excellent. We shared the single portion, they do feed you well and we haven’t got huge appetites. We’d bought a boeuf bourguignon as well, but will have that tomorrow. Vegetables are included and it’s very reasonable for one serving, absurdly cheap for two. I had no business to buy all those veggies really, but they are so lovely that I had no inclination to resist.

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