… as I always do, but it paid off this morning.
As I’ve probably mentioned, I’m serving a cold meal as I did last year. I had a slight crisis of conscience the other day (I never remember what I’ve said here or somewhere else, in print or verbally, so I may be repeating myself) when I was wondering whether to buy the salmon from the new fishmonger in the town or whether to go to Matt, who has been coming to Yagnub for years on market day. Last year, I bought it from Paul, who sells fish from a van and comes to me every Monday, except this week as he’s on holiday in Cornwall. I felt I should support the local shop, but Matt is a really nice man and I don’t buy from him as often as I’d like, because of Paul.
I asked Al’s opinion, he having been a local shopkeeper who suffered from a fruit’n’veg market right outside his door every Thursday, and he said Matt. So I took his advice. Good move. I asked if he had a whole salmon and he didn’t, so I asked for two boned sides. He had already weighed them and offered me a special price, when I spotted the whole side of smoked salmon and had a bit of a dither. In the end, I apologised for changing my mind, but went for one side of fresh salmon and one of smoked. He gave me an astonishingly special price and, when I also bought samphire and some lovely big raw prawns and he told me the total, I actually offered to pay more. Which he turned down, whilst acknowledging he’d treated me kindly. He probably felt a bit on the back foot as I’d asked if he knew that Russell had died and he had, but we hadn’t spoken of it until now. We did, he was very kind. He mentioned that his previous customer had been Frances, whose husband died a couple of weeks ago. Poor man, not easy conversations for anyone, yet I’ve always done my best to make it easy for people, including those who visibly wanted to cross the road when they saw me coming. I understand how hard it is.
But back to the shopping – I then went on to the butcher and bought the gammon I’d ordered, plus chicken, bacon and some garlicky sausages – and told Mark about Matt’s kindness. Mark always treats me well (like the time I fancied a bit of liver, as they say, and arrived home to discover he’d tucked a couple of rashers of bacon and a shallot in the bag too) and I paid far less than I expected.
It was one of those lucky days when I could park where I wanted, when I wanted, though it’s market day and the town was busy. I went back in the afternoon to go to the optician’s – just for my contact lens check, not a full eye test. My prescription has been upped slightly but, for once, my decision on the clarity of the options given was plain. Sometimes, it’s difficult to know. There were two children in front of me and I knew the mother of one of them, an adorable little girl called Chloë. She was deemed to need reading glasses and took the verdict cheerfully. She was taken to look at frames. Her favourite colours are purple and red and she didn’t care for the first frame offered. “No thank you,” she said. To the second, “yes please.” She was offered a couple more, but it was clear that she had already made up her mind, dear child. Mimi, her grandmother, was the first person to ask me round for dinner after Russell died and it was an immense kindness.
Apart from some salad (if needed, I have lettuces in the garden and have bought much of the rest) and strawberries, I’ve shopped and am ready, apart from cooking. Far too much food as always, do feel free to skip breakfast on Saturday. I know some puddings are being brought and am simply providing strawberries and lemon syllabub*, which I made this morning. Two pints of cream turned out to make twenty-eight glassfuls of syllabub. Plus the lemon pip that got away.
*Unless I change my mind and do more baking