Shoes, ships and sealing wax


What is the best thing to do to keep your hands occupied so they can’t tear your hair out? Writing a blog entry, of course!

simon cowellWe have spent the last eleven months in a maelstrom of house selling, house buying, moving to a new area and having no income. It’s been what the talent shows would call a journey. (To be read in a condescending tone of voice, preferably accompanied by an insincere smile.)

Last night, I confidently told friends that by this morning, the deposit would be paid on the house we are buying. The purchase is due to be completed by the end of the month.

Today, I am waiting for a call from our interpreter, who has been speaking to our solicitor, who has been speaking to his friend at the bank on our behalf, and also for a call from our estate agent, who has been talking to the vendor. My prediction is quietly gasping its last, writhing and twitching out its death throes on the floor at my feet.

However, and it is a very big however, as I type, the sun is shining in through the window, and I have a cup of tea at my elbow. Boggle is romancing his swing and chirruping happily. The Dog of Destiny is keeping the Minion of Doom occupied outside.

A glance at the Chicken Feed shows that one of the ladies is sitting on the nest box, laying an egg, and the other two are grubbing about happily in the run, combing through the compost we put in there for them yesterday.

The chicken babies are in their cardboard palace, perched on the cardboard perch in descending order of size. Doodle Doo is now bigger than the box we brought all three chicks home in three weeks ago. His comb is getting quite pronounced and pink. His feathers have mostly come through, suggesting that he is going to be a Very Handsome Boy Indeed. Not that we are biased, you understand.

chicken chicksThe two baby girls now have names. Bebe is the smaller, who has a bantam grandfather. She is not aware that she is small. She has a large chicken soul in a tiny chicken body. Yesterday she pecked Parmesina’s comb, unaware that is was either a very brave or a very foolish thing to do. Parmesina was too taken aback for there to be any consequences of such an affront, and in any case, there was chicken wire between them.

The name, Bebe, comes from Baby Bantam. Doodle Doo could be DD, so we looked for a name to come between the two, as the second baby girl is between their two sizes. CC became Cecille, and the names were sorted. The christening will be next Sunday morning. Poppy and Minnow will be Dogparents.

The weather has changed from the bitter cold of a couple of weeks ago, and the veg patch is recovering from the icy northerly winds. Some of the plants did not make it through, but some are looking very perky.

I found the pineapple tops blown into a corner, so I think it safe to say that we shall not be getting any fruit from their dried up little husks. The purple Basil is a desiccated stick, and the peas have the confused and wildly dishevelled demeanour that the professor in Back to the Future had.


Mystery salad leaves at the front, broccoli and romanesco

The sprouts are still barely bigger than a single large sprout, but at least they are green and healthy looking.

The salad crops were badly neglected while we huddled indoors eating hearty vegetable soups, and we now have a wild array of salad leaves and weeds all mixed together. I can identify the radishes and beetroot without difficulty, but I think the rest will have to be fed to the chickens, rather than risk eating them ourselves.

That all sounds rather sad, but considering the weather and the exposed position of the veg patch, it could have been far worse.

The broad beans are flourishing, and are covered with flowers. I remember hating broad beans when I was a child, but I suspect these gorgeous things will be delicious. How can something so pretty not be?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe onions are looking healthy, but not very large yet. I am fairly confident they are not spring onions, and I watch them, anticipating that one day they will leap into action and grow enormous, virtually overnight. Or not, as the case may be.

Geoff’s potatoes have started to grow. I am very pleased for him, especially after his disappointment when I told him that the shoots he had spotted a while ago were stray radishes. We shall soon be adding another car tyre and earthing them up.

The heroes of the veg patch are the brassicas (except the aforementioned sprouts.) The sprouting broccoli is sprouting gaily, the indeterminate cabbagey things I forgot to label are looking good, and the romanescos have me cooing with delight every time I see them.

We shall definitely plant more romanesco. They are such pretty vegetables, and taste great. Rosemary calls them edible fractals, which is an accurate description. Delicious fractals might be better. The heads have a lovely broccoli/asparagus flavour, and the leaves have none of the bitterness you often get with cabbage-related veg.

We cut the first one a couple of nights ago. There are no adequate words to describe the enjoyment of eating your first home-grown romanesco, half an hour after you liberated it from the garden. Maybe in time I shall become a little more blasé, and it will rank with home-grown tomatoes and chillies, but for now, it is an almost sublime experience.

eggboxA quick glance at the Chicken Feed shows that Cordelia has done her stuff. I shall nip down and collect the new, warm egg, and hold in my hand evidence that life is good and all is really very well in my world.

(Then, in the middle of my profound musings, I shall hear the phone ring and be unable to get to it quickly enough to find out what is happening back in the parallel universe of property-buying and money transfers!)