In a younger life, the inclusion of three days in one entry would indicate an alcoholic haze, but given my recent culinary disasters, I’ve been steering clear of alcohol.
Firstly, an apology for not updating the blog daily as I had promised Verity I would. She did phone on Sunday evening, but I hadn’t discovered at that point that we had no internet. I’m very used to the internet being ridiculously slow, something to do with being such a long way from the exchange, according to BT, though according to Bill in the pub across the road, it’s actually to do with BT being ‘a bunch of stingy bastards who are only interested in the desires of their shareholders’. I could point out that Bill used to work for BT so he ought to know, but perhaps the second half of that statement is slightly off. Anyway. Verity phoned from Manchester to let me know that she would be back on Monday. With her mum.
I like Verity’s mum. I really do. She’s a good laugh at Christmas and has a very earthy sense of humour – grew up in a declining industrial town, says that Corrie paints everything far too rosy, when will Tony Benn get off the fence and start doing some real politics (she may mean realpolitik, but I’m not sure). Max can take small doses of Verity’s mum but apparently he’s flitting between here and Barcelona for the next couple of months for work so he won’t be affected very much in the immediate future. More to the point, Verity’s mum has allergies. Some of them are food allergies, so Verity arranges for fancy meals that we can all eat, and she solves the dermatitis by arranging for a non-bio washing powder. Less easy to deal with is her allergy to pets. Over Christmas when Ronnie (‘It’s really Veronica, but who wants to be mistaken for a flowering bush!’) stays, Hedonism gets shut out, but that’s only for a few days at a time. This time, Ronnie is here indefinitely.
“So, it’s a big ask, but could you have Heddy for me? It is temporary, after all.”
We don’t have pets. We have had mice, goldfish and, at one point, a lizard, but the children were all younger then. The OH isn’t wild about them but then he was never responsible for their care (not that I was, strictly speaking, but you can guess who did most of the feeding and cleaning). The house we live in at the moment clearly had cats at one point – there’s a blocked-up cat flap in the back door – but we had never made that commitment.
“I’ll have to check he doesn’t mind,” I warned Verity.
“You’re a doll. We’re back tomorrow evening, so if you could move all of Heddy’s stuff out by then, that would be fantastic.”
I sometimes think Verity doesn’t actually listen to what I say.
So, I told the OH that we’d be looking after Hedonism for a while, prised the panel blocking the cat-flap away from the door and headed over to Verity’s to collect Hedonism. It’s only three gardens away as the cat roams, so Hedonism wouldn’t be far out of his comfort zone. There was of course no sign of him, so I picked up the food bowl, packed a carrier bag with the remaining sachets of food and brought them home, hoping he’d get the message before long. Then, having set up a corner for Hedonism, I logged onto the computer to email Verity and to get ready to write the blog. No internet. Restarted the computer. Still no internet. Switched off the router at the wall, counted to ten, switched it back on, still no internet. For some reason, during the course of the day, while we were having a very pleasant roast lamb lunch with the OH’s aunt and uncle, the router decided that not having been invited was cause enough to self-destruct. Even after the OH had spent some time poking at it, it still wouldn’t comply.
“I’ll order a new one tomorrow,” he muttered. Which he evidently did, because it arrived today and is all connected up and working nicely thank you very much. Hence my ability to catch up.
Monday morning, I went round to Verity’s and found Hedonism waiting by the space where the cat food bowl used to be. “Come on you,” I said, and I lugged him (he’s quite a large Persian) round to our house. “Here’s your breakfast.” He looked rather suspiciously at the bowl of, frankly, rather expensive cat food on offer, looked up at me, looked at the bowl again and decided that breakfast was called for. I did wonder if I should keep him shut in the house but I can’t bring myself to carry his litter-tray over yet, so keeping the cat-flap open is essential.
Then I remembered that Delyth had asked me to investigate places to sell my biscuits. There are several potential outlets in the village: the post-office-cum-hairdresser also sells a few household things, though usually non-consumables; there are two pubs and a social club, any of which might sell biscuits, though I have to say I’ve never seen anything like that available; the village shop; and a butcher-deli. The butcher is closed on a Monday, so I decided to try the other possibilities and then tackle the butcher today. I packed a Tupperware container with a selection of biscuits and headed off to find an outlet that would help me. The post office declined, very politely, on the grounds that their main business is stamps and there is every probability that biscuits would go stale before they were even bought. The village shop has no room for additional products and struggles to fit in the products they do stock – and looking around as he said it, I could see what he meant. But he wished me luck and said next time I was baking the chocolate chip cookies, to let him know. At one of the pubs, there was no sign of life and I had to call out several times before someone eventually emerged from the back somewhere. She tried a biscuit but said the landlord wouldn’t be interested. The other pub took the last of the samples I had with me and asked for the recipe. That wasn’t quite the point!
Somewhat disheartened I headed home and finished off the rest of the chocolate chip cookies in the tin by myself. At least I would have something to tell Delyth when she next asked, I thought to myself.
Then today, I went to the butcher’s. The deli sells bread and pies as well as cold meat so I thought there was a possibility. My heart sank when I saw an array of cakes on the top of the counter.
“Could I interest you in a biscuit?” I asked the girl behind my immediate hurdle, and offered her a Moravian tart.
“Is that a nut on it? ‘Cos I’m allergic to nuts.” It was indeed a nut, a large half pecan.
“Sorry, I don’t have any without nuts with me. But would you be interested in selling them here, do you think?”
“I’ll have to ask mum, she runs the deli, does all the cooked stuff. Mum!” The bellow into the back of the shop yielded a tiny woman of indeterminate old age, pinnied and with floured hands.
I explained my proposition to her and offered her a biscuit, hoping that she wouldn’t also have a nut allergy.
She munched on it thoughtfully. “Very nice,” she said eventually. “But you’ll have to package them a bit better than that. I can’t sell them out of a plastic pot. Can I have another one?”
Success! Now I just hope that Delyth has some good ideas about the packaging.