It's the day before the start of our shoot season and there is more to do than there are people and daylight hours to do it. I'm about to get stuck into making dinner for the workers but an easy one - bacon and beans over mashed potatoes. Not inspired but easy and it tastes fine after being left for 4 hours in a slow cooker while we shoot. Plus I have jam to make, and our own dinner, and scones if I can find room in the oven.
Every time I start to cook, I get called to do an 'air strike' - that's what Mike and the guys call my throwing the spaniels in cover to chase the pheasant and partridge home. The birds must know the season starts tomorrow and they're all trying to leave home in droves! The weather is a bit warm for the dogs but we have conveniently placed troughs for a drink and a quick cool down. I will be packing the dog first aid kit tomorrow and ensure that there is lots of water for dogs and a few sachets of electrolyte solution, for those who overdo it on the first day.
Our chimney sweep - nicknamed Sooty - came today with his broom and cleaned both chimneys and wood stoves. He's just been interviewed for the TV program Coast. The series goes around the coast of Britain (hence the name) telling people's stories and family histories. Sooty found out that his father was an African-American soldier stationed over here during the war. The programme discusses the unsung role that these soldiers played not only in the war, but in British society at the time. Racism was never as formative a part of UK culture, but the Americans brought it with them and it affected British life.
Sooty took over his family's chimney sweep business and his sons, one of whom is also a fireman, are following on behind. He's nearing retirement age now but shows no signs of slowing down yet. We had a great discussion while he made sure we had clean and safe chimneys for the winter. Better yet we did an amiable trade - some of his freshly caught prawns and a sea bream, for a kilo of our minced venison and package of sausages.
On the subject of interesting facts: While I was rummaging in the hedgerow as I have been doing lately, I saw this strange parasitic growth on a dog rose stem -
It's called a Robin's Pin Cushion and it's the gall of a wasp, Diplolepsis rosae for you science nerds. It was oddly pretty. Nature is so cool. We also dropped Boris at his new home last night. I parked him next to his new friends and gave him a hug goodbye.And took a picture of the farm where he's now going to live, just so you know he went to a good home.
I've taken some pictures of the cider apple harvest too, just because it's a fascinating process. I promise to explain more fully next time. But for now I must get on with the cooking. Wish us luck - and a few birds overhead - for tomorrow.