Sunday, 1 November 2009


Usually I'm posting about a disease outbreak or injury to the animals here, a worrisome aspect of keeping livestock. Just for a change it's us who're sick. Mike and I have been "cooking something" as he puts it, probably some low level influenza. Enough to slow us down, and just in time for a busy week of shooting.

Neither of us is good at diagnosing the exact cause of human illness, and our cure is always the same: a glass of brandy and ginger ale, and a hot curry to combat any lurking virus. A friend of ours, a veterinarian, once treated Mike for a human virus similar to hexameter in birds by prescribing him to eat the hottest curry he could cope with. It seemed to do the trick so we've been converts ever since.

Neither of us is a very good patient either, though Mike would definitely take the title if impatience was a sport. He beasts through his sickness, stopping behind a tree occasionally to do what he has to do, as he did yesterday while the guns carried shooting, none the wiser. I felt sorry for myself quietly, while picking up birds and coaching a new lady shooter for a few drives.

Now that heavy rain and winds are buffeting our part of England, I have a good excuse to stay in and mend both my health and a backlog of clothing. The shoot takes its toll on our uniform. Besides spot treating the blood stains and general muck on Mike's suit and my breeks, I have to patch holes made by barbed wire and brambles, darn holes in sweaters and pull threads back through that got caught by thorns and branches.

The uniforms are not disposable like most clothes these days, nor are they machine washable. I've had to look back in household hints books from the earlier part of the 20th century for tips and solutions to keep the woolen cloth clean and in good repair. Shooting suits worn by guns are often threadbare in places and patched in others. Some guns have worn the same breeks for 40 years, or passed them on to sons as their waistlines expanded. It's almost a sign of "good breeding" to have a well-worn suit. Only new money have new suits. There's a lot of history and tradition even in a single pair of breeks.

There are stories in them too. Mike tells me of a gun who's affectionately referred to as Mr "Wrong Trousers" because when it comes time to tip the keeper, he pats his pockets as says" Ah - I appear to have put the wrong trousers on. I left my money in my other pair. I'll shall see you double next time." But he always seems to have on the wrong trousers. I think the story more than makes up for the tip anyway.

All of the dogs are off duty today, resting up for tomorrow's shoot, except for Dakota. She's at her sentry post next to my desk, keeping watch on the front yard for intruders or visitors. We don't have a doorbell but we have a vigilant shepherd with a loud bark, which functions just as well and doesn't need batteries.

All the mending is done, all the shooting socks and dog leads are washed and drying above the fireplace ready for tomorrow's shoot. I think I will go and see if I can interest Mike in a brandy and ginger ale - for medicinal purposes of course.


Poppy Cottage said...

Oh no. I hope the curry works Oh and the brandy and ginger ale.

Hope you are feeling better soon.

Colette x

Sara said...

Both of you get well soon! I'll have to try the hot curry...I've got a cold coming on...a minor nuisance compared to what you two are dealing with. Yikes! Get some rest.

Jennifer Montero said...

I'm pleased to report the curry and/or brandy remedy has worked. We're past the worst of it.

Let me know if you want our secret cure for orf ;-)

Tamar said...

I love the curry cure! You should market it.

The only remedy I've liked half as well. is the tequila cure. I had a friend who swore by it, on the theory that the bugs would see the tequila coming and head for the hills.

Jennifer Montero said...

Tamar - I like the way you think. I'm sure these cures are all based in sound scientific fact and not just an excuse to have a cocktail...

I heard on a comedy news programme today, the Irish cure for a cold: Take a hat and a bottle of whisky to bed. Put the hat on the left bedpost, and drink the whiskey til you can see the hat on the right bedpost as well.

Being from an Irish family, I can't believe my grandmother didn't share that one with me!

Terry Scoville said...

Ah the curry sounds like a good remedy. Yet what if one doesn't partake the brandy is to mix it with? Perhaps honey? Glad you all on the mend. Sounds like a lot of work keeping your clothes darned and patched.

P said...

I liked the Irish cure.
What are breeks?

Jennifer Montero said...

Hi P - Breeks is a scots word for trousers, but is used (locally at least) as a slang term for knee length trousers, worn as part of a shooting suits with a waistcoat and jacket. Very old-fashioned but fit for purpose, particularly as they don't bunch up in your long boots like full length trousers do. Long boots are also part of the outfit.

There's a picture of it ( and fuller description) on one of my older posts titled And the Prize for the most Antiquated Work Uniform Goes to...(under estate life category) if you're interested.