I had a 12 hour shift at the pub yesterday. It is really difficult to find an extra 35 hours in a week, but the regular pay check has been a great incentive. As I wasn't home until midnight, Mike and underkeeper Ian kindly made the venison stew for the stir-up day staff. The recipe is in my head, so the boys had to improvise. They used a proprietary gravy powder - apparently a good couple kilos of the stuff - and covered the meat and baked it in the oven. When it cooled they were amazed to find that they could turn the 8 litre pots upside down and the hardened sludge wouldn't fall out.
It will be slices of stew for lunch then.
I woke up as early as possible. Did I mention I have a cold? Well, as our family saying goes, it's a long way from my heart so I'll probably live, though it made 12 hours of waitressing rather tedious. (And, who doesn't prefer a waitress with a racking cough and runny nose touching their food?) By this morning my eyes were stuck shut, and I felt like warmed death, but I didn't want to miss a shoot day, even a stir-up one.
I found time to lay out all the dog necessities last week, but never got around to sorting my own shoot day stuff. I prised my eyes open and scrounged for a pair of breeks that would fit. See, I have fat breeks for the start of the season, and thin breeks for the end of the season when all the walking and staying warm in the cold drizzle has helped me lose a few pounds. Fat breeks on: check.
I found some long shooting socks in Mike's closet, a bit big for my feet so the toes will bunch up in the front of my boots, but I can live with that. I had to root around the junk drawer to find my elastic sock holder-upper things, which I dumped in there at the end of last season. My eyes were sticking together again and I still needed to find a warm sweater.
I grabbed a comfortable old orange rollneck, suitably autumn-coloured. Maybe less suitably I have darned moth holes in it, and the sleeves edges were raggedy. I picked off the few dead wool moths still attached and put it on and looked in the mirror.
With my runny eyes, unbrushed hair, baggy breeks and darned sweater I looked awful. For our clients it is acceptable, even desirable, to wear breeks and wool shooting coats handed down from fathers, and lovingly darned by laundry staff in the big house. Hell, even Prince Charles sports an old Barbour jacket that's more mend than Barbour.
From the Daily Telegraph newspaper
When I do it, I look equal parts homeless and contagious.
I pulled on my wellie boots, which I had accidentally left outside in the rain and were still damp inside. Never mind, I thought, my balled sock toes will absorb the excess moisture. I started my morning round of chores: milk the goats, check on Kitty, feed the dogs. I downed a big spoonful of the only cold medicine in the cupboard -Nyquil that is four years out of date - while the dogs ate their kibble, then took them for a quick walk.
I came in and laid down on the sofa, boots and all, where I still am now.
I'm not going shooting.
The dogs are disappointed that they have to wait two more days to get back to work, except for Pip. Today is her first official day of retirement -
I think she's OK with it.