Sunday 5 April 2015
Sunny with much cumulus
Finished off the detective novel and drank tea in bed and watched the tiny cumulus clouds scudding across the sky. My chest is still bad so we went for a gentle walk around a different lake, one which OH had discovered whilst looking for new places to fish. Wherever he fishes, the fish seem very elusive but it keeps him happy.
Two carp fishermen were installed on the bank, interspersed with a table containing wine in plastic glasses, bread and a mixture of salads in plastic containers. Tabbouleh, ham and cheese. They had their feet up on some scavenged Selecte Collective crates and were smoking cigs. The dog went over to say hello and was energetically repulsed by a large hairy creature called Falco and his small brown sidekick called Jerry. The men’s reverie and lunch was severely disturbed by the ruckus and the bite alarms decided to sound at the same time. ‘That’s fishing for you’, said OH as we towed away our dog, smiling and frothing slightly at the mouth.
It was such a beautiful day, the sun sparkled on the water and small coots scooted across the surface. Frogs croaked and showers of small birds burst out of the woods as we approached. We sat and had a break at the head of the lake and listened to the rhythmic lapping of the water on the bank and the thrup thrup of small birds as they passed from tree to tree overhead. The banks were bright with tall stemmed violets and jewelled with cardamine pratensis, cowslips, pulmonaria and the strange violet flower which I have only ever seen in this region. Completely without leaves, its flowers resemble individual cloves of garlic and emerge without stems from the ground, clustered in groups of seven to ten blooms. The green hellebores are passing into seed stage, the juvenile pods forming at the centre of the fading inflorescences.
Back home for lunch and OH watches a football round up and I make steak aux poivre in red wine for dinner tomorrow and prepare vegetables for this evening. I then examine my baking book and, rather than making Hot Cross Buns, decide on an Easter braid. This is based on the dough normally used for HCBs but with extra butter. I mix the batter and put outside on the well to warm and froth. I then sift the flower and coat the fruit well so it will not sink in the mix. Half an hour later, with the batter full of air bubbles, I mix the two together with an egg and commence kneading.
Small birds are queuing on the bird table and fighting for place on the single fat ball. They are not good at waiting and have even eaten last week’s unsuccessful cake. After ten minutes, I wrap the now stretchy and smooth dough in a damp towel and leave to rise for an hour and a half and go out to look at the weeds. OH decides to go for a couple of hours fishing. The dog wants another walk and I tell him to take a hike so he settles for crowding me and putting wet nose marks on my glasses. He then starts whingeing and barking so has to go in the house. I pull out a heck of a lot of weeds and it is only a dip in the ocean of weeds which I discover, are strangling the strawberries and need removing urgently.
Back in the house to release the dog again and knock back the dough and braid it and leave to rise for another 40 minutes. Have a cup of tea and throw the Frisbee (actually a large plastic paint can lid) for the dog and wheeze. Still sound like I am smoking 40 woodbines a day. Finally the loaf is ready, and I drizzle over beaten egg and put in to cook. Roast some parsnips and potatoes and put the duck on to sizzle on the griddle before placing in with the potatoes. OH comes back, unsurprisingly fishless but very happy, puts lots of mud everywhere and is very admiring of the loaf which has turned out to be magnificent.
Watch Poldark. I can’t say it is improving. The characters are like chess pieces.