My friend Sally asked me to make a culinary contribution to her big birthday party tomorrow, so that’s what I started on this morning: the bottom half of a cottage pie to feed about ten people. I’ll do the top half tomorrow, as well as a pudding of similar dimensions. As I was in the kitchen anyway, I decided to prepare a mackerel pate as a starter for our own Sunday lunch - pate does better when the flavours have had time to blend.
Doing the vegetables for the meat layer of the cottage pie, I thought I might as well do the vegetables for our Friday lunch, which was to be baked chicken, rice, carrots, sweetcorn and leek, saving me having to start all over again later.
By now I was resigned to finding no time for anything else, so I did a couple of loads of laundry while waiting for the various constituents of the meals to cook. Beloved came in now and again, asking “can I do something, like peel a grain of rice maybe?” but when he got round to it, I was usually at the stage where you do not want 'outside interference’ and I shoo’d him out again.
Things brightened up a bit in the afternoon and Millie and I rushed out for a very short walk once round the castle and a sniff of the breeze up on the bailey. Millie has been back at the Vet’s for another minor operation, this time an exploration of her ears. She was most unhappy when I took her into the back rooms at the surgery and she was, again, very unwilling to allow herself to be shoved into a small cage prior to being sedated for her examination. I bet she rues the day when she was adopted by her new, unfeeling family, who seem to be doing nothing but letting her in for all sorts of indignities. Poor sweetie. The cause of her facial lesions has still not been determined. I am hoping that autumn will bring relief, what with the impact of both seeds and insects lessening. Either could be causing the allergy.
In the short spell of brilliant sunshine the freshly washed hills looked welcoming but we decided not to risk a longer walk. We found a small tortoiseshell sunning itself on the path. There was a whole flutter of half a dozen or so of them, probably the new generation hatched in August/September, which will live through the winter, often hibernating in garages and sheds, or even inside houses in the corners of ceilings and under curtains and pelmets.