The egg timer has tilted

We are in a time of short days and long evenings. Mornings are beginning to be frosty and the sun is dipping shortly after three – a long and chilly sunset has commenced by 4.30. There is markedly less dawdling on my morning walks with Lyra – I am picking up pace to keep warm. With the leaves falling you can now peer into the hedges to see the birds nests and I have also spotted quite a few squirrels (grey) darting up and down the trees. We had the first of the shoots in the woods at the back early in the week though and since then there have been far fewer pheasants and partridges clucking around. The roostery tree at Kersfield has been quite empty. I am quietly hoping those particular partridges just shifted to a quieter locale rather than joining the battle.

Now, I’m enough of a country girl, and carnivore, not to feel too badly about shooting for the pot (and indeed Raymond dropped us off a few brace of partridge from his last shoot today and they are now hanging in the tool shed pending plucking. Keith alerted me in case I went full on Tippi Hedren when picking up some potatoes for dinner in the dark). However, I do feel the odds are a bit too stacked against the birds bred for the shoot when compared with, say, the stealthy one on one hunting of a poacher. Perhaps it is bred in the bone. I’ve eaten many a salmon or rabbit left in a bag on mum’s door handle in my day (particular thanks being due to Uncle Eck and Jock the ferret ). I’m quietly confident that if the family tree were shaken we would not be finding missing Viscounts or princelings, but rather a fine selection of cagey peasants and possibly the odd reiver. I think I should make a particularly excellent truculent wench, possibly with witchy tendencies. Anyhow, I rather miss the pheasants and partridges clucking around the lanes. Henry, our resident pheasant, thankfully, is still strutting around the garden. He had a chum with him today so, naturally, he has been christened Big Robbie.

Gardening stints are now much shorter (a bit of a relief as the claggy clay soil is so cold that a couple of hours of weeding is about as much as I can stand). Generally, I’m alternating between weeding, cutting back and shovelling mulch so as to keep the circulation going! Indoor pursuits are definitely taking centre stage.

We have instituted “gourmet Sunday” when one lucky person has to produce a two or three course meal of four star quality. I am up tomorrow and have been swotting through recipe books for the last couple of days for inspiration. Keith took the first one (a rather excellent pheasant dish), Lachlan was up next with a Cuban meal. The pressure is distinctly on…. I shall report back in due course. This is also the time of year for the knitting of overly ambitious Christmas jumpers to the accompaniment of a gripping audio book. I have two jumpers on the go at present (it’s good to be able to ring the changes) and have been plugged in to The Binding by Bridget Collins, which is excellent but nearly finished. I have Where the Crawdads Sing lined up next. This should hopefully see me through these two. (As the intended recipients dip into this blog no photos will be supplied until after Christmas, when I may organise a small fashion supplement. )

I am also still farting about with the dried flowers. I have taken to coordinating mixes with the wallpaper. The blend below is “downstairs loo”. I tried my hand at some harvest style wreaths using the cornus stems. I thought they were quite tastefully understated, but Lachlan has declared them “austerity decorations”.

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