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The Reluctant Landlady Battens Down the Hatches...


I’ve got so much to do. I am on an Autumn rampage. I don’t really have time to write this. I should be sanding the skirting, finishing the hem on a pair of winter curtains, ordering the narcissi bulbs…

The theme tunes for Strictly, Downton and X Factor trigger an automatic armed response where I do an inventory of the children’s collection of woollen knits and circle the house for draught pockets. This time around things are looking up after the log burner in the kitchen was connected. Two long years after its arrival. Will not now be suitable for secret chocolate stash but that’s a small price to pay for delicious, wrap around heat and the brilliant knowledge that no oil was burnt in its making. Being a townie with years of central heating leaves me ill equipped for managing an oil tank and remembering not to run out. Which we did 3 times last winter, once a week before Christmas. You can imagine. I put the log burner to the top of the list. And now, in a controlled and appropriate manner, we do a little bit of wood foraging of a weekend. Like some families go swimming or pop out for a Sunday roast at the local pub we take a light ramble and each drag a log back. The smallest Curly Son, ant like,  managing them twice his size and then sobbing at the thought of them on the fire. So to distract him and make the most of the mellow fruitfulness we upped our game last weekend taking a diversion through our neighbour’s very large garden. Invited by Mr Neighbour and encouraged to scrump we filled baskets with elderberries, damsons, rowan berries, apples and medlars. Giddy with our overflowing bounty we struggled back up the lane and were immediately ambushed by Mrs Neighbour, as delicately sour as the damsons we had just picked and clearly not as generous hearted as her husband was hoping we ‘wouldn’t find the medlar tree’. I offered a selection of jams and jellies in repayment. And have been making them ever since, which is why I really don’t have time to stop. I have a pan of rowan berry, apple and sage stuff bubbling away on the stove and 10lbs of damsons stored in the log burner…  

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