MAUD’s eating, or trying to eat, a perfectly-formed rubber egg. Her very favourite toy. It keeps rolling under the settee or the coffee table and she runs around squealing because she can’t get at it. Before she got her teeth into it I used to keep it on the side in the kitchen – which was fine until someone asked for a boiled egg for breakfast and Ian gave them this one by mistake. Truly. Fortunately it wasn’t a paying guest but it was someone we hadn’t met before (friend of a friend) and he gave me a very funny look when I realised the mistake and snatched it from his egg-cup.
Ian is complaining because I won’t let him eat the home-made granola I’ve just made for our six (b and b) guests and Paul Mason is interviewing people in Portugal whose economy is disappearing rapidly down the drain. Pictures of empty factories and barren landscapes where new houses should be present a depressingly familiar picture. Why didn’t the politicians see this coming? They must all have been as stupid and self-serving as each other. Except Vince Cable, apparently, who did see it coming but nobody would listen to him when he said it.
Last night at this time I was saying goodbye to 18 guests who’d been for supper; all from the village and immediate surrounds and who deliver the newsletter, Oswald’s Outlook, which I produce for the church and the community. They’re a mixed and interesting bunch and as we chat I realise this is the realisation of the dream we had when we first came here – to be at the centre of a lively village with lots going on of which we can be part. I feel as though we’ve been here forever. Doing the newsletter is my contribution. Hardly a major one but I enjoy it and as I do my bits of newsgathering I realise that this is why I wanted to be a journalist all those years ago. It’s not the Daily Mail or even the Sheffield Star but it is fun and very satisfying when people give you their snippets of news.
The churchwarden, MaryRose, and I had made shepherd’s pies (“cottage pies” Ian corrects me) and Margaret next door had point-blank refused to make a trifle, which was my first – and only – choice for pudding. “I will not make a trifle,” she had declared very firmly, when asked. Instead she produced an apple crumble – not just any old apple crumble but a nobbly, caramel-y, chunky concoction which even the blessed Delia could not have dreamt of – a creamy lemon tart and a chocolate and walnut ring with berries and cream. “If anybody else had asked me to make a trifle I’d have just done it. But I know I can be honest with you and tell you what I think, and what I think is that trifle’s a dead duck,” she tells me later. Or words to that effect.
We put a spare shepherd’s pie in the freezer at the end of the evening. We’ll invite Margaret, MaryRose and co for dinner in a couple of weeks to polish it off. I’ll make a trifle for pud. . .