Jonathan: It’s a measure of our humanity, the way we treat animals. Animal cruelty is indefensible. But try telling that to Tabatha. She’s second youngest and by far the smallest of our five cats, and her inferior social status has been the spur to developing very good social skills, especially with humans. And she’s also developed amazing hunting skills – by far the most successful of our cats. She brings her trophies back to the house, leaving them in the back door porch, often partly dis-assembled. Before leaving her contributions to household economy, she can often be seen close to the house tossing her victim in the air, or letting it go – only to enjoy pouncing on it again. Of late, she’s devised a new routine. By the back door, in the porch, we have a dog/cat drinking bowl, with its own dedicated cold water tap (not many houses can boast such an innovation!), from which the bowl is filled afresh every morning. It’s an arrangement that all the cats, and Tilly too, make good use of, whilst waiting to be let back indoors. Tabatha, being a bright little thing, has thought up a use for it that I had not envisaged. She has re-purposed it as a swimming pool for shrews. Not mice, because they are big enough to climb out. Not rats or birds or anyother of God’s creatures – just shrews. She brings them home – carefully and gently held in her mouth – and drops them in the bowl, then watches them swimming round and round. Eventually she gets bored, and calls to be let indoors, where she makes smiley-eyes at us and squeaky purrs for Purina biscuits or some other luxury. The shrew is left to die of hypothermia or drowning, or both. I’ve saved a few, but am often too late. Lovely sweet Tabatha? A whole new meaning to Animal Cruelty.
Denise: We’re just enjoying a simple supper of home-made bread, with butter. Mmmm! But for once not bread made by me, but by Fiona Bird from Askernish – aka The Forager’s Kitchen . A sour-dough bread from a seaweed starter (yes, really!) with added chopped seaweed. A very, very tasty and wholesome bread, a soft crust, and a subtly distinctive flavour and quality. Difficult to pin down what’s special, perhaps because like most natural/organic products the qualities are complex, sophisticated, suggestive: but perhaps it’s a bread that makes you think of the great outdoors! Thanks Fiona!
Denise: Two new batches of chutney – Green Tomato & Apple Chutney, Spicy Tomato Chutney – with every ingredient except vinegar from our garden or from foraging. Five of each for the shop, the rest for us. Best kept for a few weeks – ideally until Christmas! – the flavour and character will develop and mature.