Sunday, 2 March 2008

The birthday continues!

The birthday celebrations have continued into the weekend, which is proving a lot of fun. No idea why it seems more celebratory than usual, particularly as it's not a birthday with a zero, but there you go. Last night Jenny cooked me a splendid birthday meal and I suppose I ought to start thinking about tailing the revelry off a bit now.

So after a day in the garden, we got the initial preparations of the dinner out of the way, then cracked a bottle of Chapel Down Pinot Reserve, which is a really terrific, sparkling white English wine. Once we'd reached a sensible break-point in the preparations, we took our glasses of cooks' perk up to a deep, hot bath. There's something seriously decadent about a glass of something really nice while you laze in the bath!

And so to the meal. Fillet of organic, grass-fed Aberdeen Angus en croute, with roast potatoes, cauliflower with white sauce, swede and carrot mash. This latter was originally going to be just mashed swede until we were clearing the veg patch and found some left-over carrots from last year. The beef was exquisite, and the whole course just delicious. Accompanied by a bottle of Meerlust Rubicon, which is a super Bordeau blend from South Africa. Followed by a really good, home-made orange sorbet. I had a tiny glass of Marsala, and Jenny had ditto of a nice sweet sherry, both of which went rather well with the sorbet.

Am I a lucky bugger or what, to have such good care taken of me?

Afterwards we watched an Attenborough dvd Jenny had bought me for my birthday. This one is called Tribal Eye and was transmitted in the mid-70s. I don't think Jenny really knew what it was about, just bought it because we're determined to accumulate the complete collection. Well the episode we watched last night was mostly about African masks, with some really spectacular footage of the masks and costumes in use. Just brilliant, and a perfect present for me, with my current interest in African masks!

The gardening was really good, too. After months of miserable, cold, dark weather, we finally had bright sunshine and reasonable temperatures, so quickly got out there into the garden, and had at the vegetable patch. We started growing a few veg last year after seeing a TV programme which reignited our enthusiasm, so yesterday we cleared the left-over plants and all the weeds, chucked a load of compost on and added several bags of commercial farmyard manure.

Once nice aspect of the way we've organised things is that we decided last year, not to walk on the growing areas at all, and this meant the soil was loose and soft, which made preparing it this year really easy. Hopefully the plants find it nice, too. Today we'll be extending the area by about 50%. Still nowhere near self-sufficiency, but it's good to have fresh stuff we can pick from time to time. Salad leaves, tomatoes, beans, carrots, beetroot, etc.

While sitting in the conservatory drinking our coffee after breakfast this morning, we noticed a male sparrow attacking the window. A year or two ago we had a metallised plastic film laid on the roof and south-face of the conservatory to reduce the amount of heat getting in during high summer. We were suffering temperatures up to 50C, and that's been completely sorted out, but one side-effect has been that there's an increased mirroring from outside. This poor sparrow sees his own reflection, and is attacking that.

We've tried sticking one of those hawk silhouettes on the window, but that's had no effect. Not sure what else we can do. Last year there was a similar event up on the patio. We installed a fake gateway through the patio wall - a big mirror with a faked-up door frame around it and an old, wrought-iron gate hanging there. Quite convincing the first time you glance at it.

Unfortunately, the local small bird population (males only, of course) thought their territories were being invaded by the competition, so attacked the mirror. I ended up covering it up with an old sheet for a few weeks until they'd got their hierarchies sorted out, and when I took it off again, they were no longer bothered. I don't think I'm going to cover the conservatory up!


ArcticFox said...

bit stoopid them birds sometimes aren't they?

Could you perhaps paint the metal with something to stop it being so reflective or is that missing the whole point?? I'll shut up.... I think I know the answer already....

Just install a motion sensitive camera and make lots of videos of stoopid birds and post 'em on youtube instead!!


Jane.Dudman said...

Hey Rob, want to know how old you are now in badger years?

Warning: it's more than 400!!!


Rob Clack said...

How cruel you are, Jane, and I thought you were my friend! 413 years indeed!