Tag Archives: deer

A little wobble

A wibbly wobbly mess.....

A wibbly wobbly mess…..

Making a mad dash from London to Hampshire for a meeting at Primrose’s new school one evening last week, I had one precious hour in the car to contemplate life, the universe and new kitchens.  Having sold our house in the Big Smoke, we are waiting for solicitors to let us know when all is set with the new ‘cottage’.  Moving is tantalisingly close now yet still we are in limbo.  Patience I know, dear Reader, is required….  However, I am ready to get packing and start carving up kitchen cabinets and fitting an Everhot!  Bombing down the M3 with music blaring, I was lost in these very thoughts as I passed field upon field of glorious oil seed rape all sunshine and dayglow yellow in the evening light.

Turning off the motorway, driving through windy lanes and then up the long school driveway, I wondered what Primrose’s new school might have in store for me that evening.  Stepping into a room filled with exceptionally well turned out mummies, I quickly breathed a sigh of relief that I had decided to leave my Barbour in the car.  Thank goodness I had also dusted the cobwebs off my Portobello Market ‘Mulberry‘ handbag.  Where were the ladies in wellies and tweed?  This was, after all, a countryside school.  A sea of double barrelled surnames rather than shotguns….I felt cheated, dear Reader.  Talk turned to our relocation, choice of village and profession and I felt instantly sidelined – a ‘townie’ in their midst.  What was I doing?  I was never going to fit in in the countryside if these über-mums were anything to go by.  Everyone seemed to live within ten minutes of the school and they all knew each other in that rather annoying “Do you remember when little Johnny did such and such at the May day fair?“.  It was like being on the set of Mean Girls.  Where was the industrial sized gin when I needed it?!  Suddenly I could see that our school run of 25mins each way would probably result in no one wanting to come and play with Primrose after school.  Too late to do anything about it now though…..as we were about to exchange on our new house and Jerry was set on living a 15 minute drive away from the best commuter station.  I drove back to London and went straight to bed, convinced that moving to the countryside was all a massive mistake.

'Walking is Man's best medicine' - Hippocrates

‘Walking is Man’s best medicine’ – Hippocrates

To make matters worse, Primrose had her own wobble the following morning and decided that she wasn’t going to move.  Tears and wailing ensued and cries of “You and Daddy are very mean taking me from all my friends…”  Our usual morning chit-chat was replaced with sniffs and blowing of noses as I tried gallantly to save the situation and talk up the advantages of having a bigger garden.  Neither of us were convinced to be honest, dear Reader.  Nursery drop off completed (tears at the door for the first time), I armed myself with strong coffee and the advice of some very sweet friends and headed off to the park with Poppy and the pup.  Woodpeckers, bluebells, a serene herd of deer, giggly toddler and a happy hound…..amazing how a good walk and the sights and sounds of nature at its best can restore a troubled soul.  Just enjoying moments looking, listening and being able to marvel at all the things which somehow the hustle and bustle doesn’t allow time for.  The countryside makes you want to slow down, take stock and enjoy the simpler things in life, like a good walk.  With that mantra firmly in hand, I decided that I was not going to let a little wobble about moving stand in our way, nor the cast of Mean Schoolmums either!  Turned out that Primrose had had a change of heart too as she skipped out of the nursery doors with a drawing of our new house in Hampshire in her hand………and despite our little wobbles, we are both smiling about our new life in the countryside.

A little glimpse of how Primrose sees our future.

Primrose’s little glimpse into our future in the countryside!

Are you game?

Dear Reader, if you are of the vegetarian persuasion, you may wish to look away now.  I have no wish to offend but this one is for my carnivorous chums and I shall make no further bones about it…..

Watching a recent Great British Food Revival programme on the BBC, I was reminded of the wonders of game by one of my cooking and countryside heroines, Clarissa Dickson Wright.  Inspired by her fervour for wild meat, I set to work on finding a suitable recipe and fell upon this.  Apparently, November is Game to Eat month.  How glorious!  Deciding to indulge my ‘wild’ side and always up for a culinary challenge, I thought that I would attempt some gamey gastronomy this week.  I suppose as a countryside offering, it doesn’t get any more authentic than game.

First things first, where to find a feathered or furry friend to eat?  Jerry and I have often wondered about the deer culls in Richmond Park and where the meat goes as it is certainly not on any of the gastropub menus in our little corner of suburbia.  Thinking that local venison would probably not be in the pot and not wishing to pick up any roadside offerings from our jaunts to the country, I began my quest at beloved Waitrose.  I found, to my surprise, that they did have a good selection of all the usual gamey items: partridge, pigeon and even wild mallard.  Thankfully all plucked and ready for roasting.  Not so long ago, I did find myself in a feathery mess when a brace of pheasants were brought to the door by a member of the family.  I had been expecting them in more of an oven ready condition….

Moving on from the great plucking incident of 2011, I decided that perhaps birds should not be part of my  dabbling on this occasion.  I can still hear Jerry reciting the ‘Pheasant Plucker’ ditty and we had to explain to a wailing Primrose that they were very naughty birds who had eaten all the farmer’s crops.

Remembering a delicious meal Jerry and I had in a charming little osteria in Florence some years ago when we were footloose, fancy free and sans children, I thought how wonderful it would be to recreate the roasted rabbit we had had that evening.  No feathers to worry about there.  I was out of luck at Waitrose so went in search of a butcher.  Dear Papa has an excellent butcher down on the South Coast whose shop is beautifully adorned with the heads, skins and feathered carcasses of all sorts.  A delight for the meat lover’s eyes but not one for the vegetarians….  I continued my ‘townie’ search for the elusive wild bunny to cook but no fluffy bunny could be found.  To be honest, at one point I thought that I would have probably had more luck trying to bag one myself with a shotgun.  I pondered, for a brief moment, my friend Minty (Araminta) and her recent dilemma of how to rehome her domestic bunnies but thought that she might not appreciate my idea of ‘rehoming’.  Well, after all during the Second World war, rabbits were bred for the pot…..

One of Minty’s temptingly chubby bunnies….

Three butchers later and I found what I was looking for.  One wild rabbit ready for roasting.  Primrose wept at the thought of eating dear old Peter Rabbit or Benjamin Bunny (Beatrix Potter, you have a lot to answer for, in my opinion).  She was convinced that the butcher would present the rabbit with its dinner jacket still on.  Mercifully for all, he did not.  I did try the old “He ate all the farmer’s crops” story but no amount of white lies would persuade her to sample the end result.  She even hid her toy bunny in fear that I might just cook that too.

Looking down at the rather large rabbit on the meat board, I did feel a little out of my depth trying to follow Clarissa’s instructions on jointing.  I wasn’t too sure what to do with Peter Rabbit’s heart, liver and kidneys either.  Perhaps I had become a little squeamish by this point?  Jerry did remind me that it is not the done thing in the country to name one’s food…..  Bolstered with a good glass of Barolo, I soldiered on.  The effort was worth it.  Memories of Florence wafted back with each mouthful of Coniglio Arrosto con Patate which I can only describe as heavenly.  Signor Antonio Carluccio, I salute you.  I can only say that with a recipe as good as that, even dear fluffy-tailed Peter might not mind being eaten!

Margot tries Carluccio’s delicious rabbit dish

Rabbit well and truly polished off, Jerry and I settled down by the fire with a box of chocolates and I discovered a recent interview with Clarissa DW in The Telegraph.  She seems to have caused quite a stir with her calls for us to eat badgers to solve some of the proposed cull problems.  Mmmm.  Rabbit, venison, partridge, pigeon..all a resounding yes.  Badger….sorry CDW, not sure even I am game enough for that one!