This morning I decided to walk through the Malwood Farm underpass and see how far I got before I gave up on what I expected to be a rather soggy terrain. It probably would have been a better idea to have stayed on the roads, or at least worn Wellingtons instead of walking shoes.
Even before I’d left our garden, I could see that more trees had come down, and the steep downhill track leading to the underpass confirmed this, so I was not surprised to see the extent of the damage wrought by the winds, once I ventured into the forest itself.
This is just one of the recent falls on the short stretch to the underpass.
The terrain, however, was rather less inviting. It was indeed soggy. Pools lay, and new streams flowed, everywhere. Mud patches inhaled deeply in an attempt to snatch my shoes.
It would have been unprofitable to have tried to pick out one of last year’s safe paths. The way would be blocked by either a quagmire or newly fallen trees, or both. As is usual in these circumstances, I followed pony trails.
I had thought to take a rain check on the sandbagged ford before deciding on whether to cross it or not. Forget that. I didn’t even venture across the mud bath leading to the sandbags. It seemed politic to stay on our side of the winding stream I call Malwood. I walked along it for a while, then retraced my steps and returned home.
Walking back through the forest to the side of the farm fences, I noticed much beautifully shaped pastel coloured lichen clinging to fallen twigs featherbedded by a mulch of deep dark brown autumn leaves.
My share of the five-egg mushroom omelette with toast that was for lunch, went down very well.
This afternoon I finished reading Voltaire’s story ‘Le Taureau Blanc’. Here the philosopher, in advocating the search for human wisdom and happiness, is having an ironic pop at the fantasy of the Old Testament. At least, that is the sense I make of this fabulous tale.
This evening we dined on succulent sausage casserole with creamy mashed potato, crisp runner beans and cauliflower, followed by creme caramel. I drank more of the Bergerac.
For four to six servings:
Take 12 sausages; lots of shallots; plenty of button mushrooms; a packet of Sainsbury’s cooking bacon, chopped into bite sized pieces; 3 big cloves of garlic; 5-6 bay leaves; 1 heaped teaspoonful of dried thyme; 3/4 pint of pork stock (if pork sausages – today’s were Milton Gate pork and apple from Lidl which provide a touch of sweetness); enough red wine to cover the contents of the dish.
Red peppers provide a bit of colour, but are not essential. Similarly thickening with the help of gravy granules or cornflower may be required.
Fry the sausages until browned on all sides and set aside. In the casserole dish then fry the bacon and shallots with the crushed garlic. Add the stock and wine; bring to the boil, turn down the heat, add the bay leaves and thyme, pop the sausages back in and simmer for 3/4 hour. (The simmering refers to the cooking heat. It doesn’t mean you have to adopt a suppressed emotional stance).
Then add the mushrooms and simmer for further 20-30 minutes.
Jackie cooks this dish without a lid until the sauce looks rich enough, if necessary adding one of the thickening agents.
The final touch of the peppers may be added in the last few minutes.