Daffodil buds Jackie bought at Ferndene Farm Shop opened out beautifully overnight, and looked resplendent in the morning sunshine. The Belleek vase was given to us by Elizabeth a couple of Christmases ago. As one of the television commentators on the England versus Wales rugby match said this afternoon: ‘the sky couldn’t be bluer’. As it was at Twickenham, where the game took place, so it was in the New Forest all day. This contest was by far the most intriguing of the weekend’s internationals. Not just because England won by a comfortable margin, but because one always felt their opponents could catch them up, particularly if the home side continued to give away penalties. Both kickers had an afternoon of 100% success. Leigh Halfpenny scored all Wales’s points with his six attempts, and was later found to have dislocated his shoulder making a try-saving tackle on Luther Burrell. I won’t explain the points system, for rugby fanatics will know it, and those not interested can easily skip this bit. Incidentally, a number of international rugby players are now sporting full beards, vying with each other in length. One of the Irish players yesterday, had he been quite a lot smaller, could have passed for a leprechaun. Jackie tells me this is because ‘real men wear beards’. We needed to replace a few light bulbs which don’t seem to last very long here, so, well in time for the kick-off, we decided to visit the New Milton Tesco, where we bought some. Well, it was a good excuse for Jackie to drive us past the house that will be ours at the end of the month. It is still in situ. Continuing to Milford on Sea we had another look at that. As we emerged from Newtown to turn left into Forest Road, we encountered some congestion caused by a car parked up on the verge. The vehicle was surrounded by ponies. The driver and passenger had their windows open and were feeding the animals, which were displaying an unusual amount of energy as they imitated customers on the first day of a Harrod’s sale. The more patient ones stood back, no doubt awaiting their turn. Never having been one to enter such a free-for-all, I identified with these three. At children’s parties I would always wait until the gannets had had their fill. It’s so undignified not to. In the supermarket I went in search of the bulbs whilst Jackie picked up a few other items. For one young lady it is probably just as well I did. In order fully to understand the scene that met my eyes as I turned one corner, it is necessary to study this photograph of the shelves. Note that, after the event, the blue drink containers labelled KX have one missing from their pack. Note also the gap between the Indian tonic water and the Roses lime juice on the very top shelf. When these shelves came into my view an elderly woman making her uncertain way towards them was pointing up at the KX drinks that occupied the now empty space, in an endeavour to engage the assistance of a younger female. Had the more aged person had a straighter posture she would have been a bit taller. Even with an upright back, her helper was not as tall as the lady in need of help. She was very short. And very rotund. So much so that when she mounted the packs of Coca Cola on the pallet she had to stretch her arms up to their full length to slide her fingertips under her quarry. She teetered on the edge of the cokes, like a stunt person in a thriller movie making her way along a ledge outside a high building. She struggled to gain purchase on the slippery plastic that wrapped the consignment. She drew them towards herself. She rocked on the Cokes. The batch of KX slid forward on the edge of the shelf. Aiming, it seemed, for a dive. Approaching from behind, I reached over her shoulder and relieved her of her burden. She most certainly was relieved. Meeting her further on in the store, she gave me a pleasant smile. I thought it politic to explain to Jackie how I’d earned it. This evening’s dinner was a delectable liver and bacon casserole with which I drank a little more of the Bergerac. As with most of Jackie’s meals they are always variable in production. We therefore present today’s version, to which, once the method has been understood, you will no doubt make your own amendments. Method: Slices of lamb’s liver, including any blood in the packaging, from the Ferndene Farm Shop are ideal. If you cannot get to that outlet that is your misfortune, but I am sure you will find another good source. To that is added Sainsbury’s cooking bacon. Both, with a Knorr lamb stock cube and enough water to cover them are cooked for about five minutes in a pressure cooker. If you don’t possess such an implement, cook them in the casserole until tender. Quantities are up to you, as is the balance between liver and bacon. Fry four medium onions in the casserole dish. Jackie didn’t use garlic today, but it is an option. A sprig of dried rosemary, and a couple of bay leaves, with the meat and its fluid are then added. We had supplementary red peppers and carrots because they match the dish they were cooked in. There are endless such variations according to the colour of your pot, or just to your taste. Slosh in enough red wine to cover everything and simmer gently until tender. Half an hour whilst you prepare the veg should be enough.
It looks pretty good on the plate, and is very flavoursome.