I have just left Olive at a train station where we missed her train by a minute which means waiting an hour.   She is heading to Wales for 3 days holiday.   She is wearing walking boots found last minute in the cupboard, (owner unknown) with which she is rather pleased while asking “do you think it’s okay that they’re a bit small?”  We sit in the car watching the rain and I offer her an old waterproof that I happen to know is buried in the boot but she says she has already got too much luggage and when, after about 15 minutes, I tell her I’ve got to get on and therefore abandon her, I think she’s right.

There is palpable relief from the team at a respite from venison burgers and pigeon breasts.

We unload three large bags, one of which holds a pasta maker.  She’s got an unusual view on walking holiday essentials. 


Last night she asked Zam for the weather forecast which would, for most of the year, be a sure bet for a detailed answer.  “I don’t know” he says, “Because I don’t care.”   That is a man basking in the post-harvest liberation of it not mattering in the slightest and it is in this mood that he will remain.  Until the frost panic starts again. 

With the grapes safely gathered, the juices safely tanked, he has also hung up his barbecuing tools.  There is palpable relief from the team at a respite from venison burgers and pigeon breasts.  Perhaps the meat feasts even got to him because he spent last weekend making soup from a pumpkin the size and shape of a canoe.   “What are the chewy bits?” I ask nervously (he never cooks anything normal and we all remember the pork and marshmallow with sauerkraut that appeared during lockdown).  “The Parmesan rind I found at the back of the fridge” he announced happily.  This would be the Parmesan I bought on impulse at Costco a couple of years ago, also the size of a canoe.  I remember telling him that Nigella (I think) puts dried out Parmesan lumps in soup to add umami.  I thought I told him she then removes it.