The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Avoiding the dog house

Danny's socks with a tissue relishI was sitting in the little tea room across from the office where I used to work with a rather bored and sophisticated man. His languid glaze suddenly focused on the patina of tooth marks on my lighter.
“We have a real problem with The Contessa. She chews all our lighters and is eating a biro a day.”
My companion was stunned.
“What Contessa?” Clearly imagining a faded dotty old lady, rifling through our drawers to find lighters and biros to guzzle.

When I explained that The Contessa was a Min Pin his interest evaporated in an instant.

Danny and I often giggle about this rival Contessa. She seems almost as real as the dog. Slumped in an armchair, toying with biros and gnawing a lighter. She just has to become a character in a novel one day.

Six years later, The Contessa has developed a new habit of foraging through Danny’s wastepaper basket. The bin is emptied across the room and special bits of paper are removed to her bed. This is almost as unpopular as the lighter chewing phase. This morning a heard a roar from The Rat Room and spotted a small flash of red as she darted through the kitchen into the garden.

I had just opened the washing machine and discovered that a tissue had shredded and scattered like fairy confetti over every garment in the dark wash. Danny, normally a placid man, gets quite agitated about white flecks on his socks. So I followed The Contessa swiftly into the garden and hung the washing on the line, hoping that a breezy afternoon might remove the tissue scraps.

I decided to rack up a few Brownie points and create a new medlar and chilli jelly recipe before the washing was brought in at dusk. I discovered my first medlar tree a couple of days ago. The simmered medlars and chillis are now dripping through a jelly bag into a bucket in the bath. If it works, I’ll post the recipe tomorrow.

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  1. Fiona Nevile

    Good tip, Pat. Next time I am passing Lakeland in Cambridge, I’ll drop in. Thanks for sharing.

    Hi Amanda, as you will see from the next post, I need to get clued up on medlars too!

    Sorry Sara, I have still to find a medlar tree… Over enthusiastic foraging can lead to mistakes.

    Everyone needs a Contessa. It makes one tidy around the house! The one thing that I don™t need is the sort of man that had tea with. AGive me a dotty Contessa any day

  2. The idea of a contessa chewing on biros and lighters is quite amusing 🙂 I can imagine the type of man you had tea with too.

  3. farmingfriends

    I look forward to the recipe as I have a medlar tree.
    Sara from farmingfriends

  4. Oh dear! We (errrr I) often wash tissues in with the clothes. It drives me insane. I check the pockets for a little while but then I forget…. Lazy toad!

    I love Jules and Sharpie’s hot mint jelly so I hope the jelly works out. The sound of chilli is very appealing! Off to find out what a medlar is.

  5. Ohhhh Fiona, I used to have that same problem with the tissues in the wash. We now have these little pink and green velcroed balls that we end up finding affixed to some of the clothes before they are pegged out. They get rid of those little bits of unintentionally washed tissue. Not doing a comercial here but we got ours from Lakeland.
    Good luck on the jelly!!!

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