The Cottage Smallholder

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Paris and Preserves


Photo: Chicken salad

Photo: Chicken salad

Danny has gone to Paris on business this week. I drove him to Whittlesford station yesterday afternoon and drove home feeling a bit mumbo. The cottage is very quiet when he’s away – not that he stomps about but there is no conversation, or rustle of another life alongside. I find myself talking to the Min Pins and the chickens. The Min Pins miss him too and tend to get a bit clingy. Everywhere I go they want to go too.

During the morning I’d watched the occasional person stop and examine the gate side stand. But business was dormant. Were the prices too high?
“No,” said Danny “They are too low. The packaging is added value.”
I secretly decided to put the prices down while he was safely zapping towards Paris on Eurostar.

As I turned into our drive I spotted that there were spaces on the stand! And this morning I’ve been quite busy as people are buying. Even the dustmen got out of their lorry to have a look. Business isn’t exactly brisk but it’s a start and I’m delighted. Now I’m wondering what else I can sell on the stand. Could this be a start of a whole new venture?

I was restocking the shelves this morning and bumped into one of my customers. She was delighted with the stand.
“It’s so pretty and approachable. I don’t have to knock on your door.” She showed me what she had bought. “Who wouldn’t be delighted to receive one of these or this? I can’t wait to taste the vintage chutney. It’s funny but I’ve never spotted it before.”
I returned to the cottage with a glowing happy heart.

What has this got to do with a photo of a plate of chicken salad? Well when D is away I eat chicken salad with a baked potato for supper most evenings. My ultimate easy comfort food. I made a lovely orange vinegar and nut oil dressing with a pinch of cayenne which was light and tasty. And by nine o’clock I was tucked up in bed with the Min Pins exhausted with all the excitement.

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  1. eek Danny, sounds as if you were lucky. I have heard reports of very unhelpful Eurostar staff on the stranded trains, who basically abandoned the passengers and left them to fend for themselves all night. Very poor communication from Eurostar too, which must have been worrying for people who had friends/family on the trains. Glad you made it home safely! But sorry you didn’t have time to enjoy Paris. Perhaps you can use your free tickets/dosh to take Fiona there for a romantic break 🙂

    Third possibility: wear unmatched socks. My husband has done this for years, and I find it charming 🙂 In fact I would be quite shocked if one day by chance he happened to put on two identical socks. Or just buy lots of identical pairs, then you’ll never have an unmatched sock problem again!

  2. LOL Pamela – I sort of guessed that my closing remarks would draw a comment 🙂

  3. Danny, when you duck to miss the sock drawing flying towards your head, you will find they have spread themselves on the floor to enable you to sort them quickly and easily all on your own after all. LOL! The way I see it there are two approaches to this kind of problem. 1: wash your own socks as you can obviously do a better job than the person who is doing the washing now; or 2: put up and shut up. Have a lovely Christmas both of you and a happy and prosperous New Year to all.

  4. Some great suggestions and excellent comments, people. Thank you all.
    Yes, I was in the train that sat for seven hours in a siding at Folkestone. It’s incredible to think that five trains/locomotives broke down on one evening. Ours broke down in the tunnel as it waited for two ahead to clear the line. Apparently it’s the condensation when they are idling that causes the problems. It was slightly scary as the temperature rose to become very uncomfortable when the aircon went AWOL. Once the train was towed outside to the England end it cooled again. But the “cabin crew” were brilliant on our train, walking up and down the 20 or so carriages with trays of water and tea/coffee all night long. I have nothing but praise for the staff. However, I got home 15 hours later than expected so I am pleased to read on the BBC web site that Eurostar plan to compensate passengers with a free trip and £150 each. That will do nicely!
    Paris was freezing and strictly business. Three of us stayed in the Hotel Mercure in the commercial La Defence district. None of the usual cosy Parisian restaurants or pavement cafes, just office blocks. Up at 5 or 6 and back at 7 or 8. We did get to visit the richest town in France, Epernay, home to the major champagne maisons. The Christmas market in La Defence was good (my 45 minute lunch break on Thu) but I do not speak French and the prospect of being babbled at by a friendly stallholder was too intimidating for me so I did not buy anything. New Year resolution #1 : learn basic French.
    One of the positive side effects of Fiona’s illness has been a deepening of our relationship since July. We do lead quite separate daily lives but we are constantly brushing together during the day. I hope that we will be able to keep her at home permanently even after she recovers. Then perhaps I can introduce her to Basic Sock Management techniques (I have an overflowing drawer of unmatched socks – their partners must be “in a pile somewhere”) 🙂

  5. Hope Danny made it home from Paris before the weather and the shananigans at the Channel Tunnel kicked off.

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Pamela

      He spent the night in the tunnel but luckily had booked a ticket with a meal. Now tucked up in bed and snoring gently.

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