Friday, 1st December, 2023

[Day 1355]

Friday is the day when our domestic help calls around and the night had been pretty frosty last night so I felt that a good saucepan of porridge was called for. When the temperature drops sharply, Meg and I get into porridge-making mode and it does help to set us all up for the day. Then I took some delight in showing our domestic help both the Imari style pottery of which I managed to acquire some extra pieces at the weekend and also our newly restored dining chair. This has had several treatments already and I will probably only give it one or two more before I call it a day. I have a specialised polish which one sprays on and then immediately wipes off wih a soft cloth. This way, it only takes about a minute and a half to complete the job and I think I am quickly approaching the point where I have achived the end result that I want and further treatments are no longer warranted. After we had breakfasted and chatted for a while, we popped into our local Waitrose for a swift coffee (meeting no one that we knew, it being a Friday) and then made our way into Droitwich. Once safely parked we banked a couple of cheques and then made our customary visit to the shop of Worcestershire Association of Carers in which, unusally, we found nothing to take our interest. We are now quite well supplied with the cushions and cushion covers that we need so the point is coming when we need to search no more. Having said that, I needed some material to make a ‘flatter’ style of filling for cushion covers in order to make some seat pads. I actually did find a seat pad filling from an unusual source i.e. our own garage. In the past, I have carried around an old towelling dressing gown which I have carried round in the boot of the car in case I ever needed to lie on the ground to make a running repair to the car. With our latest car, I decided that this dressing gown had outlived its usefulness so I proceeded to give it a wash and dry. After that, I filled it carefully into the square shape of one of my spare cushion covers and it does the job almot perfectly without the enormous expense of a foam insert filling. Finally, we made our way to our favourite coffee shop where we were booked in for a Christmas lunch at 12.30pm. When this arrived it was absolutely enormous. Meg and I enjoyed a meal of five slices of turkey breast, stuffing, pigs in blankers, roast potatoes, parsnips, carrots and sprouts. This was so enormous that Meg and I could only manage about three quarters of this huge plateful but we did complement the whole of the meal with a good class of Argentinian Malbec.

As we had practically finished our neal, we were approached by a lady who asked if she coukd share our table as she really rather liked the tub shaped seats that we around our table. We were more than happy to oblige and quickly got into conversation about the towns in which we grew up, world affairs, politics and goodness knows what else. I think we found each other good company so we were both quite happy to let the conversation flow where it might. We told her how much we had enjoyed our Christmas dinner whereupon she felt emboldened to approach the proprietor to see if he could rustle up another one at short notice and without having been pre-booked. This he did and the person sharing the table was soon tucking in to what was an enormous lunch. In our case, we were so full that we took the option of a simple trifle, not having the inclination or the space for more conventional Christmas pudding. On the subject of things culinary, Meg and I made quite a discovery yesterday evening. I was exploring a cupboard which we use as an ‘overflow’ cupboard at this time of year, primarily for Christmas fare and discovered a complete Christmas cake, complete with icing and with its package, including a sealed cellophane, completely intact. It had on it a ‘use by’ date of mid-January of this year and one’s first impulse was to actually throw it away. Instead, I opened it and we removed the marzipan and soft icing leaving behind a moist fruit cake. We assumed that, at best this might be very dry and at worst it might have gone rancid. We intended to try some of this cake out with a carton of custard but tested it first to make sure it had not ‘gone off’ To our complete surprise, it was one of the most delicious fruitcakes we have ever tasted. I mentioned this to our hairdresser who mentioned a tradition to us that one layer of a wedding cake be retained and consumed at the birth of one’s first child, presumably about a year later. Intrigued, I decide to consult wider opinion on the web and this is what I discovered. The web source stated ‘Fruit cakes can generally be stored for up to a year in the freezer. But they could probably last for even longer. This is because the alcohol prevents mould and kills bacteria and the sugar helps to preserve the cake for longer. The dried fruit in the Christmas cake has low water activity’ so perhaps our experience is not so out of the ordinary, after all.