Friday, 29th October, 2021

[Day 592]

Another Friday dawns but today we had a huge band of rain sweeping across the whole of the country. This being the case, we did not rush to get ready too early – and in any case, it is the day when our domestic help calls round so we always have a lot to communicate with each other, one way or another. By the time we were ready for our walk, it looked as though most of the rain had passed over us and was well on its way but we thought we would not coincide with any of our regulars which was, indeed, the case. Probably because of the rain, the park had very few visitors and we saw none of our regulars today. When we got back, we knew we had to prepare some lunch – whilst our domestic help was titivating Meg’s hair a little, I got to preparing the lunch. I had bought some sea-bass from Waitrose earlier on this morning. Normally, Thursday is my normal shopping day but we had to make a delay of one day as our car was being serviced yesterday and we were ‘carless’ in the morning. I got to the store at 2 minutes after opening time which always makes shopping quite a pleasant experience although I did notice that Friday mornings are quite a lot busier than Thursdays, for understandable reasons. We invited our domestic help to help us consume the sea-bass (after all, she had taught me how to cook it only a few weeks previously) and again, this was delicious. Mind you, I think the remains of a bottle of Pinot Grigio helped to really enhance the meal so a weekly treat became even more of a treat when we could share it with friends. Next week, our domestic help is coming a little later so will definitely stay and share a meal with us. She has put in an order for a risotto which I used to make regularly but I have got out of the habit of doing recently, probably in my desire to cut down on too many carbohydrates. If I want to have a ‘rice’ type meal, I tend to indulge myself in a cauliflower rice which is now available in packet form from Waitrose and is almost indistinguishable from the main thing. I must admit that I tend to sometimes guage the risotto I make myself against risottos made ‘professionally’ in an Italian restuarant and, so far, I am quite happy with the results I have achieved on my own. One always has a choice whether to make the main ingredient fish salmon or mackerel (which gives a much more powerful taste) but next week it is going to be salmon.

It seems as today all that I am doing is talking about food but it has been one of those days. On looking at my fridge, I had various bits of soup making ingredients left over from carror and coriander, potato and leek and some raw parsnip. So I thought I would add all of these ingredients together to make a type of root vegetable soup. Last night’s leek and potato soup seemed fine but a little on the bland side, so I decided that tonight I would be a little more adventurous and make my own croutons. This was not as fiddly as I thought it might be. I cut a couple of slices of brown bread into squares which I then fried off with some rape seed oil. Our domestic help suggested throwing in whatever herbs I fancied – in the absence of any oregano, I threw in sprinklings of garlic and marjoram until the mixture was a little crisp – I then transferred it to a dish in the oven to bake off for a few minutes. I have to say that the croutons made this way gave the soup a dramatic lift – is that why they are so often offered as an option when you have soup in a restaurant, I ask myself?

The COVID news is anything but reassuring this evening. According to the latest SAGE projections, future COVID-19 waves cannot be ruled out. Experts from Imperial College London project a substantial wave of total infections, hospitalisations and deaths, totalling 9,900 deaths by the end of March next year. Meanwhile the sitrauions in schools remains a source of concern. Current high numbers of coronavirus cases in schools where only some teenagers have been vaccinated “provide the ideal conditions” for a new variant to emerge, government scientists have warned. The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies says that “very high prevalence in schools combined with partly-vaccinated 12 to 16-year-olds in a highly mixing population” makes a vaccine-resistant mutation of the virus more likely. The thing I find surprising is how little public outcry there has been about the situation our schools. We are gradually getting round to vaccinating the school population but other societies (including the USA) did it months ago.