Sunday, 13th February, 2022

[Day 699]

Sunday dawned as quite a blustery day and when the rain showers started, it seemed to carry on for most of the day. On my walk to collect the Sunday Times, I needed to avoid my hat blowing off which it did on one occasion. I have learnt over the years to incline my head slightly into the wind when I feel it gusting to avoid my hat blowing off altogether. One the few occasions that this happened, the cars in front of which my hat has happened to blow have been sympahetic and they all have always slowed or stopped to allow me to retrieve my hat completely unflattened. On my way back home, I observed in one of the houses along the Kidderminster Road that the two flowering cherries in the house’s front garden had started flowering. I thought I had first noticed this yesterday but I needed to give the trees a good long hard stare to make sure that I was not mistaken. This sight of the flowering cherries reminds me of the holidays that Meg and I used to take in Salobreña in southern Spain (east of Malaga) in January of each year. We used to take these holidays to draw the ‘teeth’ of the winter and when I as at work it coincided with the inter-semester break as well. We always used to take a trip in the Alpujarras which is a mountainous area with some really pretty little villages. On this trip we often used to see almond trees in bloom even though the weather conditions were icy and it was not unusual for snow to be swirling around. Almond trees do flower in the late winter or early spring which is usually mid-February to mid-March and they seem to thrive best when the buds have been exposed to a winter cold spell. Almond trees have the reputation of being amongt the first to flower but here in Bromsgrove it is equally cheering to observe the flowering cherry. Tomorrow is St. Valentine’s Day and I am not waiting with a bated breath for the postman to drop a special envelope through our door. However, my good friend Clive who lived down the road and who I often used to see exercising his two little Jack Russell dogs most days. One occasion he mentioned the name of one of his very first girlfriends and the fact that she used to live in Manchester. Each year, for about three years, I used to ensure that Clive got a Valentine card with a message inside indicating ‘I remember well the passionate days that we used to spend together when we were both eighteen‘ I am sure that Clive must have guessed who had sent the card but he never ‘let on’ as it were and used to proudly show the card around the menbers of his extensive family. Alas, Clive died some two years ago but at least he was spared some of the most irksome characteristrics of the first lockdown period.

When we got home, it was time to prepare the Sunday lunch and I discovered a bit of venison that I had evidently stored in the freezer.Instead of preparing a conventional meat+two veg. type of meal, I decided to experiment a little. So I cubed the venison into cubes about ¾” square and then seared them off. Then I prepared more than a pint of onion gravy-cum-stock and into the venison and stock mixture I added some carrots, potatoes, onions and peppers all cut into the same chunk size of the venison and then I cooked it in the oven for about an hour and a quarter. I added a little sprinking of powdered potato by way of a thickening agent half way through the cooking and served it with some freshly steamed broccoli. Although it was a bit of an experiment, it was so enjoyable that I am resolved to try the same basic recipe again perhaps with some stewing steak or similar. I may need to pay a visit to the butchery section of a supermarket to get just what I want.

Meg and I settled down to watch the Italy-England rugby match this afternoon. Of course the result was never really in doubt and to be truthful the second half was not particularly memorable. However, the English did confine the Italians to a zero score. We shall now have a two week break (for injuries to heal) before we have another weekend of 6 Nations rugby.

In the political sphere, Boris Johnson continues to receive messages of undying support from some of his loyal supporters whilst other Tory voices are proclaining that he is ‘finished’ I am sure he will cling on to the bitter end until most Tory MPs conclude that he is no longer an electoral asset to them and then they will dump him unceremoniously. But we may have to wait until the May elections for that to occur.