I have been up to the attic and forced open one of the windows that has been closed ever since we moved in 15 years ago and crawled halfway out onto the roof to get a a view across the trees into the western sky and just about caught Venus and Jupiter in line.
So tonight is one of those rare evenings we can open all doors at the back of the house and they can stay open until the sun has gone down and bats replace the swallows in their frittering around the trees.
It wasn’t quite so warm last night but all the children were away for forty-eight hours. More chance than any design they had managed to deposit themselves on almost all available options for the Celtic fringes. As has been reported already the oldest is in Ireland – in the meantime the other two have taken themselves of to Bude in Cornwall (the youngest for a school trip) and somewhere in North Wales (the middle one).
So with the new found freedom we took ourselves off for a walk along the old sandstone wall that runs north from Parkgate. It was just us and the birds and a few dog walkers. The dog walkers seemed appropriate given the joke just heard on Just a Minute around the topic of ‘a fork in the road’ and the Irish for dogging.
As we walked the full force of the evening sun was hidden amidst a bank of clouds but it gave out a clear distant light that picked up the mark on the horizon of Hilbre Island and the yachts on their side that lay in front of it.
Back home we finished off the cold sea trout, new potatoes and mayonnaise. The sea tout was almost better second time round.
Later in bed I filleted through the books on my bed side table and found that last year I had bought myself a How to Fish book on sea trout and read about them until the early hours.
After an ill-tempered sleep last night I tried to catch up this afternoon in the hammock.
I was close to it when my body forgot where it was and I tried to turn over and almost found myself on the ground. Before I could get back to it I felt the first drops of rain and beat it back inside.
Before that I spent some time de-cluttering. First to go was the 12 month pile of post that has been gathering on the table in the hall. It was then onto the fridge which yielded three opened half empty tins of sweet corn, three jars of almost empty red pesto, a full jar of pickled chilli slices and two half full jars, two half full jars of grain mustard and two half full jars of mayonnaise. There was also a small tub of yogurt with a use by date of September 2014 and various tubs and jars covered in a grey layer of mould.
No doubt they will all be back this time next year when I get round to doing it again.
To make up for all that bad old food we had a wild sea trout this evening cooked on the BBQ.
It was presented to me yesterday morning as an offer that was too difficult to refuse. A modest monster of a fish that just needed to be roasted for an hour or so before being eaten with a good sauce.
The sauce was a sala verde mayonaise from the Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall book on fish. I started off making it in the food processor but that split badly so I had to set to work again with a strong right hand and a whisk. Turns out that initial failure works well as we were left with a thick unctuous lubrication that was almost good enough to eat by itself.
There will be enough sea trout for fish cakes tomorrow. In the meantime we are listening to devastating flamenco.
I can relax. My courgettes have now caught up with the best of those in Oxton and we have flowers. I will be munching them down within the week. The courgettes themselves still have a few weeks to go and will probably reach their pomp whilst we are away in Ireland so we can come back to a bunch of green monsters.
Behind the courgettes the quince bush is heavy with small fruit. I am sure it has done this in previous years and they have all come to naught.
In the kitchen we have been eating chicken.
Before the Father’s Day treat of a walk through the Secret Garden’s of Oxton we had some presents and one of them included Diane Henry’s book on chicken.
Now Diane Henry is responsible for some of my favourite recipes. They come from her book Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons and include what she calls Pearl Diver’s Rice – which is basically a very rich Persian rice topped off with honey and more sweetness in a dish of monkfish with caramelized onions, raisins and more honey.
so I have been quietly excited about the idea of her doing a whole book on chicken.
We were not disappointed last night when I cooked some vietnamese caramelized ginger chicken. There is something about the combination of fish sauce, sugar, lime juice and chilli that always makes me want more.
Coming from work there wasn’t time to marinade the chicken for quite enough time but it still took on some of the flavour it needed. A vegetarian alternative was made with aubergine and sweet potato.
We then finished the leftovers off for lunch with a salad made with rice vermicelli, radish and cucumber and a dressing made with more chilli and garlic, ginger, lime juice, sugar and fish sauce.