The weather for Tuesday: Mild, overcast and with slight showers Outlook: rather taciturn today, thank you. Watchword for the day: determination.
Right. Determination. One must stick to the job in hand.
I have been rather exasperated with the garden birds of late. For some unknown and profoundly irritating reason they seem to be giving my garden the slip. A month ago I drove out to John at Tarn Road Nurseries and bought both seeds and even -excessive luxury- a covered bird table. There were a few pretty little models temptingly arranged in the shop; you couldn’t help but admire their sturdiness. Within five minutes the sale was complete and delivery agreed.
I was really rather excited when the bird table arrived. Not only was it affably delivered, but it was beautifully painted and the little roof was like something out of a story book. In a flash it was bedecked with fat balls and nut bells and all manner of tempting seeds. But still I find myself finchless.
Not content to swallow the bitter pill of defeat, I decided to take matters further. Perhaps some toast was what the dear little creatures yearned for. I must admit a spot of hot buttered toast is always a treat. Certainly this oversight must be remedied, and so put an end to their bird-table boycott.
Sallying forth into the garden was a simple affair. The garden was awaking to the warmth of an early morning cloud-break. The dawn chorus was gaining momentum; the neighbour’s cat had fled at the mere sight of me; all was well in the world. Pulling my dressing-gown cord a little tighter, I set out with alacrity.
What a lovely scent was in the air! My spirits soared at the thought of doing such good in the feathered kingdom. Not only could the birds choose from fatball or peanut; they could perch in comfort and peck at seeds, or better still, hot buttered toast! What felicity, thought I, smiling brightly.
In seconds, I had manoeuvred the slippery garden steps and crossed the cold and dewy lawn. I scattered the lovely buttery toast, still warm, with a sense of tenderness.
Little did I know that the ending would be, indeed, tender. Mission accomplished, I retraced my steps. The garden looked lovely, as I returned towards the steps. The snow drops were truly breath-taking; so was my foot as it shot up in front of my face, followed a second later by the other. I remember feeling rather disbelieving, as I rocketed towards the unfeeling sandstone of the top step, still looking at my slippers. Landing with an almighty crunch in my night attire certainly took my wind away. It took a great deal away- probably an inch of my spine.
Rediscovering the art of breathing, I checked for paralysis. Even the plate I was holding looked surprised. Thanking all in Heaven that my neighbours’ curtains were firmly drawn, I crawled backwards towards the kitchen.
A cup of tea was salve to tender parts.
Any sense of birdy tenderness is now suspended until morning coffee. Finchless may be better than inchless in terms of aging cartilage.
Here is a great little recipe for Morning Coffee Rock buns. Great for the bird table too, when stale; preferably not as a weapon:
Makes: 16 buns
• 250g Self Raising Flour
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 125g unsalted butter, slightly softened
• 50g light brown soft sugar, plus 2 tbsp for sprinkling
• 100g pack Provençal Cherries, quartered
• 50g currants
• 1 large egg, beaten
• 2 tbsp milk
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6. Line 2-3 baking sheets with baking parchment or lightly grease with a little extra butter. Place the flour, baking powder and butter in a mixing bowl and roughly chop the butter with a round-bladed knife. Rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar, cherries, currants, beaten egg and milk, then use the knife to bring the ingredients together to form a stiff dough. If the mixture is very dry, add a little more milk.
2. Using a teaspoon, dollop heaps of the mixture onto the prepared baking sheets to make 16 buns, spaced well apart. Sprinkle the remaining sugar evenly over the tops of the cakes and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes until lightly golden brown all over. Cool on a wire rack.
Perhaps I should stick to ground feeding birds.
What was the watchword again?
Published: May 5, 2012
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Lovely blog, more please