I've just been down the garden to hang out the washing and it's blooming lovely out there! The sun is shining - the daffodils are all out and it smells so Spring-like. A family (or two) of pheasants live in our garden - they find sanctuary from the pheasant shoots that are prevalent in these parts and come up to the house to forage for the bird-seed fallen from the feeders. Mostly in the garden we see blue-tits, coal-tits, great-tits, goldfinches, a few sparrows. This morning I saw my old friend the nut-hatch. Nice to see him back.
I think I've just about recovered from yesterday's marathon shopping expedition with my Mum. She's 83 now and still gets about but needs a shopping trolley to keep her going. Unfortunately, shopping trolleys, my Mum and a crowded Salisbury market don't mix very well. Mum knows exactly where she wants to go and makes a bee-line for it without too much thought for those who also may be trying to get somewhere. (Sorry Mum). She always looks at the fish stall but she's very choosy about what she buys - then it's the cheeses followed by the man who sells poultry and venison, honey and pickles. We always look at the Farmers Market part as well and, of course, the Olive man (or woman as it was the case yesterday). Mum always buys artichoke hearts and olives stuffed with garlic.
As for me, well, I usually get a couple of cheeses - there's a nice sheep's cheese made locally - and some goat's cheese. So much cheaper than at the supermarket - you can get three cheeses for £1.00 or a lovely big portion for about £2.50 - and it's good cheese. Sometimes I buy a pot of local honey although as I live in Hampshire I feel a bit of a traitor buying honey in Wiltshire - I did draw the line yesterday and said 'no thank you' to a pot with the label "Made in Somerset" though. To eat honey locally to your home is supposed to be good for you I'd heard. ?? Then I always visit the chicken sausage maker's stall. He always cooks up a few samples which I can never resist. Yesterday I tasted the chicken with tomato and herb. Never really fancied these before but I can tell you, they were delicious. Other flavours are Garlic, Old English, Spicy Chilli - I've tried most of them - Old English is the best.
By now we were both quite ready for some lunch but as it was only 11.30 we decided to browse in a couple of charity shops first. Now this is an activity I enjoy and as I'm setting my new novel around people working in a charity shop I always feel I'm doing a bit of research as well as having fun. One of the things we've noticed about charity shops though is the price-hike. (is that the right word?) The first shop we went into had second-hand paperbacks at £3.25 each. You can get new books for that in most supermarkets now, so it's a bit much. Mum bought a skirt but when we left she said something to me about the prices being more than they used to. The shop was nearly empty and thats probably why. I said I thought it was a shame that the charity shops were pricing themselves above what people who needed to shop in them could afford. You can get a t-shirt in a store for a couple of quid and they were selling them for nearly £5.00. To prove the point in the next charity shop we entered it was packed full of customers. Many of the stock items were good products - a hardly worn M & S top for £3.99 for example. And their books were only £2.50.
We had lunch in a nice Italian Restaurant - Prezzos - near the cathedral close. It was a very nice meal served by a lovely young waiter who looked after dear old Mum and me very well.
Of course, by the time we'd eaten and got back on the road to Tesco I was pretty pooped to say the least. But Mum needed to stock up on loads of things so it was an hour and a half later before we got her home.
I eventually got home at something past four, put all the shopping away and collapsed on the bed for an hour.
It was Erin's birthday - 19th - so I had loads to think about - you know, stuff like 'Nineteen years ago at this very moment I was in labour', and all that. Then you get to think about the years between and you wonder what happened to your little girl. Still she is growing into a lovely young woman.
We had chocolate cake with candles after tea and later went to The Golden Lion to celebrate with a drink.
Now - interestingly enough - there are four people who live in the village with birthdays on the 20th March. They all live within about a hundred yards or so of each other. The first one is 79 years old - the second is a lady who lives on the terrace (don't know her age and anyway you don't tell the world how old a lady is). The third is Erin and the fourth is a lad of 16. And they were all in the pub at one time or another last night! Alan who is 79 had arranged a birthday party which coincided with the pub's Jazz Night, so there was music as well as a large cake in the shape of a hat baked by our very own village baker (Bob at the Post Office), Alan had brought along two black bin liners full of hats and many of the crowd were wearing random ones during the evening. The landlord had laid on platters of home-cooked chips (that's fries to some of you). They were delicious as was the cake.
But we were all very tired - Erin had gone clubbing on Monday night with her Uni friends and had very little sleep - well not her usual twelve hours - so we left the pub by 10.30 and were in bed by 11.00.
Am feeling much revived and ready to venture to Southampton today with Erin for a big shopping trip - to buy her present. Phew!!!