On Mondays I usually make supper for Martha, Evie and their parents. Last Monday Hannah came too. Of course everyone brings their dogs so we had three extra hounds knocking about. So - one husband, two adult children, two grandchildren, their dad, six dogs and two cats. I made creamed sweetcorn soup, Hannah made a selection of sandwiches. There was a crumble made from our own rhubarb and raspberries. For the topping I use Nigella's recipe for gooseberry-cream crumble but I cut down on the sugar. She's heavy handed with the sugar is Nigella. The girls don't like crumble, even though mine is delicious so they had home made ice lollies made from apples/blackcurrants and carrots/orange. Freshly squeezed juice of course. Sometimes I even impress myself.
On Tuesday I did not do very much. Bit of gardening, bit of wine making, bit of housework. I have also been catching up on Channel 4's Humans. Most enjoyable.
Wednesday was much the same as Tuesday.
On Thursday morning I received the girls for a sleepover. The family were heading off to Connemara on a 'tenting' holiday so I offered to keep the wee darlings until the Friday evening to give their parents a chance to pack and prepare in peace. I had also arranged for three other children to spend the afternoon. They call it a play-date. So – one husband, one young mum, five little girls, three dogs and two cats. It was all very pleasant if a tad exhausting. Foolishly I stayed up far too late and was wakened at a quarter past three when war broke out. Evie had kicked Martha awake and there was quite a row. It was four before I got back to sleep and at ten past seven Martha was standing beside my bed expecting her breakfast. I stayed tired all day.
Martha spent part of Friday morning devising a barrier that would prevent Evie from kicking her as they slept. She brought a guard rail from the attic and put it in the middle of the bed. They both tried it out but it was deemed impractical. She asked Bert if he could make a fence for the middle of the bed and he suggested bringing in the electric fencing unit but she didn't like that idea. My suggestion, that they sleep in separate rooms did not go down well either. Because they were going to be presented to their parents at seven that evening fed, bathed, coiffed, pyjamas on and teeth cleaned, I let them run around unwashed and unbrushed the entire day. Of course this meant that I couldn't take them anywhere but as they had found and demolished Bert's chocolate stash they were totally grounded anyway.
Before I left them into their parents Martha took one last dash into the hen run to look for eggs. I never thought to check her. So I delivered two sparkling clean and shiny children to their grateful parents and first thing Martha does is upstairs to greet her Daddy and spreads chickenshit on every step of the staircase. Oops! Failed again.
On Saturday the Banjos came. With their dogs and their banjo. Later on Hannah and Gus turned up. One husband, four adults, a teenager, six dogs and two cats. Hannah lit the pot-bellied stove in the tree house and that's where we socialised, sang, played music and drank wine. Five of the dogs joined us. Not Roy, he doesn't do stairs. There was one disaster. The hen house door blew closed and the hens all went to roost under the blackcurrant bushes. We managed to find eight of them but Madam Black II was still at large. It's not easy finding a black hen in a blackcurrant bush in the dark. We left her to take her chances.
This morning, Sunday, there she was waiting patiently outside the hen house for her chums to join her. There are usually a couple of dogs watching me from the other side of the gate as I carry out my morning chicken duties. This morning there were six of them. Watching my every move.