Monday morning arrived in an arctic blast of wind. Put on a pot of vegetable soup using left-over roast vegetables, grilled tomatoes and chopped parsley, a scant handful of lentils, plenty of water, dashed out with the dog and an apple to crunch, but we were driven back by the icy wind, I came in with ear ache and watering eyes, the dog happy to get into the warm kitchen again, shouting for his biscuit.
Yerterday was a mixed time of troubles and happiness, Pentecost Sunday blazing with sun like a bouquet of flames, flickering golden light on the mountains. But we woke to find the side gate padlock smashed and footprints all around the back garden. Intruders and although we have been burgled — invaded — so often, I never get used to the violation, the sense of outrage. A neighbour up the road was burgled and the police are looking for three young men, armed. Armed. Well, not a good start to the day. It is all very well saying we have dogs to protect us, but I do not want my dogs hurt.
But a friend came to put another padlock on the larger gate and secure the gate to the side of the house. We had planned a brunch with friends on an old farm in a nearby valley but could not leave the house unsecured, so stayed home, waited for Fr P, the housemate’s new best friend, and grilled deboned leg of lamb, made Greek schwarmas or gyros in pita bread with diced tomatoes, onions, cucumber and yoghurt, roasted winter vegetables and the housemate outdid herself with a treacle pudding. Fr P known simply as P arrived and settled under the trees in the winter sunshine with a detective novel and the giant dog at his feet ( a dog lover, to our relief). Other friends turned up and offered to help finish the treacle toffee pudding. We talked about murder mysteries and dog breeds and P told us all about travelling around the small hill towns of Italy and how the Italians, divide up young roasted partridges with their bare hands, the crusty bruschettas and ‘humanitas‘ of life there. The housemate is on fire for the Olympics and Wimbledon next month, so some of us talked about sport and the dogs all lay around snoring as the mild sunny afternoon wore on. I showed P the ribbon bushes (Hypoestes aristata) flowering purple at the back of the garden and he gave me his grandmother’s recipe for the ultimate minestrone soup. When he left he said it had been a ‘heavenly’ day and that he will come again soon. He will need to come again soon because he has borrowed an armful of novels and an Elizabeth David cookbook. It was a good day. Everybody needs time off from roles, whether they are writers, nurses or priests and that easy-going conviviality did us all good.