After whining last week about the poor health of my van, I was overwhelmed by an offer of assistance from a customer whilst on my delivery round last Friday. I had just deposited the veg box in the normal place in the outhouse of a particular customer, when I was beckoned by the man of the house, who then very kindly offered to help me out should the van let me down. He told that he was more than happy to drive all the way down to Moyns Park from Bury, load up his car, and deliver my orders, if I was in a pickle. It was such a generous offer, which genuinely touched me; I am so lucky to have such thoughtful and supportive customers….I love you all. I don’t wish to embarrass the person in question by naming them, but thanks John, you are a lovely man.

I have a couple of unusual nature sightings to report; unusual given that it’s the 9th of December. Yesterday at the farmers’ market at Wyken, my friend Jillian appeared in front of my stall wearing a Comma butterfly on the collar of her jacket. It didn’t seem to be all that keen to leave her, but eventually it fluttered off. Then this morning in my garden at home I spotted a bumblebee gathering nectar from a borage plant that is still flowering (also unusual for this time of the year). I hope that both creatures find somewhere cosy to hole-up over the winter.

I haven’t updated you on the chickens at home for a while, so here goes. I had better begin with our 4 new ‘girls’, which were sold to us as point-of-lay birds, that would soon be supplying us with lots of lovely eggs. Well Beryl has turned into a magnificent cockerel with beautiful tail feathers, the small ‘Light Sussex’ type has not grown a centimetre in the 2 months that we have had her, so she is obviously a bantam. Betty was quite ropey looking with very scaly legs, which we had to treat, but she is now developing into a good looking bird. Then there is Freda, a large Light Sussex, who is a fine figure of a girl. So far they have produced a grand total of zero eggs! Needless to say we will not be recommending the supplier of our birds to anyone in the market for hens. To compound the situation, the last of our original hens has packed up laying, and our 2 rescue girls have decided to abandon the coop and lay in obscure nests around the garden, moving to a new location whenever we find their stash. The current location is in the bonfire heap that is waiting to be ignited. After all of that being said, we love having the girls (and boy) around the garden, they are an endless source of amusement….but a few eggs would be good too. The photograph below is one that I took of Beryl today, it isn’t very clear, because the camera on my phone isn’t very good, but it gives you an idea of his lovely tail.Christmas. Yes, it’s time to talk about it, though there really isn’t very much to say. Because of the way that it falls this year I will keep all of the delivery arrangements as normal. I ask just a couple of things of you 1) if you order regularly, please let me know as soon as possible if you will not be placing a Christmas order, as that will assist me with my planning. And 2) please place your Christmas order as early in the week commencing 17th that you can. Apart from those two things I think that it will pretty much be business as usual. Oh, just one other thing; if you have got the five thousand coming to you for dinner, just warn me in advance if you are likely to be ordering large quantities of anything. Thank you.

As for this week, there is Cavolo Nero, and Cauliflowers are back. Carrots, parsnips, onions, leeks, large ‘blue’ squash, beetroot, Jerusalem artichokes, mushrooms, and frisee endive make up the bulk of what’s available. The red cabbages are large, so I am cutting them in half this week. My shirt was lost again on the oranges last week, so when I order them for Christmas week I will be selling them by the Kg rather than by quantity. There are lemons and kiwi fruit again this week. Honey, 2 types of apple juice, and a choice of 2 pestos – rocket or spinach and red onion, just about complete what’s on offer.

On the Christmas shopping front I am maintaining my poker face, and haven’t blinked yet. That’s code for, I haven’t got a thing yet…..eeek! I’m fortunate that Christmas Eve is not a working day, and the shops are open, so all is not lost. Thank goodness I’ve got Emily to rely on to do my wrapping; the women of the house like prettily wrapped presents with ribbon and bows on them, and frankly I’m rubbish at it. I can twirl a brown paper bag of carrots with the best of them, but unless a gift is in a rectangular box I’m afraid that it’s going to look like a dog’s dinner. Anyway, that’s what daughters are for….just don’t tell her I said so.

I was sad to hear the news last week of the death of one of my favourite punk singers, Pete Shelly of Buzzcocks. They never were properly a punk band, but got labelled as such. He was a great writer of punchy pop songs about teenage angst, which he delivered in his distinctive, slightly camp, Lancastrian singing style. He was only 3 years older than me when he died of a heart attack….makes you think.

The Brexit debacle comes to a head in parliament on Tuesday. Will Theresa still be at the helm when I next communicate with you? I can’t really see how she can survive if the vote goes heavily against her, but then what? No deal? Norway with knobs on? New referendum? What a ruddy mess.

And on that cheerful note I wish you  good week; we are getting some ‘normal’ December temperatures this week, so wrap up against the chilly wind, and by next weekend there may even be some sleety stuff in the air.

Phil

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