Thursday, 3 May 2007

Asbo Jack meets his match


There are some days (not many, admittedly) when I think I have the best job in the entire world. Today was one of them and what made it even nicer was that it was so unexpected as it didn’t start remotely well. It started, in fact, at 3.30am as Adrian got up to drive to Heathrow. He’s off to northern Spain to visit the International Cider Conference (and there are some – ragrug probably included) who would say that really there’s little doubt that actually he has the best job in the world.
Anyhow, I stumbled out of bed to say goodbye and wish him luck. Stumbled back and, how unfair is this, could not get back to sleep for love nor lavender oil, nor even the reading of a seriously boring book on the Spanish Civil War. So by the time the alarm clock fizzed at 6.20am (it gave up alarming a few years ago – thank God) I felt like I’d already lived through Thursday and was ready for bed again.

I dropped James off for the school bus and then drove over to see my author. As I’ve told you before, she lives in the most idyllic thatched cottage down a sleepy lane. It’s the kind of house all our buyers wistfully told us they really wanted - to which we used to reply that if we had a thatched roof hiding away we would happily bung it on for them. Thatched and cute isn’t normally my thing but today I could really ‘get’ this one. The garden winds in and out with arches and pergolas dripping with clematis. There’s a teeny waterfall splish-splashing into a pool and loads of mellow old stone walls. Asbo had come with me and M said why didn’t I let him out? So, with a swift prayer to the patron (or should that be probation?) saint of bad dogs, I did. He bounced out, all pleased with himself and then, because he was bouncing backwards (how stupid is that?) he bounced straight into M’s JTR, Ruby (short-legs, smooth-coat, dead feisty). They did a typical terrier war-dance around each other, had a brief fight (all noise and no real action) and then decided to rub along.

So M and I found a spot under the apple trees and sat on the grass and mapped out the last two chapters of her book. I bunged on the tape recorder and we chatted some of it through. Jack didn’t help much by sitting on it from time to time. But I couldn’t help thinking, as I listened to the robins having a bust-up in the border, and the doves cooing gently, that, if this is work, I like it.

We had a cappuccino (M has every gadget known to woman) and went to say hello to the horses, ponies and donkeys (nearly all rescues). The largest donkey took an inordinate interest in Jack and ended up chasing him round the field to Asbo’s complete shock and horror. His JRT pride was severely dented (he likes to think of himself as the chaser not the chased) and there was a lot of affronted sniffing. But he was also just the tiniest bit rattled (rare and beautiful to behold) and stuck very close behind me as we went back. But, being a JTR, the lesson was forgotten the very moment we got to the house and off he went, exploring upstairs.

Next thing we heard the most unbelievable sound – just like a very large rabbit being slowly killed by a stoat (and, trust me, I know that sound all too well). We both jumped up and ran to the stairs to find Asbo shaking and whimpering with one large puffed up black cat glaring at him from the power position on the third step. Fantastic. Maybe we can get a cat when we move after all.

I drove back over the Brendon Hills, with a chastened Jack sitting meekly on the passenger seat, and dropped down into town. The perfect parking space was waiting for me right outside the florists and I went in to pick up an arrangement – all soft blues and whites in a vivid pink square box. Now, a few months’ back I went Nordic walking (as you may recall) and I offered to write a feature for the local Exmoor magazine to try to attract more business for Angela who runs the walks. The feature had – it transpired – brought her loads of enquiries and she emailed to say that if I popped into the florists, there would be a ‘small thank-you’ waiting for me. I was really touched – it was so lovely to get a genuine and totally unexpected sign of appreciation like that.

So Jack and I bounced back down the valley road in high spirits and stopped off at the village shop to pick up our organic bag. While I’d already met the woman who had bought the shop, this was the first time I’d met her husband.
‘Hello. I’ve come for the organic bag,’ I said cheerily.
‘Ah yes,’ he said, ‘I thought you might have.’
‘Why? Do I have the look of an organic bag-lady?’ Which I thought was quite funny. But he laughed nervously and vanished out the back.
As if the day wasn’t already going my way I spied one remaining bunch of the new asparagus from a local Exmoor producer. That went in the bag too, along with a packet of Serrano ham and some stuffed vine leaves and I left a happy woman.

Adrian lives to cook and every meal is a production. So, when I’m on my own, I tend to eat very simply. And what could be more simple – yet more delicious – that a huge plate of steamed asparagus with a knob of butter and plenty of freshly-milled black pepper, all wrapped rather fecklessly in dry-cured ham? I ate it (OK gorged it) sitting out on the patio, gazing over the valley and figured this is as good as it gets. Blessings? Too many to count. Gratitude? You bet.

18 comments:

annakarenin said...

yes you really do have the a lovely job going by that. Must say I do like your top of page photo very nice you look in it. I am still debating what to do about photos on this site because of the anonimity side. Not sure whether I want to go public or not. Also if my sister should happen to spot them I'll have to face a stern lecture, I happened to be in the room when she gave it to her daughter and don't want to be on the receiving end.

ChrisH said...

Oh what a shame you didn't leave any of your meal - it sounded right up my street but, alas, you are not (up my street that is - you being on exmoor and me in the wild west) so you're spared me knocking on the door demanding food!

countrymousie said...

You paint a wonder picture with your blog - dont like early starts either - often have to wave GOH off at some ungodly hour and creep back to bed.
I missed your bloig yesterday - too caught up in the CL site - but have now read it - GOH and I spoke about maypole dancing as we all used to do it and reckoned probably no one did now because of health and safety and ribbons and things. I remember many a near stangulation miss!

sally's chateau said...

Another delightful few moments spent savouring Dulverton life, forgot to say I adore Bampton sausages; I didn't rate The Labyrinth as a number one bestseller but then The Da Vinci code which also concentrates on the mysteries of our area took the world by storm. What a shame you are not in Carcassonne this summer x

toady said...

Poor Asbo, felled by a pussy cat. Love it. Toady

Woozle1967 said...

Oh Jane - I cried with laughter, recognising Alfie's anti-social behaviour too! Definitely a JRT thing and you described the dance/fight thing they do so well. It does always SOUND worse than it really is and I'm only just getting used to it!xx

Inthemud said...

Sounds like a lovely day. that was some fierce cat though! Asbo certainly met his match!
I like sound of your hubby's job, cider , used to drink galleons of it !

Suffolkmum said...

Loved Asbo Jack's come-uppance, loved the way you wrote about your triumphant satisfaction. Does sound like a wonderful mellow day, though a bad night's sleep usually leaves me in a foul mood. When are you going to Northumberland by the way - I'm going the last week of August, no doubt you'll have long since departed (and I quite appreciate you can't spend the entire time with purplecoo bloggers!!)

Pipany said...

What a magical day, particularly the evening meal - just perfect. Poor old Asbo, although I think he had it coming for a while, bless. x

Himalayan Blue said...

Cannot belive that Asbo Jack has finally met his match, and in a cat too! Poor chap, his pride must be seriously wounded!

Withy Brook said...

I can just picture Asbo wimpering and the black cat! Poor old Asbo, cats usually get the upper hand. Loved the whole blog, you write so beautifully. Yes when are you coming to Northumberland - need warning so's I can have plenty of wine and chocolate ready!

Pondside said...

With all the lovely things that you experienced today - including (and not least) the parking spot - I hope you bought a lottery ticket (if there is such a thing in the UK). I loved the story of sitting with your author, sipping cappucino - you do have a wonderful job and I love that you know it!

KittyB said...

What a day, sounds so lovely. Isn't it a treat to get flowers? I wrote a piece about a local jeweller and she gave me a lovely bracelet as a thank you, I have to say I was overwhelmed.

I'm trying to sign up for a decent organic bag, but it's not so easy to get one that doesn't just get filled up with foreign stuff, (oranges anyone?) which is a bit beside the point I feel.

Her on the Hill said...

Love those simple meals too. Love the bit about the fizzing alarm clock - God, I hate those things! I'm going to chuck N's into his grave with him. Sounds like a really contented day. I've been having a lot of those recently too. By the way - still waiting for you email!!

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Oh it is such a treat to be reading your blogs again. Poor old ASBO. I know my JRT thinks he is a massive dog and will take on anything - but he got chased by a Highland Coo many years ago - much to my delight! Oh dear your simple meal has made my stomach rumble - better go and do something about it.

IrishEyes said...

Madam Pounce has taken pity on Asbo and recommends he contact her for advice on quelling cats at claws_4-konsern@miaow.paw

@themill said...

Wish my terrorists could meet a cat that fights back. Do you think AJ might have a word(?)with them in the summer?

CAMILLA said...

Jane - Loved it, so funny, you have such a wonderful way with "wit". Has darling Asbo Jack met his match then do you think Jane, with cat. I have a friend who worked "twilight" hours at the hospital for twenty years, when she retired she said, "lovely, no more rising early. I recently found the perfect mug for her in a shop which has the words inscribed on it, "I Dont Do Early's". So pleased for you Jane on receiving your gift of flowers,how lovely.
Camilla.xxx