Sunday, 2 August 2009

Feeling smug as a slug in a spud

It’s almost been like Spring Watch at our place this week, although admittedly it’s the wrong time of year and we haven’t got Bill Oddie in a hide down the bottom of the garden. Alex’s friend has got a hedgehog in his garden, and she’s just produced a couple of tiny, prickly babies. As far as we can see, there’s at least two, although we don’t want to get too close.

And as I walked over to Little Somerford to pick up my car from Richard on Friday, I noticed a pair of velvety ears poking up through a sea of barley in one of the fields by the railway line. A young faun, which could only have been a couple of meters away, suddenly noticed he was not alone and turned tail, bouncing gracefully away towards cover. The dog, at silly mid-off, gave chase, but he wasn’t nearly quick or tall enough – his wildly flailing ears bounced ridiculously through the long grass before he reluctantly gave up the ghost.

Later that day, Alex found what looked like a very fat tube-web spider under the sofa. We spooned it up into his magnifying bug viewer where it obligingly laid an enormous egg, which it wrapped up into a parcel. I’m not sure how the baby spiders are supposed to get out when they do eventually emerge – it says in our spider book that spiderweb is stronger than steel rope, once it’s had a chance to harden. Still, I suppose it must know what it’s doing. We’ll keep you posted.

Down on the allotments this evening, several dusky black swifts were skimming the veg patches while I dug up the last of my early potatoes. Swifts are only here for a few short months and apparently never land on the earth – if they did, they wouldn’t be able to take off again, they even sleep on the wing. I’ve been growing veg for a little while now, but I still never cease to find it amazing how just four little seed potatoes tucked away in a corner of Adam and Cheryl’s allotment can somehow manage to produce all this. I really didn’t do an awful lot – just popped down whenever I remembered and raked up the soil a couple of times.

I pedalled back home, feeling slightly smug and wobbling slightly under the weight of all my spuds, where I rustled up a courgette quiche (thanks Cheryl for the courgettes and Suzy for the eggs). I popped some of my freshly dug potatoes on to boil with a couple of sprigs of mint, marvelling at how clever I’d been to rustle up such a quick, delicious meal with just about everything sourced from less than a mile away (ok, the flour and the butter did come from Somerfield). This, surely, was what the good life was all about. It was only towards the end of supper when the rude awakening came. I’ll give you a clue – what’s the one thing that’s possibly worse than finding a slug in your dinner? That’s right: finding half a slug.

I take a little comfort from Dr Mark Porter’s comments on Case Notes earlier this week to the effect that stomach acid is actually stronger than car-battery acid, and therefore better at dissolving things. However, I’ve suddenly gone right off home-grown veg.


  1. Glad to see you have courgettes the size of small toddlers. I have 3 scary looking objects of the green variety outside my kitchen window. I also have approximately one whole tonne of ripe plums. Please feel free to come and grab some!

  2. It was all going so well until then; darling baby hedgehogs, a young faun... ok, I did feel slightly faint at Charlotte laying her egg and the prospect of an explosion of baby spiders - but half a slug! Bleurgh! (Another truly inspired and inspiring title, too!)

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