Mr Cool disgraced himself by catching a green woodpecker. He brought it into the house, where he was intercepted by the Systems Administrator who shouted at Mr Cool and made him drop his quarry. The woodpecker from shamming dead became very much alive and flew about the study. The SA chased Mr Cool out of the room, shut the blinds and opened the back door, and the bird flew towards the light and freedom. Mr Cool seemed rather abashed by what he had done, and spent the rest of the day lying in an armchair looking subdued. Goodness knows how he caught it, but of course they feed on the ground when they are going after ant colonies, and it was probably a young one that had not yet learned about cats. None of the previous cats have ever caught a woodpecker, and there are a lot in the garden. Fortunately the current generation have not caught on to the idea of drilling into beehives.
The fig tree is cropping prodigiously, and blocking more of the garage door day by day. You would not think it was the same sad plant that used to exist in a pot in the conservatory. This year's figs are escaping the attention of the birds, perhaps in part due to the presence of the young cats, though there hasn't been any wasp damage either and I can't credit the cats with keeping wasps at bay. It is a pity that fresh figs keep for such a short time even in the fridge, and that the SA does not like figs.
I looked through some of my cookery books and online for ideas on what to do with them, but after discounting savory partnerships with ham, which the SA would not eat with any degree of enthusiasm, regarding it as a waste of good ham, that left various enormous cakes. The cakes didn't sound as though they would have terribly long shelf lives, and converting a glut of more figs than one person could eat into an even larger cake that one person couldn't eat either wouldn't really help matters. I briefly considered fig jam, but wasn't sure when even I would eat that, and lacked confidence in my ability to tell when boiling sugar had reached the pearl stage. Spoiling a bag of sugar and half wrecking a saucepan in my attempts not to waste the figs would be a false economy. In the end I followed Jane Grigson's method of baking some with vanilla sugar, which I thought would help them keep a while longer in the fridge, and ate some raw for lunch. Last night I paired some with the end of a tub of vanilla ice cream and some honey, and that was good.
I am nearly at the bottom of the first bag of gravel. In fact, I have seen the bottom, though I am still busy scraping shovel loads of gravel out from around the sides. When I consider the rate at which I am shifting it I should remember that of course I am lifting it twice, once when I fill the wheelbarrow and again when I spread it, and in between the two stages I have to push it in the wheelbarrow. It takes ages to dig the last bits out as the edges of the bag keep flopping over and getting in the way. Builders' merchants never seem to put a deposit on the bags nowadays, or ask for them back, and I wonder whether health and safety now dictates that they are single use, or whether on building sites where time is money people slit the bags rather than fiddling about trying to dig from them.