After working for around three hours making Sunday Roast (which was chicken, not rabbit) and spectacularly spitting my dummy out when #1 complained that I had poured fresh cream on to her lemon cheesecake, Mr P decided to get me out of the house to calm down and cool off - it was certainly the right temperature outside to do this, I can assure you: it was bitterly cold; at one point I could hardly see through the driving rain and the gales were whipping down the collar of my coat, freezing me to the bone marrow. But nary one word of complaint came out of me. Probably because I had to grit my teeth together so forcefully in case the chattering dislodged some important brain cells.
And then, in true English weather-style, the sun shone brightly, the wind died down and I was able to thaw out. And then I spotted the wild mushrooms growing on the Alder trees. In Britain, there is a variety of wild mushroom called the Jew's Ear. They are not a pretty sight when they cluster together in a bit of a creepy, Uriah Heep-type way, and they have a rather gelatinous quality to them. But, if you first soak them in boiling water and then add a pinch of salt, they'll rival any Truffle rutted up by a pig in Provençale. I had no bag with me, so I stuffed handfuls into my coat pockets. Then my gourmet imagination got to work and I picked handfuls of young nettles. I requested that Mr P found me a stray plastic bag and he spotted one which he suspected had originally been designated for dog poo and blanched slightly. But it was clean (and would only have added to the flavour anyway) and into the bag went my mushrooms and nettles.
Mr P's face looked like a bulldog licking urine off a thistle.
-It'll be fantastic! This is what we said we'd do - go foraging; live the Good Life. Be Tom and Barbara!
Mr P's face remained bulldog-like.
-Honest! Full of iron, goodness, taste. It'll taste fabulous, believe me. All I need is some butter, white wine and creme fraiche.
-And if I don't like it, I don't have to eat it, do I? And you won't get cross with me? I am warning you, you know.
-Listen, if you don't like it, I'll eat raw nettles. If you do like it, you'll be my sex slave forever. OK?
Mr P declined to respond...
Well, I set to work, chopping, soaking, brewing up, having a wee nip of wine as I went along and the most wonderful smells started to emanate from that pan on hob. And Mr P started to look more and more uncomfortable.
After an hour of simmering, I blended my brew and the most wonderful mushroom-coloured broth emerged. Mr P gingerly stuck his nose into the pot and looked puzzled.
-It smells bloody lovely, actually, he confessed.
-Yup! Try it! It is lovely.
-You have washed everything haven't you? A dog won't have peed on this stuff?
-Oh, come on! How can a dog cock its leg four feet up a tree?
-Might have been a big dog...
He gingerly tasted the soup. And then had another spoonful. And another.
-That's really, really nice!
-Mwahahahaha! Told you, didn't I?
#2 was in the kitchen with us at the time. She was shocked out of her skin to see Mr P go down on both knees and beg forgiveness from me.
-Please forgive me. I am sorry for doubting your culinary expertise. I am sorry. *kiss, kiss, grovel, grovel*
-OK. So you are now my sex slave forever?
-No. I want a turn from time to time, too.
-OK. You can be my bitch, then.
-Alright. I can go along with that. Can I have a bowl later, please?
And so, the Battle Of The Hedgerows was Agnes Mildew (1) - Charles Parsnip (0). A big fat, round Zero!
And off he has toddled to work this morning armed with the chicken legs from yesterday's roast, some home-made biscuits, and Hedgerow Soup.
What more could a man ask for?