I've spent an energetic and productive couple of hours in the garden. The sycamore sapling is no more! I counted the rings, it was nine years old, which just shows how long it took me to get around to the job. Although, to be kind (and whom should one be kind to, if not oneself?), it spent quite some time hiding among other shrubs before it was noticed.
I have cut back quite a lot of the boring laurel hedge. It was immensely tall when we moved here and we had it cut to ground level. It has been cut back many times since, but I can't keep up with it and it is never a pruning with secateurs sort of job, or even with loppers, but needs a saw. It is too useful a screen to do away with entirely.
After all this, I returned to the house and finally finished the Christmas food. Well, apart from three-quarters of the Christmas cake, which will linger for weeks. The last of the meat. We finished the beef on Monday and the remains of the Boxing Day lamb became Scotch Broth and Shepherd's Pie. So, lunchtime today was leftovers of these. Whew. A clear fridge. Ah. That means it's time to buy more food.
It was a particularly excellent Scotch broth, in fact. I took a packet of wholegrain barley out of the cupboard and saw that the use-by date was Feb 06. I wasn't sure how stale barley actually goes, but cooked it for the chickens and bought fresh. In fact, when cooked, it was fine and I could have used it, but the chickens certainly enjoyed it, especially as it was still warm. I made the stock for the soup with vegetables and the lamb bone, which still had quite a deal of meat on, and the chickens had that to peck clean too. Of course, Scotch broth should really be made with neck of lamb, but I always find that you get little bits of bone left, and you have to eat it cautiously. Lots of onion, turnip, carrot, leek and cabbage; it was almost more stew than soup.
Back to the garden. More pruning to be done. Joy!!