A Tortoise amongst the Beetroot

Today has been a day of family. A day of family always means a day of food too. Inextricably intertwined those two things.

My parents came over mid morning. Oscar and granddad had a hot date at granddad’s barber’s. We sent them off together, not without some worry on our part. Granddad is notorious for wandering off, not without children, I hasten to add, but has been known to be gone for up to two hours just buying a newspaper and a pint of milk.

Thankfully he was on task today, and when they got back, all newly shorn and shiny, we kidnapped granddad again and went off to visit a friend who had a map chest she no longer needed. Granddad is the lucky owner of a car which is just big enough to fit a large map chest into the back of. He is truly blessed.

Said chest is now sitting in our lock up, as I need to get it a little TLC and probably quite a lot of no nails and ‘ittin’ it wiv an ‘ammer. Nevertheless, it is a thing of glory – to me anyway.

Gawd knows where it’s going to live when it is all gussied up.

I might put a mattress on it and use it as a bed.

We rendez voused back at our house, bumping into Uncle Robber who had come along for the laugh, and for lunch, which was home made leek and potato soup with Tilly’s flat breads, hot from the griddle. I used the soup recipe from Bill’s The Cookbook: Cook, Eat, Smile. It is an ok recipe. If you have the book, it is under Cock a Leekie soup. This is a misnomer, as there is no cock and a lot of a leekie. To compensate for lack of cock, Bill suggests adding prunes and honey.

This may be the most marvellous idea in the Western hemisphere, but I am afraid I eschewed it with a firm hand, due to the fact that I hate prunes myself, and had I added this concoction to my soup, the entire family would have risen up and stabbed me with a soup spoon.

Sorry Bill.

After that, I set about the arduous task of making a chocolate beetroot cake, something which has long been on my list of things I must learn to do. This recipe is also from Bill’s book. Luckily there are no prunes in it. It turned out very well. Very moist, not very beetrooty, but also not very sweet. Boiling the beetroot was a bit of a pain though. Bill estimates it will take 30 minutes to get your beets to the point of softness. I had angry, granite beets which took nearly an hour and made the kitchen smell of earth.

It also dyed my hands red and by the time I’d finished peeling and grating the beetroot, I looked like Norman Bates. Which may or may not be a good thing.

While I was wrestling with beetroot the rest of the family got down to playing Star Wars Monopoly, which took four hours of continuous bickering to finish, but which did not result in blood shed or even slightly near death, which I think is an improvement on the old way of playing. Pre health and safety days, when Uncle Robber and I would make one game last a week and settle it once and for all with a bit of bare knuckle fighting on the front room rug.

We rounded off the day with a huge Chinese takeaway, because we’d hardly had enough meals, and were feeling weak with hunger.

After we’d waved Granny and Granddad and Uncle Robber off, we watched Esio Trot, which was a delight, and delighted me more for the sheer outrage that Tilly demonstrated when finding out that Dustin Hoffman was a tortoise pinching, lovesick fool. Her spluttering: ‘But..but…he’s just grabbing that tortoise with his grabber, and STEALING it! How can Judy Dench love him now?’ was my favourite moment.

Possibly my favourite moment of the entire Christmas season.

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