A bird commotion - squawking alarm - draws me outside to the bottom of the garden. I find this blackbird resting on the fence.....recovering.
His head looks like it may have been in the mouth of a cat....mauled and scraggy.
Or maybe it was a territory fight with another bird....
I feel ragged and sore after my tooth extraction this morning. In spite of gentle dentist and massing the angels for help and deep breathing, I shook with fear all the way through the procedure. Which was short, only involving rocking and tugging and no cutting or stitches and painless because of all the novacaine. He said it was clean - no amalgam chips left in my jaw.
Still I feel a bit traumatised. And cross that I can't eat or chew anything. The right side of my mouth is very sore. I'm treating myself with homeopathic remedies. And all day I've been treating myself to lovely smoothies and indulging in watching DVDs on the sofa with the heating turned on.
But like the blackbird recovering on the fence, I'll rest a while, before I muster the courage to look at the hole in my jaw - empty and aching and bloody.
Lunch - A green smoothie - mostly spinach and celery and cucumber which I have an abundance of in the fridge.
Supper - a fruit smoothie - coconut milk, strawberries, raspberries and the mango from heaven.
And later a drink of thick hot chocolate made with melted 70 percent dark and honey - almost a smoothie...
My first Honey Mango of the year. They are the best champagne of the mango world. The flesh is the colour of Cling peaches and apricots.....the texture on your tongue is soft slippery satin.... the taste is rich gold nectar of the gods... the scent is honeysuckle and frangipani verging on the edge of overripe exotic.
When I worked at Sharwoods' many years ago I knew them as Alphonso mangoes. Their origin is in Mexico but these are from Pakistan. Their season is short lived hence their expense and rarity.
I attempt to bargain with the Indian shopkeeper in the Continental Stores ....if I buy two boxes of the biggest ones will he give me a discount?
He snorts in derision and says yesterday he ordered one hundred boxes - 6 mangoes in a box - and they only sent fifty. And they will all be gone by tonight. I believe him. And willingly pay full price for my golden treasure.
At home this afternoon while I'm peeling my mango, the sky darkens and threatens thunder and rain. I rinse my juice dripping fingers and rush about the house, closing all the doors and windows which have been wide open for days to try and get some relief from the rare blistering heat which has been burning us up for the last week.
The newspaper says that yesterday was the hottest day in this country since June 1976. It was the summer I finished my teacher's training certificate in Oxford.......the summer all the grass died and turned tinder brown....the summer I lost my first true love.
This evening the rain doesn't arrive but the sultry, thundery tension lingers in the air, leaving me headachy and unsettled.....I'd got used to it so quickly, the new drenching heat..... suddenly it's gone again, another breaking wave ....another abandonment.
Roast chunks of sweet potato, butternut squash and onion quarters in a shallow baking dish.
When they are soft and catching colour, sprinkle over crumbled feta cheese, petit pois, chopped grilled asparagus spears and sliced fennel and red pepper.
Pour over the egg mixture - beaten eggs, chopped dill and parsley and spring onion, S &P.
Finish with a fine grating of Parmesan cheese and return to the oven and bake till just cooked through and firm and golden on the top.
On Sunday, I took this frittata for a lunch to share after a long trek
through the wilds of sweltering Somerset with a lovely walking group of friends. I managed not to expire after two and a half hours - sustained by kind conversation, beautiful views, shady pit stops and bottles of tepid water. And the thought of lunch ahead in a cool farmhouse garden.
Lunch to share today with 2 gorgeous women. My contribution - walnut and roasted pumpkin seed savoury rice with fried banana plantain slices - which I wanted to experiment with. There was a lovely African woman buying plantains in the International Stores where I was shopping so I asked her for a recipe. And she said fry them and serve with a spicy tomato and onion sauce.
I was going to make my standby green beans, garlic and tomatoes but as I didn't have enough green beans I cooked up a mish mash of all the vegetables I had left in the fridge with baby tomatoes and a whole bulb of wet green garlic to serve with the rice and plantains.
It all dovetailed beautifully with the green garden salad, boiled eggs and olives, butter bean hummus, rice, veggie and bean salad and fresh baked Life Changing Loaf of bread containing no wheat flour or yeast. A veritable feast for friends.
But it was the laughing and listening and crying and sharing that nourished me the most.
This morning from my kitchen armchair I'm watching this pigeon, one of a pair, quenching her thirst,
when a birthday balloon, one of a pair, floats over the honeysuckle fence from next door and makes a little bouncing tour of the garden,
buffeting itself over the daisies like an enchanted ballerina.
I catch it before it snags on a rose bush and bat it gently back over the fence. I'm rewarded with a little voice saying thank you floating back to me through the honeysuckle thicket.
This is Africa hot for me - this enervating sticky heat that I used to love but it just makes me cross and lethargic now. This afternoon I can only lie on top of the counterpane on my bed, the curtains blowing into the room, and read my book trying to ignore the black fly beating itself against the window pane - a tiny demented Dalek.
It's too hot to eat much so all I want is slice after slice of this crisp perfumed watermelon, not caring about the juice dripping down my chin like tears.
and drive to the place where the estuary flows into the sea at Budleigh Salterton.
The last time I threw wild flowers into the sea for Robin was in Portugal on his birthday .
That time the waves swallowed them up so fast and I lost sight of them in seconds.
This time my gold and amber rose petals falter in the shallow water on the river's edge,
and linger round smooth pebbles before a current catches some of them
and they drift towards the bigger rougher sea.
There was another time, in the winter time, when I did this same ritual in exactly this same place....standing with my father and my sister....throwing dried red rose petals into this estuary .....honouring and remembering my cousin who died when he was even younger than Robin.
Although you aren't supposed to take them away, I choose some lovely pebbles that I think Robin would like - speckled, veined, polished ovals and hearts - and I fill my small rucksack,