Best Before

Seated with our coffees in the arbour this morning, Jackie and I noticed that the area around the bird bath was alive with tits and other birds.  They were in and out of the bath, but mostly flitting and swooping from shrub to tree.  We thought this must be because it is a seed season.

This prompted us to drive out to In-Excess in Ringwood.  We had noticed this on our recent trip to Helen and Bill’s.  Here we found a first-rate garden centre very reasonably priced.  We had gone for squirrel-proof bird feeders and birdseed.  We found them.  Take Jackie to a garden centre and she fills the car up with plants.  I thought I was bad enough with bookshops.  Today was no exception.  We came back with more than enough to fill the new bed.

Before returning, we had lunch in the centre’s tea rooms.  All the staff here were very friendly and helpful.  They even guided us through the maze that led to the hidden loos.  The young woman who brought Jackie’s baked potato and my Full English breakfast made us feel that it was a real pleasure for her.  There was ample room for a gentleman in a wheelchair to manoeuvre himself to a table and settle himself comfortably for his meal.

One of the bags of birdseed we had bought was specifically designed for robins.  Our robin, clearly preferring fresh food, stayed with the woodlice and slugs disturbed by our tidying up the remaining unused sections of brick pillar.  Another swooped from tree to tree from another direction, landed on the feeder and flew away.  Maybe he thought the swinging container a bit unstable.  Maybe our presence put him off.  Maybe he feared being seen off by the robin who has claimed this as his territory.  We hung two feeders on the pergola, and two on the tree by the pond.  Later, our own robin, now sporting a fine adult red breast, took possession of his new feeder and gratefully chomped away.

Jackie spent the afternoon planting our new acquisitions, especially those for the bed I created yesterday.  While she did this I began a print-out of my blog posts which I intend to bind and present to Mum for her 90th. birthday in October.

This evening Jackie presented us with more left-overs soup; shepherd’s pie; and, in my case, bread and butter pudding, in the ladies’, lemon souffle.  Elizabeth and I drank Namaqua 2011, and Jackie, Hoegaarden.

During conversation, we spoke of best before and sell-by dates.  Knowing that the provenders are bound to be on the conservative side, I tend to rather dismiss these precautions, preferring to rely on my nose.  I did this in 2006 in Newark, when I found a jar of Indian chutney at the back of a kitchen cupboard.  This had been shipped over to this country.  I could tell that because even the script on the original label was unintelligible to me.  Pasted across this was a sticker in English proclaiming a best before date of 1999.  ‘Well’, I thought, ‘it’s pickle after all’.  I used it.  It was hot and strong and delicious.  The wife of a friend of Matthew’s, on the other hand, would not entertain anything unless it was well within the recommended time scale.  Shopping with Mat one day, she refused to buy an avocado, because it did not carry a sell-by date.

2 responses to “Best Before”

  1. I’m afraid this “sell by date” thing has gotten out of hand especially by those who don’t remember when nothing came with a sell by date stamped upon it. An old and dear family friend was lucky enough to pass away during her sleep a few years ago. Her grand-daughter arrived and saw that the her beloved grandmother had eggs and bacon for dinner the night before. The dishes were still unwashed in the sink. She noted the date on the egg carton in the fridge. The sell by date was two days past and the despondent grand-daughter was positive that eating an egg that was two days past the sell by date was what ended her life.

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