100 miles north-north-east: day two

1. The happy fat cat licks his bum in the sun while the farm’s cafe’s customers bustle around him. His fluffy white tummy reflects the light and I think how much G would like to tickle it.

2. I can’t change my train ticket so have 2.5hrs to kill in a strange city. I head away from the station, up what initially seems to be a somewhat dubious alley, but it turns out to be the home of a wonderful pub. I sit on the roof terrace to read and while away the time – but when I see a meal brought out for another customer, I change my plan: I HAVE to eat there. I order steak and it’s wonderful: deep chargrilled checks on the outside, succulent pink inside. The veg is melts in the mouth without being soggy and the yorkshire pudding is a great gravy sponge. A fantastic find.

3. I open my fold-down table and find tiny pieces of yarn – wool-heavy cream and pale green, baby blanket colours. I feel a bond to the previous occupant of the seat.

4. The wait, the journey: the perfect excuse to read. I started the book at breakfast and by the end of the day, it’s closed and back on the shelf.

5. The red-dot chickens again, this time in the magic hour.

In lieu of breakfast, the most handsome cat in the world, baklava

1. After a day apart, we catch up before getting up. He tells me his news and I tell him mine. At half hour intervals, we discuss making pancakes for breakfast but neither of us moves.

2. The cats look delightful on the new duvet cover. It’s spotty (like Smarties, Katherine says) and multi-coloured, a strong contrast to their solid black. I pull my mum & dad in from the landing on their way downstairs to show them how handsome Boron looks on it.

3. The baklava there is usually delicious but chewy, as if it’s been microwaved. Today though, the pastry is fresh and the flakes melt in my mouth. I urge everyone to try it but no one does. They’re missing out but I don’t mind: more for me. ;)

Breakfast, animals x 3, showcase x3

1. The sweetness of the crisp bacon, the sourness of the muffin, the silkiness of the scrambled egg and the substantial chewiness of the sausage. A great breakfast.

2. Animals:

a) The chickens cluck around me, interested in what I’m doing to their drinker, to their grit hopper and to their coop. When I’m working on their nest boxes – in the strip of no-man’s-land outside their enclosed run, they gather around the run door watching and waiting for my return into their world – or plotting their escape, it’s hard to tell which. After I’m done, I take them borage leaves and before I can bend down to give them out, one cheeky girl flies up and snatches one out of my hand. Definitely getting braver.

b) She looks like a puppy when her back legs bounce up at the same time. I think she knows it too, knows to do that so we can’t help but fall in love with her more.

c) Boron is asleep in Lily’s bed – her big dog bed that’s actually a bit too big for her. Boron looks tiny in the cushioned oval, his extended paw clawing on/off at the blanket as I talk to him.

3. The last night of the showcase:

a) The scrap of paper – torn to just the minimum then folded many times to much delight – finally makes it back to me just in time for the start of the show.

b) I’m more nervous tonight than I have been because John’s in the audience and I want them to do a good job so he’ll enjoy it. Afterwards, he says he did.

c) From where I’m sat, I can’t see the action, just a slither of stage at the very back. Their shadows – from many different light sources – are overlaid so many times that they’re abstract strips of light and dark.

It wasn’t even that cold, busy buzzing, perfectly put

1. Conscious of a distance chicken announcing she’d just laid an egg, I wake up earlier than normal. Carla is nestled in my arms like a teddy bear. When I’d woken through the night, she’d been there too – a sleepy purr starting whenever I brushed her silky soft fur. (She’s with me now too, parading up and down the arm of my chair, urging me to go to bed – oh and if I could give her her supper on the way, that would be great, thanks.)

2. I’m transfixed watching a bee passing between the flowers, doing his bit for my blackberry jam making this autumn.

3. I’m pause in my conversation with John and smile. He asks me what I’m smiling at and I explain that Katherine’s just appeared on IM and said “hello Pazza the Poultry Possessor”. We like alliteration.

3BT – the foraging trio, mmm charity, from my viewpoint

1. I call for Carla but she’s already on the balcony waiting for me and the three of us – me, her and Lily – head into the woods. Lily paddles in the beck and Carla climbs trees while I pick pungent pods for pickling.

2. The (very) local Leonard Cheshire home is having a garden fete and, joined by the Slaters, we walk over to check it out. As the brass band plays, I find cute polka-dotted vintage handkerchiefs and we buy cake in the name of charity.

3. Looking up, my vision is field with green. Looking down, our neighbours’ party balloons are reflected in the glass.

3BT – it’s just a tribute, not all the letters, worth the wait

1. John and I often hold conversations in the form of song, usually singing alternate lyrics to an earworm or the song we’re currently playing. Today’s conversation in song: I explain that I’ve left the door key in my hoodie pocket and my hoodie is at the bottom of the garden because by the time I’d got there, I’d realised it was too hot to wear it for the walk. I explain that to the tune of Tenacious D’s Tribute.

2. The tubby black cat jumps over the lazy dog.

3. It nearly doesn’t happen – it’s already late and we’re hungry – but John decides it’ll take as long to get curry delivered as it will for him to make his own keema achar. He thinks it’s too lamby but I think it’s delicious. The seeds add variety to the flavour of the sauce. “Are there fennel seeds in here?” I ask him at one point. There are.