Monday, 16 November 2009


A friend brought me round an interesting present (vegetarians, look away now!) - a brace of pheasants which he had shot.

It made me realise how much we rely on someone else sorting out our food for us - cleaning it and packaging it. I have no idea how to pluck a pheasant and so I carried them down Winchester High Street to the butcher's. Sadly, it was shut - and so I had to trudge back with feathers flapping in the gathering gale (theirs, not mine).

They're rather sweet, aren't they?

Eventually, I drove them to a nearby village where as I write, they are being prepared by someone who knows what they're doing - and I shall collect them tomorrow.

Anyone have any good pheasant recipes?


  1. I had to laugh at your title! I haven't heard that ditty for many a year! I wonder how many people don't even know what you are referring to and would be shocked if they said the rhyme! Take care. Caroline x

  2. Sorry, Sharon - but I have never eaten a pheasant before (is it strange?) - not because I'm vegetarian but... I don't know, just we don't use to eat it here, unless you haven't someone who hunts one and... a good pheasant is ready on your table! :)
    So I don't know any particular recipe - but once I've read about a pheasant cooked with fresh figs... could you like it?

  3. Caroline - to be honest I can only remember a bit of the rhyme - only that when you say the two key words over and over, it becomes something rather rude (try it, readers!)

    And Michela - you have just given me an idea. Figs would be good - but think they are now out of season (must investigate)- but prunes might also be good. Do you have prunes in Italy?

  4. Yes, we have prunes here and I love them - Eating them during Christmas holiday (but also when we like) with dried fruits is our recurring tradition, at least a tradition of us Neapolitans.

    After dinner, we take a large basket with prunes, dates, hazelnuts, walnuts, pistachios and other good things and eat what we want.

    Glad I have given you an idea - suppose a pheasant with prunes?

  5. Oliver Mellors, WA17 November 2009 at 00:51

    I'm not a pheasant plucker
    I'm a pheasant plucker's wife
    And I'm only plucking pheasants
    'Til the pheasant plucker comes ...

    Now repeat Accelerando


  6. She went to the wood next day. It was a grey, still afternoon, with the dark-green dogs-mercury spreading under the hazel copse, and all the trees making a silent effort to open their buds. Today she could almost feel it in her own body, the huge heave of the sap in the massive trees, upwards, up, up to the bud-a, there to push into little flamey oak-leaves, bronze as blood. It was like a ride running turgid upward, and spreading on the sky.

    She came to the clearing, but he was not there. She had only half expected him. The pheasant chicks were running lightly abroad, light as insects, from the coops where the fellow hens clucked anxiously. Connie sat and watched them, and waited. She only waited. Even the chicks she hardly saw. She waited.

    The time passed with dream-like slowness, and he did not come. She had only half expected him. He never came in the afternoon. She must go home to tea. But she had to force herself to leave.

    ... She pulled on her old violet coloured mackintosh, and slipped out of the house at the side door.

    The drizzle of rain was like a veil over the world, mysterious, hushed, not cold. She got very warm as she hurried across the park. She had to open her light waterproof.

    The wood was silent, still and secret in the evening drizzle of rain, full of the mystery of eggs and half-open buds, half unsheathed flowers. In the dimness of it all trees glistened naked and dark as if they had unclothed themselves, and the green things on earth seemed to hum with greenness.

    There was still no one at the clearing. The chicks had nearly all gone under the mother-hens, only one or two last adventurous ones still dibbed about in the dryness under the straw roof shelter. And they were doubtful of themselves.

    So! He still had not been. He was staying away on purpose. Or perhaps something was wrong. Perhaps she should go to the cottage and see.

    But she was born to wait. She opened the hut with her key. It was all tidy, the corn put in the bin, the blankets folded on the shelf, the straw neat in a corner; a new bundle of straw. The hurricane lamp hung on a nail. The table and chair had been put back where she had lain.

    She sat down on a stool in the doorway. How still everything was! The fine rain blew very softly, filmily, but the wind made no noise. Nothing made any sound. The trees stood like powerful beings, dim, twilit, silent and alive. How alive everything was!

    Night was drawing near again; she would have to go. He was avoiding her.

    But suddenly he came striding into the clearing, in his black oilskin jacket like a chauffeur, shining with wet. He glanced quickly at the hut, half-saluted, then veered aside and went on to the coops. There he crouched in silence, looking carefully at everything, then carefully shutting the hens and chicks up safe against the night.

    At last he came slowly towards her. She still sat on her stool. He stood before her under the porch.

    "You come then," he said, using the intonation of the dialect.

  7. "Yes," she said, looking up at him. "You're late!"

    "Ay!" he replied, looking away into the wood.

    She rose slowly, drawing aside her stool.

    "Did you want to come in?" she asked.

    He looked down at her shrewdly.

    "Won't folks be thinkin' somethink, you comin' here every night?" he said.

    "Why?" She looked up at him, at a loss. "I said I'd come. Nobody knows."

    "They soon will, though," he replied. "An' what then?"

    She was at a loss for an answer.

    "Why should they know?" she said.

    "Folks always does," he said fatally.

    Her lip quivered a little.

    "Well I can't help it," she faltered.

    "Nay," he said. "You can help it by not comin'---if yer want to," he added, in a lower tone.

    "But I don't want to," she murmured.

    He looked away into the wood, and was silent.

    "But what when folks finds out?" he asked at last. "Think about it! Think how lowered you'll feel, one of your husband's servants."

    She looked up at his averted face.

    "Is it," she stammered, "is it that you don't want me?"

    "Think!" he said. "Think what if folks find out ---Sir Clifford an' a'--an' everybody talkin'--'-"

    "Well, I can go away."

    "Where to?"

    "Anywhere! I've got money of my own. My mother left me twenty thousand pounds in trust, and I know Clifford can't touch it. I can go away."

    "But 'appen you don't want to go away."

    "Yes, yes! I don't care what happens to me."

    "Ay, you think that! But you'll care! You'll have to care, everybody has. You've got to remember your Ladyship is carrying on with a game-keeper. It's not as if I was a gentleman. Yes, you'd care. You'd care."

    "I shouldn't. What do I care about my ladyship! I hate it really. I feel people are jeering every time they say it. And they are, they are! Even you jeer when you say it."


    For the first time he looked straight at her, and into her eyes.

    "I don't jeer at you," he said.

    As he looked into her eyes she saw his own eyes go dark, quite dark, the pupils dilating.

    "Don't you care about a' the risk?" he asked in a husky voice. "You should care. Don't care when it's too late!"

    There was a curious warning pleading in his voice.

    "But I've nothing to lose," she said fretfully. "If you knew what it is, you'd think I'd be glad to lose it. But are you afraid for yourself?"

    "Ay!" he said briefly. "I am. I'm afraid. I'm afraid. I'm afraid O' things."

    "What things?" she asked.

    He gave a curious backward jerk of his head, indicating the outer world.

    "Things! Everybody! The lot of 'em."

    Then he bent down and suddenly kissed her unhappy face.

    "Nay, I don't care," he said. "Let's have it, an' damn the rest. But if you was to feel sorry you'd ever done it--!"

    "Don't put me off," she pleaded.

    He put his fingers to her cheek and kissed her again suddenly.

    "Let me come in then," he said softly. "An' take off your mackintosh."

    He hung up his gun, slipped out of his wet leather jacket, and reached for the blankets.

    "I brought another blanket," he said, "so we can put one over us if you like."

    "I can't stay long," she said. "Dinner is half-past seven."

    He looked at her swiftly, then at his watch.

    "All right," he said.

    He shut the door, and lit a tiny light in the hanging hurricane lamp. "One time we'll have a long time," he said.