Flurry of activity helped take my mind off tragedy

Mrs Downs Diary
Mrs Downs Diary

I have a new phrase now in my collection of literary terms. It is to be “Tine’d” ; as in being left reeling after a short sharp session with a close and very tidy friend. Who had come to sort me out for a shoot dinner being held on Saturday night.

“I’ll give you Tuesday morning,” she told me last week. “That should be enough to get you mucked out.”

One morning? Does this woman really know me? A lifetime more like it, according to John. But true to her word, after just three hours I am left with tables set, cutlery and crockery organised, glasses sparkling and in orderly rows ready to serve drinks.

Not only that, all the chairs have been brushed down and polished, tablecloths and place mats set out, salt and pepper pots filled. And also, as the party tent has been erected on the patio behind the farmhouse, all the grass growing between the patio tiles and moss has been rooted out and swept. The back of my house has never looked so pristine.

All detritus from the dining room was swept before her in this tsunami of domestic activity. I spent most of the hours Tine was there scurrying around, piling toys and the usual rubbish of my life into boxes to be placed temporarily in the cottage. Where it will no doubt rest undisturbed until we move/die/ or are demolished.

My pleas of “Shall we have a coffee break... do you fancy a drink.... biscuit...cup of tea... gin..... fizz” were all ignored. This woman meant business.

I have sent friends in our shoot pics from my iPad to show the transformation of a simple party tent into a chic (ish) dining establishment. True, a plethora of Chinese lanterns and tea lights ( I do love a bit of candle bling and fairy lights) may rob the ambience of some of the sophistication expected at these events. But I love it. Which is a good job as it has cheered me up after a crushing event in my life earlier this week. The killing of thirteen of my Aylesbury ducklings by a dog in the village.

I have kept the ducklings in a run in the paddock until they were fully feathered. Only just started letting them out for a few hours at a time so they could become accustomed to their surroundings. Unfortunately, some older ducks that I had hatched out under a hen, bullied them and twice drove them out of the paddock and onto a lane through the centre of the village.

This morning though all was well. We had lunch and I did not go out to check on them until early afternoon. No ducklings. I drove round the village. Nothing. John drove round and came back with two of the ducklings and news that they had been sighted by a neighbour.

And, as we found out later, the ducklings had also been seen by a neighbouring farmer as they were chased and killed. No one has admitted whose dog did it; but we know. And so do they.