A Mast Year.

Walking back from the Post Office I tripped on an acorn.
Sitting in the front garden an acorn, the size of a ping pong ball, landed on my head.
Trudging round the farm I stamped on a snail, bent down to apologise only to find it was another acorn surrounded by even more acorns.
This year has taken the biscuit for Acornsville. According to the woodland trust if you’ve noticed an abundance of acorns this year, you’re not alone. It’s called a MAST year, the collective term for a bumper crop of fruits and nuts. It’s natures way of ‘Ensuring the future generation of oak trees and it’s welcome food for wildlife too.’

So we are living through a time of such robust change that even the oak trees are joining us.Along with carpets of acorns we’ve had Johnsons’ arrogant resignation, Truss’s smug acceptance, The Queens ill health, the cost of living crisis, Putins shaky achy legs and floods, frogs and pestilence. We are living through a Biblical re-set.

So as another Thursday invites a trip to Hastings me and him stood at the kitchen door and watched Mercury go into retrograde – not literally – and the clouds gather into a dark grey mass above the Eucalyptus tree. Instead of Hastings we turned left and right towards Tunbridge Wells.
We have a delicious young Irishman visiting us and he loves anything Italian. So through the spit spots of rain we headed for the Italian shop near the Pantiles. We parked and put on our rain attire. His is a blue anorak type thing mine is a big handpainted blue raincoat that was given to me for my birthday.
The rain on my hood sounded like I was sitting in a tent. I held the Northerners hand but our fingers slipped apart from the rain drops.
Into the alleyway and the old git went into the book shop as I stepped into the Italian shop. Home made Tomato Ragu, a packet of spaghetti. Olives, artichokes, dolcelatte, il cracker salato, pancetta and guanciale, a pack of biscotti and a tray of cannoli, a big chunk of parmiggano reggiano and a bill that would have kept a family of twelve in food for a week. Since we had driven into Twells we decided on an away day coffee.

In the bottom of the High Street is a young coffee shop. He had a strong Americano and a Portuguese custard tart. I had an almond croissant and an oatmeal cappuccino with a shot of CBD. The £2 shot of cannabis was meant to make me blissful and floaty. It just made me sound like I’d sucked on a helium balloon, chattering as I did like a chipmunk.

Now last night our Irish house guest, the dawter, himself and me sat round the kitchen table chewing the fat. Nibbling on whatever was in the fridge and drinking so many bottles of Asahi, a Japanese beer, that by silly o’clock it looked like we had drunk Tokyo dry.

I went to bed at four, snookered down in between the snoring ‘oosbind and the snoring cat, got a few hours of shut eye, got up to put the bottles into the recycling bin, then returned to bed to sleep off a gentle Japanese hang over.

I am not a drinker, as you know, but the delicacy of those little bottles of ale were subtle enough to fool my body.

I’m now in the kitchen, two feet warming on a hot water bottle, another bottle on my lap, a big autumnal scarf thrown over my shoulders and the telly on giving us updates of Her Madge’s condition.

A new head of government, not voted on by me, a new Monarch, not voted on by me, a new fiscal policy, not voted on by me, a new cabinet of ethnic Etonians, a new direction for our tired little country, certainly not voted on by me.

And so I return to acorns.
‘Can you eat em?’ I asked the man who knows everything.
‘Dunno’ he said.

So I consulted the Internet. If you soak out the tannins acorns are indeed edible. So the question is should I collect up a colander full of delicious little green oak seeds, soak ’em and cook ’em or should I go back to the shops and buy some acorn substitute coffee?

I’ll ask the ‘oosbind.

‘Shall I go and collect a basket of acorns, soak ’em, grind ’em and use ’em.’
‘ NO.’ he said emphatically ‘If you wanna risk being ill go and gather those acorns while ye may. But I’ll stick to builders tea.’

So as the telly warbles on, and a new rain shower is battering the windows, as my feet finally warm up I’m allowing my eyelids to close and

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