Soup suicide

The One About the Robin
I think it’s dead. Of all the places to commit suicide, the bloody soup. The third pot this week! Down
the sink, again! I had left the lid off to let it cool down while I rode and the friendly robin who has
been a regular visitor, popping through the open window, had swan dived into the soup leaving just
one foot and some downy feathers visible. I don’t think I can face making yet another pot of parsnip
soup, I mean just all that peeling is ruining my nails and cannot do the onions without my eyes
watering and then I look all puffy. Bugger, bugger, bugger……
It had been a week of early starts, late finishes and conference calls with frustrating customers where
I admit I put phone on mute and went to the fridge to get out the Sav Blanc a few times. I Career
limiting, but only if they can hear the bottle knock against the rim of the glass. I am trying to turn
over a new leaf in the new year by signing up to an online meditation course, but until then, the
fridge door is full of bottles. I run 3 small business in the spare time I have between jump building,
phoning landowners, exercising and keeping my two hunters and two demanding terriers, baking
cakes and making soup for our hunt teas. I had scored a good success with favourable reviews for my
spiced parsnip soup from the assembled hunters and families who gathered for tea after a bracing
day of hedge hopping. I’ll admit I stole the idea from a long-time hunt tea expert, Sara Egan who
produces delicious soups for us seemingly effortlessly. I have a huge stockpot that I inherited from
my Mum and the first batch was bubbling away nicely, almost ready when I fell asleep in front of
Midsomer Murders and woke up only when the set top box switched itself off 4 hours later…… The
burnt crust on the bottom of the stockpot resembled the crown of a tatty bowler hat when I finally
managed to chip it out. Batch two went the same way 2 nights later only this time lost to a
scintillating episode of Morse. Batch 3 I started in the morning between conference calls and
answering emails. I thought I’d be clever and cheat the urge to snooze by cooking in daylight! A
particularly good batch was duly produced on Friday, finished with cream and left cooling on the side
ready to be put in the freezer and reheated on Sunday in our big portable soup kettle at tea. I put my
boots on and went out to exercise my two hunters in between a break in conference calls.
It was a beautiful day, cold but crisp with a stunning blue sky. The horses were feeling well, and we
clattered around our route. I said a little prayer as I was thinking about the previous weekend and
fantastic days hunting we had enjoyed in similar weather at one of our best meets. Fabulous turf,
endless jumps of all sizes and far reaching views over the Berkshire downs. But it had been a
bittersweet day as one lovely horse died of a heart attack at the top of the down. It was desperately
upsetting for the rider and everyone who saw him. He went down very quickly and was gone in
minutes, but he’d jumped and galloped with his ears pricked right up until that moment. I left the
field and made sure he was covered with a rug borrowed from one of the other masters. Another
lovely legend of a horse had suffered a seemingly simple slip that same day which resulted in the
heart-breaking decision for his owner to have him put to sleep 4 days later. A very brave decision and
one made purely out of concern for the welfare and quality of life of a horse who had been such a
wonderful hunting partner since being bought as a gangling yearling. I could not help thinking
though, when my time is up, will I pop off quickly amongst like-minded friends, doing something I
loved in a superb setting and quickly or after having a wonderful life, receiving the best of care with
someone looking out for my best interests and quality of life, letting me check out quietly. I can only
hope so. Bit better than that poor robin and yes, I did make a fourth, fresh pot of soup for the hunt
tea. No feathers in it at all…..