South Chocolate Bank

When my mate Kaff got me up at stupid o’clock yesterday morning, I did wonder if the time had perhaps come to end our albeit immensely rewarding relationship. Not only did she get me up very, very early in the morning when most self-respecting squirrels – and even some of us reprobates – are heading to our hammocks, but she also told me we were going to London for the day. Yes, yes, I know. Wildly exciting and the place-to-be and all that congestion-charging traffic to dodge but really folks… I’ve lived there, I’ve done London like an American tourist could only dream of doing it, I’m an old squirrel and, quite frankly, not only do I have the t-shirt but I have the jumper as well (see picture if you don’t believe me).

Still, days out with Kaff are almost always fun and they usually involve road snacks, which are not the same as road kill, in case that’s what you were thinking. One of Kaff’s better (only?) qualities is that she is happily very squirrel-friendly. No, road snacks means chocolate or nuts, and sometimes both combined in a deliciously-wrapped but easy to open package.

The beginning of the trip started off at Victoria train station. I know what you’re thinking, less than auspicious. My thoughts, too, until we bumped into Kaff’s very lovely Swedish friend, Catti and her colleague. Apparently, that’s why we were there. Kaff and Catti (which is Swedish for Kaff – I don’t know why she picks friends with the same name as herself but she will insist on doing so and it is confusing, trust me) hadn’t seen each other for 7 years. Can’t really be that great friends then, if you ask me, but Kaff insists it might have something to do with the fact that they live in different countries and she isn’t a fabulously successful writer who can afford to jet around seeing her bessie mates yet. I told her, she shouldn’t be gallivanting about in London but perhaps ought to stay home and finish my decalogy of books. That’s when she zipped up the bag I was traveling in and wouldn’t talk to me for a while. Some people just don’t like hearing the truth.

So, she did let me out at lunchtime and we had a very pleasant, enjoyable time with Catti and colleague in benugo at the BFI on the South Bank but it was sadly over all too soon and we saw them off into a taxi so they could catch their flight home. But, en route to finding a taxi, Kaff and I stumbled across something rather wonderful – a Chocolate Festival! Yes, stall after stall of chocolate (and a goodly proportion of nutty) goodies. It was just the thing to wander around until it was time for us to wend our way homeward. We met up with a Twitter friend, the lovely @marmadale from Rococo Chocolates. This was brilliant because we’d only recently been unable to make it down to London for a chocolate tasting at Rococo when it fell on a school night. We made up for this by stocking up on some goodies and both Kaff and I love their Scorched Almonds and Scorched Hazelnuts – absolutely delish. (I have to say that neither of us were that sold on the Earl Grey chocolate though. Kaff drinks EG tea but doesn’t think the mix with chocolate was great.) We also made new friends and discovered some amaretto chocolates, which were sadly a bit bleh due to the low cocoa content choc used. I was so disappointed with those – amaretto is, after all, my favourite tipple. However, we also found some lovely nutty chocolate from the fine folks at Artisan du Chocolat – they gave us a selection which were super-yummy.

As you can see from the picture, Kaff made sure that I brought home a fair stash of goodies for me and the crew and they all went down very well, and very quickly. I wonder where my next nuts are coming from…

Sid’s birthday blueberries

This is Sid, our local squirrel from the woods out back. It’s not really his birthday today, at least, I don’t think it is. He’s a bit of a strong, silent type is Sid, so I’m not sure he’d tell me if it were his birthday, to be honest. However, seeing how excited he got about the little feast I laid out on the patio for him today anyone would think that it was. He practically swung his way through the trees and couldn’t get here fast enough for not only were there the usual peanuts and seed mix that we’ve been putting out for most of the winter for him – see? NO, birdies, it actually wasn’t for you, but luckily, Sid is a caring, sharing type and didn’t mind too much that you saw fit to swoop in and half-inch quite a lot of his winter feed – but there were also some blueberries that Kaff had bought and promptly forgotten about when they were pushed to the back of the fridge never to be seen again until they were all wrinkly and inedible.

Sid’s birthday, like I said. He loved them. All I hope for our shopping budget is that he sees it as a one-off treat and doesn’t come tapping on the window expecting them again. Just saying.