As I munched the traditional Christmas meal at Millbrooker Towers on the 25th of last month, I made some noises about giving Dame Sandy of Florrick a special mention on these pages.
There's a reason for that. We got our venison joint from Dame Sandy for the first time. It was the first time purely because we've been a little unadventurous. But I met the Grand Dame herself at panto rehearsals and the talk turned to edibles as lots of pantomimers started putting in orders for assorted cuts of meat.
"Can you get venison?" I asked, vaguely remembering having seen a sign at Florrick Down's gateway that venison was available.
The response was positive and so I placed the Christmas order. On Christmas Eve her dameliness arrived at the portals of Millbrooker Towers bearing a large packet within which was a yummy looking roasting joint at a ludicrously low price.
Dame S told me about how she'd attended a shoot before agreeing to sell venison from her source (which shoots at Mount Edgecumbe and around St Germans, I believe). The marksman takes a deer with a single shot; the animal is dead before it hits the ground and has no idea whatever that it's being targeted. Now that's happy meat.
That very afternoon, I wrapped the joint in streaky bacon ready for roasting on the morrow.
Now - we've eaten venison every Christmas for the last umpteen years and this was the best, most succulent and tender piece of meat that I've ever put before the ravening hordes of Millbrooker Towers festive celebrants.
All of which means that Mrs The Millbrooker and I will be visiting Dame Sandy of Florrick quite frequently this year - I've heard tell that her pork (raised on the slopes leading to Fourlanesend) is very good indeed. I intend to find out for myself.
Thank you, Dame Sandy, for both the venison and the story of its provenance. Yum yum yum.