I love it when the postman arrives. I love to see my name connected with this address in black and white. I also love unwrapping packages and today two arrived for me. The first was a belated birthday present from my best friend Brenda - my birthday was back in August but the choice of gift more than made up for the tardiness: a hot toddy scented candle (this girl knows me well). The second was some promotional material from wonderful artist Nicola Slattery (http://www.nicolaslattery.com/) who will be running a course here next October. Her paintings are so dreamy and the colours a real treat. I lingered over the pictures and visualised her and her group being inspired here next autumn. It's not just the postman who brings gifts, nature provided for me as well today when I spotted some parasol mushrooms in the field behind the house. These are marvellous creations. They start life just as a folded umbrella with a little collar to keep them tight against the stalks. At some hidden signal, the collar drops down and the mushroom canopy opens up revealing a delicious creamy underside. I braved a field of cows (normally very friendly but currently nursing some new born calves) and a horse to reach my quarry and was rewarded with a sack of these giants of the European mushroom world. Next task - toss them in butter and then freeze them ready for risotto and soup in the months to come.