Sunday, 27 May 2018

...the darling buds of may...





















































































'...rough winds do shake the darling buds of May...' sonnet 18, William Shakespeare, 1564 - 1616

Spring had only just begun but it felt like summer. The days were long and hot and sunny, and I didn't want to waste a second. I rose early to make the most of it. After the long cold winter's hibernation, it was catch up time!

I sowed seeds, and I planted and watered, painted outside doors and windows, and garden furniture that had been washed by the snow. Sorted out the loft, the shoe cupboard and my wardrobe. Recycled, renewed, repaired, and baked a million fruit crumbles and streusel tarts.

Before the sun was up I worked on my little shop, that had also mostly hibernated, and then did the same on the long light evenings.  It was  good to feel an order and rhythm return to this little life we've made for ourselves.  

Then April showers came and we went to London and when poor Ahmad was in meetings, I explored the Serpentine in the rain, and the green lungs, and saw bright green parakeets, horses and heron. Discovered little lanes with quaint mews houses and the Liberty store, with it's ancient oak beams taken from an old ship. I met friends, and one of my sisters, and drank gunpowder tea from the teeniest Japanese teapot. 

But best of all we crossed that bridge again, and visited our 
little acorn in Bristol. She pampered us. Baked us pie and made crumble, and delicious breakfasts; and there were goodies and parcels waiting for us in the spare bedroom. 

And the most precious gift for me. All wrapped in tissue-y paper and tied with thin twine. It was a book that I had picked up so many times in my favourite bookshop. Each time I had put it back because I already have a version.  A newer one.  The same words, different skin. Every time I visited that bookstore, I would search for it. The little skinny one  in-between the stout tomes. 

I would take it out and pour over the hand-cut pages with their serrated edges. Feel the smooth marbled, paper backing and carefully open the delicate leaves and read the inked hand written inscription from 1936.  

Then I would turn a page to the printers title: 'House - Warming and Winter Visitors, from Walden, or Life in the Woods by Henry David Thoreau, privately printed MCMXXXVI, and then the next page: 'These essays from Walden have been privately printed by the Haddon Craftsmen for their friends at Christmas,' with subtle green print of pine cones on a branch. On the following page, the little house in the woods and the text began. Walden's beautiful poetic words. 

I would find an old comfy armchair in the store and settle in, whilst everyone else was on their search for books ...I would sit and drool over the pages, sometimes uttering a quiet exclamation at it's beauty. I'd look up and someone would catch my eye and and chuckle. They had been their too. 

Then I would put it back. Almost in the right place, but not quite. Maybe a few letters along. So that it would still be there the next time I came. 

The last time that I looked for it, it had gone. I was surprised that it hadn't gone earlier and was a little sad but reasoned   someone else loved it, just as much as I did.

...Little did I know who that person was... and now that lovely old book has a new inscription below the older one, cursive script blue/black ink, this time to me from my little acorn and her larger oak... 

'...I went a-graping to the river meadows, and loaded myself with clusters more precious for their beauty and fragrance than for food. There too I admired, though I did not gather, cranberries, small waxen gems, pendants of the meadow grass, pearly and red...'Henry David Thoreau,from his essays, 1854.

Now we are well and truly into May and the darling buds are blooming with a vengeance. But what about your garden, how does it grow? dx

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Snow, Swanson, Seed Catalogues and Stocking stitch






The snow came back. This time properly.  The wind blew drifts that closed the roads and sealed us neatly and tightly into our little old house. It was like a big soft white wooly scarf was wrapped right round it.  The fire crackled, we were warm and cosy and it felt a bit like the Christmas holidays all over again. 

Before you knew it, seed catalogues and reading books were out and knitting needles were dancing again.  Promised half done projects got finished and new ones started.  

Knitting:
  • Bergen cowl by Carrie Bostick Hoge
  • La La Simple Shawl by Laura Linneman
  • Chunky tweedy pullover, copied from an old favourite 
  • Finished long promised leg warmers and mitts
  • Working test swatches with vintage wool 

Reading: 
  • Her Every Fear, by Peter Swanson, 2017... Enjoying this easy to read thriller. The first of his novels that I've read and I like his uncluttered use of words. 
  • Pouring over new seed catalogues. Sarah Raven's is always a favourite even though some edible flower seeds I bought didn't germinate. It's such a pretty one. Chiltern Seeds too... 



are you coming too? debx  (you can link over to her here











Monday, 19 February 2018

January...Where did you go to?



















































Looking back January was a bit of a blur of feeling ill, and 
mindless tv viewing of a million box sets. Wishing that instead of snoozing on the sofa and drinking juice and ginger tea, that I was in the garden digging and planting. Of knitting a randomly striped sweater inspired by the little urchin in the film about Hugo Cabret. In-between a spot of driving over more than one bridge to visit some of my favourite people. Of making the scrummiest basil and tomato soup, thanks to my very own baby's recipe.

Now it's February and we've had snow and rain and sun and showers. Sometimes all in one day.  The hellebores are blooming and the snow drops are out. We've had  Pancake and then Valentines day, and even Chinese New Year but didn't manage to celebrate any of them.  Soon another month will have flown by and we'll be spring cleaning for Persian New Year...


But I have decided to slow down a bit this month. The second half. To be kind to myself and keep telling that little voice in my head that things don't matter and I can take a few short-cuts. Sort out my seeds and send for those nice seed catalogues that I'm always too late to send for. To sometimes just stop working and make sure that I don't miss the next little buds as they peep out. To go and say hello to the sheep down the lane...


...or just sometimes sit down by the fire and read a book...and not feel even the teeniest bit guilty...


Reading: 


  • The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry. A gothic novel set in the marshlands of Essex. Strong women, fossils, folklore, mud and overcoats.
  • Leaf by Niggle, J. R.R. Tolkien. A sweet short story that I could relate to. A late birthday gift from my acorn and her larger oak. 



Making and baking

  • Ahmad made bread and I made pastry
  • A bit of a plum celebration, regular short crust pastry open tart and my new obsession, tarte tatin.  
  • Bagel sandwiches with cold nut roast and homemade cranberry sauce - feeling glad for stock of nut roasts in the freezer
  • Pancakes... somehow they always seem to bring a smile to my face


Recipes:

Hannah's awesome tomato soup

Ingredients:

  • Five large ripe tomatoes
  • Two red onions, chopped finely
  • One carrot(not peeled, chopped finely
  • Three tablespoons of olive oil
  • Three minced garlic cloves
  • One tsp of sugar (or alternative e.g. honey/maple syrup
  • One tsp of tomato puree
  • A quarter of a cup of chopped basil leaves
  • Three cups of vegetable stock
  • Sea salt and black pepper
Method:
  1. Cook the onions in the olive oil until caramelised.
  2. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute, stirring to ensure that they don't burn.
  3. Add all the other ingredients including the hot stock. Stir well, bring to the boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for thirty or forty minutes until everything is tender. Blend and then reheat if necessary     

As February winds it's way home, I hope that you can make a little time for yourself too. Getting ready to say hello to March and  then spring and all the gorgeous things that it promises... dx