Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Rippling Along!

One pot of tea and an episode of River Cottage later, I have my first ripple done! I think I have probably made the blanket a bit too wide, and it will take a bit longer and eat a bit more yarn than I would like, I do like a nice blanket that is big enough! I have made it so it will go on our double bed and hang down the sides a little. The first stripe was dove grey, the next one will be light sky blue...but I must away to the kitchen before I can start that...

Spring Thoughts

It is a curious day today, it is the first day of three days leave from work for me, but it feels like a normal day off! Usually a day off and a day's leave feel different as soon as I open my eyes, but not today. The other curious thing is the looks slightly overcast outside but the breeze is warm and it is heavenly out there. The air is almost sweet, and you need a cardigan, but not a coat.

So, dressed in my stripy dress, silver cardigan and Mary-Jane shoes, I set out for an adventure on my own. I took the bus halfway to my little library on the hill, and got off in the village before instead. I actually got off a stop early because it was so warm and lovely, and could smell hedge clippings, and saw so many bursts of purple crocuses and the first of the daffodils nodding in the breeze.

I had two shops in mind; firstly, Yarn Therapy, and secondly A Little Bazaar. I visited the latter first, with nothing in mind, just to have a look around. It is a lovely little vintage shop where the two rooms are lined with shelves and cabinets which have plenty of notices saying 'please touch!' and some cupboards that bore labels instructing 'open me!'. Down the middle of the room are rails of vintage clothes, and you can have a really good rummage about. I came away with a vintage book, a dark red hardback called 'The Modern Woman's Medical Book' which I think was published in the very early fifties. It is really worth a visit if you are in the area, they really have friendly service there, and offer you a cup of coffee to drink while you browse. As I was paying, the lady asked me if I would be proposing to anybody today (the legend is that on leap day, girl's can do the asking!) but I said no, because I wasn't too sure my husband would approve! However, the rest of the legend, which is less well known is that if you propose and the man says no, he is meant to give you a silk dress by way of perhaps I should have asked every man I met and hoped they all said no!

There used to be a little tea shop in a curious glass cube of a building called Tiffany's, the inside being Tiffany blue with lots of photographs of Audrey Hepburn. Alas it seems to have changed hands now, and when I walked in I couldn't help but notice that it smelt very faintly of wrung-out dishcloths! They didn't have any scones either which was a bit of a shame, but I think it is very much a cafe now rather than a teashop, so I had a pot of tea and a toasted tea cake, and they were both very nice indeed. It came with a teeny pot of Wilkinson's Strawberry Jam which I love, so that was extra good. I also read another chapter of my new library book, which is just fantastic. It is set in the Bodleian Library in Oxford, and is called A Discovery of Witches. A great big chunk of a book, I am sinking into it like a feather eiderdown. If you have read The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, it has the same kind of feel as that, so far.

Duly refreshed, I went on to Yarn Therapy. I have had in mind for years, since we went to Lyme Regis for our wedding anniversary one year, to crochet a ripple stitch blanket in colours that reminded me of the waves as we walked out along the Cobb. I did start one a year or so ago, but I didn't like the yarn I had chosen at all, and it was all too soon abandoned. I was in a bit of a quandry about the yarn this time, because I wanted to use something nice rather than my usual market bargain yarn, but at the same time can't afford to spend lots...and blankets do eat up wool! I remembered visiting Yarn Therapy a while ago with Mum, and they had a lovely range of wool by a company called Drops. I seemed to remember it being soft and lovely in beautiful colours, and being reasonable in price. I was so pleased to discover I had remembered correctly, and chose four colours from their Nepal range, which is part alpaca! I have a cream, light grey, light blue, and purpley-blue. I am going to use the random stripe generator to make my pattern, and then plan to set off rippling along. I am having a special birthday this year, and I like the idea of having a blanket I can say that I made in the year I was thirty!

I have quite a lot of craft projects on the go at the moment...I am knitting a Noah's Ark set, as I have mentioned, and this afternoon hope to start my first ripple stripe on the new blanket. I am also knitting the bolero from this month's Vintage Life magazine (which I was very disappointed with as a magazine; I calculated there was less than 25% content, the rest being photographs, adverts, or bumpf) in cherry red, and am going to wear it as a bed jacket for when I am reading, to keep my shoulders warm! I also hoped to cut out my daffodil brooches this afternoon, but they may to wait until Friday, as it is nearly four o'clock already, and I have dinner to cook before my dance class later!

We have been busy having lovely adventures since we last caught up. Our weekends have fallen into a lovely pattern of an adventure on Saturday then a relaxing Sunday. This Saturday we went to see The Woman In Black as I really enjoyed the book, and some parts of it were filmed locally (the causeway out to Eel Marsh House is actually the causeway out to Osea Island!). It was good but very different to the book, and there were quite a few giggly teenagers in the cinema with us. I jumped as much when a man shouted at them to shut up as when the film was being scary!

Then on Sunday we went to The Gardens of Easton Lodge for their Snowdrop Sunday open day. I have taken lots of photographs which I must get onto the computer so I can share with you. Debbie, I hope you enjoyed it when you went! We loved it...and I bumped into several other library people there on the day!

Now it is time for a pot of tea and some crafting before I start cooking Peppers Stuffed With Sunflower Seeds and Lentils....


Thursday, 23 February 2012

Spring is Springing!

Yesterday afernoon, in my little library on top of the hill, the door kept blowing open with a gust of icy wind. The window panes were spattered with rain, and the sky was brooding and dark all day. So many of my customers mentioned the good forecast for today, and we all expressed doubt in it.

And yet, today, we have woken up to the most glorious day, a very early foretaste of spring. It was warm enough to wear a spring frock and cardigan into town, and leave my coat at home for the first time this year! The air is warm, the sky is blue, and everyone seems to be feeling really lighthearted. What bliss!

It is a day off today, and I took a long slow walk around the town. I didn't have much on my list, mainly ingredients for this evening, but I got to really enjoy picking them out. We have a friend who comes to dinner once a fortnight or so, and I love cooking for him. He is what my Gran would have called 'a good eater' and it is so good to see men sitting down and really eating! Tonight I am going to make a little mezze style starter, with hoummous and greek salad, falafel and toasted pitta bread strips, then I am making Pide pizzas, and finishing with orange pots de chocolat and orange segments with mint.

I was quite sure I had posted about Pide pizzas before, but the search facility suggests not. I have not made them very often, but they are just amazing! They are a turkish pizza, and are almost boat shaped. The filling is lamb mince and onion and feta and raisins and cinnamon, cumin and mint. Then you break an egg over the top and bake it. Not at all delicate to eat, but luscious!

I have a new bunch of daffodils to brighten up the living room, and I have every window in our little flat open to let in the spring. Who knows what it will be like tomorrow? I am determined to enjoy today while I can!

Wherever you are, I hope spring is springing, even if it is just for today!


Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Shrove Tuesday

I love the rhythm and routine of the days of the week, but also the months and passing seasons, and yearly events. We eat pancakes at other times of year as well (although never, ever hot cross buns at any time other than Good Friday!) but not often, and we always, always have them on Shrove Tuesday.

While Carl gets ready for work, I start to cook them, and I stack the cooked ones on a plate under a clean tea towel. I was really pleased this morning as the next clean tea towel in the cupboard was my blue and yellow 'easy peasy lemon squeezy!' tea towel, which seemed rather apt considering the dish of cut lemons I had ready for squeezing over the pancakes. I have happy memories of my Mum standing at her gas stove flipping pancake after pancake, and having a little line of me, my sister and my brother next to her, taking it in turns to have the next fresh pancake hot out of the pan. I am really looking forward to flipping pancakes for a row of little Claxton's one day in the future.

Lent begins tomorrow, and I am almost looking forward to the slight austerity of the season. I found it hard to decide what to give up this year, and in the end settled on what I gave up last year...lattes. I looked online, and found some truly ridiculous ideas, such as giving up cutlery, or sleeping on the floor instead of your bed to remember how lucky you are to have a bed. I don't normally criticise other peoples' choices so strongly, but if giving up your bed or cutlery fed a homeless person or gave them a bed for the night I could understand, but otherwise, it seems slightly pointless. Ok, my giving up latte isn't going to benefit anyone, but it is something I will miss, and I can save the latte pennies up to give to a good cause. If I had been thinking of giving up my cutlery, I think it would have been better to have had a fast day instead each week in Lent, and given that money to the homeless, or just something that makes sense.

On the other hand, a friend said that they would not be giving up 'something like chocolate' and sounded a little dismissive of it. Now I like chocolate but don't have a huge issue with it, but I know lots of people who really, really love it, and feel that for those people it would be a challenge to give it up. We all know what we would miss most, and as long as we know, I don't think it is for someone else to judge.....says she who has just judged the people who were going to give up their beds! Yes I know I have been contradictory, but at least I know I have!

Tomorrow is a busy day for me in my little library up on the hill. I have two class visits to run in the morning, neither of which I have done before. Then I have to prepare for another two on Friday. I am glad I have Thursday off, which I plan to spend puttering about at home, and sewing some daffodil brooches for Easter.

I was so pleased to see that the bank of crocuses that had started to spring up before we had the snow are still alive and flourishing. Isn't nature amazing? Something so delicate can flourish in the worst of conditions.

I feel in need of a pot of tea this evening, so I shall go and put the kettle on. Wherever you are, I hope that you are cosy and warm, and feeling the first stirrings of spring.


Saturday, 18 February 2012

Crafting and Reading Plans

It has been delightful to see the mornings become lighter, and to find the evenings are longer too. Today, however, it has been a rainy afternoon, and the light seemed to vanish quickly. I had been planning to start a new craft project this afternoon, but I have been thwarted! Back in December, Mum made a few really pretty little felt holly brooches, and gave one of them to me. I was reading Popular Crafts magazine, and came across a pattern for a felt daffodil brooch, and thought it would be nice to make some ready for Easter gifts. My plan was to walk into town on my way home from work to buy some felt in the requisite colours, but as it was gloomy and rainy I thought I would take a chance on having some in my craft box. Alas, as I have just discovered, having gone through all four of them, I have not a scrap in the right colour, and I can't buy any more till Tuesday!

Still, as I read on a blog today, a pleasure anticipated is a blessing, so I will try and see it like that rather than being vexed at having to wait!

I have just started, and nearly finished, a slim little novel from the library called The Lost Garden. I came across it whilst looking for something else, and it is not the book I thought it would be, but is really delightful. It is about a group of Land Girls digging for victory during the Second World War down in Devon. Having read Nella Last's War recently, I was expecting more of the same, but it is in fact a hauntingly beautiful story of love and loss and longing. Although the war and the land army are the setting for the story, it isn't really about that at all. The writing style is lyrical and beautiful, almost poetical in fact. It reminds me slightly of the style of The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets, or Sophie Dahl's writing. I was looking for some reviews of it online earlier, and came across the most wonderful website. It is called Book Drum and is a kind of online companion to novels. Say in the story a piece of music is mentioned; on Book Drum if there is a listing for that novel, there will be a link to a recording of that piece of music, or a recipe for a dish mentioned, or a photograph of the setting. It is really, really fabulous. Here is a link to the pages for The Lost Garden:

In the kitchen, I have a bowl that is filling the room with the most wonderful scent. It is slightly sour and sweet at the same time....last week I was given some Friendship cake batter. I haven't seen Friendship Cake since I was at Primary School, when I remember sticky jam jars of batter in school bags and stirring in cups of sugar on the appropriate days. I am so looking forward to baking it and tasting it again.

Tomorrow we are going to London to see Carl's sisters. Now that they have all moved out of home, they don't get to see each other as often as they would like, so last year we started a 'sibling club' where we take it in turns to host lunch or dinner at a weekend, every month or other month. It is lovely as it gives everyone a chance to catch up without it being a birthday or Christmas. The plan is for a nice walk by the Thames, perhaps a glass of wine, and then back to his sister's for Sunday lunch.

I am starting to think about my forthcoming birthday. I have decided that to celebrate I would like to have a pot luck tea party, where guests are asked to bring something with them, perhaps a batch of scones or their favourite cupcakes. I will of course do a lot of baking myself, and there will be pots and pots of tea, and bunting everywhere. The only problem so far is that the village hall I was hoping to rent is already booked...sigh!

Oh, and the other evening after my burlesque class we went to a local bar to see the end of an actual burlesque show. The performances were amazing, I can't remember seeing quite so much glitter in one place, but there was also a two piece band, one on a guitar and the other a double bass, singing lots of fifties songs. It was really, really good. I was so shocked to discover that the singer was only 20...which made me feel quite old!

Work has been up and down again lately. I was just starting to feel really settled into my temp job, and was all set to apply for it permanently, but due to some really quite vexing complications it doesn't look as though that is going to be possible. It has really set me back to feeling how I was just after I was made redundant. I know one thing, and that is when I do get a permanent job again, I am never going to stop being thankful for it. I just hope that it does happen...

The room is filled with the scent of hyacinths this evening. They are so heady they are bordering on being too much, but I could not resist them. I was in Marks and Spencer the other evening, and a bunch of roses, tulips and hyacinths were reduced to £1.50 and I couldn't leave them behind! The roses and tulips are deep red, and the hyacinths are purple. So beautiful.

We watched the first episode of Grimm, a new series which is a 'cop drama with a twist' the twist being that it is set in modern day Portland Oregon, but as well as it being inhabited by 'normal' people it is also inhabited by dark fairy tale creatures inspired by the stories by the Brothers Grimm. The episode we saw was inspired by Red Riding Hood. It was really quirky, but I liked it. It reminded me a bit of Eastwick and Pushing Daisies.

I was sharing a pot of tea with a friend who happens to be vegan, so rather than bring a milk jug through, I just brought through the teapot and our teacups. It seemed silly bringing through a whole jug of milk just for me, so I had planned to splash some milk into my cup, but didn't get round to it. It was really just laziness, but I am glad I was, becuase I discovered that black ceylon tea is really rather lovely. I think for every day I would still drink my tea white, but I found it really refreshing to have it black, so I will definitely be doing it again.

I should really think about getting to bed soon, but while Carl is watching a tv programme that I don't enjoy so much, I am writing here and listening to old music through my headphones, and I feel like I could sit up for hours. So far I have had Glenn Miller, Elvis Presley and Michael Ball...wherever you are, I hope you are having a peaceful evening.


Thursday, 9 February 2012

Keeping House

Today has been a rare but lovely day all to myself. An empty day is a blissful thing, because it gives you time to think. Sometimes there are little things that you have in mind to sit and think out properly, but you don't get the time, so you carry on, and then think of something else, and you have all these half formed ideas fluttering about in your mind.

So today has been a welcome chance to give myself a bit of a mental spring clean. Much of my thoughts lately have been about home making and house keeping. I have really missed Brocante Home while Alison was updating the website, and spent some of the time reading old emails and printouts I have from the site. Last night though, I was talking with some friends, and a friend-of-a-friend, and the friend-of-a-friend expressed almost contempt for her husband, that he wants to come home to a tidy, clean house. She defended herself by saying she works, that he was comparing their home to someone elses who is in a completely different domestic situation to them..she didn't come out and say it, but the underlying words were 'it's not my job'.

Now I would never say that a woman's place has to be in the home or the housework has to be hers to do, I say each to her own, and whatever works for you. But traditionally it has been our role, and I would not be surprised to hear that in the majority of homes, the woman is the one who does the lions share of the domestic work. Now I am not making any judgement, except, is it such a bad thing for a husband, man, or anyone, right down to ourselves to want to come home to a clean and comfortable home that is well run?

And if you want to live in such a home, then you have to make up your mind to create such a home. If you get help, then that is great. But as a snippet of vintage housekeeping advice I read recently said, Women who find housekeeping tiresome and dragging is because they never half learn it and partially because they have made up their minds to hate it. Again, I would substitute 'anyone' rather than 'woman' at the beginning. The thing I am trying to say is that if you want to live in a clean, tidy, comfortable home, then the cleaning has to be done, over and over again. So you can hate it and grumble about it and resent it, or you can just decide to make the best of it you can, put on some cheerful music, treat yourself to a polka dot feather duster, and get it done so you can enjoy the fruits of your labours.

The important thing is to do it for you, no matter who you live with. If you do it for 'them' whoever 'them' is, you are going to end up feeling resentful. That isn't to say that you shouldn't accept any help you get, or ask for it. Lucy over at Attic 24 has posted about thinking of this work as blessing her home rather than as housework. Likewise, I dislike the word chores. Scrubbing a toilet is always going to be scrubbing a toilet, I guess, but a lot of what are classed as 'chores' can actually be fun in themselves as well as rewarding when they are done. I could iron shirts all day long, just for the hiss of the iron and the smell of it.

I probably sound terribly boring, but if you have to do something anyway, you may as well enjoy it as much as you can! Little domestic tasks I have enjoyed today include tidying out my under-the-sink cupboard, taking stock of my cleaning products and introducing a new storage system for our recycling. I have descaled the kettle, and am about to go and tidy out my afternoon tea cupboard. On my list for later is my bedside table and dressing table top.

I plan to sit with my pot of tea later, and rethink some of my daily and weekly housekeeping routines so I can make sure that everything gets done, and I have plenty of time left over for reading and knitting and crocheting and all the other things I love to do. Oh, and I need to try the batch of apple and raspberry muffins I made this afternoon, from the March edition of Easy Food magazine (not the BBC one, the Irish one).

Sitting and writing this post has been helpful to start getting my thoughts in order...I hope I haven't offended anyone with my thoughts. I have seen on other blogs some heated discussions about housework and gender roles! Its just that I know, by nature, I am a nurterer and a motherer, I work part time nearby and my husband works full time in London, so it makes sense for us for me to be the main domestic goddess...

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Marvellous Magazines

It is no secret that I adore magazines, particularly vintage ones. My reading habits have changed much over the past years, and I tend to read The Chap, Vintage Life, Mollie Makes, Handmade Living, and Vegetarian Living. I am lucky enough to have a market stall near me that sells cheap back issues, and I love coming across Country Living. Most precious of all though are my collection of vintage magazines. I have them organized in month order rather than in title order, so I can flick through them each month as the calendar page turns.

I don't have as many as I would like, so you can imagine how thrilled I was to find this... an online archive of Australian Women's Weekly magazine. You just click on a cover to read the whole thing...and there are 51 years worth, from 1933 onwards!

So go and make yourself a pot of tea, settle down, and enjoy a wonderful browse...


Thoughts Upon Blogs

You may have noticed that my list of scrumptious people and places on the internet has grown lately. I have developed a new system, where each month I have a folder in my favourites, and in go any blogs that I stumble across, and if I have looked at them frequently over the month, I add them to my blog, otherwise I delete them and let them slip away.

I have posted before about how I find it slightly worrying that I discover my most favourite blogs by luck or coincidence, and I feel there must be wonderful amazing blogs out there that I am destined not to find. I feel like that about books as well though, and think it is part of being human, so I try not to worry too much.

Something that does worry me though, is where do people go? There must be thousands of blogs started and abandoned after a post or two, but I have found numerous well established blogs that have just been abandoned, like the Marie Celeste. Take this blog fifteen months of lovely posts and photographs, and then....nothing. Did she know when she wrote her last post that it would be the last? Did she start a new blog? What happened to make her just...stop? I worry...not in a staying-awake-late-at-night kind of way, just in a quiet, momentary way. I suppose the thing with blogs is that we just see that little snippet of a persons life. A little bit of ivory, as Jane Austen would say.

But on to less sombre thoughts. Something that made me smile today is that whilst the internet is a huge vast web, it is also so small and lovely. An early blog I discovered was Vintage Pleasure. I have been reading her for several years now. A very recent discovery, made during a google search is A Thrifty Mrs. Imagine my surprise when I read on a recent post that they are friends!

Likewise, there are some blogs that often crop up on bloglists, such as Brocante Home and Yarnstorm. It is lovely to see them as they are the 'classics' for me. But then time to time I will discover a new little blog, and then discover that they are friends with or read an entirely different blog that I also like.

A complicated and inarticulate way of expressing the pleasure at connections made, and discovering lovely places to visit on the internet. Two things that I would love to see someone invent would be a pair of magic buttons. Button number one would give you a list of blogs who have you in their blogroll, just so you can see who reads you, and where you pop up. More importantly, what I would adore is a magic button that would reverse a blog for me so that I could read it in chronological order. I like to do this with new blog discoveries that I know I am going to like. Of course you can go back through the archives, but I find that sometimes you go to the first month, scroll to the bottom, and then realise they posted enough times that month to make several pages, so you have to go back further and it all gets a bit messy and complicated. I have asked my lovely husband to invent me a magic button, but I know he is very busy with if any of you know of such a thing, do share please!

Something else that came to mind, was the Mass Observation Project I have been reading Nella Last's War, which was published after her death, and are her diaries that she kept during World War II as part of a mass observation project to record the daily life of everyday people. I can really imagine it translating into a blog, if she were alive now. She writes (I nearly typed posts!) about her cooking and housekeeping and crafts and day trips...all the kind of things you find on blogs now. I wonder too, if we are, without really realising it, writing social history as we blog?

Enough musings for now...I have got a blog or two to go and read the archives on! Oh, but before I go, do go over to and look at the lovely redesign Alison has given it.


Save The Teapot!

What a very strange week for news it has been. Firstly, the BBC is mourning the loss of the written word which I am not mourning, as I do not perceive it to be lost. The paperless office has never really materialised, and whilst I am sure that people do write fewer letters now that they can text and send messages on facebook and twitter, I think that there are enough of us with fountain pens and nice writing paper to keep the postman in a job. That said, I think that we should all make the effort to write more...I just don't think that this is the time for mourning, it is the time for reviving.

Likewise, I don't see the rise of the ebook as the death of the printed book. I would always prefer a book I can hold in my hand and smell and write my name in, but I see that there are situations where an ereader would come in handy. And if ebooks mean more people are reading, that has to be a good thing, right?

And now, it seems that Debenhams is trying to save the teapot and Alexander McCall Smith is doing his bit to save it too I have to confess that I find it hard to believe that it can need saving. Really, do people not use them anymore? If I was of a cynical nature, I might suggest that Debenham's just wants to sell more teapots, as it suggests this is a great way to support their campaign...but I am not cynical, so I would endorse their suggestion, but add my own - have fun hunting down a teapot in a charity shop. I think that a vintage floral pot has much more charm than the novelty pots you often see new in the shops.

For my own part, I have resolved to have my welcome-home cup of tea from my little teapot-and-cup set, the kind where the cup and pot slot together to look like a bigger teapot. It is blue with little flowers, and was a birthday gift from my lovely sister a few years ago. We always have pots of tea on a Sunday, but often when I get home I will just make a mug. Not anymore! Instead, out will come my teapot. Ok, only I will know about it, but it is what we do that makes us who we are, and I am definitely a lady who likes her tea out of a pot.

I remember reading an article on The Chap years ago where they protested about some modern art by climbing it. In my minds eye I can see similar little acts of rebellion, where we demand teapots in Starbucks, and take our teabreaks at work with pot and cosy, and a tiered cake stand too!

So although I am not convinced that any of us are the ones abandoning the pleasures of the teapot, pen and ink or the printed word, we are definitely the ones who can keep the flame alive. Join me in taking your pleasures, and knowing that as well as enjoying yourself, you are doing the world a favour!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

The First Snow

I wonder how many blog posts, facebook updates, twitters, text messages, letters and thoughts have been about snow this week. I was feeling a bit at odds with it, as despite Radio 4 having numerous stories about the Siberian conditions sweeping the country, and all the photographs in the newspapers and online about the snow falling, our little town had seen not a flake, and as many times as I checked the weather forecast, there was none predicted for us.

Last night, we sat up quite late, and watched a film together. After the film had finished, Carl went into the kitchen to make us a pot of tea, and noticed that the light coming in through the blind seemed odd. When he looked, we had had a heavy snowfall, and everything was covered, and it was still falling. We are very lucky, because although we have had about eight inches we are far better off than many parts of the country, and it is that dry powdery snow which is easy to brush or dig away.

I stayed up until about 2 this morning, watching it fall. It was so bright outside, it could have been a gloomy afternoon rather than the dead of night. It is the first snowfall of the year for us, and the first that we have had in our new little flat. It is nice to be up a bit higher, and to see out a little further. I miss our old back garden though, that we could have run out into and made a snowman in, or made our footsteps make a heart in the snow.

My daffodils are blooming inside. Just as it said that it is said (erroneously!) that the Eskimo people have a great many words for snow, it seems to me that we need more names for our seasons. This is still winter, but the winter where it is crisply sharply cold, with snow, but bunches of daffodils inside, and thoughts of crocuses and snowdrops is a different season entirely to, say, the weeks before Christmas, where it is still Winter, but different. Later in the year, there will be that time when it is not yet Spring, but it feels as though Winter will never end. I am so glad we live in a country which has proper seasons.

Wherever you are, I hope you are wrapped up warm and cosy. We are venturing over into my home town today, for my Dad's 75th birthday. We are having lunch at a tea shop, then going back to their house for cups of tea and birthday cake. I have baked ginger cupcakes this morning, and need to go an ice them in a moment. Half are going to have vanilla buttercream with tiny chunks of crystallised ginger scattered on them, and the other half vanilla buttercream with shards of dark chocolate with ginger sprinkled over.

When we come home, it will be candles alight, Poirot and the papers, and a pot of tea for two. This is becoming our Sunday routine, and is blissful to slip into, gently. I am making slow progress on my knitted polar bears for my Noah's Ark set, because the sparkly wool, although pretty, is not easy to work I shall try and get finished the legs, ears and tail for my 'she' polar bear.

Something else I want to do is plan a few days dinners and lunches where the main components can be frozen, dried, or tinned. That way I can know that if snow does strike badly, I have a few days worth of meals all ready to whisk together, without having to venture out.


Friday, 3 February 2012

First Daffodils of Spring

When I woke up this morning, I discovered that the tightly budded daffodils that I brought home with me last night have started to open. So beautiful. I read once, years ago on Brocante Home, that in February you should buy daffodils as often as you buy milk. Wise advice indeed, and at £1 for two bunches, and affordable luxury too.

I hope that you are all safe and warm. I have checked and rechecked the weather forecast, and it looks like (fingers crossed!) we should be avoiding the snow here. I hope that if you have it, you can have some fun in it. I am quietly thankful for the spare bag of tea bags I keep stashed away and the bottle of milk in the freezer!

Today is a busy day...on the way to work I need to pick up a couple of little birthday gifts and buy a new bus ticket. Then I have to finish off the paperwork for my annual review, open the library, run book club, then catch the bus to the next town for my end of year review, but before I get there drop in for a quick meeting with someone who may have some cake decorating work for me. Then a quick cup of tea with Mum after work, home again, make dinner, out to book club......and then, relax! Hurrah for a weekend off....


Thursday, 2 February 2012

Signs of Hope

I don't know if I am looking too hard for hope, but I am starting to see them. Not directly, but little things that make my heart lift for a moment. The bank of grass opposite my little library on the hill is pinpricked with spikes of yellow as crocuses start to lift their heads, unseasonably early. I bought home a bunch of daffodils on my half day today. I adore having daffodils in the house, but I try and wait until February. On the walk home, a robin flitted down and sat on the path ahead of me, and then flicked his tail and hopped up onto the fence. He kept just a few steps in front of me all down the road. It was as though he was leading me home. When I got home, I discovered an amazon parcel had arrived for me. I had some tokens for Christmas, and I have spent them on some books on....afternoon tea, what else?! I now have Afternoon Tea by Jane Pettigrew to read, and Tea and Cake by Emma Block. There will be a long hot bath later, and the slow savouring of new books. I have just enjoyed a cup of coffee and a cheese scone, something savoury as a punctuation between my more usual sweet scone and tea. The washing machine is humming in the kitchen as a load of washing spins. It is bitingly cold outside, and I feel glad to be inside. I have a candle flickering, and although it isn't enough to keep me warm, it adds warmth to my heart. In the kitchen sink is soaking my utterly wonderful find in a charity shop - a Le Creuset round lidded casserole dish in volcanic orange. I have wanted to start a Le Creuset collection for years, but even the 'seconds' shop is beyond my purse. Tonight I am cooking a shepherd's pie in it, using left over mashed potato from last nights dinner, that I am going to make into a bubble and squeak topping with some cabbage and leek.

And then of course, there are my friends here. Your comments are so kind, and so appreciated, and I shall try not to lean on you too much, but it does help, so thank you.

I still find I wake at night with my heart pounding, and I realise it has been like this for over a year now, over a year since we first heard the news that there would be opening hours cut and a staff review. It is a long time to live with uncertainty. I am trying to trust that soon I will find something, soon I can start to move beyond the constant incessant noise in the background of 'what will I do, what will I do?'. I want to think about crafting and cooking and reading and just the beauty of daily life.

But for now, it is time to fill the kettle, light another candle, and thank you all for being here.