It is time for a blog about day to day things. I am sitting by the woodburner with a new load of logs in the basket and it is raining gently outside. Only a week ago we were hanging on to the last days of a golden autumn which almost converted me from my long held dislike of this time of year. The garden was looking better that it ever has in October, thanks to a combination of the endless flowering of masses of self seeded cosmos and a soft warm light which washed everything the pale straw colour of Fino sherry. I planted out a hundred tiny wild tulips, tulipa sylvestris, which will fling open their star shaped cream and yellow flowers in spring. I sowed Sarah Raven sweet peas and annuals, Orlaya Grandiflora, Ammi Majus, and white foxgloves by the box full. I considered once again cleaning out the aluminium greenhouse and once again found something else to do. That must be one of my least favourite jobs, on a par with cleaning the oven. I spent almost as much time outside as I do in summer, cradling my cup of tea and finding pockets of warmth and sunshine to share with the cats and the peacock.
But this week it is grey and cold and dank. There is no attraction whatsover in being outside and I am wavering about whether to succumb to the planning of Christmas. Quite a large part of me doesn't want to. It will be here soon enough and doesn't need me to rush towards it waving my arms. But I am hoping to keep my presents as far as possible hand made, either by me or by others, so perhaps I need to accept that I should get a move on. If I want to buy some things from the lovely and talented pipany I can't expect to do that the week before Christmas so I had better plunge in. And I enjoy making Christmas food, especially cakes and puddings, although it does seem strange to plan a stir up Sunday with none of the four children around to wander into the kitchen and help with the weighing or surreptitiously add a bit more brandy (you know who you are). This year there will be a new face at the table. My older daughter is expecting her first baby just before Christmas. I am not a sentimental person but just typing those words has made my insides leap with a mixture of joy and apprehension. How the world turns.
Last night was the first night of rehearsal for the one occasion in the year when our local male voice choir, Cor Meibion Caerwys, invites women singers to join them. We sing at the service of nine lessons and carols in our local church. I am not a church goer and I don't have much of a voice, I can just about hold a tune if everyone around me is holding theirs, but I love the experience of singing with a really good choir. I did this a couple of years ago and blogged about it here There is a wonderful forgetting of yourself in singing, utterly in the moment, carried along by the swell of the sound around you, and singing in Welsh has its own magic.
In the kitchen I have another great bucket of the last of the green tomatoes which need to be made into chutney. It is just long enough since the last frantic chutney making fortnight for this to be an attractive use of a dark, wet afternoon, filling the kitchen with the smell of vinegar and brown sugar.
A friend has given us a new hen, a Buff Orpington/Welsumer cross which is supposed to make a great broody. With luck we shall have some chicks in the spring. She is hanging sadly around by the house, the others off out in the field foraging. Every time a new hen joins the flock they go through the same process: first she stays by the henhouse, totally ignored by the rest of the flock as they charge off up through the kitchen garden to scratch under the bird feeders. After a few days she gets the idea and tags along at the back, far enough away not to be part of the group but close enough to see what is going on. In another day she might start hanging around right at the edge of the flock, like a child hoping to be invited to play, and then I will look up and see that she is right there in the middle as if she has always been there. She hasn't been allowed up on the perch yet and last night I found her sleeping in the nesting box with another Welsumer which came to me from the same friend a few months ago. Hens are clearly creatures of habit which does require memory. I don't really suppose they remembered each other but it was funny to see them fluffed up side by side.
Now I should really go and see if she is ok.
Yes, not only ok but safely away in the henhouse all by herself!