Showing posts from December, 2011

The year closes

I can't be doing with all those big retrospectives for the New Year: the highlights of 2011, whether the big news stories of the year or the nation's favourite television.  And yet there is something about the closing year which makes one pause.  Partly it is the sheer swiftness of the passing of time.  How can I have just dated a letter 30th December 2011?  That is a whole year gone in a whirl and a blur, a year older, possibly a year ever so slightly wiser, a year closer to the grave.  Not that I feel remotely sad or morbid.  We have just had a lovely family Christmas full of all the things which I love (family, food, feasting) and entirely free from the angst and stress and consumerism which seem to colour so much of the journalism in the lead up to Christmas, when we aren't being sold a perfect, unachievable, sentimentalised dream.   Ours is a simple Christmas and maybe that is why it generally (not inevitably mind) works.  I can give you the recipe if you like: Take

Nearly ready for Christmas

The family have started to arrive.  First came elder daughter, her husband and two year old son, arriving late on Tuesday night with J asleep in the car.  They are installed in the holiday cottage.  Then came younger daughter with her dog, a young and beautiful red fox labrador and then younger son and his wife and their dog, an equally beautiful black labrador and yesterday younger daughter's boyfriend. So now we are all here until Christmas Day when we hope to see older son.  The house is full.  When we sit down to eat we are eight or nine at the table.  The tree has been dug up from the field and brought inside in a pot.  It looks way bigger inside than it did out there! We don't go in for tasteful Christmas trees here.  Christmas is not Christmas without too many sets of lights, decorations of all colours and all the old favourites on the tree. The slightly squiffy snowman has to have his place and a new favourite to add to the old ones is the Christmas sheep.

Making winter in Wales

I love the idea of making things in winter so I joined the Making Winter bloghop over at Thrifty Household.  There are some seriously talented people doing some very exciting things.  I am not an artist or a real craftsperson but I have decided to be less apologetic about my own making and doing and just to enjoy it, in all its glorious amateurism!  I had a huge chunk of my life when working and family sucked up all my time and energy and the two constants which I somehow carved out time for were cooking and gardening.  Sewing and knitting and making things disappeared from view.  Now when I am rushing from pillar to post and wondering what happened to my wish for a simpler life, I need to remind myself that  I have got some time back.  In the last year or two I have returned to the skills I learnt in my childhood from my grandmothers and practised in adolescence in New Zealand where clothes were expensive to buy and everyone made things.  I rarely sit down in the evenings now witho

Food for Christmas

I love Christmas dinner.  I don't get tired of it.  I love turkey.  I love roast potatoes.  Most of all I love the extras: really good stuffing, pigs in blankets, red cabbage, roast parsnips, bread sauce and gravy.  I don't feel like experimenting with goose or rib of beef, much though I love both.  I don't want to do unusual things with salmon and prawns.  I am a traditionalist.  For Christmas, only a turkey dinner will do. This year our turkey will come from friends who somehow find the time and energy to run their family, a business and a part time teaching career while keeping sheep and hens, sometimes pigs and, in the months coming up to Christmas, turkeys.  This is about as local as you can get without raising your own.  The turkeys will have scratched and strutted in their little orchard about a mile and half away.  They are fed organically, mature slowly, and will eventually be slaughtered locally too. The potatoes are our own home grown ones.  I'd like to b


Doors, gates: do they shut you out or invite you in?  I can never see a beautiful door or gate without wanting to open it and find out what is on the other side but doors in themselves can be lovely things.   I was so taken with some pictures of  doors from Rachel at slow lane life   that I wandered around looking again at our doors and I thought I would share them.  Some are pretty ordinary; some much less so. Here is the front door.  Like most farmhouse front doors it is never used.  No one ever comes in through the front door but if you did and closed it behind you, you would find this. At the top is the latch, possibly made in the forge that used to belong to the farm and which is now part of the holiday cottage.  Below that is the key, a good six inches long and nearly as big as my hand, and the lock into which it fits.  They still work.  Below them is a wooden bolt.  There is another similar one upstairs and I think this one has been fashioned to be like that.  It looks

A year apart: the 5th December

I love the seasons. What would it be like to live in a constant temperature? A constant spring? An endless summer? An everlasting cold? No, I love the change. And here in the UK the seasons themselves are mutable. Summer is often not hot and dry. Spring might not be an unfurling of life but icy, cold and wet. And this autumn has not been damp and blustery but long and warm and mellow as caramel. Winter has come now but how different this mild late born winter is from last year's lion's grip, the whole world stilled under his heavy paw. This is the 5th of December last year, steely under snow, and then the same date this year, all sun and silhouetted trees. This year there are marigolds still throwing out flowers. A year ago today the field was blanketed under snow. Green and gold fennel this year and monochrome hedges last. Rose hips and snow. I love seasons.

I'm a celebrity - no, I don't think so!

I have been tagged by one of my most favourte people, Caroline at Village Fate .  I don't normally do memes, not because I am too posh but because I don't think I have much new to say, but who knows? 1. What is the one thing about being a parent that makes you scream, ‘GET ME OUT OF HERE!’ My kids are flown.  When they were younger the thing that drove me mad was daily cooking.  I love cooking.  I love food.  It was coming in through the door, knowing that the need for fuel was so overwhelming it didn't matter what is was, and then cooking in my coat.  That was the challenge. 2. What skills, if any, do you have that would be useful in the jungle? I very rarely get cross.  When everyone else is in meltdown, I am probably in melt middle. 3. How are you likely to annoy people if you were stuck with them for three weeks? It depends how much you mind that I am always right.   4. What is the worst thing you have ever eaten? Something I have cooked on a