Showing posts from March, 2012

A baking day and a gift

This morning was a baking day.  The warm sun has gone back to the South of France for a while leaving us with normal temperatures for March, a cool wind and an overcast sky.  Ian had weighed the flour out for the batch of bread last night and it was all lined up on the worktop. I put my apron on, turned on the radio and began the deliciously slow process of making bread, interspersed with the not so slow process of making lemon cake for the holiday cottage visitors arriving this afternoon.  We have a leaven going for sourdough but this bread was the batch baking which produces six loaves, one for today and five for the freezer, which will keep us in home made bread for the week. The mixer chuntered away to itself, the dough hook taking the hard work out of kneading, while I lined tins with greaseproof paper for the lemon cake and grated lemon zest.  On the radio, Sandi Toksvig was visiting Iceland which seems to have the most astonishingly full and creative arts scene for suc

A year in the life of a tree

Esther at Esthersboringgardenblog , who should be sued under the Trade Descriptions's Act for interestingness, has been hosting a group of us who have been recording a year in the life of a tree.  I have to admit that I have been pretty hopeless at this.  There was so little change in February that I couldn't bring myself to blog about it. Let me show you what I mean: Here is a fat bud at the end of January. And here it is at the end of February.  You can perhaps see how I might have felt I had nothing to say. But March has been warm, even hot, and sunny and just plain gorgeous.  From a distance as you walk across the field and look up at the horse chestnut you are not sure whether it is in leaf or not. But get closer and you can see that the whole tree is opening up and out. On the North side of the tree the buds are bursting. But on the South side they are offering themselves to the world, throwing wide their arms, even thinking of floweri

Garden life

I wonder if there are people out there whose house and garden always look the same and who thus don't need to tidy up for visitors.  What a perfect world that would be: the kitchen floor would always be clean, the flower beds would always be weed free and there would never be piles of electrical gubbins on the kitchen table.  I'd love to live like that but in order to achieve it I would have to move house to a small and perfectly formed modern flat, divorce my delightful husband and live meanly by myself, stop having cats and chickens and trying to run two acres of garden, a holiday cottage and numerous outbuildings.  I might be able to manage a small and perfectly formed balcony.  I think I might be saying that in order to achieve it I would have to live someone else's life. This week Karen and Kate came to visit and it was really lovely to see them.  Did I say I love having visitors?  However as a result I spent days before their arrival weeding, and yes Karen and Kat


All sorts of things are crowding for attention here on the blog after a few days when my laptop died and went away to be resuscitated.  (Thank you Alison of the Allyway ).  It's just like a car breaking down: one moment you are taking it entirely for granted and the next you realise that your whole life is built around having access to it.  It showed the blue screen of death and I began to prepare myself for its funeral but Alison not only retrieved all my data but got the whole thing working again, slicker than ever. So here is a canter through some of things that have been happening. I spent a few days down in Devon with my parents.  It was that beautiful week when the sun shone so warm that the smell of spring was everywhere.  My sister and I, with my son and his wife, took the dogs up onto Dartmoor one afternoon.  The grass was not yet greening up on the moor but the stream was brown and clear like whisky. There was swimming to be done if you were a dog. The

Sunday evening

Outside my window   the moon is riding high and clear in the night sky.  I stood at the door  half an hour ago and heard an owl hooting from further up the valley and a fox barking.  I hope the hens are tucked safely away for the night. I am thinking    of all the things to do in the garden and of the need to get my own laptop fixed.  I am writing this on Ian's laptop while mine displays the black screen of death.  Have I everything backed up on memory stick?  What do you think? From the kitchen    comes the smell of white thyme bread.  Ian has been experimenting with sour dough bread again and today I had a go with the natural leaven.  If you haven't come across this before, it is a way of creating leaven using the natural yeasts in the atmosphere.  The process of making the leaven takes a few days but when you have it you can take from it every day and keep the leaven alive for as long as you wish.  It produces a bread with a flavour and texture which is totally  di

Doing and thinking

It has been two weeks since I blogged!  I can't remember when that last happened.  My time and my head have been full of a whirl of travel and commitments.  Time to pause for breath and make a list, a list of things to do in the coming week and a list of things not to do as well perhaps. To do: Go to yoga.  Have you noticed that the time when you need things most is often when you let them go?  Yoga makes me feel better, calmer and fractionally bendier.  I haven't been since Christmas and I know that when I don't go for a while I will find it hard to settle down to it, hard to slow down, hard to let myself go.  This probably means that I should go. Plan my cutting garden.  Because of all sorts of family and work pressures I am way behind with all sorts of things.  I have today sowed some salvia, some verbena bonariensis, some violas and some poppies.  A couple of weeks ago I did manage to sow my sweetpeas, choosing Sarah Raven's light and dark mixes as all her sweet