Monday, 29 March 2010

buds on trees

I think the quince is going to make it. I have inspected it a couple of times over the last few days and there are definite buds. I am now officially excited.

We opened a new pot of quince jam this weekend. It remains the best of all my preserves. The flavour is just staggeringly gorgeous.

There are teeny tiny leaves on the crab apple, and little buddings on everything else. I found 2 rhubarb crowns in the back that I had forgotten to plant and shoved them in a corner of the veg patch on Saturday. I really need to start some planting, but we don't seem to have had any rubbish is that?

Interviewing at work tomorrow and 2 out of 3 candidates have dropped out. I suppose that doesn't matter if the one remaining is good, but it is disappointing. The staffing issues are just so stressful at the moment.

The kids are so excited about going to Holland. So am I. My brother is going to be working in a sprinkles factory in Rotterdam soon. Apparently sprinkles are BIG in Holland. I was really pleased to hear this because one of my childhood memories is doing a project on Holland at school and having a Dutch breakfast that included bread and butter and sprinkles. Have given it to the kids a couple of times as a treat(!). Felt somehow vindicated when brother got the job. So now am wondering whether sprinkles will feature in the breakfast buffet.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Sausage casserole

I cooked Nigel Slaters sausages and lentils the other day. I used to cook it a lot, but now tend to do Rachel Allen's sausage and bean casserole - partly because it is the easiest thing to cook ever and will last a couple of nights (always a bonus). They are basically the same idea - a bit of sausage and a lot of pulse. I used to cook a lot of Nigel's stuff, and still dip into his kitchen diaries from time to time, but seem to have moved on to Rachel. I think it's because his dishes are usually quick-but-last-minute, and when you have kids you want something (or I want something) you can knock up in advance and then leave sitting in the oven for ages. And then reheat/rehash the next night.

I have also found the best indian chicken recipe ever. And a basic curry base that you can shove in the freezer, whip out and cook meat or vegetables or whatever in. The children are begging for chicken curry every night! And it's so easy! How great is that?

And Mr Hockings is back. Could my gastronomic prospects be any brighter???

We are going to Efteling

 We (or at least, Yer Man, who is not happy on the computer) have just booked our ferry tickets to the Netherlands, where we are going to stay in a hotel with our adorable offspring and visit Efteling. I am very excited.

Went down to Sandymouth on Sunday - officially our favourite beach. The cafe wasn't open, but we had a packet of biscuits to keep us going

1 Skylarks. Up on the cliffs you could hear them singing their hearts out. It's hard to spot them, though, but we did spot
2 A pair of peregrine falcons, one hunched on the cliff top, the other soaring past from time to time. They shriek and chatter. We also saw
3 Fish. And the children managed to catch one with their rockpool dipping kit. We put it back - obviously. Rainbow wasn't quite grasping the concept that stroking a fish is not soothing.

Pilates tonight. Feel tall and stretched. It is the nicest exercise I have ever done.

And I read The very thought of you by Rosie Alison last week. I loved it, though it kept bringing me to tears.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Some springy photos - and a special one for Laura

First of all, here's one for Laura.
I didn't grow this.
All my potatoes were perfectly formed and were eaten long ago.
No leaves yet, but there are catkins. And blue sky.
And daffodils, of course
And adventures.


Sunshine - how wonderful! Had a bad night's sleep on Friday because I made the mistake of checking my work emails and went into instant stress mode. I need to start using another email address for my personal stuff. At the moment I can't resist reading everything on there, so I have only myself to blame.

We did a lot of digging. It's still too frosty for me to think about planting. I think we might bring the chard and kale into the walled bit of the garden this year, as we lost a lot to deer over the winter. The 4 things you must grow yourself are:

peas - nothing you buy tastes as good as peas picked fresh. The kids eat them like sweeties.
lettuce - again, freshly picked lettuce is a revelation
chard - cook it, use it in salads, use it instead of spinach, infinitely versatile and comes back again and again
potatoes - firstly, digging for potatoes is like digging for treasure, secondly, freshly dug potatoes taste like the food of the gods.

We also have a big garlic patch, and we are growing onions. I will grow some beans, because you have to grow beans. We were overwhelmed with radishes last year, so I will plant sparingly, if at all. Carrots are fun - we like the purple ones. I did toy with having a completely purple vegetable patch last year - purple kale (check), purple beans (check), purple carrots, purple sprouting could do it. Red spring onions (check) and purple potatoes. I grew some yellow sugar snap peas that looked fab on the packet, but in real life just looked like they'd gone off.

We tried sweetcorn last year, which wasn't worth the space. Outdoor tomatoes failed. Courgettes are great, and then you go away on holiday and come back to marrows...

We didn't grow pumpkins last year, but I plan to this year, if only for Halloween - mainly because I bought pumpkins to make lanterns last year and they tasted of NOTHING. I object to buying a vegetable (OK, fruit) for purely ornamental purposes.

Oh, yes, I'm very excited about spring, and the snowdrops are suddenly drooping and fading and the daffodils are bursting open like little golden fireworks everywhere. We cycled up to Yarde on Sunday and had a lovely lunch sitting outdoors in the sunshine, and then came home and just hung out in the field. Lovely.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Crow Point

The first time we opened our eyes
The second life


Tipi fire

It might still be there.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Still winter (just), but sunshine

I believe in spring

Fat jaunty catkins
Pewter sheen of pussy willow
Buds -
Swollen daffodil buds, almost bursting with yellow
Sticky buds on the horse chestnut
Tiny buds on the fruit trees, promising that there will be green

It's on its way!

Monday, 1 March 2010

Do you feel like a good cry?

Just collecting together some bits and bobs. This always makes me cry. Hard, painful, crying, not decorative welling up.Watch it and weep. Everyone I know goes away in the end.

In love

I'm really sorry, but I've fallen in love. I really really really want one of these. Isn't it gorgeous? I'm now having all kinds of fantasies about whereabouts we could put it....