“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”
– Edith Sitwell
We have had the icy cold days with a frosting of snow recently and then we had the rain… but it brought slightly milder weather with it, which has been quite welcome…today it is cold once again but very sunny. Although I like the winter months the cold has got to my bones a bit – I must be getting older. The full force of the winter weather can be seen further afield out on the moors above us where there are wonderful and ever-changing vistas to capture – I love the bleak atmosphere that surrounds this expanse of wilderness – there are no trees, no buildings and no people. Even the sky can seem quite dark and foreboding at times. Only days ago this road was closed to a heavy snowfall and ice and we had to find alternative routes on lower ground – yesterday as you see it is quite passable with only a light dusting over the hills. The beauty of this untouched landscape is breathtaking no matter when you pass through.
Around the garden there are plenty of delightful things happening at the moment despite the weather. I haven’t ventured outside very much but I have noticed little pockets of colour and a show of buds here and there. Sometimes everything looks deceptively still and quiet beneath the carpet of leaves but on closer inspection there are shoots appearing and the bulbs I planted only a couple of months ago and these Snowdrops are beginning to push through the earth – a sign that spring will be here soon. To prevent the local cats doing their business and scratching around in the bare patches of earth where the bulbs lie beneath I pushed a few twigs, from the hydrangea prunings, into the ground as a deterent and to protect them and I noticed they are starting to bud and have actually taken root. Anyone want an hydrangea there will be far to many to keep!Whilst it is so cold I find the best thing to do is stay warm indoors in the kitchen making those nourishing winter comfort dishes. Cauliflower and Broccoli Cheese bake is always a favourite here and plenty of nut roasts with root vegetables. Making plenty of soup is still on the menu too – I have found a pack each of white and chestnut mushrooms mixed together make a very quick soup for lunch – add a leek and a stick or two of celery and a generous handful of fresh parsley for flavour…
…and use up any leftover large ripe tomatoes to make a very warming Tomato Soup with red pepper and a little carrot and a touch of paprika, run through the blender and sprinkle with a good spoonful of parmesan cheese….On those days when we only have enough soup left for one we share it and I serve a mini bowl of soup with a ploughman’s lunch to use up the thick crusts of bread.For some reason I always feel January is a good month for home life and a little housekeeping – not a deep spring clean and certainly nothing too strenuous but just enough to freshen the place up once all the Christmas decorations have been taken down and packed away.
I have spent time in each room adding decorative bits and pieces and moving pictures around; just using what I already have and switching things about. Remember the dried oranges and limes I made at Christmas; they have mellowed now but still add a touch of colour to these grey winter days and continue to fragrance the air. My daughter bought me this lovely glass showcase perfect to display little bits and bobs. I chose this lino-cut print with the red fox and the little red bird to go with my hand carved wooden robins – the bold black and white with a splash of colourful red seems quite appropriate for now.In the corner of the dining room the yellow tulips from Aldi for £1.89 are so wonderfully vibrant and cheerful – and very reasonably priced – I will certainly be visiting the store for more flowers in future as they have lasted so well. Another small but new pleasure in my life is this desk calendar on a gold metal stand – Sadie over at Notes from an Ordinary Life introduced me to pink and I must say I am hooked – I saw this in Sainsbury’s and somehow it found its way into my trolley last week – it cost me £7 but it can be used again and again if I make and print my own calendar sheets next year when this one is finished. I am looking forward to making my own too – I might try out some decorative stamps or lino-cuts.We have done very little shopping so far this year as there is not very much that we need other than a new kitchen. During the sales I got a great deal on the Neal’s Yard items – the face cream and serum I use was being offered at a discount in a gift box so not only did I get it cheaper but there is a free eye cream with it. I also love their sturdy boxes and reuse these for all kinds of things.Mum must be getting more forgetful as for the first time in years (and I mean years) she didn’t buy me my usual slim handbag diary for Christmas so I looked for a cheap one in Poundland – I should be able to spot this colourful one easily in my handbag – I carry one about to jot down appointment times, phone numbers or anything I need to make a note of whilst I am out (most people would probably use their phones but I am not a phone user – I still like paper – you don’t have to remember to charge it!). Whilst out shopping I also took advantage of the reductions on Christmas cards and bought a couple of packs with 50% off to put away for next Christmas.
Staying snug and warm by the fire, watching old movies in the afternoon on the Talking Pictures channel, laughing at ‘For the Love of Ada’ – a comedy from the 70’s , a little reorganising and cleaning around the house, a few bright spots of colour placed here and there in each room, writing thank you notes to friends, flicking through my magazines for ideas and lots of planning for the year ahead – a pleasurable way to get through the long grey days of winter.
As Edith Sitwell says – winter is a time for home.
Baby X is now doing well – I think we are on the turn and mum and dad are easing into a routine – one with little sleep – but starting to find their feet now and feel more confident – they dealt with the problems that arose very well and deserved a medal for their perseverance – having a tiny baby relying on you for everything is especially hard when mum herself has post delivery problems that needs attention too. Thank you for all your good wishes – it is very much appreciated.
I will be putting a tab at the top of my blog just for recipes of anything I mention here – do bear with me this may take a little time to do.
Hope you are enjoying your winter days x