Monday 29 January 2024

Dull days

Even on the dullest days, if I go outside, there is something uplifting to find. This morning we are blanketed in a drippy mist. I rather like it, it suits my mood at this time of year. It has altered my plans to do some tidying up in the garden, I may have to resort to doing housework!
A casual glance at the garden and it looks as dull as the day but closer inspection shows promise of bud and leaf. The plants in pots have had a hammering from strong winds this winter and are looking rather raggy and my lavender bushes don't seem to like it here and they look half dead or completely so.
But look! Faces down, not at all keen to show off, the hellebores are starting to flower.

Saturday 20 January 2024

Winter warmers.

Cold weather makes me hungry and when the wind whistles and the sky is grey it's good to sit down to a colourful plate of food. Yesterday I soaked some chicken pieces in a marinade made with lime and lemon juice, vegetable oil, tumeric, crushed garlic and cumin seeds. I served the resulting oven-cooked meat with a mixture of brown and wild rice and drizzled some of the juices over the cooked carrot and red cabbage. The result was very cheering.
Cold weather is also hot pudding time and we ate an easy blackcurrant version of Eve's pudding, the cake mxture made with just one egg and 3oz each of butter, sugar and flour softened with milk. (It's going to take a while, post-Christmas, to get back to my usual weight!)
I hope you are all keeping warm and well fed.

Thursday 18 January 2024


It's cold out and the warmest place to be in our house is in the kitchen. Another supply of wood is being delivered tomorrow in case the cold weather overstays it's welcome. Long gone are the days when we could fell and cut our own wood. The load will be dropped in the drive and then we shall have a little bit of a workout in stacking it neatly under cover.
My Meyer lemon bush is outside the kitchen window under the verandah wrapped in fleece. It is not looking happy. I've had this bush for thirty years or so, it was a present from my father. Every year it produces a good crop of fruit. First it is smothered in blossom, many of which develop into small fruitlets. Then, like apple trees, there comes a point when many of these small fruits drop off. Last year, for some unknown reason, there was no drop and they just hung on. The bush is struggling to cope with such a large crop. The lemons have ripened but remain ridiculously small. When I heard the cold weather warning I went outside and harvested a good number of them in the hopes of giving the bush more of a fighting chance against the weather. I've taken many cuttings over the years so have got a backup, but I would hate to lose my father's present.
Perhaps I should make some lemon marmalade - stirring a jam pan over the stove would keep me warm!

Wednesday 3 January 2024

First flowers of 2024.

We are experiencing such a battering of wind and rain at the moment, although not suffering from the repeated flooding and loss of electricity that many in the country are having to endure. I have barely been out of doors for days. When I do go into the garden it is to pick up fallen branches for kindling or to gather the camellia flowers that have been knocked from their stems and lie in pools of colour on the ground. How promising it is, in spite of the weather, to see new growth emerging, buds waiting to open, small glints of green showing on a dead-looking branch. I've made a start at packing away the Christmas decorations, everything from the kitchen and some of the greenery. All will be gone by Friday, which is Twelfth Night. I've put the camellia flowers where the nativity set was placed. Tomorrow I'll tackle the tree!

Monday 1 January 2024

New Year 2024.

In these troubled times it was good to bring in the New Year feeling safe and warm in our own home. I could only wish that it might be the same for everyone else. We finished off the side of oak smoked Isle of Bute salmon that we had all been tucking into over Christmas, put our feet up on the sofa and remembered past and livelier Hogmanays! Messages came in after midnight and were sent to family and friends.
In the morning I phoned Edinburgh to check that the traditional New Year's Day steak pie was going to be on the table. Yes, there was going to be a house full of family and the steak pie was ready. Oh, how I wished to be there! We had a good long chat, remembering all the fun of past celebrations and stating our intentions of meeting up before too long, good intentions that are rarely realized.
I send you my best wishes for happiness and good health and a peaceful and contented 2024.