I don’t remember the moment I fell in love with books but I know they’ve been an important part of my life for a long time. I have books in just about every room at home and there’s usually one tucked away in my bag, under my pillow or behind a cushion. It sounds silly but I just feel better having a book next to me and when my eyes are too tired to read it’s as though holding a book makes me feel better, like a security blanket.
Books can instantly dissolve the real world and replace it with times, places and situations never experienced. Good books also make me examine myself and reflect on life, relationships and dreams. I have books for cold Winter days that need to be read with a mug of hot chocolate next to a fire and other books that require the smell of sun tan lotion to bring out the flavour of the tales.
Sarah Addison Allen the author of Garden Spells and The Sugar Queen describes it so much better than I can:
You fall in love with every book you touch. You never break the spine or tear the pages. That would be cruel. You have secret favorites but, when asked, you say that you could never choose. But did you know that books fall in love with you, too?Remember that pale yellow book you read when you were sixteen? It changed your world, that book. It changed your dreams. You carried it around until it was old and thin and sparkles no longer rose from the pages and filled the air when you opened it, like it did when it was new. You should know that it still thinks of you. It would like to get together sometime, maybe over coffee next month, so you can see how much you’ve both changed.
I have a Kindle that feeds my habit, and it’s exceptionally good when you need to pack light for a journey, but I’m afraid it lacks soul. Surely I’m not alone with this view? A Kindle doesn’t have the smell of paper and it doesn’t tell it’s own tales – I love finding second hand books with inscriptions, well worn pages and occasional thumb prints. The weight and feel of books is reassuringly different with each novel feeling different to the one before. My gorgeous husband rarely buys me flowers… he buys me books. He knows where my heart lies x
I’ve recently finished reading “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry” by Rachel Joyce and I must say it’s really charmed me. At the beginning of each chapter there are some endearing little sketches which capture the style of the book nicely. I didn’t want to stop reading it and even through the tears (yes, full on sobbing – not pretty!) I would still describe this as a feel good story!
Well, the snow is finally thawing here and the clocks have gone forward one hour making the evenings lighter. We had a lovely walk in through the Woodlands this morning and I’m pretty sure that Spring is almost here – so I’m going to dig out my gardening books and get a fix of Green.
There’s nothing nicer than watching the seasons change and relishing those foods that are oh-so-soon-gone. After a poor, rainy Summer the Winter seems to have gone on forever so I was eagerly anticipating Spring. Unfortunately Mother Nature has decided to delay Spring for a while longer. Instead of cold, sunny days and daffodils we now have 6 inches of snow and biting winds. What the heck, if Mother Nature can be contrary then so can I… Summer fruit scones and homemade strawberry jam for afternoon tea!
Scone Recipe 350g self-raising flour, plus more for dusting ¼ tsp salt 1 tsp baking powder 85g butter, cut into cubes
3 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
squeeze lemon juice
beaten egg, to glaze
These are so simple to make! Mix the flour, salt and baking powder together and then add the butter, rubbing between fingers until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the caster sugar and sultanas then combine well into the crumb mixture. In a jug combine the milk, vanilla extract and a squeeze of lemon. Don’t mokey around once you add the liquid to the dry ingredients – the secret to a light scone is to handle the mixture as little as possible. Gently roll the dough on a floured surface and cut out the scones out with a small cutter. Glaze with a beaten egg and put the scones on a baking tray into the oven at 220c for approx 10mins.
These are best served slightly warm from the oven with clotted cream and homemade strawberry jam. As a Summer treat they are great but as an antidote to a snowy Spring day with a nice cup of Assam tea they are amazing!
Snow has a particular beauty. A beauty that is perfect for a dark January day when the fires rarely go out and mittens are stuffed into pockets. This beauty doesn’t extend to March however when the birds want to build nests, the hares want to box and the plants want to grow. Mittens should be safely tucked away again… so safe in fact that they can’t be found again in Winter!
The chickens seem very confused (and this wasn’t helped when I gave them a little taste of fruit scone in what they consider the depths of Winter!).
As for the kittens; they refused to go outside this weekend. I can’t blame them. They stared out the open front door for a few seconds, sniffed the snow and then ran back indoors. Milo did step outside once and very quickly leapt back inside when the cold stuff hit his paws.
I look forward to the snow thawing as I’m pretty sure Milo only went outside to bury his collar. You see, Bella has taken to her collar really well and parades around as if she’s wearing a diamond necklace. Milo unfortunately has worked out how to get his safety collar off and hide it from us. This hide and seek game was quite endearing… only this time we can’t find it!
Brrrrrr. It remains cold out there so there’s not a lot of change to see in the garden. However, the days are certainly getting lighter and the Spring flowers are starting to put on a show. The wind has damaged quite a few plants and the covers keep blowing off but it has simply taught me to choose hardier plants this year.
The kittens are now 6 months old and this weekend they went outside for the first time. They have bells on their collars to give the birds fair warning that they’re around and after much encouragement they slowly made their way to the Kitchen Garden. Milo may be the bigger cat but he’s a scaredy cat! I haven’t got any clear photos of him as he kept close to the hedge line and darted everywhere – the best I could manage was the wet paw prints he left behind. He loved playing on the walls and was particularly interested in the hessian covering the asparagus. Bella who is not so reserved, happily climbed, sniffed and explored. The fur on her side is growing back now – they’ve both recovered really well (in fact it was me who was traumatised!).
We’ve not introduced them to the cat flap yet as I want them to get used to being outside first. We have four days off work at Easter in so it will probably happen then when we can give them lots of time and attention.
I’ve sown the first seeds at last – carrots, beetroot, chard, kale, broad beans and spinach all directly in the beds. Others such as tomatoes, aubergine, squash, sweetcorn and chillies have been brought indoors where they can get a cosier start. The only problem is where to keep the plant pots as the cats love soil and plants and the utility room is now their bedroom. I decided to put them on top of the oak beams in the garden room… I just hope they don’t fall on anyone’s head!
The cats are safely back from the vets and seem to be really pleased to be home. I’m sure after a couple of days rest they’ll be back to normal. Milo is quite groggy from the anaesthetic and is sleeping it off but Bella is trying really hard not to give in… she’s prowling around and trying hard not to fall asleep sitting up! They’re having a post op check up in a couple of days and they’ll be able to venture outside in a week or so – just in time to help me sow the first seeds 🙂
The days are noticeably longer and there is a whiff of Spring in the air. When I went outside this afternoon my mind was set on scratching about a bit but, in all honesty, there wasn’t that much to do. I pulled up a few weeds, did a spot of sweeping and then spent the rest of the time wandering around having a good look at the plants waking up from their sleep. Unfortunately, all the weeds are waking up from their sleep too so I’m currently trying to stay ahead of the game.
The sun was out for a few hours this morning and I once again had to restrain myself from sowing seeds – it’s still too cold and we don’t have a greenhouse yet! The seed box is laughing at me but I won’t play it’s games 😉
The kitties are growing so fast… they’re being neutered tomorrow and I already feel anxious. I know that it’s the responsible thing to do but it doesn’t stop me fretting about them. I just have to keep focused on them being able to go outside, chase rabbits and fall sleep in the Kitchen Garden. It will be lovely to hear the cat flap swinging to and fro again… I just need to get some collars with bells on to give the birds fair warning.