Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Sunny Morning at Sizergh

At the weekend and with the promise of a sunny day, we took a trip out to Sizergh Castle. It had been a while since our last visit there and, with my hip still causing discomfort, it was just enough for me to be able to enjoy a gentle pootle around the gardens and appreciate the autumn colour.
The castle itself looked glorious in the autumn sunshine. We've looked around the rooms on previous visits but on such a beautiful day we were only interested in enjoying it from the outside. Also, our boots were so muddy, I doubt they would have let us in anyway!

As we arrived shortly after ten o'clock, it was still lovely and quiet. In the courtyard they were gearing up for the Greenwood Fair. This is an annual event to celebrate the woodlands on the Sizergh estate, which includes guided walks, demonstrations and stalls. We had a quick look around but soon set off for the seclusion of the woodland knoll which overlooks the small pond. On our last visit, in February, the trees were bare and there were clumps of snowdrops scattered to the edge of the pathway. This time a light carpet of russet leaves covered the ground.

With Lily leading the way (and me hobbling along behind) we made our way around the beautiful rock garden, where the Acers are putting on an amazing display, through the orchard, stopping to say hello to the chickens and along to the Mirror Lake at the front of the castle, which was covered in lily pads. Following a brief chocolate break we visited my favourite part of the castle - the kitchen garden. They manage to grow a large variety of produce here, much of which is used in the café. By the look of things this will soon include a lot of leeks and kale. The sunflowers at the entrance to the greenhouse were huge!

We had a peek in the greenhouse, being careful to close the door quickly behind us. Apparently, Charlie the cat has a habit of lying on the plants!

He didn't appear to mind, however. 🐈🐈🐈

J. X

Friday, 11 October 2019

Enjoying the Season

Or, at least, we are trying to in between the downpours. Autumn has arrived here in typical northern style. Wet and windy. Beautiful sunshine one minute, then dark and pouring with rain the next.
This week has felt long. I've been struggling with a hip problem and now I'm very aware of the beginnings of a cold. I suppose the weather should be the perfect excuse to cosy-in and rest up.

Mother Nature is doing her thing. The earth is preparing to slow down for the winter with a wonderful display, and at the weekend we walked through the woods, taking it all in. The leaves are falling fast and we had fun trying to catch them before they landed. Mum - 1. Lily - 0, although in fairness I've had a few more years of practice.
Our boots have taken up permanent position by the front door. I wouldn't consider anything less at his time of year - warm, dry toes are a priority for me. The ground is so muddy. Soggy leaves, beech nuts and conkers get everywhere. I try not to be too concerned on the occasions mud is trampled in the house, it's soon swept up.

The amount of conkers on the coffee table is increasing by the day. I collect them every autumn. It's something that immediately takes me back to childhood and I love that Lily enjoys it too. The gingerbread candle has been lit in an evening and it smells amazing and the knitted pumpkins have taken their seasonal place upon the mantel.

This week I've been particularly busy in the kitchen. Everything has been cooked from scratch - yes, even the post swimming class pizza! I've surprised myself. There's nothing I like better than comfort food at this time of year, especially if it's simple and delicious, and one of my favourites is a risotto.

Butternut squash and sage risotto:

1 small squash cut into chunks
50g butter
1 onion
2 teaspoons dried sage
300g arborio rice
Approximately 1.5 litres vegetable stock
50g hard cheese

Roast the squash in a medium oven for around 20 minutes. 
Gently cook the onions in the butter. Stir in rice, sage, adding the vegetable stock a little at a time, until cooked.
Mash up half the squash (I use a fork to do this) and stir through the rice along with the cheese.
Serve up in bowls with the rest of the squash scattered on top.

Thank you to everyone who left such kind words on my last post. I'm happy to report the school situation appears to have been resolved but it is something I will be keeping a close eye on.

J. X

Monday, 30 September 2019

Stepping into Autumn

The surrounding countryside has taken on an unmistakable autumn vibe, so I decided to treat the blog to a touch of seasonal colour. 🍁🍂🍃🍁🍂🍃🍁

It's been quite a week. I've finally completed my studies but whereas I should be feeling happy and relieved, following some miserable days of persistent rain and Lily experiencing some difficulties at school, instead I've hit a bit of a slump. I'm throwing myself into the new season, however, and intend to embrace all things autumn. On the coffee table there is a gingerbread scented candle, some conkers I gathered whilst out running during the week, and some knitting, which is currently a work in progress.
This morning the temperature has dropped noticeably and, although we've been wearing our thin waterproofs up until now, I suspect we will be changing to our warmer jackets later this week.

At the weekend, on the one fine day we've had for a while, Lily and I went for a walk in the woods. It is one of our favourite walks and one we enjoy on a regular basis. It only takes us an hour from start to finish, that's with us bimbling along and includes the obligatory stops for stick collecting, puddle splashing and, of course, chocolate! The recent heavy rain meant that many of the pathways were wet and muddy and I was glad I'd decided we should wear our wellies. Leaves have begun falling from the trees and it wont be long until the woodland floor is a carpet of orange and yellow.  

It is lovely and peaceful in the woods and more often than not we have it all to ourselves. This time, however, the ordinarily gently flowing stream was a noisy torrent of water but by sharp contrast, further into the woods where the sun shone through the canopy of the trees, it was quiet and still.
The change in the seasons is apparent now. The garden is looking a bit of a mess and I need to get out there on a fine day to clear it up. The raised bed needs turning over, sunflowers need pulling out and I should really get the garden furniture put away until the spring.
In the kitchen I'm cooking more wholesome, warming meals, which I love at this time of year. If I manage to get myself into more of a routine, I might even get back to baking my own bread.
J. X