Thursday 24 January 2019


Before I start wittering on, I would like to say a heartfelt thank you for all the good wishes and supportive comments on my previous post. I have been genuinely overwhelmed and touched by your kind words of encouragement and friendship, so please know just how much each and every message means to me.

We've eased ourselves gently into the year, allowing for the mindless daily routine to see us through, finding comfort in the ordinary.
For the most part, January has been reflective of my recent mood. The days have been gloomy, grey and damp, with very little in the way of sunshine; until this last week when the mornings have been pleasingly frosty and bright, with snow covered mountain tops and icy pavements.

There is still joy to be found at this time of year, however.  We've been out walking, whenever possible, wrapping up well against the wintry weather and I can't fail to be cheered by the sight of swathes of snowdrops in the woods. I've begun working on my crochet again ( I will get this blanket finished!), and I'm even attempting to kick start my running; I might have only been out four times since new year, but still, it's a start and I'm hoping to build on it.

It's been a quiet month so far and I've been spending a lot of my time in the kitchen. When life is uncertain I like to keep busy and feel like I'm doing my bit by providing good, wholesome food. We've enjoyed some delicious soups and our vegetable intake has increased significantly thanks to the purchase of a vegetable box. Since the beginning of the year I've given the kitchen cupboards a good clear out, so I now know just what has been hiding away at the back and I've been able to use up some things which would have otherwise gone to waste. I never understand why I allow the cupboards to get in such a mess, no matter how many times I vow to keep on top of them.

At the weekend, and following a bit of a search for some Seville oranges, I made marmalade. Yes, it was time consuming and yes, it was messy (or that could just be me!), but oh my goodness, it is delicious.
I split the batch in two. Partly because my pan wasn't deep enough once the sugar was added, and also so I was able to add some brandy to half of the mix. Both with and without it tastes so good and I am delighted with it.

If you would like to try it for yourself, this is the recipe I used.

1 kg Seville oranges
2.25l water
2kg granulated sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

Makes around eight jars.

Squeeze the juice out of the fruit and pour through a sieve (to catch any bits) into the pan and add the water. Remove any remaining pips and pith from the orange peel (I scrape it with the edge of a spoon) and place in a small muslin bag, suspending this in the juice.
Slice up the peel to the required thickness and place in the pan, simmering gently for around 1½ hours. Allow the mixture to cool slightly, then squeeze the liquid from the bag into the orange mixture.
Add the sugar to the pan and gradually bring to the boil stirring continuously for around fifteen minutes. Test for the setting point on a cold saucer and once ready pour into sterilised jars.
If you wish to add whisky or brandy to your marmalade, then stir though 100mls just before pouring into the jars.

J. X

Monday 7 January 2019

Into the New Year

Hello 2019!

I hope the New Year finds you well rested, following the festivities of the last few weeks. We've enjoyed a lovely time since school ended last month and, I won't lie, I'm going to find it really difficult to get back into the swing of things when my alarm clock goes off in the morning, as the new term begins.

I've never been one for huge celebrations at New Year. I see it, instead, as a time for reflection of the year passed and of my hopes for the year to come. So, instead of staying up and celebrating at midnight, we were in bed by 10.30p.m. in anticipation of an early start on New Year's day. The top photograph was taken when we arrived on the shores of Ullswater, just as the sun began to rise above the mountains. It was a beautiful and clear morning with a distinct chill to the air but it was oh-so-quiet and still there. The perfect way (I think) to begin our New Year.

We lit the stove and, while we waited for our sausages to cook, enjoyed a mug of steaming hot coffee, as the sun rose and the sky changed from a deep grey into a gorgeous shade of bright blue. Lily amused herself paddling in the lake and climbing trees, unaware of New Year,  only concerning herself with having fun. Our peace was only disturbed when some New Year dippers swam by.  The water was, in their words, 'refreshing.' 

The following day and, blessed with more good weather, we went for a walk up Silverhowe near Grasmere. It is only a short, steep climb to the summit but the views from the top are stunning, and on a clear day you can see for miles around.  It felt so good to  be up in the fells again, our last 'proper' walk having been back in November and seeming like a long time since.

Unfortunately, during this last week we've been dealt a bit of a blow, which has thrown us off our stride, to put it mildly. Life does have a way of throwing curve balls now and again, and although  I'm trying to stay positive and hopeful this will only be short term, any kind of uncertainty is difficult to deal with. So, if I am a bit quiet on here for a while, this is the reason.

I hope this New Year brings you everything you wish for.
J. X