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

Monday 23 September 2019

Summer's End

The last of the sunflowers has opened up in the morning sun, I've just returned from a short run along the lanes, and there's a pan of leek and potato soup in the kitchen ready for my lunch.
I'm quite relieved to see the start of this new week.

Last week was a bit meh! Both Lily and I felt quite out of sorts. Nothing I could put my finger on but I was initially putting it down to being overtired - settling in to the new school year, trying my best to complete my studies (I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the end of this week), and pushing myself to get back into some form of exercise routine. Looking back now, I think it's clear we were suffering with some sort of virus. Several evenings I was so shivery, I was wrapped up in a blanket on the sofa. Now, I am aware I feel the cold very easily but this felt a little extreme, even for me, and I have since discovered it has been affecting quite a few people, a sort of primary school version of fresher's flu.

My original plans for the weekend involved a steep climb and the promise of some glorious views but, given how washed out I was feeling, this was definitely not a good idea. Any time I've been under the weather, as well as some early nights and making sure I'm eating properly, I always feel better for a good dose of sea air, so with this is mind, instead, we went to the beach. And I'm so glad we did. It was just the nicest way to say goodbye to our summer. The temperatures were unseasonably high and it was lovely to have this last opportunity to paddle in the sea, breathe in the fresh salty air, and feel the warm sunshine on our skin. 

I'm pleased to say we are both now feeling much better and, with the ending of our summer days,  I'm looking forward to what autumn holds in store.
J. X

Saturday 14 September 2019

A Quiet Day

We're  having a quiet day at home today. The bright morning sunshine has given way to a slightly overcast afternoon.  The washing is blowing on the line, I've made a batch of carrot and lentil soup and the stew I've prepared for dinner this evening is gently simmering away on the stove.
It's been a busy week, so I'm grateful for this opportunity to relax and wind down.

Last weekend we, once again, went for a walk in the Northern Lakes, high up some forest tracks to where the views opened out towards the sea in the west and the Skiddaw range of fells in the east. The heather is fading away now and there are subtle signs of autumn all around. We enjoyed a picnic overlooking Bassenthwaite Lake before our steep descent, which found us tentatively crossing some slippery stones over a narrow stream, before finding ourselves amongst the trees once more.

On Tuesday evening we took part in a bat walk down by the river. The light was just beginning to fade and it was the perfect time to catch sight of these fascinating little creatures. We saw some flying overhead, heard them in the trees, using bat detectors and spotted some darting out from beneath the bridge, skimming the surface of the river looking for flies. We were meant to end our evening with hot chocolate and cookies but, as Lily was tired from a long day, we returned home early.

Last night, just as we did last year, we went to Blackpool for fish and chips and to see the Illuminations and fireworks. It was such a lovely evening. The air was still and the harvest moon shone brightly in the beautifully clear night sky.  We watched the fireworks from the promenade, enjoyed the tableau displays, then returned home rather weary but very happy.

This week, we have begun to settle into a routine and, so far, everything is going well. Lily seems to have settled in at school, which is a relief, as although she has always enjoyed going, I can't help that initial feeling of concern at the beginning of each new school year. Our week ahead should be a little less busy, which I am quite thankful for. I've some loose ends to tie up and some plans to make.
Have a great weekend.

J. X

Wednesday 11 September 2019

Saying Farewell to Summer

It's that time of the year. Waking up to a chill in the air and yet by mid morning I've needed to discard my sweater having got so warm. The long, hot days of summer are gone, the paddling pool has been packed away for another year and some mornings I have woken to find condensation on the inside of the windows.
The seasons are changing and I am saying a reluctant goodbye to summer.
I've had a busy couple of weeks which began with the end of our summer break and ended with Lily starting back at school.
For the last week of the holiday, the weather here wasn't so great but we kept ourselves busy. Lily enjoyed baking cupcakes and I was happy to ice and eat them. I wrote out the recipe and she loved weighing the ingredients. We've been swimming - a lot! And, of course, we enjoyed some short walks close to home when we had the chance.
At the beginning of summer we booked ourselves a night away which, as well as something to look forward to, would allow us to visit two places we've wanted to see for a while now. So at the beginning of last week, we went to Monkey Forest in Trentham and to The National Space Centre in Leicester. We had such a great time and it was a perfect way to end our summer break.

I've switched the bedding over to brushed cotton and, although it seems quite early for this, as I'm someone who feels the cold easily it has made such a difference.
In the garden, the sunflowers are almost all out now. I think there is just one left waiting to open up. They have kept us waiting this year but have been worth it.
The vegetables in the raised bed have all been eaten (by ourselves or by the caterpillars!) and I need to turn the soil soon, in readiness for the winter months. When it has been dry enough I've been trying to keep on top of cutting the grass and I expect that sometime soon it will be for the last time this year.

With a certain baking programme back on the television, I'm finding it's almost impossible to watch without craving cake and yet cake is something I don't bake very often. Always one to give in to temptation 😊 I fortunately remembered this simple, yet delicious, recipe for plum cake and dragged my cake tin out from the darkest depths of the kitchen cupboard.

150g caster sugar
115g butter
140g plain flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
2 eggs
Pinch of salt
Cinnamon sugar

Make the sponge by creaming together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, gradually mixing in the flour, baking powder and salt. Pour into a greased and lined 26cm tin, then top with the halved plums, cut side up. I used five for my cake.
Sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar and bake at 150° for around 45 minutes.

School finally started back in the middle of last week. Lily has settled in well and is, so far, enjoying what this new term has to offer and I'm enjoying our daily walks through the village once more. I'm currently finding my feet in a different routine but there is a feeling of calm as the seasons start to shift and I acknowledge the new rhythm to my days.

J. X