Wednesday 29 April 2020

The Last Few Days

I baked bread. I've never been quite so excited to get my hands on a bag of flour and the bread was simply delicious. Minimal effort for maximum reward : )

Our afternoon walks have continued. Lily insisted I take a photograph of these bluebells which appeared to us all at once through a gap in a wall.

The last of the spring lambs have appeared in the fields.

The wild garlic has flowered, covering the woodland floor with a carpet of white.

Mog has remained in a permanent state of sedentary bliss.

The number of ducklings at the river appear to have increased.

Lily chalked a blue heart on a rock for the NHS workers.

And still insists on talking to the cows.

I got a craving for scones and used the last of my flour to bake some. I ate one fresh and warm, straight from the oven.

In the garden the sweet peas have grown fast and the strawberries have begun to flower.

J. X

Thursday 23 April 2020

Sunny Afternoons

This last week has seen some gentle structure return to my days, and I have felt some relief from the sense of purpose it has given me. I have been waking earlier, the sound of the dawn chorus along with sunlight streaming in through the window a far more pleasant start to the morning than the piercing call of my alarm clock. At this time of day the house is quiet and still, so I sit and enjoy my coffee, sometimes taking it with me into the garden while I check on the raised bed and uncover the seedlings.
Then, in what feels like no time at all the house begins to come to life, breakfasts are made, Mog is reminding me to fill her empty bowl and more often than not the washing machine gets turned on. A quick glance at the home learning plan on the table and I realise I need more coffee before the daily routine begins. I am quietly grateful for my large dining table just now,  as along with the school learning pack it  is currently home to a pile of ironing, a peace lily, paper, colouring pens, a toad habitat  in a box and a rough draft of facts about minnows. For some reason it is also home to  a stick and a fir cone.

The time soon passes as we navigate our way through learning in the home environment. It's not always easy as home is usually a place of sanctuary, somewhere to unwind and without the formality of a school day. A balance has to be struck and I've also learned to take a more relaxed approach and understand we don't have to do it all.
The one thing I do insist on, however, is that our afternoons are free to do as we please. Of course during lockdown it isn't a case of going out where and when we choose but we are incredibly fortunate to have some beautiful places within walking distance, so each afternoon we set off on an 'adventure' to see what we can find. The sunny weather has been such a blessing to us and we've been out almost every day. There are  lambs in the fields, toads and ducklings down by the river and if we walk just a little bit further through the fields we can reach the woods.  It would be very easy to continue to walk along the main path here but if we turn uphill and head up the (very) steep track a beautiful sight awaits.

Every year the bluebells put on a stunning display for us and this year was no exception. Blowing gently in the breeze and filling the woodland with their soft sweet scent  they are always such a pleasure to see and we are sit quietly for a while on a fallen tree trunk before making our way home.
Our return journey takes us along the river bank then through the fields. This is Lily's favourite part of the walk, and you can see why.

Lily likes cows and I think they like her too.

I am enjoying our sunny afternoon walks and find we are meeting new, now familiar faces. There's Bob, who we pass down the lane, he lives alone as his wife sadly died last year, and a lady we see in the fields with her huge dog, Mack. We always stop for a (socially distanced) chat, so it will feel strange when the lockdown is relaxed and we will no longer see them.
As we head home up the lane and across the stream there is always time for a quick game of Poohsticks. I promise I'm not keeping count but I'm sure I've won the most times up to now : )
Stay well.

J. X

Wednesday 15 April 2020

Spring Weekend

This weekend has been a happy jumble of all sorts. Days have passed slowly and gently, unhurried  and relaxed. I have given over trying to maintain too much structure to our time at home, instead I'm learning it's better to take things day by day and adjust my busy mind accordingly.

Lily and I had lots of messy fun making Chocolate nests. A few weeks ago I had made sure to get in the ingredients we would be using, and I can't tell you how difficult it was not to help myself to some of the chocolate during that time. It was calling to me, even from the highest shelf.
Talking of chocolate, we have eaten such a lot over the weekend, in fact, the Easter bunny arrived super early here, with foil covered eggs hidden all over the garden.  

As well as the chocolate nests I also baked an orange and rosemary cake using some of the fresh rosemary from the garden. It was delicious, if a bit sticky, served with a marmalade glaze.

I have been very fortunate to receive some plants from a nearby garden centre which, sadly, would otherwise have gone to waste, so the garden has been treated to a much needed injection of colour. I returned  home from a lovely afternoon walk to find I had been gifted several pots of tulips, some fritillaria and some blue anemone. Some beautiful flowers, which are quite clearly enjoying this sunny weather.  The sweet peas, which I saved from last year's crop are already looking promising and the spinach in the raised bed is growing fast. Over the weekend we also sowed the carrot and beetroot seeds, and the two different varieties of sunflowers, always a favourite of ours, have  begun to sprout. Once again, I'm feeling such gratitude to have this outdoor space at the present time.

Home learning begins again this week and I am happy to be able to put this in place once more. I'm easing us in gently, however, although the topic this term is much more fun, and it helps that we are getting a little more input from the school. Each afternoon we are getting out for our daily walk, making the most of this time to stretch our legs, appreciate our surroundings and enjoy the gloriously sunny weather.
J. X

Wednesday 8 April 2020

Above the River

Now that we are on our Easter break, all home schooling has been pushed to one side for the time being and along with it so has any semblance of structure we had to our days. With no real sense of purpose our mornings have turned into very lazy affairs. Usually busy, I'm finding this slower pace of life is taking quite a bit of getting used to and this last week I have been undeniably feeling the effects from a lack of daily routine.
It's not surprising, therefore, that the one thing I am so very grateful for during this time is my daily exercise. I feel so blessed that each afternoon I am able to leave the house to take a walk in the local area. Such a treasured part of the day where, for a short while at least, everything is as it should be, nature is doing what she does best, and I am reassured by the sights of springtime all around us. There are several walks which we can access easily from home. One of my favourite routes at this time takes us up the hill, through the village and along the lane, finally crossing a bridge before dropping down towards the river.

Here beneath the trees lies an abundance of wild garlic. Usually, I walk straight through along the main path but on Monday I took a slight detour, up a small track which led me to some fresh, new green shoots. I didn't  hang around long, just enough to grab a few handfuls which I carefully tucked  away in my bag, with plans to turn them into a delicious pesto later in the day.

The track skirts along the edge of the fields, above the river, the once muddy footpath, now hard, cracked and dusty following the recent dry, sunny weather. Lambs are scattered about the fields, some old enough to wander independently now. They are curious ,but soon scatter as we approach. There are younger ones in the field on the opposite bank, and many more still to be born.

We take another brief pause, closer to the water. Just long enough to rest our legs and catch our breath, before the path leads us away from the river, through fields and along the lane, to return home once again.

Following a quick rinse, the wild garlic leaves are blended with olive oil, lemon juice, parmesan and pine nuts to create this delightfully green paste, which tastes delicious stirred into fresh cooked pasta.
Although, at the moment, we are repeating the same walks over and over, I'm finding great comfort in that.  The constancy and familiarity  is reassuring in what are very uncertain times, and the opportunity to experience the beautiful countryside right here on my doorstep will never again be overlooked.  
J. X