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Monday, 30 December 2013

Mixed bunch

Well this has been a rather strange week - an in-between sort of time when it's not still Christmas and not quite New Year either there has been nothing in the diary and the world is not yet back to normal. Here in the UK storms have led to flooding and loss of electricity along with damaging winds tumbling trees and causing damage to property along with transport chaos.  We personally haven't been affected apart from the Wanderer not being able to get to us for Christmas but my heart goes out to those whose homes are under water and who have not had any electricity for days on end.

One of my resolves for 2014 is to try bottling fruit - no electricity needed to keep fruit this way.  I remember the serried ranks of jewel bright jars in the pantry cupboard of my childhood and want to learn how to do it myself.  How come I never learned whilst my mother was busy doing it I wonder?!

 I also want to get to grips with sourdough baking  You may remember I told you about the starter a bloggy friend gave me here?  Well I did try and after a long time I managed to get the starter to froth as required.

 The bread I eventually produced though was not a success.  I ended up with this rather flat loaf - dough too moist I think - which we did slice and eat toasted but it reminded me of biscotti to look at and although it was edible it certainly wasn't what I had envisaged!  Must try harder.

 The weather has been a mixture of storms and some bright days, frost and mild grey days.  Yesterday the frost didn't melt from the garden all day and it was very cold but today dawned wet and dismal - this was the sky when  went out with the birds' food early this morning (they are enjoying the bird table I am happy to say!)

  Gradually the sky brightened...

... and the grey clouds headed east leaving us with a sunny bright morning.

After lunch I decided a walk to the Post Office through the woods would be good - it was lovely the sky above so blue even though underfoot it was muddy and the ground littered with branches, some across the path.

On my way back I picked this little posy of twigs which were in bud and some hazel catkins - hopeful eh?!

As we have spent such a quiet Christmas just the two of us I have had time to do plenty of reading and had a good selection of library books on hand for the holiday.  This one I can recommend - it turned out to be something quite different to the usual.  It is a story written from the point of view of a 5 year old which is in itself unusual but it works well.  If you want a story which will transport you to the sunny south of France, that contains no love stories or at least not the usual man meets woman sort, but a lovely sad/bittersweet tale of real love, friendship and imagination with a twist in the tail then this is for you!  If you read it let me know what you make of it  For more information see here.

I was going to wish you a "Happy New Year" but then I started to think about what is meant by this wish - happiness is after all ephemeral and I think rather like a butterfly which if you seek it will flit away but if you sit still and quiet might just land upon you only to fly away a few moments later.  So maybe what I wish you is many Santosha moments for nobody can have wall to wall happiness and it might not be a good thing if we could.  So I wish you peace, health and plenty of happy moments in 2014!


  1. I was so sorry for you that your wanderer wasn't able to be with you at Christmas - and I think that this time of year does rather amplify whatever life has thrown at you (one). Your budding twigs are lovely and optimistic and I hope that you will have many moments of happiness and even more of contentment in the coming year!

  2. Hazel twigs, already! That shows that Spring might be a possibility.
    So sorry that you were missing a family member over Christmas, but maybe you'll be able to make up the visit later.

  3. I did not realise your daughter did not make it home for Christmas Jane. What a shame, but the weather has conspired against lots of us hasn't it? My brother cancelled a visit yesterday because of the forecast and although it has been better than suggested here, I am glad he did, as it is unpredictable. Although our road flooded and was impassable for a while it has been the winds that have been the most frightening. I'm cheered by the sight of those signs of Spring. It can't come soon enough for me!

  4. All the best for the New Year! Will look forward to stopping by your lovely blog in 2014!

  5. Gosh, budding twigs already! It's been such a mild winter, I do hope we aren't due a very cold snap that will kill all this new life off.

    Wishing you only good things in 2014, which isn't quite the same as wall to wall happiness ;)

  6. I love how the sky lightens in each photo, to a bright finish. Here, it's been so gray and overcast. Very dull.
    Your bread baking adventures are just that - adventures. I know you'll be happy with the result one of these times. I would like to start sourdough baking, too, but I think I need to make the starter in the summer when it's warmer. We keep our house quite cool.
    The book sounds like something I'd enjoy.

  7. A lovely post with such beautiful photos. The walk looks wonderful, and how nice to find hazel catkins. I've been trying sourdough this year as well. I've found that if you throw almost all of the starter away - leaving just a couple of spoonfuls - and then add 100g water and 100g strong plain flour, and do this every day, it gets incredibly frothy. The secret is to throw most of it away and to feed it every day. It doesn't need to be kept warm, in fact it does better when it's cooler. Hope this is helpful! Wishing you very many happy moments in 2014 too. CJ xx

  8. Lovely post
    Happy New Year
    Julie xxxxxx

  9. Your posy of twigs looks so hopeful doesn't it?

    My Ma used to bottle fruits every year too though I don't recall EVER eating any. I never learned how to do it either...

    Have a good 2014.


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