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Sunday, 5 January 2014

End of the Festivities - Twelfth Night

So it's all over now - the decorations have all been taken down - well truth to tell that didn't take long as I'd brought the door wreath in a few nights ago as it was tossing about in the wind and the tree was only a very small one - but tell me why having packed everything away and resealed the box and stored it in the eaves cupboard there is always one thing left out that you come upon too late?  The cards have been removed, re-read and looked at before going in a bag ready to go for recycling and it's back to normal tomorrow.  Apparently in Tudor times Christmas was celebrated for the whole 12 days with feasting and merry making - though guessing what life might have been like back then they probably needed a couple of weeks break and to fill up with food before going back to normal!

When we lived in France we were introduced to the custom of the Galette des Rois which is a cake served at Epiphany and containing a fevre or dried bean although nowadays it is more likely to be a little china figure like the above.  The cake is usually some kind of brioche type ring shaped cake although we ate all kinds of different sorts including a chocolate one and a puff pastry one.  In France you need to wait till after January to start your diet I can tell you!  Anyway getting back to the cake whoever gets the slice containing the fevre is crowned King for the day and wears a gold cardboard crown.  That is if he or she hasn't had to dash off to the dentist for emergency treatment after biting into the fevre!  Well they say you learn something new every day or as the French say you go to bed less stupid each night and I now discover - having watched the Tudor Monastery Farm Christmas that this custom was once  a tradition we followed in the UK only in our case it was a dried pea that was the token.  I dare say the custom died out with the Reformation though I haven't researched it.

We have had some stunning skies lately in between the heavy dark grey ones which have dumped yet more rain on us.  Here are a few photos:

 Sun going down the other afternoon giving us a beautiful peach coloured sky.

 Two more taken on the same afternoon - looking towards the east.

 This morning when I went out to feed the birds this amazing sunrise was in evidence - I know red sky in the morning means shepherd's warning - which did turn out to be true as it's rained all day since soon after I took this - but isn't it amazing?

 The sun did try though and you can perhaps see the light in this one - such are the moments we value here just now!  The grass was frosted and just for a brief moment all was well!  The birds are enjoying the coconut shell and nuts as well as the table which seems to be well used now word has got round.  A lesser spotted woodpecker is a regular visitor to the fat/seed filled shell I made and the blue tits get right inside it for their turn.

As I said it's been wet all day here so this afternoon I spent a happy time making some Seville marmalade - I have left it simmering on the hob and will add the sugar in an hour or so.  As I sliced the orange peel  I was taken back to the lovely week we spent some years ago in Seville where the oranges were falling from the trees and all over the pavements - what a good place for foraging that would be eh?  None of your nettle soup or wild garlic pesto but lovely oranges for marmalade!!!

Hope you are all keeping warm and dry (in UK) and warm  and not snowed in (in US) and cool in OZ!!!


  1. You are well ahead with your marmalade! I must look in the shops for the Seville oranges...we could never find them in France.

  2. The marmalade oranges just come at the right time of year I think, just when we need those bright jewel colours! :)
    V xxx

  3. Mmm, lovely marmalade. We had a bright red sunrise here as well, and then rain all afternoon. A very interesting post about the French and old English customs, I enjoyed reading.

  4. I remember silver charms being stirred into the Christmas puddings, with the same risk of emergency dentistry for the finder. A different sort of crown?

  5. my 1st and only try at marmalade last year was a disaster but I might have an other try after reading your post.

  6. Lovely post. I found the cake interesting.
    Julie xxxxxxxxx

  7. I've have never made marmalade in my life Jane. You make it sound quite relaxing yet I've always imagined it to be a process fraught with issues of 'setting' and the like. I think I'll leave it to experts like yourself. Best wishes for 2014 from over here in the eye of the storm!

  8. Marmalade - yum! Happy New Year Jane.

    Nina x

  9. Foraging for oranges. I will picture the scene! x

  10. so lovely to see you are making marmalade- just bought my sevilles, and my day off tomorrow so the house will be smelling orangey and delicious!

  11. I can smell the marmalade from here! You've taken me right back to childhood ... my mother always made pots and pots of the stuff in January. We're not big marmalade eaters at Knitso Towers though so it's rare that I make any. I could almost say I miss that smell.


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