Tuesday, 7 February 2012

The absence of snow

Last winter was filled with inches of snow, even as far south as Hazel Cottage.  This winter, whilst the rest of the country is covered in at least a dusting of it, we are back to our usual absence of snow.  It seems that because we are on the south coast and seemingly also sheltered from the worst excesses of weather, we are only used to very occasional, fleeting and insignificant snow.

Our garden this winter
Our garden last winter!

Despite the absence of snow here, the weather has been cold and bitter and the birds in the garden seem increasingly ravenous.  In addition to our usual regular visits by blue tits and robins, we have seen more of the blackbird population and some great tits have appeared and even possibly a song thrush at the top of the hazel tree.  Collared doves and  pigeons are often in the garden until they are startled by the crows and magpies.  We are only in the garden to feed the birds at the moment, everything looks slightly desolate and abandoned and only than the tiny green shoots of daffodils indicate that spring will come, eventually.

Whilst we are waiting for spring (or at least more light and warmth) to go back into the garden, we are still busy in the kitchen.  I made my first batch of marmalade recently, using the wonderful bitter seville oranges that are in season for a short time in January and February.  I used a recipe from the River Cottage Preserve book which seemed to work well, although I must learn to be more patient when it comes to jam and let it boil for longer than I think I should and not decant and have to reboil it again later.  Despite my initial impatience we now have seven jars of very thick cut seville marmalade in the store cupboard, hopefully to last us until we have fruit to make jam.

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