Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Birds and baking

The snow has disappeared from Hazel Cottage already, almost as soon as it had arrived.  This meant that Mr C managed to dig over his veg patch and start preparing for the new season.  I had a look to see what was growing in the garden and noticed the beginnings of the bulbs just poking through last years dead leaves.  I have grand plans to grow a lot of flowers this year and am hoping that the slugs and snails don't thwart my plans completely!

We took part in the RSPB's Great Birdwatch this weekend and studiously wrote down the highest number of each kind of bird we saw in our garden over about an hour.  We chose the time after we've replenished food and stood back.  And I don't think I've seen so few of our regular birds!  We often have a full garden of birds after feeding but they obviously don't want to be part of the birdcount and hid away.  It was an interesting thing to do however.  Our eventual count was 4 blackbirds, 1 robin, 2 goldfinches, 2 blue tits, 2 woodpigeons, 1 collared dove, 4 crows, 2 great tits and 1 dunnock.  After we had finished the watch, a group of woodpigeons and finches fluttered into the garden.   Of course the robin was around most of the time as he seems to appreciate our gardening efforts.

I also made a date and walnut traybake from my new Mary Berry baking book.  This was actually great fun and rather straightforward and tastes nice too.  I'm hoping to work my way through the book and eventually attempt the more complicated recipes.

Here is one of my favourite pictures from last week of the snow

Saturday, 19 January 2013

January brings the snow, makes our feet and fingers glow

The snow and cold weather have finally arrived.  After a warm wet December, it seems only right somehow.  As soon as the snow arrived we were out with our camera.  Its a very odd dull light that makes everything look monochrome during the day, and yet at night the snow creates its own glowing light.  The trees were looking particularly enchanting; snow looks so pure and beautiful, I feel its not worth thinking too much about the slush and the coming thaw that makes everything look tarnished and grubby again.

January is here, with eyes that keenly glow,
A frost-mailed warrior
striding a shadowy steed of snow.
Edgar Fawcett

Of winter's lifeless world each tree
Now seems a perfect part;
Yet each one holds summer's secret
Deep down within its heart.
Charles G. Stater

The snow is lying very deep.
My house is sheltered from the blast.
I hear each muffled step outside,
I hear each voice go past.
But I'll not venture in the drift
Out of this bright security,
Till enough footsteps come and go
To make a path for me.
Agnes Lee

Bare branches of each tree
on this chilly January morn
look so cold so forlorn.
Gray skies dip ever so low
left from yesterday's dusting of snow.
Yet in the heart of each tree
waiting for each who wait to see
new life as warm sun and breeze will blow,
like magic, unlock springs sap to flow,
buds, new leaves, then blooms will grow.
- Nelda Hartmann
And in the garden at Hazel Cottage, everything is covered in snow and we've increased the amount of food we put out for the birds.  The blackbirds and robins and blue tits are coming to the feeders often and the woodpigeons are ever present.  Only the joyful yellow of the winter jasmine is peeking through the snow.    Spring feels very far away...

Monday, 7 January 2013

New Year Walk in the New Forest

After several weeks of rain and miserable weather, suddenly on New Year's Day, the weather was bright and beautiful.  We decided that after the Christmas celebrations and all of the food and staying indoors, we needed a walk.  Edith Sitwell wrote 'Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.'  Whilst I agree wholeheartedly, there is nothing like a winter walk to blow away the cob webs.

The New Forest looked at its most stunning, I never tire of the soft glowing winter light this time of year.  Ever since our walk the weather has reverted to dull, cloudy and mild, so by posting these pictures, I am reminding myself of that lovely day!

Sparkling clear light and very long shadows

The gorse bushes in flower

Silver birch trees

The whole area was dotted with newly made ponds of water caused by the incessant rain.  It was rather marshy in places.  We discovered some lovely funghi, some growing from the dead gorse

Yellow Brain Fungus

And some growing from felled logs

Now that the decorations are down and the feasting has ended, I am hoping for some nicer winter weather so we can go on more walks and spend some time clearing our ever messy swamp of a garden.

Happy New Year!