Sunrise from my bedroom window


I looked out of the window a little before dawn this morning and watched the sky turn from inky black, through every shade of black to blue, and then on through the rest of the colours of the rainbow until it reached orange and red for the sunrise. Paints and pens don’t do justice to the way the colours are light up in the sky – as I watched, I decided that this month’s word would be


‘producing or reflecting bright light, especially in the dark’

At the beginning of February we have reached the stage in the calendar when there are nine whole hours, and more, between sunrise and sunset; from before 8am to after 4pm. That means that both sunrise and sunset take place at times when one can watch them at a sensible hour of the day and morning. I am fortunate that my bedroom faces East, and the desk where I work looks out to the West, across our small garden. I can easily watch the changing colours, especially when the sky is clear.


Do you remember growing cress, in pieces of kitchen paper, or maybe in eggshells? Things have moved on, and now people grow ‘microgreens’. This month I am planning to follow the suggestion of growing an indoor garden of microgreens. Little shallow trays of earth, that you sow thickly with random vegetable seed, place on a warm sunny windowsill and harvest in just 1-3 weeks when they have grown their first ‘true’ leaves. My book, ‘Veg in one bed’, by Huw Edwards, suggests choosing from  beetroot, broad beans, coriander, peas, radishes, rocket, spinach and swiss chard.

Here's the man, and his microgreens, and his book;

You take a shallow tray, fill it with fine compost (he says to sieve it, but I don’t have one), moisten the surface and cover it with seeds. You can use up last year’s seed for this. Then place on a warm windowsill and keep moist. Once they have germinated, you need to turn the tray daily so they grow straight.

To harvest, just snip the seedlings off and add to salads. Once you have harvested the tray, empty it into your compost and start again with fresh soil.

I have used up all my left over kale seeds; it was such a disappointing thing to grow last year that I will be happy to eat them as microgreens, and grow something else this year.  I shall let you know how I get on.


I've two beside me this month; a nice little murder mystery from the Rev Richard Coles called 'Murder Before Evensong'. It is clearly set in the days just before mobile phones and word processors, in a small rural village where the Squire still lives in the 'Big House' with the church, Rectory and village clustered around the gates. Reverend Coles has recently retired from working as a parish priest, and I was amusing myself by wondering how many of the cast of characters were drawn from the parishioners he had known from before retirement. I am delighted to see the words 'A Canon Clements Mystery' on the front cover - does that mean there is another book in the pipeline?

The other book is a reminder of how hot Summer can be. It is 'One Fine Day' by Mollie Panter-Downes, a bit of a 'golden-oldie' - one day in the life of Laura, a housewife trying to maintain the pre-war standards her husband and mother-in-law expect in the years immediately following the end of the Second World War. It is a splendid reminder that it might be cold outside now, but there will be roses, and soft fruit, and we will be going outside without a coat again.


Is this still something we do? And if so, when should it begin? What is involved?

I would much rather research this topic, than embark upon the work. So, according to one expert, it takes 8 hours to deep clean a whole three-bedroom house, and you should adjust by an hour up or down for the number of bedrooms in your house. Just one hour? It would take me that long just to empty the bookshelves in one room were I to dust them thoroughly!

Another expert states that you can deep clean your house in 6 days ‘without killing yourself’. Really? This I had to read;

Day 1 - Kitchen; start by high-dusting, working downwards. Clean the cooker (oven? Isn’t that a whole day in itself?, fridge, microwave, toaster, kettle and any other appliances, all cupboards inside and out, all shelves and work surfaces, wash the windows, and vacuum and wash the floor.

Day 2 – All the bedrooms; high dusting to get rid of the cobwebs, and work round dusting all the furniture. Clean windowsills, windows and mirrors, and vacuum right under the beds.

Day 3 – All the bathrooms; Aha – I only have the one! Clean the loo really thoroughly, hand basin, bath, shower and shower curtain or screen. Mop the floors. I see we are let off high-dusting and also washing the tiles, but I can’t help thinking this is a bit of an omission.

Day 4 -  Living Room; Dusting again, and working and behind round all the furniture and shelves, vacuum all the upholstery, clean the skirting boards, vacuum all of the floor.

Day 5 – Dining Room; much as for living room, clean and polish the dining table (my mother used to hoist the great electric floor polisher on top of our huge Victorian mahogany dining table we had back then and use that to save time – not to be recommended!)

Day 6 – Hall and Stairs; This should merely be a matter of dusting and vacuuming.

The article is accompanied by pictures of a gleaming, clean, house – with hardly a book or an ornament or a decoration or hobby item in sight. The writer has obviously not seen our house!

I prefer to take a more leisurely approach. It would have made sense to have done the downstairs rooms after Christmas, in January, when the decorations were taken down. Oh well. Too late for that now. February has just the four weeks. Perhaps I’ll choose a different room each week and have a go at it that way. Window cleaning might be better done in March, when the weather is warmer and I can open them without letting out all our warm air.                               

 Having considered all these lists, and all the upheaval, I find my sympathies are with Mole, right at the beginning of the book 'Wind in the Willows' by Kenneth Grahame

Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing. It was small wonder, then, that he suddenly flung down his brush on the floor, said 'Bother!' and 'O blow!' and also 'Hang spring-cleaning!'


This month’s self-indulgence to add to the growing list of small treats is a vase of flowers. Not a grand bouquet, but a little posy vase, or even a jam jar, with a few bits of greenery and a flower or two.  This is the time of year when bunches of daffodils are freely available everywhere, in supermarkets and corner shops. Cut them fairly short, and add a few bits of leaves, or even twigs, and you will have something that will last a week or more, changing every day as the buds open up. 

fresh from the shop - and then a week later


It is still far too cold for me to enjoy going for walks at the moment – I am definitely a warm-weather person. However I do have a hankering to go somewhere with a view this month, even if I stay inside somewhere warm while I gaze upon it. After so many months of being mostly indoors, I feel the need to use my eyes to see into the distance, instead of weeks and weeks of close up reading, sewing, watching television and similar activities. 

Ferring, cold Summer's day

The nearest place to go and see the sea is about 45 minutes’ drive from where I live. It is just a question of choosing where you would like to be in order to just sit and look maybe with a cup of tea or coffee and a slice of cake close at hand, while other more active members of the party go for a brisk walk in the rather fresh and bracing air.

Ditchling Beacon, hot Summer's Day

Or we could go and find a good spot at one of the viewpoints high up on nearby hills, and take in the scenery, and imagine how differently it will look in the Summer with all the trees in leaf, and the fields green and yellow with crops.  

Wherever we go, it must have a view!



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