A LETTER FROM HOME – MARCH NEWSLETTER
I can’t believe that this is the sixth newsletter I have created, already halfway through a year which began last October. These 'Tête-à-tête' dwarf daffodils are sparking in the pale morning sun at the bottom of the garden. For several years I have bought pots of bulbs to have indoors to cheer up the first months of the year, and then plant them under the hedge when they have finished flowering.
Gluggaveður, but don’t ask me to try and say it! The word comes from Iceland and means ‘window-weather’, the sort of weather which looks lovely when you are indoors, but is really very, very cold when you go out.
Which brings me to
Out and About
This is usually the final section in the newsletter. Last month wasn’t a month for getting out much, and the forecast for March is not looking that wonderful, at least for the early part. My outings have been ‘virtual’ outings until now, apart from quick forays to replenish the bird feeders or doing a little tidying in the garden. I have a very hardy gardener who comes once a fortnight, come rain or shine, but not when there has been a series of hard frosts. For, as she says, what can you do in the way of weeding and mulching when the earth is completely frozen, and when it is too cold for the plants to be pruned or cut back? She appears to be completely weatherproof in over trousers, thick, thorn-proof padded jacket, hat pulled almost over her eyes and very sturdy boots. I watch in awe from the warmth of indoors.
No, my ‘out and about’ last month was mostly via television; programmes set in sunnier climates where the people wander around in sorts and tee shirts wearing broad-brimmed straw hats and sun glasses.
In this newsletter, my ‘small self-indulgence’ will be to let myself stay indoors while it is still Gluggaveður outside. I get my exercise from walking on the spot, on a rug to keep the noise down, while watching favourite warm and sunny TV programmes.
Self-Indulgence – and update;
The indulgences I have written about are all still happening – breakfast in bed, second breakfast of coffee and toast, or coffee and croissants, chocolate o’clock, tea with teapot, cup and saucer on a tray, and the vase of flowers.
The vase of flowers has been especially successful. The first vase was a bunch of daffodils which lasted a good week. Then I sent off for a small mail order posy. The web site suggested that I let the flowers dry out eventually, and so I have had a dried flower version of the posy all through the month. A few days ago the second flower stem on my amaryllis bulb suddenly fell over, so I have cut it off fairly short and put the flowers in a vase.
This is another small self-indulgence I plan to continue with through the year, especially as more flowers appear in the garden.
|the posy when it arrived at the beginning of the month, a few leftover stems in a bud vase, the posy at the end of the month, faded, but still pretty!|
Something to Make - A Spring Wreath
If you are thinking this sounds suspiciously like previous wreaths, you are not wrong! I bought a ‘spring garland wreath’ and tied it in a decoratively casual style around the same base that I used for Autumn and Winter. I am pleased with the effect.
If you are feeling short-changed by that, may I offer you my new discovery, Biscoff Cake, with apologies if you have given up cake for Lent – I have not!
I found the recipe on the Sainsbury website. It was so unlikely that I had to give it a go; here is exactly as it appears on the website;
Biscoff three-ingredient cake
This is one of those weird tricks of science that it's best not to think too hard about! If you're in need of a low-maintenance, minimal ingredient bake for a quick elevenses treat, look no further than this science-defying Biscoff bake, made from 1 x 400g of Biscoff spread, 2 large eggs and one and a half teaspoons of baking powder.
Preheat your oven to 180C, 160C fan, gas mark 4 and line a 20cm cake tin.
Put the spread in a bowl and heat in the microwave until just liquid. Whisk in the baking powder and then the eggs. Pour the batter into the baking tin and bake for 30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. We're not telling you to melt even more Biscoff spread and pour it over the top to decorate...but you won't be sorry.
I used half quantities and a smaller tin and it worked! I had my doubts when I tipped it into the tin to put in the oven, but the end result was simply delicious.
Books, gardens and gardening
Books, gardens and gardening
My reading has been remarkably unadventurous recently. Now that we are at the end of winter, I was thinking about books which feature early spring. The only one I came up with was ‘The Secret Garden’, by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Gardens also feature quite often in E F Benson's books about Mapp and Lucia. Oh, how I love Elizabeth Mapp and Lucia...
Many gardening books begin with March; I follow ‘Veg in One Bed’ by Huw Richards (in an undisciplined fashion) for my vegetable ‘garden’, which is really about a dozen large assorted patio tubs set on the concrete slab left when we took down the old shed. According to Huw I should be planting my chitted potatoes, starting off broad beans on the windowsill and sowing lettuce and radishes outside.
I’d best get chitting then. Because I grow so few potatoes, I’ve always used a couple from the weekly shopping. Container grown potatoes are such fun! You plonk the bits of potato on top of about 4-6 inches of decent earth in a large pot or sack, and cover them up with another couple of inches and give them some water. Every time they make a break for freedom, poking their green leaves above the surface, you add more earth, until the pot is nearly full. Then at last, they are allowed to grow without being continually thwarted until it is time to harvest them.
This is the season of Lent, and many people will be giving up or taking on various things to mark the weeks before Easter. But what to do? I am not giving up chocolate for Lent, because that would mean breaking a New Year’s Resolution, and one which I am particularly fond of. And anyway, who would that be helping?
I am reading relevant books, in my own way. Previous Lent reads of mine have been The Narnia Chronicles by C S Lewis, and, less obviously, The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. This year I am attempting poetry; 'The Four Quartets' by T S Eliot, which I ave never read before. I bought the poems and also a commentary which is a great help.
I shall use Lent to enjoy knitting and also enjoy being useful, by knitting a woolly hat each week for charity. The hats can be baby hats, done in a couple of evenings or children or adults hats which take longer, depending on the thickness of the wool. I have already been a leeetle bit self-indulgent in buying yarn, and now I will use it for a good purpose. My knitting basket is testament to the number of projects I have 'on the go'
but here's proof that one of them is this week's hat.
It is on the needles that I need to complete another project, a pair of wrist warmers, which is a good incentive to get on with the hat so I can have both wrists snug and warm.