NOVEMBER 2022 newsletter from
Word of the Month – prepare
Panic not – I’m thinking about Advent, not Christmas! Now is the time to think about them, whether you buy chocolates ones, or reuse old favourites from last year. I do both. I have at last learned not to store all my Advent calendars with the Christmas decorations in the loft, but somewhere more accessible. We have the wall-hanging Advent calendar with all its pockets, and the wooden one with all the little drawers, and the cardboard slot together dolls house with the little slot together people. The chocolates need to be bought in time to put them into all the little wooden drawers.
Katie Stewart, writer of a myriad cookery books, also wrote a ‘planning for Christmas’ book which I remember seeing on my mother’s bookshelves. It began on 1st January with buying reduced price Christmas Cards, Wrapping Paper and suchlike, (ready to put away and, in my case, lose, long before December comes around again). The book seems to be out of print, you may be relieved to hear.
Thinking about Spring time in November!
Tulip planting time! That is, if I remembered to buy some in October. I’ve seen several articles about ‘lasagne planting’, and tried it out last year with very pleasing results. You get a large, deep pot, and plant it up with soil, tulips as a bottom layer, more soil, daffodils, more soil, and then crocuses and a final layer of soil, aiming to end up around an inch, or couple of centimetres below the rim. Here's a rough cross section through a pot;
Then you put it where you will be able to enjoy the show, and wait for Spring. If all goes well, the crocuses appear first, and as their flowers are finishing, hey presto, daffodils, and a little later, tulips!
I planted up some to give to friends as well; giving someone a pot of earth might not seem like the most wonderful present in December, but come February March, all is revealed.
I’m not a great fan of indoor bulbs. I might remember to plant them in time, or, like the Provincial Housewife, I will more likely leave it too late. Then, where to put them?
In my first year at University, when I decided that buying bulbs, pots, and a bag of suitable compost might solve all my Christmas present problems. I set them all up in my study-bedroom and all was going well, as far as I could tell, until the time came for me to travel home for Christmas.
Imagine the scene; I was travelling to Kings Cross, London, by train, encumbered by a suitcase, a shoulder bag, and several plastic bags with the bowls of earth and bulbs, and a cello. I was also wearing my beloved full-length cloak (it still hangs in the furthest corner of my wardrobe). By the time I reached London the earth, bulbs and bowls had become separated into a disorganised and rather dirty muddle at the bottom of the bags. I managed to reassemble them back into bowls of bulbs planted in earth – I never discovered if they flowered, as I was back at the University by then.
I have successfully grown hyacinths in water in the past, at least to the point where they burst into bloom. They always want to topple over and loll about in a drunken fashion, and I go off the idea
Book - The Diary of a Provincial Lady – E M Delafield
November, of course, is the ideal month to start reading this book, or, in my case, re-reading, as this is the month that the diary begins, with the aforementioned Planting of the Indoor Bulbs. It was published in the late 1920s, and deals with her trials and tribulations with her family, the staff, the Bank Manager and the obnoxious Lady B.
There are further Provincial Lady books to look forward to; ‘The Provincial Lady Goes Further’, ‘The Provincial Lady in America’ and ‘The Provincial Lady at War’. If you’ve enjoyed the first, and most well-known one, you are in luck.
Chocolate o’clock is something that seems to evolved recently. We have an attractive box, left over from last Christmas, sitting on a shelf which contains a limited amount of our favourite chocolate. Currently it has just a bar of milk chocolate and hazelnut, (for me) for dark chocolate and marzipan (for him).
At some point in the evening, one or other of us will declare it to be ‘chocolate o’clock’. If we are in agreement (we usually are!) then the box will be ceremoniously opened, we will admire the cunning lights in the lid, and have a few squares of chocolate each.
Something to make
Simple Advent Candles; gather 24 tea lights, and a couple of rolls of suitably decorated washi tape. (You can buy the tape from places like The Range, Hobbycraft and The Works) Wrap a piece of tape around the tea light, and there you are. I often end up making four or five sets for friends and family.
I’ve made these with some tape given to me by one of my friends; do you think she’s hoping for a set this Christmas? Well of course she can have one!
The tea lights burn for around four hours; I light one at around 6pm to last the evening.
Out and About
When a sunny morning or afternoon appears in November, it is time to go on an Autumn Leaf Walk. It doesn’t matter whether this is to a local park or garden, or hiking through the great big outdoors, or just pottering down a leafy street, it should be possible to collect quite a variety of shapes, sizes and colours to enjoy. I much prefer going for a walk if there is a purpose, and leaf collecting is as good as any other. It doesn’t matter if you don’t want to pick them up; just taking few moments to see the different leaves can be enough.
Last time, I picked up half a dozen or so and stuffed them in my pockets like a toddler. Once back home I just laid them out on a piece of paper to look at them for a while, before chucking them in my compost recycling bin. After all, there are plenty more where they came from – I can go and fetch some more tomorrow.