Weekend Notes: Spring Fever…

Spring Fever

Well, it seems that we are being rewarded for surviving three months of floods and torrents; Spring has sprung in our small corner of the world and it feels amazing.  Balmy days (though still frosty dawns and chilly nights), and the constant backdrop of birdsong and blossom, everywhere.  Excuse me waxing lyrical; it’s hard to help it at this time of year. I unearthed from the loft all the faux birds nests I made last year and have been sprucing them up ready to adorn the house once again as Easter approaches (tutorial here, and more pics like the one below).  This time I’ve scattered a few around the garden too, propping them in amongst the apple blossom, and even tucked in unlikely places… Nesting Bird nest in blossom branches …like the saddle of my old vintage delivery bike, which leans against the wall where it just catches your eye as you sit with a cup of tea in the sunshine. Birds nest in bike saddle
Last year I found some lovely old pictures of hares and printed those to use as placemats and napkin rings, but this year I wanted something a little more perky so have been sketching out rabbits using a new set of chalk pencils given to me for Christmas; when I’ve got it right I’m thinking of using the sketches in all sorts of ways, including perhaps on a t-shirt for Harry who is going through a Peter Rabbit phase; we’ll see!

rabbit sketch in chalk pencils

From rabbits neatly onto radishes; possibly the most aesthetically lovely of all vegetables, even if its hard to think how to actually eat them (suggestions please…)  I bought these purely to sit in a bowl and look enticing – less expensive than flowers and just as lovely – and they linger there whilst I work out what to do with them. radishes One vegetable we can never get enough of in this house is carrots, which we’d happily eat for every meal; I used a recent glut to customise Harry’s old summer trilby, as a practice run for Easter-hat making at a party I’m dreaming up for April.  Given Harry is now far too manly for bonnets and pastels, this seemed to do the trick; it has become his accessory of choice, at least for now until the carrots start shrivelling up (or get gradually eaten, one by one)… Carrot hat Carrot hat in the sunshine
Lest making hats out of carrots and planting nests in the undergrowth makes me sound like some kind of mad-lady, rest assured I have been doing sensible things too.  Like going to work, and doing lots of washing, which somehow is revolutionised if you can peg it outside to dry in the sunshine and wind (note to self; do not buy anymore Breton tops – enough is enough).

breton tops on the line 2

…and I’ve been hunting down some of your brilliant book recommendations from last week (thank you); so far the library has offered up a copy of The Blue Afternoon and Purple Hibiscus, and I’ve tracked down a second-hand paperback of Siri Hustvedt’s What I loved.  I can’t wait to begin them.

Have a great week, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing.

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First Harvest

I wrote here about the moment in April when Harry and I caught Spring Fever and had an exuberant flurry of planting fruit and vegetables, before collapsing exhausted on the lawn with a stiff drink (of milk, naturally).  We are complete amateurs, seduced by the adverts in the garden centre which promise abundant produce from phoenix-like plants which thrive on neglect and rise from the dead every time.  Harry’s selection process involved choosing the brightest coloured packets which were reachable at knee-height, and that seemed as good a plan as any to me. It’s fair to say we put our feisty seedlings and their hardiness to the test, as did the British weather – the amount of floods and hailstorms we’ve had in recent weeks would suggest to the Biblically-minded that eternal damnation is quite possibly just around the corner.

Still, today we harvested our first crops and have held a small judging ceremony to score our efforts.  We have been generally tough on ourselves but start with the stand-out winners, our beautiful, abundant sugar snap peas.  Or perhaps I should just say peas; they grew way beyond sugar-snapping size and are now cheery fat pods bursting with perky peas. We’re very proud.

Our second crop was courgettes.  Everyone warned me that courgettes grow in the blink of an eye and that gardeners the world over will roll their eyes and tell you of the glut they always experience, and their weariness of having to cook courgette 50 different ways to try to run down their stocks.  It is thus with some embarassment that I confess we have managed to grow just one courgette.  One, Uno, Solo.  And that one is approximately the length of Harry’s finger, and only slightly wider.  It is perfectly formed, but insufficient for a meal, unless perhaps Gwyneth Paltrow was coming for dinner. We give ourselves 6 out of 10.

Chantenay carrots were my secret favourite crop; I pictured rustling up a bowl of them for Sunday lunch en famille, where they would glint under a knob of melting butter and look radiant and perfectly formed, yet just earthy and organic enough for it to be clear they were not from a supermarket.  Well, of all these goals we seem to have achieved only the latter; there aint no doubt that our carrots are not shop-bought….

Still, who needs to eat carrots when you can give them false eyes and name them individually? (this one above is The Lobster, by the way…).  We may not be close to winning any beauty prizes for our efforts, but we’re having a lot of fun growing them…