Summers in England

The average high temperature in the summer in England is 72 degrees (F).  I would love that temperature in July and August!  I wondered about the climate there when I see so many British television shows with the characters wearing jackets, etc in the summer.  It is also rainy there year round.

Every year I hurry to get the heaviest of lawn chores done early in the season due to the heat that comes in the summer.   In the autumn, I also enjoy the garden with the cooler temperatures returning.

I am not a “hardy” person who works the yard and garden in wet, cold, or hot weather.  I am still searching (online) for the perfect short gardening boot.  I am using old sneakers currently, but the laces must be tied and that is hard for me (arthritis, etc).  I remember my mother having a pair of gardening clogs by the back door- that is also a good option.  Anything that makes it easy will encourage me to get out more!

Sloggers Floral Women's Waterproof Garden Shoes: Sloggers Floral Women's Waterproof Garden Shoes

Happy Sunday

Happy Sunday to you!

This morning I fried salmon croquettes and scrambled eggs for our Sunday breakfast.  In the past few months, my husband and I have discovered how tasty fish and eggs are together.  This is not a common breakfast combination in midwest America and I wish more people would give it a try.

Spring is rather late this year, but it is assuredly coming- my neighbor’s magnolia has pink buds ready to bloom and my father’s white magnolia is also ready.   There are tulips, daffodils, and crocus fully fledged and my pansies have held their own through the cold spells.

I am planning to install a garden swing in the shady back lawn for my father to enjoy when he visits in the next week or so.  That will encourage me to get started on flower bed cleanup and mulching under my hackberry trees.  In the autumn, my hostas were transplanted from another bed and appear to have survived the winter.

A Lovely Lawn

I have made a resolution to better care for my lawn this year.  A good place to start that most people can do is to pick up rubbish that has been blown into the yard and perhaps hidden by snow for a season.  For the sake of my back, I use a reaching tool to pick up stray bits and a light trash bin.

After trash is removed, then I see to the sticks and broken tree limbs from the Winter’s wrath, as well as walnuts the squirrels have missed (no one needs a turned ankle while mowing).

The lawn is ready for mowing in a few weeks- we have been using electric mowers for years and two advantages are that they are quiet and do not pollute the air (I personally hate the smell of gasoline engines).

Our choice for lawn fertilizer is Scott’s, and we have completed the first application already.  The second stage is due in early May, I believe.  We have had plenty of rain recently and things are greening up nicely.

Finding Humor in Hamlet

 

My daughter and I are reading Shakespeare’s Hamlet together.  I did not read this play in school (why, I do not know- but I did read other Shakespeare).  It is at times hard to follow, and at times easy.  It is considered a tragedy, yet I found several humorous takeaways.

B: “Have you had quiet guard?”

F: “Not a mouse stirring.”

This exchange reminds me of A Visit from St. Nicholas‘ : “not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.”

 

A little later in Hamlet, M and R allude to the long held belief that Christmastime is so blessed that the natural orders including animal behaviors are altered on Christmas Eve.

I then recalled Beatrix Potter’s The Tailor of Gloucester wherein the animals can speak on Christmas Eve.

Finally Flowers!

It has been such a long winter- I am so happy to see Spring flowers in my garden and in other’s gardens!  In my own flower beds I have crocuses, forget me nots, and vinca.  Very soon daffodils and tulips will be blooming.  Also the first dandelions are up!

Magnolia trees are beautiful this time of year, as are lilacs and forsythia.  Cherry, apple and pear blossoms are a bit later.   Leaflets are budding out on many trees in the area.

The lawns are greening up with our copious Spring rain  and soon the sounds of lawn mowers will be heard.  We have applied our first Spring fertilizer and I would like to visit a plant nursery to buy some pansies for pots near my front door and on back patio.

Here is some Vinca for you!

 

St. Patrick

Many people who are Irish or Irish for a day claim St. Patrick as their favorite saint.  The wearing o the green is celebrated and Irish traditional foods are eaten on his day.

In honor of the day, I laid my table with a green plaid  (yes, the Irish also have plaids) and my small collection of Beeleek Irish porcelain inherited from my grandmother-in-law.

Beginning in the wee hours, I cooked corned beef with cabbage, potatoes and carrots, a pork roast with mashed potatoes, brown sugared carrots, cabbage fried with ham, and baked two loaves of Irish soda bread with real butter from Ireland.

We finished the evening listening to Irish fiddle played by my daughter- she played Swallowtail Jig, which is my favorite song that she plays.  Of course we also listened to Danny Boy and wiped away a tear.

 

Reading Hamlet

Shakespeare is an author that many students are required to read at some point.  I took an English Literature class in high school (a while ago), and even took a class with my husband at a community center in which we read A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth aloud round robin style.

My high school aged daughter is reading Hamlet, which I have not read.  I dug out my husband’s copy of The Riverside Shakespeare–  a ponderous tome, and have started reading Hamlet for myself.

Forget Me Not

Today I was determined to get some exercise, sun, and yard work done.  I took Miss Maddie on a two block walk (about the most either of us can do at a time) and then did a little weeding in the front garden.

I pulled up half a dozen dandelions, lots of another spreading weed (I should look it up), and checked on the progress of my desirable plants- crocus, daffodil, tulip, violets, hosta, chrysanthemum, and day lily.  I noticed neighbor’s iris swards poking through – I should check on mine on the south side of the house.

I discovered a little patch of forget me nots blooming that cheered me up greatly!

A Fish Paste Sandwich

While reading my nightly Agatha Christie novel, I do run across words and ideas that are not familiar to me, being an American.  Most Agatha Christie novels, being set in a different time and place, mention food and customs that I like to read more about.

Afternoon tea ( a late lunch)  can be a sandwich and drink (hot tea, lemonade, beer).  This is different than a high tea- which is more substantial- with sandwiches, scones, and cake.   My daughter and mother in law like to visit a local tea room a couple times a year for a festive high tea.

I recently visited a local British shop and purchased fish paste and ham and chicken paste, which is a jarred sandwich filling.  The unappetizing name of fish paste, etc is what Americans would call tuna, ham, or chicken SALAD.  The taste was acceptable, but the texture was as smooth as paste!

Goodwood's British Market - Pâté and Fish Paste

 

Kippers and Eggs

A nice Sunday breakfast was enjoyed this morning by hubby, daughter, and myself.  It is the only day of the week that most of us are able to eat breakfast together, and actually eat the same thing (daughter is a vegetarian who eats fish and eggs).  Today, I cooked scrambled eggs, kippers (a smoked fish), toast with homemade strawberry jam that I made yesterday, and coffee.

With bacon being so expensive now days, I rarely cook it.  Smoked fish is a good substitute for bacon- it is smoky and salty (not crunchy, however).  In my area of the USA, kippers are usually canned like anchovies and sardines- although they can be shipped or purchased at British shops frozen.  I found that the frozen ones- thawed and gently heated in butter tasted the best.

This morning I plan to do some minor housework and then some yard work.  Our little spell of lovely weather is over and it is still 40F, but that is no excuse for a little weeding and tidying in the garden.  The spring flowers are coming up- crocuses are already blooming, tulips and daffodils are up, my hostas and day lilies survived the winter as well as those dratted wild onions that need tended to!