My flower gardens are blooming! The first were the purple crocus, then tiny blue forget-me-nots, and now daffodils. The tulips are not quite ready, the rose canes are greening up, and I discovered some peonies peeking through the mulched border.
I have a gardener who has been weeding and dressing the border beds with hardwood chips leaving me (and my poor neck- arthritis) to enjoy the lighter work.
This Sunday morning I made a nice Scottish breakfast- smoked herring, curry scrambled eggs and scones. I love smoked herring, and my local British shop- Wise Choice British Foods, Gifts, and Candies supplies them from Aberdeen, Scotland. I buy them frozen and they are packaged to be cooked in the packet in boiling water (complete with a pat of butter).
The scones were homemade and easy- served with softened butter, or an almond glaze I quickly stirred up, or sifted powdered sugar (or a combination of all three if one is feeling decadent).
Served with a strong cup of Yorkshire Gold tea (sweetened and with milk), I soon felt ready to face this misty rainy day.
In England, soft boiled eggs are traditional on the breakfast table. English children call them Egg and Soldiers- the “soldiers” being strips of buttered toast.
To make this treat, an egg is boiled for a set time, placed in an egg cup (a holder for a soft cooked egg), the top of the shell is removed and a spoon and strips of buttered toast are dipped into the now opened egg and eaten with delight.
In Agatha Christie’s Murder at the Vicarage, the cook Mary cannot boil a proper soft cooked egg! Perhaps it is more difficult than it sounds.
I shall play ‘Mary’, find my Beatrix Potter egg cup and attempt a perfect 3 minute egg.
Daffodils are found blooming in every garden in the springtime where I live. I can positively say that no flower cheers me more with its arrival. I have several varieties in bloom at present- yellow, white, and a white with a salmon coloured inner trumpet!
The famous English poet William Wordsworth penned one of England’s most famous poems entitled The Daffodils (I Wandered Lonely Like a Cloud). School children are frequently required to memorize it and I daresay will never forget the words upon the sight of a daffodil.
|The Daffodils :|
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed-and gazed-but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought.
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
By William Wordsworth
This week I paid a visit to my local British shop and made several interesting purchases. I bought three smoked kippers, a packet of Yorkshire Gold loose tea, some Battenberg cakes, orange marmalade, and chocolate digestive biscuits.
I find that Yorkshire Gold tea is one of my favorites- I prefer a strong tea that doesn’t taste weak after adding sugar and milk. My second and third favorite teas are Irish Breakfast and Scottish Breakfast.
Brewing tea in a proper tea pot is a little pleasure of mine. My grandmother-in-law gifted me a tea pot from Blarney Castle years ago that I like using. I have a few nice tea strainers I use as well as a whistling kettle!
Today I spent a little time outdoors on this sunny cold day raking a few crunchy leaves on my front lawn.
This past Autumn was unusual in that the leaves did not fall until quite late. Most of the trees in my area have now dropped their leaves, but a stubborn Sycamore remains, clutching large dry papery brown leaves to the end.
I did not have many black walnuts this year- only a scattering- I left them for the squirrels to eat when they are done pillaging my suet feeders which are meant for my birds!
A break in the wet windy weather persuaded me to rake leaves and trim back the roses by the front door.
Even though it is winter, there are jobs to be done outdoors. Walnuts to be gathered so no ankles are turned, bulbs to plant, weeds to pull, some pruning to be done, and birdbaths and feeders to be tended.
Beautiful surprises are to be found every day. Yesterday I had a chickadee at a feeder and I noticed a good quantity of red berries on a shrub just waiting to be plundered by my feathered friends.
Earlier today I busied myself in my garden, as it was neither raining nor too cold. I picked up sticks and litter blown in with the strong winds we have experienced for days.
Suet cakes were placed in the holders for the birds as I am hoping to lure a few colorful birds into my domain. My usual winter birds are woodpeckers, blue jays, cardinals, and chickadees.
It is not necessary to purchase suet cakes at the market. Collect pine cones, pack with peanut butter, and roll in birdseed. Attach a string and hang for the birds.
A coal scuttle or coal hod is a metal pail used to carry and hold pieces of coal intended to stoke a fire for heating.
My family used both wood and coal to heat our home, and I still remember splitting and stacking firewood and carrying in firewood to the home several times a day. When we used coal for heating, it had to be carried from the coal shed in a pail each day- and it definitely heated better than wood.
Yesterday, I was given a coal scuttle filled with coal that my father had hand-picked at a sale to display near my fireplace (alas, electric).
This morning I found a tiny wild strawberry! It was near the roots of my black walnut tree! I noticed a few black walnuts that I wanted to pick up and there it was- so tiny and another little strawberry plant with a bloom!
It was like a small miracle- an unexpected present (my birthday is next week) from my own small patch of the world. Perhaps I will treat myself to an ice cream dessert tonight, and top it with my own strawberry.
I did pick up about 10 black walnuts. Last year I had a bumper crop and plenty to share with friends- I wrote an article about my black walnut cracking adventures ( see my archived articles).