March

Making: you know what-what. Slow slow progress. But I enjoy crocheting the chunky yarn

And knitting with it too

Cooking: pot-roasted lemony chicken with carrots & onions. Peas cooked in the ready made gravy at the end. Delish. Shared the recipe with my friend and baby Theo loved it too

Cooking: this cauli recipe from the excellent book below, borrowed from the library. It’s even better eaten cold for lunch, along with some green salad

Sipping: Tonic & lemon, ginger ale with lime (Dry Lent)

Reading: my first Ian Rankin book! After chapter one I wondered why I hadn’t read a Rebus before. Not sure if to continue this book, which is 23rd in the series, or start at the beginning. In the meantime I’m reading an advance reader copy of the new Rachel Hore. Any Rankin fans want to advise? Will it spoil the series if I decide to read all? Or whatever, can it just be read as a stand alone without giving too much away?

Waiting: for an MRI scan date

Looking: forward to making Hot Cross Buns again next month (this month actually, again I forgot to post these notes I made during March! I’ll set a reminder in future)

A test to see if a family member is still reading and recognises his tulips tee hee

Listening: to Spotify. I’ve made a few playlists, good eclectic mixes. Can share if you like?

Suggesting: ‘Lord it’s a Feeling’ by London Grammar – Live at Abbey Road – it’s absolutely EPIC. Play loudly (when little ears aren’t around)

Rainbow harissa chicken & fennel bake

Wishing: for more sunny weather so washing can be pegged out on the line again. March has had t-shirt & BBQ weather, then snow, hail, wind and rain. Four seasons in one month

Enjoying: making sourdough flatbreads for lunch one Sunday

Appreciating: our first visit to the cinema this year to see The Duke. Helen Mirren & Jim Broadbent are absolutely superb together. I think Jim’s courtroom scenes are my favourite of all his performances. Well, apart from when he’s Bridget Jones father. The scene that makes me cry every time is the ‘I just don’t work without you’ bit with Gemma Jones

Eating: defrosted Christmas turkey mixed with leftover bean chilli & veg stock, fresh coriander & grated grana padano. It made a delicious Mexican soup

Liking: that lots of National Trust properties reopen this month

Hidcote Manor Garden
Upton House

Loving: the anemones which appeared all over the garden early in the month, such a colourful sight with the pinks of the heather behind

Buying: a little pot of joy for lunch! Sushi ends from a counter in Waitrose, only £1.95

Managing: my physio exercises. I’ve got a rocker board, it’s fun and hard to use, especially with my eyes closed

Watching: Upload. S2. The Marvellous Mrs Maisel S4, both are on Prime. Men Behaving Badly on BBC iplayer. The last we’ve found so good still, real laugh out loud funny, especially whenever they dance (when Neil Morrissey is Tony)

Another day, another traybake. This recipe. Tip: BB don’t need to added until 5 mins before the end

Wearing: my old pink hoodie lots. I love it and can’t bear the thought it won’t be with me forever. Should have bought a dozen

Noticing: buds on trees, daffodils, blossom and snowdrops

Following: the news…

Sorting: soft plastics for recycling. Do you do this too? You can leave them at larger supermarkets. So many collected in just a week, including pouches, plastics from fruit and veg deliveries, magazine bags, the list goes on and on

Trying: cooking Mushroom & Puy lentil bolognese for the first time. This Jamie Oliver recipe. It was tasty

Getting: stronger glutes

Coveting: can’t think of anything right now

Feeling: determined

Hearing: birdsong. This is excellent for ID and lovely background sounds: RSPB | Sounds of…Parks and Gardens

Wondering: if you have any requests for blog posts? What do you want to see more of? Anything new?

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What have you been up in the last month? Are you seeing lots of spring flowers and buds, or is autumn coming in for you?

And there were lambs

My Star Blanket is slowly growing as I crochet another round and then undo half because I made a mistake. My concentration isn’t always great at the moment and my hands are sore from digging up dandelions in the garden, so it is a very slow process. It’s a lovely thick and warm soft blanket, so worth the effort.

I’m having a really good reading year, so far. I recently finished this and found it a good read, there are some interesting stories. Both sides of the family were so supportive of Ed and Yvette in their busy years. I loved reading about their family gatherings, and descriptions of family life with both parents being politicians. Appetite is part memoir, part recipe book. I’ve highlighted quite a few recipes in the proof copy I read on my Kindle. There’s nothing particularly exotic, but there are dishes that I haven’t made before, or those that I fancy making again. Cajun beans and custard are two that spring to mind. Ed Balls always comes across well on tv and this book portrays him no differently. It can’t be easy to write a book about oneself which is well balanced; not too self-critical or high in praise, Ed has managed it admirably.

Friends have given this five stars on Goodreads. At first I found the opening chapters rather twee, although I love the fact that it’s set in my home city. It’s enjoyable being taken back to when I lived in an adjacent street to one described by protagonist Esme, in her twentieth century setting. I remember cycling home from work and stopping in Jericho to buy a bottle of cider on a Friday night. It’s magical when you read a book and know every single place mentioned, isn’t it? I went into town yesterday because I wanted to buy some new tops in Seasalt, but mostly because this book drew me back to the city. I’ve found it hard to get back into the swing of my usual pre-pandemic (and let’s be honest it’s not over yet) activities and city life is one of them.

Anyway, I soon became engrossed in the story and now I’m finding it hard to put down. Have you read The Dictionary of Lost Words?

The only jarring note so far is that halfway through the (Australian) author has used the term ‘blow-in’ several times and it doesn’t feel right. I’ve never heard anyone use it here and thought it American. I’ve looked it up and according to the Oxford English Dictionary on my Kindle it is ‘informal, Australian slang’. Oh the irony!

Hidcote Manor Garden was looking stunning on Sunday. The magnolia trees are absolutely wonderful. Although I’ve visited many times over the years, I don’t remember seeing them in bloom, but then it only takes one windy day or a heavy rain storm for the petals to fall. This was lucky timing. Perhaps I’ve always gravitated there more in Summertime?

And, THERE WERE LAMBS!

I have a few videos of them hop, skipperty, jumping. Ahh the baas too, I’d forgotten how loudly tiny lambs can call. It was my first sighting of lambs this year and I stood on a log watching them for ages, absolutely mesmerised.

That was a little snapshot of some of my past week, what about yours…Have you seen lambs yet? Any book recommendations you want to pass on? Or new recipes? I think most of us love book and food talk.

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I’ve been wondering again about continuing this blog, I’ve had these thoughts every now and then over the last few years, since I haven’t been able to crochet or knit so much due to my sore hand. It’s not a very dynamic craft blog anymore. When I see all the colour work and inventive crochet being done on Instagram it makes me feel like I’ve been left behind. But then I looked at the numbers of new followers on my blog’s Facebook page and caught sight of the WordPress stats for this month alone and felt really encouraged. If what I waffle here is continued to be read, then it’s my pleasure to carry on. Thank you and welcome if you’re a new reader and follower.

Taking Stock – July

Making: lists for August, mostly walks, visits, trips

Cooking: Jamie Oliver’s Falafel patties I used mixed beans and a can of borlotti, with rose harissa because it’s what I had open in the fridge.

Sipping: Jasmine tea

Secret scrumping field location

Reading: I’ve read some v good books lately, including The Beloved Girls by Harriet Evans. I gave 5 stars for slow building tension and menace. A cracking story, it’s due to be published on 19th August

Waiting: for normal life to resume, it’s much better than last July (see post here ) but we are most definitely still in the grip of the pandemic and I’m cautious. The mask, distancing and sanitising is still very much in place and I don’t think I’ve been into a city since last autumn

My garden

Looking: up at the tv, it looks like Team GB just won another Olympic gold

Listening: to the rain falling

Wishing: for my library reservation to come quickly. It’s the first printed book I’ve requested since last winter. I’ll show you when it comes…

Barley field, on our circular 7 mile walk yesterday

Enjoying: dipping in and out of Instagram, my enthusiasm for it goes in phases. I’m still loving Alex Hollywood’s account, so many good foody ideas and recipes

Appreciating: all the colours of summer, currently dripping with water but withstanding the onslaught of rain and wind (not sure the local farmers will be feeling the same way. Have you seen Clarkson’s Farm on Prime btw? Recommend)

Eating: lots of salads, fish and I made my first plum crumble last night. I’ve always preferred raw plums, but since we’ve found an excellent source of plums for scrumping I promised Someone a crumble

Liking: Nigel Slater’s crumble mix: 150g plain flour & 80g butter mixed together, then stir in 50g ground almonds, 70g demerara sugar, 75g rolled oats. I sprinkled in a little cinnamon too. Not much, because I’d already sprinkled cinnamon, ground ginger and freshly grated nutmeg into the plums, with a 2-3 tablespoons of sugar and a dash or two of water. 180 fan / 200 c for 30-35mins

Loving: cold plum crumble eaten with extra thick cream

Buying: a new top and trousers from Seasalt. Love Seasalt!

Managing: weeds, sort of. Gardening is like housework, it’s never done

Watching: the phlox begin to flower, there’s a stunning pink one flowering, but now the white are beginning to appear. Next the purple and white one I hope

Whichford Pottery, Warwickshire

Hoping: an influx of visitors aren’t going to spell disaster for the area

Wearing: I’m not saying!

Hidcote Manor Garden, Gloucestershire

Noticing: it’s much, much colder. I’d folded up my Tilted Squares blanket and put it away upstairs, but have found myself snuggling in my Spice of Life blanket in the evening instead (FYI: Black Sheep Wools asked me to take part and publicise the CAL, in return for free yarn back in 2015. I chose my own colour combo.)

Following: which vegetables and fruits are now in season

Sorting: spiders into tissues

Buscot Park, Oxfordshire

Getting: restless

Coveting: a cottage by the sea, where it’s never affected by severe weather

Feeling: impatient to start new crochet makes, if I undo previously started things I can, right?!

Buscot Park, Oxfordshire

Hearing: sighing and breath exhaled – he’s tense watching people either run around, or leap over bars. I did enjoy watching the BMX race on catch-up, that was exhilarating but that’s the extent of my viewing. I hope we continue to do well, but don’t feel any need to watch

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What are you: eating, making, watching, reading?

Taking Stock: July

Making: Edamame Wild Rice Salad from Nadiya Hussain’s Time to Eat book. This is delicious with salmon and salad, it’s full of flavour

Cooking: tonight’s Meatless Monday dinner is going to be Jamie’s Feta and Courgette Fritters, we have a bunch of homegrown gifted courgettes to use. Recipe here

Drinking: Schweppes 1783 tonic in weekend G&Ts

Reading: Just started Platform Seven by Louise Doughty

Wanting: life to go back to normal

Playing: The Confession audio book by Jessie Burton

Deciding: what groceries to order for Wednesday’s delivery

Wishing: for an effective vaccine for all

Enjoying: the lovely weather

Waiting: to eat homegrown tomatoes

Liking: Pip’s Peachy Playlist on Spotify. Here

Wondering: if it’s way too late to buy and plant peas?

Loving: seeing all these photos from yesterday’s visit to Hidcote Manor Garden

Considering: whether to pick and ripen tomatoes inside or wait and wait and wait

Buying: Moshulu sandals in their sale

Watching: Killing Eve. We’re up to series 2 now. Behind on watching trends, as usual, isn’t it GOOD?!

Hoping: for a sunny birthday for a friend tomorrow

Marvelling: at some people’s interpretation of how to wear a mask

Cringing: at you know who and you know what – the chaos and mixed messages we hear on a weekly (daily?) basis

Needing: to meet up with groups of others, I miss being with groups of nice people

Questioning: when will this end?

Smelling: a curry plant somewhere in Hidcote garden yesterday, wow it was pungent!

Wearing: shorts

Following: Jamie Oliver, nice summer recipes

Knowing: I need to call the garage today about a small repair

Thinking: I need to buy a new handbag after the strap came unstitched suddenly in the garden yesterday

Admiring: people’s generosity in sewing face masks for their local community

Sorting: The (new) Little Room – soon. It’s on my list!

Getting: orange sticker bargains on a Sunday afternoon. It’s prime time I tell you! Sausages and turkey thigh mince which went straight on the BBQ and in the freezer yesterday

Bookmarking: recipes. Always. I make only a fraction of them!

Coveting: a long-handled baker’s razor

Disliking: smoke coming into the house on summer evenings

Opening: windows wide – it’s a lovely morning

Giggling: at Young Offenders. They are quite sweet really and I really like Mairead

Feeling: chilled

Snacking: not really snacking at the mo

Helping: when I can

Hearing: news on the radio right now

Mixing: socks! I looked down on Saturday when out for a walk and had odd socks on

Worrying: trying not to. It’s pointless

Slicing: onions and mushrooms for an impromptu Blacksticks Blue cheese sauce to go with steak last night

Celebrating: all the good things

Forgetting: not so much – iPhone reminders help

Winning: £3 on the Euro Millions lottery on Friday. Then stupidly paid £2.20 for one can of Diet Coke (daylight robbery and it’s actually horrible isn’t it?!)

Pretending: I’ll hoover today. I might not, but definitely this week

Sneaking: nothing, sorry

Embracing: only one person – Covid y’know. I miss hugging and kissing family and friends

All photos (apart from my salad pic!) are from a visit yesterday to Hidcote Manor Garden, a National Trust property.

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It’s a combination of well thought out and a kind of fingers-crossed-it’s-ok decision to go anywhere much at the moment, isn’t it?

We wondered what it would be like at Hidcote: following a one-way system around the garden, how many would be allowed in for each half an hour booking, would it feel fraught, rather than relaxed? Or should we be sticking to walking local footpaths where we aren’t generally meeting anyone?

I’m very glad we visited. It was good. Very nice to see the garden, to chat at a distance to other friendly visitors, to be able to use the cafe in takeaway style, look around the NT shop (10 people in at a time) and then picnic at one of the many benches under shady trees. I adore seeing proper tablecloths on picnic benches. These are large round tables too, which seat eight, so it’s somehow even more impressive that people do it and it looks so fancy.

If you’d like to see more photos from Hidcote I have written posts about visits there before: June 2014 and August 2015

Hidcote, again 

   
    
    
    
    
 It’s so lovely at Hidcote that you could visit every week and notice something new. In fact I know someone who once visited every month one year, so as to see the garden changing throughout the four seasons. She can give you the Latin and common names for most of the plants, describe where they used to stand in her last garden and where they are now planted in her new one.

 As for me I just like to sniff the scented air, admire the colours and shapes and imagine myself wafting around the garden with a book under one arm and a craft bag hanging from the other. A bell to ring for an afternoon gin and tonic, cocktail or pot of tea would also be good.