Saturday, 5 December 2015

The Year In Books December 2015

I spent most of November reading "A Place Called Winter" by Patrick Gale.     I've read a couple of  Patrick Gale's novels and I do quite like them, although I can't really say he is one of my favourite authors.    "A Place Called Winter" got lots of critical acclaim and  although it was very good, for me at least, it didn't live up to the hype.

With my Christmas holiday approaching I am planning lots of afternoons curled up on the sofa, my favourite tipple at hand (Cherry Brandy), either reading or knitting.    My list of December books includes " The Private Diaries of Alison Uttley" by Ronald Blythe and "Company of Liars" by Karen Maitland.    

As a child I loved Alison Uttley's Sam Pig stories, being  introduced to them by my dad who still has a copy of the Sam Pig story book given to him when he was a small boy.    I am looking forward to reading the diaries and finding out more about Alison Uttley.      "Company of Liars" is set during the time of the Black Death in the late 14th Century and is full of "magic, superstition, potions and spells".   Sounds just the thing for cold, windy, winter afternoons.

This post is joining in with The Year In Books - see here  for more.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Joining in with Yarn Along

Last time I posted here was way back at the end of the summer.  Since then the autumn has passed by in a sleepy haze: I've been busy working, then recovering from Shingles and then from a very painful wisdom tooth extraction.  At last I am starting to feel more like myself - enough to take up my knitting again, to recover my sewing machine from a friend who borrowed it several months ago, and to dust off my baking tins. 

Yesterday I cast on for a new knitting project: Fishtail Wrist Warmers, which I'm knitting in a 4ply Rowan yarn.  I may have stopped knitting over the last couple of months but I didn't stop reading.  The book that I am enjoying very much at the moment is "Crescent" by Diane Abu-Jabbar.   As the blurb on the cover says "romance, risk and recipes", what's not to like?
Other Yarn Along posts can be found here Yarn Along

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

The Year In Books - August 2015

One of my ideas of heaven is to lie on the sofa (or sit outside under my sunshade), a cup of Earl Grey at my side and a good book in my hands.  So why, during my six week summer holiday didn't I indulge myself more often?  Over the summer I spent very little time reading and lots of time sleeping, although taking a nap is apparently one of the healthy things we can do for ourselves so I shouldn't feel too guilty.

I finished three books: "The Yellow Jersey Club" by Edward Picking, "Brooklyn Heights" by Miral al-Tahawy and "Completion" by Tim Walker.    

All three books were very good but the one I liked most was "Completion".   It was a very amusing book and demanded no real intellectual effort, which suited my mood over the holiday.

My booklist for September includes "A Far Cry From Kensington" by Muriel Spark and "The Pumpkin Eaters" by Penelope Mortimer.   Muriel Spark is one of my favourite authors so I'm sure I will enjoy "A Far Cry From Kensington".   I've never read any of Penelope Mortimer's books before but I heard an episode of the serialisation of "The Pumpkin Eaters" on Radio 4 over the summer and I'm looking forward to reading the whole book.

Joining in with The Year In Books curated by Circle of Pine Trees

Monday, 17 August 2015

What I did at the weekend

I spend Sunday morning and early afternoon at the "Love is Enough" exhibition at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.    The exhibition, curated by Jeremy Deller compares the art and work practices of the artists William Morris and Andy Warhol.

I was part of a guided tour round the exhibition and our guide was wonderful; so knowledgeable and interesting to listen to.   I love the work of the Pre-Raphaelites, especially Edward Burne-Jones but I have never really had much appreciation of Andy Warhol.   However, I came away knowing a lot more about him and liking his work a lot more than I had done previously.   The highlight of the exhibition, for me at least, were the four William Morris "Holy Grail" tapestries that are on show.   They are fabulous and one of my favourite pieces of art.   

Section from one of the tapestries - the angel barring the door of the Holy Grail chapel to Sir Gawaine

The visit was rounded off, as all good gallery visits should be, with tea and cake in the Edwardian Tea rooms.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Late Summer Harvest

Late summer is one of my favourite times of the year, a time to be savoured and experienced.   On Tuesday I went for a long walk in the local countryside which was looking beautiful and bountiful. 
During my walk I collected windfall apples, blackberries and green hazelnuts.    I also found a pear tree laden with pears and some sloes, neither of which were ripe yet although I'll be going back in a couple of weeks to check their progress.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Cakes and Knitting

I finally finished the Wendy Slip Over that I have been knitting for the Knit-A-Square charity.

 I don't know why it's taken me such a long time to complete this one - I  finished most of the knitting weeks ago but for some reason couldn't find the motivation to finish off the last few rows and sew it up.  Anyway, it's finally done and I've got away to a flying start on the next one, which I am knitting in moss stich as a change from stocking stitch.  At the start of the year I set the goal of knitting 15 items for charity during 2015.    I'm afraid I'm running a bit behind and will need to speed up a bit if I'm going to meet my goal.

I went traditional with my baking this week and made Queen cakes using a recipe from Great British Bakes by Mary-Anne Boermans.    

My mum and my grandma were both "cooks", my grandma as her job and my mum, like most 1960s housewives, cooking almost everything from scratch for her family.   To buy a cake, pie or pudding was unheard of, and from a very early age I used to sit on the table, alongside where my mum was working,  helping to weigh out ingredients, grease tins, count out cake cases,  and give the bowl a stir.  I'm sure the foundations of my mathematical skills were laid down in the kitchen.     I can clearly remember the first batch of cakes that I ever made on my own - Fairy cakes made from a recipe cut out of Women's Weekly magazine.  I couldn't wait for dad to get home from work to taste them. 

I still make Fairy cakes, each no more than a couple of bites,  perfect with an afternoon cuppa, and which I prefer to the oversized muffins and buttercream-piled cup cakes that have come  here from the USA.   And, if I do fancy a bit of buttercream, nothing beats an old-fashioned butterfly cake, especially with a small blob of homemade lemon or orange curd added before the wings are stuck back on.  Delicious.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

The Year In Books - May 2015

During April I finished reading two books - both of them autobiographical.

The first of the two was "The Year of Magical Thinking" by Joan Didion. 

Joan Didion has the reputation of being one of the doyens of American Literature.  I had not previously read any of her work so when I read the rave reviews of this book in the press I had high expectations.  Sadly, these weren't met.  I was expecting a personal, even philosophical, account of the grief that Joan Didion experienced when her husband of forty years died suddenly.  I thought she would articulate the emotions that many people experience when they are grieving but find difficult to put into words.  

I didn't find any of that in the book and instead  found her very distant and academic.  There is nothing wrong with being academic - I was in academia myself for a long time - but I was hoping for something with more feeling.  I understand that we all experience grief in different ways and, since Joan Didion has spent her life as a reporter, that she is used to looking at things with a trained, objective, eye.   I  understand that some individuals might seek to explain a shocking, unexpected event, by turning to medical journals.  I  also appreciate that some people are private and like to keep their feelings to themselves, but these people wouldn't write a book.   "The Year of Magical Thinking" was too impersonal and didn't give me any real insight into the grief and other emotions that Joan Didion felt on the death of her husband.

The second book that I read during April was "Elizabeth and her German Garden" by Elizabeth von Arnim.  This is a diary that Elizabeth von Arnim kept during 1896 and 1897 and describes how she made her garden in the grounds of her home in Northern Germany.  Interspersed with her writings about her garden are diary entries about her husband, her children and the visitors to her home.   Elizabeth von Arnim writes very well and there are some lovely passages about the garden, which she loved.   She did not love her visitors so much and she can be quite rude about them (but then if we can't be candid in a diary, where can we be?).  She has an acute eye and is very witty.   I liked this book a lot more than "The Year of Magical Thinking."

For May I am going to finish reading "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" by John le Carre, which I started reading a couple of days ago and also on my list for May is "The Diary of a Country Prosecutor" by Tawfik al-Hakim.

This post was written to join in with "The Year In Books" which is curated by Circle of Pine Trees

Sunday, 5 April 2015

In my kitchen - April 2015

Purple Sprouting

I love the taste of Purple Sprouting which is one of those treats only available for a few weeks of the year, and all the better for that.
One of my grumbles about modern life is how we have lost seasonality with so many things - strawberries available in supermarkets for most of the year,  for example.  I've even seen Hot Cross buns on sale at Christmas!  Celebrating the changing seasons and the cycle of the year is important to me and eating seasonally available foods is part of that.  
I also think that seasonal eating means a much more varied and interesting diet than when we just depend on the ready staples that are always available.  When I was a child, fresh tomatoes at any time other than in the summer were very expensive, so for most of the year  my mum and my grandma rarely used tomatoes in salad.  Instead we ate more foods like beetroot salad, coleslaws made with available ingredients, Russian Salad, chicory and "proper" white celery.  White celery, which I never see for sale now, it having been replaced by the green variety which lacks the subtlety of flavour of white celery, and which is imported into this country by the tonne.    White celery was a true late autumn/winter vegetable and was delicious made into a Waldorf Salad with some apple, walnuts and homemade mayonnaise (my grandma wouldn't have dreamed of reaching for the Hellmans).
These salads were fresh and tasty and exposed me, as I grew up, to so many different tastes and textures, which I'm sure fostered my interest in food and cooking as an adult.  
Hot Cross Buns and Chocolate Eggs
Hot Cross buns on Good Friday and chocolate eggs on Easter Sunday.
Freekh is roasted green wheat which is eaten mainly across the Sham area of the Middle East, and which was introduced to me by a Palestinian friend.  I like it cooked simply - braised in stock until most of the stock has been absorbed and the grains are soft so the starch has been released to give it a thick, soupy texture.  I ate mine with roasted carrots and spring lamb chops that had been rubbed with garlic and cumin before being slowly roasted in the oven. 
These rice and coconut pancakes are made with yeast which gives them a texture similar to that of  homemade crumpets.  I first ate appam at a friend's house with a spicy chicken curry.  Apparently appam are traditionally eaten at Easter in Kerala by Indian Christian families.   They are easy to make and make an interesting change from chappatis and naan bread.  I've made my own at home - they went well with a red lentil dhal and are also very tasty served with honey for breakfast.

I wrote this to join in with the In My Kitchen blog posts curated by Celia who writes the  Fig Jam and Lime Cordial blog.

Monday, 30 March 2015

The Year In Books - April 2015

During March I finished reading two novels and I recommend both of them as being very good reads.

In the Eye of the Sun by Ahdaf Soueif weighed in at nearly eight hundred pages but it was so unputdownable that I read it in a week.  It is the story of Asya, a young Egyptian woman from a family of politically active, liberal(ish)  academics.  It follows  her growing up - through school, through university in Cairo and then to England where she studies for a PhD.  The book addresses issues like love, marriage, fidelity, friendship, duty to family and husband, and the generation gap.  It is set during the 1960s and 1970s and the effects of war and economics on Asya,  her family and her friends, provides a backdrop to the novel.

I loved this book.  Asya is a complex, human character and I think Ahdaf Soueif gets inside the head of a young woman who is caught between traditional and modern, between her desires and reality. She writes realistically about complex situations that have no easy solutions.

The second book that I read was "Winter" by Christopher Nicholson, which is a fictionalised account of  true events in the life of Thomas Hardy and his second wife, Florence.   When Hardy was in his eighties a local drama group put on a dramatized version of Tess of the d'Urbervilles, and Hardy developed an infatuation with the actress (Gertrude Bugler) playing the part of Tess.  The book describes events from the points of view of Hardy, Florence and Gertrude.   Christopher Nicholson writes beautiful prose which evokes the time and place in which the book is set and which captures the thoughts and feelings of the protagonists.

My main choice of book for April is "The Year of Magical Thinking" by Joan Didion.  This has been recommended to me many times so I seized  it when I came across a copy in my local PDSA charity shop.  I am not entirely sure that I am in the right frame of mind to read a book about loss and grief but, on the other hand, a book about dealing with loss and grief  might be just what I need.

This post has been written as part of The Year In Books curated by Circle of Pine Trees.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

A Week In View

March is half way through;  it does seem true that the older we get the faster time flies.   I've done a lot of sewing and knitting this week.   The picture on the above left is of the fabrics that I am using to make a  strip quilt which is to go in the car instead of a traditional-type car rug.  
After I'd finished my weekly shopping I decided to try out a different café for some refreshment.    I went to the Veg Out café, which serves only vegetarian and vegan food.    I had a hot chocolate and a slice of vegan chocolate cake, which was lovely.    The atmosphere inside was very relaxed and peaceful  and I sat enjoying my food and drink and reading a very long letter from a friend in the US.
Thinking about how quickly time can fly by, a few months ago I read an interesting article by a psychologist (whose name I  can't remember) who wrote that we can help stop the feeling of time slipping away by noting and celebrating important times during the year - birthdays, anniversaries, feast days etc.   
Celebrating feasts and festivals is something that our society doesn't do very well anymore,  which  I think is to our detriment.  Most of our festivals and feast days have been lost.  Those that are left have been taken over by big business and are stressful consumer fests, rather than times for us to mark time and celebrate our lives.  Bank holidays have become extra shopping days inserted into the year where we are encouraged to go and spend.   One of my goals for 2015 was to celebrate more "special days" and I am looking forward to welcoming the Spring Equinox next week.     I am planning to make a Spring Wreath as described by Anne Wheaton in her blog Life In Mud Spattered Boots , which is one of my favourite blogs.


Saturday, 7 March 2015

In My Kitchen March 2015

In my kitchen are root vegetables.  

I have been doing a lot of cooking with a  selection of  traditional winter vegetables.   In these "between" days, when winter hasn't quite gone and spring hasn't quite arrived. I want to eat  comforting, warming foods, and food made using root vegetables fits the bill nicely.    Parsnips are my favourite and among dishes I enjoy eating at this time of the year are Spicy Parsnip soup, Parsnip Gnocchi,  and Roast Parsnips.    Another dish that I made for the first time, and which hubby and I both liked very much, was  Root Vegetable Cakes (from The Kitchen Revolution by Rosie Sykes, Polly Russell and Zoe Heron).  These used a mixture of swede, parsnip and leeks.  We ate them with fried eggs and homemade tomato relish.

In my kitchen is kale

This came from a local Farmer's Market.   I served it shredded and gently cooked in an inch or so of water, as a green vegetable.  

In my kitchen are Tiramisu wafers.

These are lovely for elevenses with a mug of milky coffee.

I was interested to read about The VegOut Challenge that Francine writes about in her blog Life In The Food Lane.   It is an interesting challenge and one that I would like to try a bit later in the year.

Monday, 2 March 2015

The Year In Books - March 2015

My February read was "Bicycle Diaries" by David Byrne (of Talking Heads fame).  David Byrne takes his fold-up bike with him when he goes on tour and this book is a record of his thoughts about the things he sees, and the people he meets, as he cycles around some of the major cities of the world.

I enjoyed reading his thoughts about the cities that he visited especially the chapters about his visits to Manila and to Baltimore.  What I didn't enjoy about this book were his thoughts about some of the meetings he had with  people in the music and arts industries.  I didn't find these very observant or interesting.   Fortunately though they only took up a small part of the book.

My choice for March is "In The Eye Of The Sun" by Ahdaf Soueif.  

Ahdaf Soueif is an Egyptian author, although she writes in English.  I've read another of her novels "The Map of Love" which was the book that started my interest in the Middle East and in learning Arabic.   "In The Eye Of The Sun" was her first novel  and according to the blurb on the back cover, it is a love story and a story about what it's like to be a woman in the Middle East and in the West.    Ahdaf writes lovely prose with descriptions that evoke time, place and characters so I am really looking forward to reading this book.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

A Grand Day Out to Baddesley Clinton

Wednesday was such a lovely day.  N and I were both at home so we decided to go out for the afternoon.  We were setting out quite late so didn't want to venture too far and were tempted by what we had read about the Priest Holes at Baddesley Clinton.    Baddesley Clinton is a National Trust property almost on our doorstep although neither of us had been there before.   

The house is beautiful.   I find a lot of the larger stately homes rather overwhelming and uncomfortable looking;  as a person who almost constantly feels cold, I am always conscious about how unpleasant it would be to live in a house with enormous rooms and no central heating.   Baddesley Clinton though was the perfect size.  Lovely well proportioned rooms, warm wood panelling  and comfy furnishings.   A fire was lit in the sitting room and it was so warm and cozy in there that I sat in one of the armchairs and was tempted to take 40 winks.

There is a very beautiful private chapel in the upstairs of the house and we saw the Priest Holes that the house is famous for.  Of course, as is the case with National Trust  properties there was a very good café and we had a lovely late lunch.   I definitely recommend the fruit crumble and custard!

Sunday, 22 February 2015

A Week In View

Spring is definitely in the air here in Birmingham: Crocuses are in flower, birds are singing and this afternoon it was warm enough to sit outside without a coat and drink a cup  of tea. 

I've had a busy week and have been quite organised for a change, although that takes a lot of effort on my part.   The most interesting thing that I did was to go to a restaurant named "P'shou" which serves Kurdish food.   

I had Quzy and Fasolia and I enjoyed them so much.   The restaurant is on the top floor of a very unprepossessing building, not the sort of place where you would expect to find good food, and it was a little slice of Iraqi Kurdistan in the inner city of Birmingham.   

Saturday, 14 February 2015

A Week In View

This week I have been feeling a lot less tired and anxious than I have for a long time and I've been using some of my extra energy in the kitchen. I cooked something new everyday. Among the dishes that Hubby and I enjoyed most were Onion Tear-and-Share bread ( recipe from BBC Food magazine),; Mushrooms stuffed with cream cheese; and  Orange-mustard stir fry with tofu and Asian greens (recipe from Bite-sized thoughts  ). I know there is a popular idea that life is too short to stuff a mushroom but the preparation time for the ones I made was about 10 minutes and they were so enjoyable that it was 10 minutes (plus some cooking time) well spent.

I finally got a cheque from my insurance company so I could replace my car, which had been written-off when a huge 4x4 ran into the back of me while I was waiting at a red traffic light. I found the crash and the aftermath very traumatic and I'm sure that the collision has played a part in my recent ill-health. During the week I went out with N to look at a few cars and finally bought the Ford KA in the photograph. I've driven it out and about a few times this week and am pleased with my choice. I enjoy driving very much so it is so good to have my own little car again.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

In My Kitchen - February Kitchen 2015

For a long time I've been an avid fan of the blog Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, written by Celia,  and l love catching the other "In my kitchen" blog posts that she links to.  This month I've finally plucked up the courage to take part as well so here is what's in my In My Kitchen  in February 2015:



In season at this time of the year they've been featuring a lot in my winter cooking.  Some of my favourite dishes have been when they were paired with Gruyere cheese as a filling for twice baked jacket potatoes; in a homemade chicken and leek pie; and when they were combined with another seasonal vegetable, celeriac, in Celeriac and Leek soup (recipe from River Cottage) which I served with homemade bread sticks.

A new pie dish

I love blue and white enamel ware and this pie dish is the latest addition to my collection.

A jar of Tiptree Mincemeat

This was a left-over from Christmas.  I can't think of mince pies outside of the period between the start of Advent and the end of the New Year holiday so I wanted to use this mincemeat to make something a bit different.   So, I made shortbread mincemeat slices.

The shortbread was buttery and crumbly and the mincemeat was full of plump, juicy fruit (I highly recommend Tiptree Mincemeat to anyone who doesn't want to make their own).  A slice with a cup of Earl Grey made delicious elevenses.

Liquorice Catherine Wheels

I don't venture into Birmingham city centre very often but when I do I like to pay a visit to Mr Simms Sweetshop and treat myself to some old fashioned sweeties.  On my most recent visit I bought liquorice Catherine Wheels, which brought back memories of Christmases when I was a child.  My Christmas stocking always contained a  selection pack filled with assorted liquorice treats including my special favourites,  Catherine Wheels - long, thin strips of soft liquorice wound around a bejewelled aniseed sweet. They are as good as I remember them to be.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

A Week In View

My cactus (Rhipsalis grandiflora) is in flower.   This is exciting for me because although I've had it for a few years, this is the first time it has flowered. 

I am making some wrap around aprons to wear while I'm cooking or doing my chores around the house.  They are such useful garments; I remember my grandma and my mum always started off in the  morning by putting a "housecoat" or "pinny" over their clothes to protect them and keep them clean.  I suppose the "pinny" has fallen out of favour (except for those horrible joke ones with pictures of the bits of anatomy we normally keep private) because the jobs we do around the home are less dirty now than in days gone by.   I remember my grandma black-leading the range, polishing  brass and stoning the front step.  Looking after a home in those days was hard physical work.  At the risk of sounding ancient, I also remember the copper boiler in the kitchen, laundry blue and the mangle, all of which were part of the weekly laundry routine.  Without the convenience of a washing machine, modern washing detergents and easily washable clothing, mum and grandma wanted to keep their clothes clean for as long as possible, hence the "pinny".

I have modern household appliances and have never black-leaded anything in my life (it was always too messy a job for me to help mum and grandma with) but I am going to take a leaf out of their books by covering up my nice clothes with my wrap around apron

Friday was a cold frosty day perfect for a day out, so N and I went on a visit to Raglan Castle.  We spent a couple of hours having a good look around and then had our picnic.   I love a picnic and even Sainsbury's mushroom soup and some crusty bread tasted special when eaten outside.  After eating we drove into Monmouth, which is a lovely little town and one I want to go back to soon to have a proper look around.

Monday, 19 January 2015

A Week In View

I've been listening to a cd recording of Harriet Walter reading Middlemarch.  I've never read the novel;  I did start the book when I was in my early twenties but for some reason put it aside after a few chapters and never picked it back up again.  I missed out on such a treat for such a long time.  But "Hurrah" for audio books that I can listen to in the car.  I am obsessive about arriving early: for work, for appointments, for meet ups with friends..., and I arrive almost everywhere long before I'm due.  Being able to sit back for 10 minutes and listen to the next instalment of a good book has been pure enjoyment.

Although so far this winter we haven't had a proper snowfall here in this neck of the woods, it has been cold and windy.  Jacket potatoes are the perfect comfort food for lunch after a cold morning outside.   I filled these with leeks and Gruyere cheese and they were delicious.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

A Week In View

Christmas Roses (Helleborus niger) are one of my favourite winter flowers and I was so pleased to find them on sale when I popped into the supermarket this week.   I couldn't resist buying some to put in a pot on the terrace.

I am interested in all things astronomical so I  just had to sign up for a free, short Open University course studying the constellation Orion.    The course started this week with a basic introduction but sadly since the start of the course. the sky outside has been cloudy so I haven't actually been able to see the constellation in all its glory.   The course leader, Monica Grady has asked participants on the course to take some photographs of Orion.  I'm not sure my photography skills are going to be up to this but I'm waiting for clear skies so that I can at least go out and try.  

When I was out walking during the week I came across a beautiful ivy bush (Hedera helix) covered in black berries.   Seeing the ivy made me think of the carol "The Holly and the Ivy" and why, although ivy is in the title, it is not mentioned again beyond the first line.  I came home and did a small amount of  research into the folk law connected with ivy, and into the carol.   I read that there may be some lost verses relating to ivy and that there is also an old folk song about holly and ivy in which holly is considered masculine and therefore "good" while ivy is feminine and "bad".   I wonder if that is why any "lost" verses ended up excluded from the carol?   I can't consider ivy to be "bad": it provides nectar for insects in the autumn when other flowers are in short supply, and berries for birds in winter.

Friday, 9 January 2015

A Year In Books - January 2015

I found the "A Year In Books" posts last year when I serendipitously found the "A Circle of Pine Trees" blog.   This year I thought that as well as being a reader I would be a participant as well so here's my first post for "A Year in Books":

Hopefully I will have the time to read more than one book this month, but if I do only read one it will be The Harafish by Naguib Mahfouz.  I read a lot of books written by authors from the Middle East.  The Harafish is a series of episodes in the lives of several generations of an Egyptian family so I think it will be an interesting journey through the way the politics and history of the region affected the lives of ordinary people, as well as being a good family saga.

I've also recently picked up a copy of Kenneth William's Diaries and my intention is that during the month I'll be picking my way through that as well.

My health wasn't very good in December and I feel like I spent most of it asleep.  However I did re-read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, a perennial favourite of mine; and East Wind, West Wind by Mahdi Issa Al-Saqr, which is set in Iraq in the 1950s.  It's a story, about life in a camp at an oil well, told from two different perspectives both describing events that occur among the British managers who run the oil well.  It's a mix of scandal, gossip and eventually betrayal.   It was an enjoyable read.

Monday, 5 January 2015

A Week In View

Sunday was definitely one of those "In The Bleak Midwinter" days. There was a hard frost overnight and the earth was standing "hard as iron" with "water like a stone".  I saw this patch of daffodil shoots when I was out for my afternoon walk.  I'm sure there are many more cold(er) days to come before the spring arrives, but these are a sign that even in the depths of winter we are looking forward to a New Year and what is to come.

On the subject of the New Year, I have always been unsuccessful at keeping New Year resolutions, but one that I am going to try very hard to keep in 2015 is to do some knitting for charity. As part of the Ravelry 15 in 15 group that I've joined, I have pledged to knit 15 items for charity over the coming twelve months. Knit a Square is one of the charities that I am going to knit for this year.

The Yule edition of "Elk Lines" arrived this week. This is a story, written by Sylvia Victor Linsteadt, who also writes the blog  The Indigo Vat.     Elk Lines is sent one chapter at a time throughout the year. I am enjoying reading it very much: It is a mixture of magic realism and nature writing and I always look forward to receiving the next installment. There is a joy in the anticipation of having to wait for the next chapter to arrive and I get a thrill when the thick, decorated, envelope arrives in the post.