* ‘The Mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring-cleaning his little home. First with brooms, then with dusters; then on ladders and steps and chairs, with a brush and a pail of whitewash; till he had dust in his throat and eyes, and splashes of whitewash all over his black fur, and an aching back and weary arms. Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing.’ (The Wind In The Willows- Kenneth Grahame – 1908)
* There is something in the air at this time of year, a discernible change in temperature, the beginnings of the scents of spring narcissi and the sounds of birds working industriously nest making, when one will suddenly wake with the urge to sweep away the dust and grime of winter and throw open the windows to let the sweet new air blow through the house. Our Easter holidays have seen us taking time to clean our little nest.
* First the windows inside and out to let in the spring light. Use a large bowl of soapy water and dry with newspaper. I recently saw an advert for a Karcher window washer; what a waste of time and energy !, Newspaper is by far a better method and leaves windows looking beautifully clean.
* Next an overhaul of the utility room, repainting the dresser and hanging some jaunty bunting.
* A really good scrub down of all surfaces with a spray of vinegar solution and a paste of sodium bicarbonate.
* And finally some spring propagation of tomatoes, courgettes, marigolds, sweet peas using our rather lovely paper pot maker. This is particularly useful for peas and other legumes that don’t like to have their roots disturbed as they can be planted directly into the soil and will bio-degrade naturally.
* Although the weather started with Arctic winds sweeping the country, the weather pattern has changed direction and the sea frett has begun to move over the land, bringing with it the warmer, damp air and the smell of the sea in our coastal village. This has meant the opportunity to begin our little garden once again.
* I was inspired by the planting in Kirby Lonsdale ; where every little house really made the best of their outdoor space.
* Followed by the obligatory cream tea – this time at The Royal Hotel on the main street.
* This beautiful old building welcomed us with a roaring fire and squashy settees.
* Making the most of the time left of the Easter holiday we visited an old favourite – The Hazelmere Bakery and Tea room in elegant, Edwardian Grange-Over-Sands.
* A beautiful walk from Kents Bank along the shore line to Grange – crossing the railway and up through the town and finally the reward of what we think is the best afternoon tea in England !
* Yesterday saw us enjoying the food market at Parrox Hall- a medieval house which is across the road from our little terrace.
* Then making a large pot of soup with the vegetables we bought.
Recipe For Simple Vegetable Soup
Splash of vegetable oil
Knob of butter
A selection of root vegetables in any quantity
A tin of tomatoes ( optional)
2 Litres of Vegetable or Chicken Stock
2 or 3 bay leaves
– Chop your vegetables roughly; (you could use a food processor but sometimes I like to chop by hand and listen to Radio 4 .)
– Heat your oil gently and add a knob of butter.
– Gently sauté your vegetables for around 2 minutes, then place a lid over your saucepan and let cook until your vegetables begin to soften ( about 10 minutes)
– Add the stock and tomatoes ( if using) and simmer gently for around 20 minutes.
– Remove from the heat and blend using a hand blender ( or use a potato masher to squish the vegetables to a rough pulp)