I love hot cross buns with their spices and fruit. I remember as a girl walking down our road in Sunbury-on-Thames to the Vienna Bakery with my father on Good Friday for the nicest ones I've ever eaten. I also remember when we lived near Plymouth finding everywhere shut and settling for saffron buns which I think must be an acquired taste.
I started today working in the garden but as the light showers turned into steady rain I decided to give up and come indoors to make my Easter tree instead. When I cut the branches I was worried that the leaves were so tightly in bud that they wouldn't open but a few days indoors seems to have done the trick!
Rain today means no gardening but it's the perfect time to bake my Simnel Cake. I love this with its band of home-made almond paste running through the middle. For years I made it every Mothering Sunday as a gift for my mother, then it became a Mothering Sunday cake for us but in recent years it has seemed more sensible to make it at Easter when both boys are around to enjoy it.
Puss pays us a rare visit and even concedes that she might managed a couple of mouthfuls of Waitrose cat food (only a couple of mouthfuls mind). We put her plate with the uneaten food into the dairy and by morning it is always gone .....
Although the grass crunched slightly underfoot this morning the sky is definitely blue and the birds are singing. My phone still stubbornly shows snow symbols for later this week but right now it seems to be (whisper it) spring!
When we were away in Cumbria I was lucky enough to find a box of old clay pots for sale outside a small antique shop, they were very cheap and today in B&Q I saw these tete a tete daffodils in the clearance section - a perfect pairing for my Easter decorations (and I didn't have to look far for the moss to finish them off!) To think I once bought moss from the florist ....
Making a mountain out of quite a lot of mole hills actually! Dave decided to collect up the soil and heap it onto the allotment where the collared dove decided it was just the place to sit. I love that they always go around as a pair and it delights me to hear them calling. Although to far away to photograph I also heard the Red Legged Partridge this morning and the constant tapping of a woodpecker/
Despite traces of snow still on the Top Field Dave decided the time had come to mow the 'lawn'. The warm spell back in distant history now at the beginning of February meant that it is looking very tufty and this hopefully will get it back under control before all the daffodils open.
Just as I was starting to prepare supper the barn owl flew by. Normally it is so difficult to photograph as it loves to appear as the light levels are falling, but to my delight the owl landed on one of our fence posts and then even better turned to make the classic silhouette. It was lovely to go away but it's good to be home.
The snow remains in traces around the stone walls creating amazing abstract patterns across the landscape. We head home with a little bit of Cumbria in the boot which will be perfect for our Easter lunch. I have to say I love all aspects of sheep, from the lambs to the plate!
We couldn't believe our eyes and had to stop the car but yes these little lambs were wearing plastic coats! With snow still on the fell tops I guess they were glad of them, but we did think 'whatever next'!
With blue skies and empty roads our plans for the day had to be swiftly revised. We met friends for coffee and then set off to explore. The natives were so friendly I was desperate to pop them in the back of the car. I felt a sheep, two lambs, a sheepdog and an alpaca would have just fitted (Dave of course was less enthusiastic about my idea!)
After the excitement of yesterday you'd have thought I'd have slept for hours, but although the bed was extremely comfortable as soon as I woke to sun I was up and out exploring. I also found sheep with lambs but I'm afraid my lack of tasty treats must have made me something of a disappointment. I'd certainly worked up an appetite for my own breakfast!
After a very busy day we were delighted to arrive at Low Hall in Little Strickland. There was a very warm welcome with freshly baked scones and a huge inglenook fire. Later we ventured back out into the snow to visit 'The Butcher's Arms' (a community owned pub) in nearby Crosby Ravensworth.
It was snowy as we left Derbyshire to drive up to the Lake District but the journey was fine once we were out of our lane. I was delighted to have won silver for my Hill Farm B&B 'Very Citrus Marmalade' which is made from oranges, grapefruit and lemons. I also got to meet Paddington Bear!!
This morning at Hill Farm we have woken to blue sky but everywhere is very white with frost. Yesterday there were some more snowflakes but nothing settled. The moon is high in the morning sky but is being joined by lots of vapour trails, we also have the beginnings of an atmospheric mist.
We took the decision to replace our septic tank with a much more effective (and initially expensive) treatment system, of course no-one was expecting last week's snow when the work was arranged. To our horror the freezing temperatures caused the concrete to fail and rising on an exceptionally high water table, 'the thing' climbed back out of the ground! The installation team were great though and it is now reburied in a better location and working as intended.
After the chaos of the last few days I am delighted to be discussing leeks rather than leaks. We now have water running from the taps and things are returning to normal here! Dave dug these leeks from our garden and I'm adding them to a chicken pie for our supper tonight.
Today is grey, cold, icy and with so much mist the visibility is very poor. I feel I should go out for a walk but can't conjure up much enthusiasm. The sheep are wandering dispiritedly round their field but with a few more weeks until lambing they are having to tough it out.
The birds are trying to find food today. A huge flock of starlings landed in the field opposite whilst the pheasant continued his walk about. Late yesterday afternoon we saw the hare, the temperature is slowly rising but everywhere is so grey.
Of course in the morning there was the need to walk back to the car! I went to keep Joe company, we saw someone else being rescued from a different snow drift. The wind had blown so much snow off the fields that in some places they were almost bare, whilst the drifts were several feet high. It was so icy it was hard to stand upright and I was very glad of a coffee when I finally got home (two hours after setting off).
Joe got to within half a mile of home when his work land rover got stuck in a snowdrift and the road became impassable. Fortunately our friends live nearby and began helping him while I walked round with a thick coat and wellington boots. We managed to get the car to the Doveridge road before parking it in a lay by and walking the mile and a half home, fortunately for some of our hike we were sheltered from the biting wind. I was very glad I'd got the lamb burgers to look forward too!
While the wind sculpts the dry snow outside the kitchen window and sends dry leaves into eddying spirals I decide that spiced lamb burgers would be just the thing for supper (from the River Cottage recipe book).