Thursday, 31 January 2013

The Month of January

Started with seeing more than just a few inches of blue in the sky. Hurrah! Perfect weather cold, crisp. dry and blue for a New Year walk. Off to Oxleas Woods we went.
Having a lovely impromptu meet with a great friend along the Kings Road. A little sales mooching and a long sit and catch up in Grocer on Kings.
A day trip to Bath to Mr B's Delightful Reading Emporium for my reading spa, but you've read all about that.
A leisurely wake up and breakfast with mother and then a mooch to Blackheath together before saying goodbye.
A slow weekend - the most venturing to the cinema to see The Life of Pi. I'm sure I didn't jump that much when reading the book.
Then back to school after a lovely and relaxing holiday.
Ohh it began to get colder...
A lovely catch up supper at Rocket, and giving of the last Christmas gift.
Off to Mama and Papa Warmth's for a family gathering to celebrate Papa Warmth's birthday. This also is the occasion of the annual 'Card of the year'. Where we look at every card and firstly vote for the best and then the worst. Left over Christmas food is nibbled, the last of the mince pies eaten and then we read a Christmas section from Diary of a Nobody.
Catching up with a dear friend and our usual pizza, the final receiving of a Christmas gift
Our engagement anniversary and a hospital appointment for our 20 week scan. So, if all continues well there will be a mini Warmth or Joan born in early June. All is well and we're getting most excited, and a little bigger...
Then the snow came... and our weekend in Cardiff to celebrate a good friend's 40th birthday was postponed. So a weekend of wrapping up warm, walking to the shop to buy food, making soup, baking, re watching multiple West Wing, napping on the sofa. In fact it felt a little like the days just after Christmas - lazy and full of food.
Mama and Papa Warmth for Friday night supper, crumble felt like the only pudding to eat this week.
Saturday blue skies - oh what a welcome return.
Off to good friends for the night. Chinese takeaway, a lasagne for lunch, laughter and catching up together.
Baking loaf cakes in the cold weather. This Lemon Drizzle Cake - my it was tangy and delicious. Straight from the oven it would make a perfect pudding, then if any left as cake, trying to find the perfect flapjack recipe - do you have one? Lady Grey Fruit Loaf as the snow silently fell and one from the Great British Bake Off book an apricot and marzipan fruit loaf.

Monday, 28 January 2013

sprigs of winter jasmine

I think our days have been a little more than 'fine cold' but a post to help us look to spring never goes amiss.

'It was the middle of January now, a fine cold Wednesday morning. Ellen, who had half an hour off before serving lunch, came out of the porch in her old coat, the belt hanging, to cut sprigs of winter jasmine for the tables. Jasmine was all there was at present; soon there would be winter aconites and snowdrops, floods of gold and white under the trees; then daffodils, then primroses and violets...' Dorothy Whipple Someone at a distance

How is your garden? I miss pottering in it, but look forward to spring and the new life, but bought the first bunch of daffodils at the weekend.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

watch the snow settle

But then the urge to go outside becomes too much...

'Outside, the air was clean and cool against her face... She let the snow float around her, and then Mabel did what she had as a child - turned her face to the sky and stuck out her tongue. The swirl overhead was dizzying and she began to spin slowly in place. The snowflakes landed on her cheeks and eyelids, wet her skin. Then she stopped and watched the snow settle on the arms of her coat. For a moment she studied the pattern of a single starry flake before it melted into the wool. Here, and then gone.' Eowyn Ivey The Snow Child

How do you like to explore the snow?

Monday, 21 January 2013

pearl-blue clouds

It started Friday morning and then continued on and off all weekend...

'The snow fell all night. It fell without a sound and covered the frozen ground, and the dead leaves beneath the maple tree, and bowed the limbs of the evergreens, and sifted out of the high, pearl-blue clouds hour after hour. Mrs Bridge was awakened by the immense silence and she lay in bed listening.' Evan S. Connell Mrs Bridge

Lying in a warm bed with gorgeous blankets knowing it's snowing outside is one of the 
loveliest things.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Mr B's Delightful Reading Spa

The purpose for our day trip to Bath was to use a birthday gift. Some dear friends had clubbed together to buy me a Reading Spa. So after a lovely lunch we wound our way to Mr B's Delightful Reading Emporium. When I'd booked it I was asked what books I liked reading so that they could choose the right person to talk with me.
So snuggled up in a armchair in a cosy corner with a delicious brownie we began to talk. I was asked what type of books, authors I liked reading and why, any that I didn't like, interests outside of reading. She was really perceptive and clarified some thoughts for me on some of the types of stories that I specifically enjoy. Most importantly she really listened as the huge selection of books did fit, yet also expand my reading, some books were ones I'd already read and liked. She scurried away a couple of times returning with piles of books to talk through and choose from, you could tell from the discussions we had about these books that as a book shop they talked about books a lot. It felt at first that I said say "yes" to every single one suggested but that couldn't be done and so then it was easier to make decisions. I did have to remind myself that this was to expand my reading if they were all books on a list that I'd like to read then what was the point. It felt so decadent to be able to buy a small tower of books as I had the money to spend and not toss up between which ones to leave and which to take with me.

So, the books that I did buy.
Daphne du Maurier The Parasites
Alexandra Fuller Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness
Sybille Bedford A Compass Error (the only one that I already knew and wanted to read having already read A favourite of the Gods)
Jonathon Coe The Rain Before It Falls
Tahmima Anam a golden age

A gift to mother for accompanying me Helen Castor She Wolves and for Warmth, as he was at work, Pietro Grossi Fists.

I a short list of some of the other books suggested that I'd like to remember:
Restoration by Rose Tremain (which I'll borrow from mother)
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
The Village by Nikita Lalwani
All the stars electric bright by Ian Brecken

It really was a delightful experience and I strongly recommend it either to give, or to receive, or even if you are in Bath to pop into the bookshop and explore.

Monday, 14 January 2013

life flows tranquilly

Mother and I had a delightful day in Bath during the holidays. I'll post about it later but first of all this to put us in the mood

'Deltenham, the country town to which colonels and admirals retire on their pensions, stands in a bowl whose sides are green hills. When a visitor gets out of the train at Deltenham he notices at once the difference in the air: it is fresh and cold, and so it should be, blowing down as it does from those flat summits padded with ancient turf.
The town cannot be said to have fallen asleep in 1760, when most of it was built, because, even then, it was not fully awake. To-day , its life flows tranquilly through wide streets, past pale square Anne and Georgian houses, and pastry-cooks' shops, where the ageing daughters of very old generals sit eating eclairs from silver forks, quietly dying into the background of England's history.' Stella Gibbons Golden Vanity in Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm
silver forks

We didn't see any ageing daughters of very old generals but did have a lovely tea and cake to revive us.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Battle of Flowers

After the dark days earlier in the week some flowers.

'All autumn Mrs. Parmenter had run out between the showers and picked the asters, saying brightly that an old woman must be allowed to do something around the house. Opposition would hardly have been hysterical if she had offered to make the beds, but her tastes appeared to be floral. Now it was January and the snowdrops, and before you knew where you were, Mrs. Ramsay thought morbidly, it would be May and the tulips. Somehow she had never expected to spend the war having a Battle of Flowers with Mrs. Parmenter.' Mollie Panter-Downes Mrs Ramsay's War in Good Evening, Mrs Craven

Not quite sure what a Battle of Flowers would look like but in some ways I like the sound of it. Which flower would win?

Monday, 7 January 2013

a delightful little Tudor gem

'It was before lunch on a dark January day in the Ramsays' country cottage in Sussex. Just how dark January could be, Mrs Ramsay reflected gloomily, no one would ever know who had not spent it in a delightful little Tudor gem with a wealth of of old oak and several interesting features (such as the beam on which you knocked your head outside the bathroom).' Mollie Panter-Downes Mrs Ramsay's War in Good evening, Mrs. Craven: The Wartime stories of Mollie Panter-Downes

Hoping you have moments of light this January day.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Journey of the Magi

I don't know why, but I really love Epiphany. I look forward to going to an Epiphany service as much as a carol service. I think it reminds me that Christmas isn't quite over - well not just yet, and not to rush onto the next thing but to savour the season fully.  

A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey
T. S. Eliot Journey of the Magi


Happy Epiphany to you x

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

tiny icicles chimed

'We celebrated the Russian New Year in Odessa. My grandmother, the sweet-natured Bella, had prepared a feast. We had an enormous meal preceded by zakuski - salmon, caviar, smoked sturgeon, salted cucumbers and pates of all types - washed down with vodka, followed by a series of dishes that combined traditional Russian Jewish cuisine with French and Russian recipes, from a pie made with carp to boiled chicken, accompanied by a series of wines, culminating in several bottles of champagne which we drank, as one should, so cold that tiny icicles chimed against the crystal glasses.' Elisabeth Gille The Mirador Dreamed memories of Irene Nemirovsky by her daughter.

Wishing you all a very happy new year x