Sometimes, there is no getting away from it- we have to make a trip into our capital city. Fortunately it is only 20 minutes away, and it is a nice town. James is ready and is taking one or two friends with him.
As son as the car is parked, we have to stand under this tunnel and listen to out echoed calls.
Now our errand is done, we can have a walk around. James runs on ahead, but stops to wait while we catch up.
In we go to the gardens. I always think of the fact that we are walking along the bottom of a loch basin.
Looking up at the castle on the rock.
Noticing things we had never noticed before - like that thistle detail on the very top of the window corbels.
Looking for Mr Squirrel's house, but we thought he was still deeply asleep in his cosy nest.
The Ross Banstand, which less than a month ago saw the likes of Madness and The Noisettes strutting across it's stage, while a spectacular firework display welcomed in the New Year, lies empty and forlorn. Ah well, spring and summer are on their way and festivals will once again brighten it's space.
James tries to find some wind to blow his new windmill. And it does blow!
But running down those steep banks are just the best fun.
Book sharing Monday today could only be about the Bard himself. So we are sharing Rabbies Rhymes - by Robert Burns, illustrated by Karen Sutherland. A fun wee book which has the first few lines of Burn's most famous works, with pull out flaps and such, especially geared to young children.
My Luve is like a red, red rose
Thats newly spring in June
My Luve is like a melodie
That's sweetly played in tune
Quite kitschy pitures for what must be one of the world's great love songs, but there you go. Lots more books to share with Alex at Book Sharing Monday.
Book shelf sharing is from the 3 bookshelves in the conservatory, which John built to hide an awkward recess. It was quite hard to get into photograph as it is an alcove, but I think most of the books are visible. It is a bit of a mixture - cookery ,gardening, craft and all sorts really. Feel free to enlarge and have a browse.
And just to make up for such a short snippet of Burns - and to celebrate his birthday - here is a beautful version of the song, sung by Eddie Reader.
It was five o'clock when we came in from the garden this afternoon. Still light enough to finish planting the raspberries that had been imprisioned in the greenhouse since their Christmas Eve delivery. (More on this and other growing type things on the gardening blog). Today there is a whole extra hour of daylight here. What are you dong with yours?
One of the many things I love about having a 3 year old again, is being there when his imagination soars. Today - just an ordinary day around the house and garden, James was just so engrossed in his play. I was making the evening meal at this point and when I tuned round to see what he was doing he called out - I'm Santa, Mum - and so he was! He'd put on a red play silk and found a hat left over from the holidays and it was Christmas again! Ho ho ho :)
An appropriate choice for today, I thought, is Ollie's Ski Trip by Elsa Bescow. Another of these gentle little stories, this tells how Ollie gets a new pair of skis for his birthday, but doesn't get to use them for ages, as the snow keeps falling and then thawing right away. Then at last it snows for 3 days and he gets his chance. Out he goes, revelling in the beauty of the winter landscape, and he meets Jack Frost ! Jack Frost is very impressed with Ollie and asks him if he would like to visit King Winter in his ice palace. Well - who wouldn't? On their way, however, the meet an old woman with a broom, who is making the ice and snow melt - Mrs Thaw!
Jack Frost chases her off in quite a rude fashion, but when Ollie challenges him, he says that Mrs Thaw is always trying to come too soon - she should not be here until the spring. Anyway, Ollie has a most wonderful time at King Winter's court, playing, sledging and skating. Then he returns home and he and his little brother enjoy the rest of the winter, playing in the snow. Mrs Thaw stays away for a long time, but then at the end of winter, she comes back.
She didn't stop until there wasn't a speck of snow left
Rain poured down in torrents and last year's withered
leaves were sent whilring away with her broom. And every-
one seemed to get a cold. Ollie was really angry with Mrs Thaw.
But one lovely spring day, Spring came driving up in
her airy carriage drawn by white butterflies. Then Ollie
saw Mrs Thaw, as she stood by the side of the ditch wearing
a brand new apron. She curtsied to Spring, beaming with
delight For the first time, Ollie really liked Mrs Thaw
and knew that she wasn't so bad after all. But he did
wish she would learn to come at the proper time.
Is this the proper time? Or will King Winter and Jack Frost return? Watch out for the next couple of months to find out!
Now I am going to add another dimesnion to my Book Sharing Monday posts. I was very taken with this post on When I get the time. Pippa mentions how people's kitchens and bookshelves can say a lot about them. I have been thinking about this, and looking at our bookshelves. Just glancing at the one to my right as I type has The Golfer's Companion sandwiched between The Complete New Herbal, and Solar Ethics. Hmmm. Well I am going to be brave and start sharing some of my bookshelves. I have 2 small(quite chipped now that I notice) shelves in the kitchen which hold some of my cookery books, so we will start there.
I love looking at other people's book collections. Dare to share?
I posted the other day about making a spelt and oatmeal loaf, and Lisa kindly asked for the recipe. The trouble with me and reciies is that I always tinker around with them, depending mostly on what I happen to have in the cupboard at the time. This is quite a good one, in that the basic formula is there and there is lots of room for doing your own thing with it. It is in fact the Grant Loaf, made famous by Mrs Doris Grant in the 1940s
3lb spelt flour (or wholemeal or white or even thise multi-seed/grain bread flours that you can buy nowdays)
2 tsp sea salt (I don't ever put salt in and it is fine)
2 pints water at blood heat (usually half boiling and half cold works for me)
3 level teaspoons dried yeast (not fast acting kind)
2 level teaspoon honey or black molasses (or whatever sweetener you favour)
Put the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl and set in a warm place along with three greased bread tins until thoroughly warmed.
Place 3 tablespoons of the water in a cup and sprinkle the yeast on top - leave for a couple of minutes
Add the honey, or whatever. Leave in a warm place for 15 minutes until there is a thick creamy froth.
Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the yeast together with the remaining water.
Mix well, by hand is best, working from sides to middle until the dough feels slippery and elastic.
Divide at once into the warmed bread tins.
Cover with a cloth and set the tins in a warm place for about 40 minutes, or until the dough has reached the tops of the tins.
Place risen loaves in centre of oven heated to 375°F (190°C) or Gas no. 5 and bake for 50-60 minutes. Turn out on to a wire rack and leave until completely cool. This bread keeps for about 5 days.
The big key to this bread is that you DO NOT knead it
If I am adding oatmeal then i take out about 3 oz of the flour and add the same amount of medium oatmeal (not the porridge oats, but if thats all you have about you, then I'm sure it would be fine).
I usually throw in a handful of sunflower or pumpkin seeds without changing any quantities.
I also quite like sprinking the top of the loaves with linseeds - they come out beautifully toasty, but have also done this with other seeds.
I have been making this bread for several years now and it always turns out well - providing the kitchen is warm - if not, then it takes longer to rise. Since the snow came in the middle of December, I have been making it twice a week. I did buy a shop wholemeal once when we ran out and I was being lazy, but we couldn't eat it - it was soooo salty and frankly not very nice. This makes a lovely nutty dense moist loaf which is very filling. It takes no time at all to mix up - fast food at it's very best. Give it a try.
I cut the fruit and vegetables,while James puts it through the juicer. Orange, beetroot, carrot and kale today - very nice.
Papa needed to go to the bank and for some shopping, but Gran is feeling the cold a lot just now, so she came here. James kept her entertained. She is not really able to do much at all now, and she likes to keep her coat and gloves on, but she still responds to James and his chatter.
Robbie the dog had been out in the garden and had very muddy feet when he came in. James helped his Dad dry them off. James is reassuring Robbie, as he hates getting his feet dried.
After that James helped Dad to fix his big sister's car. She will be pleased when she comes home!
When Papa came back, he helped make the lunch for us all.
And I made these (well-fired) spelt and oatmeal loaves.
Now that Christmas has been cleared away, the seasonal display looks a little bit empty. That is just as it should be though, as outside is stark and bare. A simple soft snowy white cloth, some beeswax candles to represent the light and warmth that we crave right now, and an old, much thumbed Ladybird book about winter. In the centre is a white cyclamen - a plant that blooms in Wintertime and, for me, is symbolic of light and growth in the darkness.
The pine cones from the seasonal table have been used to make suet and seed feeders for the birds. Our garden robin was an early visitor.
So, not much can be done in this freezing cold weather except stay by the fire and work our way through some of our Christmas books.
Luckily on my last charity shopping trip I managed to pick up a couple of old fashioned thick woollen blankets, along with some linen napkins (my current obsession). So, for the time being we can snuggle up cosily, and I can read my elder son's Christmas gift to me and dream of what I can do with all those vintage textiles.