A little spring hope

a camelia flower from the garden with vintage tea cup

The camellias are in bloom here, their glossy dark leaves a welcome sight with these gorgeous flowers hidden among the foliage a delight when all other plants seem to be barely alive. Oddly enough, in order to have flowers in February, you have to give tender loving care throughout the summer months six months ago these were just a promise! To be a gardener is to have faith, even if it is watering your Camilla during the dry summers, or planting seeds in the depths of winter for summer flowering, hope springs eternal. Its a positive reflection when we are facing the wider challenges of a Covid Pandemic – every vaccination is like a seed back to normality.

sewing seeds for summer

I adore sweet peas, in my last garden they would grow with abundance and flourish so much that I was able go gift bunches of their sweet scented flowers to family and friends all summer long. Here the sun seems hotter for the last two years they have simply burnt away to nothing leaving only one or two flowers. But I persist, this time I am going to choose a less sunnier spot – in the hope that a little shade will bring more success.

In my last garden, sweet peas were so easy to grow – that I felt confident of my green fingers, but now I realise that gardening also comes with lessons in letting go, you can’t control the outcome – nature has its part to play.

Hope springs, sweet pea seeds

I chose two varieties of sweet peas, Sugar and Spice is a container bushy plant and the more traditional Statesman – they are scented varieties because who could resist the joy of lifting a flower to take in the gorgeous scent? The winner of this race was the Sugar and Spice, here just popping through the compost on the kitchen window sill, only a week later.

sweet pea seedlings

Here they are another week later, just pushing out the first tiny leaves. The slumbering Statesman still just snuggling in the warm compost – only one little seedling showing a tiny speck of green!

Blues, pinks and cherry blossom.

Until the spring I will content myself with creating my own little cherry blossom, reminding myself of clear blue skies and sunshine, even if it is only in my imagination. Today, slate grey monochrome skies are the backdrop to swaying trees while pattering raindrops are dancing across the panes. I will stitch my spring flowers, listening to the radio and be filled with hope.

My camelia is in bloom

Even though we are in the depths of winter there is something beautiful to cherish, time to rest, slow down and dream.



Winter pleasures

One of the most delightful aspects of working from home is that while everyone else is on the daily commute, or the train or stuck in traffic – I get to spend a quiet half hour before work enjoying the peace and quiet of home and a warm breakfast.

I’ve made a lot of porridge in my life, its a good start to the day, oats help to regulate blood sugar levels and it is comforting on a cold January morning, when the skies are grey and it feels like winter is going on forever!

I’ve only recently discovered a cooking method that delivers the comforting creamy texture of my Scottish heritage and childhood memories. (without the salt! – which was a bit of a shock the first time my grandparents made it for me!)

I won’t say it is the best way nor is it the only way, but it works for me and it is in line with slow living because good creamy porridge needs time and attention. I like the ritual aspect that making porridge gives in the morning – the exact opposite of my multi-tasking mind that seems to burn most things.

I put a couple of scoops of oats into a small pan which is already warm from the heat of the cooker, usually at the highest setting. I warm the oats gently stirring and then add the milk (as I am milk intolerant that is usually oat milk). I add enough milk to cover the oats and create a thick consistency, stirring constantly for a few minutes to prevent burning, then I add more milk – so that it becomes loose again. I continue to stir gently until the mixture thickens up again – then add more milk. I think I do this three or four times – eventually getting the consistency I like. I add half a teaspoon of honey and a pinch of mixed spice or cinnamon – which is delicious.

While the porridge cools enough to eat, it is very easy to wash out the pan. I wish I had learned this years ago – I used to pour in water and allow the pot to soak but it is hard work later on, and who wants to look at a porridge smeared pot? Use hot water a tiny squirt of soap and a brush and it is clean in no time, the oats don’t stick to the pan! its like magic. Who doesn’t want a bit of magic now and then?