Snow! Snowsnowsnowsnow

I love snow.  Why I live in the southwest of England, given this, is a bit of a mystery.  Although, as I have frequently documented on this blog, the southwest has many other redeeming features which may make up for the lack of frequent snow.

Two weeks ago, though, there was proper snow.  The sort you have to shovel.  We were away for some of it (see previous post) but when we got home on the Sunday there was shovelling, snowball-throwing, and hot cocoa-making.  I took a few photos but as it was cloudy, things weren’t as sparkly white as I would have liked.  Still- snow!!  (It’s now a distant memory, sadly…)

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Sparkle dust

Frost in the sunshine is one of my favourite winter things.  I feel so lucky to live in the countryside and have the possibility of waking up to sleepy hillsides with mist rising and frost on the fields twinkling in the sunshine.  It has been warm-ish and soggy the past few weeks, not proper winter at all, but this weekend we are due for a frost and I cannot wait to wake up and go for an early-morning scrunch across the fields.  (Just IMAGINE how excited I will be if it snows, which I am sure it will not, but maybemaybemaybe it will!)

I took these photos a few weeks ago, during the last cold spell.  Fingers crossed for similar scenes tomorrow.

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A New Year’s walk

New years’ day was sunny and glorious- hopefully a sign of things to come.  We walked around Blagdon lake, sometimes on footpaths and sometimes on country lanes.  The views were beautiful, and the lake very quiet.  It is a nature reserve and a habitat for lots of birds and other wildlife.  I feel very lucky to have this landscape on my doorstep.

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Apple and blackberry

I am still catching up on blogs I meant to do in 2012!

This year we had some brilliant blackberry-picking adventures.  Living out in the countryside, blackberries in hedges are as common as, well, blackberry hedges, so it was not difficult to find a field in which there were more blackberries than we could carry home with us.  We also have a bramley apple tree in the garden.  So there was much jam-making, all of it done by Mark, and a little bit of pie-making (by me).

The pie below is a simple blackberry and apple pie, with an all-butter crust (half the weight of butter to flour, rub in, add ice water to bind etc) and about equal volumes of chopped up bramleys and blackberries, with a generous sprinkling of sugar.  Doused in cream, it was very good indeed.

I should confess now that whilst I did an extraordinary amount of Christmas baking this year, I took no photos of any of it.  Oops.  I was extremely proud of my mince pies, though, particularly as the pastry finally actually worked out.  I put this down to a combination of tips from Nigel and Nigella (Slater and Lawson), who suggest, respectively, chilling the liquid used to bind the pastry with ice, and placing the bowl full of flour and small cubes of butter into the freezer for 10 minutes to chill once you’ve measured it all out and before you rub the butter into the flour.  I did both, and the pastry was consequently very easy to work with.  I also followed Nigella’s tip to use 00 flour (that’s 2-1 Nigella to Nigel, if you’re counting.)  I may need to make another pie shortly to be sure I’ve cemented my skills from this festive season.

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Sunny house views

Sunny days at home have recently been rare indeed.  A little while ago on one such day I dug out the camera and decided to see what I could see just lying around the house…

It appears our house contains quite a number of dairy-related objects, appropriately enough since it was once a dairy farm.  We get our milk delivered by the local milkman, which is fantastic (not having to constantly say to myself ‘ooh I must remember to pick up some milk on the way home’ is a revelation).  Continuing round the house, we found a small milk jug in France this summer which we now use as a kitchen-top compost bin.

(There is also the large milk churn outside the door which I’ve previously written about.)

Next to the milk jug on the kitchen windowsill is a pot of succulents which, despite neglect and ignorance on my part (they seem to sprout new bits randomly and spontaneously, how do they do that? How can I make one big one instead of lots of small ones, and vice versa? These are questions I do not currently know the answer to, although I am aware, as ever, that they are just an internet search away) have been alive since some time in 2011.

And, in turn, next to the pot of succulents is another find from the brocantes of France- an earthenware jug in which we keep washing-up paraphernalia.  I like containers.

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A midwinter walk

Christmas has come and gone, and it’s a new year.  We went for a walk along the top of the Mendips in between downpours the other day, and found a new route.  Now if we can just live here and explore for the next 20 years, we might have as many walking routes as my uncle Tim has in North Yorkshire!

We found a crumbling stone barn, a field of sheep, and lots of puddles.

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This sheep was remarkably clean, considering the weather we’ve had.

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Mark patiently waiting for me to finish taking photos…

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