It's almost the end of the school year and I am tired, but it's not my usual end of term fatigue. Usually, I'm physically exhausted, but I'll have an undercurrent of excitement as I think about everything that lies ahead over the six week break; the end of term staff night out, a holiday perhaps, catching up with friends and family, having people to stay, days out, ticking jobs of the to-do list. This year is different. I find myself both physically and mentally exhausted, unsure of what to do with the long break. Can we go and stay with friends and family? Can they stay with us? Is anything open? It's impossible to be spontaneous at the moment. I just hope that we have some good weather so we can at least go to the beach. Our planned holiday to France has been cancelled but I'm not despondent as we've just booked a last minute self catering break to Camber Sands in East Sussex with my parents and I'm looking forward to that very much.
Despite the uncertainty hanging over the whole summer, we have actually been doing some really nice things, just pottering around, enjoying our home and garden and local area. Now I'm working full time again, the garden only really gets my attention at the weekend, and then it's wonderful to spend a few hours out there and see what's going on.
My first ranunculus has flowered. So far it's the only one. If it's anything like the sweet peas then I'll just be happy with the one...
We have tomatoes. Multiple tomatoes on multiple plants! It don't think it will be a chutney situation but we may have enough for a salad.
I've been trying to perk up the front of our house lately, all on a budget. (My dreams of cedar cladding must remain that for now.) I bought a couple of huge pots and plants to sit on the balcony at the front, against the white upvc cladding.
I treated myself to a David Austin climbing rose, New Dawn.
I've planted it at the back of this border where I hope it will grow up against the fence, filing the gap.
These drumstick alliums have taken their sweet time flowering, but finally they are the most glorious deep purple.
I picked a few to bring indoors.
I haven't had much success with my blackcurrants this year (although I think the birds have had a lovely feast) but have picked 250 grams of redcurrants. I usually have enough to make one jar of redcurrant jelly which gets used throughout the winter with cold meats or stirred into gravy when we make a roast, and I always like the way a little bit of bottled summer comes into autumn and winter with us. But this year I fancy trying this recipe, redcurrant and red onion relish instead.
I've been really enjoying cooking over the last few weeks and have been trying lots of new recipes at the weekends. I think I might do a couple of my monthly cookery book posts over the summer, while there is time. Funny how I had all that free time in lockdown, but I didn't ever want to try any new recipes then. I wanted comfort food and familiar recipes, not to mention you could never be sure that you'd get exactly what you wanted in the supermarket.
I recently tried these peppermint chocolate slices by Edd Kimber. They were really good, although rich. I quite like the look of his new cookery book One Tin Bakes. Honestly, any cookery book that says "one tin" or "tray bake" and I'm ready to buy it.
You might remember that a couple of years ago John built us a lovely wooden peg rail shelf, which has always hung in the hall. I love it. It's both useful and beautiful and it's one of my favourite things in the house. Anyway, it was made from quite cheap wood and over time the left hand side of the shelf has bent and warped so much that you can't really put anything on it. Plants would just slide right off. You can't really tell from this photo, but it was really annoying.
So John, with the last few days of his furloughed time at home, built a new one from ash. It's much sturdier and the wood is really gorgeous, it has such a beautiful grain. My Observer original books are currently residing up there, looking very pretty against the white wall.
The weather has been odd over the last few weeks. Windy, often overcast and humid, with the occasional shower that never really waters the garden as much as you hoped it would. There have been nicer days where we've seen blue sky, but it needs to be a few degrees warmer before I want to swim in the sea again.
It doesn't take many days of dry weather before the fields start to get that faded, slightly parched look. This always makes me feel like summer is half over already.
My sampler has been ironed and dropped off at the framers. I totally forgot to add the date to the bottom of the piece - I'll have to write it on the back of the frame.
My EPP patchwork quilt has been the most delightful evening project lately and I am absolutely loving every stitch. So far I have made and sewed together ten hexagon flower shapes. I find the easiest thing is to make a pile of the flowers, then moved them around, deciding where I want to put them, then I sew them to another flower.
So far I am really happy with the random-ish arrangement of colours and patterns.
I know it will be years before it's finished but it's such a soothing project.