Sunday, 6 March 2016


February didn't seem so, well, Februaryish this year. Maybe it was just that the weather has been a little friendlier. We've had days in double figures when we've been able to eat our lunchtime rolls in the garden and the bees are continuing to get out and about. They're bringing loads of pollen back to the hive, a sure sign that there's hatching brood in there. Having the bees has made us even more observant to the flowers and shrubs when we walk Mortimer. There is a lot of pale pollen being carried back, possibly the willow or skimmia. There is an occasional flash of bright yellow too - almost  definitely crocus.
Talking of bees I'm now on the intermediate beekeeping course and becoming a bit of a trouble maker. We've had two theory lessons (practicals start in March) where we've been lectured on all the difficulties that beekeeping brings. Disease, predators, swarming, not swarming, the list goes on. We're told that we need at least two, probably three or four hives or it's just not going to work. Students are looking pale, muttering how difficult it all is, how are they ever going to learn? And I'm in the back row saying "but they're just bees!" They've lived without my intervention for thousands of years. Don't get me wrong I love having my girls, I'll keep them warm and dry and free from disease if I can but I'm not losing sleep over them. I'm only going to have one hive, and some more honey would be nice (although we haven't finished the two jars we took last year, so the increase in productivity doesn't have to be huge). And with this theory I seem to be gathering a small following amongst the maverick intermediates...

February is marmalade season for Andrew, something which I've blogged about before, but this year the bitter Sevilles were hard to find. Always a short season but we hadn't located any. We had a chat with our local greengrocer who said that people don't want the effort of marmalade making, he gets the occasional granny who will buy one or two but that's it. Fortunately for us he took an order for a few kilos and brought us some back from the London market, so this year's marmalade supply is in the larder.

I then bought a few of kilos of blood oranges (I find them hard to resist). I'm not allowed to make marmalade, only jam (and in fairness I'm not as good as Andrew) so had to be content with a batch of jamalade. And then bought more and made orange and ginger jamalade which Andrew said passed muster, a small miracle as usually all marmalade has to be additive free - nothing more than oranges.

Work progresses on bedroom four with the same old routine. Strip the plaster off the external walls...

put insulation on...

and then we'll put plasterboard up. This room has the hot water tank and so Andrew is building an airing cupboard around it.

My plan for this room is to make it slightly more feminine. I'm not a frilly, flowery decorator but would like a little girl space. Farrow and Ball have introduced some new colours and I quite like the look of Peignoir which is a pink grey. What do you think?

Farrow and Ball Peignoir
Talking of grey, it appears I may be developing an obsession with grey jumpers. I'm not a wearer of black, does nothing for me, but I've always liked grey. It was only when we moved my linen press and I was restacking that I realised how many I had. And bear in mind I was wearing one and two were in the wash!  Before you think I have a huge monthly clothes budget I'm a huge fan of charity shops (it's the newest way to show your green credentials apparently) and Ebay.

Grey obsessive?

I was also told this month that I had an obsession with napkins. We always eat meals at the table and always have napkins. I knew I had a few as I use them to change the look of the dining table but I was made to count them - 64 (and I've just bought another four - on Ebay of course!) Surely that's not an unreasonable number?

So that was February and I'm looking forward to spring.