Tuesday, January 17, 2012

When winter declares

It really has been the mildest of winters here in Suffolk, barely a frost, no snow, none of those long icy days of the last few years.

So the last week has been rather a surprise. A sharp, cold snap.

The sun so low and bright.

The landscape edged in frozen lace. On my daily run the trees seem frozen in the very moment. As though someone hit pause.

I rather like it. I am certainly glad we haven't had weeks of ice and slush but this, right now, this is perfect. A short declaration of winter.

That glorious feeling of a frozen woodland floor crunching beneath you. The frozen fields are bright and glistening under the low January sun.

Days like these are made for kitchen pottering.

And as it's January, the citrus fruit rules supreme. Orange and almond cake. Dense, damp sponge, the sort of slightly grown up cake that begs to be eaten early in the day with a big bowl of coffee. That oily orange zest feels positively restorative and the almond sweetly whispers of Mediterranean nut groves and summer sunshine.

I used the Orange Blossom Cake recipe from my very well thumbed copy of Nigella Lawson's How To Eat: The Pleasures and Principles of Good Food (Cookery)

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Monday, January 09, 2012

Vanity demands

I love having soft, shiny blow-dried hair.

For about three days.

Every six weeks or so.

Because no matter what my vanity demands, I simply have not the patience or skill to achieve shiny, bouncy hair at home.

My natural curls are left to their own devices and travel through each day on a wing and a prayer (though no amount of praying will help my hair on high humidity days).

But every six weeks or so, I visit the hairdresser (for reasons of greyness) and the most wonderful junior wrestles my hair into silky submission. I walk out feeling rather like one of my childhood heroes - a Charlie's Angel.

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Friday, January 06, 2012

Love in ink

Right now I am loving January. I know that in a few weeks time I will feel much less gracious towards this wintry month, especially as the spectre of February, a month still so very far from Spring, begins to loom.

However, right now, I am full of the joy of January. It starts with the clearing of the decks, taking down the cards and clearing away the decorations. Dusting the surfaces and vacuuming up the pine needles. It's such a very satisfying form
of housework. The results so immediate.

Then there is the new year's diary. Clean, crisp pages ready to be filled, the satisfaction of marking fresh pages with ink.

This year the pleasure is enhanced by the new love in my life. It's a pen.

I like to use a fountain pen, I feel this will not surprise you.

For Christmas this year I received the most excellent of fountain pens, a vintage Parker 51. I am not sure I have mentioned it before, but I should tell you that The Technical Advisor rather excels at present buying. I didn't even know I wanted this pen but now I have it I may never write with anything else. It feels so comfortable in my hand and writes with incredible fluidity, the forming of each word becomes a tactile and pleasurable experience. As with all things old I love to think of who may have owned it over the years, I like to wonder about the offices it may have worked in or the love letters penned.

To add to its charms, it doesn't even take dull old cartridges. It uses the thrillingly named Aerometric filling system (a refinement of the original Vacumatic system) and simply suctions up the ink straight from a glass bottle.

I can hardly wait until filling time.

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Wednesday, January 04, 2012


I can hear the kettle whistle loud and clear, only the gentle hum of Radio 4 to accompany its urgent screech.

Once the lunches were made, the bags packed, breakfasts eaten and buses caught I returned to this quiet house.

I contemplated silence and the settling into a new-old routine once more.

As with each new term come my mixed feelings of peace and sadness.

For a little while I played Jenga with the minature Green & Blacks and photographed their tiny charms whilst considering which should accompany my quiet coffee. Hazelnut won out. Easing myself into 2012.

Happy New Year to all of you. May it be kind and gentle upon us all.

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