The First Signs
It’s been an odd couple of weeks.
We have had a longish (for South England at least) period of cold weather. It’s been bitingly cold and until this weekend I’m pretty sure we haven’t seen the sky for 10 days. We have so far managed 4 days of beautiful blue skies and marginally warmer weather which I am hoping is a sign that the better weather might be on its way.
It’s been just on the edge for getting the washing out as well which always makes me instantly happy. I love seeing washing blowing in the breeze, even if it’s not mine. It reminds me of seeing rows of our neighbours’ washing strung down our long garden paths on warm sunny days when I was little.
Despite a cold a dreary January, we managed to chalk up 43 hours outside in the first month of our challenge.
We found some beautiful woodland to explore, along with some absolutely jaw dropping houses on the peripheries of them. Some of these gardens back on to the public footpaths that wend their, very narrow, way in between these and private woods, farmland and allotments. A lot of them are only 3ft wide and it all feels a little naughty and a bit magical. We’ve also seen this year’s plants starting to wake up.
I have also discovered how to take tea out with you without making it taste like a super heated flask of hot watery cheese; SKIMMED MILK POWDER! I take a little tupperware pot of it with me and some tea bags, we also take a couple of flasks of hot water and a pot of hot chocolate powder for the kids. This has the added benefit of only having hot water in the flasks so they are much easier to clean and far less whiffy if you forget to take it out of the bag when you get home.
Another thing I thoroughly enjoy when we’re out, especially at this time of year, is hot food. We have a trangia (small, portable, all-in-one, meths stove) which is brilliant for cooking up some packet rice or warming up a tin of something. It also comes with a small kettle which can boil about 500ml of water fairly quickly. This is brilliant for lunch and the kids absolutely love it. It’s not really feasible to carry enough fuel to cook much more than lunch though if we’re just out for the day.
This is where one of the kids’ small lunchbox cool bags comes in handy. I cook up some sausages in the oven before we leave, pop into finger rolls, wrap tightly in a small amount of foil and then in tea towels and place snugly in the cool bag. These stay warm for about an hour and a half, possibly a little longer if buried in my backpack and it’s not freezing out, and are just the right temperature for mid morning tea breaks.
Unfortunately, our plans for this last weekend’s grand outings were scuppered by the arrival of the dreaded C plague. I had been testing the children and myself every 2 days as the cases in school were significantly rising. After a very emotional night last Wednesday the biggest little one tested positive Thursday morning, with nothing more than a sniffle. Thankfully she has had no more symptoms since and hopefully can return to school tomorrow. She’s literally bouncing off the walls today. This is our first brush with it in our household and it’s almost been a relief.
As the rest of us are still testing negative daily, smallest and I ran off to the park in the sunshine on Sunday. We had a glorious couple of hours in the sunshine and had hot tea, hot chocolate and instant noodles with water from our flask. Even a trip to the park can be an adventure!
As you can imagine, with all of this going on there hasn’t been a lot of knitting time. I have managed to finish a new sock design I started in August last year though. It will be out once it’s been tested ( and I’ve written it up!). I’ve also started and ripped back another sock design and 2 hats! Slowly, slowly, I’ll get there. I’m not in a rush and I need to trust the process.
I had a little nudge about trusting the process from my garden this week. I planted this hellebore 5 or so years ago and until 5 days ago it has shown absolutely no inclination to be anything other than gloriously leafy all year round.
To summarise, sit outside with cups of tea, remember to breathe, trust the process and this too shall pass.
p.s. I find all of the above work much better with cake and biscuits.