A pair of young jackdaws are trying to build a nest in our chimney. Throughout the day piles of sticks have been falling down and landing in a sooty mess on the carpet. I’ve now spread out last weekend’s Observer newspaper and hopefully they have found somewhere else to roost for the night.
It has been so cold and damp recently. A late spring such as this always brings to mind Thomas Hardy’s poem “A Backward Spring”. Much as I love his novels and the story of his life and loves it is his poetry I return to most often. A couple of years ago we walked along the river from Boscastle to the church of St Juliot where as a young man he met the love of his life and which became the setting and inspiration for his first novel “A Pair of Blue Eyes”. It was the Easter holidays and primroses and bluebells had spread to the banks of the river and even though Boscastle itself was heaving, once we’d walked 500 metres from the centre we did not see another soul for the entire walk.
No Cornish holiday for the foreseeable future but tomorrow we will be at the cottage and walking on the South Downs, where we should catch a glimpse of the sea. Last weekend we were in Kent to celebrate our daughter’s 20th birthday. The weather was wet, windy and cold and the north Kent coast was grey as grey could be but we had a lovely day with our special girl.
I’m comtinuing to direct sow at the allotment despite the rain and today I prepared another seed bed (I love doing this) and sowed borage, cerinthe and flat-leaf parsley. Leeks were sown in a rough square grid one sunny evening this week and the sowings I made the other week (salads, rocket, beetroot, radish and perpetual spinach) are all up and through. Even the sweet peas are tentatively starting to climb.
We are eating lots of purple sprouting broccoli, chard and rhubarb from the allotment and last night I made Yotam Ottolenghi’s paella with purple sprouting broccoli which was delicious. Yotam’s recipe was actually served with out of season broad beans and as my first sowing was eaten by mice and the second batch are still to germinate I reckon it will be July before I will be podding and skinning broad beans. But the asparagus is just visible, although these early spears are sure to be damaged by tonight’s frost. The earliest date I’ve picked enough asparagus for four (as opposed to lunch for one!) has been 16 April. I wonder when the first proper cutting will be made this month.
As respite from the cold and wet today I’ve started hand quilting a hand-pieced hexagon quilt made using the scraps from my first log cabin quilt completed almost a year ago. I am also enjoying cross stitching Alicia’s Midsummer Sprigs sampler. I started this about two weeks ago thinking it would take me until at least midsummer and I’m now pacing myself as I don’t want to finish it too soon.
It’s a strange on the cusp time of year. On one hand I would love to hold on to this chilly April day. My garden is a vision of snow white beauty with amelanchier at its very best, blossom breaking on the pear tree which will soon look like a ship in full sail and, in a supporting role for now, a pure white magnolia stellata, all underplanted with Narcissus ‘Thalia’, N. ‘Sailboat’, and N. WP Milner, white tulips (Purissima and Spring Green) and white anemone. Primroses, epimedium, and erythronium are providing a wash of softest yellow. But you can’t deny the tug of the season as the days lengthen and the sun climbs higher. I hope you’re making the most of every moment too.