It's been a busy weekend: visiting, cleaning, a trip to a museum with Joe, baking...
On Saturday I drove across to Lancashire to see my mum in hospital. I've mentioned before that it's a stressful time; things are constantly changing and we seem to receive contradictory news every other day. But I set out alone and there really is something uplifting about spring being in the air. I felt so much more relaxed without Joe in the car - less vulnerable to other traffic - and the sun was shining. The stereo was on, the fields were green, the sky was blue and the grasses growing along the verges were bleached white.
It's always comforting returning to the family home, even though it felt a bit odd and empty without her there. The next door neighbour was having a burn-up in his garden and the smell of woodsmoke was wafting around. There were snowdrops and crocus in the rockery. The air was mild. Spring.
My stepdad's coping well, bless him. The house was immaculately tidy and he's prepared the front room ready for Mum's return: cleared a space for a bed and little table, moved the furniture around. Her cyclamen are blooming merrily in bright pinks and crimson along the windowsill.
I took her a little package of nice things to eat and read, including The Snow Child which I enjoyed - but more about that next week.
I've started a new book: To Kill a Mockingbird. We didn't read it at school but I have to say, I'm devouring it. I'm a big fan of fiction written from a child's perspective, I love 20th century social history and have a soft spot for anything set in the Deep South so I suppose it was always going to be a winner.
At the end of our bed we have an old trunk and a pile of antiquey poetry books. In amongst them was Jane Austen's Emma. I think I initially bought it because of the lovely cover (in a spring-like acid green) but have never read it or, indeed, any Jane Austen. So maybe that can be a future read too.
Outdoors the muscari are starting to flower. I'll bring them in and they can live on the kitchen windowsill. I did that a few weeks ago but I think they preferred the cold so back out they went.
And the rhubarb's brightening up a rather weed-ridden old container. There's more in a raised bed at the end of the garden. How beautiful is that bright pink?
In other news, I've baked a batch of walnut and raisin muffins for breakfast each morning this week. A daily helping of cake is no bad thing (they were made with sunflower oil and buttermilk so perhaps are a little bit healthier than if I'd used actual butter).
And we're eating lots of pulses and zingy flavours. On tonight's menu is spiced Chinese chicken and an Asian salad with mint, chilli, coriander, lime and nam pla. Should get those taste buds tingling!
Today's been another sunny one. Joe went to see his grandparents this morning and on the way there we saw squirrels and daffodils and buds bursting. He's due home shortly, but I've had the windows open for a couple of hours and layered up while the fresh air blows through the house.
Finally, at the end of a long post: thank you so much for all your comments and support recently. It really does help enormously. I hope spring is on it's way to you too.