Despite the seemingly endless gloom - if it's not actually raining, it's threatening to - and the oppressively low clouds which keep the house in semi-darkness, there's now no escaping it: spring is here. The snowdrops are over; the crocus are flagging and daffodils are lighting up verges.
Weekend was an emotional one. Mother's day fell exactly six months after my mum passed away. We visited the grave and sank a pot of daffodils into the ground. Joe hunted for pinecones. We stayed for a little while then went away again, to Astley Park. They used to hold the Royal Lancashire Agricultural Show there but several wet summers put an end to that.
I hadn't been for years. We entered through a door into walled kitchen gardens which were so meticulously kept and beautiful I kicked myself for leaving the camera at home (although I did post a few snaps onto Instagram).
The gardener - how I envied him his job - was having a quick tea break in the oh-so-fleeting sunshine. I wandered around admiring the raised beds and perfectly-trained fruit trees.
At home, we've been trying all kinds of new recipes: meatballs from The Ginger Pig Meat Book; laksa from The Kitchen Diaries; coppa and bean salad from the same. On Friday evening we had mushrooms on toasted ciabatta which was lovely but rather insubstantial. A tub of stewed apples from the fridge and some blackberries (picked back in the autumn and frozen) made their way into an impromptu crumble. With custard, of course.
I received a sweet Mother's day card and some flowers from Joe. He'd even been coached to say 'Happy Mudder's day' when I came downstairs from my lie-in. And Jay bought me a bunch of pussy willow, which I love.
It even inspired me to do a bit of drawing.
I spotted this book the other day in the local craft shop and put it on my wish list. Drawing's one of those things where (for me, at least) you can get a bit out of practice. I plan to draw if not every day, then a few times a week. It doesn't take long and it doesn't need much equipment. A selection of pencils, a rubber, maybe a pen if you like using ink (I do).
I had a little poke about outside this afternoon once Joe had gone up for a nap. Other than the hellebores (which I've photographed to death) and lots of green shoots, there's not too much to get excited about. Although it was interesting to spot the ghosts of last year: sycamore keys, magnolia leaf skeletons, dried Chinese lanterns. The heather from the window boxes has dried out and faded. Only the ivy's doing much in those now - it's time to re-plant.
My beautiful, deep plum-coloured sedum didn't survive the winter. And we have some scratchy palm-type thing which Jay likes but it's very tatty and the points are a bit sharp for Joe to be near. As soon as the next mild morning comes along we'll be emptying pots, cleaning them up and readying them for new plants.
I may not be photographing hellebores at the moment but there was a section on them last week on Gardener's World - did you see it? Gorgeous things, particularly the dark purple-grey ones.
The skies are clearing a little now. Maybe we'll get a brief walk in before tea. There's a spectacular magnolia tree in the churchyard which I'm keeping a close eye on. It can't be too long now before those buds burst open...
Have a wonderful week.
P.S. Thank you for your comments on my last post, and all your compliments on my handwriting - it's not something that's been mentioned to me before!