Our native (and most beautiful) duck, the Eider duck, at home in these shores. Spring flowers on the wood burning stove when it’s not in use. Valentine’s Day roses from Mr VP. Ringed plovers who share a home with the Eiders and the cormorants, the herons and the grey seals. The black coal sand on the beach, light and easily swept away. And a bit of Genesis as this song (and most the Genesis back-catalogue) has been on our playlist quite a bit recently.
Friday 27 February 2015
Wednesday 25 February 2015
I haven’t done much food photography recently and I blame my general blogging malaise and poor lighting conditions for it! I have every now and then managed to snap some of our meals, however, and so I thought I’d post a snapshot. Quiches are a family staple for all seasons, whether served in spring with Jersey Royals and salad or winter with mash and root veg. I have been craving eggs recently, so made two bog-standard cheese and tomato quiches, which were extremely well-received all round.
Another favourite meal was this epic salmon salad. I know it’s not salad weather, but I really have been desperate for a break from the non-stop root-veg that is in our veg box and welcomed a little bit of variation. It was a salad that was piled high, full of peppers, apple, avocado (can’t get enough!), cucumber, tomatoes, gherkins and soft baby leaves. It was absolutely delicious, as was the organic salmon that we baked en papillote in the oven with lemon and thyme.
The next meal was a tiny bit of beef mince, fried until cooked with some garlic, fresh tomatoes and a bit of ras el hanout. We served them in these really great little tortilla ‘boats’ with a crunchy pepper, gherkin and avocado salsa. It doesn’t look anything special, but it was delicious and really quick as a weeknight meal.
Last but not least was a recipe I saw posted on a blog (original recipe here). I couldn’t be faffed with deep frying things and we used turkey instead of beef. I also massively changed the quantities of the things in the sauce and added vegetables like peppers and peas for a bit of colour. The end result was a spicy (from the ginger) and tangy, absolutely amazingly delicious meal that I could’ve eaten twice over (it was that good!). Yum.
Monday 23 February 2015
Did you notice on Saturday that it felt tantalisingly spring-like? I don’t know if it was as mild and glorious for you as it was for us, but my heart began to quicken as we went on a walk and properly felt warmth from the sun for the first time in many months. The skies were blue, the wind was present but not cold and the temperature got to the balmy heights of 10ºC! Spring!
The lake was home to lots of birds, both on the water and in the trees surrounding it. We saw a tree-creeper (can you see her?), lots of blue tits, blackbirds, seagulls, swans and one of my favourite waterfowl: the Canada goose. We walked the whole circuit of the lake and felt all the better for the fresh air (it is far into the countryside, with no big roads or pollution to mar the peace of the place) and the sun. By the time we reached the end of the walk, we were both rosy-cheeked and happier for it. The last picture is the view from our bench as we took a brief rest – what a view!
Indeed, one of the first signs of spring is the return of the evening chorus and on Sunday we heard it for the first time in what feels like a very long time indeed, as two blackbirds took up positions outside the house and sang as loud and as clear as their little beaks could muster. It was glorious and I don’t mind admitting that I’m definitely ready for spring!
Sunday 8 February 2015
Apologies for the lack of blogging. It has been busy here and I seem to have lost my blogging mojo for a little longer than anticipated. On the upside, the days are beginning to get longer and (dare I say it) slightly milder. I’ve been craving long beachy walks, so each weekend I try to make sure that Mr VP and I make the most of the daylight hours we have together and I look forward to the summer evenings when we can spend long hours at the beach in the warmth.
Alnmouth is a nice beach. Not very long on its northern flank, but it has lots of rockpools at low tide, and soft, white sand. We were lucky, we saw the first blue sky in quite a while, with lots of sun. We watched as purple sandpipers (top) and oyster catchers combed the rockpools. Hazy silhouettes in the distance of Coquet Island and the bright blue horizon.
Tuesday 3 February 2015
Sunday 1 February 2015
Welcome February! I have been eagerly awaiting your arrival and thus the arrival of aconites (a month later up here than down in Cambridgeshire), snowdrops and viburnum flowers. To celebrate the new month, we headed off into the depths of the countryside for a walk. The more northerly and inland we drove, the lower the temperature fell and suddenly the roads started to become snowy. In the distance, the hills were thick with snow and glinting the sunlight back to us. Fields full of heavily pregnant sheep, looking rather uncomfortable (the poor loves), were white and small drifts had gathered on the windward side of the hedge.
Finding everything covered in snow, it felt almost like we’d taken the day off and flown somewhere far colder. The paths we walked down held the imprints of those who had gone before us. Those arrow-shaped footprints are courtesy of a moorhen and their improbably-sized feet. Speaking of birds, Gosh! We saw so many of them. Bluetits, bullfinches, chaffinches, coal tits, nuthatches, blackbirds, wrens, robins, coots, moorhens, crows and in the distance we could hear the flight call of a buzzard. One of my favourite birds to see is the nuthatch, as she busies herself with finding food and then hiding it in the nooks and crannies of tree bark. I was also lucky enough to have finally taken my first photo of a wren! They’re so quick that to get a photo is normally almost impossible, and I have been trying for some time. So when this little tiny wren, only about the size of my thumb, was rummaging in the leaves, I took my chance and managed to photograph her before she darted into the undergrowth.
We stopped to soak in some sun on the walk, and within a minute of sitting down we were being watched by two pairs of beady eyes. The blackbird watched us for a while and then approached, completely unafraid, even when we put our hands out to her. She sat with us for a while, flying off when people walked past and then returning moments later to watch us again. She came so close that at one point we thought she’d sit on Mr VP’s boot. The robin was a little more skittish, but hopped under our legs and looked for bugs hiding on the bench. We stayed with them for 20 minutes, enjoying their company and feeling very honoured, as one does when wild animals trust you enough to come close.
What a way to start the month, eh?
Saturday 31 January 2015
Just like that, January was over in a violence of winds and threatened snow. The last day of January was bitterly cold. In fact, it doesn’t look like it’s going to warm up any time soon according to the Met Office. At a loose end, we headed out for a coffee and ended up driving past our favourite beach. So we stopped and got out, though we didn’t last long as the wind was so strong and icy that it gave us both brainfreeze headaches, despite our scarves and Mr VP’s hat. We walked for a while and then headed back to the car. The sand was drifting in the gales and the sea was roiling and angry, with waves and spray buffeting the coastline. I think I’ve said it before, but I’m definitely looking forward to a bit of warmer weather!