25 Dec 2014

God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen (and women)



Finally, we're there. Christmas Day. For the next 24 hours I can put my feet up.  Sort of. The winter solstice, my favourite landmark day for the inherent optimism it brings, has passed; now we're at the start of winter, the days will start to get ever-so-slowly longer, brighter and, eventually, warmer.  I've had enough of putting the lights on indoors at half-two in the afternoon.  No wonder plants struggle.

So, onwards to the bleak midwinter. It's one of the UK's little ironies that just as we feel we're into a new year with Spring to look forward to, the weather can suddenly plummet into minus temperatures.  I'm ready. I have a new woolly hat and toasty sheepskin lined gardening boots.  Nothing like 'being prepared'.  (And, no, I was never a Girl Guide. Missed opportunity there, I think.)  Dare I say that, here in London, signs are good for another mildish winter like last year?  Hopefully without the wind and slightly less rain.

I've had a severe cold for the past week - the sort that gives you a temperature and sore throat, makes you ache all over, cough, sneeze, sniffle and generally be entirely unappealing to visitors.  Lots of hand washing has been taking place as I prepare for the big lunch today.  I'm quite proud of myself having put together a Charlotte Russe late last night, enduring through the fog of a head cold. It's one of those popular-in-the 70's retro puds that my mum used to make involving jelly, mandarin oranges, savoiardi biscuits (aka sponge fingers) and loads of cream and eggs. (Sensible eating will resume shortly.) It's one of my son's favourite puds and a complete faff to make although very delicious. Now all I have to do is turn it out of the mould in one piece and I shall be the (self-styled) Queen of the Kitchen.

Added afterwards, as requested!  
Here's what's left of it the Charlotte Russe - it was enjoyed immensely, despite colds.

Apologies for the lack of a post about wreath making - I've been feeling too wretched to think about taking photos.  I will do a post though as - to paraphrase - a wreath is not just for Christmas.  On my wanders I've seen some gorgeous flowerheads, foliage and seedpods which has made me think about making a wreath a permanent but seasonal feature in my home. It's a good way of keeping your eyes open and really noticing what the changing seasons are doing.

Sage, bay, juniper, lonicera, ivy, hebe, clematis seedheads, pine cones.


But for now, I'm going to wish all you lovely people the best of the season - with many, many thanks for coming back time and again to read and comment on my posts.

Happy Christmas and a fabulously productive 2015!

Caro xx





32 comments:

  1. A lovely post and pictures. I'm sorry to see that you've had a rotten cold and hope that you're feeling better. Thanks, and to you too. Flighty xx

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    1. Thanks, Flighty - hope you had a good day, nice and peaceful suits me just fine! The cold is destined to be with me for a while I think, thank goodness for a few days off!

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  2. Hope you're having a wonderful Christmas Caro, and feeling much better!

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    1. Thank you both! I finally got the tree up yesterday (on the day, bad bad mother that I am) but yes, it was a nice relaxing day which just fitted the bill perfectly! I'm sure I'll be better soon - good excuse for a large dollop of Bailey's with my morning coffee, a surprisingly warming combination ;) xx

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  3. Hope you had a good day but where is the photo of the pud?

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    1. Haha, I did think about turning the pud out for taking a photo but that honour went to my son later in the day. I've added a photo (albeit half eaten!!) for you now, Sue. Hope you had a good day and the weather allowed you to get out. Will be catching up with posts this afternoon! x

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  4. I hope you are feeling perfectly healthy soon Caro. Merry Christmas.

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    1. Thank you Erin, Merry Christmas to you too!

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  5. My, what a gorgeous wreath! We are finally getting cold temps here in Northern California, just now on Christmas night; when I was building a fire in the woodstove a cold draft came down on me, and nearly put out my fire, sending smoke into the house. Winter has begun! It's good we have the joy of Christmas to get us through January, and I plan to leave my few (indoor) Christmas lights on for the next month to keep away the bleak and dark.

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    1. Thank you, the wreath shown is the one I made during a family wreath making day a few weekends back. I think the temperatures are set to fall here too, although nothing compared to what you can expect! I hope you stay nice and warm with your woodstove. I like the idea of leaving some indoor Christmas lights to cheer the way through January; the home seems a bit stark when all the decorations come down on twelfth night!

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  6. Thank you for sharing have a blessed New Year Caro

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  7. It makes me feel good to know the days are getting longer, although I also know it's about to get a whole load colder. But snowdrops are putting up flower buds here and I have a camellia out already. Things can only get better as they say. And I hope the same is true of your cold. Have a good rest and get well soon.
    Very impressed with your wreath!

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    1. Thanks, Jess, on all fronts. I can confirm that there is very little getting done around here apart from making meals; reality beckons in a couple of days so I'm making the most of it. I've also noticed lots of fat buds on the camellia under my window, not flowering yet but it's a bit warmer where you are. I just love the optimism of spring being round the corner!

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  8. Hi Caro; I hope you manage to throw off that cold soon. I often get a cold at Christmas-time too. I think your body knows it is going to have a few days' holiday and in a sense "Let's its guard down"! Your idea of having a permanent wreath is a very good one. I hope you will pursue it. Best Wishes for the rest of the holiday. Don't forget to spend some time browsing the seed catalogues.. (as if!)

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    1. Oh, so do I Mark! I had the same thought today about my immune system taking a rest, it's the first break I've had in ages. I wish this cold wasn't coinciding with my son being home as we're both having an enforced very lethargic Christmas. I love the idea of having a permanent wreath - I think there's a growing trend to have wreaths at Easter and so on but no reason not to make it year round! I confess I have had a quick peak at the seed catalogues - hard not to! Thanks for good wishes, Mark - the same to you and Jane too! Caro xx

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  9. Poor you, I do hope you're feeling completely better very soon. Three of us (me and the two elder boys) were struck down with a tummy bug yesterday, so there's been quite a bit of wretchedness here too. I'm finally vertical, just. The pudding looks very impressive, I shall investigate the recipe once I'm feeling a bit perkier. I hope you and your son enjoy the rest of the Christmas break Caro. CJ xx

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    1. Oh, CJ, what a terrible time to get struck down with a tummy bug! I hope the three of you are feeling better by now and it was one of those 24 hour things - what rotten luck! Thanks for good wishes, a few days of down time at home does wonders so I hope that the cold will start to fade soon - same goes for my son who's also poorly - what a time of year, eh! Enjoy the rest of christmas, let's hope the weather stays dry for some nice walks! C xx

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  10. I'm sorry to hear that you've been unwell. What rotten luck at this busy time of year.

    I *love* your wreath -- one of the prettiest I've ever seen, and I'd love the recipe for your Charlotte Russe. I actually got two mandarin trees (both currently tiny) which might one day be used to make your lovely dessert.

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    1. Aww, thanks, Kate - I can't complain about the cold though, it's the first in ages. The wreath is now hanging on my front door - I'm very pleased with the way it turned out, it's a bit addictive gathering all the foliage - the possibilities are endless! How lovely to have mandarin trees, the joy of living in a warm country! I'll certainly pass on the recipe - possibly a post as I had to phone my sister for this recipe, nothing quite matched to the one my mum made. C xx

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    1. Thank you, Endah. Do you have a similar tradition in your country?

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  12. I love your wreath, so pretty, the Charlotte Russe is pretty good too. Hope you soon feel 100% and I wish you a very happy gardening year in 2015!

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    1. Thanks Pauline - and, yes, the pud was much appreciated and is now all gone! (Mysteriously vanished in the middle of the night. My son loves a late night!) Thanks for your good wishes; it's good to get these cold viruses out of the way.

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  13. Hope you're feeling better. Your wreath is beautiful and the pudding looks delicious. Hope you've had a lovely Christmas.

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    1. Thanks, Jo. Colds do linger, don't they? I'm looking forward to getting underway with spring and a new sowing season so a little break will hopefully provide an energy surge!

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  14. What a lovely idea to have a wreath all year round that is natural. I did enjoy this post, and as you predicted the temperatures have totally plummeted! I hope you had a lovely Christmas!
    Sorry to hear you have been under the weather, keep warm and get better soon.xxx

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  15. Oh Caro I do hope that you are recovering and that you enjoyed Christmas Day. Colds always had a nasty habit of creeping upon me when I was still working. I think that they sense that the body is about to relax and decide to play a nasty joke. Your wreath is a work of art and that sweet little robin is the perfect finishing touch. As you suggest a wreath does not have to be confined to the festive season. I can envisage a creation of fluffy ducklings, catkins and spring flowers for Easter. I just need someone to advise me on how to put it together :) Hope that you do not have to struggle back to work tomorrow but that you have a few more days off to relax. Take care xxx

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    1. There was so many colds and germs flying around before Christmas that I'm not surprised I succumbed, Anna. Thank you for your good wishes, I'm recovering slowly. (Just in time to go back to work, typically!) I wish I did have a few more days (weeks?) off as it would feel good just to relax with some garden planning for next year!

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  16. There are all sorts of 70s foods I like but this (which I didn't know had a name) isn't one of them. I've heard people being sniffy about Black Forest Gateau but doubt I could ever tire of it. Come to think of it, I haven't had any for years. Maybe the thought will inspire me to cook. (I'm not very domesticated!)
    Hope you have a very happy 2015.

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  17. I hope you are well over your horrid cold Caro, and that your hard work on that rather spectacular looking pud was appreciated. From the large slice taken out, I am guessing yes!

    I love your wreath - I got closer to making one this year, but it fell foul of "too many things to do". Again.

    Happy 2015!

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Caro x

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