Thankyou SO much for your truly lovely comments on my last anti-news post – your own anti-news stories were wonderful. In light of recent events, today’s round up, designed to bring cheer, may be much-needed. These posts are not written in order to diminish the importance of the headlines, simply to provide a little escapism on days when the endless stream of bulletins bringing word of doom-laden stories gets too much. I do hope they provide a little light relief.
Last weekend I was Val’s able stall assistant at Wyken vineyard’s farmers’ market whilst she sold her beautiful handwoven willow goods. SHEESH it was cold. I had to do quite a lot of Michael Flatley-style footwork in order to fend off frostbite and we were also warmer by bacon butties. Our eye was caught by a beautiful stall covered with Spring posies and one of them, studded with pasque flowers, anemones and one of my favourites, snakehead fritillaries, came home with me.
These astonishingly patterned native British flowers are now a rarity as they grow on undisturbed water meadow and most of this habitat has been sacrificed for intensive farming. There are still a few spots around Britain where they can be seen though and one of them is Mickfield meadow in Suffolk. I’ll be making a pilgramage there next week. Meanwhile the fritillaries in my tiny water meadow (a galvanised bucket with no drainage) are about to flower in my garden…
On Wednesday evening Eldest and I got on a train straight after school had finished and travelled to London. This was thrill enough in itself (Eldest ADORES train journeys) but we were heading for something very exciting indeed. I had booked us both onto an Easter cake-decorating workshop with Frances Quinn at Heal’s. Yes, the Great British Bakeoff winner of 2013.
We made our own marzipan flavoured with orange zest and juice, rosewater and ground freeze dried strawberry (not all at once), conjured little bees with melted chocolate stripes and flaked almond wings, fashioned bunny cakes with puffball tails and jaunty ears and discovered the joy of using sweetened mascarpone with a little added lemon juice instead of buttercream. Frances was so encouraging of Eldest’s and her designs (she was the only younger cake decorator there) and wrote the loveliest dedication to her in our copy of her beautiful book, Quintessential Baking. Frances was one of the friendliest, loveliest teachers you could ever meet – if you can get to her next workshop at Heal’s I’d HIGHLY recommend it. Oh and we were given beautiful white-shelled cackle and bean eggs during the workshop, which are perfect for decorating (see image at the top of this post)
Around 12-14th April, rather soon, swallows will arrive on the edge of the Fens after their journey of several thousands of miles from Africa. It’s hard to describe the elation I feel when I see my first one. To me the arrival of the swallows signifies proper bumble-buzzing, warm-sun-on-your-back, sit-out-in-the-garden-with-a-cuppa Spring. They herald the wild bluebells and a few weeks later nightingales arrive in the UK. This year I plan to travel to places where nightingales sing and simply listen. More on this tweety story later….
I attended Sara Tasker of meandorla’s Instagram workshop at West Elm yesterday. It was inspiring and excellent and we went on to have gin, cake and an overnight stay in the capital, which was SUCH a treat. This morning Sara shared breakfast with her gentleman caller, who is rather familiar and ever so slightly two dimensional. This cantina was a charming hive of buns and jasmine tea, with added power converters. I think Mr S may be appearing on Sara’s Instagram soon…
I SO love hearing your own anti-news and will include my favourite cheery headlines from antennas comments in next week’s instalment…what’s been bringing you joy this week?