Snow, snow, snow...!
Being lucky enough to have friends in Sweden, Norway and Denmark, not to mention some of the chillier US states, I feel a little silly making a big deal over a bit of snow, but for us it is not a regular occurence. Some years we have no snow at all and mostly when we do it is not deep and only lasts a few days. So, when on Friday we had 15cm of snow, I'm sorry but it was a big deal. It was the deepest snow Mark had seen in his life (I saw more in Chamonix, but that's in the world that lives with snow, without grinding to a halt).
I don't work Fridays (thank goodness) but Mark does and could not get in to work. We could not have got out of our road, the A46 was barely passable and the M4 slip road at Bath was closed. There were no trains running from Templemeads, so even walking the two miles to the station and getting a train was out of the equation - and if he had got in, there was no guarantee he would have got home. The Met Office has been saying that global warming is actually likely to make our climate more Scandinavian than Mediterranean - if that's true, we are going to have to learn to live with snow! Maybe one day our transport systems will become snow-tolerant and Winter tyres and snow chains will be de rigueur - but not by Monday, when I have to get to work!!
Actually there was some melt yesterday and if I'm really lucky the snow forecasted for today and tomorrow will not amount to much. I am keeping everything crossed for blazing sunshine today and clear roads in the morning!
However, before the snow disappears, I would just like to appreciate the fun, pretty side of snow. I woke on Friday to a garden reminiscent of Narnia.
|our garden in the snow|
|snowy trees in the garden|
|our Bath garden in the snow|
|Anne and John's garden over the fence|
|snow on the sycamore tree|
|the gargoyle that was meant to go to Sweden but was too heavy for the baggage allowance|
|red car in the snow|
It always feels like a sign of hope when I see tiny, delicate flowers surviving the snow - a reminder that this is just a seasonal blip and Spring is just round the corner.
|Winter jasmine in the snow|
Cats in the snowThe cats are not sure about snow. Rio gives it a go; dashing from dry spot to dry spot until his paws get too cold, at which point he runs hell for leather for the cat flap.
|Rio hides from the snow|
|black and white camouflaged cat|
Max in the meantime decided there was only one place he wanted to be!
|Max keeps warm|
Maybe Max had the right idea - a little cat doesn't want to sit still too long in the snow, or who knows what could happen!
|robin on the bird table|
|we put out meal worms for the robin|
|next year's Christmas card?|
|well squirrels need to eat too!|
|sparrow in the snow|
|sparrow in the snow|
I know starlings are not always very popular, but I think their markings are beautiful!
|starling on the bird table|
|starling in the snow|
There was also a fox in the garden (Mark saw the fox but I just saw the tracks), and I spotted this animal track in the snow. At first I was convinced it was a muntjac deer, until I realised it was not a single hoven print, but the print of four small squirrel paws leaping through the snow.
|grey squirrel tracks in the snow|
All the playing in the snow felt like justification for a big mug of hot chocolate.
|hot chocolate with marshmallows|
My other indoor, warming activity has been marmalade making. Homemade marmalade tastes so much better than store bought - and I am not a fan of the tins of prepared oranges for marmalade making; I mean, what's the point? Last week I shared photos of my seville orange marmalade, and I thought perhaps I should share my favourite recipe (although I confess, I added too much water and it was too runny, so yesterday I boiled it up again with some extra pectin - now it's perfect).
I have several preserving books, but my absolute favourite is Fruits of the Earth by Gloria Nicol. My mum bought me the book (signed) at The Laundry at Taurus Crafts in the Forest of Dean - which sadly is no longer there (although there are still lots of other lovely artisan shops there). Gloria Nicol has written a load of books about all sorts of crafts and writes a lovely blog - very clever lady! Anyway, here is her marmalade recipe (also published in her column in the Guardian):
Seville Orange Marmalade (makes about 2kg)
When I follow the recipe properly, this works every time - I only had to add pectin this time because I thought I knew it all and added too much water!
As Ocado had ruby grapefruit on offer, I also tried making grapefruit marmalade - as one of my old school friends mentioned her difficulty finding it (I will post a couple of jars to her when the snow clears, and hope they get there safely!). I tried the other method of marmalade making (paring the zest from the fruit before cooking):
Wash the grapefruit under a cold tap and dry. Use a potato peeler to remove the zest in strips. Cut the zest strips into match stick size pieces, either with a knife or kitchen scissors. Use a sharp knife to cut off the remaining pith - it's easiest to take a slice of the top and bottom first so it sits flat on the chopping board, and use as sharp a knife as possible.
Finely chop the grapefruit flesh, removing any pips, or blitz in a food processor. Measure the flesh and juice and add to a preserving pan with the same volume of sugar and the prepared pieces of zest. Bring slowly to the boil until the sugar has dissolved (liquid will be clear). Boil rapidly for 15 to 25 minutes until it reaches setting point (use a cold plate like the recipe above).
Ladle into warm, sterilised jars. Label when cool.
I have to say, I prefer the first method (cooking the fruit first), as the zest in the second method is not as soft and yummy - and I think it is also easier to cut the peel when it's soft. My next marmalade making is going to be Gloria Nicol's lemon and fig marmalade, so I will let you know how I get on with that one!