Many years ago a friend from a warm country observed to a fellow compatriot one sunny morning in London how our English winter sun was "deceptive" and "treacherous", or that is what I recall him saying. His words have been echoing in my head this week when we have seen glorious sunshine which fails to melt snow, in combination with a powerful east wind
which chills everything it comes into contact with, especially ears and fingers. The snow in the garden has finally thawed, but it is still visible on Clee Hill which I drove up to yesterday evening, and saw great quantities of it, now dirty, and lying in drifts and spade loads piled in gateways and on pavements.
The Easter weekend at Stokesay was memorable. It is amazing how laughter and song help to keep the house warm, although I think the chief credit belongs to the younger generation who stoked wood burners and fires throughout the weekend. My worries about heating literally melted away, although I confess that I haven't yet found the courage to look at the oil consumption. Table tennis and scrabble added to the fun and the time passed far too quickly.
Our first tour is on Sunday. I worry all over again that the house will not be warm enough, but there will be a welcoming fire in the dining room for tea at the end of the tour. The daffodils are at last beginning to make a display, along with primroses, and the gardens are starting to look lovely. Walking my dog yesterday afternoon, I spotted primula in bud and the wild garlic is revealing its presence. This time last year it was in full bloom and we were discussing how we could use it to flavour the Easter roast.
This strange season seems to enhance the colours in nature. The light reflecting on the water in the Stonehouse Pools, or the light at sunset viewed from the top of the front drive as I came home at dusk. In a week or two this bank will be full of cowslips and other wild flowers, and the leaves will be out on the trees. It's been a long winter and it will be good to see the back of it.
Waste Not Want Not - Recipes from the First World War