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Frosty mornings, marmalade & the first bee


Of course, I love Christmas; Food, family and a few days off, but actually my favourite bit of winter is the end of January and early Feb, or at least when the first snowdrops comes out.

Recently I’ve been walking into work in the morning and I particularly love the days with sun shining on frosty plants and leaves in the parks. It was a week or so into February when I took Jessie (our Border Collie) for a walk in the local park in London and really noticed the snowdrops. A bit later on some of the first crocuses appeared too.

In my garden the first snowdrops signal a time to start planning for the coming year, but I do have quite a lot going on, even in February. The witch hazel looks great, and smells terrific, so does the wintersweet and box, I have a wonderful splash of colour with my winter flowering irises, and a very pretty viburnum. The nice thing about February is that you can’t really do very much, I mainly sit in my shed with the wood burner and lots of gardening books.

I love the coast in winter too. We had a lovely week-end in Margate staying at The Reading Rooms a great place (and amazing breakfast!). Long walks on the vast empty beaches then a bit of browsing in the old town. Eat at Hantverk & Found if you can get a table… it’s tiny but well worth it Not missing a visit to the new Turner gallery too of course.

The one compulsory for February is marmalade making. I love the way it fills the whole house with its smell. We buy Seville oranges the moment we see them in the shops. I like to make a few batches, varying the types of orange and recipe. Then we do a lot of swapping with various friends and family until we have a great mix and a year’s supply in the storeroom. I used to help my parents chop the peel when I was a child so it’s become a bit of a ritual. Dark rich marmalades for the winter months and light golden zingy ones for summer.

Every day when I check out the garden things are starting to come to life. I saw my first bee the other day! Spring is just around the corner and I ought to be thinking about planting a few seeds for the veg patch! But then we have a frost and I retire to my shed and light the wood burner and think I’ll make a start soon.

"Dark rich marmalades


for the winter months and light


golden zingy ones for summer"

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