April 16, 2015

cooking, reading, loving, dreaming :: April

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This month, I am…

cooking … anything with wild garlic! It’s the perfect time for foraging. I’ll be making an annual batch of pesto and I’ve had great success with foccacia too.

reading… poetry. I’ve been rediscovering poets that I loved back when I was a student. Phillip Larkin’s The Trees is my current poetry crush.

loving… The Pool, Lauren Laverne’s innovative new online platform. Perfect for a spare five minutes, there’s always something interesting to read, and if you have longer then this interview with Caitlin Moran is every kind of fabulous. I highly recommend it.

dreaming… of nights under canvas. I can’t wait to put up the bell tent for the first time this year, and I’m already making updated lists of camping essentials. I’m keen on investing in a fire pit, and finding something comfy to replace our defunct airbed. What would you suggest?

What are you cooking, reading, loving and dreaming of this month?


April 14, 2015

Badgers and Battles at Sudeley Castle


sudeleycastle-sudeleycastle--sudeleycastle sudeleycastle-2sudeleycastle-7My boys can find adventures everywhere. In the woods, by the stream, at museums, in the city, or just in our own back garden, there is always something that catches their eye and engages their imagination. One of the highlights of our Easter holidays was a trip to Sudeley Castle, a place where the very walls are steeped in adventure and history, not to mention bloodshed. Sudeley is replete with tales of kings, queens, intrigue and betrayal. The boys listened, wide-eyed. They were also enchanted by an episode in Sudeley’s more recent history: the story of Brock, a pet badger who lived as part of the Dent-Brocklehurst family within the castle walls.

In celebration of the castle’s badger connection, Sudeley has collaborated with Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust to create a living willow maze, with a Wind in the Willows theme. Chasing though the willow tunnels, the children came across first a  huge sculpted badger, then a mole, and finally a native water vole. Characters from a favourite story suddenly larger than life.

Alongside the castle there is a playground in the form of a huge wooden fort: the stuff of small-boy dreams. Having spent their precious pocket money on swords from the extensive wooden armoury in the gift shop, the boys whiled away the morning running through its corridors, re-enacting battles with their friends. As I sat in the sunshine and watched them, it felt as if we had escaped the present for a moment, suspended in time by some special Sudeley magic.

April 2, 2015

The Year in Books :: April 2015


Having loved Tove Jansson’s The Summer Book, I fully expected to enjoy A Winter Book, which was my choice last month. As anticipated, it was a lovely, gentle read, a collection of short stories that are, as Philip Pullman wrote, “as smooth and odd and beautiful as sea-worn driftwood, as full of light and air as the Nordic summer.” Life is there, with love, and philosophy, whimsy and autobiography. There are even a couple of stories about the island so beloved of The Summer Book, a setting of unerring delight.

My book choice this month is Laline Paull’s The Bees, lent to me by a friend of mine. It looks to be an ambitious and original novel, with a fascinating central conceit. I look forward to starting it over the long weekend.

Apologies to those who take part in The Year in Books twitter chats-  time, and the school holidays, ran away with me this month! There’ll be an April chat at 9pm GMT on the last Monday of the month. Do come along and join us if Twitter’s your thing; we’re a very friendly crowd, and it’s a lovely hour spent in gentle bookish chat. (I’m @circleofpines on Twitter.)

You can find Year in Books blog buttons, and all the details about the project on the YIB information page. Here’s a quick reminder of how it works:

The aim of the Year in Books project is to read (at least) a book a month during 2015. It’s not a conventional book club, so we don’t all read the same book, the project is about trying to ensure that we make space for reading in our busy lives, and is a way for us all to discover more lovely books (and lovely bibliophiles). At the start of the month, we blog about the book that we are intending to read, and, if we want to, write a few words (thoughts, comments, a review of sorts) about the previous month’s book.

If you would prefer to share your book choices over on Instagram or Twitter, please use the hashtag #theyearinbooks so that we can find your posts. You can share as many books as you like in this way- it doesn’t have to be restricted to one a month. I am @circleofpines on Instagram and on Twitter, if you’d like to tag me so that I can see your posts.

There’s a Goodreads group for this project, and all are very welcome to join, whether or not you have a blog of your own. Finally, there’s a Year in Books Pinterest board, do follow along for all manner of bookish inspiration. If you would like to pin to the board, let me know in the blog comments and I will add you as a pinner. (If I should have added you, and haven’t, do nudge me! Pinterest is a little problematic on the issue and it sometimes takes a couple of attempts.)

It doesn’t matter whether or not you have linked up before- everyone is welcome and it’s never too late to get involved. Please do link back here from your post.

Thank you, and happy reading!

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March 31, 2015

patchwork March, 2015


Once again, March brought blue skies and pink blossom. The beloved magnolia tree in our back garden has started to bloom in the final days of the month, but the branches which I brought inside to force provided delicate petals ahead of time.

In the kitchen, there have been eggs, proudly gathered straight from the chickens by the littlest boy. Of course plenty of eggs will always lead, in this house, to a proliferation of cakes. In addition to the Banana Primrose Lemon Cake , I’ve been baking the seeded banana bread from the utterly brilliant A Modern Way to EatI’ve been spending my spare moments with my loom, attempting a few new weaving techniques.

Walks in the springtime are an absolute pleasure, We spot celandines, wood anemones and catkins, hearing woodpeckers amongst the trees. In the woods, the wild garlic is rampant, and we’re all set to make this year’s batch of wild garlic pesto. Days, and spirits, have grown brighter with the advent of spring.

As ever, I’ve been looking back- to last March’s patchwork – and to the month ahead, with a Pinterest board for April.

April on Pinterest