January lingers. It feels like the longest month of the year, though I do not personally subscribe to the notion that it is the most depressing.
I have not yet achieved the tasks I had assigned for January (my endless de-cluttering plans, and cupboard clear outs feature on the list) but I did whisk the festive decorations away very briskly this year, by 3rd January all the boxes were back up in the loft. It is much less entertaining taking decorations down than it is putting them up of course, but much as I love Christmas, by the beginning of January I am itching to get the house back in to some semblance of order.
Despite Christmas festivities being over for another year, there are still many winter pleasures to savour, and seasonal activities to enjoy.
I have candles lit all day and evening, and never tire of the soft glow they impart. The fire is on all day also, which makes our sitting room cosy and welcoming.
Daily winter walks with Meg always lift the spirits, what seems like a chore before hand quickly turns in to a pleasure, as does the coming home, kicking off wellies, and putting the kettle on for a well deserved cup of tea.
Winter food is probably my favourite to cook, slow cooking big pots of spaghetti mince, beef stews, simmering casseroles, I love them all. I make them in the warmer months too, but they feel so right at this time of year.
Feeding the birds is another winter pleasure; the sight of all the pretty little birds fluttering round the feeders, taking turns, hopping from the tree to the feeders is quite enchanting. Less so are the ugly black crows who also bully their way in to the food, scaring off the smaller birds. I am not above banging the window to scare them off, shouting 'Picturesque birds Only!' much to the amusement of my family.
In the garden, the daffodils spears are well up, and the snowdrops are also evident, though still a few weeks away from flowering. Last year I planted lots of spring bulbs in the damp, bare ground under the apple blossom trees where the bird feeders hang, but as yet there is no sign of them growing.
Filling the kitchen windowsills with pots of hyacinth and tete a tete bulbs is a winter pleasure that I always defer until after Christmas. Once the decorations are packed away, my first shopping trip of the new year will include some pots of pre-planted bulbs. I always intend to plant my own in November but never quite manage to. This year I have a bonus pot from a little ceramic pre-planted pot from last year, which I had put outside the back door after the flowers had wilted, intending to plant them in the garden. I never quite got round to planting them out, and the pot lay on its side, unheeded, behind the bins outside the back door (yes my life really is this glamorous). Last week I noticed that the bulbs had started sprouting, but because the pot had been on its side all winter, the plants were growing upward towards the light at a 90 degree angle to the pot. I took it inside, gave it a clean, and put it on the windowsill. Within 24 hours the leaves were turning towards the light and by the following day they were upright. Over the next few days, several tiny slugs were spotted slowly making their way down the outside of the pot, obviously having taken up residence during the winter, and now finding their quarters too warm, had decided to make a break for the outside world. All were taken outside and gently deposited on the wet grass. Hope they don't grow into monster slugs and try to find the pot again.
In the woods, the wild garlic is beginning to sprout; soon the air will be filled with its pungent aroma, and the wood carpeted with its vivid green leaves. I enjoy using the leaves in cooking, though usually forget to bring a bag and end up carrying home great bunches of leaves, like a flowerless bouquet, from the woods.
Catching up on Christmas television programmes is another seasonal joy. I am so busy at Christmas that I rarely have time to sit down and watch television, so January evenings in front of the fire with a pot of tea and 'Kirstie's Handmade Christmas' or 'Mary Berry's Absolute Christmas Favourites' is a perfect winter pleasure.
What winter pleasures do you enjoy? Are you a winter lover, or are you simply gritting your teeth and waiting for warmer weather? I would love to know.