It’s the first of May today – May Day or Beltane – and it’s tradition in our house to say “white rabbits” on the first day of the month for good luck. There are lots of versions of this, some involving pinching and punching, but I prefer soft and furry bunnies It’s also another Bank Holiday weekend which means no work or school tomorrow (Monday) and we are very happy about that!
I can’t believe that it’s a week since I was up in the Lake District helping big daughter with her yoga retreat. It went brilliantly well, she’s so good at what she does, and I loved seeing everybody become softer and their Friday night edges smooth out as the weekend went on. She’s already got people asking about her next retreat which is a big compliment, isn’t it? I’m very proud!
Back to it all this week, though, and it’s taken me a few days to get back up to speed after a busy weekend which was also somehow very relaxing. How does that work?! There was hardly any time for knitting as big daughter’s boyfriend and I were kept busy looking after everyone, but I still felt as if I’d had a good break over the weekend. There was magic in that retreat house, I’m sure of it
Today’s photos are from last month, but as that was only yesterday then I’m sure you’ll forgive me! I wanted to post again today (yesterday’s post was March’s Monthly Musing) because I’ve got something super-exciting to tell you about but of course, I’m going to make you wait until the bottom of the post to read it
The sky has been such a beautiful shade of blue this week. The blossom is out and it’s been a joy to be outside.
I don’t know what it is about it, but I love this bridge. I think it must be the arches (I’ve got a thing about square things – blocks of wood, stone, metal – turning corners and becoming curved or round; if you think this is bad, you should see me in ancient history sculpture sections of museums!) or perhaps it’s the light as I’m usually walking the dog there when the sun is low in the sky.
The fishermen have started to come back to the canal banks (I say fishermen as I’ve yet to meet a fishing woman there although I know women do fish!) and it means I have to be careful with the dog as he’s very good at “helping” fishermen with their bait and they don’t like it. I can’t think why!
It was so still the morning that I took this, and the air was warm and the birds were singing at full volume. It was lovely! I do like to look at the reflections in the water – I probably stood there for longer than I imagined as the dog was getting impatient to move on!
The brook was very low as well; we’ve not had any heavy rain for a few weeks now and you can see the bottom quite easily. It’s hard to imagine when it’s as low as this that sometimes it is so full that it bursts its banks and I would be standing in running water.
Spring flowers are appearing in abundance now. These are forget-me-nots – they were along the towpath but I’ve got these in the garden as well. They spread like mad so once you have them, you’re unlikely ever to forget them as they pop up every year, but I don’t mind. Those pretty blue flowers don’t last for long and it’s lovely to see them.
The bluebells are appearing as well. These were the first that I saw but now they’re popping up everywhere – definitely a sign that Spring has arrived!
I mentioned the other week that I’ve been cutting down on the amount of sugar that I’m eating. I was very strict with myself up until Easter Sunday and then I helped myself to quite a lot of Easter egg chocolate – and was surprised to find that I wasn’t missing it as much as I thought I might be. The other thing that’s been interesting is that the family are all eating less sugar as well, not because I have persuaded them and we still have chocolate and biscuits in the house, but perhaps because I’m eating less of those things … I can’t really tell you; they might not be conscious that they are even doing it! It doesn’t hurt anyone, though, and I’m not making a big deal of it one way or another as I think that’s a surefire way to make someone do the opposite!
What not so small daughter and I have been doing is making our own biscuits and a sweet treat for her to take to school with her packed lunch. It means that we know what’s going into them and it’s been a nice thing for us to do together. I love the Jane’s Patisserie website, everything seems to work out really well whether it’s made with eggs, butter and cow’s milk or it’s dairy-free or even vegan. It’s such a relief to use recipes that you know are going to be OK after the time you’ve spent preparing them, and we are happily working our way through the cookies and traybakes sections at the moment.
Yes, there’s plenty of sugar in these but I am making the cookies much smaller than the recipe suggests (although big enough so that one or two is enough) and cutting the traybakes into more portions so that firstly they’re lasting longer, but secondly there’s less sugar being consumed. I found over Easter that if I wanted a sweet chocolate hit, it didn’t seem to matter how big the piece of chocolate was as it was the first sugary taste that seemed to make the difference. Interesting, eh?
This week’s traybake was Mini Egg Rice Krispie Squares made with melted marshmallows which was a joyously gooey concoction in the pan and no doubt sticks to your teeth when you eat it – I’ve not tried this one but not so small daughter assured me that it had turned out very well and there’s none left now so I’ve believed her. I’m not sure what this week’s recipe is going to be yet but I’ll let you know!
I’ve also been baking my sourdough loaves again. Oh, there’s nothing quite like a fresh-out-of-the-oven sourdough loaf and if it’s a type of bread that you like, I’d encourage you to give baking your own a go. It seems very complicated at first as you need a starter but all that is is the yeast which, instead of being dried in a packet, lives in a jar, and once you’ve put your ingredients together, the loaf needs very little attention before you bake it. If you’re a serious sourdough baker then it’s a source of pride how old your starter is – I’ve just looked back through my blog archives and I started mine in September 2018 so it’s older than I would have guessed – and my pride is simply because it’s still alive! I used this recipe for mine and after previously having a on and off success with other recipes, I signed up for the Gartur Stitch Farm online sourdough course and I have never looked back.
I changed my mixing bowl a few weeks ago from a glass one to a ceramic one like this one and I don’t know why this is the case, but my loaves have been turning out much nicer than before. I can’t think why there would be a difference but perhaps you know more about baking bread than I do and you can tell me!
Finally, I promised to tell you about something exciting and it’s this!
The Winwick Mum Sockalong is 7 years old on Tuesday 3 May!! I think that’s amazing – 7 years of helping people to knit pairs of socks – I am bursting with pride, excitement, joy … all of those emotions and more, to think that people all over the world have been able to knit socks for themselves, friends and family, they’ve supported yarn shops, become dyers and designers themselves and all because of sock knitting tutorials on my blog.
As always, there’s going to be a giveaway post on the blog and that will be coming out next Tuesday. To join in, I just ask you to tell me how many pairs of the Basic 4ply Socks you’ve knitted this year so now is the time to count all the pairs in your sock drawer or that you’ve given away (hand knitted socks make the BEST gifts!) so you’re ready to leave that number for me in the comments – don’t do it now, wait till Tuesday! It doesn’t matter if you’ve made half a sock, one pair or a hundred pairs, they all add to our fun sock total – so far we’re up to 15,000 pairs so it will be good to see how many more we add this year!
If you’re worried that you’ll miss the post, you can join the Winwick Mum mailing list (you can unsubscribe at any time) so that you’ll get the post notification – you can do that by clicking here – and you get a free download Kitchener Stitch guide too!
I’ll be back on Tuesday with more details on how to join in, so if you’re in the UK, enjoy the rest of your Bank Holiday weekend and if you’re elsewhere, enjoy the rest of your day and I’ll chat to you again soon xx