Lots of people aren’t that keen on January, but I like it. Yes, the Christmas decorations are down and all the excitement of New Year is over, everyone’s back to work, school and uni and the weather is pretty dismal, but I still like these early days of the new year.
I went back to my yoga class this week (very pleased with myself as I was given a new non-slip mat for Christmas – purple, of course!) and ahead of me in the queue to get into the sports centre, someone was complaining about the “resolutioners” who fill up the gym, the classes and the swimming pool. It happens every year so I don’t know why it came as a surprise to them, and often it doesn’t last – although I must say that all the “resolutioners” who have discovered the Sockalong and taken up sock knitting are all sticking to it very well! I am delighted about this, as you will imagine, and with every new pair of socks we’re getting closer to world domination! 😀
Interestingly, it’s not been busy on the dog-walk footpaths (presumably everybody is in the gym) and the dog and I have pretty much had our walks to ourselves. The weather has been very mild and damp which is disappointing – one of the things I like about January is that there’s always the possibility of snow. Do you think you ever grow out of hoping for snow? For those of us that wish for it, probably not, although that may be because I don’t live in a place where it inconveniences me for months of the year.
We’ve had grey skies …
and we’ve had fog …
and the paths that we crunched along in the autumn are now soggy and muddy. This is what the path looked like in November …
and here’s that same path now. What a difference a few months makes! And in another few months, it will all look different again as the seasons change and spring comes around.
The dog loves it, he can’t wait to jump into any mud and dirty puddle (that water you can see in the photo above? Yep, he was in it!), but squelchy paths make for slow walking and I like to get some speed up to help clear my mind and plan my day.
The paths don’t look quite as fairytale-like as they do when the trees are in full leaf, but I still think there’s something very inviting about a path through the trees!
What I do like about January is that although it’s winter-time and not much has changed since the end of autumn, I’ve got time now to take notice of it all. The light is different and because the weather has been mild, I’ve not been walking with my head down against the wind and the rain. Plus, I’ve been trying very hard not to launch full-pelt into life again after Christmas but to give myself time to just slow down a bit. There’s plenty of time to go full-pelt for the rest of the year if I want to!
Every now and again, something will catch my eye – like this old park sign, usually hidden amongst the bushes …
and this holly bush …
At first, I wondered if it was holly at all because it’s such a bright green colour, but it really is …
Perhaps it’s the variety; I’ve googled but couldn’t find anything that might help me, but maybe you know?
Back home, there are signs of life in the garden. The hellebores (Helleborus orientalis) are usually the first to appear, along with the snowdrops, and it’s been lovely to see them.
Despite the mild weather, I’ve been lighting the fire whether we particularly need it or not because it’s a cosy thing to do, and we’ve been eating lots of soup recently too. Small daughter’s absolute favourite is leek and potato (this is my recipe) but I felt the need to branch out before we started to look like leek and potato soup.
Last year, I was lucky enough to be able to spend a weekend in Bruges with one of my best friends (chocolate, waffles and sooo much walking – it was fab!) and in one of the restaurants we visited, we were given a tiny cupful of cauliflower soup before our meal arrived. It was the best cauliflower soup I’ve ever tasted and I’m far too polite (or shy) to ask in a restaurant how they make something as it might be their trade secret recipe, so I’ve been searching on the internet for a recipe that tastes similar.
This one is pretty good! It involves roasting the cauliflower first – it gives it a completely different taste to just throwing the cauliflower into the pan as I have done before.
I bought this local rapeseed oil from the farm shop to try out for a couple of reasons; I’m trying to buy local whenever I can and also the lady at the farm shop reminded me that heating olive oil (which I generally cook with)isn’t a good idea. So far, it’s been a positive change – and it seems to go a little further than olive oil too, which is something that we need to get used to as we’ve gone through this bottle very quickly!
This particular soup came out a lovely caramel colour whereas the last time I made it, it was much paler, but it still tasted good and small daughter ate all of hers and even asked for more, which is always a good thing.
Finally, there’s always time for some knitting. There are always socks on the needles, but after knitting so many pairs of socks last year, I’ve been feeling the need to knit something else as well as the socks, just for a change. Tracy of Handmade Over Yonder gave me a skein of her gorgeously natural hand-dyed yarn for Christmas and I’ve been itching to cast on and see how it knits up. It doesn’t have a shade name but is dyed with logwood, cochineal, lac chlorophyllin, cutch, onion skin, madder, iron and pomegranate. Wow, that sounds like some kind of magical potion to me, and definitely the kind of yarn that could weave spells with the pointy sticks!
It’s 100% Wensleydale so it’s a bit too soft for socks (especially for those of us with pokey toes) but I thought that the soft and silky yarn would be perfect for a cowl so I’ve decided to have a go at making one. I’m making it up as I go along so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it works out OK, but so far so good!
And last but not least, I thought I’d show you one of the photos I shared on Instagram recently under the hashtag #plansafoot. This is a sock being soaked before it gets blocked for photographing … plans afoot indeed! 😀
Have a lovely weekend, whatever you’re up to!