January days

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!

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28 Responses

  1. textureknit says:

    I joined the gym back in November. I thought I would hate, but actually I do really enjoy it and am getting used to it which can only be good.

    I look forward to seeing you cowl and exciting #plansafoot sounds intriguing xx


    • Winwick Mum says:

      I think it's probably like any habit – once it becomes part of your regular routine then you wonder how you ever managed without it! xx

  2. The Prayerful Weaver says:

    Really enjoyed reading your blog, Christine, although I'm afraid I don't share your yearning for snow! I hope you don't mind me mentioning that I've started a blog this year (theprayerfulweaver.blogspot.com) if you get a moment maybe you'd like to have a read! I'm looking forward to starting out on a sock making journey this year, starting at beginning of Feb when I go on a workshop in Liverpool. I'm looking forward to it! I can't join your sockalong though, as I don't do FB. Hope you continue to enjoy the slower pace of January, and I'll look forward to hearing of the plans that are afoot! Liz x

    • Winwick Mum says:

      I'll certainly take a look at your blog – well done on getting started! Good luck with your sock course, I hope you enjoy it! You don't have to be on Facebook to join in with my Sockalong – the tutorials are all available for free right here on the blog; the Facebook group is just for extra help for those who use that platform 🙂 xx

  3. happy hooker says:

    Leek and potato soup is my favourite, but hubby prefers tomato based soup. I usually fry my leeks a little but your recipe looks so much less faffing. I'll give it a try. No snowdrops out yet in my garden, although they may be lurking under all the soggy leaves that I didn't have time/energy to rake up. Reminder to self – have a look tomorrow! x

    • Winwick Mum says:

      I think you probably are supposed to fry or saute the leeks first but I'm usually in such a rush that everything gets thrown into the pan – nobody seems to have missed the fried leeks so I don't worry about it! 🙂 xx

  4. Zoe says:

    That hand dyed yarn is GORGEOUS!! Those are my happy colors for sure. Can't wait to see how your cowl turns out. Gosh, it looks so soft and snuggly.

  5. Julie says:

    I was surprised to see a swathe of snowdrops at the park last week, they looked so elegant poking their heads out of the dead leaves.
    The cowl yarn looks snuggly.
    Got mysekf a copy of More Super Socks, it's wonderful.

  6. selina says:

    lovely photos of the pathway & park
    gorgeous wool & it will certainly make a lovely cowl! can't wait to see it finished.
    thanx for sharing

  7. Susan Rayner says:

    Love this blog entry – I too love January – not for resolutions which I refuse to make – but for getting back to normal as it were! Yoga started this week here too and I try not to miss a week and do some at home every day! I miss dog walking so much – but am not ready to tread the same paths without Peggotty! Our favourite soup is a Thai style chicken one and Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato is another favourite! I too would like a little snow – we get cut off completely if it snows too much – but some would be very nice! Looking forward to whatever new socks you are knitting – and the cowl is gorgeous – beautiful wool!!

    • Winwick Mum says:

      I think walking without a dog when you've walked with a dog is definitely something to get used to when you're ready – my Dad did it for a while when our old dog died but he missed him too much and stopped after a while and started walking with a group instead. You have to take your time and do what suits you xx

  8. Shelagh says:

    Thanks for the recipe 🙂 There's now a pan of it on my hob, waiting to be warmed up as soon as everyone is in. I don't actually like to eat cauliflower, but keep meaning to try it roasted as I've heard it tastes completely different. I certainly like the soup! I really like it when I can find ways to eat things I don't like, but that are good for me 😀

    • Winwick Mum says:

      I'm the same with celery – there's no way I'm going to eat it raw but it's very good in soup with Stilton cheese! 🙂 xx

  9. Janet says:

    I love reading your blogs Christine. It makes me feel I am there with you. I feel homesick when I read them but love them all the same. Definitely no snow for us , its our summer time. Love love love that new wool you have. The colours are to die for. Cant wait to see you wearing your cowl.

    • Winwick Mum says:

      I'm glad you enjoy the posts but I'm sorry I make you feel homesick! I'll talk to you about endless rain, Brexit and other miserable things if that makes you feel better … or perhaps not 🙂 xx

  10. Josephine says:

    If you’re pining for snow, I have 9 inches of the stuff here, which I’d be happy to share! Especially the huge piles that the plow deposited at the end of the driveway. I don’t need a gym right now, as I’m getting plenty of exercise shoveling.
    The cauliflower soup looks wonderful, and I happen to have most of the ingredients on hand (good thing, because I’m not going on the roads in this weather).
    My sock knitting is on hold for the moment. I’m doing the Attic24 crochet-a-long right now and am loving it. The colors Lucy has chosen for this year's pattern are so pretty. But More Super Socks is on my book-purchase list. I will not fall by the wayside!

    • Winwick Mum says:

      Yes, yes, send some of it over here! (not sure about 9 inches although small daughter is desperate to be snowed in and miss school). Lucy's Sweet Pea blanket is just gorgeous, if I had more hours in the day I'd definitely be wanting to make one too! xx

  11. Lilly's Mom says:

    Hi Christine, I loved see your photos of winter's beauty. Your cauliflower soups sounds delicious. I made some this past week but I didn't roast the cauliflower; next time I will. Your new yarn looks so lovely. I'm sure you are enjoying knitting with it. Have a wonderful week and I will stop by again to say "hello". Sorry, I haven't commented lately but you know how time gets away. Hugs, Pat xx

  12. Caroline says:

    Is the "holly" a mahonia that's escaped from a garden?
    The Covent Garden Soup Recipe book is full of lovely soup recipes. I not made a dud one yet. I'll give your cauli recipe a go too.

    • Winwick Mum says:

      The leaves don't look like Mahonia leaves; the bush is usually under quite a thick tree canopy so maybe that's affected it. I've got a Covent Garden Soup recipe book and we do use that, but they didn't have a cauliflower soup recipe that I was looking for 🙂 xx

  13. Unknown says:

    Hello Christine, I enjoy your blog and wanted to tell you I printed off the picture a year ago of the sheep cake made by Mollie of extreme cakes, Imagine my surprise when last week on TV in NZ the episode came up on extreme cake makers, I was excited to say the least, Im sure I even saw you there. Amazing, the series finishes here this week. Love your sox by the way. Carolyn. carocraft20 on IG.

    • Winwick Mum says:

      Oh, that's funny, imagine that! I'll have to tell Kate at Northern Yarn, she'll be delighted to think that her yarn shop has made it to the other side of the world! Yes, I'm there in the background and later on I was in the foreground snaffling cake! 🙂 xx PS Kate's shop has done so well that she moved premises this year – perhaps it was a lucky cake!

  14. Jane O'D says:

    I love January too, for reasons very similar to yours. I'm not a New Year's Eve person but I feel invigorated at the start of a new year. It's a time for new beginnings in nature and I can look forward to my favourite season – spring! 🙂

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