The Long Winter
With Spring on the horizon, 'tis a blessing to be seeing the back of the long winter season. Endless months of rain and biting winds are finally behind us and we can get on with the most pressing of jobs in the garden and catch up with the rest of the village. Long is the winter hibernation in Bryneglwys!
A major event which is certain to bring us all out on mass, is the Garden Club AGM. The agenda is brief, allowing plenty of time for chatter; re-calling peoples' names; welcoming new residents; and catching up with gossip all the while quaffing half decent Merlot to go with plentiful platters of cheese. A cheery evening indeed, which often ends up with drinking classier wine round at the neighbours well into the night; this year was no exception.
So, how do we get through the winter months in the first place? What is it that keeps us occupied when we're either snowed in, frozen stiff or rained off?
For a start, the village sewing group gets busy. Meeting up regularly to craft simple items to sell in support of local charities helps to keep us in touch whilst pooling skills and resources to make everything from cot quilts and tooth fairy pillows to door wreaths made with pre-loved fabrics or vintage inspired lace. Our resident milliner also creates tissue box covers or fascinators and then there are lavender sachets to stitch and fill.
Flavorsome dishes throughout the winter months have had been created with home-made stocks; hearty soups; jams, relishes, pickles and pies. Not to mention bottled autumn fruits for crumbles; a slug or two of sloe vodka from the back of the pantry and freshly baked breads. We've kept a variety of garden birds well fed, too. Woodpeckers, tits and finches have all had the benefit of well stocked nut feeders, fat balls, seeds and apples. A family of squirrels got a look in as did our resident peacocks. Speaking of which, the peacocks are now in full swing as their calling heralds the arrival of the mating season; all backed up with an often comical looking side-stepping action in order to maintain their balance under the weight of a 6' high display of magnificent blue and green feathers. They also sound like a herd of elephants as they potter about on the roof of the house.
Our Literature Club always has plenty on offer, with trips to the local theatre to see highly acclaimed productions such as Cat on a Hot Tin Roof or a spot of Shakespeare. With a different theme each month, there's a variety of reading and creative writing going on - as well as that essential cake tasting and tea drinking to go with it! There's nothing quite like curling up in a generously knitted rug in front of a blazing fire with an absorbing book and good brew.
As far as our garden is concerned, quite a lot of work has been done with the aim of correcting a severe lack of drainage. When the rain falls as it has done this last few months, it has to go somewhere. Along with snow-melt it tumbles down the mountains filling dykes and streams along the way - and, it would seem, into our garden! Work began on the drain in late autumn last year before it was rained off. We restarted in mid-winter only to be rained off again or unable to work with the solid blue clay since it was frozen hard; such is the foundation of the land around here. With the work now finally completed, we can boast the installation of a new and very successful land drain over which there is lovely slate covered foot path the length of the garden. Read about it here: Creating land drainage on heavy clay. Doing large jobs yourself bring with them the added bonus of feeling an enormous sense of satisfaction when it all goes to plan. Next up, clearing the way for the green-house and more digging to accommodate flowers for cutting and vegetable growing.
Spring time breathes new life into many aspects of our lives. New lambs gambol about in the fields, and trees and shrubs begin to flush with new growth. There's cupboard clearing; seed sowing, a change in colour and weight of the soft furnishings around the house and a heightened enthusiasm for getting out and about. After languishing in the bottom of the wardrobe all winter, the walking boots get an airing and a waxing. The first walk of the season was a trek over the hills to the pub for Sunday lunch. The steep bits feel steeper than we remember and the mud has not yet dried up; but, it's great to be back out there. And, as the weather hopefully continues to improve, so will our mood. Just a little bit of sunshine, no matter how weak, is enough to lift the spirits and have us looking forward to what ever else the year ahead has to offer.