Winter picnic: roasted pumpkin soup.

Initially revered for its impressive colour, size, and roundness by its misshapen brother and sister Squashes, the fate of the Pumpkin is a tragic one. Its “big moment” consists of being disembowelled, barbarically disfigured by parents lacking artistic skill, paraded to insensitive children from the end of the drive, and chucked away or forgotten about from the 1st November onward.  Continue…

Winter walks and picnics: welcome to Slow Living.

If there was a competition for how full you can keep your regular mug of coffee (without a lid) whilst driving, I would be the winner. Through a skillful act of counterbalancing, I can attune the coffee in my cup to the sways of my car, and regularly arrive at work after a fifteen minute journey relatively unscathed by coffee stains. I do have a reusable takeaway cup, though – but I rarely have the spare time in the morning to a) locate it, and b) wash it up (it is currently encrusted with mould from the last time I was feeling practical – a long time ago). By now you can probably guess that I’m the “just-in-time” – veering towards the “tad-late” – type.  Continue…

One great (and surprising) way to enjoy the outdoors this Winter.

Come rain or shine (or snow, sleet, and gale force winds), my mother would shut all of us children outside for half an hour every day. A monstrous heap of multiple coats, scarves and hats, I would stand by the door window and concentrate all the miserable expression I could muster into the 3 or so visible inches of my face. With two imploring eyes and a thoroughly pink nose, I hoped to extract some kind of sympathy from my mother’s adamantly turned back.  Continue…

Finger-food for thought: why we have afternoon teas.

From an evolutionary perspective, fattening up for winter is imperative if we are to stay warm, and it is therefore only natural that we should be hankering for afternoon teas in Autumn as intensely as we hunt for a mate in Spring. It was this deep-rooted, almost primal instinct to indulge in an afternoon tea that got me pondering the philosophical question: why is it that we have afternoon teas? Continue…

How to make a traditional cucumber sandwich

Cucumber sandwiches. The mascots to any cricket match, the emblem of Victorian and Edwardian aristocracy, and, naturally, the stubborn patriarch of today’s afternoon tea. Like the greedy inheritor of a great fortune, the cucumber sandwich sits on its three-tiered throne and stubbornly refuses to give way to other, more modern, culinary delights. It outlives the comings and goings of the ham, smoked salmon, and egg mayo sandwiches: but has the cucumber sandwich compromised itself in order to keep the throne?  Continue…

A Fairytale Picnic

The beginning of May. Bluebells battle through the hard earth and populate the woods, blossom trees burst their scent into clean air. In a matter of days, Winter has been defeated and we are subject to a new ruler: Spring.  Continue…