Easier, better or both?


Springtime in the Costwolds – A Feast for the Senses

We have been enjoying a springtime sensory extravaganza.

Sounds

Each morning we are woken early by the incredibly beautiful the dawn chorus. The birdsong gets more complex over the first few weeks of the spring as a mixture of migrant birds arrive for their summer holidays.

Soon the air is filled with the sound of cheeping chicks, when food is delivered to nests by hard-working parents.

Spring days are punctuated by high-pitched bleats from little lambs, answered by deeper baas from watchful mothers.

Smells

The air smells fresh and is filled with wonderful fragrances.

We pop into Broadway to check on the gnarled old wisterias in the high street every few days, so that we don’t miss the wonderful smell of their divine pastel flowers when they emerge.

Hubby’s favourite is the aroma that wafts over the fence from the buds on the neighbour’s poplar trees.

I love to sink my nose into the blossoms on lilac trees dotted around the village.

Woodland walks are rewarded with the sweet smell of violets – best appreciated by getting a nose close to the ground – well worth the muddy knees.

Sights

It’s wonderful when colour returns to the village after the drab, grey winter.

Snowdrops appear first, followed by bright yellow daffodils.

Then the world erupts into colour as blossoms appear on cherry, plum, apple and pear trees.

Clematis flowers cascade over walls and fences. Wildflowers pop up on verges and across the meadows. Bluebells form a brilliant carpet in the woods.

Birds fly sorties collecting moss and twigs for their nests.

Male birds  flirt with females by puffing up to make themselves look more eligible.

Touch

A mild, warm breeze replaces the winter’s icy blasts.

Nettles along paths need to be given a wide berth, otherwise they sting like crazy leaving an area of skin that buzzes for 24 hours afterwards.

The ground is soft and warm and yields gently when turned to plant soft, new seedlings.

Tastes

In April we start to prowl the farm shops in the area looking for the divine local asparagus – so wonderful that an Asparafest is held in its honour. It’s absolutely delicious and for the next few months is a reliable and consistent fixture on menus at home and in local eateries.

Wild garlic pops up on woodland floors. The leaves add a subtle, interesting flavour to frittatas, omelettes, salads and a host of other dishes.

Fresh chives, mint, nasturtium flowers and the first crop of lettuces form a base for spring salads, accompanied by garlic mustard (Jack by the Hedge), which is foraged by hubby.

We love springtime in the Costwolds – it makes us feel alive again.

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The Merits of Ash

We had a super lunch in the Crown and Trumpet in Broadway yesterday – a luscious lasagne for hubby and a cheerful chilli con carne for me (spiciness just right).

This old poem was hanging on the wall above our table. Quite a coincidence, after my last post about the performance of different species of trees as firewoods. I’ve transcribed the poem, as the attached photo is a bit wobbly.

Beechwood fires are bright and clear
If the logs are kept a year;
Chestnut only good they say
If for long it’s laid away;
Make a fire of Elder tree
Death within your house shall be;
But Ash new or Ash old
Is fit for Queen with crown of gold.

Birch and Fir logs burn too fast
Blaze up bright and do not last;
It is by the Irish said
Hawthorn bakes the sweetest bread;
Elmwood burns like churchyard mould –
E’en the very flames are cold;
But Ash green or Ash brown
Is fit for Queen with golden crown.

Poplar gives a bitter smoke
Fills your eyes and makes you choke;
Apple wood will scent your room
With an incense-like perfume.
Oaken logs, if dry and old
Keep away the winters cold;
But Ash wet or Ash dry
A King shall warm his slippers by.


Lunch at Tisanes

One of our favourite places for a light snack or afternoon tea in the Cotswolds is Tisanes, a super little tea room in Broadway.  We love the atmosphere, the food and the efficient, friendly staff. There is an entire menu devoted to loose-leaf teas and they have a good selection of coffees. We can’t resist the sandwiches filled with warm, runny brie, bacon and avocado. They do traditional cream teas and always have a good selection of delicious, freshly-baked cakes.  This is quite a special place if you are on a gluten-free diet. The sandwiches are available on gluten-free bread, and the gluten-free victoria sponge cakes, scones, toasted teacakes and other goodies ensure that tea-time is a treat for everyone.