In the bleak midwinter…

Wintry trees against cold grey skies

The shortest day has passed, Christmas and New Year is over for another year, but winter is most definitely still here. January and February are two of the hardest months, I think. The promise of spring is a long way off and midwinter really can be bleak and grey.

Bleak December day in East Yorkshire

 

Around where I live its not been that cold but because the land is so flat, the grey skies at this time of year seem endless. Just north of us is the historic city of York and I visited with my daughter just before Christmas so that she could do some shopping. It was another grey, grey day…

Clifford's Tower, York

Clifford’s Tower, York

Clock in York city centre

York city centre

The river was also very swollen and had burst its banks near to the car park so we couldn’t take our usual route and walk into town by the boat moorings that do day trips in summer…

Flooded river front at York 23 December 2014

Flooded river front at York 23 December 2014

One compensation of the grey days recently has been the days with glorious sunsets – they usually don’t show up that well in a photo but this one was a stunner…

Sunset in January 2015

Sunset in January 2015

Staying cosy

I live in an old farmhouse – its not possible to say when it was built but it was definitely before 1770 as the deeds I have found show it changed hands around that time. The kitchen is a typical big old farmhouse kitchen with a huge inglenook fireplace. This was a nice place to sit but it was crying out for a range, which is what would have been there originally. Three years ago I finally got enough pennies together to install a wood burning aga, which makes the kitchen into the a cosy haven during the winter months.

This year we have had a very mild winter, so I haven’t lit the aga every day because it gets a bit too roastingly hot. Instead I’ve reserved it for the coldest days and the time when all of the family were here over Christmas.

One of the things that cheers me up most on cold grey days is a lovely smell in the house and I love to experiment with different scented candles and also a bit of hubble bubble on the stove. My favourite mixture is fresh oranges, cloves and cinnamon sticks, put into water and simmered gently on the aga. It lasts about 4 days before it needs to be replaced.

Preparing oranges, cloves and cinnamon

Preparing oranges, cloves and cinnamon

Oranges, cloves and cinnamon on the stove

Oranges, cloves and cinnamon on the stove

This can be done while the inside of the wood fired oven is used to make other lovely smells as a roast dinner sizzles away to itself, or as bread bakes…

Baking bread in the aga

Baking bread in the aga

Although the kitchen has a set of double French doors, these face East, so the kitchen can be rather dark on dull days. I have spots in the ceiling, which isn’t exactly in keeping with the age of the house and I only use them all when we really need to see. The rest of the time I prefer side lamps and candles. I still stand my scented candle on one of the mandalas I made last year when I was practicing for Yarndale…

Cosy inside with a fragranced candle

Cosy inside with a fragranced candle

When I get up early on winter mornings, I get the fire going, make a large pot of Earl Grey tea and sit and have a quiet breakfast of my favourite wholemeal toast and lemon curd…

Quiet pre Christmas breakfast

Quiet early morning breakfast by the aga

Reminders of spring to come

Enjoying the cosiness inside during winter is great but it also helps to look forward to spring and having fresh flowers in the kitchen always really cheers me up.

Bright pink and fragrant hyacinth

Bright pink and fragrant hyacinth

Staying warm and blogging in the kitchen

Staying warm and blogging in the kitchen

This winter I’ve taken to sitting in the kitchen for my tea and coffee breaks from work rather than drinking (or rather leaving the drink to get cold) while sitting in my office at the computer. One of my NY resolutions. Its nice to sit and do just a few minutes of crochet and I’ve had a teeny tiny project on the go this week, which I will tell you more about in a new post this weekend x

Teeny tiny crochet squares

Teeny tiny crochet squares