It’s been a wonderful time here in the Sounds, again. Cold, of course, but that’s to be expected at this time of the year, and a great excuse for open fires. Lots to do outdoors, not least of which the many hydrangeas to prune, but it’s very satisfying, knowing that you’re getting the garden ready for the next summer’s display, and the weather’s been brilliant … so calm, clear skies … today, admittedly, there was light rain until after lunch, but such a Swallows & Amazons feel to the day … I just had to jump in a dinghy and go for a row.
In the garden it’s a pretty dormant time … all the summer flowerers have long finished, and apart from the very earliest of the azaleas, too early for the spring show-offs … camellias, rhododendrons, most azaleas. Even the virtually perpetual rose, the old-fashioned Souvenir de Malmaison, has taken a break. Usually it can be relied on to provide beautifully scented blooms for the dining table. But right now the lucullia is in flower, so those lovely pink heads are a fine substitute … they remind me of my grandmother, said Lawrence. They’re that sort of flower, reminiscent of a different time. Which is, appropriately, part of the appeal of this place.
And then, of course, there is the food. The standards … sausages on the first night, corn fritters, Pestell’s bacon … but a lunch-time favourite stands out … sliced Portobello mushrooms, pan-fried in butter with garlic, freshly gathered roughly chopped parsley added towards the end, served on warm plates with triangles of buttered Vogel’s bread toast (I relented!) … just the most perfect of combinations.