Monday Meditation: A January Day in the English Countryside Part II

Last year at this time, I posted photographs of a walk along the local lanes on a clear, warm January day in what turned out to be another mild winter.* This year, the weather couldn’t be more different. We had 7” of snow before Christmas, sub-zero temperatures and cowered under numerous storms as we shivered by the woodburner and gradually desiccated in the central heating. This past week has again been freezing and wet, and we’ve just had another two days of sleet and snow.

This particular afternoon, however, the wind abated, the rain stopped and the sun peeped out for a look-see, so we took the chance for some fresh air and exercise and decided to retrace our steps from the previous year.

There was so much mud, debris (squashed plastic water bottles and other litter blown hither and thither by the gales) – and horse manure – on the lanes and verges! But I spared you all that detritus and picked out as much green as I could. We didn’t see the animals on the smallholding, which seemed abandoned, but we did see some sheep. Here are the photos I took this time around:





This proud wood pigeon wasn’t at all camera-shy, he posed for a very long time, allowing me to get the perfect picture, making sure I only caught his good side, though!


If you zoom right in on the next photo, you should be able to see a flash of orange just a little left of the tree trunk in the middle. This robin flitted about the whole length of the lane but was always in too much of a hurry to get a decent shot.


This squirrel on the other hand sat motionless for so long he could have been an ornament. He was so well camouflaged, much darker than all the other grey squirrels, it was a while before I realised he was there. We had met a friend of my husband’s and they stood chatting under this tree. I had my eyes skyward, looking for birds when I spotted him.


Do you remember the odd long pods that looked like suspended grey broad beans from last year’s post? This year, there were hardly any, those that were in evidence were shrivelled and black and much smaller, but there were many more of these pink, blossom-like flowers on the twigs. I still don’t know what it is.


From the colour of this sky, you wouldn’t believe we have had endless days of heavy dark cloud, rainstorms and winds strong enough to blow you along the street. My mum’s fence was blown down last week! It was so calm this afternoon, but cold enough to freeze your breath.


I think this is my favourite photograph from today. 

It was such a refreshing break to be outside amongst the nature we are so privileged to have all around us. It is threatened, sadly, by endless new housing developments which have taken up all the open fields around the schools here. These views are on opposite sides of the lane we walked. The view on the right used to be the same as that on the left.



We make the most of it and appreciate it while we can.

*Monday Meditation: A January Day in the English Countryside

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Spiralising: A Great Way to Get Your Kids to Eat Their Greens, Reds, Yellows …

I have a confession to make. You know all those kitchen gadgets I mentioned in Gadgets Anonymous ? Well… <typing in quiet voice, head down, eyes looking sheepish> I have another one… But it’s not a blender!

Nope, a spiraliser. Lurch is its name.

To be fair, it isn’t new. It’s been sitting in the cupboard for some time, still in its box, waiting for us to catch up to it. And last night, we finally did, amd what fun!


On this plate are a Red Apple, a Carrot, half a medium Courgette and a quarter of a long Cucumber. Look at the wonderful colours!

It is highly unlikely anyone would sit and eat those items whole with a knife and fork. But spiralised, it becomes a whole different experience. Spiralising really does make a difference to how they taste, the texture and how much you can eat.

I had all this for dinner last night, along with a couple of very tasty, easy-to-make items from Jason Vale’s Super Fast Food app, which I hope to review when we’ve given it a good workout – so far, so thumbs up!

(We made the Zesty Creamy Rocket Pesto and the Nutty Seeded Crackers, both flavourful and nourishing and now added to our menu for regular use).


For the kids, it’s so much fun watching the twirly ribbons of veggie noodles emerging from the spiraliser, they just want to take a handful, tip their head back and start feeding the spirals into their mouth.

The Lurch spiraliser is very light and easy to use. Kids can help make their noodles with supervision. It comes with 3 different blades which are stored in the side and have protective hand grips to make it easy to switch.


It has suction feet to stop it slipping or travelling while in use. It also cores, and kids find the leftover middles amusing to play with or eat, or they can be juiced.

I am so excited! I know I am late to the party as far as spiralising is concerned, but I’ve been wanting to try for so long and better late than never!

Just hope the juicers and blenders aren’t going to view this as an act of betrayal! (But they needn’t worry, they continue to have pride of place on the kitchen counter, the spiraliser for the moment is still confined to the cupboard).

With grateful thanks to K and M! x

Copyright: Chris McGowan