Storms and Stoves

The rain whips and crackles against the double glazing as the new wood-stove sends waves of heat into my soul, rejuvenating me from within.  I listen to atmospheric music and imagine giant swells of dark Atlantic winter waves boiling and howling with storm energy. Somewhere out there in the obsidian vastness, thousands of sea creatures are living and dying, out of sight. Sometimes your imagination is your best friend on cold nights like these, when you remember yourself as a child, scared of monsters and seeking solace from maternal family members.

Apathy on a cool wet day

The cool trickles of water you hear on your walking travels.

In spring they indicate a freshness of life.

In the summer they are a psychological respite from the heat of late afternoon sun.

In autumn they just seem miserable.

As for winter, cold water touched by ice a embodies purity and stillness.

As it is autumn, there is a dampness around after a late evening downpour that is only intensified by the sound of water trickling off every surface.  It inspires nothing more than a need to get home, warm and dry.  If I were more adventurous today I would probably blend some fresh raspberries with some elderflower cordial, maybe warming it in the microwave into some kind of fresh fruit tea, but yet again apathy gets the better of me and I accept the ubiquitous yet intensely refreshing sensation of  fresh tap water.  Sometimes, even with the best intentions, you just can’t be bothered doing a bloody thing.

A hot shower on a cold day

I awake and greet a clear and alert head with great gratitude.  It’s noticeably cooler today, and to me this is welcome because:  It means I take a hot shower. On cold days they are truly soothing, but you have to wake up cold!

Out to the supermarket before the crowds to grab a freshly baked sun dried tomato loaf, then back home with the spoils of the supermarket foraging session.  The morning is spent eating buttered tomato bread and boiled duck eggs, with a fresh pot of dusky black coffee. The great British weather is living up to its reputation.  It could go one way or the other as great tears of sunshine glow through grey blankets of cloud.

The yolk from a good egg is not yellow, but deep ochre, and they are almost always free range, meaning lots of omega 3, which many of us neglect with our high grain diets.  Duck eggs have especially rich yolks and are great for home made custard.  They come into their own when boiled and coupled with the good fresh bread and rich salted & grass fed butter.  We are so lucky in this country to have such a rich farming heritage, and that many of our cows are treated with the respect that all living things deserve, and are allowed to roam free and eat grass.

Wild mint and honey on an autumn day.

We walk along the various paths surveying the decay of the vegetation.  Piles of leaves are scattered everywhere.  In the wetter parts of the woodland, wild spearmint grows.  I pinch a flower atop half a stalk, first crushing the surrounding leaves, then the flower itself. It strikes me how much more potent the scent is from the flower.  Fresh mint evokes a sense of cleanliness, uplifting while imparting a soft cool numbness.  I vow to create a dish where the mint flower is the star, but today we are here for work.  There is a new hive in the back of the car, full of rather relaxed bees.  The constant bouncing of the car on the journey over would usually infuriate other strains, and by now they would be ready to kill, but today we are lucky.  We install the beehive, and feed every hive present so that the other stronger colonies will not steal the newer, less established hive’s food and try to kill them.  The sun is setting and the air temperature is dropping so we head back.  In tribute to the day’s success a steak and onion sandwich with Manx wetland honey and Canadian cheddar is the only way to go… Served up in giant fresh white baps with the caramel lick of slow fried shallots.  When eating the mind wanders to whether those bees found the clump of spearmint nearby, and whether it is emaprting any flavour compounds into what I’m eating.  I also wish I’d taken a fucking picture of the mint.