First of March was St. David’s Day, the patron saint of Wales. Dewi Sant, as he was known in Welsh, was a Celtic monk, abbot and bishop, who lived in the sixth century. He was one of the many early saints who helped to spread Christianity among the pagan Celtic tribes of western Britain. His last words to his followers were transcribed as 'Be joyful, and keep your faith and your creed. Do the little things that you have seen me do and heard about. I will walk the path that our fathers have trod before us.' 'Gwnewch y pethau bychain' or 'Do the little things' is a very well-known phrase in Welsh.
The sun was shining on a beautiful Spring morning. I took the day off to recover and just chilled out, not feeling sick. My feathered friends were chirping so cheerfully and singing so melodiously in affirmation of this glorious day. Green shoots were popping out of the ground. It was amazing to welcome the new season of renewal and rejuvenation as new life stirs beneath the earth, eager to emerge. I had planted hundreds of daffodils, the national flower of Wales, along the borders and this was the first daffodil to bloom on such an auspicious day. So far March had flew in like a lamb.
It was also World Book Day. I only realised it when I notice a very small poster at the public library. I’d been out of action last week and had several overdue books with me. I have always loved and enjoyed reading and always will. A good book opens up new worlds and took me to places I can only dreamed of and inspire feelings in me that I could never imagine. Inspiring. uplifting, enlightening, mind expanding, entertaining, educating… all these are the hallmarks of a good book.
Books are the quietest and most constant friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of councillors, and the most patient of teachers.
~ Charles W. Eliot~
Lets raise a glass to our favourite books … and all the pleasures they gave to us. And to my father and grandfather who set the example and instilled in me my love of reading and books.
On Friday, I was back at work. I was still not 100% fit but sometimes, you just need to make an effort. Anyway, I took things slowly and not try to finish the pile-high stuff on my table. Babe came over during my lunch break and we went for a lovely walk by the lakes. We checked out to see if the frogs were out and about but no one was at home at the usual spot. We continued to the end of the third lake and as we approached the reeds, we could hear several croaking. But as we walked on the boardwalk, it stopped. We saw balls of frog spawn gently bobbing in the lake. We’d missed the mating sessions. As usual, Saturday was spent at a very busy and packed Brandon Marsh. This reserve seemed to be gaining in popularity. I don’t mind sharing with the crowd as long as they stick to the rules and especially, respect the natives. We stopped at Baldwin Hide and spotted the usual Great Crested Grebes, Pintails, Golden Eyes, Pochards and Tufted Ducks. From East Marsh Hide, a Cetti Warbler was playing hide-and-seek with us. From here, we could see Shelducks, female pheasants, Snipes and Oyster-Catchers. We couldn’t get in at all in Carlton Hide. Every seat was taken because 2 Bitterns were sighted in the area. We decided to head home. When we were on the main road, Babe spotted a Buzzard flying very low over the hedges. We managed to find a parking space besides a field. As Babe rushed to get his camera, a flock of sheep came tottering close to the fence. Buzzard forgotten when this gorgeous beauty caught our attention. I wish I could pet him but there was this fence between us. Check out those horns…The heavens opened on Sundays and we decided to just chill out at home. It was freezing. Even my feathered friends refused to come out and play in the rain. When the rain had a brief stall, we cleaned the bird-feeder and the bird-bath. We checked the bushes and found dozens of green shield bugs and ladybirds. I’m very pleased that they survived the winter and are coming out of hibernation.
I spent the evening baking an iced chocolate tray-bake, a signature cake from the acclaimed baker, Mary Berry. It was very easy, very rich and I think I was successful in my first try. Mind you, I’d never attempt icing before and it turned out ok.
Mary Berry Iced Chocolate Tray-bake
4 tbsp cocoa powder
225g butter, softened
225g caster sugar
275g self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
4 large eggs
4 tbsp milk
For the icing and decoration
4 tbsp apricot jam
200g plain chocolate, with 150g broken into pieces
350g icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp sunflower oil
Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a 30x25cm tray-bake and line the base with baking paper.
Mix cocoa powder with 4 tbsp. of hot water, until smooth; cool. In a large bowl beat cocoa with remaining cake ingredients, until well-blended. Turn into cake tin and level the top.
Bake 30 mins. Cool.
Warm jam and brush all over cold cake.
In a pan, gently melt 150g chocolate pieces with 6 tbsp. water until smooth. Cool and beat with icing sugar and oil.Spread over cake with palette knife. Grate remaining chocolate over cake, Cut into pieces after 30 mins.
March is an in between month when wintry winds are high.
But milder days remind us all
Spring is coming by and by