marmalade, snowdrops and a steampunk R2D2

One of the (few) nice things about this time of year is the availability of Seville oranges. I like to make marmalade from lemons and grapefruits too, but there is something special about Seville oranges. Perhaps it is partly the fact that they have such a limited season…rather like making hay while the sun shines, only there is no hay and very limited sunshine (just lots and lots and lots of rain).

I am a big fan of Gloria Nicol’s book ‘Fruits of the Earth’ and so usually use her method of covering oranges with water in a lidded casserole and baking in the oven, putting pith, pips etc in a muslin bag, slicing the rind and boiling it up with sugar. That is how I made my first batch. Then I stumbled upon Sophie James’ blog Stories From the Stove. The photos made me drool and she writes so warmly. Sophie uses the Delia method – juicing, de-pithing and slicing the rind, adding water, letting it stand over night, then letting it all simmer together before boiling it up with sugar. For the sake of scientific experimentation, I felt I needed to make a second batch to try it out. The full recipe is in Sophie’s blog.

My usual method produces a darker, richer marmalade – which I do enjoy – but the brighter, zestier taste of this second method is delicious, and it is a little easier to slice the rind more finely. I think I may be converted…

For once today, the golden warmth has come not only from the mountain of jars of marmalade in my kitchen, but from actual sunshine. I was not alone spotting that today was the only sunny day forecast for the foreseeable future, so Mark and I joined the throngs filling their lungs with fresh air and recovering from the endless storms. My knees are a bit rubbish at the moment, so we needed somewhere flat (and not too muddy) so headed to one of our favourite haunts…Lacock Abbey. The light was deeply golden, as though the air was gaseous honey, and even the snowdrops and crocus seemed to know they only had one day to soak up the rays. Always a beautiful place, today it was the garden of Eden…oh except that Darth Vader was standing outside collecting for charity (saying no did not seem like a viable option!) and there was a dalek and K9 and a steam-powered R2D2 and, if I may say so, Darth Maul is a far nicer chap than people make him out to be!

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We often see this little cat in the grounds of Lacock Abbey – sometimes he is very vocal, but today I think he had spotted something in the undergrowth and had no interest in human visitors.

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I have loads of photos of the tree of light in the apple orchard, but I couldn’t resist just one or two more…!

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Mark and I have a very fair relationship: I am a sports widow…and he is a photography widower (he even carries around my camera bag and lenses for me) and patiently waits for me to catch up, only very rarely wondering if I really need more shots of bees…or snowdrops…or the tree of light.IMGP0041

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Mark is also very good at spotting things I might otherwise have missed, like this beautiful funghi.

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I spotted the light on these ivy leaves all on my own!

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Usually beyond the ha-ha lies pasture land where local dogs and their owners frolic freely. After all the rain and storms, there is now a lake…but the dogs didn’t seem to mind.IMGP0079

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I was very restrained in the cloisters and refused to let myself take all the same shots I always take…just a few shadows.

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Ah, the light umbrella…a few more photos couldn’t do any harm!

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Oh look…more snowdrops!

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There are signs everywhere asking people to keep to the paths and not step on the bulbs, but this little one was too young to read, and looked so cute, who could be cross?

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Darth Maul teaches a young lady to pose for the camera.

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K9 meets canine and family.

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Dalek makes new friends.

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A walk through the village only to find there was no space at King John’s Hunting Lodge (never fear, we tracked down a panini at the Whitehall garden centre).

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Spotted this couple watching the tourists wander past.

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Back past the abbey only to be greeted by a steampunk R2D2; wow can I have one???

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Back home to find our home-grown crocus (and cats) are also showing off in the sunshine.

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6 Comments

Filed under baking, garden, places to visit

6 responses to “marmalade, snowdrops and a steampunk R2D2

  1. Anonymous

    Well on this very wet Monday afternoon I must say I have thoroughly enjoyed your superb photographs, makes you realise Spring is around the corner and we certainly live in a beautiful country ! Thanks Susan for sharing x

  2. How lovely to visit Lacock – even if it’s “just” via photos – it’s certainly lovely also in Springtime! Those dogs look as if they are having a really good time! Hampus and I have just come back from a muddy, wet walk just like that (but with less flowers).

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