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Spring at last

After the long cold shiver of winter the warmth has brought the world to life.  The morello cherry tree budded in time for a drastic hair cut, sacrificing this years fruit but I couldn't reach last years so it will be worth it.

The frogs and toads have of course been active, the annual toad run once again coincided with the half term holiday and increased traffic but most got to the pond with a little help from a bucket.  The spawn was hit by frosts but there is so much of it, what died was eaten by the frog tadpoles that had already hatched.

The only active butterflies are the hibernating ones, peacock and tortoiseshell although some of the tortoiseshell ones look quite pristine.  Lots of huge bumble bees but their nests are been dug out by  badgers who are seemingly more active than in previous years.  It will be interesting to see if they attack the beehive I am hoping to have colonised this spring.

While inspecting the rhubarb I disturbed a pair of lizards, then once you get your eye in there are loads, I hope they are hungry the flies are becoming a menace warming themselves on every shrub then rising like a swarm of bees........well at least sounding like one.

On a cooking front, I have been joined by Kate to help with the veg  prep, after a month she is already fed up with limes although only afflicted one morning a week.  We are making it for Fortnum and Mason under their own label and hopefully it should be in the store by May.  All chutney needs at least a month of resting to let the flavours meld but the lime pickle justs gets better the longer it is kept.  I found a jar, best before 2005 (one of the first I made and given a 2 year shelf life) it is fabulous and mellow always worth smelling and tasting a chutney before throwing it away!

We are also making a range of seasonal chutneys for Fortnums, the first two are gooseberry and elderflower and rhubarb and orange for Spring.  The idea is to use locally grown seasonal fruit and vegetables.......summer is a little more problematic as everyone does Summer and I have to think of something different that works.  Carrot and coriander is a work in progress!

Just seen a carder bee, the first of the season, I have to go outside, the potatoes need to be planted and the final dead cane cut from the loganberries, long may the warmer weather last!

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