Just as we all feared, here we are going into lockdown 2.0. This time around we are not filled with the promise of spring or the unexpected warmth of the sun. Gone is the belief that one day soon all this horror will be over. This is the lockdown that will really test our reserves of strength and resourcefulness. At this distance, there is no knowing whether we will be able to celebrate Christmas to any degree and so at the risk of sounding like my mum, I’m afraid we shall just have to make the best of it.
Is this really so bad? At this time of year, most of us don’t spend quite so much time outside anyway and the thought of being able to hunker down, light the fire and watch the drizzle from the comfort of your sofa surely isn’t too horrible. From a gardener’s point of view this also means lots of planning time, along with oodles of empty afternoons in which to prepare for the onset of spring. This might mean cleaning and sharpening all your tools, washing the seed trays, tidying the shed or just writing a fantasy shopping list from all those enticing garden catalogues that slither through your letter box during the colder months. Optimism has to be the key to managing this winter incarceration, she says brightly!
Personally I have only just finished dealing with all the garden produce and foraged harvest so a bit of a breather is welcome. The last of the crops resulted in a cheeky quince and chilli jelly and an awful lot of peeled and frozen sweet chestnuts. Obviously chestnuts are a complete nightmare to peel and many hours (and fingernails) can be lost to this particular pastime. They do, however, add a real kick of winter loveliness to almost anything. I will use these for stuffing, puddings, pan-fried with sprouts and even ice cream. There is nothing quite like the satisfaction of knowing that the freezer is packed to the gunnels, and for once it has nothing to do with Ocado. If I’m brutally honest, there are still some Bramley apples that need salvaging from the tree and storing in the apple rack but as long as I get there before the next storm, all will be well. Mr P is rolling his eyes in exasperation too, as the windfalls have still not made their way to our friend’s pigs as our contribution to the next batch of sausages but he must realise that a woman only has one pair of hands
On that very subject, this is the first year when I stand a chance of a) being organised and b)not being stressed, come Christmas Eve. With all this time to shop online for considered and thoughtful presents, wrap them tastefully and deliver them in time, life should be a breeze. Whilst there may not be as much call for menu planning this year, a few discreet home-made and rustic decorations might well be in order, in keeping with the downscaled year that we seem to be having.