ice

petals in ice

Years ago, I saw a picture in a magazine of a beautiful bowl made from flowers and leaves encased in ice. But beautiful as it was, it seemed fairly unusable. Surely it would melt too quickly leaving a soggy mess. Then I found pictures of ethereal ice glasses with delicate flowers suspended in a ghostly sheath, but I thought if the ice was too thin they’d leak and supposing they were so cold that your lips stuck to the ice. Ouch. Instead, I made ice cubes with flowers in them and with raspberries or thin strips of lemon peel but still the idea of ice bowls and glasses hovered.

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Of course in the end, as spring flowers start to appear along with thoughts of languorous summer days ahead, I had to try making ice glasses. I put a little water into the bottom of a glass and froze it, to make the base. Then I put a slightly smaller glass inside, poked flowers down the sides, filled the gap with water and froze again before releasing the glasses with hot water to leave an ice shaped glass. But they’re very slippery and very cold and hopelessly impractical.

iced plastic cups

Using plastic glasses might work for a small party if the outer plastic glass was left in place to make it more comfortable to hold. They could be made well in advance, would look pretty and drinks would be ready iced.

ice blocks

Far more practical though is a decorated ice block. To quote Dorcas Lane, my one weakness is … a gin and tonic before Sunday dinner. I’m fussy though.  I have preferences for certain gins and don’t like flat or diet tonic water. Most importantly, a good gin and tonic needs plenty of ice. My father in law didn’t add ice because he thought it diluted the drink and when I once asked my mother in law if she had some ice, she thought someone had sprained something and I was looking for an ice pack. But use plenty of ice and drink fast enough and dilution isn’t a problem.  A silicone fairy cake mould is ideal for making a good sized ice block (or hot chocolate block) and a much better use for these wretched things than baking when they twist and bulge and produce odd shaped cakes. A flower or slice of lemon dropped into the water makes them look decorative and as they’re large, the blocks take ages to melt. Altogether more practical than an ice glass, though not quite so beautiful or fragile looking.

spring?

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We’ve just had two whole days of sunshine. Has spring arrived? The daffodils are blooming, the first of the primroses alongside the bridleway are flowering and I found violets nestled in the undergrowth. Maybe, just maybe, it’s spring time.

rolling Gt Forest

Over the weekend, Bill was busy on the tractor (rolling the wheat, spraying and fertiliser spreading) and everyone else was away so yesterday I had the day to myself. A little sunshine is wonderfully galvanising.

The dogs were walked though it’s not very relaxing as I’ve been dog sitting so have three extra dogs to stay; two of them run off into the distance, one keeps reasonably close and the other, Maud  a short and stout Jack Russell looking rather like Queen Victoria, walks at a snail’s pace. Then a quick clean of the chicken shed, though a contretemps with a broom handle and the nesting box as I climbed over a small partition resulted in my feet staying firmly on the ground one side of the partition while my top half carried forward. As I pivoted on my shins and headed face down to the floor, the thought that flashed through my mind was that at least I’d just cleaned that side. Brushed down, with one slightly twisted knee and thankful that nobody was looking, I decided to retreat inside for more ladylike pastimes and with no-one to roll their eyes or mutter under their breath “too much time on your hands”, I baked and played about with flowers and leaves.

spring cake

Above, a spring lemon cake with white leaves. Alas my domestic goddess frivolities were broken when Bill returned. We have problems with pigeons eating the oilseed rape and added to that, now have people driving across the fields to steal the gas cylinders from the scarers. Sometimes it all gets a little depressing and when Bill challenged me to guess what he’d found in the field, I was a little wary.  Well, he could have given me a hundred guesses and I still wouldn’t have got it right, because there was a rhea in the field! Yes, a rhea, wandering around the fields of Essex. I wonder if they eat pigeons.