The Way Back… April and May

Well, it’s nearly the end of May and I missed a month for a whole bunch of reasons. I wanted to have a record of everything I’ve done with The Way Back this year, so I’m sharing April and May in one go.

April was an absolute blur for us. We had a week away visiting our family, picked up our new puppy, had our new kitchen fitted and then had to have it fixed when it was all wrong. The house was upside down and I had no time or energy to focus on blogging. May started off better but then covid caught us. It floored me for a wee while and gave me a delightful chest infection. I am trying to get back to some kind of normal routine (in life and blogging) but I’m making no promises.

April saw some slightly warmer weather and lots of little signs of spring. I saw the lambs frolicking in my sister’s fields whilst staying there. We had a great time visiting with family and spending time with our niece and nephew before bringing our new pup home. We took walks down the lane and day trips to the lakes to an animal park (where we saw bats, sadly none spotted in the wold though), and segwaying through a forest. It was a lot of fun.

May is always one of my favourite months; the weather is getting warmer, the flowers are out, everything is lush and green. It’s also our wedding anniversary so something nice to celebrate. We often go to the lakes around our anniversary and I love wandering through the forests there with all the bluebells and the wild garlic, although we haven’t been this year and covid has kept us from travelling. It’s been lovely to sit out in the garden enjoying the sunshine and the birds though.

My journey with the skies is going less well. We did not manage to see the Lyrids in April or the Eta Aquarids in May. The weather was not up to it on either occasion. I live in hope that one day I will get to see some space trash in real life.

We’re continuing our seed subscription whilst we learn what works for us. April’s seeds were cornflowers, courgetttes and carrots. These are yet to be planted at the time of writing this as they say to sow outdoors in late May / early June and since there’s been no space in the house because of the work being done, that’s what I plan to do. We did add some lettuces, mangetout and fruit bushes which we picked up at a garden centre to give the garden a boost. Half the mangetout are dying off already having been repeatedly dug up and pooped on by a cat, but I have some mesh over them now so fingers crossed some survive. I also used an old pallette to build a herb planter, which I was ridiculously proud of.

May’s seeds are cucumber, basil and french beans which I am looking forward to growing. Some of these will be planet up and started off indoors and others ideally need a greenhouse. I’m lucky to have space to put a little one in the garden, so that’s my next outdoors job (I just need to get rid of this chest infection so I can move and breathe at the same time!) I potted on some tomatoes into bigger pots ready to keep growing, and one of the chilli plants too. The peashoots are going strong outdoors and the chives are finally taking off! I’ve also planted some strawberries. I’ve harvested and used a couple of spring onions and some of the peashoots in a salad. It’s very satisfying getting to use things you grew yourself.

April’s in season recipe was smashed jersey royals. They were absolutely delightful, but I scoffed them before managing to take a photo. I love new potatoes and would definitely make these again.

I fear this next comment will have you disowning me, but I do not like banana bread and so haven’t made the May recipe. I am sorry, I just have a thing about ripe bananas. I don’t enjoy the taste or the texture, so banana bread isn’t the one for me. I do have plants to attempt a loaf cake in a similar fashion replacing the mashed banana with stewed apple and will do this when I’m feeling brighter.

April’s in the home suggestion was feeding the birds. I have a head-start on this as we’ve had a bird feeder in the garden for a little while. We have some regular visitors, coal tits, blackbirds, magpies and crows. I love seeing them visit the garden and will definitely keep feeding them.

May ‘s suggestions were for cleaning things. I have made a similar vodka spray before, so didn’t make it purely because I have other things for cleaning in the house – my new wooden worktops will accept nothing stronger than soap and water, and I use bicarb (which I get from our local refill shop) for cleaning in the bathroom. I do also have an antibacterial spray (I get sachets that you dissolve into water to minimise the impact) because my poorly functioning immune system needs it, especially at the times of year when there are a lot of bugs doing the rounds. I did really want to try toilet fizzers though so have made a batch of those which are currently hardening and I am excited to see how these turn out.

In April, we used our phones to take pictures of the things we saw in nature. I’ve always been a big photo taker, so this was no great hardship for me. I definitely found I was looking out more for interesting things spotted in the wild.

In May, I downloaded Leafsnap and used it to help me identify some plants nearby, although some I already knew, but it’s always nice to have it confirmed that you’re right. Now I am on a mission to find all sorts of random plants in the outdoors to identify so I can call them their names and not “that pretty blue one”.

April’s caring for yourself was sugar scrub. I have no photos of making this and you certainly don’t need photos of me sloughing off my demon skin with it. Suffice it to say that I loved this (I scented it with peppermint oil) and I will definitely be making this again in future. I might keep a wee jar by the shower for whenever I need to shed a layer of skin.

In May, we made flower crowns. I wanted to do this as resourcefully as I could as I don’t have much cause to wear a crown of artificial flowers so I decided to make one with real flowers that. I collected a lot of these teeny white flowers on a walk (which Leafsnap has kindly informed me are cow parsley). It grows everywhere here. The pup (Wanda) is a slow walker and likes to sniff absolutely everything, so I used one of our walks to collect all the broken off or bent stems of cow parsley and took them home. I plaited them into some jute string I had in the house and made, what I think, is a pretty cool crown.

I’m going to preface this by saying I have not been in the best headspace for reading books in recent weeks. My love of a good, magical, middle grade book has come to the fore as that’s all I can bring myself to concentrate on, so whilst I found both these books hard going at the time, I suspect this says more about my foggy brain than it does the books.

April’s read was The Bees by Laline Paul. I loved the premise of this and having a story from the perspective of a bee. I struggled to get into this in the printed version, but enjoyed it much more once I switched to the audiobook. I had no idea that bees were so brutal.

I’m still working through May’s read, The Grassling by Elizabeth-Jane Burnett. I’m finding it very wordy and a little lost about what’s going on, though the descriptions of nature are beautiful and I really enjoyed the part where the author is digging for clay. I think this is one I would enjoy a lot more were my head not filled with cotton wool.

I never had a desire to see skylarks until I read this, so never let it be said Mel isn’t an influencer. I loved reading Catherine Johnson’s section about her relationship with nature and her sense of being on a horse letting her forget about everything else. I don’t have that relationship with horses, but I love the idea of it giving a different perspective on life.

Despite having taken part in my fair share of May day celebrations (dressing up as a flower girl for a May queen and taking part in endless parades in a variety of fancy dress), I have never heard of Jack in the green. I love learning new things and traditions and this is once that really intrigued me.

I adored this month’s present voice, the wonderful Alice Broadway, one of my all time favourite humans. I definitely identified with having a strained relationship with the outdoors at times; there are a lot of circumstances where I would rather be indoors. Alice’s outdoor teacup which is referenced here is something that saved my sanity during the first lockdown and I found taking part in it a true joy – I must start doing this again.

And that’s this month (and last) over. There’s more The Way Back excitement in June with a book and some recipes I am excited to try.

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