Has the sun got his hat on?

If you’re like me, you have probably turned down the central heating already, swapped your winter woollies and wellies for spring blouses and sandals and put the log baskets back in the shed..

March 2012 was a positively tropical month… well it certainly set records in history… with the warmest March since 1997 and the sunniest March since 1929. A new record temperature for Scotland was achieved in Aboyne, Aberdeenshire reaching a scorching 23.6!

Despite several counties now in drought â the worst national water shortage since 1976, some of us have been âblessedâ with the odd April Shower…. One of the major causes of the often heavy downpours is the position of the jet stream. In early spring, the jet stream starts to move northwards, allowing large depressions to bring strong winds and rain in from the Atlantic. In one day the weather can change from springtime sunshine to winter sleet and snow. The track of these depressions can often be across Ireland and Scotland bringing bands of rain followed by heavy showers (often of hail or snow) and strong blustery winds.

So where does this leave us at home and at work? If you are in a hose pipe ban area, you will be needing watering cans and jugs in order to water the garden and pot plants in the office and home.

If you are lucky enough to have an open fire or wood burner, you will need to ring the coal man and bring the log basket in from the shed… This said, my family and I had a BBQ at the weekend and we were all huddled around that. We could have done with a matches box though, as we ours had got wet! Mum was certainly glad of her tablecloth weights – They were definitely a talking point!

 

Gardening is all about trowel and error…

If March was too cold and if the start of April was a bit of a wash out, now is the time to pick up the fork and seize the moment. April is a good time to be in the garden. The soil is warming up, and spring is on its way! There is no such thing as an absolute set date for a job in gardening, for a start temperatures vary according to where you are in the countryâ Winter will come earlier to Scotland than to Devon.

There is quite a lot to be done in the garden in April, especially if March has not been suitable. Hedges will need tidying up after the long winter,(check for bird nests before starting) and decking and woodwork needs re-painting. Timber frames and trellis will need treating too. Tidy up and scrub down patios, being careful not to use too much water. It may be worth investing in some water butts if this water shortage is set to stay – any rain water we do receive is worth storing up.

Now is the time to start mowing the lawn too; gradually lowering the height of the cut as spring progresses. Weeds need attending to and hoeing in the borders, as well as adding mulch and compost to your borders and pots.

It is also the time of year to be getting your potatoes into containers, tomatoes started off from seed, parsley coriander and basil are all ready to be planted out in the greenhouse if you have one,or the windowsill if you don’t.

Pot up rooted cuttings and young plants.

It is a busy time but hopefully a productive one for you…

 

What really makes us British?

St George’s Day is just weeks away (23rd April), and with the Queen’s real birthday on the horizon too, I got thinking about all things British. What is it that sets us apart? What makes us British? We are renowned for queuing up and moaning about the weather, but there must be something else that makes our little island stand out from the crowd?

Afternoon tea is a small meal snack typically eaten between 2pm and 5pm. The custom of afternoon tea originated in England in the 1840s. At the time, the various classes in England had a divergence in their eating habits. The upper classes typically ate luncheon at about midday and dinner (if not eschewed in favor of the later supper) at 8:00 pm or later, while the lower classes ate dinner at about 11:00 am and then a light supper at around 7:00 pm. For both groups, afternoon tea filled a gap in the meals. The custom spread throughout the British Empire and beyond in succeeding decades. However, changes in social customs and working hours mean that most 21st Century Britons will rarely take afternoon tea, if at all.

Elevenses is a snack that is similar to afternoon tea, but eaten in the morning. It is generally less savoury than brunch, and might consist of some cake or biscuits with a cup of coffee or tea. The name refers to the time of day that it is taken: around 11am. The term is first attested, in East Anglia, as elevens (1849), elevenses appearing first in the record in 1889. Along with fourses, it seems originally to have been a lower-class usage, but by the middle of the twentieth century was associated with middle class language and culture.

Fish and Chips – The dish became popular in wider circles in London and South East England in the middle of the 19th century (Charles Dickens mentions a “fried fish warehouse” in Oliver Twist, first published in 1838), while in the north of England a trade in deep-fried chipped potatoes developed. The first chip shop stood on the present site of Oldham’s Tommyfield Market. It remains unclear exactly when and where these two trades combined to become the fish-and-chip shop industry we know today. Joseph Malin opened the first recorded combined fish-and-chip shop in London in 1860 or in 1865, while a Mr Lees pioneered the concept in the North of England, in Mossley, in 1863.

Tennis (and cloudy lemonade) Wimbledon (25 June – 8 July in 2012), is the oldest tennis tournament in the world, considered by many to be the most prestigious. It has been held at the All England Club in Wimbledon, London since 1877. It is one of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments, the other three Majors being the Australian Open, French Open and US Open. Wimbledon is the only Major still played on grass, the game’s original surface, which gave the game of lawn tennis its name. The tournament takes place over two weeks in late June and early July, culminating with the Ladies’ and Gentlemen’s Singles Final, scheduled respectively for the second Saturday and Sunday. Each year, five major events are contested, as well as four junior events and three invitational events.

The Queen – Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; born 21 April 1926[note 1]) is the constitutional monarch of 16 sovereign states known as the Commonwealth realms, and head of the 54-member Commonwealth of Nations. In her specific role as the monarch of the United Kingdom, one of her 16 realms, she is also Supreme Governor of the Church of England. Elizabeth was born in London, and educated privately at home. Her father acceded to the throne as George VI in 1936 on the abdication of his brother Edward VIII. She began to undertake public duties during the Second World War, in which she served in the Auxiliary Territorial Service. On the death of her father in 1952, she became Head of the Commonwealth and queen regnant of seven independent Commonwealth countries: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan, and Ceylon. Her coronation service in 1953 was the first to be televised.

All information courtesy of Wikipedia.