Sunday 30th January
This afternoon we walk through the rounded mounds and dells of a two thousand year old hill fort. The carpet of dead beech leaves beneath our boots is crusted with ice. I imagine the people who lived here were cold all the time. Except for those furs of course.
Back home my husband fetches the ladder from the shed and sets it up in the flower bed which has been scratched into a random pattern of heaps by the pussy cat - his current loo. We work together along the fence, hacking at mile long wands of winter jasmine, cutting through the tangle of honeysuckle which is breaking into little leaf already, and pulling out the thicket of ivy embedded in the wood panels. For brief moments the sun warms the knotted muscles in my neck as I reach up with my secateurs, or bend down into the dankness of the soil, rooting out brambles.
When it’s nearly dark, or dimpsy as they say in Devon, and the sky is washed the colour of peach skins, I leave my husband to gather up the jungle of cuttings into the middle of the lawn, and come inside to the warm, bright kitchen. I wonder what they cooked for supper on a cold January night in that hill fort. I want our veggies to roast quickly so I cut them into small chunks no bigger than walnuts - a carrot and a potato, a sweet potato and a parsnip and a juicy red onion. I toss them in finely chopped rosemary from the darkening garden, lots of garlic, sea salt and olive oil and a few splashes of balsamic vinegar.
Their sweet herby aroma seeps under the kitchen door and finds us on the sofa with the fire turned up high in the grate, a bowl of salted cashew nuts on the table and a scrabble board laid out between us. And two dictionaries to check the spellings of words we know and the ones we don’t.