I’ve been finding an awful lot of happiness lately in a collection of little things that, totted up, equate to the sum of a wonderful start to the Spring.
For Mother’s Day (which coincides rather nicely with my mum’s birthday), I set our table at the flat for the season and invited my mum round for a special tea. I always have great fun setting up for an afternoon spread, bringing out most of my tea time collectables for the occasion. Yes, I do indeed serve sugar from a tiny pot shaped like a raccoon! The cakes were shop bought locally, but, I set myself the task of baking the perfect scones for the main event… I followed this recipe to the letter and was not disappointed by Jane Hornby’s classic recipe! I deviated slightly by shaping the dough into one big round, which I then roughly quartered for four rather generously size, which worked a treat with all the trimmings. Mum was delighted by her surprise and it was the perfect opportunity to enjoy our springtime decorations! Depending on the season, I dress the table accordingly – and it never fails to make me smile.
Somewhere in-between Mother’s Day and Easter, Darren and I were given a gorgeous day to explore our village (Watlington in Oxfordshire). We went on a circular walk, stopping for an ice cream on the way and ended up in the park opposite our flat. There was a charity fete on, which gave us the perfect opportunity to enjoy a homemade cookie each in the sunshine. I always make the habit of popping into our local charity shop, a place that is always laid out so beautifully and was pleased to find a few bits and pieces to add to our study that evening!
For Easter Day, we were truly blessed with heavenly weather of Mediterranean July proportions. My mum hosted an Easter Lunch for Darren and my grandparents, followed by an Easter tea party in the afternoon for my aunt, cousins and family to enjoy. Happily, the famed lunch crunch pie made an appearance for lunch – along with the leftover stuffing from Christmas, which my grandma deep freezes to be brought out again once the weather thaws. Darren and I were gifted a vintage picnic hamper, equipped for four, with two tickets to the Cotswold Wildlife park for us to enjoy at a later date.
Later on in the afternoon, mum arranged an Easter egg hunt (for little Billie especially) in our garden – and there was something of a mad rush for us to find all the chocolate before it melted in the high sun! Billie, my littlest and dearest cousin, was delighted by the game and her laughter was truly infectious.
For the remainder of the afternoon, we all made the most of an early taste of the summer – well spent with good company in a lovely garden! This month, I’ve been reading about the Medieval English Garden, which has given me a much greater appreciation for the power of carefully tended surroundings. I was quite taken with the idea that once expelled from Eden (biblically speaking), man was tasked with working hard to get little pieces of paradise back – we do have a duty to make the world beautiful and I now can’t wait to have a garden of my own; which I’ll most likely lay out historically!
I was very thankful for the time spent out in the garden with my family – it meant a lot considering that I’d felt a little lost lately in-between jobs. I’m fortunate enough to have the most amazing network of support and a family who rallies round to celebrate the good things together. My boyfriend commented on how he loves that we make a big deal out of each and every holiday on the calendar; any excuse for a good old fashioned gathering really!
For Bank Holiday Monday, we visited my favourite country house – Basildon Park. The library had been dressed for filming, which proved to be an especially tantalising set given that the title hadn’t been named! A few members of staff suspected a Victorian piece, judging on the lamps, but, it’s all guess work from there! In the kitchens, we found a lovely example of a family picnic basket and sampled some Easter baking.
The star of the show? Basildon’s gardens: Fully in bloom and absolutely stunning! I was able to discover my new favourite flower thanks to a little detective work from the National Trust – the wildly exotic orange bell-like blooms that you see pictured are Fritillaria imperialis Aurora (Crown Imperial Fritillary) and I have the suspicion that given the chance myself, I’d be planting them in their hundreds.
Spring is a time of change and, oftentimes, those changes can be the most positive ones to be experienced. For the past four years, I’d worked in an office, marketing. In early April, I decided that I needed a break for the sake of my mental health – the type of marketing that I was doing at that time had been B2B in an office and, I often found myself tired and/or with a migraine having been sat behind a screen for most of the day. It turns out, this didn’t quite suit me – and that’s ok. Having put my office based marketing hat down, I was able to re-centre in on my lifetime interests – all of which circle around heritage and learning. Whilst I study my masters in the Country House, I want to do something that makes me happy – with lots of life, people and a dose of creativity. I’m pleased to say that having taken the jump, I managed to find just that! I’ve started at the Oxford Natural History Museum, working in the Museum Shop and, so far, I love it. It’s very much a change of pace now that I’m on my feet and not tied to a phone or computer and it’s proving to be healing for my mental health. I feel that what I’m doing is worth doing as it adds to a worthy experience for myself and others; it’s honestly a delight seeing visitors enjoy the space and comment positively on our shop, which is something of a gem!
I do hope that you’ve had as wonderful an Easter and wish you all lovely things for the months to come. As for She Noted, you can expect to enjoy a variety of historical content as usual! Thank you so much for your continued love and support.