Where is the year going? It’s nearly April and we are a third of the way through 2018 which seems hard to believe. For me, March has been filled with highs and lows and much in between so my title “Marvellous March” hasn’t always rung true.
Let me talk first about the snow. What a way to start the month. There is an old saying that I remember my Nan quoting to me. “March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb.” How true that saying has been. The lions roar bringing the snow and freezing temperatures. The south west of England was hit particularly hard and even though we knew it was coming the nation as a whole seemed ill prepared. For me, I just wanted to carry on as normal. Teach my ballet classes and go about my usual routine but this was taken away from me. My ballet classes were cancelled and when visiting the local shops I found empty shelves because of panic buyers. Of course, I agree with the age-old scout motto “be prepared” but crikey, panic buying for two or three days of snow is crazy! Why does a foot of snow close everything down? I could have worked if roads were gritted for my students to get to class. I travel everywhere on foot so for me it’s doubly frustrating because I could get where I needed to go but I was unable to physically teach. I am pretty sure that the whole of Scandinavia and Canada were secretly laughing at us. They have temperatures of minus 25 degrees and still manage to go about their daily routine. There are NO snow days in Canada according to a Canadian resident on BBC breakfast news. I didn’t want to take three snow days. I am self-employed. Maybe if extreme weather conditions are to become more normal we should all ‘man up’ and get our wellies on and do our bit to clear the roads and pathways so that life can carry on as normal?
That was my low but golly, that first evening of snowfall created such a pretty scene. I renamed Exeter, Narnia.
St David’s Day
You might remember my Burns night celebrations back in January. If not click here for a reminder. Well, it was that night that my guests and I decided that we would aim to celebrate as many national holidays of Great Britain as possible. St David’s day is celebrated on the 1st March. The day that the heavens opened and dumped a load of snow on Devon and ironically the first day of spring! Unfortunately, due to the snow, it was unsafe for my stepdad Tim to join us but Serena who lives a stone’s throw away still managed to get to Tara’s Busy Kitchen HQ. After a bit of research, I couldn’t find a specific meal that is cooked to celebrate the day but went down the welsh ingredient route instead. Leeks were a highlight with welsh cheddar as another. I was on the hunt for Caerphilly cheese but was limited to what I could find due to the snow. We warmed ourselves with leek and potato soup with leek and welsh cheddar bruschetta. Serena made the most delicious spiced Welsh honey cakes. Despite the chilly weather outside we were warm and cosy inside and had a fabulous night.
National pasty week and St Piran’s Day
The first few days of March fell in National Pasty week as did St Piran’s Day. In keeping with celebrating and embracing special days, Steve and I ate Cornish pasties as a nod to the first day of Cornish spring.
St Patrick’s day
I celebrated St Patricks Day a few days late with Steve, Serena and Tim. Like I said in my St David’s day roundup we plan to celebrate as many British national holidays as possible this year. It’s a great way of exploring different foods and combinations that you might not normally have. Thanks to Burns night I now have a love for vegetarian haggis! Who’d have thought!
After doing a little research on my menu choices and venturing away from the American way of celebrating by just making green food, I chose to poach haddock and serve it with mashed potatoes, greens and a poached egg. Steve and Tim were on drinks duties. Obviously, Guinness was served alongside the Irish whisky. Serena made a wonderful bread and butter pudding for dessert and of course, there was some good Irish cheddar to round things off nicely! Irish music played in the background to set the scene and a little jig may have been danced!
My friends Karin and Janis own a kitchen design shop called Berloni in Princesshay, Exeter. I popped along with some friends to celebrate National Waffle Day in style. Using their fully functional showroom kitchen I whipped up waffles and served them with lashings of cream, berries, Nutella and every kind of sprinkles and syrups. I can’t tell you how tasty the waffles were and how much fun we all had. We are planning our next event in store as I write so look out for that!
Independents in Exeter
It’s my plan over the next few weeks and months to highlight Exeter’s independents. All the shops, cafes and restaurants that I frequent on a regular basis that I feel you should know about. Most of them have online services too so if you don’t live in the area you can still shop and support the indies. My first post in this series highlights Sancho’s. A fab boutique stocking ethically made clothing, accessories and gifts. Click here to read all about my visit.
My March has been pretty marvellous despite the snowy conditions. I have had the opportunity to visit some wonderful independent businesses, shoot some amazing photos with Angel Wade and spend time with my loved ones over delicious food. Watch out for blog posts coming up on NGNG, Lorna Ruby and the Magdalen Road as well as more recipes, reviews and lifestyle posts in April. I have a feeling that it’s going to be a busy month. I can’t wait to share my Amazing April with you!
Additional photographs by Angel Wade and Chantelle Bridgman.