Finally, finally warm spring weather has arrived. It's come later this year and in fact at the beginning of the season, in March, snow brought the country to a standstill - and prevented me and my friend from getting to Wembley to see the Stereophonics which we were most upset about, but that'a a whole other story. After the late start spring seemed to appear overnight with trees and flowers blossoming, grass looking greener and lusher thanks to the April showers, and birds singing merrily - take a look at the video I took of the dawn chorus on my Instagram page. The sun is now shining gloriously and it's so wonderfully warm you could be forgiven for thinking we've skipped spring and moved straight into summertime.
Having been pretty much out of the social media world for several years I came back to a changed landscape and found myself a little out of touch when it came to platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram. I haven't really explored the former and don't have much curiosity for it but I've really taken to Instagram. However I quickly realised that users have really upped their game and the photographs I was scrolling through were in another league altogether. Looking back at my own Instagram feed I had a little sinking feeling as I realised that my iPhone snapshots, often with the unmistakeable yellow tinge from harsh indoor lighting, were not going to cut it if I wanted to reach a wider audience.
I think us Brits can be forgiven for getting a little over excited when we get get hot weather as we get such little of it, relatively speaking. I guess we appreciate it all the more because of that, and we know to make the most of it while it lasts as it's so fleeting in the UK. Although we are now in sunny springtime there is a good reason for the phrase 'April showers' so the last thing we were expecting was a heatwave, especially as we had snow just a few weeks back, but that's exactly what we've had. It was surprising but very welcome and just what we've needed - everything is just so much better when the sun is shining. Shorts come out from the back of wardrobes, music blares out of open car windows, shops get ransacked for barbecue food, it's fabulous!
This year hasn't been as I'd anticipated so far, getting off to something of a false start for me. As last year drew to a close I had to say goodbye to a dear friend, my cousin-in-law's father, when he sadly passed away. Unfortunately this was to be the first of several bereavements, the next being an uncle at the beginning of the new year and then my own father at the end of January, the latter throwing me into a turmoil with not only the grief to deal with but also a funeral to arrange and my father's affairs to sort out.
Whoa, that was a bumpy sleigh ride this Christmas. May I pass on a little word of advice? Don't move home three weeks before Christmas. In fact, don't move at all in December. Especially not if you are hosting Christmas. Which is exactly what I did. I am actually very happy to be in my new home and happy that I was in just in time for Christmas but, my goodness, it was hard work. I was lucky to have a lot of help from family on the move weekend and I took a week off work so that I could get things organised but I was still unpacking, sorting and organising right up to the big day. Then there were the utilities and services to sort out and change of address notifications. I still have more to do but the main things are sorted.
Lemons were the first thing that came to my mind when I thought of this series. They are one of my favourite ingredients, adding refreshing, bright, zesty flavour to such a wide range of dishes, both sweet and savoury. I love their fresh smell and sharp taste and most often use them just as they are, squeezed over lightly poached salmon fillets, rice dishes or salads. They will always very simply and easily liven up a dish.