I love this time of year. You may think this is an odd statement from a gardening girl but I love the stillness, the peacefulness. I feel no need to step outdoors other than to harvest the sprouts. Yesterday I watched the sun go down at a ridiculously early hour, as I watched, that infamous carol ‘In the bleak mid winter’ popped into my head. There were no frosty winds to speak of nor was the water frozen. The ground was more mush than iron and there wasn’t, much to my disappointment, any snow. But the landscape was bleak, yet it was a bleakness that captured my soul. There is a peacefulness about the bare landscape at this time of year. The trees stand stark against the sky like an illustrators handy work. This years favoured flowers, now spent, hide underground, preparing to emerge resplendent when the time comes. Tiny insects and mammals lie cocooned in their hibernation, sleeping softly, biding their time. In our own way we too cosy up in our homes. Christmas tradition has it that we dispel the darkness with light and fill our homes with a myriad of tiny twinkling fairy lights. Evergreen branches are brought in to remind us that spring is on its way. The traditional Christmas tree is a glorious combination of both these ideals. I love that I can put an oversized fir tree in my lounge and no-one bats an eyelid. If I did this in spring you would think I was crazy. “Why have you got a multi-stemmed birch in your house?” you would ask me in a puzzled tone. I I love the feasting too. I have been harvesting sprouts for several weeks now (Severn Hills) but need to go easy or their will be none left for the big day. All the Broccoli’s enjoy sprouts and we are happy to have them lightly boiled with a dash of salt and pepper, but there are times when I like to glam them up. Last year I was partial to sprouts laced with pine nuts and lardons, this year the chorizo has snared me. I have taken to frying up a few slices of Italian sausage in olive oil then chucking in the lightly boiled sprouts. I am no longer fussy about what ‘glaze’ I introduce, it is whatever I find in the cupboard. Today It was gooseberry and chilli jelly I added to the mix. I have to tell you it was delicious.