We hardy few at Pig Row have been braving the elements thanks to a shed called Alice, a chimnea recycled from Drovers, some soup and garlic bread.
As a child, I remember my parents taking me on picnics to Blackpool, Fleetwood and Rivington (a wonderful rural area that I grew up next to and was educated in). These picnics had one thing in common, it rained. We ended up in the car eating sandwiches and moaning about the weather. I associate cheese butties with driving rains on Blackpool front, desperate gulls blustering out to see and damp trouser cuffs. The one time we actually went to the seaside and the weather was good, my sister misjudged a jump over a rock pool with our then, greyhound mongrel, the dog made it and my sister ended up wearing my t-shirt for the rest of the day and I ended up in a jumper as we shared clothes to preserve her decency. We were both cold as the winds came back. If I can survive wet picnics in the 70s/80s, I can survive a cold spring and more importantly I can turn my back on it with the help of fire! If only we'd had a fire in those family picnics rather than the wheezy heater of a Vauxhall Princess.
This chimnea came from Drovers and has been sat by the kitchen door now for three years. So, we lugged it up the hill using a wheelbarrow and swearing then put it use by Alice the shed, loading it up with windfall branches (we've had plenty of them this spring) and getting the kettle on. Just by propping it in the open, the kettle boiled faster than our electric one! This time, unlike those early picnics of childhood, we both wrapped up warm and as Carol cooked on our new open fireplace in the garden, I got on with the Bee Bank and Little D learnt the importance of composting.
It is amazing what you can do in the garden at this time of year. You can still get on top of the weeds, start new beds off and cut down conifers (everyone should cut them down, they don't belong in gardens or in hedges, they belong in the wilderness). More importantly, you can just get out into the space, regardless of size and reclaim it back from winter, reclaim back failed picnics of your childhood and realise that if you want a picnic, no car is needed, no sea front, no cold field, you can simply step out into your backyard, garden or allotment. That's often the problems with picnics, after the food is eaten, after the drink is drunk, what do you do? Watch the ants bite, see your sister do the Fosbury flop in a rock pool, get cold, get bored. Anyone with kids will tell you that this is a child's default setting, as we feel we need to entertain them - we don't, we just need to relax. Get them outside, get yourself outside, wrap up warm and just enjoy some food, enjoy the landscape and do some gardening, walking or baking garlic bread in the embers of a fire (it may have been singed but it tasted damn good) and get the kids clearing and collecting those fallen branches to keep you warm.