Tuesday, 29 December 2009


December at the cottage

Welcome to our cottage in December. This is my very last entry on A Year In A Country Cottage and I’d like to extend a very big thank you to everyone who has visited or followed this blog over the past year. I've had a lot of fun taking photographs throughout the past twelve months and sharing my country cottage with you. Early in the New Year I’m hoping to get my new author website up and running and I will be working hard on finishing my next novel - so I do hope you will all keep in touch.

This month started out on a festive note with a Christmas lunch in Babbity Bowsters restaurant in Glasgow. I took the train to the city, as I had said goodbye to my trusty Landrover during November in anticipation of a new and more economical vehicle, which had not yet been delivered. After enjoying a wonderful lunch with my writer buddies, I returned on the train but somehow, in the pitch black, I managed to get off at the wrong station! Mr Country Cottage, who was waiting to meet me, was not amused when I phoned him on my mobile phone to say I was stranded in a village almost twenty miles away. What happened next, however, was so absolutely typical of the lovely folk who live in the rural hamlets and towns in this part of Scotland. A woman on the platform, overhearing my anxious phone call, immediately offered me shelter in her home near to the station. She said I was welcome to sit by her fireside with a nice cup of tea – or something stronger if I felt it was needed. I was deeply touched by her generosity and grateful for the kind spirit of her concern. In a world were people are often shown to be uncaring and selfish, this I felt was a wonderful reminder, especially poignant at this time of the year, that there are still plenty of good and thoughtful people amongst us.

Mid month, the snow caused disruption here just as it had all over Britain. Getting out and about, by foot or in Mr Country Cottage’s van, proved difficult as the ice and snow deepened in the narrow lanes leading to our cottage. A weather warning had been issued and a white Christmas promised so I set to making lots of soup. Chestnut. Broccoli and Stilton. Scotch Broth. Pea and Ham. Bacon and Lentil. I love soup at any time of year but especially in the depths of winter!

The garden in the depths of winter

In the days that followed, Mr Country Cottage made sure we had fuel for the generator in case of a power cut and plenty of logs in the woodshed ready for the Yule Time fire. The dogs and the hens prepared themselves too. In Polly and Ruby’s case – this was to lie by the fire or warm themselves by the Aga. To the hens, it meant tucking into an extra meal of corn and making sure the local pheasants and wild birds didn’t steal it from under their very beaks.

Kylie watches out for those feathered friends who might steal her corn...

An opportunistic corn-poaching Pheasant heading for the hen hoose..!

Meanwhile, Polly toasts herself by the fire....

With Christmas fast approaching, I iced and decorated the Christmas cake - made last month and ‘fed’ with a very good Scotch Whisky - and adorned the seven foot high pine tree, now sited in the sitting room, with all it’s festive tinsel and baubles. Then, when number One and Two sons arrived back from their respective universities and declared that our family Christmas could officially begin - I suddenly remembered that thanks to not having a Landrover anymore - I hadn’t actually done any Christmas shopping!

In the sitting room: The Christmas tree decked in traditional decorations

In the garden: The Buddlia - decked in traditional winter snow

Just four days before Christmas, my new eco-vehicle – a retro styled Fiat 500 – finally arrived. The car transporter driver telephoned to say he couldn’t make it up to the cottage and so the car had to be delivered into a snowy lay-by a few miles away. I was beside myself with excitement and, although it had been ordered many months earlier, it being delivered so close to Christmas, made me appreciate it even more. I immediately drove into the village to do my Christmas shopping, and then, feeling very pleased with myself, I bravely headed back uphill to the cottage where I was met by my husband and three burly sons who helped me to coax the little car safely home. Since then, and to date, the snow and ice around the cottage has worsened and so I’ve yet to take a second drive out in my lovely little new car!

A four-wheel-drive it isn't!

Recipe for December: Turkey Soup.

There are so many things to do with turkey leftovers. This year I made a turkey and ham pie with the leftover Boxing Day ham and white turkey meat. I made a turkey Balti curry with the leftover brown meat - and a delicious turkey soup with the absolute pickings and bones. I’m pleased to report that not a morsel was wasted. This is how I make my tasty and warming turkey soup.
Ingredients:Leftover turkey meat scraps picked from the carcass
Several of the larger turkey bones, scraped clean
2 carrots, chopped
1 stick of celery, chopped
1 leek, sliced and chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 large potatoes, peeled and diced into small peices
1.5 litres of chicken or turkey stock – I used 3 Knorr chicken stock cubes
Seasoning of salt, black pepper, & thyme – fresh or dried.
A splash of olive oil
A dash of cream
Method:Wash, peel, and chop all your vegetables to a similar size and put into a large stock pot. Sweat over a low heat in the oil. Once softened, but not browned, add the stock, the turkey meat, and the bones. Stir together and bring to a rolling simmer. Skim occasionally as the oil and residue from the bones will come to the surface as a foam.
Simmer for 40 minutes either on the hotplate or in a simmering oven. Remove the bones. Use a hand blender or whizz in a processor to blend the soup and add a dash of cream before serving.

As Hogmanay approaches, I’d like to wish you all not only a very happy New Year but a wonderful New Decade to come. I hope that the year 2010 and beyond offers us all hope, peace, and prosperity.

Happy New Year!
Love from, Janice


  1. Thank you for the joy your blog has brought all through this year, Janice.

    Love the dinky car, and don't you look very glam! I too made turkey soup and was amazed at how much meat was still on the bones.

    A very happy New Year to you and yours.
    Rosemary x

  2. Thank you Ros for the lovely comment.
    Happy New Year to you and yours too.
    Love, Janice xx

  3. What lovely photos, and what a kind lady at the station.

    I think Polly has the right idea when it comes to the winter.

  4. Hi Debs - thanks for dropping by. I hope you are managing to keep warm in your shed!
    love, Janice xx

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