And that is the moment that you need to sit quietly with a cup of tea served in one of the few intact Emma Bridgewater mugs that you possess (why is it always the Emma Bridgewater mugs that hit the floor, while the ugly one that you bought with tokens collected from instant coffee jars when you were sixteen seems to be made of cast iron?) ...
... and eat a piece of cake made by a Princess ... even though you have over-run your cake ration for the day (and why also is it that once you reach a certain age, cake has a gravitational pull towards your midriff, even if you go to the gym and do a lot of gardening in an effort to counteract it?).
Photo courtesy of Princess B (and she has made another one today, with even more butter icing, and a lovely silver shoe on the top. The gym beckons with wagging finger.).
What is needed also is the company of a good book, and sometimes you come across such a lovely book that you have to share it - and I have been reading just such a one.
Today I have been reading All My Eggs in One Basket by Francine Raymond (who also has a lovely blog and shop here), and have to say that it is the most charming book, perfect company on a sunny afternoon.
Full of the most heavenly pictures taken in her beautiful garden and house in Suffolk, the book is a wonderful mix of recipes, talk about gardening and plants, advice about henkeeping, things to make, and anecdotes about her life.
In the form of a seasonal journal, she takes us through the year while covering everything from the pain of bereavement to the joy of the everyday in an eclectic mixture of small vignettes of her life as gardener, crafter, cook, teacher, which engage the reader in a gentle and enchanting way, all illustrated so copiously with the most gorgeous photographs that I know that I will be going back to this book again and again, purely for the visual joy.
One of Francine's other publications, The Big Book of Garden Hens, has been one of those seminal influences on our life here in our trying-to-be-self-sufficient little cottage, one of those books which fed our dreams of a garden farm in the years when it seemed just that, a dream, along with John Seymour's Self-Sufficiency and Paul Heiney's Home Farm.
The Ploughboy in his youth used to get up early on Sunday mornings and make us scones for breakfast from the recipe in The Big Book of Garden Hens: the scones were crisp, small and flat, but deliciously full of love and enthusiasm, and I salute anyone who manages to have such a benign influence on a twelve or thirteen-year-old boy. He is still as lovely and enthusiastic, but unfortunately gets up a lot later on Sundays, so the scones are part of wistful memories of times past.
We were lucky enough to meet Francine recently, when she came to interview us in her role as gardening journalist: our brief moment of fame is upon us, and who knows, you might even spot us in the Sundays tomorrow!
Not only does the gym beckon, but so do the seedlings.
That's the trouble with self-sufficiency: a princess may make a cake, and I can eat it right away (more's the pity), but if I don't pot on my lettuces now, there won't be any salad on the table in May, so I must gracefully (and cakefully) take my leave. Adieu, she said, adieu ...