It was John's birthday today. Spot the Valentine among the cards.
We'd planned to visit Hadleigh Castle in Essex, famously recorded by John Constable. The painting has wonderful clouds in it but today, after several days of clear high pressure weather, the sky was flat and grey and the air chilled. Not that it mattered. The walk through the country park was was hardly nature at its wildest, but a relief after the Tilbury Loop. As you approach the Salvation Army Tea Rooms (fantstic service) on the top of the hill overlooking the castle, the hedges are full of small birds (I wonder if anyone makes a cardigan patterned like a hedge sparrow) and a muddy field of perfectly lovely black Berkshire Pigs. None of them with petticoats like Pig-Wig, but maybe they save those for partywear. The castle lived up to expectation , though there were no shepherds, no cattle to complete the picture.
Apart from the penetrating cold, we had to return home early for our own celebration. Typically, I had not made the cake, so it had to be something that would be ready quickly. I think it was a Dan Lepard recipe, Quick Rich Chocolate Cake, cut out from a newpaper. The wiggly inscription does look a little like wormcasts (clever worms), somewhat appropriate for a gardener's birthday cake. Sadly, we forgot to put the candle on until after we'd cut the first slice. Didn't spoil the taste though.