Nature notes

Birds sing at the tops of their voices as they begin their search for a mate, and hazel catkins appear
to adorn naked hedgerows bereft of foliage save for shiny, emeraldgreen ivy leaves that flash like diamonds in the weak sunshine.

The vivid-green leaves of the cherry plum emerge, ahead of its tiny white flowers, and arrow shaped cuckoo-pint leaves spear their way up through the dark earth.
New Wellingtons

As it’s February ‘fill dyke’ and you’ve probably worn out your wellies during the shooting season, invest in a smart new pair so they’re like old friends by the time you next unslip your gun. Try Dubarry’s signature Galway Country Boot (£299;

Mussels, oysters, chicory, turbot, swede, cauliflower, celeriac and guinea fowl
Get away

To Ballymaloe House, an idyllic, familyrun country-house hotel in Co Cork with a world-famous restaurant (00 353 21 4652 531;, rooms from €85 per person)

While you’re there, explore the hotel’s extensive grounds, which include a kitchen garden and a shell house.


An Avalanche

1 measure each of vodka,

Kuyper Crème de Cacao,

De Kuyper Crème de


1⁄2 measure


2 measures

single cream

Mix vodka,

De Kuyper Crème de

Bananes, Disaronno Amaretto,

De Kuyper Crème de Cacao,

single cream and half a peeled banana with some crushed ice in a blender. Pour the blended mixture into a glass and garnish with a slice of banana and a sprig of mint.
Jobs in the garden

* Plant a hedge-bare-root whips should be plantedagainst a line, evenly spaced and firmed in
* Sow onions indoors-then label with name and date, cover with a pane of glass and a piece of newspaper for shade and put on a warm windowsill
* Prune Buddleja-slice and saw away, until the whole thing has been reduced to a roughly even structure of inch-thick branches, like a rather coarse pincushion KBH

What’s on
February 2 Rugby 6 Nations begins (
February 3 British Yorkshire Pudding Day
February 9-10 The British Shooting and Countryman Show, Warwickshire (www.shootingshow.

Every weekend in February

Colesbourne Snowdrop Weekend, Gloucestershire (
February 27-May 19 ‘Barocci: Brilliance and Grace’, National Gallery (

Last chance to see

La bohème at The Royal Opera House (until March 12) (

Book now

Secure tickets for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone June 28-30

Don’t miss

The Rye Scallops Festival, East Sussex, February 2-10 (

Discover our native shellfish through demonstrations and art exhibitions


Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë