Monday, January 18, 2021

Trees and other things

Yesterday we went for a short local walk quite early in the morning.  It was good to get out in the fresh air even if for just a short while.

I've been busy trying to de-clutter.  Lots of old paperback books have been placed in boxes, they are probably too old even to pass on to a charity shop.  The pages are brown, dry and flaking, spotted with age, the covers are scuffed at the edges, some torn.  I notice some are priced at  three shillings and sixpence, others at five shillings,  Old money, old books who on earth would want them?
I have boxes of notebooks from the last thirty years or so.  In them I find dotted amongst the pages, research I've done for leaflets and exhibitions at the museums I've worked in.  Family history notes from Local History libraries and Archive offices.  Stories and poems I wrote when I attended Creative Writing Courses, all side by side with recipes, lists of things to do, holiday planning and itineraries, lists of what to take on holidays and present and card lists for both Christmas and birthdays.

The family history notes have been extracted and I'm filing them into paper folders under each family name.  I can sort them again from there.  I think I have most of the information in my latest family tree files  I am typing up the stories and poems.  Some of them I remember, others I don't.  I must have written them as they are my notebooks and my scribble.   Everything else has been shredded.
Days are drifting by.  Last Tuesday when we had a long and lovely Zoom chat with friends I was convinced it was Saturday.  When Saturday finally arrived I was convinced it was Sunday.  Today I am aware that it really is Monday - and so it goes.

We have taken out a subscription to Netflix.  I've watched three good films already. 
'All is True'  'Collette' and 'Hope Gap' All very different but all beautifully filmed with good, strong casts.
I've not talked much about the trees but they still remain stark and beautiful, casting wonderful reflections in the pond. The ground was wet and muddy underfoot but the air was dry.
On the way back from the walk I spotted this wonderful shrub overhanging a garden wall all those bright red berries ripe for the birds to eat on these cold days.

The last few days I've been finding it hard to keep warm.  Homemade creamy parsnip soup and roll helps to lift spirits and warm cold fingers and toes.
I hope everyone is staying safe and warm.

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

A Wintry Walk

 On Sunday afternoon we went for a walk across nearby Berryhill Fields.  We can walk here from home which is always a bonus when the roads are still icy.  Up on our hill we are always the last to see the snow disappear.

The sun came out as we set off across the snow covered grass.

This little bird was enjoying hopping on and off the remains of a snowman.  We think it is a female Lesser Whitethroat but please do tell me if that is wrong and what the sweet little bird might be.
Edit - Caroline from Ragged Robin blog has identified the little bird for me as a Stonechat. Thank you, I knew someone would know🐦
It was muddy as well as icy and you never knew how deep the mud was until you sank into the furrows.

Across the city to the hills of Cheshire.  To the left, on the horizon you can just see the folly at the village of Mow Cop.

Tractors had been out making dirty tracks in the snow.

The sculpture of pit wheels commemorate those lost in an accident many years ago.

I love this tree, it looks perfect in all seasons.  Winter trees have a strange beauty especially in ice and snow.

 In the distance one man and his dog on the hill, otherwise it was just us.

The pond, which had been dry all summer was full again and completely iced over.

The sky started to change as we turned and headed towards home.

Lots of people and dog tracks in the snow.

We thought these tracks were probably made by a crow as there were quite a few of them about their black feathers standing out against the white of the snow.

By this time it was getting very cold.

We'd had the best of the day.

Now we are back in lockdown and I feel for those who have to go out to work, those who are worried about their children's education, teachers and support workers in the thick of it, shop and postal workers and all those on the front line who care for our health and safety. For us things won't change much, local walks, local Co-op shop and staying indoors.  Keep warm and safe everyone.

Saturday, January 02, 2021

All the 'ing' Things


Birds in the Garden in the Snow

As well as the usual Goldfinches and Chaffinches we had pair Greenfinches and what we thought was a Siskin or a Serin.


Nothing too heavy or taxing, mostly books from crime series I have been  reading.  Some a little more blood thirsty than others. They were all set in the weeks before Christmas.

The Quartet Murders by J. R. Ellis - a famous violinist is shot during a concert in Halifax. Music lover DCI Jim Oldroyd from nearby Harrogate is at the concert.  A gun is found but the perpetrator appears not to have left the theatre, meanwhile the dead violinist's valuable Stradivarius has been stolen.  Can both crimes be solved before Christmas Day?  The Christmas Carol  by M J Lee,  Genealogist Jayne Sinclair has just a few days to find out who the person in a dedication  signed by Charles Dickens, in the front of a copy of a first edition of A Christmas Carol is. The answer will affect the price when the book is sold at auction on Christmas Eve.  A Cotswold Christmas Mystery by Rebecca Tope, another adventure for Thea Slocombe and her faithful spaniel Hepzie even though all her family are gathered for Christmas a local mystery is a great distraction.  Set in Oxford A Darkly Shining Star by M S Morris is the fifth book in the enjoyable Bridget Hart series.  The murder of a tour guide of the ghostly areas of Oxford leads DI Bridget Hart and her team to a twenty year old case of a young student and actress who went missing after the final performance of Twelfth Night.  Murder Unjoyful  by Anita Waller is the fifth book and last in the Kat and Mouse series of books set in Eyam in Derbyshire.  Christmas is looming and the ladies of the Connexions agency  take on their most dangerous case to date.    Murder in Advent by David Williams is set in the fictional cathedral town of Litchester where the proposed sale of the cathedral's 1225 copy of the Magna Carta leads to murder.


Festive television - not a lot of interest but I did enjoy Upstart Crow, Worzel Gummidge, Peter Rabbit, The Man who invented Christmas and Uncle Vanya all wonderful in different ways.  Uncle Vanya was a stunning production with a great cast including the fine actor Anna Calder-Marshall as Nana and Toby Jones as Vanya.  I remember seeing Uncle Vanya at Nottingham Playhouse in 1970 when Anna Calder-Marshall played Vanya's niece Sonya.  Then Vanya was played by Paul Scofield.  I still have a copy of the programme in my collection.


Mostly good, home cooked food 

The Spelt flour Christmas Pudding I mentioned in an earlier post was a triumph. It tasted wonderful.

We still have some left in the freezer.


In a wildlife treasure hunt organised by one of people in an online group of which I am a member.  The Self Isolating Bird Club has been a joy through these dark days of tiers and lockdowns.  It's run by Chris Packham, Megan McCubbin and their team.  Everyone is kind, gentle and very helpful to others who are just learning about wildlife.  There are some amazing photographers in the group too.
I've also registered to take part in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch.  We've participated in this event for quite a few years now.  It is something I look forward to doing. 

The snow had been melting away this morning but this afternoon we had another downfall.  How is the weather where you are?  What have you been reading lately?



Monday, December 28, 2020

Snow Day

This morning we woke up  to the muffling silence of snow.  The garden was snuggled under a brilliant soft white blanket.

People are out on the street.  A mum is pulling her two girls along on a sledge.  A  mum and dad are walking along with their little one who is wide eyed at the first snow he has probably ever seen.  I can hear squeals of delight as I'm typing.  Each family is keeping their social distance but smiling and waving to all who pass by or call encouragement from their garden gates.

 Four young male blackbirds were clamouring around the feeders waiting for nibbles so a path was made to the bird feeders.  On the hanging feeders it was finch time as we saw a bullfinch, chaffinches and goldfinches.

There are two snow caused casualties in the garden. 

The Hebe is down but hopefully may bounce back

The netting cover constructed last Spring to protect the vegetables and fruit from badgers and birds has completely collapsed and stands no chance of bouncing back.

What to do on a day like today?  I have a basket of ironing , that will keep me warm.  I have a good book on my kindle to curl up with later.  I'll write a post about my recent reading soon.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Christmas Morning

Just popping in to say thank to all who visit me here.  Thank you for reading, commenting and being such lovely blogging friends.

 Christmas will be different for us all this year but wherever you are my wish is that you have a peaceful day today finding joy in small things. Take care and stay safe.


Sunday, December 20, 2020

Morning Sun

 We've had such strange weather over the last few days but we have been able to get out for a quick walk a few times between the raindrops.  Over the muddy fields, for which wellies are definitely needed, or around the streets locally varying the route, clockwise or anti clockwise around the block.

This was the sun at just before eleven o'clock this morning. 

We risked going out for a quick walk and were lucky. It started to rain just as we  got back home.
We made cheese scones for lunch but had eaten them before I thought to take a photograph, they were delicious.

I've been sorting out the Christmas decorations and gradually putting them around the house.  I was pleased to find my little singing shepherd.

I bought him from a shop in Stratford-upon-Avon some time in the late seventies or perhaps early eighties. We had probably been to see a play but I can't remember which one, we were also Christmas shopping because I remember the lights in the darkening streets as we emerged from the theatre in the late afternoon . He is actually a candle snuffer.  I remember there were other nativity characters to choose from but he appealed to me then and I still like him.

Finding the shepherd candle snuffer reminded me that I also bought a little dish from the same shop as a present for my Mum.  Of course it is now back with me and full of memories. 

Meanwhile, in the garden, little Snowdrop shoots have begun to emerge from the damp soil. Signs of hope, of new beginnings, at least one small thing to look forward to in the new year. 

Monday, December 14, 2020

Scents of the Season

There are quite a few delightful aromas around at this time of year to make us feel festive, even in these strange and troubled times.  

Sweet evocative smells of childhood Christmas.  Pink sugar mice, marzipan and chocolate. 

Herbs and spices, dried fruit and mixed peel.  All things citrus.  Coffee, hot chocolate and mulled wine or cider.  The kitchen aroma of mince pies fresh from the oven and gingerbread biscuits too.

The spruce smell of the door wreath.

I expect you all have a favourite.


This year we will miss visiting Little Moreton Hall and Haddon Hall for their Tudor Christmas events and displays.  Below are some photos taken in past years.


Little Moreton Hall near Congleton, Cheshire.

Haddon Hall, near Bakewell, Derbyshire

 Time now I think, for a mug of tea and a mince pie.