Monday, January 29, 2007
Friday, January 26, 2007
This weekend we are definitely going to do the RSPB's 'Big Garden Birdwatch' we've participated in this for the last three years but I have noticed that the varieties of birds we get now are less than when we first started. I've noticed that this year in particular there are fewer finches around. We do have regular visits from the blackbird family who nested in our hedge last spring. 'Mr Blackbird', as we call him, is quite fearless and has been known to sit on the bird feeder whilst we are putting food on the table. We have several blue-tits and coal-tits visit for the fat balls, also a pair of collard doves and one huge wood pigeon visit regularly. This morning I saw a Robin on the bird table. Yesterday whilst I was clearing up and re-stocking the feeders and cleaning the bird table I heard a familiar 'honking' noise in the distance and then that swooshing of flapping wings and I looked up to see hundreds of geese flying in three lots of V formation. I'm not used to seeing them fly over the city and it reminded me of when we used to live out on the Lincolnshire fens where we used to see them quite often.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
We decided to walk uphill first to Middleton Top, where we stopped for a while at the visitor and cycle hire centre and the old engine house.
Then we walked back down the incline of the old railway and down to the Stone Centre where we had a warming mug of coffee and a Bakewell slice. After a good look around the shop which was full of fossils, minerals and gemstone jewellery we decided to set of further along the walk as far as Black Rock.
As we passed along the edge of Wirksworth, by the Steeple Grange light railway the sun came out and there were some spectacular views of the quarry and Masson Mill in the distance. We decided to walk past Black Rock and discover a little more of the walk before returning to make the climb up.
When we finally got up to the top of Black Rock the views were spectacular and well worth the effort.
Monday, January 22, 2007
We make our own bread and have done for years but sometimes we run out and or can't be bothered or don't have time to bake so then we buy bread. If I bought it at the supermarket I always used to buy the loose bread from the baskets until one day I saw a woman walking along feeling the bread rolls with her bare hands. She went back and forth along the row whilst her husband leant on the trolly handle willing her to hurry up and chose something. I had to bite my tongue in order not to say anything but I've never bought any of that bread since. I'm afraid I buy it with wrapping - just in case.
Yesterday we had a long walk along part of the High Peak Trail from Middleton Top to Black Rock, I will post photos when they are sorted out.
Sunday, January 14, 2007
In the 18th century it was the home of many famous people including Dr. Samuel Johnson; the actor, David Garrick; physician, poet and botanist Erasmus Darwin and the poet Anna Seward who was also known as the 'Swan of Lichfield.' There is a plaque on the wall outside the George Inn on Bird Street, to say that playwright George Farquhar stayed there whilst recruiting troops in Lichfield and he wrote some of his play ‘The Recruiting Officer’ there around 1705/6.
The new Garrick theatre opened in July 2003. The first season was directed by actor Corin Redgrave and one of its highlights was a production of Farquhar’s ‘The Recruiting Officer.’ I think the outside is very interesting. Nice coffee inside, too.
Here in Erasmus Darwin’s house would occasionaly gather together some of the most noted men of the 18th century. Known as the Lunar Society because they met when it was a full moon so they could see to travel in the dark they were some of the most famous names in science and industry England has known; including Matthew Boulton, Josiah Wedgwood, Joseph Priestly and James Watt. Can you imagine the conversations, around a candle lit table, as the friends discussed the latest ideas in science, industry, philosophy and politics. Amazing.
You can also visit Dr. Johnson's birthplace museum and bookshop and there are statues of Johnson and his friend James Boswell in the market square. I didn't take photos of these as the square is being refurbished and at present, resembles a building site.
I was reminded of a childhood saying:- 'Red sky at night, Shepherd's delight, red sky in the morning, Shepherd's warning' - don't think there are many shepherds in Stoke.
Rain, Rain, against my window pane - the Money plant in the conservatory is trying to compensate for the bad weather outside - I've never seen it with so many flowers.
Tom and Max in the kitchen - where's the food, then?
Not ready yet? OK, we'll wait outside.
Sunday morning - oh, good the rain has stopped, time for a long walk around Trentham Forest.
A farm in the sun shine - maybe we'll find the shepherd here.
What's forecast for next week? Rain or Sun. I know which I would like.
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
For ourselves we try to conserve water and energy as much as possible but still our monthly energy payment has doubled in the last year. We have gas central heating with no extra fires anywhere. The oven and hob are electric; we don’t have a tumble drier or a dish washer and use energy efficient light bulbs where ever we can. We are guilty of leaving the video recorder on but that is because we use the clock and because it is a pain to reset if you switch it off. The refrigerator is C rated for energy efficiency so I guess when we buy a new one we could look to getting an A or better.
In the kitchen we have a compost waste bin under the sink as well as an ordinary household one and I try to use mostly Ecover products for washing and cleaning. I also have a large jug in which to collect any fresh water and use it to water the indoor plants. In the garden we have three water butts collecting water all year for use in the summer for watering the greenhouse and garden and topping up the pond. We also have a large compost bin. We encourage garden birds by having a feeding station and birdbath; we have a pond and a wild area with a log pile for other wildlife and try to grow insect friendly plants like sedum and buddleia. We have one small car whose emissions are acceptable to regulations. We try to buy locally produced seasonal fruit and vegetables, make our own bread with organic flour and buy organic milk and eggs. Just a drop in the ocean, I know, but if we all try and do our bit perhaps we can achieve just a little change for the better.
Well, we were warned that global warming would lead to hot dry summers and warm wet winters and this week, the warm wet winter is really happening. This means that the garden is absolutely sopping wet – we have clay soil - and wellies are needed to walk anywhere on the garden because the lawns are under water and squelching and the pond is overflowing. A garden project we started in November and hoped to complete over the Christmas & New Year break has been abandoned and everything looks awful. The cats, bless them, are trampling in bits of garden and I’m sure I’ve washed the floors, windowsills and flat surfaces twice a day every day this week – I daren’t look at the spare bed – I’ve just covered it over with an old blanket because the cats like to sleep there. So rain, rain, wind and rain means no gardening, no walks, no photographs and a very fed up, lacking in inspiration and disgruntled me. That lovely, sunny New Year’s day walk seems so long ago.
Monday, January 01, 2007
Walk this way
to see the Red deer grazing
The lovely church at Ilam
The River Manifold
The sun was high in the sky
and the hills looked wonderful
and the sheep were enjoying their New Year's Day lunch.