Thursday, January 29, 2009

No longer possible

A great controversy has opened up locally with the news this week that Trentham Gardens are to charge visitors to walk around the lake. Up until now this area of the estate has been free and, as you will know from many posts throughout this blog, we have walked there often, sometimes a couple of times a week, but from March this will no longer be possible.

The people who own and run the estate have decided that the lakeside will become part of the Italian Gardens area and therefore offer the people paying to visit the gardens more for their money. I suppose I can see the logic of this but where does that leave all the other visitors? The people like us who go there to have a walk followed by a coffee at one of the numerous cafes and perhaps occasionally do a bit of shopping in the retail village? If we can't walk around the lake then we won't be using the shops and cafes, therefore they will lose money, too. How is this going to help encourage visitors if half the retail outlets have to close due to lack of customers? Am I missing something here?

I know we shouldn't take access to these beauty spots for granted and that the amounts needed for upkeep must be huge but surely a small parking charge and donation boxes would be better than taking away from people something that has been available for so long.

I expect that most visitors will be like us and visit once or twice a week for exercise and recreation and I'm afraid that around £5 per person for every visit during this economic downturn will just be prohibitive. For us that would be £20 per week which is just not possible as paying the mortgage and household bills has to come first so our visits will therefore drop from once or twice a week to once or, if possible, twice a year.

What a great shame!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Discovering Things

I've been struggling with Picasa 3 for a few weeks now, for some reason not getting to grips with it and wishing I hadn't downloaded it, then suddenly, today, the penny has dropped. This is what you can do.

Above scenes around Ilam in the Peak District National Park taken on January 1st 2007. Below scenes around the Pembrokeshire Coast, Wales taken July 2006.

I'm off to see what else I can do.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Big Garden Bird Watch

This year, as in previous years, we will be taking part, this weekend, in the RSPB's Big Garden Bird Watch. This is a huge survey that the RSPB have undertaken for the last 30 years. I think we have been joining in for the last five years. It is interesting to see what kinds of birds visit the garden and how they change over the years.

It is very easy to do, you just record how many of each bird you see over one designated hour at sometime during the weekend. You can download counting sheets from the RSPB and then enter the results on-line afterwards. You can do the survey in your own garden or in your local park. We usually do our watch on the Sunday morning in our own garden.

This year, the Guardian is joining in the fun, with a live blog and short video clips.

When we first started doing the survey we had lots of blackbirds, green finches and the occasional thrush visit the garden. The finches disappeared two or three years ago and we haven't seen a thrush for ages. We still have our regular sparrows, blue and coal tits, collard doves, wood pigeons, starlings and magpies.

New visitors to our garden this year have been Gold Crests who visited in the very cold weather to feed from the spruce trees.

Thanks to Paul for the photos - his camera is far better than mine for taking wildlife close ups, as those of you who visit his blog will know.

Thank You

Amanda at Pandy Potter Bears has generously passed on this award to me. Thank-you, Amanda. Do visit her super blog and have a look at what gorgeous little bears she makes.

Now I have to do the following
:- "The authors say that blogs who receive this award are exceedingly charming . This blog invests in proximity in space , time and relationships . These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends .They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandisement . Our hope is that when the ribbons of these awards are cut , even more friendships will be propagated . Please give your kind attention to these writers !Deliver this award to 8 bloggers who will choose 8 more , and include this cleverly written text in to the body of the award . "

Well, I am going to find this so difficult as lots of you already have this award and anyway, how can I choose from all the wonderful blogs on my list? You are all charming and friendly and kind. So, I'm just going to say if you would like the award consider yourself nominated and take it with you with my best wishes.

Thanks again, Amanda, for thinking of me.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Where did the Time Go?

I've just realised it is over a week since I last did a post on here and I've no idea where the time has gone, except that it has probably gone by in a haze of going to work and getting home too tired to achieve much of anything except washing and ironing and a little cooking and cleaning.

I've been enjoying bits and pieces on TV and for once I sat and watched television on a Saturday night which is quite unusual for me. I've become engrossed by the wonderful John Adams on Channel 4. This is a brilliant series so far and I'm really enjoying it. This was followed by a new series on BBC 2, The Victorian Farm, made by the creators of the wonderful Tales from the Green Valley which I thoroughly enjoyed. This one looks as if it will be just as good - and I find that I'm interested in this series and relating it to my family history as it is fascinating to learn how people would have lived and worked through those times. Thirdly and again with family history in mind, having found out in the last couple of years that I have ancestors who moved from Fife and West Lothian into England in the early 19th century, is The History of Scotland again on BBC 2. This is fast moving and presented in a slightly frenetic way by Neil Oliver but it is completely captivating.

I've also been reading; in particular the last two Sunday Philosophy Club novels by Alexander McCall Smith, I loved the first three and ordered the two new ones from the library and have just enjoyed the first one of these 'The Careful Use of Compliments' - I love the gentle thoughfulness of these books and the wonderful descriptions of Edinburgh and in the one just read, of the scottish islands of Islay and Jura.

On Sunday we had a lovely visit from the son of a friend of old and his fiancee who stayed for lunch and told us of their wedding plans.

Last but not least I've been climbing in my family tree again and searching the newly released 1911 Census on line. I've found some interesting things which I'll no doubt report on later on Family Matters but for now I'm still assessing the information I've found.

For some reason I have been thinking a lot about the sea and the sand and walking on the beach and wondering if we will be able to get there this year - I hope we can.

The Beach at Nefyn, Lleyn Peninsula, North Wales, August 2006

So, all in all, it has been a quiet week of pottering with this and that, no walks or visits to speak of but hopefully, weather permitting, we will be able to rectify that this coming weekend.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Footprints in the Snow

Yesterday morning we woke up to a pristine, white blanket of snow covering the garden. I think snow always makes everything look so fragile and beautiful when it first appears to disguise the drab winter brown.

The Bridal Wreath is even whiter than it is when heavy with its springtime flowers; whilst the prickly, unforgiving, Creeping Juniper, the one that scratches your arms and leaves an itchy rash when you try to weed in and around it, seems soft and friendly with its white coverning.

The Kilmarnock Willow stands like a graceful white canopy over the frozen pond, where I found the footprints.

Are they cat footprints? Or are they fox? I think the larger ones may be fox because we hear them every night. Calling with their eerie bark.

Which of them dared to walk on the ice? Last night the fox woke us at midnight barking and calling; I wanted to sleep as I had to get up at 5 o'clock to get ready for work - my first day back after the Christmas and New Year break. In this weather I just wanted to stay in bed cosy and warm, so did the cats. I wonder where the foxes sleep?

Saturday, January 03, 2009

New Year's Day

We had been watching the weather closely on New Year's Eve because we knew that we would be venturing out to Nottingham, to have lunch with friends, the next day. Thankfully, as we set out along the A50 the heavy mists of the day before had thinned and by the time we were close to Derby had disappeared completely, although the smoke from the towers of the power station at Radcliffe on Trent was eerily still, cocooned in the dense mist.

Last year I had found out that one of my ancestors, one William Stubbs, had been born at Ruddington in 1754 and as we had set out early we had time for a quick look at the village with the idea of checking it out for a return visit in the summer. We parked in the main car park near the medical centre. It was absolutely freezing so we wrapped up warm to take a short walk around the village. There were quite a few others out, taking in the fresh, crisp air some popping into the local supermarket for their newspapers, bread and milk.

We passed the old bakehouse all locked up for the day but with someone outside peering through the window with the hope that it may soon open.

Our goal was the Framework Knitters' Museum, just to look at the outside and to find out where it was. Ruddington was a centre of stocking making and many of the buildings reflect this.

You can see in the photo below the high windows at the top of the building which would have given extra light to the people working on their frames inside the building. Behind the walls is a complex of frameshops, cottages, outbuildings and a chapel where the knitters lived, worked and worshipped during the 19th century. It all looks really interesting and we vowed to return when it was open again in the spring or summer.

This lucky village has another museum housed in what looks like an old school building. Apparently it has reconstructed Edwardian shops inside. So now there are two reasons for a return visit.

We had a wander around the church yard but by now it was getting very cold. I didn't expect to find any relevant inscriptions in there because my ancestors would have been too poor to afford gravestones and even if there had been one from the mid 18th century it would have been unusual for it to survive. Also, my ancestor moved on, because his children were born in Wymeswold, Leicestershire and their children in Long Clawson, Leicestershire. Not so very far away as the crow flies and a perfectly feasible move for those seeking work.

Ruddington is a lovely village full of historic buildings and with a shopping street full of little shops, like a butchers, ironmongers and wonder of wonders it still has a post office.

Here are some more photos of the interesting buildings....

A row of early 20th century houses

More high windows reflecting the village's history.

By now our toes and fingers were cold, it was time to move on to the warmth and welcome at our friends' home.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Happy New Year and Thanks

Firstly, thanks to all those who answered my 'help' post about changing from the old style 'Template' blog to the newer 'Layout' blog - I decided to finally take the bull by the horns and give it a go - and I'm still here, all my archives back to 2005, posts and photos were saved - I just had to re-do the links in the side bar which took all of this morning and I'm now back to normal but with the extra facilities that the 'Layout' format has to offer - I can now add far more and play with all the gagets and widgits.

Secondly, thanks for all your Christmas and New Year wishes - I really love to receive your comments and e-mails.

Thirdly, I'm wishing A Happy, Healthy and Peaceful New Year to everyone who pops by to read this blog. All my best wishes for 2009.