Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Frozen Landscape

Yesterday we walked a section of the Trent and Mersey Canal between Sandon Lock and Salt that we hadn't walked before. As you know from previous posts over the last few years we have walked, in sections, the length of the canal from Stone to Kidsgrove and beyond the Harecastle tunnel.

We parked the car just beyond the bridge, struggled into our wellington boots and made our way down the path towards the canal towpath.

The air was very still and there was a slight mist over the water which was, in places, solid ice.

The ice was cracked and broken as if something had tried to move through it leaving behind floating blocks that had frozen together again.

In some areas even the towpath was thick with ice as you can see from the photo below - we had to be very careful not to slip.

Further along we found evidence of the industrious Mr Mole.

To the left of the photo and running parallel to the canal is the railway and beyond that the road. To the right, just over the fence runs the River Trent over which the mist hung heavily, floating across the top of the moving water.

By this time our fingers and toes were beginning to feel the cold - it was time to turn around and head back.

We retraced our steps back towards Sandon Lock and the warmth of our little car.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Boxing Day Walk

Once I'd done the last little bit of shopping early on Christmas Eve morning, collected my books from the library and popped to the local pet shop to make sure I had enough wild bird food it was home to make mince pies whilst listening to Carols from Kings and to await the worker who arrived home about 4p.m. - now Christmas could begin.

We didn't move from the house until Boxing Day when we decided we must have a walk after the lazy day we had spent on Christmas Day, just eating, watching television and reading.

We went for a walk around the Oak wood at Trentham. The ground was very hard and cold, deep furrows were filled with glassy ice. We were following in the footsteps of many others. Including rabbit and deer.

The walk was both refreshing and invigorating; it was good to get out into the cold, wintry air for a while - but it was also nice to go back to a warm house filled with all the edible goodies we received as presents. Thank you everyone! Although now I'm going to have to take even more walks to make up for eating and drinking them!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Well, here it is........

Wishing everyone peace and joy at this festive time.
Happy Christmas to you all.

I was moved by this story today - here - the true spirit of Christmas

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Brr - even colder!

Yesterday we had to make a journey up to Scarborough on the Yorkshire Coast to attend a family funeral. We set out just after 8a.m. and arrived back home at just after 8p.m. It was a long day! The outward journey took over 4 hours as we travelled through snowy Derbyshire towards Chesterfield, Worksop and Doncaster where we avoided the reported queues on the A1 by taking the A19 towards Selby. Here, through the village of Escrick and beyond we travelled through a winter wonderland of bleak landscapes and brilliant white frosted trees. We reached Scarborough an hour early so we parked near the sea and had a little walk near the harbour.

It was very cold!

The ground was very slippy with glassy ice

The winter wind was whipping around the corners

Some brave souls were walking on the beach. After the services we slipped and slid our way back to the car park. As we drove back along the A64 towards York the car thermometer showed it was -6 degrees. It was so good to get back to a cosy warm home.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Almost There!

Well it has been a very busy week; visiting family to deliver presents and cards, meeting up with friends, cooking, cleaning and last minute shopping. We had a family 'get-together' in Chesterfield with great food arranged by my nieces and their cousins; the children all had presents from Father Christmas and we were all entertained by Joseph the Magic Man.

We gathered greenery from the garden to make a festive wreath for the front door. It is just springs of holly, juniper and rosemary with cuttings from the Leylandii bushes.

The living room is decorated with a small tree and swag across the fireplace with lights around the mirror. The pomanders are still smelling sweet and festive.

I've put the red spotty cloth on the table in the kitchen where I've been making mince pies whilst listening to Snow Patrol interspersed with Katherine Jenkins and carols.

On Saturday before the family party we met up with an old friend for lunch. It was lovely to see her again; we've known each other since we were five years old and walked together to the village school at the start of our first term.

Add ImageWe met at the Dukeries Garden Centre near Worksop. Next door is The Harley Gallery which has some beautiful things inside.

Christmas Cards are being delivered daily sometimes accompanied by letters with news of holidays, family celebrations and new grandchildren. I've noticed that this year we have had a lot of cards with lovely red-breasted robins or bright red post boxes.

I have plenty of entertainment with a Christmassy feel - some of my favourite films that must be watched at Christmas, a couple of interesting magazines and some 'feel-good' light hearted books to read.

There is just a small amount of last minute shopping for milk and salad stuff to do.
Then we will be ready. Are you?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Brr..... it's cold!

We've had some snow! Last night was colder than I remember it being for ages. I've been out in the garden this morning breaking the ice in the bird bath, clearing off the bird table and putting out fresh supplies of nuts, seeds and fat balls. I also put out some meal worms for Mr Robin - he was there within minutes to eat his wormy breakfast.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

All Aboard for Christmas Shopping

Yesterday we set off towards Lichfield in the hopes of finally completing the shopping for presents. I really like Lichfield; although it is a city it is small and compact and easy to walk around. It was looking particularly festive as we walked around especially the market place.

Here the shouts of 'two bags of bananas for £1' competed with the music from a children's carousel and carols from the nearby church and heritage centre. The house you can see just at the top of the photo behind the Christmas Tree is Dr Samuel Johnson's birthplace museum.

We found three presents almost immediately and so decided it was time for coffee and carrot cake at the nearby Garrick Theatre, named after the 18th century actor David Garrick who, like Samuel Johnson, spent his childhood in Lichfield.

Then it was time to hunt out some more Christmas purchases. We wandered back towards the car park via the Cathedral - I thought it looked lovely through the branches of the tree. As we walked across The Close towards the building a lady in 18th century costume stopped us and asked would we like to visit Erasmus Darwin's house where there were carol singers, mulled wine and mince pies. We popped inside for a few minutes just to listen to the choir and have a quick look around the ground floor - we had visited a couple of times before and would have liked to stay a while longer but we were due back at the car park and had one other place to visit before we returned home.

I took this photo of the Cathedral from the herb garden at Darwin's house and the one below from the entrance passage to the back of the house.

We drove out of Lichfield towards Burton-on-Trent and found our next destination - the Marina at Barton-under-Needwood.

We parked near a lake where these two young swans were waiting, along with lots of other waters birds, in the hope that we had food for them. Unfortunately we hadn't but many people had come prepared.

As we walked up towards the Marina and the shops we passed this lovely fountain or water feature.

We had great fun looking around the 'Toys of Yesteryear' and a wonderful food shop called 'The Butcher, The Baker and The Ice-Cream Maker' but my favourite shop was the one below...

The Book Barge was open for business and what lovely books they had on board. It was very strange browsing the shelves whilst the boat moved gently on the water.

I'm pleased to say we came home with all the items ticked off our list. Now they all have to be wrapped and delivered!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Making Pomanders

I love making pomanders. The citrus and spicy aromas and the rich, bright colours make me feel quite festive.

For some reason I didn't make any last year and I missed having their evocative scent around the house.

I wrap the ribbon around the oranges securing at each end with a dressmaker's pin. Then I make holes in the orange skin with an old knitting needle.

Then I place the cloves in ground cinnamon and stick them in the holes. I dust the oranges again with the cinnamon. The oranges then need placing somewhere warm so they can dry out.

As they dry the oranges become lighter. They can be hung from the tree or placed in a bowl on a table. They look lovely and smell wonderful. Definitely the scent of the season.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

At Solomon's Temple, Buxton

On Saturday we walked in the Grin Low Country Park near the Spa town of Buxton. Our goal was to reach Solomon's Temple, sometimes called Grin Low Tower.

There had been a light covering of snow and the air was very misty and cold.
As we walked the air began to clear and there were glimmerings of light from behind the heavy clouds.

We reached the temple and went up to the top; the stairs were very damp and slippy.

The views were stunning both through the windows and from the top of the tower.

The tower stands on top of an ancient Bronze Age barrow known as Grin Hill, is about 20 feet high and is 1,440ft above sea level.

It is a Victorian folly built in 1896 by Solomon Mycock, a local farmer and landowner, who wanted to help provide work for some of the locals who were unemployed; this was done by public subscription and with the help of the Duke of Devonshire. When the tower was built an archaeological dig revealed skeletons of ancient 'Beaker' people.

The walk from the car park and back was very invigorating but we were so cold when we got back to the car - it was time to find some warm soup for lunch so we drove back towards the Longnor Craft Centre, where we ate our late lunch surrounded by some beautiful local arts and crafts - unfortunately the photos I took inside didn't turn out very well because of the light levels, so here is a - link - to their website so you can see for yourselves what they have to offer.