Wednesday, December 29, 2010


After we'd watched and enjoyed Nigel Slater's Christmas Suppers on television over the weekend in which he created five simple suppers from left overs, in fact we've enjoyed the whole series of simple suppers over the last few weeks, we realised we had all the ingredients for two of the meals he prepared.  So below you see open, flat mushrooms with blue Stilton and walnuts - very tasty and........

......warm, crumbled Christmas pudding on vanilla ice-cream - lovely!

Other 'leftovers' we have found in the garden!   

One of our heather plants, which overhangs the steps up to the lawn, had completely covered them - broken by the weight of the snow it has supported for the last few weeks.

The water in the water butt, which stands at the back of the greenhouse, had frozen and expanded causing the bottom of the container to turn into a 'weeble' like shape, unlike the weebles though it did fall down!

I've just spent an hour in the garden checking the plants, cleaning bird baths and feeding areas and sweeping the patio - I've really enjoyed being able to get out into the garden again.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Boxing Day Walk

After a day indoors on Christmas Day we were ready to get out and about and walk off the effects of the Christmas pud and mince pies .  I'm so glad we got out yesterday because as I sit here looking out of the window this morning the snow is coming down again - although as it is warmer it doesn't seem to be settling.

We didn't venture far; just for our usual walk around the lake at Trentham but it was so lovely!

A magical winter wonderland - it was hard to see the edges of the lake

Everything was white over with frost crystals covering the snow
It was so very, very cold!  My fingers tingled in two pairs of gloves.

The words deep and crisp and even came into my head!

I apologise for showing even more snowy photos but my world over the last few weeks has been mostly white.

I'm still getting used to my posh new lap top; it has taken me ages to write and set out this post

I'm missing the old desk top but finding the laptop quicker and easier in connecting to the internet.

Whilst I'm writing this I'd just like to say thank you to all of you for leaving such lovely comments, for visiting and reading my posts and for following me - I appreciate it so much!

I've just turned around to look out of the window and the snowflakes are huge and settling now.  Oh, well!

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Walk on Christmas Eve

Come with me for a snowy afternoon stroll

Across the field

down the lane

 towards Fenton and into the park

The air was cold the snow underfoot was soft yet crisp

The sun was shining, the sky was blue - in this winter wonderland I felt the magic of the season
Christmas is finally here.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Few Memories

Below is St Leonard's Church in the village of Scarcliffe in Derbyshire.  It was very, very cold in the churchyard yesterday as we placed a holly wreath on Mum and Dad's grave.  Paul and I were married at this church as were my sister and brother-in-law.  Just a week before our wedding in April there was snow on the ground but it had cleared away and as we stood in church the sun came out and filtered through the leaded windows.

This is a view of the village from Foxes Hill - completely surrounded by snow.  We experienced many cold winters here in the 1950s and 1960s.  I remember waking up to frost and ice on the inside of the bedroom windows; the way we all gathered around an open fire at night not wanting to face the cold bedrooms upstairs even though hot water bottles had been placed in the beds an hour before.  I remember cold waits for buses that never got through into the village.  In the bad winter of 1962/63 the bus did get through to take us to school but it came off the road and  ended up on a slope.  We all had to clamber out of the emergency door at the back and the head girl at the time, who lived in the village, marched us all to school in twos through the cold and snowy lanes.

On Sunday we finally got the Christmas decoration up.  The tree below is in the conservatory

I love opening up the boxes of decorations and remembering what we have and sorting out which items will go on which tree.  I do like colours to match so we have a red and green theme above and a gold and green one on the tree below which is in the sitting room.

I was reading somewhere the other day about the most unusual Christmas present you had ever received.  Well, it wasn't particularly unusual but my Aunt Millicent Mabel, known as Auntie Millie, always gave me and my mother a hand made apron and a huge bar of chocolate.  One year we went to visit and take our cards and present to her and she handed ours to us with the words -'here's your presents - I haven't been feeling well so you'll have to sew up the aprons yourselves'.  When we opened them up on Christmas Day there was the chocolate and the cut out pieces of the apron all ready to sew together.   I remember waking one Christmas to find my pillow case of presents and sitting on top was a blue and white panda.  I still have the panda, although it is more grey and grey nowadays, in a box with two other bears that I can't bear to part with.  I remember receiving things like pens and pencils, colouring and puzzle books,  a selection box,  Secret Seven or Famous Five books, a board game, Mr potato head and a favourite of mine - a fuzzy felt circus!   What childhood presents do you remember?

Saturday, December 18, 2010


It began to snow again yesterday - just a light sprinkling which was topped up during the night.  Today was to be a big shopping day and I wasn't particularly looking forward to it but we were up early so decided to try and make the city centre.  The roads around us haven't been  gritted so getting off the estate and down the hill to the main road was a bit scary but after that things were fine.

The car park was nearly empty when we arrived and amazingly so were many of the shops;  we had expected huge crowds but thankfully we were able to wander around M&S, BHS, W.H. Smith and Debenhams as if it was a weekday morning in February.  We didn't have to queue for coffee and we managed to find everything we wanted.  I also managed to find some much needed boots at Clarks reduced from £69.99 to £34.99 - I do like a bargain!  I've been looking for over a year so I'm so relieved to have some new ones.

We then moved on to Tesco - the car park was half empty and so was the shop.  We we were able to wander around and get what we wanted without any stress and walked up to an empty check-out to pay.  I can't quite believe our good luck!  Was it really the Saturday before Christmas?

Back home this afternoon we have been into the roof to retrieve the Christmas tree and decorations;  no doubt these will be put up tomorrow so at least the house will look at little bit more festive! We have a few presents to wrap and a few local cards to pop through letterboxes.

I've burrowed in the cupboard (note to self:- tidying and decluttering is needed!) and found some favourite seasonal films to watch over the next couple of weeks.

and I've got a  couple of really frivolous, festive books to read - am I getting there at last?
I do hope so! 

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Splash of Colour for December

I'm a bit late with December's Splash of Colour!  The grey-white I've been surrounded by for what seems like weeks, but is really only days, has been replaced by a dull greeny-brown; making it hard to find much colour out and about!

Pot of basil in my kitchen window.

Oranges, ribbons and cloves ready to make pomanders.
I made them last year as you can see below.  I've washed and ironed some of the ribbons from last year to use again.

Also on the table is a square of material I bought at Amerton Farm ready to make some festive scented hearts like the ones below that I made a couple of years ago. 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Pictures at an Exhibition

Recently we travelled to the county town of Stafford.  For some reason we don't go there very often but this time we had a special reason for visiting. 

We wanted to see the Rob Ryan exhibition at the Shire Hall Gallery.  There was a festive Christmas market outside the hall with lots of lovely tempting food and drink and beautiful crafts and flowers.

The words on the banner are  'Your job is to take this world apart and put it back together again - but even better!!!'

There are both original paper cuts and prints in the exhibition. As well as some wonderful decorated pottery cats and dogs to reflect the ceramics heritage of Staffordshire.  I was thrilled to see these as I have my own pair of painted cats purchased when we first came to live in the county.  The middle section of the exhibition featured Rob Ryan's illustrations for the book 'The Gift' with words by poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy. 

Here is a (link) to a post on the blog 'Spitalfields Life' about the opening of the Rob Ryan exhibition in Stafford with some wonderful photos of the Staffordshire cats.

Whilst we were in the Shire Hall we had a cup of coffee in the cafe on the balcony overlooking the exhibition and then had a quick look in the old court rooms.  You can sit in the viewing gallery and play recordings of past court proceedings - it's very atmospheric and reminds me a little of the court in The Judge's Lodgings at Presteigne.

Outside the market was in full swing.  I loved this old Citroen van with its open side.  They were selling some lovely things like scented candles in pretty cups, festive door wreaths and bunches of lavender in wooden garden trugs.  Lots of pennies needed though!

This is the outside of the Ancient High House museum.  We usually pop in here for a look around but didn't this time.  It's very interesting inside; especially the panelled rooms where King Charles I and his nephew Prince Rupert of the Rhine stayed  in 1642 as they passed through the town on their way to nearby Shrewsbury.

Above is the very pretty Church Lane.  In summer this lane is full of brightly coloured flowers in tubs and hanging baskets.  At the top of the lane is the church of St Mary.

It was time to move on as we hoped to call in at Amerton Farm on our way home.  I'll leave you with some more images of Stafford.  I bought a copy of the exhibition poster as a souvenir!

Thanks, Diane for introducing me to the wonderful work of Rob Ryan.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Back Home

The snow in Chesterfield was far deeper than it was here.  We were housebound for quite a few days but that was fine as the fridge and freezer were well stocked and we didn't have to go anywhere.  We had quite a good journey home with just a few delays on the A38 as we, and all the other drivers,  were lead along by a police car with a helicopter hovering overhead.  Not sure what the problem was but we were soon on our way again through Derby and out towards the A50.

Yesterday we decided to go for a walk around the lake at Trentham Gardens.  I wasn't going to take any photos but it all looked so beautiful I couldn't resist.

The trees looked lovely against the blue sky.

We didn't spot any of the fallow deer but found these sculptures at the side of the lake!  

No rowers on the water, of course.  The yellow boat caught my eye - a splash of colour on the frozen lake.

We saw this little white duck at the side of the river; most of the ducks were on there rather than the lake as the water wasn't frozen.

Needless to say there was no one sitting outside the lakeside cafe, as they usually do on a  Sunday morning.

The pathways were quite slippy but we managed quite well in our walking boots. 

When we got back to the gardens the choir were gathered ready to sing some carols. 

All of a sudden it felt quite festive!