Friday, December 30, 2011

Brrr.... it was cold!

Wednesday morning in Ashbourne was very cold!  We had a walk around the town before stopping for coffee and toasted teacakes at Spencer's bakery and tea shop.

I love looking in all the little shops in the Market Place.  I know I've written several posts about Ashbourne over the years so I hope you don't mind me repeating myself just a little.

Most of the shops in the town were open except the Art Gallery we usually visit for our morning coffee but Spencer's was very good and very busy.

After browsing around some of the bookshops.........

..... we went into the shop below and I treated myself to a new winter hat.  I have to say that hats and I don't get on very well and I always think I look ridiculous in a hat ............

....but I was so glad I'd bought it because as soon as we arrived at Carsington Water I put it on!

The wind was so strong we could hardly stand and taking photos was almost impossible.  The water in the reservoirs was very low for this time of year!

I loved the red of the berries against the soft grey stone wall, such a contrast to the dark glowering sky.

With all my best wishes for a Happy New Year - see you in 2012!

Edited 31st December 2011 - especially for Anne at  'MorningAJ' -  here is the hat!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Photo Scavenger Hunt - December 2011

A Christmas Alphabet
A - D

Angel, Berries, Cards, Dickens
E - H

Envelopes, Father Christmas, Gingerbread Men, Holly
I - L

Ivy, Joyful Music, Kings (carols from), Lights

M - P

Mistletoe, Nativity, Oranges, Poinsettia

Q - T

Quality Street, Reindeer, Stocking, Tree

U - X

Unwrapped presents, Vegetarian Christmas, Wreath, Xmas Reading

Y and Z

Yule Log,  ZZZ....wake me up when it's over!
Thanks as always to Kathy at Postcards from the P.P. for coming up with the monthly challenges.  Here is a link to some of the other participating blogs.  Haven't we all had great fun this year?  Most of my photos were taken around home except two or three taken at Little Moreton Hall and a few at a local garden centre which is where I met Dancer or is it Prancer?  I cheated and used a photo I took in Cambridge a couple of years ago for 'Carols from Kings'.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Yesterday's Walk

We hadn't been out of the house since Christmas Eve morning when we walked around the lake at Trentham so we were ready for a long walk.  We decided to follow one of our favourite walks,  with a few detours along the way, so we set off to Consall country park so that we could walk through the woodland down to the Caldon canal.  I know I've taken you on this walk many times before but I'm going to share it again.

 We walked through the woods under the bare, leafless trees in which long-tailed tits and firecrests twittered and flitted.

 Past the fishing lakes where there was one solitary fisherman braving the elements

 Down the canal towpath with its mossy lichened walls

 Past the station at Consall which last week was a hive of activity for the Santa special steam trains.

 I love these old mile stones on the canal side of course, the Caldon canal doesn't flow as far as Uttoxeter anymore but you can walk to Etruria, in the heart of the city of Stoke-on-Trent. This is where the Caldon and Trent and Mersey canals meet at the Etruria Industrial Museum.

 We crossed the canal at lock number seventeen

 and then crossed the railway - no trains today!

 and finally crossed over the river which was flowing quite quickly under the bridge on which we were standing, foaming and eddying around the rocks as it went along its way.  I love this area where the railway, river and canal all run alongside each other.

Then it was a long climb upwards along muddy, leafy steps - gosh this made my knees hurt a bit and my lungs gasp for breath - note to self for 2012 - more exercise is needed!!

 It is worth it when you reach the top of the hill - the views are spectacular.

Then we had to find our way back to the bottom of the valley, down more muddy, slippy steps - good job we'd put our wellies on.  

At the bottom we walked along the boardwalk and back through the woods to the car - it was time to return home.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

On Christmas Eve

My warmest wishes to you all.....

.... for a happy festive season.  Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

This Morning in the Garden

 This morning we awoke to find more snow.  We had our first downfall of snow on Friday but that had almost disappeared yesterday.  Here it was back again. 

 The Robin was anxiously waiting for his mealworms as I wandered around the garden topping up the feeders and taking photos.

The pond is frozen over, as it was a lot of last winter,  but the wildlife in there seems to survive each year.

 The squirrels were out and about looking for food and leaving tracks and trails all over the garden

I'm sure the snow will disappear quite quickly as it is already very soft on the branches of the trees, dropping gently to the ground with soft, gentle thuds.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

To Little Moreton

We recently visited Little Moreton Hall,  near Congleton to see the festive, seasonal decorations.  We last visited in the Spring when we sat in the gardens in the warm sunshine with ducks begging for scraps at our feet.  This visit it was very cold and there were no ducks to be seen.

We also went along to listen to Piva a group of musicians who play music of the 16th and 17th centuries.  It was all very festive and jolly and warm inside the main hall.

Piva are always such good fun to watch and very entertaining too as they explain about the origins of the music they are playing and the instruments they are using.

The audience are always encouraged to join in the chorus of some of the songs.  After singing along to 'Gaudete' amongst others, we were warm, full of festive spirit and ready to find our way home in the bitter cold of the late afternoon.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Down Nostalgia Lane

I've been reading on a few of your blogs that for one reason or another quite a few of you, like me, are finding it difficult to keep up with all that has to be done at this time of year.  Today we have finally posted the last of the cards and over the weekend managed to buy a few presents but it is very slow going.  I've been thinking about food for Christmas Day - we nearly always cook a Rose Elliott recipe Red Wine and Chestnut Puree En Croute from her 'Vegetarian Christmas' book but I've been looking at a few other recipes as well.  This got me thinking about childhood Christmases and of all the things I remember most vividly about Christmas Day  preparing the table for dinner is high on the list.  Putting out the place mats and cutlery, laying a cracker and twinkling wine glass beside each place and setting and lighting the candles on the table centre piece which was always angel chimes.

We had this delightful, golden and tinkling ornament for years and years and it was always on the Christmas table even when I was grown up, married and travelling miles to come back home for Christmas Day.  I never knew what happened to the chimes when our old family home was finally cleared but I wanted to re-live that memory.   So I 'googled' Angel Chimes and found them straight away, still being made - one site with a forum of other people's memories of their childhood and the magic of angel chimes.   I found some for sale on Amazon and ordered them on Saturday plus a box of candles.   Today the postman knocked at the door and there was my parcel of nostalgia.

This evening I was able to experience the magic and charm of Angel Chimes.  So now I know of at least one thing that will definitely be on the dinner table on Christmas Day.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Racing towards Christmas

When I get up in the morning my first jobs before breakfast are to put out the recycling left from the dark evening before diligently separating the plastics from the tins from the paper from the cardboard.  Next I feed the birds topping up the containers on the main feeder and the little cups near the holly hedge inside which the birds lurk awaiting their breakfast. Then it's into the back of the garage to sort out the cat lit tray - the less said about that the better, I think!   This morning, whilst in there, I decided to take a quick peek into the gloom under a shelf at the pot of paperwhites planted a few weeks ago!

My goodness how they've grown!  I was hoping that they would flower over Christmas and New Year but they do seem to be racing on, don't they?  I've popped them back into the gloom for a while longer to try and halt their progress a little. They can't wait to grow and bloom and I can't wait to see them and experience their special fragrance for, as we enter the new year, they remind me of the joys of spring to come.

Meanwhile the cyclamen has sprouted into life again.  Each year I put the dry, dead looking corm into the same gloom now occupied by the paperwhites, then at this time of year I fetch it out and sprinkle it with water and watch the little hook like tendrils turn into fresh green leaves.  Later it will flower and stay flowering until spring when it is put away for another season. I've been doing this for at least five years now.  It never fails to bloom again and never ceases to amaze me!

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Just a small part of the whole

Or scenes from a Saturday in Lichfield.

  I was thinking about a theme for this post and decided to take a detail from each photo and then show both.  So here are just the small parts of the whole........

A carved statue

on the front of the Cathedral

An interesting window

on Dr Johnson's Birthplace Museum

A festive wreath

on a shop front in Tudor Row

The head of a camel

 outside a shop on Dam Street

A business sign over a shop front

 down Quonians Lane

This one was in the detail - I forgot about the whole!