Sunday, January 29, 2012

Photo Scavenger Hunt - January 2012

Well, it's time for a Photo Scavenger Hunt post again.  As always a big  thank you to Kathy at Postcards from the P.P. for continuing to inspire us and get us thinking and snapping each month!  Here are my efforts for January!

Two shadows across the defensive ditch at Castle Ring Iron Age Hill Fort, Canock Chase, Staffordshire

A hang glider over Thorpe Cloud, Ilam, Staffordshire

A group of cyclists keeping each other company along the Monsal Trail.  Photo taken just at the exit of the Headstone Tunnel.  Yes, we finally got to walk through the tunnels last Sunday - it was a good way of getting out of the very strong wind!

Entrance..... the Manifold tea-room, Ilam Country Park, Staffordshire.  Inside lots of people in warm hats and boots chatting and eating scones!

In your bathroom
Just one little corner!

In Season
Seville Oranges for making marmalade

In the Distance
Rugeley Power Station  beyond Cannock Forest taken from Castle Ring Iron Age Hill Fort on Cannock Chase

Information Board in the exhibition area at Ilam Country Park, Staffordshire.

After baking a cake!

Not odd weird but odd unusual!  A white fallow deer at Dunham Massey, Cheshire where we went yesterday to see the winter garden - I'll do a post about that later next week.

The squirrel's fluffy tail looks soft as does the distinctive white fur behind his ears!

Of the danger of soft mud at Tittesworth Reservoir, near Leek, Staffordshire.  I don't think the duck is too worried about it!

Here is a -  link  - to more of this month's entries!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Big Garden Bird Watch and Versatility

This coming weekend I will be participating in the RSPB's Big Garden Bird Watch.  All you have to do is record the birds you see in one hour over the two days!  (full details here)  I've done this for a number of years now even though we didn't join the RSPB until a couple of years ago.  We have lots of birds visit our garden and I have three areas where I feed them.  

We have loads of sparrows!  They have done so well  here over the last couple of years.   I think it's because we have hedges and shrubs on two sides of the garden.  They particularly like the holly hedge at the top of the garden where they wait to be fed each morning sometimes flying across the garden and into the hedge as I walk towards it just as if they are vying to be first in the queue.  The hedge is a good refuge from the sparrowhawk that occasionally flies across the garden and sometimes lands.

We have a few blackbirds too.  One of the males is quite aggressive and chases the other birds away from the food!

The little robin sings every morning before I put out his meal worms.  He is always first in line for these although he sometimes loses out to a couple of magpies who drop by to see what is available on the food table.  I can hear him now, through the open bedroom window, singing as I type this post.

We are so pleased to have the song thrush back!  We had three the year before last and they did an excellent job of clearing the slugs and snails in the garden.  In the middle of last year there was just one and then it disappeared but it came back and it is still here - I haven't seen it for a while but my neighbours have.

This week I was very honoured to receive this blog award from both Elaine at A Woman of the Soil.  and Suzy at Rustic Vintage Country  Do go and visit their lovely blogs and whilst you are there you can also visit some of the other blogs they have given this award to.  Some of them are bloggy friends of old whose blogs I know and love, whilst others are new to me. Thank you so much for thinking of me, Elaine and Suzy! I have to nominate 7 other blogs that I've  just  recently discovered and that I have enjoyed and I also have to reveal 7 things about myself so here goes.  I have found lots of 'new to me' blogs whilst participating in the 'Photo Scavenger Hunt' each month so I'm going to nominate some of those.

Stand and Stare
The Diary of an Unremarkeable Woman
Stitch of Time
Little Blue Mouse
A Place for everything
Marmalade and Catmint
Bright Star
Seven things about myself

1) I love Museums and historic buildings infact anything historical especially relating to social, local and industrial history.

2) I love books, reading, libraries and book shops.

3) I love the theatre and have a huge collection of programmes from just about every production I have ever seen from about 1966.

4) I left school at 15 and did my 'A' levels at night school then studied for a degree with the Open University (History and History of Art) when I was in my 30s then about 20 years later did their course on Creative Writing.

5) I've been researching my family history since 1988 when you had to travel to archives and look at parish register books placed on a cushion wearing white cotton gloves to protect the pages. It is so much easier now most records are on the internet.  I was surprised to find I have Scottish ancestors on my mother's side.

6) A long time ago (c.1975) at the first Museum and Art Gallery I worked  in I sold a painting of a can opener from an exhibition we had in the gallery to the jazz musician George Melly who'd been performing, the night before, at the theatre next door.  He was thrilled with it and told me it would amuse the boys in the band who were then John Chiltern's Feetwarmers!

7) I have bronze, silver and gold medals in 'Disco Dancing' - I danced my gold medal set pieces to 'Eye to Eye Contact' by Edwin Starr, 'Enough is Enough' by Donna Summer and Barbra Streisand and 'We Don't Talk Anymore' by Cliff Richard.

Well, that's quite enough about me!  I hope you'll pop along and visit the blogs I've mentioned and perhaps have a go at the Big Garden Bird Watch as well.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

White Winter Walk

On Sunday we walked at one of my absolute favourite places!

We parked at the Blore Pastures car park and set out through Blore Woods and over the fields towards the village of Ilam.  The ground was hard underfoot and quite slippy as we headed towards the entrance to the parkland.

You can see Thorpe Cloud and Bunster Hill in the distance.  I have to say although it was bitterly cold it was also truly magical!

The sheep were gathered around their food looking cold even though they have such warm, woolly coats.

Once inside the parkland we walked along by the river towards the bridge

Where there was a wonderful view of Ilam Hall Youth Hostel

We carried on along the river and climbed up the steps to the top of the walk and down the other side before crossing the river by the smaller bridge.

By this time my fingers and toes were tingling with cold so we stopped for coffee and scones at the Manifold tea-rooms which were very busy!

No, we didn't sit outside!  Everyone was inside sharing tables with each other and chatting away about the weather, the walking and the beauty of the day.

Of course I had to take yet another photo of  - my favourite view.   You'll notice that by the time we'd eaten our scones and looked inside the National Trust shop the sun was out and the frost was disappearing.

We'd been out for nearly three hours and it only seemed like one!  It was time to head back over the fields towards the car and home.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

On Farewell Lane

What on earth, you may ask yourself, was I doing on a cold Saturday morning in January walking along Farewell Lane......

...taking photos of what appears to be a traffic island on a triangular junction?

Well, I'll tell you!  This is no ordinary traffic island but according to the Guinness Book of Records, the smallest park in Britain!
Prince's Park was placed here, in the village of Burntwood in Staffordshire, in 1863 to commemorate the marriage between Albert Edward, Prince of Wales and Princess Alexandra of Denmark.

It is sited opposite the red brick church of Christchurch which was  built in 1819 and consecrated in 1820 as a chapel of worship for the people of Burntwood who found it difficult to travel the four miles to their nearest parish church in Lichfield.

The three trees in the little park, which I crossed in about ten or twelve strides, were planted at the time of the commemoration and are named Faith, Hope and Charity.

The park is maintained by Lichfield District Council and has a bench where, according to their website, you can sit for a while in tranquil surroundings.  I have to say that it wasn't very tranquil whilst we were there as the traffic around the junction was pretty heavy at times but the trees and bench are well maintained and the little park absolutely litter free.

Now I'm  wondering which is Britain's largest municipal park?  Anyone know?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

On Looking for Green in the Garden

I found.......

 Hebe (not sure which type)

 Euonymous fortunei  'Emerald Surprise'


Juniper, sadly no berries this year

and Wallflowers

Silver, gold and a few good books

Evening skies earlier this week.......

saying farewell to the golden sun

then welcome to the silver moon

A Quick Book Review


I just wanted to mention three books I read towards the end of last year.   Written by Miss Anna Dean they feature amateur 'solver of puzzles and myseries'  Miss Dido Kent.  Set in the very early 19th century in 1805/6 and half written in the form of letters to her twin sister Eliza as Dido writes down all her thoughts, suspicions and conclusions on what ever is going through her mind as she searches for the root of the problem.  When I picked the books up in 'The Works' I took a risk buying them, even thought they were only 3 for £5, but I'm so glad I did.   If you enjoy Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer or Agatha Christie's Miss Marple then I'm sure you will enjoy the enquiries and investigations of Miss Dido Kent.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Blowing the Cobwebs Away

After visiting Ashbourne on Wednesday (see my last post) we spent Thursday at home with friends who had come over from Nottingham to visit.  We had a lovely day chatting, eating, catching up on news and exchanging presents.  On Friday we drove out to Bridgemere Garden World as I had some vouchers that needed to be used before the end of the month and a broken bird feeder tray to replace - I think the winter- plump squirrels must have been too heavy for it!   Saturday we had a stroll around the lake at Trentham and Sunday was spent mostly indoors as the weather was awful but not, I have to say, as bad as it is this morning when knocking at the front door woke us at 6a.m. - nothing to do with visitors but the Christmas spray on the door, which was fastened to the door knocker, being tossed around in the wind.  

In complete contrast to today, the weather yesterday morning was cold and sunny.   We set out to take a walk at Tittesworth Reservoir just beyond Leek.

The snow on the hills looked just like an over-generous dusting of icing sugar on top of a cake.  This just made me smile as I made a lemon sponge on Wednesday evening, ready for Thursday's visitors and I dusted over a little too much icing sugar but I didn't, unlike Kirsty Allsop on Kirsty's Homemade Christmas, blow the excess off as she did from her chocolate log just before the judges had to taste it!!

In the distance the rocky outcrop of The Roaches glistened in the low, bright winter sun.

It was firm and crisp underfoot

and it was cold enough to wear the hat again!

I thought that the water levels at Tittesworth were much higher than those we'd seen at Carsington last week.

As we were heading towards the car park there was a great cacophony of sound as dozens of geese flew over with a honking, swirling, flourish some landing on the water and some on its grassy bank.   This one was watching us closely to see if we might have anything to offer in the way of sustenance.  Sorry goosey!

Hope everyone had a super New Year's weekend.