Wednesday, December 27, 2017

After Christmas

The last few days seem to have consisted of food, brisk walks, good books, listening to music and the occasional watching of television and more food.

We had prepared a lot of the Christmas Dinner on Christmas Eve the filling for our usual Chestnut and Red Wine Puree en Croute was made ready to be covered in puff pastry the next day, a few mince pies were made with what was left of the pastry.  Vegetables like Brussels Sprouts and Red Cabbage were prepared with just the root vegetables left to peel on Christmas morning.

For our joint Christmas present we had sent for Ancestry DNA kits in November, when there was a special offer, and duly sent them off.  My results came back on Christmas Eve but Paul has to resend his for some reason.  As I expected my results showed my links firmly in the Midlands,  Forty four percent Great Britain - Northern England and the Midlands. Twenty Two percent Western Europe and twenty percent Scotland, Wales and Ireland.  Nine percent Scandinavia, Finland and North West Russia and five percent Iberian Peninsula.  I have yet to work out the connotations of this but I seem to be made up of little bits of possibly Roman, Norman, Celt and Norse with later British/Midlands influences.  I find it absolutely fascinating and there are several second, third and fourth cousins whom I can contact which I may do in the New Year.

I found television programmes I wanted to watch a bit thin on the ground this year but we did watch Maigret in Montmartre on Christmas Eve.  We also watched The Highway Rat, Dr Who (just Paul) Upstart Crow and Victoria (just me) on Christmas Day.  I've spent most of the time reading a collection of short stories by P D James and the latest 'Fethering' mystery by Simon Brett. I've also just started The Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz.

I'll leave you with a few photos of Geese spotted on one of our walks

and a few photos from our visit to the World of Wedgwood's Magical Christmas.

How was your Christmas? Have you had a great time?  I hope so. 

Monday, December 25, 2017

Happy Christmas

Wishing you all

a Peaceful and Joyous Christmas 

Monday, December 18, 2017

Out and About

Things were a bit slow last week as the snowy weather stopped us from going too far. The road we live on was very icy for most of the week, the wheelie bin collectors who normally come on Tuesday finally emptied our bins on Friday afternoon. We cancelled driving over to Mansfield a couple of times but finally got there on Thursday to visit family.  Avoiding the A50/A38 route because there had been several accidents reported on those roads recently we drove through country roads via Ashbourne, Matlock and Clay Cross to Scarcliffe, the small village I grew up in, to put a festive wreath on my Mum and step dad's grave in the churchyard.  

The church of St Leonard dates from the early twelfth century.  The school I attended as a child isn't far from the church and was very involved with the church through the school year.  The Vicar used to come to the school to talk to us and occasional visits to the church were made.  Sunday School was held at the Vicarage.  I remember the vicar during my time at the junior school was The Reverend Jeremy Wootton and his housekeeper was an elderly lady (or so she seemed to me as a child) called Miss Heatherington. Funny the things you remember! Our teachers at school were Mrs Groves and Mrs Phipps, the school secretary was Mrs Russen and the cook was Mrs Coupe.  With only thirty five pupils the village school was like a large family.

One story we learnt at school was the tale of Lady Constantia de Frecheville who with her small child was lost in darkness in the nearby woods.  She was guided to safety by the ringing of the curfew bell at the church.  She left land to the church which would pay for the curfew bell to be rung each night to help others who may be lost.  There is a monument to her in the church but of course the church was locked whilst we were there and we were short on time but I have found a link to a blog where the writer has recorded a visit to the church in 2016 whilst it was open for History Open Days and there are photos of the monument there.  Northern Vicar's Blog

The churchyard was full of pheasants. Of course as soon as I came ambling around the corner they scattered to the four winds, especially the females.  Just a few male pheasants carried on pecking at the grass regardless of a striding female wearing padded winter coat and wellies, clutching a very prickly holly wreath.  I left Paul in the car to ring family to tell them we were running a bit late as we had managed to get behind every slow vehicle you could think of down the country lanes. When I rounded the corner he was standing on the grass in front of the church with phone held high, unable to get a decent enough signal to make a call.

I'm sure those pheasants in the churchyard would not have been amused at the feathers to be found in the wreath on the door to the Emma Bridgewater factory shop and cafe.  It was very pretty though.  Inside the seasonal decorations seemed to be made up of pheasant feathers and large, dried allium heads which must have been from the little walled garden at the back of the shop as I saw them there in the summer.

Of course we couldn't resist the cafe and it was about time that we had our first mince pie of the season.  Very tasty they were too.  I loved the Robin mug, so cheering and festive.

Meanwhile back home the foxes have been active lately, visiting the garden during the day time, especially when the snow was on the ground.  The fox below is one of this year's cubs, a little female, she has a lovely bushy tail with a black tip and black or very dark brown fur on her lower legs.

Last weekend we headed up to Little Moreton Hall to listen to Piva singing their Tudor Christmas songs.  We go every year and their performance always starts Christmas for me.

I'll be back with more about this visit later, meanwhile I wish you all a Peaceful and Joyous Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Snow Days

Days at home due to the snow concentrate the mind into doing the festive 'need to do' jobs you've been putting off, like writing Christmas Cards.

We now have a pile of them to post and hopefully tomorrow we can don our hats, warm coats and wellies and walk down to the post office to send them on their way.

 Whilst I was sitting at the kitchen table writing the last few cards, held back to put letters or notes inside, Paul made Welsh Cakes and they were delicious with afternoon tea whilst watching a silly but entertaining Christmas film.

 This morning we woke to another fall of snow.   Paths were cleared to the bird feeders which needed topping up ready for the cold weather ahead.

 The garden looks wonderful in the snow and it's so quiet and peaceful too under its fluffy white blanket.

No animal or human footprints as yet.

First bird at the ground feeder is old Mr Blackbird with his white feathery neck markings, he's been in and around our garden for a few years now and entertains us with his melodies in Spring.  I hope he makes it into next year.

Next to the feeder is the fearless one legged Robin.  He or she does have a second leg which hangs loosely under their body.  It often comes close to the kitchen window and stares in as if to say 'come on! you are late with those breakfast buggy nibbles this morning.'   Perhaps he/she would like a side order of meal worms too.

When the Goldfiches come in every perch on the feeders is taken and the one in the middle starts to form an orderly queue for a perch to get at the sunflower hearts which the finches around here seem to prefer to niger seed.

The next visitors were a pair of Greenfinches.

and a Chaffinch, it's definitely a Finch day today.

 Of course there are also Starlings. 

Who fight to get to the window feeder

 Another Robin peering to see what is left after the Starlings have visited.  Most of these photos were taken through the conservatory windows which had steamed up slightly due to me ironing......

..........and Paul making cheese scones for lunch.  We've had homemade soup for lunch for the last couple of days carrot yesterday and celery on Friday and I've really enjoyed those and cooking and baking certainly keeps the kitchen warm.

Later this afternoon I'll sit with a good festive book, I can't say what it is as I've bought a copy (mine is from the library) as a present and I know the person who is to receive it reads this blog.  In complete contrast I also have a book on my Kindle called 'One Summer in Tuscany' by Domenica De Rosa who as Elly Griffiths writes the wonderful murder mysteries set in Norfolk featuring forensic archaeologist Dr Ruth Galloway and the equally entertaining Stephens and Mephisto novels set in 1950s Brighton. 

This novel is a departure from those mentioned above and is more romance/humour in the vein of Judy Astley and Trisha Ashley but it is an escape to sunnier climes which compensates for the snow outside and it is about a creative writing course held in a castle near Sienna. 

Staying in on snow days isn't so bad but I will be glad if we can get out and about again tomorrow.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

A Wintry Walk

Our Friday walk saw us at Tittesworth Reservoir in the Staffordshire Moorlands. It is close to the village of Meerbrook, near Leek and The Roaches.

It was 1st December and the weather had turned decidedly wintry.  By the end of the walk my fingers and toes were tingling with cold.

The winter sun was bright in the sky and glistened on the water.  There seemed to be very few water birds around, just a few gulls bobbing up and down seemingly immune to the cold.

There was a crunchy frost underfoot as we made our way down the path towards the boardwalk.

It was too cold to sit on the stone sofa provided for those wishing to relax and gaze over the lake.

The boardwalk path was very slippy, down in this area we could hear and see the birds flitting in the trees, birds like Siskins and Long Tailed Tits too quick for me to capture with my camera.  Paul has written a post about the other birds we saw - here

Only the robins were prepared to pose for a photo or two.

There was still lots of intersting fungi to be spotted.

Further along the water on the reservoir was white and fozen over.

Time to return to the visitor centre  for a bowl of tasty Carrot and Parsnip soup.

It was delicious and warming after such a cold walk.