Tuesday, December 24, 2019

The Wexford Carol

I love this rendition by Alison Krauss and Yo-Yo Ma of what is thought to be one of the oldest Christmas carols also known as "Good People all this Christmas Time"

Wishing you all a peaceful, healthy and joyful festive season.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Christmas Tree Festival at Lichfield Cathedral

On Wednesday morning we made our way to the city of Lichfield.  It isn't too far away from here, about forty minutes drive and is small enough to feel like a market town rather than a city.

Our main intention was to visit the Christmas Tree Festival at the Cathedral before doing a little shopping.

It was a very cold day and for some reason I was finding it hard to keep warm in the damp and breezy weather. 

As soon as we entered the Cathedral I felt better from being inside and the glow of the lights made us feel warmer too.

I didn't take too many photos as I wanted to just look at the trees and take in how lovely it all looked.

I've taken you inside the building a few times over the years so not many words this time especially after my wordy grumbles in my last post.

Before we get to the trees I wanted to mention the structure above. It's called 'In the Image and Likeness:  A constellation of Images'  It's a collaboration between the Cathedral, its artist in residence Peter Walker, local schools and community groups.

It was quite beautiful both seen at a distance with its pale, fragile silvery light and also close to looking up into it with it's bright golden glow.

Here is a - link - to more information about the project which explains it more easily that I could have done.
On to the trees, I had meant to find out how many there were but forgot to ask and didn't pick up any information about them, I would think there must have been about fifty of them.

I liked the turquoise blue feathers on this tree.

This one caught our attention as it was so simplel with gentle seasonal colours and didn't have glitter or flashing lights.
On closer inspection it was a tree from the National Memorial Arboretum.

I loved this star on top of one of the trees

I think you can see from the photos that at the time we visited it wasn't very busy

The tree with the rocking horse was decorated by a local vetinary surgery.

From about 5.30p.m. onwards there are also light displays and illuminations both inside and outside the cathedral.

I've heard that is is quite spectacular and seen wonderful photos on facebook taken by friends who have visited in the evening. 

Friday, December 20, 2019

A bit of a Grumble

I don't usually moan or grumble on this blog. I try my hardest to keep it light and friendly and I hope interesting but two things are bothering me at the moment which I just have to grumble about.

Earlier today we drove in heavy rain to the Derbyshire village I grew up in and where my mother and step-father are buried in the churchyard.   I knew with all the rain that the churchyard, especially the path to the newer section, would be very muddy so had taken old boots to put on just to walk through it.  As we walked past the old gravestones towards the newer ones beyond the boundary wall I noticed the smell of cows.  I assumed the smell was coming from one of the nearby farmer's fields but as we got closer to the graveside we could see that something was amiss.  

There were hoof prints from cows all over the graves and Mum and Dad's grave seem particularly bad and the headstone which had always had a slight tilt was leaning quite badly to one side as if a cow had pushed or nudged against it in some way and it had moved in the loose wet earth.  

There was nothing we could do as the rain was streaming down and we were slipping and sliding in the mud so we placed the holly wreath we had brought with us and walked back towards the front of the churchyard.  On the small shed in the corner near the taps was a notice.  It told us that cows had strayed into the churchyard from the Chatsworth Estate land and that they were aware of the problem and hoped to deal with the damage soon.  We are now going to have to go back in a week or two to see what, if anything, has been done.

I was reading this morning about the government plans to introduce voting by photo ID only.  This bothers me a lot as I posses neither passport nor driving license.  I've never learnt to drive and our passports ran out in 2017 and we never got round to renewing them.  I do have a bus pass even though we don't have a regular bus service anymore in the area we live in, it tends to get used on holiday rather than around here and also as ID when collecting parcels from the post office sorting office because, of course, they always try to deliver them when we are out and about. 

 It occurred to me that maybe if we need to have photo identification that some sort of identity card would become necessary, funnily enough I still have one in my name which was issued to my parents when I was a baby.  I assume because rationing didn't fully disappear until 1954.  It seems to me that local councils could issue these cards locally much as they do bus passes.  They have the technology and can check people through the electoral register and the census returns. Perhaps, fingers crossed, it won't happen but I won't hold my breath as many things I neither like nor understand are happening at the moment, I sometimes feel quite alien in my own country.

Sorry moan over except of course my three usual gripes of -

 1. Pot holes in the roads.  We had to replace a brand new tyre a few weeks ago.

2.  Tailgaters on the roads whom I usually refer to as arrogant bullies.

3.  People who don't drop into single file when walking on narrow paths and pavements and glare at you as if it is you who are in their way even though we have usually looked ahead and seen the difficulty and dropped into single file well in advance it's just common courtesy after all.

Grr to them all.

Sorry.  Back to normal in my next post.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Very slowly a bit at a Time

Very slowly, just a little bit at a time, Christmas is entering the house.

I like introducing things gradually

First things first the Christmas shopping bag that gets used for about a month each year.  I love it's cheerfulness on grey, damp, misty mornings. Things have certainly been bleak, colourless and depressing over the last few days so we need some cheer.

 The citrus, spicy aroma of the pot pourri makes the house feel seasonally festive.

 Also on display on the bookcase because they weren't even put away, four new Christmas items purchased over the last few weeks, two sweet mice for the tree and a lovely little tin.

And also a little wooden winter scene.

 Tomte has found a home.  I love his nose and fluffy beard, he makes me smile.

Boxes of tree decorations are being opened one at a time.  This old hat box which lives on the top of my wardrobe contains some of the baubles.

Whilst searching for lost things I found this little Christmas tree, bought for my first Christmas in December 1950 when I was about four months old.  When I was a child it was always decorated with small, fragile glass baubles. I also remember a red and white plastic Father Christmas on his sleigh and a fairy with a feather skirt which used to sit on top.  The tree is very sparse and fragile now.  I need to find a museum that will look after it as I hate to think of it being thrown away when I've gone ditto my three childhood teddy bears which live in a box at the bottom of my wardrobe with the little tree.

We still have one journey to make which includes taking wreaths to churchyards and then lunch with dear friends. I expect that over the weekend the Christmas cake will be iced and the main tree put up and decorated.

Over the weekend we made our usual visit to the Tudor Christmas at Little Moreton Hall. Warm, mulled apple brandy and a ginger biscuit were offered on arrival, there was music from Piva in the main hall and a jester creating havoc in the courtyard outside.

I've made collages of some of the things that caught my eye. 

It's always a very jolly and festive event and something we look forward to each year.

Sunday, December 01, 2019

A Visit to Sandon Hall

Yesterday we visited Sandon Hall which is just a few miles south-east of the canal town of Stone.  

It was slightly foggy as we made our way there with just a glimmer of sun waiting to appear later in the day. 

It was cold too so extra layers were needed for a walk around the grounds.

Sandon Hall is a  Grade II listed 19th century country mansion set in 400 acres of parkland.

It has been home to the Harrowby family since the 1850s.  The house was rebuilt from 1850 to 1854 after it was devastated by fire.

As we headed towards the main entrance we were met by a little tabby cat who walked ahead of us to the doors.

It was very friendly and I was able to tickle under its chin and stroke its head.  Inside it was warm and noisy, a choir was singing carols around a piano near the staircase and stall holders were discussing their wares with visitors.

We decided to head to the Orangery first for a warming mug of coffee before having a good look around the stalls inside.  There were lots of lovely festive crafts but I didn't take any photos as it was too busy.

The Orangery was fairly empty when we arrived and we were able to find a table inside rather than outside in the marquee.

Delicious coffee and one piece of fruit cake to share.

Not long after we were settled people started to arrive for elevenses.

Everything was looking quite festive.

The staircase

The Orangery from the outside

We were looking forward to a walk around the grounds. 
You can see from the photos above and below how frosty it was.

Halfway round the garden the little cat joined us again.

 It wanted a fuss and left behind muddy paw prints

before its attention became focused on something moving at the bottom of the wall, a little mouse perhaps?

There was an elf trail for the children

and we could hear yells of delight as the elves were spotted and cards stamped.  We encountered about five of them as we walked around.

It was a lovely visit and felt very seasonal and festive.  Today is the first day of December and I think it may be a stay at home and make the Christmas cake day.  What are your plans for today?