Wednesday, December 29, 2021


 It was such a quiet dayWe'd completely forgotten that yesterday was a second Bank Holiday.  It didn't matter as I didn't want or need to go in anywhere.

We just felt like being somewhere different for a while. As we travelled towards Ashbourne there were many large puddles on the roads and several fields flooded in patches of lower ground.  It did rain quite hard over the Christmas weekend and it is still raining today.

A few shops were open.  One or two charity shops and clothes shops like Joules and Fat Face.  Local shops were mostly closed except for a newsagents.
This meant that the streets were empty which made taking photos quite easy,  I always worry about getting in people's way.

It was lovely just to walk around in the fresh air, enjoying the views and the shop windows still dressed for the festive season.

I hope you all had a good Christmas and were able to see family and friends if you could.  

We had a zoom chat with friends on Christmas Eve, a quiet day on Christmas Day and a long, local walk on Boxing Day.
As you will see from the photos there was a slight drizzle in the air but it was fairly warm for December.

I'll leave you with more photos below of things we spotted on our way around the town.

Take Care

Friday, December 24, 2021

Friday, Christmas Eve

 Five from the tree for Christmas Eve.

As the decorations are put on the tree I always remember where they came from, where they were bought and who was with me at the time.

My favourite little mouse came from the Chatsworth Garden Centre.  We had taken my step-sister shopping there on a day out from her home in nearby Chesterfield.  We ate slices of Christmas cake and sipped hot coffee from the little shop in Baslow before we started shopping.

The wooden hare was bought at the Token House in Nottingham. For years it was in an old building on Bridlesmith Gate that stretched both backwards and sideways. The floors were uneven and sloped up to the back of the shop and the floor boards creaked. I loved that shop; it was full of cards and paper, pens an pencils, toys, ceramics, jewellery and all things scented, an Alladin's cave of sheer delight. I noticed last time we were in the city centre it had moved premises to a smaller more modern building behind St Peter's Church, which although still full of lovely things, didn't have the same sense of excitement and adventure as the other one. 

I bought several of these hand painted wooden trees from a Christmas Shop at Pot House Hamlet which is near the village of Silkstone in South Yorkshire.  We'd been to a funeral in Wakefield the day before and stayed overnight there.  The next morning we visited Nostell Priory, walked in the grounds and visited the Courtyard Cafe for a coffee and Christmas pudding flavoured scone.  We came upon the quirky Pot House Hamlet (the site of an old pottery works) as we headed home and thought it looked too interesting not to stop for a quick visit.  I remember we were met at the door of the Christmas shop by a jolly man dressed as an elf.

The little crochet gingerbread man was made for us by a friend.  His pal, the snowman, is also on the tree with some soft white snowflakes.  I smile each year when I place him on the tree and he smiles back.  This friend also made us masks last year  at the start of lockdown plus two festive ones a few weeks before last Christmas.  When I put the festive ones away last year I didn't think forward to this year but here we are wearing them again for shopping and in places where there are likely to be more people out and about.  

The newest recruit to the tree is this brown felted fox.  I spotted it in Waitrose a few weeks ago and it's been waiting in a drawer for its first outing on the tree.  As we have foxes visit our garden I couldn't resist popping it in the trolly.
A couple of those memories are tinged with sadness. In particular the first and third ones both December 2015, by the time Christmas 2016 came along things had changed so much.  I won't go into the stories here as it is Christmas Eve, a time of joy as well as reflection.
I wish you all a peaceful, happy and healthy Christmas wherever you are.
Stay safe. Take care.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Mid December Walk and Festive Reading

Mist hung low over the trees and fields, the air was damp, drips fell from the branches and it was cold.  It didn't take long for feet and fingers to feel numb so we didn't walk as far as we had planned.

It was quite muddy in places and slippery too

There wasn't a soul about.  A woman with two dogs in the car park as we arrived, toweling them down after a muddy walk and one man unloading his electric cycle as we returned.  We passed him later on our way home just near the farm where two large camels had been added to their collection of birds and animals which include water buffalo, emus, rhias and reindeer.  I must look for when they have their open days next year.

The water in the lakes looked cold but not frozen.

There were a group of Goosanders on the lake.  Apparently the collective noun for a group of Goosanders is a 'dopping.'

Male and female Goosander according to the RSPB website. Talking of the RSPB I've just registered to take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch again in January so that is something to look forward to in the dark winter days ahead.

As we stood looking over the lake a heron flew in and landed in a nearby tree.  Almost immediately after a jay flew over the lake and disappeared into the woodlands.

The mud was slippiest around the stiles and gates.

Three different types of fungus on one branch.

On through the winter trees it was getting colder and colder.

Winter trees against the cold looking sky.

An Oak Gall

Female Pheasant on a fence 

and a male pheasant scooping up seed from under the bird feeders.  We sat in the car for a while drinking warm coffee from a flask.  There were lots of birds taking seeds from the feeders including Robins, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Sparrows, Chaffinches and Nuthatches.  Under the feeders with the Pheasant were one or two Dunnocks who, from a distance, looked like little brown mice running around.

Back home little has been done about Christmas as yet.  I sent cards and letters over a week ago and this last week we have received lots of lovely cards in return, some with letters inside. It's good to keep in contact with friends and family.  The tree is still in its box and the deorations are in theirs no doubt we will get around to putting the two together over the next day or two.  

I have a couple of books on Kindle to read which hopefully will help make me feel slightly more festive.

I'm enjoying Annie Gray's book about the history and customs behind our Christmas food and how it has changed over the centuries.  So far I've read about Boar's heads, Mince Pies and Gingerbread.  It's an absolutely fascinating read and so well written and researched.
I haven't read a book by the above author before but I'm looking forward to it. Country house, Christmas Day and people trapped in by heavy snowfall, a murderer in their midst  It sounds to have the right elements.

On the ipad I have two books on loan from the library.  Well, more than two as there are three Ryder and Loveday books in one loan.  I read the first three books in this series a while ago and decided to loan the next ones.  The books are set in 1960/61 in Oxford and I'm enjoying them.  Janice Hallett is another author I haven't read before and this one kept popping up in recommendations so I thought I would try it.

Well that's all for now, below is a still from the wildlife camera which we left out overnight one day last week.

Mr Fox and Mr Badger sharing the lawn.

Friday, December 10, 2021


 As it is Friday here are five from the small city of Lichfield in Staffordshire. I always enjoy visiting and it's just over thirty miles away, via Stone and Rugely so not too far to travel.

1.  The Cathedral

 The distinctive three spires can be spotted across the fields as you approach the city. Lights were being put on the outside tree ready for the evening illuminations.

It is the only medieval three spired cathedral in the UK and is the burial place of Anglo Saxon Missionary St Chad. 

St Chad

St Chad's Gospels are on display in the beautiful Chapter House.  I did take some photos of the interior which I may use for a separte post.

2.  Shopping

There were some lovely festive shop windows  full of beautiful things.

3.  Historical Connections

The city's most famous residents were Samuel Johnson (1709 - 1784) and Erasmus Darwin (1731 - 1802).  Also the actor David Garrick (1717 -1779) whose mother was the daughter of a vicar at the Cathedral. Both DrJohnson and Dr Darwin have their own museum.  The theatre is named after David Garrick.  

 Dr Johnson's birthplace Museum and Bookshop.

Dr Johnson's statue in the Market Square.  There is a statue of his friend and biographer James Boswell at the other end of the the square.

 Erasmus Darwin's house museum and his medicinal herb garden.

4.  The Minster Pool

We sat on the opposite side of the pool to eat sandwiches closely watched by black headed gulls and Canada geese.

  When we first arrived we had coffee and a mince pie in Birds.  Luckily it was quiet and not all the tables were full.  Shopping done we returned everything to the car and went up to the Cathedral to see the Christmas Trees.

5. The Christmas Tree Festival

 The Cathedral was full of music as rehearsals for a concert were taking place

We heard the same piece of music time after time. So now I can't get it out of my head.

The trees were very pretty and thoughtfully decorated by all the participants.

Tokens were being sold so you could award them to your favourite trees.  It was hard to choose but in the end our two favourites were by the Staffordshire Gardens and Parks Trust and the National Memorial Arboretum.

All for now.  Take care.