Thursday, 31 December 2009

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to everyone who visits me in this space and I hope that 2010 brings good health and happy times ahead.

This photograph was taken a year ago on New Year's Day 2009. I like the way the path is visible for a short distance and after that we can't see what direction it takes. It seems particularly suitable for a new year photograph, we can see just a little way ahead and we think we know the direction we are heading but we can't see into the future.

I used to think New Year's Eve was all about resolutions and making plans for the new year but this evening I find myself thinking back over the last year, grateful that it was such a good year for me and my family. Lets hope that 2010 is a good year too.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Happy Christmas

A photograph of some holly for Christmas although this was taken before the recent cold weather.  The birds have stripped the berries from the hedges over the past few days. This morning as well as the usual blackbirds I saw two Redwings in the garden. They are not very regular garden visitors here and many years we don't see them at all although they are probably in the surrounding woods.

The snow is melting very rapidly now as the temperatures have started to rise.  I think there will still be some snow for Christmas Day but not that much, more of a sludgy muddy Christmas rather than a white one!

Happy Christmas to everyone. 

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

More snow

More snow turning the woods round us into a fairy tale scene.  The silver birch trees were bent to the ground with the weight of the snow.

Traffic and road conditions were dreadful last night but today things were improving although the roads were very quiet. The road surface was very slippery, snow on top of ice, and we saw many vehicles sliding sideways.

I am lucky that I have had no need to drive anywhere and my car is on the drive covered with six inches of snow while I venture out on foot. The snow is inconvenient, my husband is staying near to work for the second night to avoid travelling and I have a rather grumpy teenager who isn't able to see his friends, but I do like to photograph it.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Shortest Day

Today is the shortest day in the northern hemisphere and is traditionally thought of as the first day of winter. These two photographs were taken yesterday afternoon when the sun was low in the sky shining through the trees.

Today though we didn't see the sun at all and it has been snowing again. This was how my garden looked this afternoon - appropriate for the first day of winter.

Luckily I haven't had to leave the house this afternoon but I hear that the winter weather has caused a lot of disruption to travel in the area, I hope everybody stays safe in the snow.

Friday, 18 December 2009


Very beautiful today, soft and fluffy, sparkling in the sunshine.

The chickens were not so happy though.  They wouldn't walk on the snow at all and even on the path where the snow had melted, they minimised the chance of touching it by standing on one leg!

The snow was fun today when I didn't have far to go although it was slippery driving to work and there wasn't much evidence of gritting but tomorrow I want to collect my son from university. So, no more snow please, at least not until I've got him safely home.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

December sky

Dramatic skies over the village, taken a few days ago.

Monday, 14 December 2009

A day in my life

The 14th of December and another "day in my life" post. I have written twenty one of these now, beginning in April 2008 and so I am building up a series of snapshots of my daily life. By choosing the same date each month, the day of the week varies so I have recorded work days, weekend days, days out and very ordinary home days. 

Mondays are usually at home days but recently I have been working more to cover staff illness so it turned out to be a work day. So up at six o'clock and a few household tasks to do before work. I put a casserole in the slow cooker which is a bit of a rush in the morning but lovely when I get home in the afternoon, sorted the packed lunches and opened the chicken coop.

I left home just after seven to take my son to the station and then arrived at work by 7:30.  My early start meant I could finish early and I was home before three o'clock. The casserole smelled great as I opened the front door but the house was cold (it was 4C here today) so I turned on the heating and made a mug of tea. This year I have put chocolates in the Advent calendar for me as well!

It was a very ordinary afternoon and evening.  I picked my son up from the station after school, we had the sausage casserole with jacket potatoes followed by apple crumble.  

A little bit of knitting, I'm still working on the top down jumper and I'm pleased to see its grown quite a lot since last months post.

My husband phoned from Boston, its cold over there as well with snow earlier this week and then, just as I was coming upstairs to quickly post this before going to bed, eldest son phoned from University where he was about to go out! - wish I had some of his energy.

The house is getting cold again now (the heating switches off at nine o'clock) so I know it is bedtime, good night.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Holly and tree-carvings

Last weekend I was out collecting more evergreens to bring into the house. The birds are eating their way through all the berries around here so I decided to pick my holly early.  It is now in a bucket of water in the shed where it should stay fresh until its time to bring it into the house.

There are lots of superstitions and folklore surrounding holly, most of which seem to be concerned with bringing bad luck.  It is supposed to be bad luck to cut down a holly tree and most especially bad luck if that tree self-seeded in that position.  I have a holly tree which must have grown from a seed dropped by a bird and I have let it grow although I have to prune it hard to keep it manageable, I don't want to tempt fate by cutting down a holly tree in my garden.

In the hedges near here there are often quite large holly trees which are left standing and the hedges are cut around them, possibly because they were once left to grow when a superstitious person was given the task of hedge cutting - at least the birds benefit from the extra berries on a full grown tree.

Thinking about cutting into trees, I wonder whether there is good or bad luck associated with carving initials on trees. Beech trees have always been popular for this because of the smooth bark. Most of the initials become so distorted as the tree grows that they become unrecognisable but these two carvings I noticed at the weekend were done on a large scale and have stood the test of time.

Here is a heart with a barely visible arrow through it.

I think the person who carved it wanted to make a big statement as the adjacent tree has LOVE in large letters carved along a branch. 

I wonder who carved these and how long ago? Perhaps they return to the woods sometimes to see if the carvings are still there, or maybe they have been forgotten?

Tuesday, 1 December 2009


Although the change from one month to the next is an artificial man-made boundary, today it was as if nature recognised the date and chose the first day of December for the first real white frost of the winter. 

This morning I could hear the sounds of ice being scraped off car windscreens before the early morning commute and in the garden there was a thin layer of ice on the tray of water the chickens like to drink from.  

I was glad of my coat, scarf and fingerless gloves when hanging out the washing on the icy line. I returned to the house barely able to move my fingers and was almost glad to tackle the pile of breakfast washing up so that my hands would thaw out.

Of all the months of the year, November is my least favourite and although the change of date has no real significance, I am pleased we are now in December.  We have hung up our Advent tree although the pockets are less full this year, only after the 19th when everyone is at home will we need chocolates for four.

The time leading up to Christmas is a quiet time now that the boys are grown.  I remember when they were at primary school, there were plates of mince pies to be made for Christmas Fairs and Cub-scout parties, there was the school play and the end of term carol service (both with more mince pies), lot of cards to be written, raffle tickets to be sold and an endless stream of Christmas artwork to be fastened to the fridge, it all seemed non-stop and Christmas lasted for weeks.

At the time, I loved being caught up in the hustle and bustle and imagined that I would miss it once the boys were older but now I find I don't mind at all. I appreciate the calm and slower pace that comes from having fewer things to do.

I walked in the lanes just outside the village today and brought home some catkins and ivy which are now on the mantlepiece next to the Advent candle.  Just the sort of quiet Christmas preparations I look forward to this year.