Sunday, 31 January 2010

The end of January

Frosty mornings,

frozen fields,

 icy puddles,

blue skies,

winter sunshine

and the first spring flowers.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Tidying my sewing box

Tidying my sewing box isn't something I do very often so when I do get round to it, I come across lots of things I've completely forgotten about. Like these pieces of paper. I was practising my stencilling ready to decorate our house when we moved here in the early nineties. Stencilled borders were very popular then along with sponged and rag-rolled walls.

The stencils and paints were from Laura Ashley and these two did end up our walls although they were painted over many years ago.

Then I came across this bundle of pieces of charcoal grey material, the spare patches and buttons supplied with so many pairs of school trousers. Each time I bought a new pair, the mending kit went in the sewing box and now nobody wears grey school trousers any more.

This needle case was belonged to my grandmother's sister, still full of needles all neatly labelled, more than enough for her lifetime

and more than I will ever need as well.

Unfinished projects linger in the box, like this cross stitch sampler which I have so nearly finished. I wonder why I stopped, maybe because I don't think I would display it in the house if I did finish it...I wonder why I started it?!

Then there are the little paper bags containing bits of ribbon and lace. Do they still make bags with the words "Thank you - Please call again!" printed on them?

So many memories inside the sewing box - no wonder it takes me so long to tidy it!

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Signs of spring

So nice to be posting a photograph of snowdrops rather than actual snow. It has almost all melted now and after seeing these flowers this morning I think it is time to go to my allotment next week.  I haven't been there since before Christmas, everything would have been under the snow, but now that the ground has thawed out a bit I should be able to dig up a few leeks. I have some spinach beet as well but I expect that the local deer population will have been feasting on it.

There were lots of catkins in the hedgerows this morning although some have been torn down by some very enthusiastic hedge trimming. I always think the hedges look very sad when they are so badly ripped about by the hedge cutters during the winter but once they come into leaf in the spring and summer they seem to recover.

In summer when everything is in leaf I don't really notice the lichen growing on many of the twigs and branches but today the bright yellow colour stood out amongst the browns and greys of the winter hedge. Close up they have such a strange structure.

It was good to be outside today without the snow, with all the birdsong it is just beginning to feel a bit like spring.  Lets hope the milder weather continues for a while so that I can tidy up the garden and start thinking about what to grow this year at my allotment.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

My Calendar

I often buy a calendar when I am on holiday so that the following year I have twelve changing photographs on my kitchen wall reminding me of the place we visited. This year I decided to make my own. I took hundreds of photographs when we went to Shetland last summer and it was hard to pick just thirteen (12 months and the cover) to use in the calendar.

I put my favourite on the cover. If I'd thought about this a bit more I would have realised that this was a bit silly because I spend a month looking at each of the others and don't see the cover all year!

The cover photo is of Banna Minn beach on Mainland Shetland. We spent several hours here, reading, exploring and just soaking up the scenery and the peace and quiet.

The next photograph is my picture for January. Looking through the calendar, I noticed that 12 of the 13 photographs include the sea which is not difficult on Shetland because at no time are you more than three miles from the coast. I chose this picture because I enjoyed watching the patterns of waves and foam as the sea crashed into the rocks.

During these dull grey winter days (almost all the snow has melted now) I am enjoying looking at the photographs and remembering my summer holiday. I'll post more photographs during the year as I turn the pages of my calendar.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

A day in my life

Writing my "day in my life posts" on the 14th of each month makes me realise how quickly the time passes. On the 14th of December I was looking forward to my son coming home from university, getting ready for Christmas and we didn't have any snow. Now a month later, Christmas has come and gone, my son is back at University and we have had more snow than we have seen in years.

Tho photograph taken this morning, shows the path I have cleared down to the chicken coop. The hens still don't like the snow and will only walk on the cleared path.  When we had fresh snow recently they stayed inside the run looking out of the door and waiting for me to clear the snow away before they would consider venturing out.

I let them out this morning at eight o'clock before I went to work. Due to the snow this was my first day back after the Christmas break and I admit that I have got quite used to being at home. luckily I only work part time and I was back home again at 3:30pm. 

Now that the snow is beginning to thaw the roads are dreadful. It wasn't easy this morning driving up our road to get to work but this afternoon it was much worse and my wheels were spinning in the slippery melted snow and slush. I had already cleared the snow from our drive but when I got home I spent and hour or so clearing some of the compacted snow from the road as well. Our road is a cul-de-sac and so there is not much vehicle movement to clear the road. Also at this time of year it is in complete shade all day so even if we get sun, the snow and ice last for a long time. I don't suppose its made much difference but I hope I don't slip and slide so much tomorrow. As I have said before the snow is lovely for a few days but now I just want it to melt - I don't know how I'd cope if I lived somewhere where there was snow for many months in winter, but perhaps then there are systems in place to deal with it.

Just two of us for dinner tonight, me and youngest son and then this evening a skype call to eldest son for an hour. Its lovely that the three of us can talk together and its free, definitely a good use of technology.

After the call, I did some knitting and finished one sleeve of my jumper.

Last month it looked like this,

so I have made some progress even though it seems very slow to me. 

So that was my day, work, snow clearing, dinner, chat, knitting and now blogging, just an ordinary day in my life.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Fingerless gloves, mitts, wristwarmers,

I'm not sure what to call my latest knitting project but whatever they are, they are very useful. I always get cold hands throughout the winter and I when I was out with my camera in the snow, I was finding it really difficult to take photographs when I couldn't feel my fingers.
Usually I knit my fingerless gloves using sock wool which is great for producing hardwearing gloves but I found my hands getting so cold when holding my camera.

These mitts are made from a couple of balls of chunky wool I found in a charity shop.  They are really long in the wrist because I hate that gap between glove and coat sleeve and also long over my fingers leaving just enough of my hands free to use my camera. The thick wool makes them really cosy and if I am not taking photographs I can curl all my fingers up inside thems and keep toasty and warm. When it was really cold I wore them over my usual gloves for double warmth.

We have not had any more snow and it is starting to thaw but with temperatures staying low the snow will be around for a while yet, definitely weather for gloves.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Icicles and normal routines

I have been taking a lot of photographs of icicles, they have been particularly good this winter. The snow on our house roof is melting very slowly and drops of water are freezing on the leaves of this climber growing up the house wall. The temperature has been hovering around freezing point for a few days and the icicles slowly grow in length.

Today the temperature must have been slightly above freezing because there was a constant sound of dripping water so in a few days they will be gone.

Yesterday we managed to get the car out to take eldest son back to University. It was a bright sunny day with no immediate risk of fresh snow and we decided to go before any bad weather returned. We had to push the car in our road when we couldn't get any grip but once on the main road we could proceed cautiously and once we reached the motorway we were fine. We dropped him off with a full load of shopping in case he gets snowed in and made our way back with just the last part of the journey icy. That was enough driving excitement and we haven't moved the car today.

Tomorrow does look as if we will have to get back to normal. My husband is aiming to go into work and school is open for years 11, 12 and 13. I hope we don't get any more snow, younger son has modules during January and if we have a repeat of last weeks weather, getting him into school will be virtually impossible. Fingers crossed for some mild weather.

Although the snow has been very pretty and I've enjoyed taking photographs, it is now becoming inconvenient and I'm just waiting for it to melt. The thought of dull grey uneventful January days is quite appealing.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Still cold

We are still in the grip of icy cold here, the temperature fell to -12C last night which is very cold for us. The icicles are hanging down from our guttering along the front of the house and look very pretty although they are a constant reminder of how cold it is outside.

We have had no more snow but with such low temperatures I think the snow will be around for a while. Everything is very quiet mainly because most people cannot use their cars. A couple of neighbours with 4 wheel drive cars have been able to get out but the rest of us stay home or walk.

The main road through the village would be passable but of course many people cannot get through the smaller roads to reach it. It is a fairly busy road but this is a photograph of it yesterday, very few cars and the road given over to pedestrians rather than vehicles, much nicer.

I walked down to the village shop  and it was packed with shoppers. Lots of people, unable to get to work were enjoying having time to stop and chat while they did their shopping. I hope that the small village stores which have lost out to supermarkets in recent years do well during this cold spell.  Many villages no longer have a shop and so there is nowhere to buy groceries without using a car. It is a reminder that we must support our local shops all the time if we expect them to be there for us when we don't want or can't travel far from home.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

More snow

Yesterday I posted about how much I was enjoying settling back into our normal routines after the Christmas break and then today all four of us are snowed in at home. It looks like normal has been put on hold for a while.

Nine inches of snow on our patio which is the most we have had for many years. Very few cars moved in the village today and we can't drive out from our road at all. With temperatures of -5C forecast for tomorrow I think the snow is here to stay for a while.

I did take my camera for a walk and took some snowy shots but I posted lots of snow pictures before Christmas so here are some photos from yesterday, a very calm River Thames before the return of the white stuff.

Along the banks of the river where the branches of the trees were near the water line, these lovely icicles had formed.  They look like expensive Christmas tree ornaments, isn't nature clever?

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Crisp and Cold

The snow has finally melted but it is still cold. We have had heavy, white frosts and the temperature has not been above freezing all day but with clear blue skies and bright sunshine it is perfect January weather. After all the "busy-ness" of Christmas and the holidays the clean white of January feels much calmer.

Inside the house Christmas is all packed away.  The decorations are back in a box in the loft for another year, the tree is cut into pieces to be collected, shredded and composted and the holly is in a pile on the lawn so that the birds can eat the berries before it is also collected for composting. The house looks a bit bare now that the decorations are down but soon there will be bulbs and we can look forward to spring

Every year although I enjoy the preparation for Christmas and the holidays, I am always ready to return to our normal days. Work and school have already started for husband and youngest son, and there are just few more days for me and our eldest son to enjoy the crisp frosty weather (and try to capture the cold and calm in my photographs) before we are back to our term-time routines.