Wednesday, 30 December 2015

winter warmth

The weather is continuing unseasonably mild. I took the photograph of these daffodils on Christmas morning, blooming near the village Christmas tree!

Yesterday I found the first snowdrop in the garden

and there are new shoots on the Elder bush.

The hedges are full of honeysuckle shoots, it feels more like spring than December.

There was a slow-worm basking in the sunshine in the road. It was wide awake and slithered away as I got close to photograph it. Slow-worms usually hibernate between October and March.

Further along there were celandines 

and the first violet. During mild winters a few flowers appear early in the season but there are so many "signs of spring" here tis year. Flowers that I look for through January have already appeared.

In England this has been the warmest December since records began. With a mean temperature of 9.5ºC, it is 5º warmer than the average and 2ºC warmer than the previous record set in 1934.

This article in today's Guardian explains why warmer temperatures lead to increased rainfall with the devastating consequences seen in this country and abroad. Meteorologists tell us that individual events do not indicate climate change but it seems to me that the many changes occurring at the same time in different parts of the world point towards a shift in the world climate.

Storm "Frank" has reached the UK today bringing more misery to many parts of the country and with the possibility that it will cause major changes to temperatures over the North Atlantic.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Happy Christmas

Sunset, Christmas Eve

Wishing everyone a happy, peaceful Christmas.

Monday, 21 December 2015


Photographs from my walk yesterday - noticing the moon, the winter hedgerows, the sunset.

The weather is unbelievably mid and un-Christmassy but yesterday I could feel the stillness that seems to occur around the winter solstice. We will have a quiet Christmas spending time at home and seeing friends and family. Three of us have stopped work for Christmas now and all four of us are at home. Very grateful for the days ahead and the time we spend together.

Friday, 18 December 2015


Each morning as I sip my morning coffee, I check the BBC weather pages for our area. I then click on Edinburgh so that I know what the day will be like for youngest son.

I also note the sunrise and sunset times each day. For the past few days sunset here as been 15:56. Today it is 15:57. It is still three days until the shortest day and sunrise will continue be later each day until the beginning of January but I am pleased to think that each evening from now on the sun sets just a little later.

Today, here in the south - sunrise 8:05 and sunset 15:57
in Edinburgh                  - sunrise 8:39 and sunset 15:39

and right up in the north of the UK
in Lerwick, Shetland     - sunrise 9:06 and sunset  14:56

I find it interesting to compare times in different places within the UK and think about the way the day length impacts on our lives even today with electric lights. Imagine how day to day activities  were affected by day length hundreds of years ago.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

knitting, Christmas hat

On the last walking group walk before Christmas, I am told we should wear festive headgear preferably with sparkles, glitter and tinsel. Anyone who has read this blog for a while will know that I am not in favour of short lived festive "tat', made in unknown factories in far flung corners of the world and shipped here to be used for a day or two before ending up in landfill as I am sure so much of the Christmas stuff on sale does.

So I needed something to wear that didn't cost the earth. My hat is made from leftover Jamieson and Smith wool (2 ply jumper weight) and I adapted a pattern for a Fairisle beanie from the Traditional Sweater Book.

I substituted the fair isle patterns for snowflakes from Snawheid by Kate Davies and a simple holly design.

As sparkle was specifically mentioned, a few decorations and some tinsel temporarily borrowed from the tree will add the glitz!  - but only for the walk, the rest of the time its just a snug seasonal beanie.

Monday, 14 December 2015

December quiet

After the recent blustery weather it was pleasant to wake up to a still quiet day yesterday. We had to go into town in the afternoon which I knew would be very crowded, busy and noisy so to try to achieve some balance I enjoyed a slow quiet walk with my camera in the morning.

Very few remaining leaves on the branches

so the woodland appears much lighter and open as you can see through the deciduous trees.

After the overnight rain, droplets of water

clung to the vegetation.

I tried to take a close up and you can just about see a little upside down world in each droplet.

Muddy puddles at the side of the road

but splashes of colour in the woods and hedges.

Only a week to the shortest day and the two coldest months of winter still to come but already there are new shoots on the honeysuckle,

many shades of fresh green even in December.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

knitting, mitts and cowl

The yarn I bought on the last day of my holiday in Lofoton, Norway this summer and below the fingerless mitts I made with it. I am pleased with them and am enjoying wearing them - very practical with my fingers free for taking photographs.

The mitts took over half of the yarn. I have a box of left over yarn, many part balls of yarn from sock and glove knitting and sometimes a couple of balls when I have bought extra for a jumper or cardigan just in case. I don't have large quantities of any one yarn as I tend to buy for a specific garment and then knit it but after many years of knitting the oddments box is full to overflowing.

With this in mind and as this yarn was exceptionally soft and pretty I decided to make something with it rather than hoard it!

This cowl is the result. I based the lace pattern on the Everglade hat by Woolly Wormhead. I made an Everglade hat two years ago and am knitting another one this winter. The lace pattern works equally well on a cowl and shows of the colours of the yarn.

I used all but a few metres of the yarn so two items from one ball of wool and only a very small addition to the "stash box"!

Ravelry links to my Everglade hat, mitts, and cowl.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

December picnic

Yesterday was a bright, very breezy mild day. It felt like a good day to be outside so since eldest son also had a day off we packed up our lunches and headed outside. This is Ladle Hill in Hampshire, one of our favourite places to visit. At this time of year when so much time is spent inside it seems particularly appealing with its open views over the countryside.

A bank provided some shelter from the wind - this was our view.

We could see for miles in all directions,

a lovely sense of space and openness.

I tried to photographs the many Red Kites that were swirling round in the sky,

this was the best I managed, beautifully coloured birds.

All the leaves have fallen from these exposed trees, the branches and twigs outlined against the sky. The large tree below is a sycamore.

The low sunlight caught the beech trees on the hill, I like the way you can look through the mass of trees at this time of year and follow the shape of the hill.

More photographs of beech trees as we walked back to the car,

looking elegant in the winter sun.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

In the garden

One good thing about working in the garden in December is that as things grow very slowly, once a job is done,it stays done for a few months. This weeks job was to trim the ivy which was trying to enter the window

back to neater finish away from the sill. Pulling ivy off brickwork is not easy (and ruins your nails!) so its nice to think that I won't have to do it again until spring. This time I noticed that the variegated ivy seems to be reverting to the plain green type which is a shame. I chose the variegated to add some light to a dull spot and also the green version grows more vigorously and so I will have to cut it back more often. Perhaps I will dig it up in the spring and replace it with variegated Euonymus, the golden one on the right of the window seems to be doing well.

Noticing a few more details in the garden, early daffodil shoots emerging and a few celandine leaves

and here, lots of tiny cyclamen seedlings. I am wondering whether I can move these to another part of the garden without damaging them. They look very fragile but they will need more space if they are to survive.

The sweet box is covered with shiny black berries and the new flower buds are visible. No scent yet but soon once the flowers open.

One flower blooming now, Iris unguicularis

is very reliable, flowering during the winter yet always seems unexpected, as if a summer bloom turned up in the middle of winter. Always a welcome sight.