Saturday, December 31, 2011
Forward I look, and backward, and below
I count, as god of avenues and gates,
The years that through my portals come and go.
I block the roads, and drift the fields with snow;
I chase the wild-fowl from the frozen fen;
My frosts congeal the rivers in their flow,
My fires light up the hearths and hearts of men.
from The Poet's Calendar by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Janus is the god of gates and doorways, beginnings, endings and time and it is for him that the month of January is named. I like the idea of looking both forwards and backwards. In the past lie the experiences both good and bad that have enriched and shaped our lives. We learn from all of them. In the past also lie our memories of friends and family many of them now dead and gone - how empty our lives would be without the ability to recall all the happy times shared with those who have been most important to us. As for looking forwards - a whole new year lies ahead full of possibilities and opportunities. I intend to make the most of it and I hope you all do too.
That's the serious bit - now for a peep into my past. This was taken on New Year's Eve 1997 and may not be quite the way you usually picture me:) My friends had a Barbie and Ken theme at their New Year party. My daughter's first reaction when she saw my outfit was 'You're never going to wear that!' closely followed by 'Whatever you do, mother, DON'T BEND OVER!!' I won the prize for the best ladies costume though - I've never known whether it was for a good costume or the sheer nerve it took to wear it.
Happy New Year Everyone!
Monday, December 26, 2011
Bilbo Baggins and I went up on Blackamoor this morning, this is our usual morning walk these days. It was windy but very mild and, being early we had it entirely to ourselves.
I should think that what is in the photo is less than half of its full height.
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Here we are again with my traditional Christmas Eve post:)
The Night Before Christmas was always my children's bedtime story on Christmas Eve.
So for all of us who still feel the magic of this night......
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night."
May I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas!
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
"So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us - Listen!!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, fest, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
- Susan Cooper, The Shortest Day
This is the third year running that I have used this poem by Susan Cooper but it is so perfect for the Winter Solstice that I'm afraid that this will probably not be its final appearance:) The beautiful illustration at the top is by Wendy Andrew from her magical book Luna Moon Hare - she has been kind enough to give me permission to use it in this post.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
I thought I'd do a post about some of my Yule decorating, I still have to make a table centre and bring in my little live tree which goes on the kitchen counter but I shall do those on Christmas Eve so that they stay fresh. The wreath above is now on my back door, it was made for my daughter and was hanging on the inside of the kitchen door waiting for her. When she arrived she said she preferred the one I'd made for us so we are left with the reject:)
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Clouded with snow
The cold winds blow,
And shrill on leafless bough
The robin with its burning breast
Alone sings now.
The rayless sun,
Day's journey done,
Sheds its last ebbing light
On fields in leagues of beauty spread
And spark by spark,
The frost-fires kindle, and soon
Over that sea of frozen foam
Floats the white moon.
A short post just to get back into the swing of blogging. The last few weeks have been very busy but now the freezer is full, the tree is up and the presents are wrapped so I'm more or less ready for the festive season. My younger son is here this weekend delivering and collecting gifts so for us the winter festival has started and I have a nice quiet week ahead to enjoy it. I shall be blogging much more regularly again from now.
I must also belatedly acknowledge the Liebster Award given to me by Susanna Holstein of Granny Sue's News and Reviews. I really appreciate the honour and there are many deserving bloggers that I could pass it on to but at the moment I simply don't have time to do it. Thank you anyway Granny Sue:)
Friday, November 11, 2011
Roy Milner is one of the young men named on our local War Memorial. He was the younger son of the family who lived at Totley Hall and after leaving Repton School he went to the Royal Military College at Sandhurst. On 22nd January 1913 he was commissioned into the 2nd Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters and began his career as a regular soldier. The Milner family were well liked and respected and on the outbreak of war in August 1914 the local people lined the lane and cheered as he left to join his regiment. On September 11th 1914 the regiment landed in France and Roy wrote home to his parents to say that he was on his way to the front and in good spirits. Below is an excerpt from our book describing the last few days of his life. The details are taken from the regiment's War Diary.
20 September dawned wet and cold with heavy rain and sleet falling. The Sherwood Foresters joined other regiments as they attempted, with some success, to retake trenches broken into and occupied by the Germans. Roy Milner, with a fellow officer and most of their men, was cut down by heavy machine gun fire as he led a charge up the valley. On 24 September Mr and Mrs Milner received a telegram from the War Office announcing the news of their son's death. Roy’s body now lies in Grave Ref. 6. C. 5 in the Chauny Communal Cemetery British Extension in Aisne, France. He was just 21 years old.
Remembering also Gt Uncle Harry 1880-1916 and Uncle Harold 1911-1942
When you go home, tell them of us and say
For their tomorrow, we gave our today.
Monday, November 07, 2011
Once again I've been rather busy and not had much time to either blog or comment recently. There was a rather large pile of letters to answer and I've managed to get some work done in my garden too though there's still a long way to go there I'm afraid. I'd intended doing more outside today but it started drizzling while I was up on Blackamoor with B Baggins this morning so I've done other bits and pieces indoors instead. This afternoon I'm trying to catch up a little with the blogging world. Making the Christmas cake was one of the things that kept me away from the computer. It's turned out OK I think and will be wrapped in clingfilm and put up on top of a kitchen cupboard now until ten days or so before Christmas only coming down briefly a couple of times to be fed with sherry.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
A bit of back tracking is involved here as the visit to Wales was made in mid September just as the tail end of Hurricane Katia arrived in the UK! We spent the first night in Oswestry which is just on the English side of the border. Kaitlyn was so desperate to actually be in Wales that late in the afternoon we drove over the border and into the small Welsh town of Llangollen.The photo above is the River Dee which rises in Snowdonia and flows through the centre of Llangollen then on towards Chester.
This is the only cable-hauled tramway still operating in Britain and has been taking people up the Great Orme since 1902. With wooden seats and no glass in the windows it isn't exactly luxury travel:) The line is in two sections the lower half being the steepest with a gradient of 1 in 4. At Halfway Station you have to change on to another tram to do the second half of the journey to the top.
Our original plan was to do some walking and visit the iron age hillfort and hut circles and also the 12th century St Tudno's Church. The wind was incredibly strong though and once out of the shelter of the station and up on the summit it was obvious that we weren't going to be able to do this. Kaitlyn and Lucy were actually being blown about by the wind and I had trouble standing up in it as well. The different shades of blue and green in the sea were really beautiful but the photo isn't sharp because I couldn't hold the camera still.