Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether summer clothe the general earth
With greeness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Year's Turning

I can hardly believe that it is so long since I last posted here, the Winter Solstice and Yule have both passed and we are are almost into the New Year. Thank you to all those who left Christmas greetings in the comments, I read and appreciated them all.Above is Kaitlyn wearing her Christmas gift from Aunty Cesca and Uncle Neil when she was here on Friday. Teddy belongs to me but she has discovered him - and some of his friends :) - in the last couple of weeks and now loves to play with them when she comes over.

The season passed quickly and was very enjoyable, I received a lot of lovely gifts but one of my favourites was this lovely piece of Blue John from one of my friends. The area around Castleton in the Hope Valley is the only place in the world where this is found, I shall try and get out there and go down one of the mines next year and take some photos - if it's allowed that is.

Just before Christmas we had a really interesting talk on the history of hats at WI. The speaker brought dozens of examples and this was the oldest, it dates back to the late 18th century and is French, it is called a bergiere and is the sort of thing that Marie Antoinette and her ladies would wear when they played at being shepherdesses at Le Petit Trianon. If I let you guess from now until next Christmas I'll bet you'd never guess what it is made of! It is made entirely of -wait for it! - horsehair!! This was very expensive indeed as there was, as you can probably imagine, a fairly limited supply of it. It was mixed with plaited straw to make less expensive versions.

This is a 1920s hat and I really rather like it.

I was encouraged to try on this wonderful Edwardian creation afterwards, must admit I've always had a secret liking for these as being very flat crowns I can wear them whereas the modern day large hats with large crowns as well as large brims make me look rather like a mushroom on legs:)

This is a rather better view of the hat!

The last few photos are images from a recent walk, this one of a frosted angelica seedhead needs clicking to see how lovely it really is.

Bilbo Baggins who hasn't appeared very much recently.

This crow allowed me to get really close and take several photos,in fact he was practically posing for them.

I turned the camera up to catch the beautiful tracery of bare,black branches against a clear blue sky.

Hopefully I shall be posting more regularly again once we are past the New Year, I haven't had my camera with me as much as usual so 'must try harder' from now. Happy New Year everyone.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Gardener's Assistant

I've just not been finding time/energy to post recently but thought I'd better do a short one just to show that I'm still around. It's a busy time of year for everyone of course. When the weather has allowed I've been spending as much time as possible in my garden and I have had a willing helper as I've worked.

This little robin is extremely friendly and is obviously urging me on to greater efforts so that he can get on with helping to remove any food supplies that I uncover. He seemed quite willing to pose for the camera though the photos aren't very good as I was crouched down and wobbling about a bit so they aren't very sharply focused. Some clicking on all the photos I'm posting would probably be a good idea.

This is one of his favourite places from which to survey the scene.

The results of our efforts - still quite a bit to do in the beds hidden by the terrace walls and in the front garden though.

Family history research always comes to the forefront in the winter months and OH has been uploading a lot of family photos. This is my favourite of my two boys taken when Neil was 3 and Steve was 5. It's normally in a frame on the wall and you can see how the colours have faded over the years.

This was taken about 8 years ago when they were joint best men at the wedding of their friend Fabiano. Steve is left, Fab in the middle and Neil on the right.

Earlier this week as I came back from a meeting in Grindleford I saw the sign advertising Christmas trees for sale at the National Trust site at Longshaw. I decided to get one and leave it out in the garden until I'm ready to put it up. On the way from the car park I passed this lovely old drystone wall covered in mosses and lichens.

There was a school group visiting the Christmas tree area, they'd been in an indoor classroom area and had just come out to look at the trees and I think they were choosing one to take back to school.

The tree I chose waiting forlornly on the terrace, hopefully I'll get it up towards the end of next week. Still have all the outside lights to do once I get a dry,still day. OH would be a great understudy for Scrooge so I'm on my own with all the decorating.

Finally the little jacket I've made for Gabriel, I wish I could make a better job of sewing things together, it's never as well finished as I'd like. Still, it will keep him warm which is the main thing.
A bit of a mixed bag but at least it shows that I haven't fallen off the edge of the world:)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax

"The time has come," the Walrus said, "To talk of many things: Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax-- Of cabbages--and kings-- And why the sea is boiling hot-- And whether pigs have wings."

Mr B Baggins taken in the woods this afternoon just before the heavens opened and we both got wet through:) This is specially for GreenTwinsMummy.

Life has been incredibly busy recently hence the lack of posts, I have been trying to get the better of an enormous mountain of apples and have been making lots of apple pies...........

....and apple crumbles. They both look pale and interesting because they are ready for the freezer and I freeze them unbaked. I'm about to start cooking for Christmas now but shan't be doing as much as usual as we shall be having a fairly quiet time this year. Neil,Francesca and Gabriel are going down to Suffolk over Christmas. One of Cesca's brothers is in the Metropolitan police and only gets leave one Christmas in four and this year is it. He's a very doting uncle so I'm glad he'll have chance to spend time with Gabriel.

Gabriel visiting Granny and Grandad on Sunday afternoon, he's learnt to clap hands now and is anxious to demonstrate as often as possible:) He does have feet, they are hidden under the pink elephant!
Kaitlyn was here all day yesterday with a bad case of jetlag having flown in from Los Angeles the previous day, I spent most of the afternoon pushing her around the woods in her all-terrain pushchair so that she would sleep as she wouldn't settle in the cot. She seems to have had a good time in the US and there are some lovely photos of her but I don't have copies yet. There is one of a lonely little purple shoe floating in the Pacific Ocean after she fed it to a sealion while they were in Santa Cruz:):) Fortunately she is due for new shoes anyway and has come back with some smart American shoes with a pretty, sparkly lining.

These last two photos are here simply because I love them, both show the character and individuality of the tree.

In this one I can see a definite face, many trees have faces if you look for them though they don't always reveal themselves immediately.

It's back to my knitting now as I want to finish the little jacket I'm doing for Gabriel. Strawberry Lane, if you happen to read this and would like the pattern for the mittens then e-mail me with your snail mail address and I'll send a photocopy of the pattern, they are very simple to do - and quick, I can do a pair in one evening.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Life has been particularly busy during the last few days so I haven't had time to post, this is just a very short one mainly so that we can move on from Remembrance Day. One of the comments on the photos of me when I was young amused me - Kelli remarked on how tall I am which just goes to show what a difference the style of your clothes can make, in fact I was only 5' 3" tall and now I can only muster 5' 2" even when I stand as straight as I can:) The Empire line of the dress I wore as a bridesmaid is very good for making small women look taller.

I'm beginning to move into Christmas mode now and have started buying some presents and writing a few cards each day. 5 or 6 a day doesn't take long and by the end of November I shall have them all ready for posting when the time comes - this way the 80+ cards that I send doesn't involve all that much effort. L and I both have large extended families along with all the friends and colleagues that we have acquired over the years and almost all these people live outside the area where we are. On Saturday I made the Christmas cake which is in the photo above. It's now wrapped in clingfilm and sitting in a tin waiting for the end of November when 2 more tablespoons of sherry will be added to it.

I've been knitting for Gabriel too and forgetting to photograph most of it, I've produced a couple of little retro 'flying' helmets, several pairs of bootees and over the weekend I started fulfilling the request for mittens.

I've had my friend S here from Cheshire today and the bit of spare time I have had to be used for either a blog post or the press report on last night's WI meeting - no contest! I'll do the press report in the morning when my mind is functioning a bit more clearly:)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Lest We Forget

They shall not grow old
As we who are left grow old
Age shall not weary them
Nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun
And in the morning
We shall remember them

Remembering all those who have given their lives in war enabling those of us who came after to live in freedom and peace.

A corner of a foreign field.
The grave of AC2 Harold Harrison in Jakarta War Cemetery, Java. 2 June 1942

The Soldier

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

Edited 11 Nov 2007

JulieMarie asked where the lines at the beginning of this post come from - they are from a poem written in 1914 by Laurence Binyon after the battles of Mons and Le Cateau where the British casualties were very heavy. The lines I quote are always said at the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance which the Queen and all the members of the Royal Family attend on the Saturday night preceding Remembrance Sunday and at nearly all the services held at cenotaphs across the UK. Below is the poem in full.

For The Fallen

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.
Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
They mingle not with laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.
But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

Laurence Robert Binyon, 1869-1943

Thursday, November 01, 2007

November Sky

Late this afternoon I drove out towards Grindleford and stopped to take these views in the fading light, the sun had already dropped below the horizon and this was the aftermath but looking northish.

This was from the same spot but looking east.

Looking east again but 5 minutes or so later and a little further down the road. I love the way that the sky changes so much in such a short time and as the days get shorter I'm hoping for ever more spectacular sunsets to photograph.

An interested spectator on the other side of the wall:) The difference in light levels is accounted for by my using the 'sunset' setting on my camera for the sky pictures and 'available light' for the sheep.

Finally a picture of my beech hedge and the evidence that my garden is seriously in need of some attention which it will hopefully get over the next couple of weeks. I love the hedge when it has this wonderful patchwork quilt effect.
JulieMarie asked what the green and brown 'thingy' was in my last post - it's a newly fallen sweet chestnut showing the open case with the nuts still in place. Sweet chestnuts are edible and can be made into stuffing among other things. I don't think the squirrels bother with the haute cuisine bit though - they just take them as they come:)

Last year I wrote a post about November which hopefully might make those of you who consider it a dreary month see it from a different angle.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Wheel Turns Again

Today is Samhain, the beginning of the ancient Celtic New Year. Now we move into the slower, quieter days of winter, a time to look back and take stock of our lives and to sit dreaming in front of the fire. The busy days of summer and harvest are past and now we can take time to do crafts, read and connect with our families by telling the younger generation stories of our childhood and the memories passed on to us by older generations now no longer with us. There are many pleasures to be had during the dark days of winter and of course there is the great festival celebrated by most people in one way or another at or around Winter Solstice.

The colours of this time of the year are also quieter and gentler once the bright glory of the changing leaves is past. The soft greens and browns are soothing and right for this time of introspection. Nevertheless there are still rich colours to be had in the spectacular winter sunsets and the clear blue skies that follow a frosty night and the moon and stars seem brighter in the cold night skies.

The veil between the worlds is thin tonight and soon I shall be lighting candles to honour those of my family who have died and who I remember with love and gratitude.

Happy Samhain!

Monday, October 29, 2007

A Backward Glance in Black and White

A week or two ago my cousin Sheila and her husband came up from Norfolk to see us and brought along their wedding photographs which I had never seen. They left some for us to make copies of and this has resulted in my DH spending the last week scanning every photo he can find of both our families so that the family history entries on the computer have photos with them wherever possible. I don't think I've posted any old photos of myself before so I decided to indulge myself by putting up some that go from babyhood to my early 20s. In the one at the top I'm around 6 months old.

Aged 2 and having fun at the seaside.

With my mum aged 6

Looking rather coy and again aged 5 or 6. My mum made the dress I'm wearing, it was white with tiny pale green spots all over it and laced with pale green ribbon - it was always one of my favourites. My mum made me some lovely clothes when I was small, she could do smocking so I had several dresses with smocked bodices.

My school photo when I was 10 - looking rather serious about life here.

On a school exchange visit to France aged 14 - dancing the Twist with Arlette's mum and aunt in their kitchen and looking a whole lot more cheerful:)

A rather soulful looking 18 year old.......

....And the photo that started it all - bridesmaid to my cousin Sheila when I was 23.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Walk in the Peaks

Sunday was a perfect autumn day and I spent it walking in the Peak District. On my way over in glorious sunshine I rounded a bend and instead of seeing the whole of the Hope Valley stretched out in front of me I saw this mystical picture wih the tops of the hills rising through the white mist.

We started by tracing the route of a Roman road (completely invisible now ) over the fields towards the remains of the Roman fort of Navio at Brough. Just before arriving at the fort we walked by this peaceful scene.

Clicking on this will show you the information about the fort. It was built only 30 years after the Romans invaded Britain and it's generally thought that it was there to oversee the workings of the rich lead mines in the area.

Current members of the Cohors Primae Aquitanorum who are stationed at Navio Fort:)

The Praetor (commandant) guarding the entrance to the strong room in the Praetorium (headquarters building). This is the only part of the fort still visible above ground and below were found the steps leading down to the strong room. This is where the cash to pay the soldiers would be kept along with the insignia of the garrison.

Looking across the still hazy Hope Valley towards Win Hill which has rather a nice legend about how it and Lose Hill further along the valley, acquired their names. In 626 a battle was fought between King Edward of Northumbria whose troops were camped on one of the hills and King Cuicholm of Wessex who was camped on the other. Knowing that the Wessex army was much larger than his own, King Edward ordered his troops to build a stone wall around the summit of their hill. The battle began and both armies advanced but the superior numbers of Wessex soon drove Edward's army into retreat back up their hill. As the Wessex men charged after them they were crushed to death by the boulders of the wall being heaved down on them by Edward's men. Ever since Edward's hill has been called Win Hill and Cuicholm's has been Lose Hill. And come to think of it, perhaps 'nice' is not quite the word to describe the legend :)

It was still very hazy when I took this photo of Mam Tor also known as The Mother Mountain and The Shivering Mountain. I climbed this the previous week on a damp, foggy day so the wonderful views from the Iron Age hillfort at the top were hidden. Just as well since I forgot to put a memory card in my camera so got no photos at all of that outing! Clicking on this will give you a better idea of how it really looks.

Two little ponies (Shetlands?) standing guard over a stile that leads to the last of the flat parts of the walk. We stopped here to eat our lunch. I always think that sandwiches taste so much better in the open air:) A short rest then the climb up Back Tor comes next!

Using the excuse of taking some photos as a way of having a breather on the way up - the Hope Valley is below. This where the Kendal Mint Cake comes out, the extra boost of energy is a real lifesaver,

At the top of Back Tor thank goodness and looking down into the Edale Valley on the other side.

Another view down into Edale.

Looking along the ridge to Lose Hill which is where we are headed next. This is a very ancient trackway going back to prehistoric times and used as a drovers road until comparatively recent times.

On top of Losehill looking towards Winhill which is the tiny little peak in the distance - more clicking required here.

The trig point on Losehill just to prove I was really here:)

Walking back down into Hope via the old hollow lane called Jaggers Way, jagger was an old name for a pedlar or hawker. They would have used the old drovers roads to travel from one place to another. Hollow lanes are created partly by erosion and partly by the constant passage of people and animals over many centuries. Imagine the pack horse trains or the lonely peddlar trudging down this path and finally nearing a place to rest and spend a night after crossing the exposed ridge from Mam Tor in driving rain, or ice or snow.............

........and here it is at last, the warmth of a blazing fire, a glass of ale and a hot meal. Inns with the name of The Cheshire Cheese are always signs of an old drovers road as the drovers coming over from Cheshire often paid their way with one of the wonderful crumbly Cheshire cheeses that come from my home county. The Ring O'Bells is another inn sign denoting the route of a drover's way, the lead horse would wear bells on its harness to warn people of their approach. I had a little further to go before I could take off my pack and sit down but we had a wonderful day's walking in pretty much perfect conditions and I enjoyed it enormously - especially once I made it up to the top of Back Tor!.