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.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A Touch of Spring

Yesterday was almost springlike with blue skies and sunshine, it was enough to tempt me outside for a while to do a little work in the garden. Not too much as I've learnt not to get too over enthusiastic after the winter, it pays to start with an hour or two and gradually work up to a full day out there. There are snowdrops all over, these are a small group in the front garden.

I turned one of the flowers up to photograph the inside, they are so pretty and yet this part isn't often noticed.

This is the inside of a winter flowering clematis - not mine unfortunately although I get the benefit of some of the flowers fom my neighbours plant which grows over and through the fence between us.

This is a group of helleborus orientalis already in bud, it's a rather special one that cost me an arm and a leg but the flowers are beautiful when they come out. The original plant was just a single flower stem but in the years it's been there it's increased steadily.

Among this morning's post was an unexpected letter from America, it contained this lovely ATC from Janet of Just bee-cause - and just for fun!! The photo doesn't do it justice as the colours are much stronger than they appear to be, I love the little handmade envelope with my initial on as much as the ATC. Thank you Janet, it was a lovely surprise to start my day.

The last couple of photos were taken by my husband who has taken to spending large parts of his day lying flat on the dining room floor taking photographs of the birds in our garden - not to mention the grey squirrels and occasional visiting cats. The bird above is a bullfinch feeding from the pile of seeds that I cunningly place at the top of the terrace steps. They are becoming quite scarce in the UK now but we see a pair regularly especially when the plum tree comes into flower:)

This is the robin - English version and much smaller than the American robin. This is the one that appears on all the Christmas cards.

This shows his red breast better, I really need to play with them and enlarge,crop, sharpen etc but don't have time today. Clicking to enlarge the images might help.

Finally, the ever present, unfortunately, grey squirrel. These are responsible for the near extinction of our beautiful,native red squirrel which is now found in only a few parts of the UK. The red squirrel is the one that Beatrix Potter wrote about in Squirrel Nutkin and is also the friend of Alison Uttley's Little Grey Rabbit.
The greys also kill young trees by debarking them and in the nesting season they steal both eggs and chicks from birds' nests. They are NOT my favourite form of wildlife, cute as they look!
Edited to say I've cleaned the photos up a bit now so hopefully they look better.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

A Little Family History

Recently I've enjoyed seeing old photos on other blogs and reading the stories attached to them. I have very few old photos of my own family which is a source of great regret to me as I'm a keen family historian. I gaze with envy on all the wonderful Victorian and Edwardian photos that other people have. The few older ones that I have all came to me via various cousins of varying degrees but I'll save those for another post. Clicking on the photos will make them clearer. The photograph above is of my parents on their wedding day - 31st July 1938. The bridesmaid is my dad's sister, Aunty Winnie - her full name was Winifred Victory - she was born on November 11th 1918, the day that WW1 ended hence her second name. On her 80th birthday she made the front page of the local paper because of this. The little boy peeping round on the left will be featuring again further down.

I love this photo because almost all my father's brothers and sisters as well as my gran and a couple of cousins are on it - a real rarity as far as I'm concerned. The bride is my Aunty Doreen marrying Uncle George who was in the Royal Canadian Air Force. My mum and dad are either side of the Canadian airman on the back row. Gran is next to the bride. It is 1945 and shortly afterwards Doreen was one of the war brides being shipped across to Canada.She was 18 years old and never saw her mother again. I met her and my five Canadian cousins for the first time in 1999 when I went to Canada to see them. When I came through the Arrivals gate at Dorval she knew me immediately - she said 'Oh it's just like our Bill walking towards me'! Aunty Doreen had never been back to the UK due originally to lack of money and more recently to fear of flying. The year after my visit though she finally conquered this and came home for a visit with two of my cousins after a gap of 55 years. It was quite a homecoming as you can probably imagine. She is still with us aged 81.

This is the little boy in the first photo quite a few years later - October 1952 to be precise. My dad's youngest sibling marrying my Aunty May, both still going strong at 75 and 71.

This is Uncle John's wedding again with my gran on the left and another of my dad's sisters,my Aunty May, carrying my cousin Sheila. At the front on the left is her son, my cousin Peter, and on the right my cousin Terry who is the son of yet another sister, my Aunty Lilian. I have an awful lot of cousins! Aunty May is another one still going strong at the age of 86.

Finally we have the bridesmaids,on the left is yours truly aged 6 and on the right my cousin Glenys aged 7. My mum made our outfits, the dresses, the little Dutch bonnets and the muffs that we carried - all in pale pink. I still have the locket that I'm wearing, it was our present from Uncle John and Aunty May. Three days later I was in bed with chicken pox! My mum caught it from me and was really ill so Aunty May, the new bride, came back from her honeymoon and then spent nearly two weeks looking after me and my mum. Welcome to the real world Aunty May! She's always been my favourite aunt even though she isn't a blood relative, she's never got any older in my head either, I still think of John and May as a young couple. Must go over to Cheshire and see them soon.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Stormy Weather

Today has been a lovely, sunny day but pretty cold. Over the last ten days or so we have had some bad wind storms though and above is Bilbo Baggins among the top branches of a full grown ash tree that fell across the river near us at the weekend. This isn't the river in Eccleshall Woods - there are several close to us apart from the Limb Brook, this one is Old Hay Brook. Double clicking on some of the photos will make them clearer I think.

This is from a bit further back showing the main trunk actually across the water.

Another big branch that came down into the same river. The water level has dropped quite a bit now but last weekend it was running very fast and deep.

My husband was over at our other house on the Lancashire coast over the weekend to check up that all was well there. The bungalow is about 5 or 6 miles from Blackpool and he went up there with his camera and took these rather spectacular photos of the sea front. The promenade had been closed to traffic because it was so dangerous. I have to say that I'm very glad I wasn't crossing on the ferry to the Isle of Man that day! I may be a member of a seafaring island race but I am, regrettably, not a very good sailor! Mind you, Admiral Nelson wasn't either so I'm in good company!!

An even more spectacular wave breaking. Virtually every year people are swept into the water along this part of the coast and drowned because they don't respect the power of the sea and get too close.

Believe it or not there is an entire pier behind this wave.

And here it is!

Finally, I couldn't post about Blackpool without including a picture of the Tower.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

A Bear of Very Little Brain

Like Winnie-the-Pooh I am a bear of very little brain at the moment. The virus I had over the New Year seems to have left me with a head that feels as though it is stuffed with cotton wool. Physically I am fine and I don't have any problems doing housework, knitting, going out with Bilbo Baggins etc, but anything requiring any thought or concentration appears to be beyond me.I can't think of comments to put on blogs I've read, I couldn't even come up with a title for a post on here much less actually write anything! It does look as though I'm improving though but this will just be a fairly disjointed mish mash of this and that and not very much:) The photo at the top is of the roses that Neil and Cesca brought me on New Year's Eve, this was a few days later but they lasted for two weeks altogether.
One or two blogs have been talking about the small pleasures of life that seem to pass a lot of people by. I think most of the things that bring me pleasure are small by many people's standards.

Certainly this one wouldn't be top of everyone's list but to me the sight of a pristine new notepad and a brand new pen brings enormous pleasure and it's one my eldest son shares with me. It holds all sorts of possibilities - lists of future projects, lists of ordinary everyday tasks that need doing, lists of plants I'd like for the garden, ideas for the next step in my family history research and on and on - it's a matter of deciding which one will get the honour of being put on that first, beautiful, empty page.

Another pleasure is knitting small things for my grandchildren, this is a poor photo of the little cardigan in a lovely soft primrose colour that I've just finished for the one that is still unborn. Now I have a pram blanket on the way and in between squares I'll do some little bootees.

More small pleasures are the sounds of nature - birds singing, a wild gale howling (so long as I'm inside and not out in it!), the sound of the river - sometimes slow and quiet, sometimes dancing and laughing as it goes and sometimes, after a storm,roaring past at tremendous speed. I love to hear the hum of insects on a hot summer day too - I'm talking about bees,hoverflies and things here not mosquitoes and the nasty flies that buzz round your ears and drive you mad. There are the pleasures of watching sunrises and magnificent sunsets and the moon in all its phases and walking on a beach hearing the sound of the sea - all kinds of marvellous things which are available to all of us, rich or poor,if we take the trouble to look and listen.
Apparently this is going to be it for the moment, I've been trying to upload more photos for the last day or so and most of the time I couldn't edit at all. Oh well, anything is better than nothing I suppose. I'm going to get the show on the road while I can!

Friday, January 05, 2007

An English Village and A Little History

I've been down and out with a nasty virus all this week but am finally returning to something resembling a human being. This is just a little trip round the village with a tiny bit of history thrown in as my brain is still in a fairly delicate condition and can't do much in the way if thinking right now:)
The photo at the top is the village pub - The Hare and Hounds. Not anything like as large originally as it is now, the far righthand end is the original pub but the central and left hand part was originally little village shops and cottages.

The Village Green with the stone which records our claim to fame - I'm pretty sure I've mentioned before that it was in Dore that King Ecgbert became effectively the first king of the whole of England. Previously it had been divided into the three kingdoms of Wessex, Mercia and Northumbria - he'd already taken care of Mercia before he came up here!

If you double click on the photo you should be able to read the inscription.The 'dragon' is a Wyvern - it was the emblem on the battle standard of the Kings of Wessex and was carried at the Battle of Hastings by Harold, the last of the Saxon kings.

A row of old stone cottages just round the corner from the pub and close to the Village Green.

One of the really old houses in the village.

This is on the same road and is my favourite house - unfortunately it is way out of my price range!

This is the Limb Brook which runs through Eccleshall Woods where I walk with Bilbo Baggins. Doesn't look very spectacular does it? Just a small,rather pretty river - but once it marked the boundary between the kingdoms of Wessex and Northumbria and until quite recent times (the 1930s I think) it still marked the boundary between the counties of Derbyshire and Yorkshire. Then the boundaries were changed and a Derbyshire village became a suburb of Sheffield. We're lucky that it has remained physically separate from the city and is still a proper village. This gives a slightly skewed impression of it as there are of course, many modern houses and shops and the roads are filled with parked cars,but there are still a great many of the lovely old stone cottages and former farmhouses as well. It's greatest asset is the wonderful countryside all round - the moors, the woods and still a few working farms.There are connections with Robin Hood round here as well - forget Nottingham, Robin Hood came from Sheffield and Little John is buried in Hathersage!! But that will have to be for another time.