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, November 22, 2009


I'd intended to do another post long before this but life has been busy and there just hasn't been time. My elder son and his family are moving back to South Africa in the New Year so I'm seeing a good deal of my granddaughters while I can and of course we have Solstice/Yule/Christmas approaching rather more rapidly than many of us expected. The Christmas cake is always the first thing I make and I do it mid November to give it time to mature. I always intend to do it at the end of October but so far haven't actually achieved that ambition! The photo shows this year's effort which is wrapped in clingfilm and foil and sitting on top of a cupboard now. It will be coming down briefly on Wednesday for it's first 'feed' of sherry, I shall do this again around December 10th then a week after that I shall make the marzipan and put that on - in theory anyway:)

Next on the list is the mincemeat,this needs time to mature as well but fortunately there are a couple of jars left from last year to make the couple of dozen mince pies for my WI Christmas event on December 2nd. I can imagine the looks of horror on some of your faces when you read this - don't worry, it is so full of spices and alcohol that it will easily keep for 12 months.

I've been busy knitting too, a hat for George which I forgot to take a photo of and this little sweater for Lucy.

I like knitting dishcloths, they are quick and brilliant to use, I have a stack of them for myself and thought I'd make a few as stocking fillers for my daughter and DILs.

On Wednesday night there's a meeting of my local history group and I'll be reporting on the progress of the War Memorial project, I've been doing quite a bit of research on my two soldiers and usually spend more time than I should on it because I find it so absorbing. This is the folder of information which hopefully will get fatter and fatter as time goes on.

I'm starting to make and freeze things ready for the holiday season and each year I tend to make the same things because if I don't I get into trouble! This is chocolate truffle torte ready to go into the freezer. The part you see will be on the bottom when it is served and underneath is a coating of crushed Amaretti biscuits.

Another old favourite is lemon cream pie, I always make two of these as they disappear in no time. I serve them with sliced kiwi fruit or strawberries on top. I've given this recipe to pretty much everyone who's tried it - it originally came to me from a lady in my WI who brought it as her contribution to one of our Christmas parties about 20 years ago.

It's a good while since I last did any cross-stitch but I've been inspired by seeing some lovely primitive Christmas stitching on a blog that I read and I decided to make some little 'tucks' and bowl fillers for myself. This is nearly finished and I've really enjoyed doing it - hopefully I shall still like it when I've mangled it up trying to turn it into a little pillow!
I really will try to post more often - there's still one of my USA posts to do and some nice photos taken on one of my walks in the woods on a beautiful day at the end of October. I've recently done a workshop on ancient woodland boundaries and trackways which has made me look at the woods in a whole new way - but that's for another time.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


This is one of our local War memorials with its poppy wreaths which were layed last Sunday when all the official ceremonies took place. I prefer to remember at the original time - the Eleventh hour of the Eleventh day of the Eleventh month when in 1918 the guns finally fell silent after four horrific years which left the world changed forever.

These are the names of the local men who lost their lives in the First World War, if you click on it you will be able to read it more easily. It isn't a long list compared with many places but Totley was a tiny place in those days and the loss would have been felt deeply by all the local people. I'm co-ordinating a project by our local history society to research each of the names on the plaque so that they stop being just names and become men with families and friends. Eventually there will be a Roll of Honour on our website with a short story of each of their lives. The project is in its infancy but already we know that the Turner boys were brothers who died seven months apart in 1917, Bernard was just 19 years old. Tom Fisher was from a farming family and was working as a cowman on a farm in a nearby Derbyshire village in 1911. He died at Cambrai just before Christmas 1917 - for his family Christmas will never have been the same again. Lt Roy Milner, at the age of 21, was the youngest of the three children of the family who lived at Totley Hall. He was in the Territorial Army and marched proudly off to war in August 1914 cheered along the lane by all the local people. By the end of September he was dead, one of the first British officers to die in WW1 - mown down by machine gun fire as he lead his men into action. Death didn't distinguish between rich and poor, farmer's son or wealthy aristocrat - their broken bodies were left on Flanders fields and a whole generation of brave young men now lie beneath row upon row of white crosses and many don't even have that to mark their sacrifice. Thousands have never been found, they were blown to bits or buried deep in Flanders mud and are now just names on a memorial. They all deserve both our remembrance and our gratitude.

As ever I remember also our two family members who gave their lives

Pte Harry Hindley Simpson, 1st Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers killed in action August 1916

AC2 Harold Harrison RAF buried in Jakarta War Cemetery, Indonesia 1942

"When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say,
For Their Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today"

Sunday, November 01, 2009

The Last of Autumn


Come, bleak November, in thy wildness come:

Thy mornings clothed in rime, thy evenings chill;

E’en these have power to tempt me from my home,

E’en these have beauty to delight me still.

Though Nature lingers in her mourning weeds,

And wails the dying year in gusty blast,

Still added beauty to the last proceeds,

And wildness triumphs when her bloom is past.

Though long grass all the day is drench’d in dew,

And splashy pathways lead me o’er the greens;

Though naked fields hang lonely on the view,

Long lost to harvest and its busy scenes;

Yet in the distance shines the painted bough,

Leaves changed to every colour ere they die,

And through the valley rivers widen now,

Once little brooks which summer dribbled dry.

This is an extract from a lovely poem by John Clare who wrote a great deal of exquisite nature poetry filled with wonderful descriptions of the pastoral scenes that he knew and loved so well. I started doing extracts from his Shepherd's Calendat earlier this year then was overtaken by life and only managed to do May and June. Over the winter months I'll try and do some more along with other snippets of his poetry.