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.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

Janus am I; oldest of potentates;
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

Boxing Day Morning

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.

The Blacka Dyke was dancing past the moss covered rocks about twenty feet below the path we were on, I love this part of the stream, it always seems a magical place to me.

A little further up the hill and set back from the path behind elders and silver birches is this holly bush which is still covered with berries.I left it untouched when I was gathering my holly and I suspect most people didn't even notice it:)

At the top of the hill is this beautiful weeping silver birch, it is beautiful at all seasons of the year but I love it best in winter with the delicate tracery of its branches outlined against the sky. I have better photos of it taken in different weather conditions but this is how it looked today.

B Baggins again, he's never far away from me on all my walks and I don't take his photograph as often as I should - he's pretty fit for a dog who will be nine years old in March.

This fragile looking lichen in the palest of greens is almost like a flower.

I have no idea of the age of this wonderful beech tree but I think it must be very old, it's a wonderful and huge tree with a canopy that spreads over a wide area.
I should think that what is in the photo is less than half of its full height.

There is still a surprising amount of fungi around and this little patch of warm yellow nestling at the foot of dead tree caught my eye. I have absolutely no idea what it is - any suggestions?

As I walked back up the lane to my car there was a thunder of hooves as William, Holly and Melissa galloped up the field to say 'Hello'. I was so busy talking to them that I never thought to take a photo! As I turned away and walked to my car I suddenly saw this gorse bush covered in flowers, a lovely spot of colour on what was quite a dull morning but definitely not a dull walk.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

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

Happy Winter Solstice!

"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.
Welcome Yule!!"
- 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.

Today is the shortest and darkest day of the year, there is little colour in the countryside and most of the trees are bare but from this point on the days will slowly lengthen and in a few short weeks we shall see the first signs of Spring appearing. Winter is a time of slowing down and resting and if we are wise we also will use the winter to rest and reflect and renew our energy ready for the coming of Spring. A Happy and Peaceful Solstice to you all.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Images for Yule

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:)

I love all my tree decorations which have been collected gradually over the last thirty nine years. I have special favourites though and this green Santa is one of them.

The photo doesn't do my little glass hummingbird justice, it sparkles beautifully with the tree lights shining through it.

I cross-stitched this little goose ornament about 25 years ago.

My beautiful porcelain stag cost an arm and a leg at Country Living Christmas Fair a few years ago but I had to have him.

If I could only keep one of my ornaments I think this would be the one I chose.

I made this little primitive pin tuck a couple of years ago. I keep meaning to do more as I have some lovely designs. There's still time......

I love the little mouse peeping out of the top of the stocking, it's another primitive piece that I found at a Christmas Craft Fair at Nostell Priory a year or two back.

The sledge belonged to one of my sons, every Christmas for several years now I have loaded it with holly and added tiny lights, there are actually 80 on there! The holly looks dark because I used the 'fireworks' setting on my camera to try and show the lights without any glare. The boys had a sledge each but Neil's is now in Suffolk waiting for the first snowfall so that Gabriel and George can play on it:)

The wreath on the front of the house - I'm not thrilled with any of my wreaths this year, they took forever and I just couldn't get them the way I wanted so I ended up just settling for what I'd got before I threw them on the floor and jumped on them!

And finally - this tree decoration is 35 years old now. Stephen made it out of egg cartons and silver foil at nursery school when he was 3 years old. I still hang it on the tree every year though not necessarily at the front:)

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
Unearthly white.

Thick draws the dark,
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:)