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.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Things To Do In A Winter's Day

I really enjoy winter days like today. It's rather grey and miserable, the once pristine snow is now slushy and dirty looking and it's the perfect day for staying inside and doing interesting things. All three of the things are connected with my daughter-in-law Cesca in one way or another:) In the autumn she asked me if I would do this cross stitch sampler for her and so here it is well on the way. I'm enjoying stitching it as it is uses all my favourite colours and is depicting my favourite season.

In between stitching I'm re-reading some books by George Ewart Evans who wrote several books about the area of Suffolk where Cesca comes from. They are based on the many oral history recordings he made of local people. The books were originally published in the 1950s so many of the old people were born in and clearly remembered rural life in the 19th century. I've almost finished 'Ask the Fellows Who Cut the Hay' and shall be moving on to ' The Crooked Scythe' shortly. I've also just acquired 'The Horse in the Furrow' which is saving the best until last as far as I'm concerned as I have a real love of the big working horses and the old horsemen who spent their days ploughing and reaping and sowing. I'm hoping to do a post on the subject soon if I can find photographs to use whose copyright owners don't wish to charge me £10 for using them rather than just settling for an ackowledgement!! I do have a particular person in mind here of course.

Last but by no means least is some family history research again in Suffolk. Cesca's paternal ancestors include some of the old Suffolk horsemen and also a newly discovered shepherd. Soon I shall have to abandon the computer and spend some time in Ipswich looking at Parish Registers. There's only so much that you can do online then you need to go back to the old-fashioned way of researching so that you can check and cross check the information you have. I have to say that I'm happy to have any excuse to spend time in Suffolk - and also Essex now that I've found the shepherd who came from St Osyth. So which of my possible pastimes shall I follow now? The family history trail I think:)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Winter Wonderland

We finally had some proper snow overnight on Sunday so I took my camera with me when B Baggins and I went out this morning. He seemed to be determined to appear in as many of the photos as he could, this one was supposed to be just the path by the river.

Here he is again! This little 18th century bridge crosses Needham's Dike just above the point where it joins Oldhay Brook. In the past there was a corn mill nearby and later a scythe works.

A handsome blackbird posed very nicely for me - I hope he found some breakfast, these are hard conditions for birds.

This shows how deep the snow was in Dam Field, B Baggins has not got a case of canine measles! It was snowing quite hard while we were out. As you can probably guess this was originally the site of the dam for the corn mill.

I really like this photo of the dead grass stems covered in snow, they look so graceful and ethereal.It looks better if you click and enlarge it.

I'm rather taken with this photo as well, last year's alder cones and the new catkins just waiting for the warmth of Spring. It doesn't really show up in the photo but there is a real purplish tinge to the catkins.

You can see this better if you enlarge it too, it's the late 18th century road bridge leading from Totley to Dore and the river forms the parish boundary. There was a ford here before the bridge was built.

The warm brown of leaf buds on the oak tress in the field were surprisingly obvious. There is a line of them crossing the field which mark the edge of the old dam.

Over the stile and into the lane, this is the road carried by the bridge in the earlier photo.

A lovely splash of colour where the gorse is still flowering in spite of the cold and snow.

This is what my DH terms an 'atmospheric' photo and will definitely need enlarging:) It was actually very misty and also still snowing but I like the cosiness of the farmhouse tucked into the hollow and further up the hill is Hollin House which will take some getting out of today as it's at the bottom of a steep winding drive leading off an equally steep winding lane on the other side of the hill. I've known the people who live there for well over 30 years as their daughter and my elder son were in the same class at primary school and were good friends. That's today's snowy walk, I suspect that by tomorrow it will be much less pristine unless we get another dollop tonight.

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Frosty Day

Grass afield wears silver thatch;
Palings all are edged with rime;
Frost flowers pattern round the latch;
Cloud nor breeze dissolve the clime:

When the waves are solid floor,
And the clods are iron bound,
And the boughs are crystall'd hoar,
And the red leaf nailed aground.

When the fieldfare's flight is slow,
And a rosy vapour rim,
Now the sun is small and low,
Belts along the region dim.

When the ice-crack flies and flaws,
Shore to shore, with thunder shock,
Deeper than the evening daws,
Clearer than the village clock.

 When the rusty blackbird strips,
 Bunch by bunch, the coral thorn ;
 And the pale day-crescent dips,
 New to heaven, a slender horn.

 I thought this poem by Lord de Tabley (1835-1895) was quite appropriate for our current weather conditions:). We only have a light covering of snow here at the moment but apparently there's a good deal more to come this afternoon. The painting of the blackbird is by a Scottish artist called Archibald Thorburn(1860-1935). I really like his paintings of wildlife so you may be seeing more of them in the future.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

My Son's Blog

My son has asked me to give his blog a plug to try and attract a little more traffic to it:) I'm sure many readers of my blog will be aware that Steve and Hannah and their two girls live in South Africa where they work at Africa School of Missions. Both Steve and Hannah write on the blog and the subject matter is pretty varied. Steve's latest effort is about a woodland walk where he and the girls were trying to identify various types of fungus - there are some where a bit of expert help is needed.

Naturally enough there is quite a bit about Steve and Hannah's work in the local African community including Backdoor PreSchool where the solitary blond among the children is my granddaughter Lucy:)

There are pieces about visits to places such as Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre, Kruger National Park and the Drakensburg Mountains

Some of the posts are about domestic life though not perhaps as most of us know it - at least I personally don't often get spitting cobras in my washing machine!

They travel to places other than Africa during the course of their work too, this photo was taken in the Czech Republic during a trip to Eastern Europe last summer. Do go and take a look,I'm sure you'll find it interesting.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Happy New Year!

Well, here we are in 2013 with a whole twelve months full of possibilities ahead of us. I'm planning to blog more regularly again this year so I'm starting as I mean to carry on:) Let's hope that this year holds lots of good things for all of us. A very Happy New Year to all of you!