Letting Go

I love this poem by Beckarooney! I hope you do, too.

Part-Time Poet

The trees are about to show us

how liberating it is

to let things go,

A blur of Jurassic trunks and octopus branches

once serene jades and emeralds

now spellbinding golds, rubies, ambers

fading embers falling

to leave their skeletal state

what sight is more breathtaking in winter

than these stark silhouettes against a zealous sunrise?

I relish being in attendance

with the morning mist

accompanying a hazy sunrise,

with a preponderance of golden yellow

giving the dark-red maple leaves

a rich, ornate presence

garnets in a Victorian ring.

A ripe apple or pear

their sweet aroma carried

on the crisp air,

to twist one off a branch

and sink your teeth into the crisp

sweet skin

is a primeval instinct

felt from within.

September is satisfying,

content, mellow

like an old friend

saying hello.

The anticipation of autumn

followed by winter’s slumber,

to embrace the darker months

makes the…

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Wedding and Weaving

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I have been thinking for some time that I ought to let you know something of what we have been doing this year but I haven’t been sure where I should start!  I will begin by telling you of our recent big family celebration, my brother Andrew’s wedding to Helen on the 12th of May.

Helen and Andrew – my brother and his lovely wife

This photo and the one below I ‘obtained’ from Facebook and they were taken by Andrew and Helen’s friends.  I didn’t take any photographs that day and am very grateful to those who did.  Don’t they look a happy couple?

Helen and Andrew

Richard and me – taken by Elinor

Alice and Elinor – taken by Richard

The day was a little chilly but fairly bright and it stayed dry until we were all at the reception, which was very lucky.

I had spent quite a bit of time during the preceding months helping Mum find a new outfit for the occasion.  I visited many shops, on my own, in a number of towns looking for something she might be happy to wear.  The shops had to have easy access and be near to a car park.  The clothes had to be suitable in design and price.  I eventually got together a plan of campaign and we had a shopping trip just ten days before the wedding.  We were very fortunate in finding just what Mum wanted but I am disappointed in not having a photograph of her in her finery.

It was good to see Andrew’s children Natalie and Robert and Natalie’s partner Adam.  My sister Francesca managed to take the day off work but her three children weren’t able to attend.  Mum was very pleased to see them all.

oooOOOooo

My niece, Natalie specialised in weaving when studying for her degree in Art in London.  I thought, as I hadn’t been able in an earlier post of mine to include any photos of the embroidery and textiles I saw at an exhibition, I would mention the work Natalie does and include a few links.

Natalie works for Humphries Weaving based in the town of Sudbury in Suffolk.  Here is a short video produced by that company and in it you will be able to see Natalie and her colleague and listen to them talk about the work they do.  Natalie is the woman with her hair up and she doesn’t have a Scottish accent!

One of the projects Natalie has been working on for the past few years is helping to conserve the Saloon in the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, that wonderful building commissioned by George IV.

Here is an article from the Guardian newspaper about the restoration work.

I also include another film made by Humphries Weaving which explains the work they have had to do and all the detailed research that has been carried out.

I am looking forward to visiting the Royal Pavilion and seeing this beautiful room!

A Star is Born

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I may not have been writing posts for some months but I have been trying to keep up with my blogging friends.  One of these friends is Charlotte Hoather, an operatic star in the making.  Some of you may know her.

I have been following her career for a few years now and am constantly amazed at her dedication, courage, energy, generosity, humility and most important of all, her tremendous talent.

I include here, a recent post of hers in which she describes how she deals with the pressures of the life she leads.  How many of us could cope so well?

https://charlottehoatherblog.com/2018/09/16/rest-relaxation-hot-tea-and-laughter/

If you would like to find out why she decided to embark on an operatic career, the difficulties she has encountered and overcome on the way and why she blogs, please look at the following post.  Please do click on the videos she has included.  Watch her perform and listen to her wonderful voice.

https://charlottehoatherblog.com/2018/09/23/how-i-discovered-blogging-with-wordpress/

Have you seen how many WordPress followers she has?!  I am in awe of her.

 

Avian Visitors

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We have had some warm periods of weather at last, after a long, cold spring.  Spring flowers have rushed to bloom and set seed before summer arrives and the trees have clothed themselves in delicate green leaves.

Any warm days we had in early spring were quickly followed by much cooler and wetter weather and the returning birds were confused, I am sure.  I saw a couple of vanguard male Swallows (Hirundo rustica) at the beginning of April but the ensuing wet and windy weather must have sent them back south because I didn’t see them again until mid May!

Two Swallows on the electric cable above our garden in April

Swallow number 1

Swallow number 2

We are pleased to say that the Greylags (Anser anser) did arrive in our garden, a little later than usual and spent a couple of hours a day inspecting the place…..

Greylag male and female

…..until they were ready to set up home here for the duration.  A nest was built on the island and the female began to sit on her eggs at the end of March.

The geese taking up residence.

The island

The goose on her nest. She lowers her head to become less noticeable.

The gander patrols the water…..

….but often went off elsewhere to eat and meet his friends, though was within calling range.

The goose sat and sat and sat, only leaving the nest for a couple of minutes in the morning and evening to snatch a quick bite to eat.

Eventually, right at the end of April the goslings hatched.  There are four of them but I have had great difficulty photographing them.

Retreating Greylag family

As the goslings have grown the parents have become a little more relaxed but still beat a hasty retreat if anyone gets too close.

Gander on the lookout

Four fat babies eating our grass

These photos were taken at dusk and with my zoom at full stretch!  The goslings are on the move all the time and it is very difficult to get them in focus.

This photo was taken a few days later from Elinor’s bedroom window

I managed to get the whole family in this one!

While the goose was still sitting on her nest we had some surprise and unexpected visitors in the garden.

Barnacle Geese! (Branta leucopsis)   They had the cheek to land on the Greylags’ island while the goose was on her nest!

They appeared to want to set up home there too.

Richard saw them visit a few days later when the Greylag goose decided she didn’t want them there any longer.  She called her mate who arrived very quickly and saw them off.  These photos were taken from Elinor’s bedroom window again.

The pond has also had many visits from Tufted Ducks (Aythya fuligula).  There have often been two pairs of them swimming together.

Male and female Tufted Ducks

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) male and female

Mallard drake

A pair of Moorhens (Gallinula chloropus)

The Moorhens again; one displaying its white feathers under its tail.

Before the leaves appeared on the Ash tree we had frequent flocks of Starlings visit in the evening

Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris)

We also had Fieldfares (Turdus pilaris) and Redwings (Turdus iliacus) congregate in that same tree before they flew north and east to their breeding grounds.

Once the winter birds had left, Spring decided it ought to do some catching up.  Flowers appeared, summer birds arrived despite the cool temperatures and I took this rather shaky video of our pond, mainly to record the birdsong (and the lambs!)

I managed to photograph a Blue Tit (Parus caeruleus) in our Rowan tree.

Blue Tit. There is also a crescent moon behind the tree

The next photo is a bit sad.  Sad in one sense that it shows a dead bird and sad in another that I am strange enough to want to photograph a dead bird!  I apologise to anyone who is upset at seeing these photos which were taken to record the presence of the bird in the area.  I buried the bird as soon as I had finished looking at it.

A Firecrest (Regulus ignicapillus).

I found this poor bird in the flowerbed under one of our windows and I assume it had flown into the glass and killed itself.

It is a tiny bird as you can see when compared with my hand.

Here is a link with information about Firecrests

We get Goldcrests in our garden but this is the first time I have seen a Firecrest here and am sorry that it had died.  It proves though, that there are probably other Firecrests about so I must be more observant.

A Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos) singing at dusk

I also made another poor video of this lovely bird singing.  I had to balance on one leg while peering round the corner of our house to make the video which is my excuse for the poor quality.  The video is dedicated to Richard Sutton of A Listening Heart blog who lamented in a recent post that he hadn’t heard a Song Thrush for a while.  Please do visit Richard’s blog.  He writes beautifully about the countryside where he lives and about poets and writers too.

 

Are You Going Around in Circles? It Could Be Your Cookie Widget-Plus an update to GDPR #MPBooks

More information! With thanks to Cat again.

My Peacock Books

If you’ve recently been visiting any WordPress.com website you may have noticed a banner appearing which has some small print that says something about Cookies and Privacy and asks you to accept to continue using the website.  But many of us have recently experienced an annoying glitch with this banner.  When click accept we seem to be going around in circles as the whole page we were just looking at refreshes.  The refreshed page then re-appears only to display this banner again.  And so some of us have been going around in circles as we click accept -> refresh -> accept -> refresh, etc.  Well there’s a solution, at least a temporary one…

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GDPR: What Should You Do As A Blogger? #MPBooks

This is an extremely well-researched post written to help us cope with these new GDPR rules. Well done, Cat!

My Peacock Books

From 25th May 2018 a new EU regulation comes into law called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Many of us have already heard of this new regulation, it was officially passed in 2016 but only becomes law from 25th May 2018. The new regulation is a good thing for anyone living in the EU as it gives you more control and transparency over how your personal data is kept and used by businesses and different companies who provide goods and services, but did you know that as a blogger you also need to comply with new GDPR rules, even if you’re not an EU citizen?

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2017 Revisited

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As I mentioned in a previous post, I am writing a series of posts about a few places I visited last year but hadn’t the time then, to feature in my blog.

ooooOOoooo

The Priory Church of Saint Mary, Bungay, Suffolk

Last spring I went to see an exhibition of ancient and modern needlework and textiles at St. Mary’s Priory Church in Bungay.  The exhibition was called ‘A Stitch in Time’ and the leaflet I was given as I entered the church stated that it “… offer(ed) the visitor the opportunity to explore Bungay through the textiles that have been left as legacies of its past and … (admire) textiles that, it is hoped, will become heirlooms for future generations”.

Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum) were in flower in the churchyard.

I enjoyed the exhibition exceedingly but photography was not allowed because many of the exhibits were extremely old and precious and all were unique and beautiful.  I spent some time admiring the needlework and also watching as some of the members of the ‘Sew on Sunday’ group worked on their current projects.

St. Mary’s Church tower

St. Mary’s Church began its life as part of a Benedictine Priory, its Parochial Nave, which was founded in the 12th century (about 1160) byGundreda wife of Roger de Glanville.  The nuns who resided in the priory were skilled needlewomen and made beautifully embroidered wall-hangings, altar cloths and other textiles used in church and chapel.  They probably also made embroidered vestments for the clergy.   The leaflet told me that after the Reformation in 1536 the Priory was closed and according to the parish accounts and local wills, “some of the church embroideries and vestments were cut up and made into elaborate theatrical costumes for the plays forming part of the annual Ale-Games in the churchyards during the Whitsun period!”  Don’t ask me about Ale-Games, because I can’t tell you a thing about them!  On display were some exquisite vestments and other church textiles.  Local churches, the Community of All Hallows and the Museum in Bungay had contributed some items for display, as had a number of local people.

St. Mary’s Church, built in the 15th century

Also on display were some needlework samplers dating from  the late 17th century.  These were made by the female ancestors of John Barber Scott (1792 – 1862) who was a wealthy local gentleman, diarist, philanthropist and Town Reeve.

I particularly enjoyed the display of work by the All Hallows Embroidery School which used to be part of the Community of All Hallows in Ditchingham.

The Barber Scott memorials and grave stones in the churchyard

I returned to the church a week later once the exhibition had finished, and took some more photographs of the church, inside and out.  This church is now redundant and is cared for by the Churches Conservation Trust.

Carving over north door.  A knight and a lion.

Carving over north door.  A lion and a mouse.  There is also a man’s head to the right of the lion.

An arch-stop with oak leaves and acorns

The north wall of the church.

I enjoy looking out for grotesques and gargoyles on churches.

These are the ruins of the 13th and 14th century priory buildings at the east end of the church

Priory ruins

Priory ruins

Churchyard with the Barber Scott graves in the middle distance

Look at the beautiful open-work cresting on the top of the north aisle! What skilled masons they were to have carved this!

I love this tiny figure of a knock-kneed kneeling knight in armour!

These niches on the buttresses would have contained figures of saints which were probably destroyed when the priory was dissolved.

More grotesque faces!

A chained begging monkey

A hound with folded paws

I’m not sure what this creature is!

I like the pinnacles on top of the tower. More fine carving here too.

Carving and flushwork on the West Front

Note the crowned ‘M’s above the West window.  The emblem incorporates all the letters of the name ‘Maria’.

Opposite the West Door is this stone known as ‘The Druid’s Stone’ which has probably been there since the Ice Age.

The inside of the church is less interesting than the outside.  Damage was done to the church in the Bungay Great Fire of 1688 when most of the roof timbers were destroyed and again during the Second World War when most of the glass was lost.

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The slideshow above is of the windows and the stained glass in the church, most of which had to be replaced after the Second World War.

The High Altar

Some of the modern needlework that adorns the church

Carved ivy

One of the bosses in the roof. I apologise for it being out of focus.

Some of the original 15th century woodwork was saved.  I have no idea if this might be one of the older carvings.  Most of the roof dates from the restoration after the fire which was completed in 1699.

Another blurred boss

The font is 18th century and decorated with cherubs and roses.

Behind and to the right of the font is a stone bowl thought to be part of a Saxon or Norman font which was found near the Staithe in the town.

This is a dole cupboard where bread and other scraps of food were placed for the poor to collect.

The cupboard was restored in the 19th century but it is dated 1675.  Or, it may be a fake and made in the 19th century.  Who knows!  There is a rebus on the lower front of the cupboard; a large Q with a rat inside it (Curate) and his initials.  There are also mitred bishops being pulled downwards by hands.  Hmmm!  Bishops can’t have been rated very highly here!

I like the studded door.

The studded panels came from a 16th century house in the town.

The War Memorial Chapel in the church has this 17th century Flemish carving of the Resurrection as the central panel of the reredos.  

This beautiful carving was the gift of Sir H Rider Haggard  of ‘King Solomon’s Mines’ and ‘She’ fame, who lived in Ditchingham House nearby.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this long post!

Snowbound

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Hazel catkins (Corylus avellana)

With the bad weather keeping us indoors I find I have had time to catch up with reading my e-mails and my friends’ posts and to write another one of my own.

Before the snow arrived I made another attempt at photographing our hazel catkins and found a few female flowers as well.

Hazel catkins

My current camera is not at all good at close-ups or macro shots and so this is the best I can do.

Another attempt at the lichen on the Horse-chestnut tree

I think I am going to have to give this up!

I rather like these lichens but again, they are not in focus.

Yet more blurred lichen!

On Monday we had snow showers all day.  Stronger spells of sunshine at midday melted all that had fallen on the driveway and paths but didn’t shift the snow on the flowerbeds and grass.  Richard took Elinor to Norwich for her acupuncture appointment and found that there had been no snow there at all.  The fountain outside the hotel where Elinor has her acupuncture was spectacularly frozen.

Frozen fountain

I had a very quick walk round the house to see that all was well.  It was much too cold to go any further.

I liked these mini icicles on the tool-shed

Witch-hazel flowers dusted by snow

This was their swan-song; they are now shrivelled and frozen.

I looked down the garden. The small pond was completely frozen.

I looked over the hedge to the field beyond.

I was chilled now so I made my way back to the front door passing the bell on the way.

Poor cockerel! He’s looking a little worse for wear!

We had a lot of snow on Tuesday night and on Wednesday morning I had to phone my mother to cancel our usual shopping trip.  She was fine and had all she needed for the time being but gave me a short list of things she would like fairly soon.

There had been no wind overnight and snow was heaped on telephone wires and windowsills and every tiny branch and twig.

You can see our new gates at the end of the drive in this photo. Richard was able to paint them last week.

In the photo you can see the dangling cable that provides us with our broadband!

We have stayed at home while the winds have picked up and blown most of the snow from the trees and caused deep drifts everywhere.  The roads to the other villages and our local towns are all blocked.  The depth of the snow in the garden has reduced, not from melting but by being scoured away.  We are hoping that we will be able to get to town later this morning before the next snow arrives.  We need to buy supplies and collect medication for me and for Mum.  Our gas delivery hasn’t arrived and we have nearly run out.  I don’t fancy a few days without central heating!  We have turned the thermostat down and the water heater off to conserve power.

The joys of living in the countryside!

My music selection today is ‘Song to the Moon’ from Dvorak’s opera Rusalka sung by (I believe) Lucia Popp.  I chose this because we have a full moon today.

Thanks for visiting!

A Walk Round the Garden

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We had a bright but chilly day recently, so I took the opportunity to photograph a few interesting things I saw on a stroll round our garden.

Wild Cherry (Prunus avium)

We have two wild cherry trees and I noticed the buds beginning to swell on this one.

Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis)

There is a rough patch of land beyond our compost heaps, in-between us and one of our neighbours which has patches of snowdrops.

Hazel catkins (Corylus avellana)

The catkins were blowing about in the strong breeze and I gave up trying to focus on them.  The female flowers were just beginning to show as well but again, my camera wouldn’t take a clear picture of them.

I liked the look of the Ivy (Hedera helix) growing up this Horse Chestnut (Aesculus Hippocastenaceae ) tree trunk

I like the colours on the ivy leaves and the pattern of the veins.

As you might be able to see, there are any number of lichens growing on this tree trunk.  I couldn’t get a clear shot of any of them so I copied the photograph above and then cropped it.  The result wasn’t too bad though not good enough to identify the lichens.  This was only a very small area of the original photo.

Lichens and green algae on a tree trunk

Jelly Ear fungus ( Auricularia auricula-judae)

A few dead trees have been blown down in recent storms and I found this fungus growing on one of them.

More fungus.

This moss was shining in the bright sunlight

One of our neighbours has started keeping bees.

Just after Christmas we had a landscape gardener come and cut back this willow which had grown lots of suckers and had spread too much.

The little island in the pond was given a haircut too.

This is the island where the Greylags have always nested.  Last year the nest was abandoned after it was attacked by something.  We had hoped that by clearing the island the geese would have better visibility and would have earlier warning of danger from otter or mink.  They have usually visited by mid February but there has been no sign of them yet this year.  After a very wet winter the pond has re-filled and the reeds that were threatening to take over have been swamped.  They will survive under water so we will have to dig them out eventually if we wish to retain the pond as it is.

Discs of ice

The pond had been frozen but the sun had melted most of the ice.  Just these tiny discs of ice remained.  Out of focus again, I’m afraid.

Ice disc  

These papery seedheads belong to the Bee Orchids (Ophrys apifera) that grow in our garden.

I was pleased to see the green rosettes of new leaves at the base of the old flower stalks.

Another view of the pond. Richard has been working hard clearing most of the brambles and other scrub plants from around the pond during the last week. The dead grass and brambles in the foreground of this photo are no longer there!

Our corner pond still has plenty of ice on it.

Not many days before this photo was taken I had seen newts swimming in this pond.   The water is cleaner here than in the other larger pond as there is no chemical run-off from the agricultural fields.

The Witch-hazel I have growing in a tub near the front door is blooming.

As are the crocus…..

The pink Viburnum flowers look good against a blue sky. They smell wonderful too!

Cornelian Cherry ( Cornus mas)

This tree is awaiting the right time to plant it out into the garden – it is in a large pot.  Meanwhile, it has decided to flower in a small way!

We have been told to expect some more cold weather during the next week or two so many of these flowers will suffer, no doubt.

I leave you with a favourite song from Enzo Enzo – ‘Juste Quelqu’un De Bien’.

Thanks for visiting!