Monday 24 December 2018

Merry Christmas 2018

Merry Christmas to all blog readers and commenters (who celebrate this festive season).

As has become my Christmas tradition, I again quote from one of my favourite Christmas carols, "It came upon the midnight clear" written by Edmund Sears in 1849. 

"Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel-strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not 
The love song which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing." 
 To end on a positive, I again quote from Desiderata (a 1927 prose poem by Max Ehrmann):
"...And whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy."
(Photos are of some of our decorations - some quite a few years old now...)
I hope we all have a peaceful New Year.

Thursday 20 December 2018

Christmas reading 2018

I wrote about my favourite Christmas reading back in December 2010 (you can read the post here).  They are: The Wind in the Willows, Little Women, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Children of Green Knowe, The Pickwick Papers and A Christmas Carol.While I have revisited some of these books so far this December (The Children of Green Knowe and A Christmas Carol), I have added another to the list. This is The Box of Delights by John Masefield (those of you of a certain age will remember the BBC dramatisation with what was then cutting edge animation).  I may also sneak in A Traveller in Time by Alison Uttley as the story includes some wonderful descriptions of Christmas feasts and entertainment.
I really enjoy revisiting these books and in fact,  I get a great deal of pleasure re-reading many of my books.  I am quite a quick reader, which means that sometime I miss things the first time round.  I do view my books as old friends, ready to welcome me back in, no matter how long I have been away.

Thursday 13 December 2018

Winter plants

 I was continuing the rather time consuming job of insulating my many pots and tubs today.  I have left it a bit late this year because up to now, the weather has been reasonably mild. However, it is definitely colder this week and the forecast said there might be snow at the weekend, so I thought I should get a few more done today.  I managed about six before I got too cold.  While I was having a wander, I noticed some winter plants flowering.  Above is the winter honeysuckle, a shrubby and rather untidy plant, but I forgive it everything when it's in flower.  The flowers, though small, smell beautifully of lily of the valley, particularly when the sun is on them.
 This one is flowering a little earlier than usual, as it is normally January and February.
 My camellia 'Yoimachi' (which I bought last year) is flowering away too.  The flowers are white with a pink flush and lovely yellowy-orange stamens.
 The buds have that same flush of pink too.
They are so pretty and brightened up a grey December day.

Friday 7 December 2018

Creative things...

Recently, both Chris and I have been involved with creative things. For Chris' birthday, I made him the card above.  I do like stamping and die cutting (and knowing it's the only one in the world like that!)
 Chris was a workshop leader for the Drama students at the University where we work recently, where he presented a whirlwind guide to puppets. He had asked if I could make him some 'bunraku' style puppets for the students to use.  These are puppets which are manipulated by a group or team of puppeteers and each movement has to be carefully considered.  I managed to make enough for the group to use and Chris said they had really enjoyed using them and were surprised at how difficult it was.
 Chris excelled himself with this apple and quince pie which we took to Mum's when we went for Sunday lunch.  It was delicious and the quince, while not necessarily identifiable itself, really enhanced the apple flavour. Yum!
 I made myself a bookmark, using stamps and stencils.  It needs a nice blue ribbon to finish it off though...
Here's someone who has not been creative at all, but he contributes a lot to our household in his own way.  He does choose the most uncomfortable places to sleep though!