Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Snowy Train Journey

We finally joined in with the winter weather when we woke up to snow yesterday.  I'd lain awake for awhile during the early hours of the morning as I was woken by the foxes barking and calling to one another across the gardens and in the school field beyond.  Other than that it did seem very quiet - that silence you get after snowfall.  Sure enough, when we drew back the curtains this is what we saw.

It wasn't a day to stay indoors though as we had to travel over to Nottingham to collect our friends and drive to Loughborough in time to board the train where we were to have a special lunch for a special birthday for one of them.

 This was our train waiting at the station at the Great Central Railway.  We could see the dining tables were all set and waiting for us.

There was time to have a wander around the station, experience the open fire in the ladies waiting room and sip hot chocolate in the refreshment room.

The whole station was very festive with decorations and Christmas songs playing quietly in the background.

On the other platform the first Santa Special of the season had just pulled in and was disgorging loads of children with their mums and dads - all of them clutching toys.  Santa then set off for a little rest before his next train journey.

The railway, which originally ran from Manchester as far as Marylebone station in London,  has a double track one in the 'Up' direction which would have been towards London and one in the 'Down' return direction.

I find this odd as I always think of  'going down to London' or 'going up to Manchester' from the Midlands!  What do you say?

We boarded the train at 12.45p.m. and it eventually moved out of the station at just after 1p.m.  We were served drinks first and then the meal commenced.  We had spicy parsnip soup, followed by a full turkey dinner (Paul and I had the veggie option), then Christmas pudding, mince pies and coffee.

As you can see it was very cold outside and warm within the carriage so the condensation on the windows stopped us from seeing much of the countryside.  I did manage to take this photo of Swithland Reservoir as we stopped on the bridge whilst the main courses were being served.  We passed slowly through the stations at Rothley and Quorn but I think we have decided that a return visit is needed in the summer so we can see all that we missed yesterday.

I'm going to be away from my computer for a week as I'm off to stay with my sister in Chesterfield to help her after her operation.  I'll catch up with you all when I return home.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Happy Diversion

After watching the weather forecast closely on Friday night we decided to drive up towards Chester yesterday;  if the weather wasn't so good we would go into the city, if it was okay we would head towards the Welsh coast.  As we drove along our usual route the road had been closed with no visible diversion signs so we turned towards  Wrexham and eventually found our way back onto the main road to North Wales - the decision was made for us!

We decided to go into Llandudno after seeing signs for a Celtic Winter Fair.  We parked on the sea front and went straight down to walk along the pebbly beach heading towards the pier, passing many gulls, but not many people on the way.

I love the buildings in Llandudno; they have a French influence and the streets are wide like Parisian boulevards.

As we walked any residual mist began to lift and the sun peered through the clouds.  Although the temperature was quite low there was no wind so it didn't feel cold at all.

Having walked along the beach and the promenade we decided to walk to the end of the pier and back before going into the town to find the fair.

There were more people at this end of the town and some of the gift shops were open in the little kiosks on the pier.

It was colder at the far end of the pier as the sun disappeared behind the clouds for a short while -the mist still hanging over the little orme and the great orme.

We wandered into the town - so this is where everyone was!  The fair looked very interesting but we only saw a few outside stalls as the marquees were full to bursting with people queuing to go in and it looked as though once you got inside you would find it difficult to move around or even to look at anything properly.    Reluctantly  we decided to move on.

We drove out towards Conwy and called in at the RSPB nature reserve there.  After a lovely late but warming lunch of soup and a bread roll, we had a walk around the reserve.

We didn't cover all of the area but enjoyed the bird hides overlooking the lagoon. 

Snowdon was visible in the distance surrounded by mist and cloud.

There was an interesting children's  wildlife trail ending with Tiny Town a perfect habitat for slugs, bugs and insects.

It was time to drive home before darkness descended, remembering to avoid the A41 and take the A51 to Nantwich instead.  It was a long, tiring day but  so lovely to see the sea again!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Now it's November

I must admit November isn't one of my favourite months of the year but I have to say the last few days have been wonderful.  We've woken up to the garden white over with frost and smoky low lying mists in dips between the buildings in the distance. The low rays of the autumnal sun have filled the house with light.   The cats have been reluctant to leave the house but spurred by the bright sunshine have ventured outside stepping gingerly across the cold, hard grass.

At the weekend I finally gave in and  bought some Christmas cards from our nearest RSPB shop at Carsington Water.  Now I've dipped my toes into the still cool water of Christmas preparations I've started to think about buying just a few things in advance like postage stamps and the chestnut puree for our main meal, which is always Rose Elliott's recipe for Chestnut and Red Wine pate en croute.  I'm not going to think of anything else until 1st December;  then I will welcome all the festivities with open arms.

I discovered this lovely poem the other day so thought I would share it with you as autumn slips into winter


How silently they tumble down
and come to rest upon the ground
to lay a carpet, rich and rare,
beneath the trees without a care.
Content to sleep, their work well done,
colours gleaming in the sun.

At other times, they wildly fly
Until they nearly reach the sky.
Twisting, turning through the air
till all the trees stand stark and bare.
Exhausted, drop to earth below
to wait, like children, for the snow.

Elsie N. Brady

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Anthem for Doomed Youth

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries for them; no prayers nor bells,
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, --
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds. 

Wilfred Owen  1893 - 1918

Wilfred Owen was born in Oswestry, Shropshire in 1893 the eldest of the four children of  Tom and Susan Owen. The family later moved to Shrewsbury.  He was killed in action whilst leading his men over the Sambre-Oise canal in Northern France, a week before the end of the war.   The telegram from the War Office announcing his death arrived at his family home as the church bells were ringing  out across the town to celebrate the signing of the Armistice which signalled the end of  hostilities.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Water Everywhere

Well it's just like me to decide to write a 'watery' post on a day that rain is teeming down outside.  I struggled against the gusting wind and driving rain to get the wheelie bins out this morning.  Our blue bins are for plastics and they are so lightweight that most people's down the street are blowing all over the road.  I've managed to wedge ours with the paper bin the contents of which are more like papier mache now as the lid blew off overnight.

The garden looks rather forlorn - our two carved pumpkins still sit near the birdbath and the soggy lawn is covered with leaves, several rocket sticks from the weekend's fireworks and the remains of a Chinese lantern.  I watched several wafting in the air and travelling quite quickly towards us on Saturday night - one of them must have landed in the garden.

I took this first picture the weekend before last.  We drove out to Bakewell on the Saturday and the ducks, geese and gulls were as usual on the river crowded around the pedestrian bridges which go over to the car parks and cattle market.  It was very busy as there was a farmer's market too.

Yesterday we went for a walk around the lake at Trentham; in fact we walked around it twice!  We walked round one way, stopped for coffee and toasted tea-cakes and then walked back round the opposite way.  I took a few photos of the reflections on the lake.

The ducks were watching the swans dipping their heads into the water - and popping up with their beaks  covered in weed.

The reflection of the clouds looks like a smoky mist on the water.

Peering through the branches

What a difference a day makes!  I'm so glad we managed to get out into the fresh air and sunshine for a long walk as it looks as if the rest of the week is going to be very wet and windy.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

A much needed Splash of Colour

I found this super idea on Kathy's 'Postcards at the P.P. ' blog  and decided to join in and have a go at bringing some colour into November.  The idea comes from a lovely blog called silverpebble. I've been reading quite a few blogs this week and it seems that lots of us are feeling low and not particularly looking forward to the coming winter so 'Splash of Colour' is about helping us to feel a bit brighter.

Some of the photos are from this time last year as I haven't been able to get out and about with a camera this week; I hope you enjoy them!

Colourful hats in Cromford taken late October 2009

Rows of colourful mugs at the Emma Bridgewater factory shop, Lichfield Street, Hanley.

Colourful tree with dangling hearts - taken at Consall Hall Gardens - October 2009

Beautiful Acer tree - Consall Hall Gardens October 2009

Blue, blue sky - taken at Staunton Harold a couple of weeks ago

and Chloe - who always brings  joy and colour into my life

Monday, November 01, 2010

Cool Pumpkins

You may remember my gardening  post  from August this year?  Well three and a half of the pumpkins survived. One was slightly chewed by slugs so we cut the bad parts away and used the good flesh to make a pumpkin pie.  That was a few weeks ago.  The other three pumpkins were harvested at the same time and have been sitting on top of the fridge waiting for this weekend.

We had pumpkin soup on Saturday from one of the carved pumpkins and I found a recipe on-line which Paul adapted and used to make Pumpkin bread yesterday (he'll be adding it to his bread website later - see my sidebar for the link).  The bread is actually more like cake but was a lot tastier than the soup - I preferred the butternut squash soup we made last weekend. 

Last night we had about five different groups of 'Trick or Treaters' - the little ones came first in splendid costumes, their parents hovering halfway up the drive.  Our last group were some boys of about ten or eleven years old.  We had put the smaller of the two carved pumpkins near the front door with a lighted tea-light inside to guide the way - after the boys had taken two or three sweets from the bowl one of them said  to me 'Thank you, Happy Halloween - I like your pumpkin - it's small, but cool!'

Later it was lovely to sit in the light from the pumpkins and other candles with a glass of wine and Downton Abbey on the television.

We've saved the seeds from the pumpkins and the butternut squash to see if we can grow some more next year.