Friday, 30 January 2009

More reasons to be cheerful, (and speeding)

As we sit and wait for the coming bad weather, which threatens very low temperatures and more snow (it's easy during the warmer, wetter bits, to believe that Winter's over) I'm cheered by the robin that sits on top of the plum tree in the back garden, singing his heart out as if it's full, bright Summer. (The sky on this isn't faked, just one of those cold, bright days we get sometimes.)

I know these are only spuggies, but, nonetheless, they give a lot of pleasure - I must make sure to fill the feeders tonight or they'll be empty again.

There are even blue tits in the hedgerows.

And Spring is (as always) on its way

Actually, The snowdrops ARE faked - they're the last of the 2008 crop, but still something to look forward to.

Now these... are real exotics. Sighted this morning on the bypass, standing in the cold with the radar gun in response to compleints from villagers. Actually, I think they were only warning motorists, not prosecuting them. I wasn't so lucky a few weeks ago, just before Christmas) when I got flashed by the Tigers Rugby ground. I've had to pay my £60 fine and will have to attend a 'Speeding Workshop', not, of course, to teach me how to speed, but to slow down. Ironic really since I couldn't have been doing more that 34mph in a 30mph zone. (I know this, because I also knnow that if you are doing 35mph you get prosecuted without the option.)

Friday, 23 January 2009

Alarums and Excursions

On Monday night, as I was dozing in front of a crime drama on the TV, we were suddenly aroused by bright lights, police sirens and the 'whap whap whap' of incoming helicopters. I stepped out into the garden to be confronted with these bright lights, getting closer and closer.

Not a Close Encounter of the Third Kind, just the police helicopter seeing who I was. We deduced that one of the elderly residents had gone missing from the local rest home. This, on a night when the temperature was about -2 degrees.

All the hedgerows were searched and all the gardens viewed from above, and then, after about an hour, all went quiet. The next morning we got a polite little note from the rest home saying their resident had been found safe and warm, so All's Well that Ends Well.

"The Rain it Raineth Every Day"

Since then, the weather has got much worse; the rain falls incessantly and it's cold, too. That'll teach us to think that Spring is on the way.

Mind you, the hedgerows still look good.

Though the same can't be said for the 'lawn'

And the Lenten Roses need to get a shift on if they're to make it in time.

So ends this slightly Shakespearean themed entry.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Reasons to be cheerful Part 3 (b)

As a whole, this is not a particularly pretty village; in fact, it is three villages run together, Broughton, Primethorpe and Sutton in the Elms. Together, they constitute the largest village in Europe I'm told.

This is the newer part of the village; actually Primethorpe.

In the 80s, a new road bisected Sutton from Broughton and Primethorpe and the original road leading to the turnpike to Coventry was closed (in favour of the new bypass). This left Sutton isolated as a hamlet with a single cul de sac road.

However, all this is leading to this morning when, following a blustery, wet night, the day dawned bright and rainwashed, a bit cold in the wind, but not bad for January.

As Molly the spaniel and I went for our morning walk, I thought how beautiful the 'ordinary' English countryside really is.

Behind the village, the view over to Croft Hill (a granodiorite plug) where the first English Parliament met, is always a treat, and the valley in between, properly known as the Guthlaxton Gap, now dotted with settlements, is typical of the Leicestershire topography, soft and rolling.

The footpath leads past Messenger's Barn to Narborough,m then across the turnpike to Huncote, Cosby and Thurlaston.

The shallow, wide glacial valley behind the village is populated with a number of dairy farms and a couple of livery stables, but in the whole scheme of things, they don't dominate the landscape like arable farms with their fields full of barley, wheat and bright yellow rape. Only the neat hedges divide the countryside into walkable portions.

The bright Winter sun delineates the buildings sharply. this is the back of the Old Rectory and the Thatched Cottage, both just behind our cottage.

This is the field the Baptist Chapel intend to turn into a car park. I might mourn the loss of another field, but first of all, it's only rough grazing land and most of all, it will take much, if not all, of the opportunist parking that makes life difficult for those of us who live close by, especially Mrs R, who goes off the church in Huncote and comes back to find the road blocked and her usual parking space full.

This is not a reason to be cheerful. I did say it was a wet night. I suppose this villager is grateful that he decided to put raised beds in his allotment. At least they aren't flooded.

As we come back into the village, the parked cars are everywhere (Victorian Baptist Chapel on the right behind the graveyard).

More, and yet more cars parked all over the grass verge and footpath.
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I can't wait for the new car park.

I just hope the congregation will actually use it!

Friday, 16 January 2009

Reasons to be cheerful, Part 3 (a)

Every time I pass these logs I get a warm feeling (funny thing about logs; they warm you 3 times: i. when you collect the wood; ii. when you cut them and stack them, and iii. when you burn them). This isn't, of course all of them; only about half. I still have plenty to stack.

- I have a similar theory about Bobby's curries... but I think we ought to leave that for another time.

This may not look like much, but if you go back down the blog to 12 October 2008, these are the bulbs I put in where I cleared up around the Stipa Gigantea. Without looking at the diary, I think they're fritillaries, but we'll soon see.
In some of the pots, the bulbs that haven't been eaten by the squirrels are also showing.

Non conformism and bad puns

What is it about Tabloid papers and non-conformist chapels and bad puns?

This one is in the grounds of our hexagonal Victorian Baptist chapel, but others I've seen recently, are: "Fight Truth Decay", "Fancy a new look? Get your faith lifted" and, maybe one of the worst: "Seven days without prayer makes one weak". (Give me strength!)

The only one I liked was on a Salvation Army chapel opposite the Imperial Hotel (a notorious drinking dive - not imperial at all) which said "Thirsting after righteousness".

Personally, I'd like to give a vote for "There's probably no god, so stop worrying and enjoy your life." - Yes, I know it's never going to appear on a wayside pulpit, but I'm not a great one for pulpits. AND... I am so waiting for the court case that Christian Voice is bringing against these notices on the basis that they are UNTRUTHFUL. I intend printing multiple copies of their evidence!

While I'm writing about the Baptist Chapel, I wondered why, when the windows are rather beautiful, those inside can't see them because the blinds are drawn.

But, this morning, they've lifted them just a little. Some sort of revelation, I presume.

Invasion of the moles

As we went for a walk this morning, i noticed a mole hill in one of my neighbour's flower beds - I say flower bed, but he never seems to plant anything in it. Well, of course, one mole-hill doesn't make a problem, but like rats, there's never a single mole!

Down the road, the grass verges are erupting;

along the backs, the moles are undermining the new fences at the Thatched Cottage and the Old Rectory.

Imagine my horror when I saw this: they're marching along the main road into the village. Soon we'll be overrun!

Friday, 9 January 2009

Reasons to be cheerful, Part 3

Those of us old enough to have been young in 1979 when Ian Dury & The Blockheads – released Reasons To Be Cheerful, Part 3 may recall the line, A bit of grin and bear it, a bit of come and share it....

So, although the weather was very cold and the village looked like this -

And Molly hated having cold, wet feet...

Some things were enhanced by the snow. This is the thatched cottage at the end of our garden.

And the rabbits came out (I suppose looking for food) and ran about to keep warm. Black ones really stand out in this sort of weather.

Anyway, now the snow has gone, the birds are on the feeders and in the bushes, and the trees are full of fat buds, so Spring can't be too far around the corner...can it?

Or is it just tonight's full moon making me loony?