Monday, November 30, 2009

30 November: Christmas time is here by golly

It's almost time to look for the Tom Lehrer album again, to refresh my memory for the words of his "Christmas Carol".

Over the past weekend, several nearby residents braved the cold and the torrential rain to put up their outdoor Christmas decorations. The most popular item in this street is the string of flashing lights hung across the gutter above the garage and front door, so that on all sides there are flashing strands of blue or white lights, and even one that changes colour every few moments.

This morning our first Christmas card arrived.

I suppose normal life will be resumed about the 7th of January next year; in the meantime I may hibernate.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

28 November: Wildlife friendly

We like to think we run a wildlife friendly garden. There are snags. Slugs and aphids. The odd mouse and rat. And when you feed the birds, it's not just the little pretty ones - it's also the ones that eat the little pretty ones.

This morning the sparrowhawk breakfasted on our lawn. All that was left was a small scatter of tiny grey feathers. When she'd finished eating, she sat on the fence and cleaned her feet and her beak. Then she dozed a while and digested. She was very beautiful.

But I hope she eats elsewhere for a while.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

25 November: Showers

The weather forecast was for strong winds, showers, and bright spells. So we thought we'd have a walk in Hamsterley Forest.

The shower started as we left the car, and continued with only a short break (when it dripped from the trees) until we got back, an hour and three-quarters later. The sun did come out briefly, while it was still raining; so at least there was a rainbow.

There was plenty of water already in the stream -

- looking rather like Guinness. There were a surprising number of people about, mostly on mountain bikes.

I wonder why raincoat hoods always fall down over your face, keeping your glasses dry but allowing you to see only about 6 feet in front of you?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

24 November: The birds

It was so dark this morning that the birds had only just got up when I was in the kitchen, so I was able to see the flock descend. It's funny how they all seem to move from one garden to another all together.

A robin and a couple of blackbirds were first, followed by lots of tits, great, blue and coal. Two starlings spilled enough seed from the hanging feeder for the blackbirds and the dunnock, and then a few collared doves arrived to clear up. Our friendly neighbourhood mouse will polish off anything left.

A charming wren checked out the potted trees on the paving, giving me an unusually clear view. Then some finches swooped into the birch tree, and a greenfinch came to the feeder; of the two goldfinches perched on the fence, only one visited the feeder. They do seem to like the mixture of seed that has extra mealworms and suet pellets.

Yesterday the local sparrowhawk was perched on a neighbour's roof - it was very quiet while she was there.

And then later on, from a traffic queue on Milburngate Bridge in Durham, we spotted a grey heron roosting on the roof of the Passport Office. Perhaps it was the one seen standing by the weir when the fish were going upstream recently.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

14 November: Down but not out

We have both been laid low with the lurgy, a virus we brought home with the shopping a couple of weeks ago.

But coughing does not involve the fingers (well, not all the time), so I've been able to do a little light knitting. Another Baktus scarf in sock yarn -

and another sort of stranded hat, starting with one colour and gradually changing to a second. The first A to B Hat turned out a bit subtle -

so the second one was done with more contrast in the yarns.

A slight dent in the mountain of stashed yarn.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

3 November: Topical TV

This evening we saw a TV programme about Ray Mears in Canada, travelling with voyageurs in canoes along the rivers, as they did in the 1800s.

Then he spoke about the voyageurs' sashes, and went to talk to Carol James, who makes sashes for historical groups.

It was her website, Sashweaver, that showed me how to do finger-weaving. Very low-tech. And actually, I always spin worsted, not woollen.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

1 November: Family

Trawling the 1911 census, picking up the threads of the family history.

The first record I looked at gave me the information that my widowed great-grandmother had re-married and been widowed again between 1904 and 1911. No wonder she had a face that could have curdled milk when she was photographed with her daughter, son-in-law and their 4 children later on in 1911. (My Dad was dressed in a nice little sailor suit for the photo.)

And Great-Uncle Hervey turned up in Sunderland. He was an "actor", while his 3 brothers (in Wakefield) were "music hall artists". A great-aunt I couldn't find in the 1901 census was in the expected area of London in 1911, with husband, the 6 survivors of their 7 children, and her brother.

The great-great-uncle who was supposed to have run away to France to become a jockey was settled in Chester, his home town, with his wife and 5 of the 6 survivors of their 11 children; and the branch who were always a bit vague about their names and ages continue to be rather muddled.

And then there's my Dear Husband's lot - oh, hours of harmless fun!