Is There Any More Tea In That Pot?

Everyday events in the life of a tea lover.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

2012! Officially wettest year on record for the UK !

Yes, it is official. After the first three months of 2012 were as dry as a bone and hosepipe bans being planned, the heavens opened and really cascaded down almost unrelentingly, punctuated with intermittent dry spells.
Now we are on the thresh-hold of 2013, and it is the time of year annual reviews begin to appear, in the newspapers and on television. Or, dare I say a blog.      
28th June 10.30am. Storm approaching!
This blog chronicles my year such as it was, without the need for a review.
I enjoy looking back and seeing the first steps into 2012, when, until just lately, it has rained so much there has not been any kind of weather for gardening or longer walks. Nor even taking photographs.
These things could've been attempted, but I have never seen the attraction of getting thoroughly soaked undertaking an activity which is supposed to be enjoyable.
For me it is like seeing a jogger running in the sodden pathways of the park, or grimly pounding,the pavements on a grey miserable December day!
 December has felt damp, dark and dismal. Yes there were some lighter days, but few and far between.
So here I am, post Christmas, and pre New Year's Eve.

                       Supper with friends once again. Friday 28th December.
 One of the things I have very much enjoyed this year is the company of friends. It is something I resolved to do at the beginning of January, to make an effort to spend time forging links. We are no longer on Facebook in that virtual world. It is not for us, although I do recognise that it is important for others. This has meant keeping two calendars as well as my daily diary. The two calendars mean that hubby and I know what each other is doing! As well as doing things together we each have lots of other activities.      
 It was lovely to be welcomed by a hearth looking so festive and pretty with it's candles and lights.
 The food was excellent! And compliments given to the "chef", who described to us how she prepares a Polish Christmas on Christmas Eve, for her family. This is now also passed down to her daughter, who makes the traditional 12 dishes for her family.These dishes are to represent the 12 Apostles. Then Christmas gifts are exchanged. Christmas Eve being the more important date on the calendar.

A veritable feast!
                 The candles were set in jars decorated with lace and buttons. Very creative.
   So here I am on the verge of 2013, and already a visit to a friend an hour and a half's drive away will be undertaken by the two of us the first week of the New Year.
A treat to come!
And we will usher in the New Year tomorrow by several of us going to see "The Hobbit" at the cinema, then on to an evening at another's house. This is something we have not done during the past 6 years, finding New Year's Eve difficult since the death of our eldest son. But somehow this time, I can peep into the uncharted year to come with a sense of anticipation........
And included in this is the expected birth of our second grandchild in 6 weeks time. I am really loving being a granny to Samuel, now almost 15 months old and walking.
Being greeted by his big beaming smile and his arms outstretched for us to sweep him into, is a joy.

                                               Happy New Year!!             

Monday, 24 December 2012

Christmas Eve, 2012 Soggy, and extremely wet!

Tiger in one of his favourite places
I haven't written for awhile as we had visitors in mid December from Dallas and then I wasn't well.   Seasonal virus which affected quite a lot of folk apparently. I call these things by the initials " TALOIA" . Feel free to guess, and I will reveal the answer at the end! Assuming anyone reads this  blog!!   
However, I was able to make the annual  Christmas present "run" which involves a 2 hour drive to the North of England to my cousins' house. I stay for a couple of days and deliver various cards to old friends, and drop off our presents for my two cousins, and also my sister and family. My sister's in-laws live close by so when she and her hubby had driven over the Pennine Hills which is a journey for them of an hour and a half, she dropped her gifts off at my cousins. This saves me driving an extra 90 miles before I go home. 
Hubby's Christmas cake! 
Add to this mix my husband's brother and his wife, who also live on the eastern side of the Pennine chain. They came to see me and my two cousins whilst I was there, and we exchanged all our gifts!! 
Before I drive home, I always go to the Annual Christmas Concert given by the Rossendale Rotary Club, who support a different charity each year.  
This is the Rossendale Festival Choir. It is a great way to begin Christmas. Each year I always feel after staying in the Valley for a few days, where I was born and lived until I was married, that the festive season starts for me at that point. We used to take my dad, who was born and lived in the Valley until his death in 2010. (Being a widower for 20 years). I miss him.         

And now today as we prepare to spend Christmas with our family, Great Britain is waterlogged. Lots of people in low lying areas are flooded. Rivers have burst their banks. Railway lines have  been submerged.
It is now officially the wettest year on record!
Last winter was the driest on record!
Early in 2012 there was talk of drought conditions!!
Not any more, and there will be no White Christmas this year.

Snow in the Rossendale Valley. 1960's

So wishing everyone a Happy Christmas and a Peaceful New Year.  

     (And TALOIA, There's A Lot Of It About! )

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Advent Sunday 2nd December.

" In Him was life and that life was the light of all mankind. 
The Light Shines in the darkness,
And the darkness has not overcome it"
John Chapter 1 verses 4 and 5. 
The Bible. NIV.  

Advent 1955

byJohn Betjeman

The Advent wind begins to stir
With sea-like sounds in our Scotch fir,
It's dark at breakfast, dark at tea,
And in between we only see
Clouds hurrying across the sky
And rain-wet roads the wind blows dry
And branches bending to the gale
Against great skies all silver pale
The world seems travelling into space,
And travelling at a faster pace
Than in the leisured summer weather
When we and it sit out together,
For now we feel the world spin round
On some momentous journey bound -
Journey to what? to whom? to where?
The Advent bells call out 'Prepare,
Your world is journeying to the birth
Of God made Man for us on earth.'     

Part of a poem by John Betjeman. 

December 1st 2012

A glorious rainbow greeted the first day of December. It glowed across the dark sky. The roofs were still frosty after an extremely cold night.
We were driving to visit our son and his family after breakfast. A journey of around an hour and forty minutes by motorway.

In the afternoon we all went to the local Bristol Zoo, and watching our grandson as he looked at all the various animals, birds, fish and reptiles gave us a great deal of pleasure. There is something special about the innocence of a young child fascinated by all around him. We saw the seals being fed, and enjoyed the penguins in their pool and rock habitat. I guess the cold weather suited them!            
End of the afternoon, 4.15pm.
Time to go home.
The Christmas lights came on before we left for home, not before we went into the restaurant for mugs of hot chocolate. Mmmmmm.  

Just what you need after a stroll round the Zoo.

Only we substituted our steaming mugs of indulgence for the tea!

All to soon we were back on the motorway, now in darkness, but with a huge yellow moon
in the starlit sky, which seemed to follow us home. Now in view, now hidden behind buildings or peeping through black skeletons of the trees. 

Friday, 30 November 2012

Last day of November 2012.

So, November, you are almost at the end of your time. Tomorrow beckons, December........
Another year slipping by....And now we have Christmas lights to brighten the gloom, and this weekend will light the Advent candles on the hearth.        
15.05 November 30th 2012
 We have had visitors from Dallas staying here during the past two weeks so no new blog posts. Then I wasn't well, resulting in the frustration of sitting up through several nights, as I could not breathe easily. Thankfully that is on the wane. What usually happens when I surface from the depths is a bout of activity, trying to catch up on the things which were left on hold. I can write my name in the dust on the wooden furniture! But it was sunny and bright, although extremely cold. So  no dusting took place.
I filled up the bird feeders in the garden, fat balls and nyjer nibbles amongst them. I was thrilled to see later that morning my redpolls returning to the nyjer feeder. They love the seed.
Common redpoll
As they were here last winter, and then left to go to pastures new, it made me glad to see them once more.              
15.06. Sun going down.

16.15 Sunset 
Goodbye November, as you quietly slip away. Time for tea.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Musings as November draws to it's close.

Frost. 11th November. Remembrance Sunday. 
Last week the tree surgeon came to prune the apple and maple, and trim the hedges and bushes. He comes once a year. The garden is now ready to sleep. 
Nevertheless in bright cold days, (which have been few and far between lately), I will be out there clearing the last of the leaves and cutting back the dead foliage of the annual plants, which die back into the soil until the return of the spring.           
The maple before pruning.
"The stripped and shapely
Maple grieves
The ghosts of her
Departed leaves."
 John Updike

Foggy morning November 15th

 "So dull and dark are the November days.
The lazy mist high up the evening curled,
And now the morn quite hides in smoke and haze;
The place we occupy seems all the world."
-   John Clare, November

The last of the leaves in the mist.
15th November.

"I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape - the loneliness of it,
the dead feeling of winter.  Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn't show." 
-   Andrew Wyeth

I don't know if that is what I prefer, although I like autumn colours. And walking through crisp fallen leaves as they crackle and scrunch underfoot.
Here the last two days we have had torrential rain and parts of the UK  have once more been flooded. This time last year we had a water shortage!! 
Unbelievable now.  
The winter of 2011 was extremely dry. 
And I heard  that we may expect snow by the end of the week..........
Well, that remains to be seen.
But there may be a brief return to bright cold days beforehand. 
It now goes dark in the evenings by 4.15pm. 
  Time for tea! 

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

November 2012

Sunrise 7.00am 6th November 2012

November has finally begun, and now the real evidence of the year dying on it's feet is seen in the trees and gradual decline of life in the garden border. This morning began with a beautiful sunrise, and the quiet stillness of a day which seems to hold it's breath. A kind of waiting.......then the everyday sounds gather pace.
I have planted wallflowers for their colour next spring. 
 Aside from the cheeping of a flock sparrows hidden in the shrubbery, there are now no beautiful fluid liquid songbirds, their voices silent till spring comes round once more. Only the robin, whose bright red breast cheers us in the winter months, sings out his shortened song. 
Last night, being 5th November, is known as Bonfire Night. A tradition whose history goes back to the time when Guy Fawkes was arrested on that date in 1605, with gunpowder in the cellars of The Houses of Parliament, in London. It became known as the "Gunpowder Plot". As people celebrated  the failure of the attempt on the life of King James the first, they lit bonfires and burnt effigies of popular hated figures. 
Children still make "Guys" to put on top of their bonfires. When we were young we used to make them and then take them round the neighbourhood, asking "Penny for the guy".                    

 We used to collect wood for weeks.
Here is a letter I included in  my blog of reflections on my childhood days.

 So last night the dark night sky was punctuated by the brilliant starburst colours of skyrockets, and the sound of the bangs of fireworks. A cold frosty clear night where the stars were so bright in the heavens.  
Tiger took refuge in doors.
And as for me, I was at choir rehearsal, beginning, with the others, to sing through two Christmas  carols, which we will include in our concert in early December. Only 4 rehearsals to go!          
Tiger sitting one of his favourite "scratching posts".

Monday, 29 October 2012

October 28th Monday

The Burning of the Leaves. 

Now is the time for the burning of the leaves,
They go to the fire; the nostrils prick with smoke
Wandering slowly into the weeping mist.
Brittle and blotched, ragged and rotten sheaves!
A flame seizes the smouldering ruin, and bites
On stubborn stalks that crackle as they resist.
The last hollyhock's fallen tower is dust:
All the spices of June are a bitter reek,
All the extravagant riches spent and mean.
All burns! the reddest rose is a ghost.
Spark whirl up, to expire in the mist: the wild
Fingers of fire are making corruption clean.
Now is the time for stripping the spirit bare,
Time for the burning of days ended and done,
Idle solace of things that have gone before,
Rootless hope and fruitless desire are there:
Let them go to the fire with never a look behind.
That world that was ours is a world that is ours no more.
They will come again, the leaf and the flower, to arise
From squalor of rottenness into the old splendour,
And magical scents to a wondering memory bring;
The same glory, to shine upon different eyes.
Earth cares for her own ruins, naught for ours.
Nothing is certain, only the certain spring.
Laurence Binyon

Sunday, 21 October 2012

October 21st A morning of gossamer like cobwebs everywhere.

"The gossamers wander at their own will."

Edward Thomas. "October"

It was an amazing sight this morning in the mist, to see the cobwebs everywhere. Why do the spiders make these webs in October? I have no idea.They must know, somehow, that there will be plenty of flies and insects for them to trap.
I watched a spider yesterday in our front garden, as his web had been broken, by this morning there was another one, perfectly spun.

It reminded me of a saying my father used to read to me when I was small.

"If at first you don't succeed
Try and try again.
'Tis a lesson you must heed
Try and try again".

This was after he recounted the story of Robert the Bruce of Scotland and the Spider. A tale I loved to hear!

I just realised that the Scottish people are voting tomorrow in a referendum to say whether or not they want independence from the United Kingdom! Maybe the legend will come true once again!! Or not! .......    

Almost time to put the garden to bed........October flower beds are beginning to die back into the soil.


Edward Thomas. 

"The green elm with the one great bough of gold 
Lets leaves  into the grass slip, one by one, -
The short hill grass, the mushrooms small milk-white........
.......And the wind travels too slow to shake the fallen beech leaves from the fern......"   


Our neighbour's beautiful tree. 

The plants in my borders are fading. Seed heads ripening

Last of my sunflowers

Morning mist 17th October