Is There Any More Tea In That Pot?

Everyday events in the life of a tea lover.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

December 17th 2013.

Sunrise early December

I woke this morning snug and warm under the duvet. It was still dark at 6.30a.m.  I listened to the song of a robin travelling through the stillness. Hubby was asleep at my side. Gradually the sky lightened imperceptibly bit by bit, until a piercingly bright clear blue sky appeared, and the last stars  faded 
It was cold outside. Frost on the cars. Ice in the birdbaths. 
A glorious morning. 
A small flock of greenfinches eventually gathered in the ash tree next door, taking what was left of the pendulous seeds. 
Six redwings have appeared, and gather each day in the silver birch at the end of the garden. I love redwings. I wondered where they had begun their journey to our shores for the winter. I know that Scandinavia can be a starting point. The migration of birds in spring and winter never ceases to fascinate me. The why's and how's. There are still some things that scientists cannot readily prove.  The goldfinches arrived to feed and squabble on the nyjer seed holders hanging off the old apple tree. 
So the day began.   
Christmas is everywhere, inescapable, lights, shops, cards, trees in windows, houses glowing in the dark, some of them probably overloading the National grid! Hard to escape the mayhem at times and remember the real meaning behind it all. 
At lunchtime hubby and I and two good friends went to a lunchtime Carol Concert in the Cathedral in Birmingham.  
It was in aid of the Make a Wish Foundation. which grants wishes to children fighting with life threatening conditions. 
Once inside the Cathedral, facing the east window, you are faced with the beauty of the Burne Jones stained glass with sunlight pouring through. The colours are so vibrant.  
 The Choir, made up of  mainly young lawyers from one of the City firms began to sing the Introit, " Jesus Christ, the Apple Tree " before processing down the nave to the familiar congregational hymn, "Oh Come all ye Faithful"
I would not be able to count how many times down the years I have sung those familiar words, with various choirs and small groups, not to mention church carol services, from as far back as I can remember. They are timeless. Steeped in history.
   It was a treat to hear all those crystal clear voices, blending together in beautiful harmonies, singing traditional  and lesser well known pieces.
    One of my own personal favourites has to be a John Rutter carol, "What Sweeter Music"
         It moved me so much that it brought tears to my eyes. So many memories contained in the emotion that rose up within me.   I love to sing.              
   Time to reflect.
Time to stop.
Time to remember.
Time to celebrate the Christmas story once again.

 This evening I went out in the neighbourhood to deliver the last of the cards by hand. I met three other folk engaged in the same task.
There was a huge moon in the cold sky. Glimpses through windows of twinkling Christmas trees and cosy rooms. The night air cold and clear.
       After being invited in to a couple of the houses where I was delivering cards, and having a cup of tea in the last one, it took me longer than I expected! But that, for me, was a bonus.
   It's always a pleasure when someone opens the door and beams at you saying, " Come in, I'll put the kettle on"!
     And so back home to the warmth and lights of our own Christmas tree twinkling in the darkness................Christmas approaches...........            

Sunday, 10 November 2013

November already!

Well, November is here! 
Everyone is talking about the approach of Christmas. 
It does not seem that long ago that we were watching the autumn unfold. As we turned our clocks back one hour at the beginning of the month, it really did signal the end of a glorious summer and autumn,and heralded the onset of winter.
The weather changes,and I often feel like hibernating! My days spent in the garden or outside curtailed when the sun begins to lower in the sky around 3.15pm.
 But it made me think about painting once more.So I got out my brushes and began...
thinking I would perhaps make a Christmas card from a photograph of the hills where I used to live in Rossendale, Lancashire. On a very wet, dripping, half light day, I took myself off to the loft room and settled into becoming completely absorbed in my task. Time did not matter......So although we mourn the loss of sunlit summer days, and a glorious autumn now on the wane, there is opportunity to create, and to sit and read a good book. Snuggled and warm. Sounds idyllic doesn't it!
I fully appreciate for others it is not so. For me it one of the pleasures of being in my mid 60's, where I value the time to "stand and stare....."
Cherry tree leaves glowing in the November
Today is Remembrance Sunday in the United Kingdom.
I always watch the special service which takes place in London. My own father having been in the Army and gone across to France on D-Day  in WW2. He never talked about all he had seen, becoming quite emotional, and declaring that war is horrific and although he decided to fight for his country against the tide of Hitler's reign, it left a long and deep running scar.  Remembrance Sunday to him was sacred. All he wanted us to know was that we should not forget the sacrifice of so many lives. And his hope that there would never be another war.................. 
So I and countless other children growing up in the 1950's lived with rationing, but a land free of bombing raids and destruction. A childhood I personally now look back on with great affection. Our dad of course did return........

Now the war is against hidden enemies and carried out with all the latest technical equipment and arms available. A continuing struggle with extremism and man's inhumanity to man.
 So we take the time to remember and never forget.


Tuesday, 15 October 2013

A very special post box.........

Long ago in the mists of time, a young man of 18 was heading up to Cambridge University in the October of 1970.
He had not long been going out with a young lady of a mere 22! 
That young lady was of course myself. 
In those days neither of our parents had a telephone, nor had we internet, mobile phones or any other devices which gave us instant access to communicate with each other.
This meant we wrote to each other, mostly daily, for three years, when Stephen was at Churchill  college.
These letters are now numbered, dated, and kept in a box. Very special memories.
      This blog has been prompted by our friend's daughter going up to Cambridge University this past week.
She has instant access to all her friends and her family, via Facebook and mobile, amongst other things. I sometimes wonder if letters will become obsolete, notwithstanding the actual price of a stamp!
Stephen at the post box in 1971

        However, Stephen and I survived his first term apart for 8 weeks. I was a young primary school teacher living at home, which was in Rossendale, Lancashire, many miles, or so it seemed then, from each other.
The letters dropping on to the mat each day were anticipated with a sense of warmth.
    We got engaged on Christmas Eve 1970, and when he went back to University in January 1971 there was a 7 week postal strike. It was so hard. We relied on a 3 minute phone call, me from a phone box in the next avenue to our road, and he having to book or wait his turn in halls.
  Yet we still wrote to each other most every day, and at the end of the strike, we each posted a big fat packet of letters!        
So as you can see, should you be reading this blog, the post box in the photo is very significant. It is Just down the road from Churchill College in Madingley Road, and I wonder if it is still there!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Last day of September in the garden... First day of October, Baddesley Clinton, National Trust gardens

"Birthday Boy" rose.
Bought for my dad on his 90th birthday.
Now in our border. 

Dahlia border Baddesley Clinton

Victorian vegetable garden. Baddesley Clinton

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Sunday Morning...........towards October

The house is quiet  and Tiger has come in from his nocturnal wanderings, wherever he happens to go, and has gone into the loft to curl up on a chair and sleep. Hubby is still asleep. 
I have had a cuppa, and decided to address my neglected blog musings. We did have, still have, an extension of the summer weather. A few blips this past month here and there,but not many. My friend complaining that her garden is dry. Me thinking the other day, I need to water the border plants. I shall redeem them today!    
Yes, there was more tea in the pot!  

Colour is everywhere outside the window. The roses are still blooming, and I dead headed most of them before we went on holiday once more at the beginning of the month. We returned after a couple of weeks to a bright display and more sunflowers smiling at us. Even though I planted the seeds late after the awful long bitter winter, the warmth and sunshine of the last few months has encouraged them to grow late in the season.    
Today I will spend in the garden. I need the solace sometimes. It is a place where I go when I withdraw for a time. I miss my lovely oldest son and that will never change. September containing the anniversary of his death, seven years ago this year. I have so enjoyed the summer, and know it one he would've loved. Only yesterday was one of those times when the pain of loss returned unexpectedly. Sparing the details here.....I write another blog all about Matthew, a place where I can express my thoughts in a far more personal way. This blog is not for that. More of an on-line journey through the year, encapsulating random ideas and the passing of the seasons. I enjoy looking back once I reach December.
                 Hard to imagine now just how much we all longed for last winter to end.            
"Simply the Best" rose. Aptly named

"Ingrid Bergman" flowering again

Autumn sunshine on "Sir Cliff Richard"

Tiger relaxing once more, having finally forgiven me
 for putting him into the cattery when we went to France  
                                              October beckons.........

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Eve of September.....

Mulllion Cove. Cornwall. June 2013  

The most Southerly thatched cottage in the UK
Our family on Mullion cliffs

Cream tea in Grange in Borrowdale, Lake District,
Cumbria. UK July 2013  

Lake Side. Keswick. Derwentwater. Lake District
July 2013 27C!!  

Garden in late June

I have really enjoyed this summer!
It has been one we will savour for a long time and certainly in the winter months ahead.
The last summer we had which was warm, hot even, and sunny, was 2006.
Although this one was slow to unfold, it gradually spread out in long warm days, blue skies, and dreams of beach holidays at home in this country became a reality, not a distant dream.
   There was rain, yes, but not the prolonged deluges of previous years.
I have not worn a coat, only needing a cardigan if the mornings and evenings became cooler. 
At times I have needed an umbrella, but that was good as it meant I did not have to water the garden!
June saw us and our son and family, once again in our favourite place on the Lizard in Cornwall. 
After 20 years of going to the same place, we all booked again for 2014!

July saw us celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary, with a short break in the Lake District, near Keswick. It was scorching hot, extremely unusual for the Lakes! The temperatures each day were 27-28C  and the lake shimmered in the heat. 

We were outdoors morning till evening, after breakfast. Our lovely hotel was in a quiet secluded spot on the lake shore, hidden from the nearby road. 
40 years ago we spent our honeymoon in Keswick and decided to take a trip down memory lane!
 It was a special time, remembering all those years.
I had been to Nyons in France in mid June, with my friend Cecilia, to our usual language school.But for once I decided not to do the intensive week's course and whilst Cecilia slaved away, I was able to be out and about, in the old place, being back at the house for meals and the trips out to places of interest arranged by our hosts, who are now like old friends.
The photos of that trip are on my flickr site so I've posted the link below, should you, (if anyone is reading this!) care to take a peek. 

     I will stop here. It is September 1st tomorrow, and I did not want to let the summer slip past without writing a blog!! 
I have been enjoying being outdoors so much, writing has been non-existant!     

Maybe I won't leave it so long this time..........that is unless we have an Indian summer!       

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Snapshots of April and May. 2013.

Deep crimson rhododendron blooms.

Magnolia stellata in our garden

A watchful cat in the school grounds 

Canal boats. King Edwards Wharf. Birmingham.

A morning walk......Monday 20th May. 2013

It was such a lovely May morning that I left the housework to itself, (not difficult in my case!) and took myself out for a walk. There is nothing quite like the scent and sound of May in full bloom. The birds are now in full throated song.The new leaves so fresh, filling the trees with all the variations of green that could possibly be painted.
The smell of May was heady. Newly cut grass verges in the damp air. The day had begun with a slight mistiness and humidity, which enhanced the scent of the bluebells as I passed by, and highlighted the sense of the overwhelming reappearance of flowers, blossom, leaves, responding to the sap rise and their own rebirth. 
And how is it, that this time with the season being so late, everything seems so much more vibrant, with late daffodils mixed in with bluebells and apple blossom, tulips and lilac blooms. 
Nature has a way of surprising us all. 

A glorious bank of azaleas and rhododendrons

Tiger cat waiting for his lunch.

Apple blossom now out in our garden

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Maytime has at last unfurled the leaves.

I find it amazing that after what seemed like an endless winter delaying the start of spring by at least  two to three weeks, the trees and plants have suddenly burst into life.
The cherries especially have been particularly beautiful. 
I have not written much here lately having had a bout of viral illness which has settled. I had not had very much energy. 
So, as the first Bank Holiday in May approached we all looked to the traditionally here in the UK these particular weekends are not renowned for being particularly sunny and warm, quite the opposite! 
I am certain that the lovely weather which arrived, briefly but very welcome, made everyone collectively smile and relax! It lifted the spirit.          
Bank Holiday Monday 6th May 2013 8.30a.m. 
 As my favourite poet has written
" There never was a finer day,
And never will be while May is May.
The third and not the last of its kind;
But though fair and clear the two behind
Seemed pursued by tempests overpast;
And the morrow with the fear that it could not last....."

May the Twenty-third
Edward Thomas.

So, even as he was writing in the days just at the beginning of the First World War in 1914, he, like me, watched the skies and wondered how long the beautiful days would last.  
 He has a lovely line in the same poem which says:
" Spring could do nothing to make me sad.
Bluebells hid all the ruts in the copse,
The elm seeds lay in the road like hops,
That fine day, May the twenty-third"

Goldfinch on my nyjer seed feeders
 So, as I watched the goldfinches on my feeders, and saw the cherry blossom finally appear, I smiled and enjoyed the day.
Cherry blossom at last came out!  

Pink cherry 

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Last day of April 2013

I haven't written anything in April so far, until today. Spring has been so very late in arriving. The silver birch leaves are usually out by the middle of the month. They are only just beginning to show their translucent green. As I took these photos today in the sunshine with the birds now busy nest building it felt so very good.    

Leaves just beginning to unfurl on the  silver birch 

Roses and wallflowers beginning to grow
 after a long hard winter. 

Miniature plum tree has now got some blossom.