"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Snowdrops at the Gardens

Went along to Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens this afternoon to renew our membership and while I was there had a lovely walk round the Gardens in the Winter sunshine.

Wallflowers are blooming already - in fact so many species seen today were flowering far earlier than usual in line with what everyone else is seeing around the country.

This would be a nice place to sit in the Melon Grounds for afternoon tea :)

I'm not sure what this little yellow flower is but it was very pretty.

Daisies growing in a trough.

Looking towards Castle Bromwich Hall


Preparations for a Valentine Day's event this weekend

Daffodils in flower in the North Orchard - so early!

Lower Wilderness

Snowdrops and Crocuses

The spidery flowers of Witch Hazel

Sadly, most of the Winter Aconites had finished flowering but there were still a few with blooms.



A flowering Cowslip - again so early.

Seedheads of Honesty

This beautiful variety of crocus was called Romance.

Betty Langley Vegetable Garden

Primroses are starting to flower on a bank

The Summer House

Lichens on fruit tree branches in the orchards

More Snowdrops in the Extra Gardens

Mirror Pool

I was hoping for a glimpse of the first butterfly or bumble bee of the year but none about although at 6/7 degrees centigrade its not surprising.

Birds seen - Wood Pigeon, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Robin, Blackbird, Blue and Great Tit

I'm still hoping to go over to St Giles churchyard, Packwood, but the way things are going it will be Primroses in flower as the Snowdrops finish!

Monday, 1 February 2016

Afternoon Tea, Books, a Theatre Trip, Cake, a Church and Garden Birds

E was on holiday the week before last and she treated me to Afternoon Tea at Lea Marston Hotel.

It really was very tasty and the choux pastry swan was delightful :)

Even though we don't have a dog I really must remember to take a "doggy bag" with me next time as there was a little too much!

Last year I read "Crow Country" by Mark Cocker and it was one of my favourite books of the year. It made me see corvids in a totally different light and I would thoroughly recommend it if you haven't read it.

(Sorry, the book is on my Kindle and for some reason it refused to stop on the cover of the book to let me get a photo!).

I've just started reading "Claxton" by the same author which promises to be another exceedingly good book. It is a series of extracts from newspaper columns he has written following the course of a year mainly around the village where he lives. I am finding it very inspirational and his observational skills change the way you look at local nature.

I'm also reading "Inglorious - Conflict in the Uplands" where Mark Avery puts forward his case as to why driven grouse shooting should be banned. This is a superbly researched book and it won't be long before I am sending a series of letters to my MP! Its an issue that is likely to get me "jumping up and down" possibly as much as the dreadful badger cull does! If you worry about the illegal persecution of Hen Harriers and raptors its well worth reading.

On Saturday D and I went to Birmingham Rep to see "Macbeth". Anna Maxwell Martin (who played Merrily in the TV series "Midwinter of the Spirit) and John Heffernan (who was in BBC's Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell) led the cast. It was a superb production and the choreography of the dance scenes was particularly excellent. I think I enjoyed it more than a version we saw at the RSC a few years ago.

For #ChocolateCakeDay recently I made Jo Wheatley's Malteser Blondies - the recipe was in a Sainsbury's magazine called "Bake". The cake was very nice especially if you like white chocolate and maltesers :). The magazine was only £2.50 and is stuffed full of scrumptious looking recipes so well worth the money even if I do already have dozens of baking books!! :)

I was in Solihull shopping last week and was hoping to go for another look round St Alphege's Church. The church dates back to the 13th century and features in Simon Jenkins's 1000 Best Churches book. It has a very beautiful Chantry Chapel and the stained glass includes a window by Kempe. However, when I got there an organ recital had just started and I wasn't sure how long it would last. Much as I would have liked to attend this and look round the church I didn't have time so just took a few photos outside.

The light was awful - it had just stopped raining and I had to use the exposure compensation button which always gives the skies a rather odd colour tinge!

Stained glass in the porch

Solihull's War Memorial

Snowdrops were flowering in the churchyard.

I'll try and visit again next time I go into Solihull.

I took part in the RSPB Garden Birdwatch yesterday. Only nine species seen this year (probably the lowest count ever) but bird-wise the garden has been very quiet this winter.

I went a drive round local lanes near Wishaw on Friday afternoon as a flock of Golden Plover and a few Grey Partridge have been reported in the area for several weeks now. Unfortunately, I didn't see either but I will hopefully return.