We were in Dorridge last Tuesday running an errand for E and decided to stop off at Baddesley Clinton on the way home for a walk around the grounds. It was a beautiful sunny day but still freezing cold. The long entrance drive to the house itself passes through parkland and I saw my first Redwings of the year - dozens and dozens of them were foraging on the pasture. Sorry no photos I'd make the foolish mistake of leaving the Canon at home :(
Camelias were flowering - well in advance of ours at home that are only just developing buds.
The moat surrounding the house had a coating of ice.
The woodland walk was closed
so we walked round the lake.
Snowdrops were coming into flower.
female hazel catkins in the hazel grove.
I spotted a few Hellebores in one of the borders.
A nice selection of cakes in the cafe :)
We opted for Chocolate cake - although I have to say it wasn't as fresh as it could have been and I ended up wishing I had had the soup.
I am still plodding on with the blanket of squares I am knitting for D's bed - I am hoping to make it as big as the fleece he uses as a cover in winter which he's had for donkey's years. The good news is - I think I am just over half way there. Looks a bit rough and ready at the minute but once its eventually sewn together and all the loose ends tidied up, it should look a lot better. I doubt if it will be finished for this winter though but I'll post a photo in a few months when its finally finished.
Those who read my blog regularly may recall how I regretted not buying a jug from a stall in Ludlow when we visited early in December so I was thrilled to receive as a Christmas present from D one of the jugs. He had gone back and bought one whilst I was looking round the church. Its the larger of the two (the harebell design) in the photo below. Its an example of Heron Cross Pottery - the company was formed around 1876 and earthenware is still made today by traditional methods in Stoke on Trent. The other jug in the photo is also from Heron Cross pottery and is one I've had for years (I bought it from a local antiques fayre) and I call it my "Blue Lady" jug. The design is entitled "Walking Woods" and was designed to illustrate a poem entitled "Dreaming of Spring" by Jessie M E Saxby.
I've just finished reading the most beautiful book - "A Blackbird's Year - Mind in Nature" (for those of you with Kindles it is only £1.99 on Amazon at the moment). To quote the description on Amazon "A Blackbird's Year was written on foot while reading nature's story. Through rich and intense imagery, the writer dissolves into the local landscape with the writing itself shaping a creative consideration of the mind in nature. Bounded by the blackbird's song, this is a story unearthing a unity of life, mind and nature. For a journey of discovery is not just to wild landscapes but finding wilderness in simple places close to home". Miles Richardson, the author, uses quotes from Richard Jefferies (one of my favourite authors) at the start of each chapter.
I bought "Wolf Hall" a few years ago and have never got round to reading it. I started to read it about a week ago in a complete panic as I suddenly realised the tv series was about to start. I am quite happy to watch tv series and films after reading the book but I just loathe reading books once I've seen a dramatised version. Unfortunately, I haven't managed to finish reading the book (its around 650 pages) but at least I am keeping ahead of the tv series. I thought the first episode was excellent and Mark Rylance as Cromwell was just brilliant. I think the series will also include material from "Bringing up the Bodies" but I doubt if I will get that finished as well!! Silbury Hill was a Christmas present to myself and I can't wait to start this book.
E and I are having a little baking competition - she is working her way through the Rachel Allen book - she tends to start at the beginning of the cook book and religiously cook every recipe from start to end. I've been using the Mary Berry baking book and tend just to pick recipes at random. I've done about a dozen recipes so far and they have all been excellent - her traybakes are really delicious.
Today I made these Double Chocolate Cookies - the recipe made 36 (I think there are now about a dozen left and they were meant to fill the biscuit tin for a week!).