"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

Monday, 19 December 2016

Christmas Trees and Books

Last weekend we went along to St Leonard's Church in Marston Green, Solihull, to see the "knitted" Christmas Tree which was on display there.

Two smaller trees decorated with knitted decorations at the church's main door.

The main 23 foot tree was inside the church and was a total delight. Hundreds of decorations have been knitted over the last 12 months by the Knit, Stitch, and Natter Group and by other volunteers.

The Font was decorated with foliage and

I thought this window just behind was stunningly beautiful.

More knitted toys

A wintry country scene on our way to the Farm Shop at Meriden.

On the way home we stopped off in Coleshill, our local market town. Lots of festive displays in the shop windows.

A brief visit to our favourite second hand book shop and I couldn't resist

purchasing this little bargain :)

During the weekend we put up the Christmas Tree at home.

This is a felt badger that my friend made for me as one of my birthday presents.

Finally, a few of the books I've recently read.

Thanks to Rosie from "Corners of my Mind" blog who mentioned this book in one of her older posts and reminded me it was on one of my bookshelves waiting to be read. If you are interested in fossils, geology or the history of science you would love this book. It tells the story of 19th geological pioneers such as Mary Anning, William Buckland, Charles Lyell and George Cuvier when geology as a science was in its infancy and religion reigned supreme. In particular the author recreates the bitter rivalry between two men - Gideon Mantell, a country doctor and fossil collector and Richard Owen, a talented anatomist. This is a gripping read and I loved every minute of it.

If you are interested in hedgerows this book is a "must read". It is so comprehensive and an excellent reference book. It contains chapters on the history of hedgerows, their present status, the Natural History (habitat and a huge selection of species found in hedges) and the final part covers how boundaries (hedges, dry stone walls and fences) are made and maintained.

The Quiet Earth was another time-slip story that I downloaded before our summer holiday and have only just got round to reading. The story switches between 1994 as Nina, an ecologist, works with local archaelogists, and the 13th century with the tale of Roese and Gawyn a Crusader Knight. I enjoyed the historical aspects of the story the most and it has left me with a desire to find out more about the Cathars.

This is the second in a series of books covering each of the seasons and published by the Wildlife Trusts. I enjoyed this anthology as much as the first on Spring. Again it contains a selection of prose and poetry by nature writers old and new.

This book set in Victorian times is a delight and I am not surprised it is Waterstone's Book of the Year. There is a beautiful sense of time and place in this novel.

This is a re-read - I first read "My Cousin Rachel" many many years ago. I've managed to misplace (or horrors may have taken it to a charity shop in mistake) so had to download a copy to my kindle. Its a gripping story, full of suspense with a twist at the end.

Another re-read. I first read all of Mary Wesley's novels over 20 years ago and I enjoyed this book just as much on a second reading. Most of the story is set during the second World War. Mary Wesley didn't get her first adult novel published until she was 71!

Read this excellent book and weep for the thousands of badgers killed so far in the unnecessary, inhumane and unscientific badger slaughters. Dominic Dyer is a champion for wildlife. I have heard him speak live twice and he is so passionate, exceedingly knowledgeable and committed to protecting wildlife. This book is a must read for anyone who cares about badgers but I will warn you that it will make you very very angry.

I was horrified and saddened last Friday to see the figures released by DEFRA for this year's badger slaughters. 10,886 badgers were murdered - a huge increase in the previous few years of the cull but sadly this year the cull was extended to several new zones. If you haven't already done so and live in the UK please consider signing the e-petition by Simon King to stop the extension of the culls - a link can be reached by clicking on the badger drawing at the top of the blog.


Rosie said...

What a super post! The wool tree is wonderful. I wonder if the knitted toys will be passed on to charities or be kept for next Christmas? I love shop windows at this time of year, they make you feel festive. Your tree looks wonderful and you have so many books. Glad you enjoyed The Dinosaur Hunters, I remember watching the tv docu drama they made from it. Your other book choices look interesting too I remember reading the Mary Wesley one years ago. I follow Simon King on Facebook and have signed the Badger petition, so sad about those new figures. Hope your Christmas preparations are going well:)

amanda peters said...

I love the knitted Christmas tree, but the shops look delightful. My kinds place to shop. Excellent selection of books to. Would like the Hedgerow book.
Looking at the book shelf behind your tree, I can now see why your OH might not like you bringing anymore home 😋 impressive collection ...
Amanda xx

Wendy said...

I love the knitted trees - what a wonderful idea. The volunteers have done a fabulous job of putting them together. I love your own tree, too and the badger decoration.
As always I'm very interested in your choice of books. I'll definitely read the hedgerow book and the Wildlife Trust books. I've seen 'the Essex Serpent' everywhere and I'm tempted by that too. I have 'The Camomile Lawn' and 'My Cousin Rachel' on the bookshelves here!
I think 'Badgered to Death' will make me too angry to read, although I do admire Dominic Dyer's hard work. As you know I was very upset by the news last week, too.

Ragged Robin said...

Rosie - Thanks so much. I've just been trying to find out, without success, what will happen to the toys. I would imagine they may be sold for charity? If I find out will let you know :)I must have missed the tv doc drama re: Dinosaur Hunters which is a shame! I have a similar book called "The Dragon Seekers" which I will read next year and see whether Richard Owen comes across as such a "baddie" in that one! So pleased you have signed the badger petition - I was so angry last Friday when I discovered how many had been killed and there were so many few monitors in the field witnessing what was going on :( I could have ranted in my blog but I leave that for Twitter in the main! Christmas preparations progressing slowly! Still have a lot of baking to do and I stupidly started to make some more knit and purl toys far too late and am panicking about finishing! Hope your preparations are going well.

Amanda Peters - thanks so much Amanda. Coleshill is lovely and quite a lot of independent shops so good to browse :) You would enjoy the Hedgerow book - lots of suggestions of rusts and mines you might find on various species which will come in handy! lol re: OH and books - he is still refusing to buy me any for Christmas!!! TBH he does have a point as I still have a lot upstairs I couldn't get on the shelves! But it is a life time's collection and the ones you can see in a photo I would find hard to get rid of!

busybusybeejay said...

The knitted toys a are lovely.I do hope they go to a good cause.Love your book collection.

Ragged Robin said...

Wendy - Thanks so much. I've been knitting some toys here and they take for ever and a day as they are so fiddly so the volunteers must have put in hours of knitting!

You seem to have similar tastes to me in reading Wendy! I did enjoy the Essex Serpent although there wasn't quite as much myth in the book about the serpent as I expected but it is one of those books that you will remember for a long time after reading. The Wildlife Trust books are good to dip into as the Seasons progress - I will buy the Winter one when it comes down in price!

I did see your comments at the end of last week re: badgers and know you were as upset as me by it all. So sad that so many healthy badgers have been killed for no reason whatsoever and I get so frustrated that there seems no way to stop it - even the legal challenges fail :( If only the Govt would research the science and stop misinterpreting it and kow-towing to farmers. I can see vast areas of the country suffering from badger local extinction at the rate they are going. Dominic Dyer's book would make you feel even angrier. There is another excellent one by Dr Richard Meyer called "The Fate of the Badger". It was published many years ago but is just as relevant today and has recently been republished with a chapter update.

busybusybeejay - Thanks so much so glad you loved the toys and liked my books :)

Pam said...

I think i'm a little bit in love with your bookshelves!! I have a copy of the Hedgerow book in my (very large) to read pile, i'm looking forward to reading it. Reading about the badger cull always saddens and angers me, I've signed the petition but I fear it's not going to stop anytime soon :(

Toffeeapple said...

I was overawed by your bookcase! What a wonderful possession.

Ragged Robin said...

Pam - Thanks so much. Glad you like the bookshelves - my most treasured possession(s)! :) I have a large pile to read too! I do try and buy most these days on the Kindle as no room on bookshelves!!! So good to hear of people signing the e-petition but as you say I don't think anything is going to stop it : Dread the thought of further extensions and even more killed next year :(

Toffeeapple - Thanks so much :) I had to wait a good many years before OH finally relented and allowed me to have one big bookcase! Unfortunately still have quite a few hundred books left upstairs and I've run out of room!! :(

Sue in Suffolk said...

I also love your bookshelves. we have 1000 in boxes awaiting our move in January.
I just couldn't get into The Serpent. I've read the Winter anthology but oddly, the library don't have the other 3 so I shall be suggesting them next year.

Ragged Robin said...

Sue in Suffolk - Thanks so very much for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. Glad you like the bookshelves :) Hope the move goes well - I've often wondered how many boxes I would need to put my books in if we did move!

What a shame the library didn't have the other anthologies - I do hope they stock them next year.

Countryside Tales said...

I looked at the Essex Serpent yesterday in Waterstones. Waiting till after Christmas to get it! The hedgerow book looks great, will check that out. My badgers here all seem well, judging by the camera shots at night. We're not near any cattle so absolutely no excuse to cull them here thank god. Happy Christmas to you and the family x

Ragged Robin said...

Countryside Tales - Thank you and wishing you and your family a very Happy Christmas too.

I bought the Essex Serpent book on my Kindle which was cheaper. The hedgerow book is superb - expensive but once you've read it a great addition to the reference section of books :)

Hope your badgers remain safe - from what I can gather in some slaughter zones they are culling wherever they can (pheasant rearing land etc.) :( The whole thing is a nightmare and nothing seems to be able to stop them going ahead :(

Millymollymandy said...

I've never heard of knitted decorations before but the tree looks absolutely amazing and so colourful. What a great idea! I'm not surprised you need so many bookshelves with the amount of books you keep picking up- don't know how you find the time to read them! If I don't catch up with you again before the day I will take this opportunity to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a great New Year! xx

Ragged Robin said...

Millymollymandy - Thanks so very much. I think the actual tree itself was knitted as well!!!
Must admit I haven't read every single book! more than half are reference books though which do get used a lot! :) Some of them date back to my childhood so really it is a life time's collection! :)

Thanks so much for festive wishes. Wishing you both a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year too - here's to some great wildlife sightings in 2017 :)