"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, 30 November 2017

Food and Craft Fayre, Looking for Hawfinches and Recent Reading

There was a Christmas Food and Craft Fayre at Middleton Hall last weekend so on Sunday morning we popped along to have a look.

The Hall and grounds had been decorated for Christmas.

As you can see it was very busy there and there was a good range of stalls - I did make a couple of small purchases for Christmas :)

Before leaving we walked over to the Courtyard where there are several independent little shops including a Cheese and Ale Barn which sells the most delicious cheeses.

Timothy came too - you will notice I have knitted a brightly coloured scarf to keep him warm. It didn't match his jumper so I knitted him a new one!

Part of the courtyard had a lovely section with Christmas decorations including lots of "fairy garden" type items.

Some of you may know that there has been an influx of Hawfinches into the country. This is yet another of my "bogey" birds - the nearest I have ever come to seeing one was many years ago at RSPB Nagshead when we walked into a hide overlooking a pool only to be greeted with those dreaded words " You should have been here five minutes ago there was a Hawfinch drinking in the pond"! I'd spotted on a local bird blog that a couple of Hawfinches had been feeding in yew trees in Berkswell churchyard the day before. Berkswell is not far away so on Sunday afternoon I went along to see if I could see any - it seemed too good an opportunity to miss.

St John the Baptist Berkswell

The birds had been spotted in these yew trees near the church. I stood in the freezing cold for an hour and managed to "dip" yet again on this species although it was good to watch dozens of Blackbirds and Redwings feeding on the berries along with a few Fieldfare, Mistle and Song Thrush so it wasn't a wasted journey.

Just a few photos of the church as I have done so many posts on St John's in the past.

Back at home and, despite the cold weather, calendula and cosmos are still flowering.

B over-watered my Christmas Cactus in the summer and it really did look on its last legs - he pruned it right back and it seems to have recovered well as it is now covered in blooms as is the cyclamen.

A few books read recently......

I loved this book and, although it is a bit long, I couldn't put it down. If you love nature and were born in the 1950's I think you would particularly enjoy it - I laughed out loud so many times when reading this book.

Sadly, I have now read all the Vera Stanhope books in this series. I loved every one of them and hope it isn't too long before Ann Cleeves brings out another.


Deborah RusticPumpkin said...

The elusive Hawfinch! Well, if there is an influx, you still are in with a chance, I'm sure. It's always lovely to see Christmas displays, a good place to get inspiration. My cyclamen dipped after last Christmas, but soon picked up and has bloomed all year around, but now, sadly, looks as if it is going to take its rest over Christmas when it is needed!
We do think Timothy looks particularly dashing in his new outfit.

hart said...

You might try Cleves' other mystery series set on Shetland.

Ragged Robin said...

Deborah RusticPumpkin -Thank you. To be honest would have gone back to churchyard as I later learned they had been there Sunday morning but week has been hectic!

Sorry to hear about your cyclamen - hope it has a last spurt of flowering for Christmas.

Timothy says thank you :)

Hart - Thank you so much for suggestion - but I have already read the Shetland series! May see if she has written any other books.

Pam said...

I do love Christmas! The reindeers are fab, I'd love a couple myself! What a shame about the Hawfinch, I haven't had a chance to dip on these birds though I know there have been plenty about!

Ragged Robin said...

Pam - Thank you. Yes Christmas is a rather special time - I would love one of those reindeers to :)

Rosie said...

Lots of lovely and interesting things to comment on in your post. Middleton Hall and courtyard look very festive and Timothy looks splendid (and warm) in his new sweater and scarf. Such a shame you didn't see any Hawfinches in the churchyard. I've just read The Seagull too so will have to wait for a new Vera or Shetland book. I have read one or two of her earlier books about the amateur sleuth bird watchers but they are not as deep or dark as her later novels:)

Ragged Robin said...

Rosie - Thanks so much. We are planning to go to a Carol Concert soon at Middleton Hall which should be good :) Timothy says thank you!

Forever grateful to you for introducing me to Ann Cleeves (and Elly Griffiths and Maisie Dobbs!). I think I read some reviews on Amazon that suggested the early Cleeves' books may not be as good. I will be checking your reading lists again soon for some more author ideas! :)

Bovey Belle said...

What a lovely outing - they had gone to a great deal of trouble to make it all look so good. Oh dear, the last Ann Cleeves read. The last of any good series is always a downer. Far better to discover someone and find you have 20 of their novels to catch up on.

I have only seen Hawfinches on one occasion, when visiting a friend who lives on the outskirts of the Forest of Dean. 2 adults and a juvelile. I feel very privileged.

Ragged Robin said...

Bovey Belle - Thank you. Am about to start looking for a few new authors!!! Though won't be able to buy any for the Kindle for a while as OH discovered how much I had spent on Amazon this year - it did not go down well! :(

So pleased, if a little envious!, that you have seen Hawfinches - Forest of Dean seems a hotspot for them - that was where I had my near miss!!

Temple Balsall Nature Reserve said...

Hawfinch in Temple Balsall Churchyard today 2/12/17. Probably still in Berkswell.

Ragged Robin said...

Temple Balsall Nature Reserve - Thanks so much for letting me know of the Temple Balsall churchyard sighting. Didn't get chance to go back to Berkswell (think may be still there from what I have seen) - had a rather hectic week. May try and go to one of the two locations tomorrow. Thanks again :)

Countryside Tales said...

I’ve only ever seen hawfinch once before - when I wasn’t looking for them. Bearded tits are my version of your hawfinch tale. What a beautiful church x

Ragged Robin said...

Countryside Tales Thank you - I am afraid Bearded Tits join Hawfinches for me!!! :(

Nikki-ann said...

I love visiting food and craft fairs, it's amazing what you can find at them. :)

I love a wander around churches too.

Have you read Ann Cleeves' Shetland series?

Ragged Robin said...

Nikki-ann - Thanks so much for visiting and leaving a comment. Yes you are so right about food and craft fayres - in the past I have bought some great and unusual presents.

Good to know you enjoy churches too.

Thanks so much for the suggestion re: the Shetland series but I read all the books before starting on Vera Stanhope :)