Yesterday it was time for a stroll to walk away some of the Christmas excesses. The only problem was I was keen to return to Berkswell church where Hawfinches were still being seen - 3 on Boxing Day still feeding on yew berries. So I got out the OS Map and worked out a two mile circular route starting at the churchyard (!!) with half the walk on public footpaths and half along lanes.
We had had some snow the night before and it was very icy in the countryside with a sprinkling of snow remaining.
We parked by the Green and
and walked the short distance to the church.
These are the yew trees where the Hawfinches are often seen feeding but surprise surprise they didn't make an appearance when we were there (although I have to say it was that cold the family were not prepared to linger long). I suspect that Hawfinch will long remain as my "bogey" bird or one of my "bogey" birds - add Bearded Tit and Brambling to the list.
Leading off the rear of the churchyard is the "Heart of England" Way. In the distance you can see Berkswell Hall which has been converted into luxurious apartments (goodness knows how much they cost!).
Parts of the footpath were very very muddy but this boardwalk across the field was just very icy and slippery.
After passing a lake and through some trees you continue on the footpath that bears to the left along an area called "The Roughs".
Not too many pictures on this stage of the walk as we were walking directly into the sun but here are a few taken by D.
Finally, we reached a lane to start the second half of the walk. Have to admit it was much easier walking on the road rather than squelching through mud or slithering on ice!
Finally, back to Berkswell.
This is the delightfully named Beehive Cottage :)
Although it was cold it was a lovely walk in the late afternoon sunshine only marred by gunshots in the distance and a group of silly little men carrying red flags and shotguns who appeared to be trying to flush an animal or birds nearby and on the perimeter of the churchyard. I suspect it was a pheasant shoot and it was a relief to see at least one fly past us having escaped the bullets.
It is completely beyond me why anyone can get pleasure from shooting an animal or bird. And as for the illegal persecution of birds of prey on grouse moors well I had better not start on that subject otherwise I shall go into complete rant mode.
We then stopped off at The Bear - an opportunity too for Timothy to make an appearance! - for a quick drink and to try and warm up.
New Garden Bird "Tick"
I had the shock of my life on Christmas Eve when I walked into the kitchen to see a pair of Ring-necked Parakeets on the bird feeders! I knew some had been spotted 4 or 5 miles away but I certainly never expected to see them in the garden! Not only is this is a new garden "tick" but also a "lifer" as I have never seen these birds before in the wild. It was a rather lovely early Christmas present and they have been back most days since.
A few record shots taken by me and D - must admit I was that excited I could hardly hold the camera steady!
The Berkswell walk I will certainly do again next year - perhaps when the shooting season is over.
*D photos taken by D with the Canon SX 50 bridge camera
The rest were taken by me still experimenting with the Panasonic 330.
B and I went along to Baddesley Clinton today to see the house decorated for Christmas.
Father Christmas and Reindeer were greeting visitors.
"Ecodolf competing with Rudolph to be lead reindeer. Loves: Having his belly scratched"
"Merry on a Diet"
"Rudolph - High energy food needed. Current lead reindeer. Loves: Scratches under the chin."
"Nursery - Mother: Comet Baby: Asteroid"
Baddesley Clinton on a gloomy day - the sun had been shining when we left home but it had completely clouded over by the time we got there!!
Baddesley Clinton was built by Henry Ferrers, a lawyer, diarist and antiquarian in the late 1500's and the house remained in the possession of the same family for over 500 years.
A few months ago dried flowers were brought into Baddesley by staff, volunteers and visitors. A workshop was held to decide on ideas for decorating various areas of the house for Christmas. This year NT Baddesle Clinton is focusing on the Tudors so it was decided to try and keep the decorations in the house as natural as possible using dried flowers, greenery and natural raffia. 24,428 dried flowers had been collected and it was calculated that 30 stems would be needed for each garland and 12 decorations per foot of Christmas Tree. On the 1st November volunteers, staff and visitors met at Lapworth Village Hall to begin making 100 metres of garlands and 500 tree decorations. Two thirds were made on the day and work on them then continued at Baddesley Clinton. The house was decorated week commencing 20th November when the Christmas Trees were delivered and, as you will see from the photos below, as well as the Christmas trees there are wreaths posies and swags in every room of the house.
Main door to the Gatehouse
Then into the house itself
Whenever I go to Baddesley I have to take photos of the stained glass - I know I have said it before but one day I will go along and take photos of as much of the heraldry and glass as I can.
The Great Hall
Aren't these balls of helichrysum flowers on the tree beautiful? I used to grow these flowers years ago in the garden for dried flower arrangements - I really must grow some again next year.
The Drawing Room
The Dining Room
More stained glass!
Moving onto the first floor
This is the "Blue Lady" - I did once ask a room guide if her identity was known and I gather some research into her was taking place - so when I visit again I will try and find out more.
Chapel - this is the first time I have managed to get a photo of this room - it is very dark in there and the Olympus could never cope.
The Upper Landing
The Great Parlour
I am so glad we made the effort to visit as the displays were so beautiful and it is a great idea to use natural materials as much as possible. So much work must have gone into the growing and drying of flowers and then the making and display of the decorations so all those involved deserve a huge thank you.
At this stage I tried to take a few photos of Timothy but sadly the camera battery failed. In the past I have only ever had one battery per camera but I think I will make the effort this time to buy a spare for the new camera which I can keep charged and carry with me. I experimented more with the camera today - light in the rooms at Baddesley is very low so I was pleased with the way the camera coped although I did have to go up to ISO 1600 at times! I need to experiment more with aperture to try and get close up items more in focus although I did use the macro facility more today. It is never easy to take too long over photos when you are with someone who isn't taking pictures!
Welcome to my blog. I have been interested in natural history from an early age and we have tried to create a garden attractive to wildlife. I also enjoy reading, photography, collecting fossils, visiting historic buildings and gardens and supporting Aston Villa. Please feel free to leave a comment and, if you would like to email me, my email address is ciraggedrobinsATgmail.com - remember to replace AT with @. Thank you for visiting.