December 2018

Another month dominated by Christmas is over. We don’t indulge in lots of extra shopping, eating or drinking but we always display Christmas cards, have candles and decorate a real tree with trinkets that have been collected and treasured over the years. Seated at our dining table we have had a lovely view of both the tree and Reabrook.

We enjoyed the 1940’s Christmas display at Attingham Park where each room had a different themed tree. There was a vast difference between the trees in the family rooms and the one in the staff dining room which was decorated with hand knitted bunting.

The buffet for guests was a far cry from the 1940’s Christmases that I remember and the display of one person’s rations made me wonder how we ever had enough to eat. It was, however, obvious why we weren’t fat! The display of toys and Christmas baubles brought back memories too.

Venus, at its closest to earth has been spectacularly bright on the few cloud-free mornings. So bright in fact that it cast shadows and was reflected in the wet tiles on the terrace. The moon and winter solstice almost coincided – just a day between them, and although I watched the moon rise on the 21st it didn’t manage to appear above the trees because of heavy cloud cover. Jupiter in the south east was visible, but the sky was too cloudy to pick out Mercury which was in close proximity.

My sister Glen came up from Guildford for a few days and we all went to Birmingham Conservatoire where Joe was playing his French Horn in the Christmas Concert. A visit to Leicester to catch up with Richard’s cousins ended with a walk round the University Botanic Gardens, which, although small, really impressed us. A happy Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were spent in Birmingham with daughter Caryl. On our way home on the 25th we had a very quiet walk around Much Wenlock. There were only a few dog walkers about and it was good to be able to stand back and admire the variety of buildings in the almost total absence of traffic.

It has been unseasonably mild, reputedly the warmest Christmas Day on record. Quite a lot of plants are flowering and we are recording them for the BSBI New Year Plant Hunt although I don’t like the system of having to record for 3 hours on one chosen day between December 29th and January 1st. A far more comprehensive list would have emerged from the several walks we did during the period. I’m sure this would have given a truer picture of what’s really happening.

Fleeting glimpses of a kingfisher prompted us to cross the brook to place a fallen branch so that its tips hang over the water.

It worked – the very next morning the kingfisher used it as a perch, returning to it three times in quick succession. Unfortunately we didn’t get a photo but we’re sure he’ll be back. That’s something to look forward to in the New Year.