Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Look who we bumped into… and good wishes for 2015…

On Monday we braved the icy roads to drive to Ashbourne, where we had a table booked for lunch at the Okeover Arms, in nearby Mappleton. We’d intended to go early,either to have a look around the shops, many of which are the small independent type which I prefer, or make the most of the crisp, sunny day to walk around Ilam, Thorpe Cloud or Tissington. Well, that was the plan BEFORE we realised that our central heating wasn’t working.

Tim had a fiddle, but beyond an initial flare the boiler didn’t seem to want to fire up. As we didn’t have much time we decided to buy a couple of fan heaters and an oil filled one from Argos, to keep the chill at bay whilst we called out trusty heating engineer.

This meant that there wasn’t time to call the engineer, shop or walk before lunch.

The drive was fine, with just a few patches of black ice, on roads which were fairly quiet. Our lunch companions had a more difficult drive, having to detour on to major roads to avoid the more direct route along un-gritted lanes.

We had a delicious lunch and before we knew it we’d been there for around three hours, chatting and eating. We were too busy eating to  photograph the food but it was tasty, hearty fare, at very reasonable prices. My fish,chips and mushy peas were wonderful – something I rarely have, but thoroughly enjoyed.

Our companions… Nick (who researched the venue), and Jean.




Tim and I will be dog sitting, Rhiannon and Stuart will be celebrating with friends in Manchester and Tom in Thailand. For them and all of you a couple of versions of Auld Lang Syne by Paolo Nutini. Like Paolo, my preference is for the traditional version. What do you think?

Finally, all that remains in 2014 is to wish you all a

happy, healthy and peaceful 2015.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

A jolly good Christmas…

We’ve enjoyed a good few days with family and friends, interspersed with some relaxation, a sprinkling of snow and more than a sprinkling of naff seasonal films!

Christmas day with Rhiannon and Stuart, who put on a wonderful Christmas dinner with every trimming imaginable. We were also given a doggy bag of leftovers to bring away – the kind of thing you do for the oldies! Dinner was washed down with La Renaudie wines.



Les chefs extraordinaire…


and the lovely Christmas cake (made and iced by Stuart) we were given to bring away.


On Christmas Day and Boxing day we walked our neighbour’s dogs, and also went for a walk at Dimmingsdale, on the Staffordshire/Derbyshire border with our friends John, Maureeen and Poppy. Sadly, my camera didn’t walk with us! Luckily we arrived home just before the snow arrived. The Ashbourne area was particularly badly affected.






There has been a shopping trip to the sales with Rhiannon, and another walk today. The roads through our village were treacherous so we decided to walk along the canal.











This chap seems to crop up everywhere. It’s almost like he’s following me!


Tomorrow, weather permitting, we shall be eating lunch with some special friends. Watch this space…

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Greetings and a 400 celebration…

We’ve had a busy couple of weeks meeting up with family, friends and neighbours for pre-Christmas celebrations. We’ve spent an inordinate amount of time at the ‘trough’, but have enjoyed some delicious meals and sparkling company. No doubt there will be more to come before the decorations are taken down!

I went back into school for the first time to have Christmas lunch, only to discover that the place hadn’t ground to a halt without me! There were lots of new faces, facing old, and new challenges. What was clear, from their total exhaustion, was how hard my former colleagues continue to work on behalf of the pupils.

We are spending Christmas day with Rhiannon and Stuart, and by the look of the preparations they are making we’ll enjoy a wonderful meal and good company. We met up early yesterday for a long Skype call with Tom who will be spending his Christmas in Thailand.

Wherever you are…

Whatever you are doing…

However you are celebrating this time of the year…

Whether celebrations are more difficult because of loved ones who are no longer with you…

Tim and I send you our very best wishes.

Christmas Robin hires

A photograph taken by Tim at a coffee stop on a recent walk.

Finally, a few pics (taken by me, by way of apology for the poor quality!) over the past couple of weeks.

A weekend in the Cotswolds…



A muddy walk…



A gathering of the Brotherhood clan for a sibling supper…


Our sitting room…




My Christmas cake – a change from the usual marzipan and icing…



A reflection of a lamb, which has so far escaped the Christmas table. I doubt it will be so lucky come Easter…


The Mailbox, in Birmingham, taken from the roof of the architecturally acclaimed new library…


Finally, a selfie taken on the library terrace. What a difference a year makes!!



Thursday, 4 December 2014

Another day, another walk…

We’ve done a lot of walking lately. With friends, neighbours, ex-colleagues and sometimes on our own, as we did yesterday. It was a wonderful day; cold, sunny with a cloudless blue sky. David Bailey and I walked across to the Sandon Estate which is across the other side of the Trent valley.

I really enjoyed being out, and it was afternoons like this that I hoped retirement would bring.



This is my idea of Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree, in winter. No longer PC, but her books started, and kept me reading!


A folly which started its life at Trentham Gardens.



I’d love to see the arrangement of fires in this house…


Sandon Church.


When our former C of E vicar and his wife died they were buried in a special part of the churchyard in a Greek Orthodox ceremony. Father Grace was the one who told my heathan husband that a plaque on our wall contained a quotation from St Paul’s letter to the Phillipians. Tim repeated this to everyone as the Philistines!!


My favourite. You can see Rugeley Power Station in the background, framed by the tree.


Today we are joining a walk organised by some of Tim’s former LEA colleagues, followed by a Christmas lunch at a local bistro.

Watch this space…

Thursday, 27 November 2014

A late autumn walk…

We regularly try to get out for a walk to enjoy the countryside around our village and are fortunate that within 50m of our house we are on a public footpath, which leads into the fields. Saturday started grey and murky, but by mid afternoon the skies had cleared and there was just enough time for a five mile walk before we settled to watch the Wales v New Zealand All Blacks autumn international match. As rugby officianados will know it was a case of ‘so near, and yet so far’!

What did we see?

Sheep, which links well with both Wales and New Zealand.


Houses nestling into the hillside.


Reflections …


Unfortunately the site of these photographs is all along the proposed route of HS2.

Some fungi…



Linking with Susan's post yesterday I wondered whether this is an Ivory Funnel mushroom as this seemed to be the closest to the identification in my guide. Later, reading Colin and Elizabeth's blog, by coincidence they had posted about what they originally thought to be the deadly poisonous Ivory Funnel, but later identified as a Snowy Waxcap – their photographs are much better. The habitat was as described in my guide; pasture land, on the edge of open woodland. I’m sure someone will point me in the right direction!





An interesting post box…


No doubt these same fields would have looked very different on March 19th 1643, as the Royalists and the Parliamentarians fought the battle of Hopton Heath.  Although a small battle by Civil War standards, the Battle of Hopton Heath is considered so important it is one of only forty-two in English Heritage's register of major national battlefields. It was a bloody battle too. Although only five hundred men out of roughly two and a half thousand on the field died, they were slaughtered in a matter of hours. You can find out more about the battle here.