Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Blooming wonderful

Diurnal warmth all week has caused a burst of blossom, bulbs and birdsong.

Gardens have offered a cacophony of noises from over shrubs and fences. The dawn chorus is sweet but gives a rude awakening to most mornings.

Sleep has been cut short by Captain Jack Sparrow's storytelling/drinking fun celebrating a birthday and an hour's less kip as we moved forward into British Summer Time; it is taking some time to adjust my sleeping pattern- I am still tired at 8am but then H1 reminds me my body clock is still on 7am which does seem very early (though it doesn't seem to diminish the goldfinches out on the birdstation or the blackbirds with their shrill, panicked alarm calls); I heard the rhythmic drills of a woodpecker in nearby woods today.

The days are growing longer and suddenly life seems to be more adventurous- even down to food. We have eaten out with family and friends... Italian... Chinese.... English at Eslington Villas.... the Hearth in Horsley again....

We have picnicked over the Tyne valley with panoramic views from the top of Horsley Hill.... Bait tastes so much better out of doors. Oh heck! Not to the fish being caught here!

P and I perambulated through National Trust's Gibside Estate (where we have a statue called Liberty too!) while 4 red kites soared above us; then Trinity's short but interesting talk was on 'The friends of the red kites'; I do not think I am going to put my photos in of the kites as methinks they will show lots of empty blue sky and... they went thataway!....

Forest floors are carpeted with wood anenomes and wild garlic is spearing through the remains of the autumn leaf litter.

Britain has filled in and submitted 2011's census. Imagine- in a hundred year's time someone exploring genealogy willfind everyone's details recorded on a Sunday in March 2011 when we are but dust and pushing up daisies- sad and spooky!

Narcissus, mainly daffodils, are popping open in the sunlight; tulips are prodding out and colouring up; primulas and primroses carpet every patch of soil; hawthorn hedges are graced with small, white flowers while forsythia glows in every shrubbery (and brick filled land clearance site on Team Valley!)

Pots are bright with pansies.

Pink cherry blossom waves summer in while beds of hellebores wave farewell to winter.

The first lambs have been born and while some are gambolling around meadows others are still stumbling wrapped in jackets to keep out the coming April showers and chilling March winds.

Yep! I love spring and its promise of summer.

Monday, 21 March 2011

It is official!

Today warm sunshine greeted March 21st and the official arrival of Spring. My Christmas cactus always gets it wrong!

Sheets on the line wave farewell to K and E our weekend guests.

We didn't notice Saturday's 'super moon' (nearest to earth it will get for X number of years and we missed it till Sunday!) We were too busy admiring the Little Theatre in Gateshead and enjoying Agatha's 'Murder is announced'.

Last week we visited the brewery at Matfen before and after we waded though Northumbrian clarts; today was a more refined lunch at the Hearth (Tearoom and community project in Horsley village) and viewed the craft studios.

Yay! The clocks go forward this coming weekend- an hour's less sleep on Saturday but 'more' daylight; the census is to be done on Sunday; the following weekend is Mothering Sunday. Well March didn't come in like a lion and we have yet to see if it goes out like a lamb....

If you want to do something on Mother's Day Newcastle's independent cinema (the Tyneside) are showing 'Young hearts run free' on Sun 3/4 @ 3.10pm, Mon 4/4 @ 12 (for OAPs) and Tues 5/4 @ 12.45 and it is on around the country - made by Bede Films and set in a Northumbrian village during the 1974 miners' strikes.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

I believe in the future

I should be washing my car or hoeing the moss out of the perfume patch in the garden but I am sitting inside watching the stratus drift in lines over the blue sky of the morning.

How do I do it? Methinks my environmental opinions irritate people! I am not clever enough to understand the way bio-friendly equipment works but I feel we should try to do/install things to safeguard our children and their earth......

I must not get downhearted- there are folks who help - my magazines are being boosted by the several people who have started to add to my pile. Our hundreds of specs collected annually for Vision Aid Overseas must be all over remote parts of India and Africa! Last week J from our walking group gave me ink cartridges for the 'Each one counts' account I have for Breast Cancer Campaign-I was thrilled- word gets around- (and nothing will end up in landfill). Lots of friends have collected milk bottle tops and now gather used stamps (for our local hospice and a charity to buy/train guide dogs for the blind). Bras roll in for BCC's recycling campaign- makes a better use than burning them, Germaine!

My friends are good people- and they put up with me and my foibles!

I want to belong to a church of the future not a church of the past....
Instead of new celtic crosses outside churches carved with names from the past, or new stained glass windows- I would like to celebrate events with.....something for the community....an investment for the future....... a double glazed window?.... Lots of churches (altar in east towards Jerusalem and nave lying east-west giving a south facing pitched roof) in UK have started to put solar panels (hot water for heating) or photo-voltaic cells (electricity -some for your use and spare can be fed back to the National Grid for which you get payment). C&E have got those on their roof- I have always wanted some too but they are VERY expensive - where can we get help and advice?

See? I am riding my hobby horse- but for years we have explored windpower and in particular H1 wants a heatexchanger (downover if the garden isn't big enough across- but what if it needs fixing and hauling up from the bowels of the earth?!) Also we would have to have floors lifted and no carpets- and I find bare floors hard and inhospitable.

I admit I am a pain to some! I try to buy local and when I can't avoid the air miles eg bananas, I buy fair trade. I have roses from February 15th -not inflated-price Valentine roses)still beautiful- nowt clever just 2" and all greenery below waterlevel cut off/ water changed each week- and fair trade roses are perfumed!

I keep asking for (costly & bacteria-spreading) airconditioning to be switched off in (open-doored?) shops, banks and cafes- we are 55 degrees north for goodness sake!We have survived years without it!

I am by no means alone- I find lots of people are working away at environmentally responsible collections and schemes so why aren't bigger organisations like companies and shops aware they can recycle, cut costs on heating (We have our coats on when we step over shop thresholds!) and airconditioning.

Britain could be in the vanguard of building new ecotechnology to supply the awakening world- (and employment in Britain!)

OH well- Rome wasn't built in a day.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Restless earth

How much we take the gifts of the earth and our human life for granted- until the earthquakes in Haiti and New Zealand remind us how precious life is; I felt guilty walking in the peace of Howick Hall arboretum again while Japan is going through the hell of a massive earthquake, tsunami and nuclear powerstations going into meltdown....

Earl Grey and family lived here while working on the 1832 Poor Law which heralded the giving of democracy for all; is this the democratic life that many of the peoples of the Arab states of North Africa are wanting? Earl Grey must look down from his monument in Newcastle and think how much we of this generation take so much as our right.

I sipped a cuppa in the lovely Earl Grey tearoom but not of the bergamot scented variety devised to disguise the supposed flavour of hard water Countess Grey tasted in Northumberland, took to London, got Twinings to produce yet never 'patented' so earned not a farthing from Earl Grey tea.

The grounds are starting to lose their snowdrops but there are drifts of crocus and the carpets of daffodils are colouring up; we saw a red squirrel and ate a sweetmince pie slice!!!!!

D1 and C took us out to eat (a surprise but such a treat) then we moved onto the Sage for 'An evening with Barbara Dickson'- with her fabulous range and voice, folky, sometimes unaccompanied and with her fantastic musicians (especially Troy on the Uillean pipes). It took me back to Barbara and Veronica Slaughter and Johnny Handel and the High Level Ranter nights at the Bridge Hotel in Newcastle and the Cellar (Lampglass ) in Ashington......

Diesel is now £1.36+ per litre so people are beginning to be more careful about how much they are using their cars- but will this get some of the fuel-guzzling, unecessarily huge cars off the roads?

Anyone know what these plants are? Click your cursor on the photos to enlarge them.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Make hay while the sun shines.......

I should be as thin as a lat!

C&G organised a walk for the 'gang' around the village of Newbrough- a village with its own Town Hall; it also has a beautiful church and graveyard- is it just D3 and I who like glebe land? Apparently church grounds are so environmentally friendly and offer so much history that they are valuable.

A reconnaisance walk up at Elsdon provided us with ....... a visit to 'Impromptu', a different and friendly bikers' cafe......

a bastle? house

springs which poetically gurgle down and round the prehistoric? mounds of Motte Hill....

Winter's Gibbet stands stark and lonely on the skyline above Elsdon but peers down onto the church bells and flower-filled graveyard: Winter could see the home of the woman he killed.

Northumberland National Park authorities have left the gibbet and village car park unkempt and unloved- a shame for such a delightful village with 'The Pinfold' and a village green. The view atop Landshot Hill is worth the slow climb.

My pedometer has been busy........

A blue sky, empty of clouds and filled with sun climbed out of a white frosted morning; We walked the sands of Druridge Bay after lunch inn Widdrington.

Later I zumbad, sweated and laughed.......

But I have just eaten pancakes so was it worth it? What shall I do for Lent since today is Shrove Tuesday and tomorrow is Ash Wednesday?

I have been miserable with an abscess but with that beaten, I cracked a tooth on the contents of H1's stir-fry so back to the dentist! and in sympathy with the molar my pedometer has broken!

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

St.David's Day

I am such a dutiful wife! I have adorned H1's chest with a daffodil; he has been known to sing his national anthem on radio and at assemblies of various sorts. I wish we had a national anthem that I really liked- not that I am antiRoyal but I like to 'walk upon England's mountains green'..... and today is filled with glorious sunshine and daffodils in the house and crocus in gardens.

I also know I am remiss in not blogging but I have felt alternately too miserable and then too busy to put my feelings on paper- oh! this isn't paper but you know what I mean.

H1 and I shivered along the white carpets of Snowdrop Walk (and aconites)at Howick Hall; it took a warm by the fire and a cuppa in the posh tearoom in the Hall to revive us.

Belsay Hall was similarly snowdropped with an adjournment to the Blacksmith's wherein I resisted the fruit tart. The gardens of the hall are showing sneak peeks and promise of what is to come in rhododendrons.

We are being enriched with culsher again!

The 'Live' theatre provided us with a brilliant and awful night watching 'Faith and Cold Reading'. Stephen Tomkinson and cast were brilliant BUT the seats were appalling; the manager reckons no seat has a restricted view but they have had so many complaints about the gallery's stageview they are going to lift the chairs.

D1 and I went to see Lee Mead at the Sage- he can be my 'Joseph' anytime. Laura White who sang with him (and Sir Bobby Robson's memorial match at Ipswich?) was wonderful.

Elaine Paige belted out from the Sage; yes , a little breathy at times but I enjoyed the 'Memories'.

We have had D2 and fiance home; D2 took over 3 rooms most of the week icing wedding cakes for a friend..... but we found time to celebrate 2 birthdays, a drama group get together and the wedding!

Hugh Dixon, curator retiring, from Seaton Delaval Hall swansonged an amusing, informative talk to a packed Trinity this month.

OMG it is March 1st already. This time next week will be Shrove Tuesday and I will be flipping pancakes before the start of Lent with Ash Wednesday.

We have seen lots of wild life of late (forgive the pun!); Howick provided us with swans, 8 herons,and 2 deer but they were too quick to camera-catch! Our back fence seated a sparrow hawk yesterday; Spring has sprung and our resident ring-collar doves are courting- Roberta is repudiating and rejecting Robbie so far....... wise girl!