Wednesday, 31 December 2014

The last sunset of 2014

The sun sets on 2014. It's been a good year for us. Lots of hard work but real measurable progress too. We sit down by the fire and dream up plans for 2015 .... planting some Scots Pines (for home grown Christmas trees), building a wood fired oven, getting that cedar hot tub .....

Puss indoors

Puss is tempted to venture inside the house. She is very wary but comes in for a look, and probably to see where the food comes from!


As I take my photo's the hedge is full of little birds singing. I've put out various scraps for them but they still seem to be finding things to eat. Our newly dug trench is welcomed by lots of birds darting down to find worms and insects who have had their warm winter retreats rather rudely disturbed.

Rising mist

When the sun shines on the frosty landscape mist starts to develop and lie in the valley bottom, although hard to photograph it's a beautiful sight.

It's a white world

When we get home I go outside to take some photos as a beautiful frost has developed. It's obvious that the pheasant has been having a walk around the garden too.

New Year's Eve

The last day of the year dawns with the sun rising over a snowy Somersal Herbert. We plan to venture out and go shopping in Ashbourne. The road has got pretty icy again with low temperatures overnight.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Done for now

The trench gets refilled with soil and now there will be a pause in operations as the village apparently has to be informed that the power will be turned off so they can make the connection. At least with the surface of the ground frozen the digger does minimal damage.

Back again

Once more Western Power are here en masse (over a year since their first visit). They get to work laying the cable in Danny's trench. Later the telephone line goes in. Fortunately I am distracted from all this by the arrival of Robin, Ran and Harry. We drink mulled apple juice and have sausage rolls and hot soup and although their stay is very brief it's lovely to see them.

Baaa ...

This sheep was determined to be photographed! She was looking for greenery to eat amongst the snow and is in the field opposite our house, so we get to see the sheep daily. I notice she has a nice mouthful of herbs!

Monday, 29 December 2014

A tripod

I bought a small flexible tripod for our camera at Christmas and decided to try it out by taking a photograph from the bathroom window. At least in the dark I can't see the trench!

A giant mole

Yes the noise we heard was Danny heading up his field and towards us with the digger. Apparently Western Power are coming tomorrow to lay the cable and so he is digging until it gets dark. We bumped into a neighbour on our walk and so go up to their's for a cup of tea and leave him to dig.


As we walked home the sun was setting over the farm. It is wonderful to be able to photograph it in the snow. On the way back we hear the sound of the digger ...

Out walking

It is a real treat to have the time to go for a walk. We head round the lane and down a dead end that we have never ventured down - although we have directed lost delivery vans there!

Ice crystals

It was lovely and sunny and so we went walking locally. The snow has developed a layer of ice crystals that crunch as you walk.

The winter hare

This morning while I was watching the fox in our snowy field I realised the hare was sitting quite motionless within about 20 feet of him. Although quite a distance from the window I managed to take these pictures before he disappeared down to the edge of the wood. I have a wonderful picture entitled 'The Winter Hare' but here he was in real life.

Fox in the snow

My first sight this morning, after I pulled back the bedroom curtains, was this fox hunting in the snow in the big field opposite our house. He searched and pounced like a cat but didn't seem to be having much success. Meanwhile our tabby had managed to persuade Dave that she needed a prawn breakfast!

Sunday, 28 December 2014

A winter wonderland

It is good to be able to take pictures of the farm in snow. Last year there were only a few flakes and nothing settled.

Hot chocolate (and squirty cream!)

We went out to walk in the snow and take some photos of the farm. On our return I decided that I would have a hot chocolate instead of breakfast today!

Photographing the snow

It looks lovely today as the snow has frozen - it went down to minus 3 overnight - and is crisp (but icy). The sun is lighting everything up, making it sparkle. We were surprised to find the Tesco van risking the lane.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Christmas cake

It has taken us until the 27th to have room for our Christmas cake! However after a cold lunch it was perfect, although the royal icing had done its best to try and slump down the sides when I made it!

Friday, 26 December 2014

Home alone

On Boxing Day it started to snow, gently at first (around 4pm) and then tumbling out of the sky. I was  home alone: Tom and Dave were in Burton watching the football, Tom's girlfriend had gone out for a family meal and Joe was at work for his final shift (ever) at The Brookhouse. I wondered if I would stay that way but gradually they all crept back. It was nice to sit with the fire blazing safe in the knowledge that no one had to leave the farm for days.

Eating in the kitchen

After yesterdays grumbles about my trying to serve the meal in style in front of the fire in the living room, today I decided we could all eat in the kitchen instead!! This is one of my favourite meals of the year: cold turkey, hot gammon, crispy potatoes and Christmas Pudding to follow. I refuse to cook this on Christmas Day when we are all too full to enjoy it.

Boxing hare

While Tom and I were downstairs waiting for the kettle to boil we saw the hare run up from the field below and then stay quite motionless for us to watch. Later Joe was lucky enough to see him too while I was making breakfast. For my Christmas present I had a silver bracelet with hares and oak leaves but to see the real thing is truly special, as was being able to share it with the boys.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Christmas dinner

Dave spent a long time setting up the camera on a tripod and linked to his phone to photograph us all eating our festive meal. The practise shot came out great but then he forgot to take the actual picture ....

By the time he remembered we'd eaten our food and the wait for the photo to take left us all looking rather jaded! This was about the 5th attempt!

Hares and oak leaves

This bracelet was my Christmas present, when I saw the combination of hares and oak leaves it seemed to sum up life here on the farm.

A festive sheep

This festive sheep has travelled to us from Portland and is our Christmas present from Liz (thank ewe!) She has the kind of look that says I'm definitely for decoration and not for use so don't you dare put your feet anywhere near me! She is extremely soft and plush however.

Christmas Day

Joe is working and Tom will join us at lunch time, so after breakfast we headed off to church down in the village, we had to drive though as the heavens opened just as we were about to leave the farm. Later back home Dave and I enjoy the quiet and open our presents before having smoked salmon sandwiches for what Tom would consider a highly inadequate lunch!

Our tree is decorated with ornaments collected over two lifetimes, mine and my mothers.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Ready for Santa

The stockings are hung above the fire place and now we just have to wait:

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

Clement Clarke Moore (1779 - 1863) 

Christmas eve cat

Puss contemplates whether or not to come inside. Lured by the smell of food she stepped in the door briefly.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

We made it

Yes we got the room clean, tidied and decorated ready for our guests on this the shortest day of the year. The Christmas tree took a bit of positioning but somehow everything has fitted in. It was lovely to be able to share our home but sadly both Dave and I have gone down with rotten colds which is most annoying and not helpful when all the ingredients for the mulled wine said 'add to taste'.


I hung up the mistletoe in the kitchen where it is waiting for the unwary! Dave was taken by surprise by a guest at our party!

Saturday, 20 December 2014

The nativity

Once again the piano top plays host to the nativity set that I bought many years ago from Christmas Cribs. This year Joe and Jade set it up for me although baby Jesus was nearly a premature arrival but is now safely stored away until the 25th.

Russian ornaments

I found my tiny Russian Christmas decorations and used them to decorate a winter branch for Tom's visit.

Friday, 19 December 2014


The paperwhite narcissi that I planted for the New Year seem determined to join in the festive celebrations and have grown triffid like on the kitchen window sill. Unfortunately with my cold I can't tell if they are scented or not and they definitely won't still be in flower for January.

Pre party

With just two days to go we need to have a major clear up and remove all our decorating detritus as we have invited the inhabitants of Somersal Herbert to join us for a festive drink!

Thursday, 18 December 2014

IKEA to the rescue

Although we will eventually be putting shelves into our cupboard in the living room this cheap IKEA bookcase made a great temporary solution and it means that at last we have unpacked all our books.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Festive lights

I managed to find our timer switch so that I could schedule the light switch on (and off)! Dave had fitted the lights around the dairy building for our summer party but it was too much trouble to lock and unlock the doors needed to switch them on and off. Also the lights insist on going through a whole sequence of flashing modes before you can settle them on constant!

Advent candles

My advent candles stand out against the dawn sky.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014


Finally after having to do so much preparatory work Dave has begun to put the top coat of paint on. It looks really good and the house has lost its sad, neglected feel.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

St Peter and St Blaise

Our church in Somersal Herbert is dedicated to St Peter and St Blaise. It's always very peaceful and as much of the window glass is clear it seems full of light. Today we had a wonderful carol service and our voices received a very welcome boost from the local choir the Something Good Singers.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

An old oak

Walking down the lane I looked up and saw how beautiful this old oak tree was with its branches silhouetted against the blue sky.

Festive robin

This robin was keeping a keen lookout for anything tasty on the flower bed below. Earlier we had complained that puss had allowed a mouse to eat a large hole in my old winter coat (foolishly still in a box in the barn). Today to make up for this she showed us she could catch them and that they made a tasty, after cat food, snack!

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Pink arrows?

Tonight there were amazing pink stripes across the sky as the setting sun caught these vapour trails, going outside I could hear the noise of the planes. They were flying so close I wondered if they might be the red arrows heading home.

Buying our tree

Today we went to buy our Christmas tree although as gales are forecast for the next couple of days we have decided to put it in the barn for the moment. Eventually, decorating permitting, it will end up in the living room but hopefully I can site it next to the front door until then!

Photo of Needwood Farm where we go each year for our tree.

Monday, 8 December 2014

A helicopter

We had just got back from a morning of shopping in IKEA (which we couldn't put off any longer) to find this helicopter in the back garden! Presumably it flies along checking the electricity supply but it was so low it seemed a rather hazardous job!