Life can’t be all nature reserves and rarities, so yesterday saw us back at Rufford Abbey. There was, as usual, nothing rare, but there’s always something worth seeing.
The Robins were in good voice.
Singing Robin – Rufford Abbey
We spent a while watching two Magpies building a nest in the tree tops (without being able to get a clear shot) and a pair of Nuthatches popped out of the woods to have a look at us. They are always a challenging subject as they tend to flit about without regard to the needs of photography. This was the best photo, despite only showing one of the pair.
Nuthatch in an Elder tree
We saw two Wrens and managed to get a couple of shots (they are worse than Nuthatches for flitting about), checked out the Great Crested Greebes (now in full breeding plumage) and watched a Grey Heron drop in to fish. Great Tits and Dunnocks also cooperated by posing.
Great Tit with fat ball
Wren at Rufford Abbey
Great Crested Grebe in breeding finery
Grey Heron at Rufford Abbey
Despite the fact we walk here most weeks, there’s always something new to see and always something new to learn. I never knew, for instance, that magpies build nests using branches that are nearly as long as they are.
Yesterday we mixed the Christmas Cakes (using a Mary Berry recipe) and tied up some loose ends. As the day closed it started to sink in that we only have seven more days with the group. It’s starting to sink in for them too, as the rehearsals aren’t going too well and they are starting to worry about it. I’m not sure why – we’ve never bothered with high standards before and people still clap and enjoy it. It’s about the effort, not the quality.
The dancing is making progress but the Technicolour Dreamcoat number isn’t going too well and we haven’t even started on I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts. Fortunately this is our Christmas party rather than Britain’s Got Talent so there’s nothing but enjoyment at stake. Having said that, if we did enter BGT I don’t think we’d actually come last; bad as we are (and I personally can’t carry a tune in a bucket) I have seen worse.
Kirsty, rehearsing hard
We’ve had a rest from pom-poms as they all made their wreaths last week and took them home (before I was able to photograph them). I just need to make a few more then I may make a wreath, or I may allow the ladies to use them when we visit the Care Home for a wreath making session (though we keep saying we will call them garlands – same thing but without the funereal connotations).
Then again, I may just concentrate on cookery for the party – I want to make sure we go out with a good spread. We have a plan for a gingerbread wreath so I may make that instead.
The group did the poultry work as usual and replaced a faulty drinker, had a couple of walks through the trees, found a dead sheep, made a few individual craft projects, put up some Christmas decorations and did the composting, so it was a reasonably full day.
Ecocentre decorated for Christmas
Christmas decorations by Quercus
As part of the process of closing down we have given everyone their folders to take home. Some of them are inches thick with things they have done while they have been here, others (depending on how long they have been here, and how industrious they have been) are not quite so thick. Even so, there are a lot of memories in those folders and I’m beginning to feel a little maudlin at the thought of breaking up the group.
Feels like time for a bit of Housman. Nobody does maudlin quite like Housman.
“A friend of mine used to say, ‘You cannot change the past, but every moment is an opportunity to change your future.”
― F.E. Higgins, The Eyeball Collector
We are having an indoor sort of day today. It’s grey and drizzly outside, with a moderate wind and temperature down around 4° C, so you can see why indoors seems good.
They say there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing, but on a day like this I’d dispute that. The right clothes will keep you warm and dry, but it won’t necessarily cheer you up, and it’s cheerfulness that’s lacking on a day like this.
Inside we have a plentiful supply of good humour. We have been planning for December, making party invitations for the Christmas Party, practising belly dancing (not me!), rehearsing songs and making picture frames (by covering plain frames in pieces torn from paper napkins).
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One of the group, who I will allow to remain anonymous, wrote some song lyrics on flip chart paper whilst it was on the floor. You know how permanent marker goes right through cheap paper and stains what is underneath? Well, it’s not a great problem when it goes through to another sheet of paper behind the first one. But if you are resting on the floor you end up with a hieroglyphic design on the floor, and that can be a problem. Julia has managed to remove most of it, but we now have a patch of very clean floor…
This afternoon we will be making pom-poms ready for wreath making.
I used to work for a market-leading company you know. Suit, briefcase, company car, expenses. I even had a Filofax once…
National Breakfast week is drawing to a close and I have been doing my bit.
We’ve treated ourselves to a couple of days off from the farm because things are getting a bit intense and because we could do with some time to recharge our batteries – the two weeks off at Christmas was mostly spent cooking, cleaning and catching up on sleep so it wan’t really quality time. The lesson there is to plan your time off rather than sleep through it.
Yesterday was built round breakfast at Frankie and Bennys, followed by seeking out glass paints for Julia’s plastic flower project and then it was off to work for her, at the job that actually buys the groceries. I dropped her off, cooked and eventually picked her up. At that point I served the food and found it hadn’t cooked properly, so it was Chewy Beef and Crunchy Carrot casserole for tea. You will search in vain for a recipe of that name.
I should probably point out here that F&B have not paid me or offered me any inducement to say I enjoyed the breakfast and the ambience, and that the quality and service were good and the cost reasonable.
However, if anyone from F&B is reading this, and would like to offer me any inducements for positive reviews in this blog I would be happy to accept.
Today was built around breakfast at Little Chef, followed by a visit to my Dad to drop of cards and presents for his 87th birthday on Sunday.
I like the Olympic Breakfast and it was well-cooked. It was at least equal to F&B, possibly even a little better. Ambience, service, cleanliness, value – F&B wins. I don’t want to be one of those people who takes a swipe from the safety of the internet, so I won’t name the site or go into more details about the faults.
Despite this, I’ve been going to Little Chef for so long that they feel like they are part of the family and as such I will be prepared to accept inducements for positive reviews.
Anyway, there you have it – my social diary, a food review and my contribution to National Breakfast week. I’m actually quite pleased with myself, as I usually eat the food before I remember that I’m supposed to be photographing it. That’s why I never actually got on with the food blog I planned.
It was entertainment time at the home when we arrived, with a local entertainer singing to a selection of Jim Reeves, Guy Mitchell, Tommy Steel, Perry Como and various other stars of the 50s. I have to say the music wasn’t to my taste – reminding me too much of my father’s taste, but the audience loved him and I mentally filed a few tricks of the trade for working a crowd when I next have to visit a care home to do a presentation (which is actually coming up quite soon). Top man.