Tag Archive: Winter

But it took us three or four goes to get it nearly right. We don’t often have a fire – mostly use it to burn receipts and stuff we do not want to put in the paper recycling lest it get into nefarious hands – but with the snow and cold it was a nice change. For us it is also enough of a novelty to be a treat. The art is getting the marshmallow near enough the fire to melt it without burning it and removing it from the heat without it melting completely and dripping on the floor. A light brown caramelisation is acceptable.

A slice of Gloucestershire

It was a mixed bag of weather – rainy most days – when we visited the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. We stayed five nights in a holiday flat. As accommodation went it was OK but it was very much a Summer holiday flat – not the best place for a cold and wet November. So we fed the hungry gas and electric meters while making sure we had enough layers on; two or three pairs of socks, for instance.However, there were some interesting places to see in the forest and in the rest of Gloucestershire. Here are some photos of some of them.

Puzzlewood was OK but the gloomy weather did not help. I reckon that more sunshine would have improved things; ironically by making the shadowy places seem darker. It is supposed to be “atmospheric” and has been the location for some sci-fi/fantasy TV shows and films. Having said that, the first thing that caught my attention was the car park sign which is clearly quantum:

Puzzlewood car park

This might give you an idea of what it was like

Westonbirt Arboretum, across on the other side of the river Severn, really deserves an entry all to itself. This is just a small selection of the photos I took. A number of people mentioned that the colours of the autumn trees were not as good as most years. The weather this year has been unseasonable: much, much wetter than usual. Also, the frosts seem to be later in arriving this year which may seem like a nice idea except that much of nature uses them as a trigger to go into Winter-mode – leaves falling, hibernation etc.


We paid a visit to the city of Gloucester itself. One new thing I learnt is where it got its name from. I already worked out that there was a Roman connection from the suffix “-cester”; what I did not know was that the place was named after the Roman Emperor, Caesar Augustus.Loosely translated, Gloucester means “Gus’s Barracks”.

Once we worked out where to park the car we visited the Cathedral and the city docks including the canal museum.

The first two photos were taken inside the Cathedral.


These two are of the docks.


We would visit Gloucestershire and the Forest of Dean again – but in warmer weather.

The view from the window

I never set out to blog every day but perhaps about once a week. The topics usually crop up in the course of daily life: things happen, we go out, read a book, hear the news on TV or radio. From time to time nothing in particular seems to happen so what to write about then? Look out the window (and if the weather is at all fine go outside, perhaps).

I think there is a general point here. If there is nothing in particular going on: look out the window. You might not see anything special, but you might see the ordinary things more clearly. Which all sounds very worthy but recently the view from my window here has either been foggy or tipping down with rain – sometimes even both! In fact, it has been like that for the best part of a week and it has rather dampened our spirits.

At least the view from my window is neither a violent street scene, nor an earthquake torn town (my prayer for you is to receive the support and courage you need, if that happens to be your window view just now). Here, however, you might even say that it is quite pleasant. Gloomy, yes, grey, indeed, not very warm, absolutely; but it is a steady rain at just the time that some plants are beginning to rouse themselves from their winter slumber. And we have not had a frost for a week or two either – also a benefit to the trees, bushes and new shoots making their first appearance.

I realise that it is a contrary thought but it seems to me that it is possible to optimistic even in the gloom and rain. I don’t simply mean “count your blessings” (appropriate though that is). One just has to see things from a different point of view. Mind you, it’s not easy trying to think like a bush or a tree, n’est-ce pas?

Not bluebells

as one of our group nearly said, but snowdrops – too early in the year for the others. We toddled over to the local stately pile, braved the wind and ignored the looming clouds to go and admire their snowdrops. In our garden we have about three – somewhat in contrast to our neighbour’s garden which has dozens – so the prospect of seeing lots of them was pleasing. There were quite a few, I suppose, but I don’t get as excited over them as those people who are willing to spend a small fortune on rare specimens. I think I enjoyed the walk round the grounds but I was not keen on the muddy detour called the Lakeside Walk. So I left the others to it while I repaired to the tea rooms in the hall proper. What could be better than a nice cup of tea in one of England’s historic stately homes?

Well, I asked for a pot of tea for one. What I got was a paper cup with a tea bag floating in hot water. That may be how they take their tea in the USA but I was not impressed. To be sure the establishment was run by the “Friends” and not a commercial venture as such but I thought there of all places: china to drink from and boiling water for the tea itself would have been automatic. I tracked down the milk jug (yes, just the one for the entire room) and added it to the tea. Now, I believe it is said that even Her Majesty puts the milk in after the tea but as a rule I don’t. I want to be able to pour the properly drawn tea into a cup which has the right amount of milk already in it. That way the two liquids are properly mixed and that nasty scum you sometimes get is much less likely to appear.

Still, I contented myself with the thought that the drink was at least warm and wet – somewhat like today’s weather – and made no complaint.

Meanwhile, here is a photograph of some of the woodland flowers we saw. These are not snowdrops, nor yet bluebells, but celendines.

I was lapped three times by penguins…

… but at least I did not fall over.

I have discovered that I need to develop more resilience – that is, the ability to recover well from misfortune: not “bouncing back” so much as “struggling well”. Resilience is not a skill or a talent but a set of attitudes, characteristics and abilities which may vary from person to person. They may include, for example, having a number of supportive people around you (friends and family) having a sense of humour and a high tolerance of frustration (that’s ‘longsuffering’ in old money). The ability to do things differently, to learn and thus deliberately to put oneself in an uncomfortable situation is also supposed to help so that when the unexpected problem or disaster arises, you are already used to dealing with a new or unusual situation to some extent at least.

So it was that when the rest of the family went ice-skating, I went too. I am not sure-footed, I do not get on with skating but I was determined to attempt something moderately difficult – I say ‘moderately’ but that is only relative. Physically I found it demanding and spent most of the time just a few inches (at most) away from the side. The furthest distance I may be said to have skated is about two feet (60 cm or so). Emotionally it was not tiring except that it taxed my patience somewhat. The penguins (referred to above) are a device designed to help children with their first steps toward ice-skating. The figures are about a metre high and have a handle each side. I wished there were an adult version and then I might have ventured further out on the ice.

I think I did well to do the number of laps I did. My back did not give way, I toughed out the tendonitis in my right hand wrist and managed not to fall over. However,  it did not benefit my pride to be overtaken at least three times by little children pushing one of these penguins along the ice. At least I did attempt the ice-skating. To those more sensible adults, who watched me from the sidelines with a mixture of admiration and disdain, I simply remarked that I preferred this to the alternative: bungie-jumping.

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