Sunday, January 16, 2011


Sally came over on Wednesday afternoon to do a bit of polymer clay sculpting.  I spent the time mixing old sculpey with new translucent to try to refresh it and make it easier to work with, but she got inspired and did a lovely reclining figure.  Here it is:

Monday, January 03, 2011

John's 66th Birthday ...

... January 2nd.

We had Sunday Lunch at the Station Inn in Marshbrook.  They're developing a mountain bike centre there and it was interesting to look around at their "Camping Pods" and at the new shop.  However, it was too cold to spend too much time lurking, so we went in for a lovely lunch at the carvery.

The car thermometer informed us it was 3C outside as we set off afterwards to drive up the Mynd for a walk.  It's a nasty road - single track with passing places - and at one point we met a Circus truck towing a caravan coming the other way.  Hard to imagine where it came from.  Surely the driver wasn't foolhardy enough to attempt to bring that whacking great thing up the Burway from Church Stretton and then down the really steep road from the top of the Mynd?  In winter the road is often closed and most sensible people drive the long way round.

There were no "road-closed" notices, so we carried on up.  By the time we got to the top the temperature had dropped to 0C and there was slush and ice on the road.  We also found a dusting of snow.  However, we parked at Pole Cottage and took a little walk to the highest point on the Mynd - Pole Bank.  The visibility was good - we could see the Malvern Hills to the southeast and the mountains of Mid-Wales (probably the Berwyns) to the west. If you click on the picture below, which was taken at Pole Bank, you can enlarge it and then you will see Corndon Hill on the left.  That is the nearest part of Wales to us - just about 10 miles away from our house if you go in a straight line over the two ridges of hills that separate us.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

A laugh a day ...

.....keeps the doctor away!

John and I have been tidying the loft.  I found this old Peanuts cartoon and had to scan it and include it here (hope I'm not infringing any copyright laws!). It used to be pinned up on my office wall, and I still think it's one of the funniest I've ever seen - but then, we've had dogs and hampsters!!!!

A Family Christmas

Happy New Year, Everyone!

Since we returned to the UK we've spent every Christmas in Nuneaton with John's sister, Joy, and her family.  As usual, we set off for Nuneaton on Christmas eve; this time we were leaving frozen pipes, a dodgy central heating system and a leaking dishwasher!  For the first time, though, we stayed with Betty, (Joy's mother-in-law) who lives around the corner.  This change being necessitated by the arrival of Oscar (Joy's grandchild), his parents and a car full of baby accoutrements.

The snowman on the right is Mr. Pickles, now sadly departed!  Our nephew, Nick, built him, but by the time we arrived, he had become a shadow of his former self.  As you can see, his carroty nose is shrivelled and dark, his chestnut buttons and eyes have sunk into his flesh and he must have been suffering from osteoporosis - he'd lost several inches in height in a matter of days!

Mr. Pickles was fun, but he wasn't the centre of attention.  Oh no! That honour went to Oscar the newest arrival in the family.  Oscar is the son of Nick and Sam and the grandson of Joy.  The hard part is realising that he's our great nephew - boy that makes us sound really old! I suppose we're getting there - I turned 65 in mid-December and John will be 66 on January 2nd.

Here are a couple of pictures of Nick, Sam and Oscar as they opened Oscar's presents.  Nick is the one with the Tea Cosy on his head (note there's a Santa hat under that!).  Sam's the lovely motherly one, and Oscar is the one who hasn't a clue what all the fuss is about!

Once presents were openend on Christmas day, we proceded to the main event - dinner!  As you can seen, John was the only one allowed in the kitchen with his sister, and from the looks of him, she didn't have much choice!

It was a smashing dinner with a starter of smoked salmon, followed by a multibird roast (goose, stuffed with chicken, stuffed with pheasant, stuffed with sausage stuffing) from Shropshire and all the trimmings.  Amazingly, we all found room for a small portion of rich chocolate torte for dessert!  That's John F. carving the roast!

For our U.S. friends; you need to understand about the wearing of hats at Christmas.  Although you can see that we wear Santa Hats and Tea Cosies, the more usual hat is the paper one as found in Christmas crackers.  In the first picture you can see that Joy has just pulled her cracker and is now inspecting the contents.  There is always a hat, a really stupid joke (called a motto for some unfathomable reason) and a toy.  Everyone puts on their hat, reads out their joke (accompanied by groans from the assembled multitude) and tries to work out why they got the dumb toy.

This year the toys included a pencil sharpener, a plastic thingy with holes in that you could use to draw simple shapes, a springy hair clip, a set of cards printed like dominos, a spinning top (that was the best because it really worked) and a giant paper clip!

The prize for best looking lady in a hat goes to Betty, don't you think?

On Boxing Day we did it all again. Eating lots more food, baby sitting for Oscar while his parents had a well-deserved night off (they went out with friends, and wisely chose to spend the night with Sam's parents), putting away a fair amount of wine and watching lots of really dozey stuff on telly.

We did take a walk on Boxing Day.  It was very cold, but still and partly sunny and we enjoyed exploring the woods at Hartshill Hayes.  Here's a picture of John A., with Joy and her husband John F.  The funniest sight of the walk was seeing a grown man get into a big plastic bag, convince his dog to sit on top of him and then set off to slide down the hill.  The dog jumped off at first opportunity and then there was lots of yelling and laughter as the man lost control and rolled and slid helplessly into the next field!  We don't see much snow around here, you know.

Thankfully, the snow has melted now.  The traffic chaos is at an end.  Burst pipes are slowly being mended and we've just tipped over from 2010 to 2011.