I must admit that my Christmas day was not so bad after all. Mostly that was because my kind OH let me watch that Sound of Music Live that had been broadcast the Sunday before Christmas. Wow, I was really impressed by how incredibly professional the production was - I understand from reading about it afterwards that there was one glitch when the youngest girl tripped over a guitar case, but I didn't notice! And who knew that Kara Tointon could sing so well! All in all a brilliant few hours of viewing that got me feeling quite Christmassy after all. Stuffing my face with sweet things helped too, after eating the delicious roast beef and yorkshire pud that my OH cooked (I have to mention that or he will be upset!). Last year because things were different we decided to break from the traditional turkey and I'm glad that we did. Beef is ridiculously expensive and we eat roast chicken often, whereas a beef joint costs an arm and a leg, so it's a real treat.
I forced myself to do some baking on Christmas Eve and made a Mincemeat Bakewell Tart, which I'd made in 2013 and is absolutely delicious. It's relatively easy too as there is no blind baking involved. I made extra pastry which is sweet with a hint of orange so I could make mince pies with the excess. Yum. Oh and I also made some Peanut Butter Fudge, although I make it with light soft brown sugar rather than dark, and no vanilla, cos I hate the stuff. I'm the only one who likes peanut butter in this house, so what a shame. The pounds are still piling on me. At some point I will have to stop this eating business. :-)
|Icing sugar shaker, French style :-)|
Back to the wildlife - I noticed this bird hopping about in the fennel branches so grabbed my camera thinking it was probably a Chiffchaff, then saw that it was a Goldcrest which was much more exciting. But I've just now, upon checking, discovered that it is in fact a Firecrest, which are far less common. I think it's only the second time I've seen one here so despite the poor quality (I was hiding behind the curtains, and there were cobwebs over the less than clean window!) I'm really thrilled with the pictures.
|A little Firecrest seen through my living room window.|
A few times I have dragged myself out of my gloom and started some of the winter jobs that need doing in the garden. We've attacked and cleared a fair amount of brambles from the side of the pond up the house end, and my OH has been to the tip several times now. I'm currently tidying up the thyme bank which didn't get done last year at all so is a mess. Every year I hack back the thyme really hard and it does it no harm whatsoever. It's a job I usually do in late autumn and it allows the spring bulbs and spring flowering plants a bit of space to do their thing - also if I get around to it, I can add a bit of compost to the soil. However, as I was a-snipping and a-clipping, I noticed the soil seemed a bit dislodged beside an ornamental grass, and that there seemed to be a lot of dead grass under the thyme. Which I started to clear. And then it twitched! I'll show you what it was in pictures.... (you can click on the photos to view larger)
|The patch on the right is the cleared area.|
|Look carefully to the right of the Festuca Glauca grass. |
(By the way, look at my Euphorbia! It shouldn't be budding up for ages yet).
|Uncovered..... have you guessed by now? :-)|
|Cropped in to show the spikes. It's a hedgehog for those who are not familiar with them.|
I was really surprised to see that it had decided to hibernate here round the front of the house rather than out in the wilds of the back garden! And that it had actually dug down into the soil a bit to make its nest. What also surprised me is that it is hibernating already, given that it has been so mild with barely any frosts. Maybe it has something to do with the amount of light rather than the temperatures? It's now tucked up with loads of dead grass and moss back over it, with the unchopped thyme pulled over it. I am being very careful now to check before I snip, just in case!
Talking of things hibernating, guess what we saw flitting outside our living room window on Christmas Day? None other than a Brimstone butterfly! They are hibernators who may come out on sunny warm winter's days - not that I have ever seen any before in the middle of winter.
As for the flowers, there are still quite a number going on strong, as well as the late winter flowers blooming early. I fear it will end in tears at some point as we are bound to have a cold spell. Well I really hope we do! This is not normal. We have eaten some PSB already but when my OH was harvesting it he found a great big Large White caterpillar on one of the leaves. Ugh - that broccoli got checked over very carefully and I haven't dared eat any curly kale yet. Well it's still waiting for the frost which is supposed to make it taste better!
|The last ? flower on Zephirine Drouhin.|
|Oriental Hellebore flowering earlier than usual!|
|Have started having a revamp of the bed it is in, |
so have chucked dozens of its babies!
They are dreadful for self seeding all over the place.
That's about it for now. The weather forecast shows a lot of rain over the next week so I don't know how much will get done outside, or when I'll get some new photos but I'll be back at some point when I have something to say. :-)