Today’s Treasures – Winter Treasures

Today’s Treasures – Winter Treasures

“When winter winds blow cold and chill, it cannot be denied, the nicest place of all my friends, is by our own fireside.”

Autumn has been so wet and miserable, I am really looking forward to some frosty mornings this winter – but when the frost does arrive, my freezing fingers feeding the hens will no doubt wish it was warm and wet again!

We need things to cheer us up during the dull January days.  Although the nights are slowly getting shorter, we don’t really notice the difference until we reach Candlemas Day – 2nd February.  And while we wait for the snowdrops to appear, poking their tiny white heads through the frozen ground to herald spring, it’s good to have some ideas to brighten up the winter days.

So what’s good about winter – a blazing log fire – and a good book – firelight, watching the flames flickering shadows across the room.  Lighting candles – there’s some beautiful scented candles now – vanilla is one of my favourites but there’s some lovely winter scents of mulberry and spice to warm up winter nights too.  Mulled wine and warm sausage rolls are also good for cheering up dismal wintry evenings.

Houseplants always brighten up winter gloom – as Cyclamen fade, amaryllis flower and hyacinths fill rooms with the fresh scents of spring.

The bird table is always busy in winter – and the colder it is – the more birds seem to arrive looking for food and water.  Thawing out the bird bath on frosty mornings is always worth the effort to see the birds glad of a drink of fresh water.  Goldfinches come for niger seeds, nuthatches and woodpeckers love peanuts, and the robin loves showing off his red winter waistcoat.  A little mouse also found our bird table!

And, if all else fails, and you still feel miserable looking out at our dreary English winter, remember Spring is just around the corner and it won’t be long before we’re walking in the sunshine down to the beach again.

Published in the January edition of the Whitchurch Gossip

Jack Frost is back!

Jack Frost is Back!

Frosty this morning – so cold in comparison to last week – but there’s always a bright side – the birds are back on the bird table in all their winter colours – the robin showing off his new waistcoat, the great spotted woodpecker in all his glory – and all the tits – the stunning black and yellow of the great tits and the tiny blue tits and coal tits, nibbling seeds when they can get a beak in.  Blackbirds are fighting over territory in the apple tree and nuthatches are busy gobbling up sunflower seeds – and peanuts – they don’t eat them on the bird table, they fly off with them – to eat in secret – or to store?  I would love to know where they go with them.

The frost has finished off the runner beans – and the nasturtiums:  “They’ve gone willy-nilly, umbrellas and all.”  Along with the Nasturtium Fairy.

Today’s Treasures – Snowdrops – Tiny Pearls of Springtime

Today’s Treasures – Snowdrops – Tiny Pearls of Springtime


The days are getting longer and the first flowers of the year are peeping through Autumn’s fallen leaves – snowdrops – tiny pearls of springtime, creeping towards the light; frosts may wither them but their fragile stems soon revive in the sunshine, they shake their petals free of winter and their tiny white bells tremble in the spring breeze.

Snowdrop Walks mark the start of the season for many of our historic houses and there are lots of early spring walks through snowdrop-dappled woodland.  Rode Hall, just over the North Shropshire border, has a wonderful display of snowdrops set in enchanting woodland.


The snowdrop trail begins alongside neatly manicured lawns overlooked by a picturesque combination of unusual mature trees, through formal rose gardens, heavenly scented in summer but now lying dormant waiting for the first rays of the summer sun.

Through the gap in the hedge, a whole new vista opens out and you enter a wild woodland star spangled with snowdrops roaming unchecked, under the trees, along the brook, scrambling around the shrubs and bushes that decorate the landscape, and you can find a bench, or perch on a  stone bridge, and merge with the magic of the trees, serenaded by robins and blackbirds and soothed by the sound of the stream bubbling over stones, watched by myriads of tiny snowdrop faces, studying their reflections in the water.


Rode Hall is open from Saturday, 4th February to Sunday 5th March (except Mondays) for snowdrop escapades for all the family (including dogs – on leads).  The tearoom is open serving light lunches and you can warm up by the logburner with a welcome pot of tea and homemade cakes.  The art exhibition in the barn is well worth a visit, showcasing creations by local artists – and not all of the paintings feature snowdrops!

In the Druid calendar Snowdrops heralded Spring and first appear at Imbolc – celebrated on 31st January and 2nd February (Candlemas Day).

There are snowdrops walks all over Shropshire, including Combermere Abbey, Attingham Park, and Dudmaston Hall.

The Snowdrop Fairy

Deep sleeps the Winter
Cold, wet, and grey;
Surely all the world is dead;
Spring is far away.
Wait! the world shall waken;
It is not dead, for lo,
The Fair Maids of February
Stand in the snow!

Cicely Mary Barker



A Frosty February morning

A Frosty February morning


Yesterday the frogs were gathering in the pond and Spring was in the air, today we wake to a winter frost.  I’ve had to thaw the water out in the bird bath this morning for the robin and the nuthatch has been patiently waiting for me to get up and put some more peanuts out.  It is a really beautiful morning though.

Better than all the rain we’ve had, although there is an old saying:

“If in February there be no rain, ’tis neither good for hay nor grain.”

which I found in a Country Wisdom & Folklore Diary


Liquid Gold Sunset

Liquid Gold


Sunset over Shropshire as the last rays of the setting sun shine on the flood waters spreading across the fields

Managed to spend sometime in the garden last weekend, tidying up, muck spreading in the polytunnel – digging in rabbit manure and some lime. Rabbit droppings are quite acid and tomatoes suffer from blight (yellowing and wilting of the leaves and the tomatoes rot) if the soil is too acid.

Just finishing off and I was leaning on the fence in my favourite spot, the sun was setting and a flock of starlings were making patterns in the sky. This isn’t a lake it’s a waterlogged field, we’ve had so much rain this winter; I’ve had to move the hens from the front lawn as they were paddling in mud. Now there’s Spring in the air and we wake to frosty mornings.  The Candlemas Day rhyme was right – it was fair and bright and winter is having another flight although this year it’s more like it’s first fling, this morning’s frost felt like the coldest so far this winter!




Spring is in the Air

Spring is in the Air


It was a beautiful frosty morning, the sun glinting off thawing raindrops.  I love this time of year when it’s just warm enough – and hopefully dry enough – to get out in the garden but not much is growing yet, so you can catch up with clearing up the vegetable patch.

It’s a rare ‘window of opportunity’;  time to get rid of all the perennial weeds like docks, nettles, buttercups and the perennial grasses.  I give the weeds to the hens – they love scratching though them looking for worms.  By the beginning of February there’s a sort of hopefulness in the air, the birds are singing, showing off their bright spring feathers and busily looking for nesting places and the air is alive with the promise of things to come.  It’s exhilarating just getting outside and living and breathing – and becoming part of – Spring.


Clematis in November survived the first frost

This clematis survived last night’s frost but won’t be here much longer – looking at the forecast.  It was planted last year and I’d forgotten about it, then suddenly  a few wispy tendrils appeared climbing up the hen house.  I thought it was much too late to flower but then a few days ago it produced this beautiful bloom, just in time for the frosts!  So need to make the most of it, treasure it, whilst the sun shines!