Monday, 18 February 2013

Goldcrest excitement!

I just had to post an exciting development at Hazel Cottage this past weekend.  Whilst we were in the garden clearing up and digging, I was stood near to our old Christmas tree, which is stood at the back of the compost heap waiting for us to chop up.  For some reason our tree this year hasn't lost its needles, and looks pretty much alive still. As I was wondering if we could reuse the tree this coming Christmas, I looked up and saw something darting in and out of the tree, with the odd flash of yellow.  It was so tiny, smaller than than a robin, and it danced about up and down the tree, and then stood in an empty coconut shell hung on the hazel tree.  In spite of its size, the goldcrest didn't seem to be worried by me at all.


Of course I didn't have a camera nearby, so I've had to find a picture to show you what I saw.  When I came back in later on, I had to look it up.  It seems that the goldcrest is the smallest bird we have in the UK and it is often seen in a group of blue/great tits in winter.  It likes coniferous woodland - our Christmas tree was obviously an attraction!  Luckily there are other fir trees in the area including a tall fir tree that the robin likes to stand on and sing noisily.

It was a wonderful highlight of a good day digging and cutting back.  It seems that our little plot still has so many secrets still to tell.

The Gold-Crested Wren by Charles Tennyson Turner

When my hand closed upon thee, worn and spent
With idly dashing on the window-pane,
Or clinging to the cornice -- I, that meant
At once to free thee, could not but detain;
I dropt my pen, I left th' unfinished lay,
To give thee back to freedom; but I took --
Oh, charm of sweet occasion! -- one brief look
At thy bright eyes and innocent dismay;
My lesson learnt -- thy beauty got by heart:
And if, at times, my sonnet-muse would rest
Short of her topmost skill, her little best,
The memory of thy delicate gold crest
Shall plead for one last touch, -- the crown of Art.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Colour to cheer and inspire

On a dark wet February Saturday morning it can feel like Spring is a very long way off.  The garden is already sodden with rain and then the snow and sleet start.  None of it is laying, but the weather keeps me in the house yet again.  Luckily there is some sunshine in the form of the seville oranges I am making into marmalade.  Seville oranges and their perfumed bitter flavour are one of those rare completely seasonal items - they are only available in January and February here, so that means a couple of weekends of making marmalade each year.

In spite of my impatience finally the marmalade reaches setting point and I wonder why no recipe ever tells you quite how long this will take.  Many of them suggest boiling for 15 minutes which is a complete nonsense!
As its so grey and cold outside, I've made sure there are flashes of colour inside Hazel Cottage.  Although spring isn't here yet, there are splashes of spring colour to cheer and inspire.
Whilst waiting for the marmalade to boil up, I watched the birds in the garden frantically flutter around in the snow and sleet and daydreaming about all the flowers I hope to grow in the summer.  I really want to be better at growing from seed and in my plans I dream of a warm golden summers day sitting in the garden surrounded by flowers and bees and  butterflies.  In the meantime  I must get on and make the patchwork cushion I started before Christmas.....
"Winter, a lingering season, is a time to gather golden moments, embark upon a sentimental journey, and enjoy every idle hour."  - John Boswell