And a very happy New Year to you, too! And to everyone!
Aeonium 'Zwartkop' - I love the way it goes green in winter. One of the prettier things overwintering in Wendy, my Hartley Botanics greenhouse.
What a bizarre but enjoyable Festivemass that was! We went to jolly drinky doos, ate and drank far too much, experienced some delicious wines, gorged on evil but delectable chocolate, finished the damned turkey yesterday - thank goodness - and had, generally, a relaxing time. The PG's Xmas pudding, Xmas cake and micro-mince pies were utterly delicious.
It's been a time since I touched my computer - lovely! But now work has started again and obviously, one is in need of reaching out into the world.
Some casual observations, therefore:
1. To celebrate the Yuletide season, the Photographer General purchased a bumper edition of Radio Times so we could choose which bits of Telly to watch and which ones to miss. (We are neither of us, very big TV watchers, preferring to gawp at films on DVD.)
But we ended up watching even less than we expected. UK TV is so absolutely bloody awful! Everything seemed to be about cooking. The Perfect Christmas, bish bash bosh, with that Mockney bloke and his family; How to Defeat the Tyranny of the Turkey, by someone who clearly doesn't know how to cook one without it being dry; How to Roast a Country Cottage without Scaring the Horses, by that educated one with ringlets and specs.
When cooking was off the menu, the screen seemed to be filled with celebrities pouting, celebrities gushing, celebrities doing eccentric things at great personal risk to themselves or celebrities and ordinary folk doing competitive dining. But from time to time, you could watch some spectacularly mediocre films.
We attempted to view the new version of Murder on the Orient Express, being Suchet fans, but the almost constant barrage of advertisements for furniture emporia, interspersed with tiny snippets of the ITV production, cause the PG to go into a deep and almost irreversible coma while I railed, fumed and finally went to bed, determined NEVER to buy another sofa, even if our current one fell into a thousand pieces.
What do I get, of value, for my TV Licence? Radio 4, Channel Four News, NO TEST MATCHES and not a lot else. Good value - I don't think so!
Prettiest flowers in Wendy at the moment - a wild species from South Africa, Pelargonium ionidiflorum.
We also watched a much hyped, new, adaptation of M. R. James's chilling ghost story, Oh Whistle and I'll Come to You, My Lad. Despite starring the magnificent John Hurt, it was dreadful. The story - a superbly self-contained work with not a syllable out of place - was rogered brutally, with character changes, plot changes, pace changes and - well, it was completely awful, and, in its denouement, incomprehensible.
And that story can be adapted to TV, as was sublimely shown by Jonathan Miller, with the late Michael Hordern playing the pedantic, self-centred Oxbridge don. I'm so glad we have a DVD of that one.
2. The disgusting winter weather - festive my foot! - finally relented and I was able to get into the garden to begin the serious winter jobs. To my dismay, the freeze-up has 'preserved' all the fallen leaves, so instead of rotting quietly, through the weeks leading up to the Solstice, they have lain, almost unaltered, forming a slug-refuginous layer over everything.
This plays havoc with my 'Slow Gardening' technique. I'm loath to rake too many up, since that defeats the object of allowing natural decay, thereby recycling the nutrients and building the humus, in situ, rather than wasting time and energy raking up, primping borders, and then having to barrow the bloody compost back to shovel all over the border again.
Leaves all over the border in my 'woodland' garden.
So I'm not sure what to do. I also blush with shame at the quantity of unharvested Bramley apples which litter the ground. I'm posting a piccy, to prove that I'm Boy Scout enough to own up to seriously under-harvesting such a bountiful crop. What a waste!
If anyone has any ideas about what to to with the leaves, I'd be glad of some advice - apart from the obvious one of raking them up.
3. We've had a visitation of waxwings - or if you're American, Bohemian Waxwings - in the village. Although I'm a keen birder, this is one species that has managed to evade me. They're like that cat called Macavity - never there when I'm around. It's not a particularly rare bird, and frequently visits the UK in substantial flocks, but whenever waxwings are around, I manage to miss them.
Until a friend in the village phoned me at lunch time on 28th December to say a small flock were feeding on his Sorbus. In moments we were there, and at last I could enjoy their buff plumage, fancy crests, sealing wax wing edges and beautifully marked facial features. You can find good picture of waxwings here and particularly here.
Since I haven't seen this species in the UK before - this was what birdie folk call a 'lifer.' Though I have seen the same species, Bombycillus garrulus in the Canadian Rockies.
The fallen, unharvested Bramleys. Shockingly wasteful - but the blackbirds love them.
This day in 2006 I was dug a trench for a new hornbeam hedge which is now 2 metres high in places, but still a bit thin in others. I had to dig through gravel, old tarmac, brick rubble and finally, cold, blue clay. Lovely! The PG was recovering from 'flu.
This week's film was Frank Capra's 1937 masterpiece, Lost Horizon with Ronald Colman. Watching it made want to re-read James Hilton's original book. My son had a copy handy, and lent it to me. But you know, the most surprising thing is that it is not available as an e-book at all, either from Amazon or iTunes. And Gutenberg hasn't produced it either. It seems that 'great' books of their time - it was a massive success - fall between two stools. They're perhaps not 'classic' enough for Gutenberg, but neither are they popular enough to keep in print. Interesting!
I'm listening to a Beethoven Piano Trio, Opus 1 number 3.
The happiest of Happy New Years to you, and bye bye for now.