Sunday, 31 January 2016

January Flowers


In  November 2015 I went with a friend to see the Poppies: Wave exhibition at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. This is one of two poppy sculptures, the other being Weeping Window, by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper that have been created to mark the centenary of the outbreak of World War I and are currently being brought to audiences around the country. Originally these sculptures were part of the extremely popular installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London in 2014. As we hadn't made it to London to see the initial installation we were keen to view Wave whilst it was in South Yorkshire and so went during the first week of the exhibition. Thankfully we didn't try to go during the first weekend, which was so popular that cars were queued back to the M1 motorway! Even on the day we went there were huge numbers of visitors whose main purpose in being there was to see the poppies close to in person.

Poppies:Wave Nov 2015

Poppies:Wave Nov 2015 
Along with almost every other visitor to Wave we took photos as a record of our visit. As usual I took photos on my phone, which did an excellent job and I was very pleased with the results. There were several people taking photos on expensive looking cameras and I remember telling my friend that I would like to buy a good camera and learn more about taking better digital photographs but not until I had managed to digitise and organise all our photos sitting in albums in my study. As I am only about half way through this project I was not expecting to be in possession of a sophisticated digital camera any time in the near future but I had not realised then that my husband was already planning on buying me one as a present for Christmas! 

Wave after the flood Jan 2016
At the beginning of January, I realised that the exhibition of poppies at the sculpture park was due to finish and I decided it would be a shame to miss the opportunity of returning to allow my husband to experience it and also to take photos of the poppies on my new camera. So we took our new car for a spin and drove up the motorway. Parking wasn't a problem this time but the mud was! We hadn't realised it but the park had been flooded in the previous week's storms and most of the paths were very muddy. As we were only wearing ordinary shoes, not boots, we chose to make use of the park's Poppy Bus that took us down to near the sculpture. This proved to be a good choice, not only in avoiding most of the mud but also because the driver was extremely helpful and very knowledgeable. He told us about the flood and how the farmer's newly manured fields had been washed down into the park and over the paths! He also told us that over a thousand of the 5000+ poppies had been washed away during the floods. We weren't, therefore sure what we would find when we arrived at the bridge. 

Wave after the flood Jan 2016

Again there were many people viewing the poppies but I did wonder how many of them realised what had happened and that about a fifth of the poppies had been swept away. The sculpture was still impressive but it can clearly been seen in the photo that it was missing all the poppies that had actually been sited in the river itself. Still well worthwhile visiting, though, and I hope that the sculpture get as good a reception in its future venues as it is brought to audiences across the country until 2018 as part of the 14-18 NOW programme. 

Garden flowers

Sweet pea flowering in January
January's weather here has been very unseasonal this year. Apart from waking up to a dusting of snow one morning, the winter so far has been much milder, if wetter, than usual. This seems to have confused many of the plants. Plants in my garden that the frost usually kills off are still going strong and some have even flowered recently. 

Last year I grew sweet peas for the first time in years. They did reasonably well but I wasn't impressed by the amount of flowers they produced in the summer. I was impressed, though,  when I went out in the garden to find one of them flowering in January! The geraniums (actually pelargoniums) are still flowering too and I couldn't believe my eyes when I noticed that the lavender had a flower too. I'd been really surprised when the strawberries behind it had had flowers and fruit in November but I have never seen a flower on our ancient lavender bush in January in all the years we have lived in this house. 

Pelargoniums in flower Jan 2016
Lavender flower Jan 2016

Monday, 11 January 2016


Well it has been a very busy few weeks since my last post. Christmas has come and gone and I don't seem to have yet got into the habit of posting regularly but perhaps that will come. 

Not only does December provide an opportunity for a big family get together but our celebrations continue into early January with our wedding anniversary, followed quite quickly by both mums' birthdays. 


Last year, our Boxing Day party was spoilt by the arrival of a heavy fall of snow that came much earlier than expected. The journey home with elderly mums in the car was one of the most difficult and worrying of my life and I hate to think what would have happened if it hadn't been for the kind young men that were out on the roads helping push us along when we got stuck in the atrocious conditions.  This year's party at my daughter and son-in-law's was such a contrast.  The weather was much milder and it was so lovely that 4 generations of our family were there to celebrate together again. Our grandchildren have been so fortunate to have grown up knowing not only their grandparents but several great grandparents too. This is very different to my experience of growing up with only one granddad who died when I was 11. Luckily I was able to "adopt" three of my husband's grandparents, who lived well into their eighties. Thinking back, it is amazing to realise that we have been celebrating Christmas as a 4 generation family for 44 years and that in 1994 we only just missed out on there being one with 5 generations.  


As has become the habit in recent years, we celebrated New Year's Eve quietly at home. As usual the celebratory fireworks on the TV were fantastic and, living in a city, there were also plenty to see out of our lounge window. I didn't take any photos this year but perhaps next year I might but only if I've learnt how to manipulate the settings on my new camera to take good photos in lowlight conditions by then.   

We celebrated our wedding anniversary over a meal with friends and then again, the next evening, over another meal, with some of the family. 

Having a wedding anniversary at the beginning of January can be a little inconvenient, particularly with regards to buying anniversary cards. Its often impossible to find anything suitable in the shops just before Christmas and its not always easy to fit in card shopping just afterwards. My solution this year was to make my own, though doing this without my husband noticing was a little challenging at times. I was very pleased with the resulting card which was so much better than anything I had seen in the shops. It also meant that I sorted out the colour printer, which now prints perfectly!