Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Farewell 2007

I have finished the Christmas jigsaw! It’s a Wentworth wooden puzzle. Only 500 pieces but it’s laser cut so no two pieces are the same. Plus, it has whimsies (so called, apparently, because Victorian jigsaw cutters cut them on a whim). Ours is a Christmas tea time scene so the whimsies are a knife, fork, spoon; candle in a candestick; a teapot, tea cup, sticky bun and piece of toast. Then there are some which appear as you put the pieces together – a slice of cake, a bowl of trifle, an egg in a cup, a champagne bottle. It was great fun to do but strangely difficult.

This morning, there was a bang, bang, bang on the door. And finally, finally, The Builder’s third Christmas parcel turned up. Another jigsaw. Nothing like as expensive as a Wentworth jigsaw and made of cardboard rather than wood – and certainly no whimsies or strangely shaped pieces. It’s 1000 pieces and is going to take a bit of time to do (especially after Marlo has scattered all the bits about!) He’s just started it. I expect to hear from him again in a week or so!

When we moved in, there was a pub on one of the back roads just this side of Hasland called the Winsick Arms. I was saying to The Builder one evening as we drove past that we really ought to go up and try it some day. The next day when we drove past it was all boarded up! Time past. It looked sad and depressed and lonely. Then someone started work on it. Eventually, about 11 months after it close it reopened, transformed into the Telmere Arms – apparently it was first known as the Telmere Lodge. Today we have finally managed to go and try it out. It’s a lovely, family run pub with a very impressive menu. The Builder had a Thai prawn curry which he really enjoyed. I had a seafood crumble which was ok – the crumble was a bit dry and there was rather too much of it. The downfall was the mashed potato which was Too Salty. I do so wish people wouldn’t add salt to the food. After all, if people want salt there’s loads on the table. I think I might find a pub and cook salt free food. Or perhaps I should just stick to steak and chips! But we will go there again. Once Sunday, I think.

Then we took ourselves to the Grassmoor Country Park which we drive past frequently but which we have never stopped to look at. It’s built on the site of the old Grassmoor Colliery and has several paths meandering through it. There were lots of people there this lunchtime walking their dogs. I think it will probably bear closer inspection; there are a number of small tracks wandering off from the main paths. It’s also the start of the Five Pit Trail which is about 5.5 miles long. Then, of course, you’d have to come back, though there is a means of making a lollipop walk of about 5.5 miles if you only follow the trail about half way. But it was a bit late in the day at the end of December for that length of walk. It’ll be dark by half four and fairly dark by around 4. A summer activity, I think. I really must go to the Country Centre in Clay Cross. They have leaflets and guides to all kinds of things like this locally. I’ve never been there. I’m not even sure where it is. I must find it!

Lindsey made the comment when she was here in August that we get very few birds visiting our garden, which is odd given that we live in the country and have loads of fields and woodlands around us. This is true in the late summer (I think the birds are moulting then so not widely about, but for whatever reason they do mostly disappear in August). It is, however, not true in autumn, winter and spring. This morning we had blackbirds, starlings, magpies, a robin, blue tits, a great tit, a wren, a sparrow and some chaffinches all mootling about more or less at the same time. I think the wren lives in our thicket of bushes. I was going to prune them! We saw a couple of bullfinches on our walk too.

So that’s it for 2007. It’s already 2008 in Melbourne and (just) in Nagoya. In February it will also be the Year of the Rat in Nagoya – or so I understand from the BBC website. There are still a few hours of 2007 to go here. On balance, I think it’s been quite a good year. Lots of interesting things have happened. There have been many feasts and some parties and considerable merriment and just a few trips out. One or two minor worries but no disasters (though there are still a few hours to go!). Here’s looking forward to 2008 as even better.

It’s three years today since The Builder and I moved into the Mudhut. Gosh!

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