20 December 2010

Christmas is rapidly approaching, and here is the tree all decorated and with presents waiting...  I must say I'm looking forward to the short break I will have from work.  I work up to and including Christmas Eve, and after the year I've had I'm quite looking forward to a couple of days break to unwind and relax.

After the snow on Saturday, I didn't think anymore about it until I had to drive to work this morning.  To say the landscape was breathtakingly beautiful would be an understatement - I was left in awe of the avenues of trees, bushes and shrubs which were in a palette of greys, silvers and whites.  It was truly amazing to behold and I was very disappointed that I had no time to pull over and walk around and take photos of the beautiful surroundings.  I must say that the snow in the town where I work was far heavier than what was experienced at home, so it was a stressful and slow drive in to work.  Better safe than sorry I say.

The poor little creatures are definitely hungry and out and about looking for food.  The bird feeder is a non-stop hive of activity.  The squirrel was visiting and enjoying the food left out for him too.

A quick photo of a thatch house I walk past every morning with Maximus on our walks.  It was still fairly early, so the light isn't great.  I think a thatch roof looks so pretty with a sprinkling of snow.

My brother and his wife are expecting their first baby, due in March 2011.  They are expecting a girl and I find myself constantly buying more and more pretty clothes and cute little things for her.  My brother has a blog with the name of bumpy cat and for some reason, we've started referring to baby as bumpy kitten.  So of course, I couldn't resist buying this little outfit when I saw it.

Hope you're all keeping warm and safe wherever you are in the world.

19 December 2010

I've been very slack about updating my blog lately.  It's always my intention to update, but then a myriad other things happen and I never seem to get around to it.

About a month ago, my south african keyboard starting giving even more problems than usual, and I eventually succumbed and bought myself a new UK keyboard.    Of course, there were bound to be problems due to my computer's settings and I battled for weeks to get the computer to recognise the UK keyboard with the nice £ sign and various other keys in different places.  Well, I'd done everything right, but it was having none of it.  Luckily for me, it took my brother being on his r&r a whopping 2 minutes to correct it - for some reason windows was insisting on using the default american settings!  As soon as those were deleted from windows, my uk keyboard worked!  Yay!  :D

This delicious fruit is something I love and don't find very often here in the UK.  In South Africa, they are known as Cape Gooseberries and have a wonderful tart taste.  I discovered these at Tesco recently and would treat myself to a bag every now and again.  I see they're grown in Colombia.  Either way, it was sure nice enjoying some of them again.

To end off tonight, I just had to post a picture of my beloved dog Maximus.  I bought him a new duvet and duvet cover recently, and he seems to be thoroughly enjoying them :)

12 December 2010

8 December 2010

This is the beauty I woke up to yesterday morning - a very cold and frosty morning.  Isn't nature beautiful? 

6 December 2010

My brother has been back from Afghanistan for his brief r&r and our family spent a wonderful long week-end, from Friday evening until this afternoon, together.  We drove up to Ely on Saturday and spent several hours wandering around the market stalls they had before having lunch at the Ely Cathedral cafe.  We also had a look around Ely Cathedral which was lovely.

Here are some photos I took.

Ely Cathedral

Detail of Ely Cathedral

The Greenman
I have been wanting a Greenman for a long while, and this beautiful one was for sale at the most amazing stall in the market square.  This lady sells sterling silver jewellery and many other beautiful things.  For those who don't know, a little history about The Greenman :

Throughout the English countryside one can still find many ancient churches from the Medieval Age: from small village parish chapels to vast Cathedrals and Abbeys.
Built by the master masons of the Dark Ages they show the style & decoration of the age: the vaulted ceiling, the spire, the tower, the stained glass window, the tiled floor and the Gargoyle.
Originally an embellished water spout leading fro ma gutter, the gargoyle appears throughout these churches, outside and in : high on ceilings, on the capitals of columns, at doorways and on bench ends.  Over the period they became increasingly elaborate and complex.
Faces divine and grotesque, mocking and humourous these are snapshots on the medieval mind which amuse and puzzle us still.  What do these creatures mean?  Why are such profane and grotesque images found in such places of reverence?  There are many theories but few firm answers.
One of the most puzzling and contradictory of images is that of the Greenman.  Seemingly this figure (usually just a face) emerging from leaves or made of leaves or even spewing leaves from an open mouth, is an ancient pagan image, harking back to an age of Green Magic.  Why then does he appear so frequently in Christian Churches?
The Greenman is said to embody the life of rebirth: that after the Death of Winter, Spring must return and bring with it the Sun and Growth and Plenty.  The life of medieval man had few certainties and comforts: the longing for a good Harvest and belief in the power of the Greenman may well have been too strong for the arrival of Chrstianity to suppress.
Thus he can be found in almost every church in England, if only one knows where to look....

The sign above is now hanging outside the front door - hopefully the postman has a sense of humour!  =)

On Sunday we visited the gardens and grounds of Buckden Towers, which is in the High Street, Buckden, Cambridgeshire.  The historic buildings date from the 15th Century and are surrounded by 15 acres of grounds.  The Tudor Palace of the Bishops of Lincoln was originally surrounded by a battlemented wall and moat with access across a bridge through a Gatehouse into the inner courtyard.

Many notable people visited Buckden during the days of its greatness, amongst them Henry III in 1248, Edward I in 1291 and Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII, in 1501.  Thomas Wolsey, when Bishop of Lincoln, went there in 1514.

Probably the most important Royal visitor to Buckden Palace was Catherine of Aragon.  She was sent there by order of Henry VIII after the annulment of their marriage by Archbishop Cranmer.  She resided in the Palace from July 1533 until 1534.  Henry VIII visited Buckden with his fifth wife, Catherine Howard in 1541.

This is the Catholic Church directly behind the Buckden Towers, which is beautiful inside and outside!

The rafters on the roof contained angels all along the length of the church - so beautiful to see.

This train caused a brief delay on our journey, but it was lovely to see.

3 December 2010

Compassion is not religious business, it is human business, it is not luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability, it is essential for human survival. ~ His Holiness The Dalai Lama



2 December 2010

Student protests in London

My friend James' recent blog posts conveys eloquently what I have been thinking and I would like to share it:

I'm getting really tired of these so-called students acting like morons about something which needs to be done.   Education is a privilege, not a right (and I mean further education such as university/college etc, not school).  In South Africa, we pay huge amounts for the privilege of studying for a degree.  Unless we qualify for a bursary, we have to take a student loan and pay every last bit of money back within a specified time frame - and it doesn't come cheap, believe me.

My question is - why is it that so many have protested something as insignificant as this?  And yet nobody has protested the MOD budget cuts - yet we have thousands of soldiers risking their lives to protect us - and yet the Ministry of Defence has had to accept the budget cuts?  Nobody protested for them.

Apart from the fact that military men and women are not moronic hooligans who willingly seek violence, why have we as a nation sat back and done nothing to voice our alarm about their budget losses?  And what it signifies for each of our men and women serving their country and protecting people like me.  How terribly, terribly sad...