First snow….

Winter woodmouse

The “tops” have been quite white a couple of times this week.  It was really nasty on the roads Friday evening here having dropped to freezing after heavy rain showers.  I find night driving more of a pain as I get older especially the glare which seems worse off wet roads. I had an afternoon away last week on a painting course, but the long drive back in the dark at peak traffic time was horrible.  I think I’ll have to pick something with a better time of day for myself.

I had to bite the bullet this week and order a new pair of specs!  I am afraid I inherited very bad short-sightedness.  So profound I have always qualified for a free eye test.  I mostly wear contact lenses (now with reading glasses as well )  but I do like to wear glasses to rest my eyes.  Riding in glasses with a helmet on is not very comfortable or practical in the rain!  I got very frustrated at the opticians on Tuesday however. I had my eye check with the optician and it was agreed I needed new glasses.  Because of the high prescription and the consequent thick lenses  required I am very limited on the choice of spectacle frame.  After I had discussed the colour and style I might like with the girl behind the desk and been “sized” she started to bring out stock for me to try on.  First pair “umm, not the colour we discussed” – assistant  “Oh, they only do it in this and the are too deep frame to take your lenses anyway”?? Next  pair too narrow.  Next wrong colour:  do it in nothing else? . “No”.  As the discarded pile of spectacles started to build on the table   I had to leave and return in order to move the car as my hour’s parking had run out!  On getting back to the shop I asked if we could just find something that was the right size to take the lenses, bother the style or colour.  It ended up with a choice of 3 pairs – one hideous pair which looked like something out of an old fifties movie.  I finished up with a compromise, as always, and of course from one of the most expensive ranges in the shop!!

I have received my order of Christmas cards this week; printed up from a couple of my pictures.  Can’t believe it is only five weeks til Christmas today.  I have cooked two small Christmas cakes and done a bit of shopping but feel very ill prepared  The run up to Christmas always seems to get so busy with other “stuff”.  Still I would not have it any other way – no chance of us getting bored in our retirement!


In my cards this year I wanted to include some ivy.  The “Holly and the Ivy ” carol kept coursing through my head.  I discovered some interesting facts about the ivy in British culture.  I always understood it to be brought in at Christmas time harking back to pagan days.  However in pre Christian  Greek and Roman culture it was associated wine and Dionysus (Bacchus)

In the Middle Ages ivy was still associated with wine. A branch or bunch of ivy was often hung on a pole outside a tavern to indicate that the building sold wine or ale. The pole was known as an alepole or an alestake. The bunch of ivy was sometimes known as a bush. Also during this era  holly represented the masculine element, perhaps because of its prickles and harder leaves, while ivy represented the female element.

Despite its association with wine and the fact that its fruits are the same color as some grapes, English ivy berries are poisonous and mustn’t be eaten.  Too much is bad for animals as well, but at certain times they seem to eat it – must be something medicinal they gain from eating it.  I do find it attractive and have a couple of ornamental varieties in the garden, but there is a very tenacious natural one here that is starting to completely swamp one of my beds and something will have to be done about it next year it will kill everything else. Ivy berries are very high in calories  and are enjoyed by many birds which spead the seeds.


November recipe.  Being really short on time  and ingredients the other night I cobbled up a pheasant casserole from what we had in the fridge … now on the recipe page .. it worked a treat….

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