We’re on the Map!

Anny:

As a Worcestershire girl, mad about tapestry and history, I just had to reblog this post from the remarkable people at the National Trust’s Textile Conservation Studio – do have a look at what they’ve done – and if you’re near Oxford, pay the finished piece a visit…

Originally posted on Textile Conservation Studio:

Over the last year and a half the Studio has had the privilege of conserving a wonderful tapestry map owned by the Oxford University Bodleian Library. We can now report that it was finally installed last week, and now hangs in pride of place at the Blackwell Hall in the newly opened Weston Building where it can be viewed by the visiting public.

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Depicting the county of Worcestershire, the tapestry is in three fragments. It was woven in England c1590, for Ralph Sheldon to hang in his house in Long Compton, Warwickshire, as part of a set of four tapestries depicting different counties. It is one of a set of three map tapestries, (Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire, also in fragments) owned by University of Oxford and a fourth tapestry (Warwickshire) in the set owned by Warwickshire Museum Service.

The designs for the maps are from the Christopher Saxton county surveys, published…

View original 972 more words

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Which canvas are you?

Do you enjoy personality tests?

We’ve all experienced them at one time or another, whether serious ones when applying for jobs (INFJ* if you’re interested), or the marginally less serious ones in personal-development books, online-dating, dieting, and of course the entirely spurious ones in countless magazine features – they crop up all over the place.

For some reason, when I was fishing through my stash of canvas the other day, I couldn’t help thinking that our preferred choice of canvas might well be an indicator of our personality.

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– straight-forward, upright, focussed, likes sticking rigidly to the rules…

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– needs a bit of structure, but bends the rules a little from time to time – prefers having some flexible of space to work in…

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– pretends to conform, but actually quite a rebel, frequently moving off in different directions…

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– entirely unpredictable, potential anarchist…

Yep, use them all – what does that tell you?

Happy stitching!

<3

*Myers-Briggs test.

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The ones that got away…

I’m always telling people how meditative stitching can be, and how wonderful it feels to ‘let go’ and simply enjoy the process – which is all true, for me stitching is where I’m most myself. But perhaps it’s worth mentioning, that it isn’t always plain sailing. Sometimes, the idea in your head refuses to be captured in stitch. Sometimes, despite everything you do, the piece you’re working on, just doesn’t click. 2015-03-19 12.21.49 Anyone making faster art will also have this experience, I’m certain – let’s be honest, more of what we create goes in the bin than on the wall. But making slow art has the particular downside, that you can invest considerable time – we’re talking days, perhaps weeks – into a piece, only to find at some point, you don’t like it, it doesn’t feel right. Which is the time when you have to decide whether to press on regardless and hope it comes together later, or put it down to experience and consign it to the ‘no’ pile. It isn’t always easy to accept that the time poured into a piece isn’t going to result in the work you’d set your heart on. So just in case anyone else is going through a rough patch on the creative front at the moment and thinks they’re the only one, I thought today I’d show you my collection of might have beens from the last few months, the ones I’m calling my experiments, the ones that got away…

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Keep calm and carry on stitching.

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Searching for Shakespeare: And she’s off…

2015-02-10 11.59.13Just a few weeks into this quest to understand who wrote the plays of Shakespeare, and I have to say, if you’re trying to keep your brain active, forget Sudoku’s or cryptic crosswords, there’s more than enough here to keep the synapses busy.

Anyway, as I mentioned, I started off with a book by Diana Price – Shakespeare’s Unorthodox Biography, because it was obvious very quickly, that I didn’t know very much at all for sure about the writer, and I wanted a source that would look at the actual evidence, and discuss its context and interpretation in a less emotional way than those authors who are closely bound up with theories for particular candidates for the Shakespeare authorship.

It’s not a particularly difficult read, but you’re not far into it before you start to understand just how complicated this quest is – what we have, it seems to me, is a giant Elizabethan jigsaw puzzle, with most of the pieces missing, and to make matters worse, we don’t know if the pieces we do have, fit together in one puzzle, or whether some pieces are part of an entirely different puzzle.

But before I get carried away, the first question I wanted to answer was this – why is there any debate at all about who wrote the plays of Shakespeare, after all, we’re familiar with his name, his plays and his connection to Stratford-upon-Avon – where is the area of doubt?

Right…

The answer – it seems – is that whilst we can be pretty certain a man called something like William Shakespeare (even the question of alternative spellings could keep you busy for months…), went to London and was involved in theatrical companies there, no contemporary evidence survives which confirms him as a writer.

So, going back to the jigsaw analogy, we have about 70 pieces that could fit into a picture of a Stratford actor, financier, play-broker, wheeler-dealer, but none that fit into the picture of a playwright.

That means, either he did write the plays/poetry, we just don’t have any evidence, or, someone else wrote them.

And that’s the debate. Into that gulf of un-knowing, flows a massive river of conjecture, theory and conspiracy – brilliant isn’t it!

So, the result appears to be, that people who think the man from Stratford did write the plays, look at the pieces of the jigsaw and try to fit them all into a picture of a playwright, trimming off the edges, bashing pieces that don’t fit too well, hiding the really difficult bits under the carpet, until they accommodate the pieces into something resembling a playwright.

Whilst people who think someone else wrote the plays, look at the pieces and say, no, these pieces don’t belong to the picture of a playwright at all –  William Shakespeare must have been the pen-name of an aristocratic person, unwilling to publish under their own name, we must look for clues about his/her identity somewhere else.

Now, the bit that really confuses me, is this – if you’re an aristocratic would-be playwright, turning out sublime poetry and prose, but unable for reasons of political sensibility or social mores to use your own name, why choose instead, that of a Warwickshire actor with a debatable reputation? Coincidence?- really?

So, without – as far as I know yet – a shred of evidence to confirm it – the assumption is, that the man from Stratford put his name to plays which he took/bought/acquired from a shady aristocratic writer, presumably in a relationship that benefited both parties – otherwise how would it have continued?

The plot thickens…

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My plan, now that I’m beginning to see the big picture and understand the groundwork, is to re-read Price’s book, listing out my questions to follow-up on next.

I’ve become aware of a lot of the anti-Stratfordian positions so far, but in the interests of balance, I’m going to try out an orthodox biography soon to see which questions that raises.

Do join the debate if you’re interested – you won’t be bored!

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In other news…

There was a big surprise in the lane this morning – a huge tree had come down across the road.

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Fortunately not my old oak, and hopefully nobody hurt.

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And breathe…

Just about recovered now from the final episode of Wolf Hall – phew – even though you knew what was coming, it was still heart-ripping.

And so apparently it’s nearly the end of February – a busy month around here, family birthdays, car MOTs, half-term – I’m always surprised how very ‘full’ this shortest month can feel.

This month, despite remaining cold and grey for much of the time, spring has actually arrived on the lane. Buds on trees and a tiny clump of snowdrops give me visual confirmation, but the daily chorus of birdsong (plus the drilling of the woodpecker), leaves me in no doubt, the mornings are getting lighter and spring is here.

I’ve had a sticky few weeks on the stitching front. Several pieces started, with enthusiasm, but somehow unwilling to go the distance. In an attempt to rid myself of whatever was blocking me, I had a good old thrash around with the metallic paints and then on Friday 13th, I went off for the day to Ely cathedral – an artist’s date – to top-up the creative juices. I’ve posted about the cathedral over at Mists of Time – do pop over there if you’d like to see pictures. 

Ely has a superb stained glass museum – and of course the cathedral itself has a vast amount of stained glass windows – the whole jewel colour extravaganza always carries me off to some other place – and I think it shows in the stitching…

I’ve finally managed to settle into a piece that I’m confident now I’ll stay with until it’s finished – another tree would you believe.

And February has set me a challenge which I’m sure may well keep me occupied for some considerable time – the whole question of whether William Shakespeare of Stratford, was actually also the playwright...or not.

Since writing the previous post, I’ve been carefully reading Shakespeare: An Unorthodox Biography by Diana Price – a good place to begin as it attempts to establish the knowns and unknowns, without getting hung up on possible alternatives. I’ll post more, once I feel I’ve digested it enough to make my initial thoughts clear, but I’m already hooked, it really is a fabulous mystery, and perfect for early night bedtime reading.

I hope February hasn’t been too harsh where you are – happy stitching!

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You can find almost daily pictures on my Instagram page.

 

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A Quest For Identity…

You’ll have to forgive me, this is probably going to be a rambler – feel free to wander off now, no hard feelings.

Ah so, gluttons for a wordy post – don’t say you weren’t warned…

The thing is this, people have been coming up with words to focus on for the year, declutter seems popular, simplify I’ve seen a few times, you may have your own. I haven’t had a word for 2015, well not until now, but perhaps I might just have stumbled across one – and I’ll tell you straight away, it’s IDENTITY.

This isn’t the result of any ego-centric bid to define myself – it just happens to be a theme that’s cropped up a lot lately. Bear with…

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The first outing was the TV series with Grayson Perry – Who Are You? It’s no secret that he’s a hero figure for me, but even still, watching the programmes where he spent time with various people, delving into their identities and self-perceptions, then producing artworks to reflect his take on each, was a masterpiece – of art certainly, but also in my opinion, of his ability to penetrate through the outer layers and reach inside the character of each sitter.

I knew he was a brilliant artist, but here was also someone able to listen, observe and understand, if not dispassionately, then at least non-judgementally, a disparate group of individuals. It was humane and beautiful.

Just before Christmas I went along to the National Portrait Gallery and saw his artworks for myself. Simply stunning, although the piece I would most like to have brought home, was A Map Of Days – his own vastly engrossing and unconventional self-portrait.

So, I suppose the thread of identity started with Grayson Perry and then lay dormant for a few weeks, waiting for me to pick it up again when the BBC started all the Wolf Hall business.

Although in between was a little strand from Last Tango In Halifax, with Derek Jacobi – let’s just hold that one for a moment and come back to it.

I wasn’t going to watch Wolf Hall. I’d loved reading it so much, I didn’t believe the TV production would live up to what the words had created in my imagination – how wrong I was. I ‘happened‘ to watch the first five minutes of the first episode and that was that – hooked, 100% mesmerised. But watching it brought back thoughts from the time when I read it – how can Hilary Mantel convince us so well that Thomas Cromwell was a sympathetic character, when history, and more importantly Hans Holbein shows us such a different face.

This was precisely the theme taken up in the Culture Show Special: Holbein: eye of the Tudors, with Waldemar Januszczak. In the famous portrait by Holbein of Thomas Cromwell, what do you see? I spent over forty years looking at that image and seeing a hard man, a ruthless man – which you’d have to say, considering what he did, must have been true? And yet, Mantel has convinced my heart that this is not the character of the man, so captivatingly portrayed by Mark Rylance in the TV series. Who is right – what is the truth – where does identity lie? Is there an inner and an outer identity?

Thinking about Cromwell and that portrait made me think about another question of identity. Have you read The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey? It’s the fictional story of Alan Grant, a policeman laid up in hospital, who for the want of something to occupy his mind, investigates the life of Richard III. It starts with him seeing a portrait of the man and being unable to reconcile the moderate, benign features with those of a child murderer.

He proceeds to conduct an investigation from his hospital bed into the crimes of Richard – looking at who else might have murdered the Princes in the Tower – who stood to win and lose. If you haven’t read it – do!

Incidentally, the title of Tey’s book is from a quote by Sir Francis Bacon –

“Truth is the daughter of time, not of authority.”

That’s another thread by the way – we’ll come back to it too.

Where were we – oh yes, Wolf Hall. So, we’re extremely lucky to have a neighbour who brings us the weekend newspaper supplements every week and in the lead up to the airing of Wolf Hall, you’d be hard pressed not to have read something about it, the story, the locations and the actors taking part.

One of the pieces I read, was about Mark Rylance. In the article, it mentioned that Rylance was one of the founding members of The Shakespeare Authorship Coalition – a body set up to formalise the acceptance of reasonable doubt as to the identity of William Shakespeare.

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Now, I am a huge Shakespeare fan (my tag line is a tiny snippet from the Bard). I ‘did‘ him for ‘A’ Level (my undying gratitude Mr Holden) and loved every moment, and I’ve lapped up anything Shakespeare ever since. I’m a member of the RSC, who probably finds live theatre more exciting than almost anything else – so let’s just agree, I love Shakespeare. And therefore, hearing that the man hailed as the greatest stage actor of his generation and the Artistic Director of the Globe Theatre from 1995 to 2006, has doubts about the authorship of the plays, had me intrigued and a little unsettled. At almost exactly the same time, I happened to read in another article, that Derek Jacobi – also a great Shakespearean actor – was involved in The Shakespeare Authorship Coalition too (see I told you we’d come back to him)…

So, my interest was well and truly piqued, thus, I’ve spent a little time this week delving further into the murky world of Shakespearean intrigue. It seems there are people who fervently believe that Shakespeare – the man from Stratford, was absolutely the author. There are others who doubt that he was the author, but don’t know who the real author was, and there are those who believe he wasn’t the author and do know who the real author was.

Terrific!

I love a good whodunnit – or in this case ‘who wrote it’. I feel a quest coming on.

Now I have the chance to be my own Alan Grant and investigate the whole Shakespeare issue from a position of total impartiality, because the truth for me, is that I don’t really mind who wrote the plays and poems, I’m just grateful to live in a world where they exist. In a way, the qualities, the values and the character of the author are his/her identity – a rose by any other name…

I wonder if Grayson Perry, in a reverse of the process he used for Who Are You, could take all those qualities found in the works of Shakespeare, the humanity, the love, the emotions and work back up through the layers, to build us a picture of the outer layer of the author…

Anyway, I’m now looking forward to reading as much as I can about the evidence on all sides.

Today I’ve ordered a couple of books to get me started on my quest, but if I’m lucky this could keep me busy for the foreseeable future! I think the prospect of insanity has been mooted for those getting caught up in this debate, well, I’ll risk it.

Oh yes, and the quote from Francis Bacon? – well, you know don’t you, some people believe Bacon wrote Shakespeare…

I’m well practised in untangling mingled yarns – I’m not sure that this one is ever likely to be unraveled, but nevertheless, it looks like an excellent mess to be mixed up in.

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I’m hoping to post about how this quest progresses over the year – anyone interested, do leave a comment – and if you’ve already completed your own Shakespeare quest, I’d love to know what you’ve discovered.

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Tree time: An oak through a year…

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Well, as many of you will know, back at the beginning of January 2014, on a whim, I started taking a photograph each day, of one particular oak tree that I pass while walking the Delinquent Dog.

A year and many, many pictures later (I didn’t miss out too many days in 2014), I thought I’d make a little slide show to show how the oak and the surrounding hedges changed over the course of the year. It’s also a record of some of the blue skies – and the many grey – we enjoyed during our morning walks.

I love watching the tree, but in fact it’s really the changes in light that have had me most enthralled over the months – even the enormous changes day on day we sometimes have.

What these pictures don’t show is the rain – occasionally quite a lot of it! And sadly they can’t give you the sounds to go along with them. Today, it was really noticeable how much more the birds are beginning to sing again – it might not feel too spring-like yet, but it sounds like spring already. And there have been many mornings when the wind was roaring through the branches, like a train going past!

I’ve selected quite a few here, but if you’re really interested/mad/have nothing better to do –  and want to see every day – go over to my Instagram page – click here or on the links in the sidebar – and you should be able to scroll through them all.

I was going to stop once I’d completed a whole year, but I find now that I can’t just walk past without getting the phone out for a quick snap, and anyway the dog automatically walks to our spot and waits for me, so I’ll just keep on doing it. I’ve sort of got into the habit of posting them up on Instagram, so if you want to keep following, just pop over to the side panel or follow me on Instagram.

If anyone feels a tiny bit inspired to do something similar – not necessarily a tree, there are lots of alternatives – please go ahead and tell us all about it – you’ll actually be the one who has the most fun though – I guarantee. 

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Fun For Free – Well Almost…

Sitting around stitching tapestries all day, would make an excellent occupation for a hermit. And whilst I’m not the most gregarious person you’ll ever meet, and if I’m honest, I can happily spend long stretches content in my own company, there are times when I really just want to get out and do something a bit more exciting for a while.

Last weekend I did something I’ve never done before – something I’m very much afraid I’m going to have to do more often, something that I feel sure is going to become a guilty pleasure… I went to an auction!

Now let me be clear, we’re not talking Sotheby’s. This was a general auction at our local auctioneers. But even so, I’m hooked. There have been so many antique/junk/auction TV programmes in recent years, I suppose I may be about the only person in the country who hasn’t previously been to one, but there you go, a late adopter as usual.

So off I went to the preview day – like a car boot sale, but so much better – you get to rifle through box after box of unimaginable goodies. Amongst the things I particularly loved, were a couple of crates of old LPs, which contained all the records I once owned as a teenager, plus all the ones I could never have hoped to afford at the time. There I was, transported straight back into the 1970s – ahhh!

And another lot was a huge collection of Royal Worcester Evesham design dinner ware – OMG! Possibly hundreds of pounds worth of china, with a guide price less than £50 – my poor heart wept.

Saddest of all was the vast amount of superb Georgian brown furniture practically being given away. Fewer than twenty years ago, when the Other Half and I were setting up home, we struggled to afford a couple of odd pieces of rough Victorian pine. Now we could fill the house several times over in the most glorious, craftsmen-made furniture, for half the price we paid back then – I am soooo tempted to do it.

Anyway, the great thing about auctions, is that you have the chance to go home and think about it, rather than rush into any rash decisions. And for the time-being, I’m holding the purse-strings tight shut. But my friend who’d accompanied me to the preview was very tempted. On the day of the auction itself, she texted to say she was going to go and bid on something – and was hoping I’d go along with her to hold her hand (metaphorically speaking).

Which is where the whole exercise suddenly transformed into the biggest thrill I’ve had for ages. I can’t imagine many pursuits involving voluntarily standing around for hours in quite literally freezing sheds, that would appeal to me, but there I was – numb feet, numb hands, nose dripping and absolutely loving it.

I was amazed at the bargains to be had. It’s certainly coloured my approach to shopping for furniture and indeed for many other things too. And I guess you could call it a very sustainable activity, giving new life to otherwise unwanted items. Although I may have to be extremely cautious about taking the Other Half – I dread to think how much cr*p we might end up bringing home…

My friend won the lot she was bidding on – which added the cherry on top of an already brilliant day out.

Now I didn’t buy anything in the auction, which was fine, I was just there to watch and soak up the atmosphere, which could have made it an extremely cheap day out, however, the little in-house cafe at the auction sold the best bacon butties you can imagine – the aroma of the cooking bacon wafted through the doors in such a wicked way, and their coffee was delicious too, so, for me, it wasn’t an entirely free day out, but you could always take a flask and a sandwich if you were confident that your will-power was strong enough to withstand the bacon.

But next time, and I’m pretty sure there will be a ‘next time’ quite soon – who knows what I’ll bring home…

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And, for no reason other than the joy of posting totally unrelated pictures – here’s the Delinquent Dog doing what he does best…

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A Brief Interlude…

I don’t know what the weather is doing in your part of the world, but it’s been pretty dark and dismal around here for most of January – so far…

Which is why, when I was out with the Delinquent Dog this morning, I almost cried out loud as the sun managed to break through the cloud. I was getting ready to take my daily snap of the oak, and felt compelled to photograph the lane as the sunlight caught the tree in front of me.

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On the way back, with the sun still shining, I was struck by the incredible greens in the moss – enhanced no doubt by the drenching they’d received for the last 48 hours.

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But needless to say, it’s raining and dismal again now – with the possibility of snow overnight – well at least it would be a change!

 

 

 

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Frustrations, faffing and failures…

Today’s the day when the girls return to school and life swings back into what I laughingly call our normal routine.

We’ve been enormously lucky to be able to have the whole family together at home over the Twelve Days of Christmas, which I really adore – a kind of hibernation with chocolates and jigsaws – but now it’s time to move forward into 2015.

Over the holidays, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading the plans and ideas bloggers have for what they want to do this year. Lots of people seem to be using numbers as prompts – along the lines of ’15 things in 2015′. It sounds fun (well mostly), but long experience convinces me, I’m not a resolutions kind of girl. In fact, having read The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking – Oliver Burkeman over the holidays, I’m quite content to carry on as I am.

Which, to be honest, has been a bit of a mixed bag over the last few weeks.

Regular readers will know that I generally move straight from one stitchy piece to another, and indeed, I have been stitching all over the Christmas period. But for the first time in ages, I haven’t been able to settle into one piece. In fact, in what is a first for me, I’ve managed to start, stitch and then abandon four new pieces in the last six weeks. I’m not sure why, but nothing has quite come together in my mind and I just haven’t connected to the work.

And I can tell you, there’s nothing like failing at something slowly to give you the full benefit of the experience.

So, just in case it isn’t fifth time lucky, I’ve decided to take positive action.

I have stopped sticking the needle into the canvas and instead, I’ve thrown every ball, skein and odd straggly end of yarn I possess (yep, we’re talking a small skip load) into a huge heap, and then had a thoroughly good time sorting them all into colour families. I then tidied out the boxes and found new ways to store them. Oh yes, this girl knows how to live!

Not content with that, I’ve also had a major move around of all my arty stuff – surprising isn’t it, what you find that you’d forgotten you had – and managed to carve out a slightly bigger area to call my studio (ok, we’re not in Virginia Woolf territory here – I have to share the space with the laundry and the downstairs shower), but woe betide anyone who infringes on my self-defined arty area!

And so I move into 2015 in a more organised, decluttered and refreshed state of mind. But for the moment, I’m not going to stitch. Instead, I intend to spend a few weeks playing.

And with a bit of luck, playing will eventually lead onto something that does get the juices flowing.

So that’s where I am. Mildly frustrated, accepting a few failures and faffing my way into 2015.

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Tree Time: December…

It’s hard for me to believe that it’s nearly a full year since I started the daily tree project, but there we are, time flies and all that.

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This was the oak on Christmas Morning. It was a simply gorgeous time to be out and about. There had been a slight frost, but almost all was gone when I took the Delinquent Dog for his constitutional, instead there was an almost warm sunshine and fabulous blue sky.

But this is what Boxing Day looked like…

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Taken at the same time of day as the previous picture – just goes to show how huge an impact the weather has on the way you see things around you.

And after almost twelve months of watching that oak pass through the seasons, it’s really the weather and the changes in light each day that have held me most in thrall.

I know we’re incredibly lucky to live in a country where the weather varies so much, even if we’re famous for using it as our stock conversation line – it’s not difficult to see how it must affect us, when you realise just how many shades daylight comes in.

Over the year, I’ve learned just how ignorant I am about natural history. I’ve watched countless species of green plants emerge from the hedgerow, grow and die down, and managed to identify only a few of them. I’ve seen lots of wildlife. Squirrels top the list of animals, although rabbits have their season, and we’ve seen quite a few deer over the year too. Fox encounters have been rare, but actually my favourite, they seem almost as intrigued by us as we are by them, they stand and take us in for a few seconds, assessing us, before judging it best to run and hide. I’ve practically never managed to get the camera out in time.

Birds are even more difficult to photograph. We are in a red kite area, and from time to time, I’ve stood and watched them wheel around above the field, but my pictures are no use at all. We see lots of jays, which always give me a little thrill, it’s just that flash of colour you can’t miss. And at the moment, we seem to be seeing robins everywhere – but maybe that’s just a function of the season!

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But birds and squirrels, lovely though they are, haven’t taught me as much as the trees, hedges and plants about the passing of time. Even at the beginning of December, (2nd December above), there were still a few leaves left on the hornbeam hedge, now though, after the wind, rain and frosts, there’s not a leaf remaining.

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The 19th December and all the leaves have finally gone.

Sometimes, as we get older, we talk about how time flies, and of course there are ways in which this feels right, but having spent a year walking the same route, almost every day, stopping to look and notice what’s happening along the way, it seems to me that a year is a long time, a full and rich time, in which a whole cycle of life and death has passed, and already I’m looking out for the signs of life beginning all over again. I find that immensely reassuring and exciting too.

I haven’t quite decided what to do next year. It won’t be possible to walk past the tree and not take its picture, but I’m not sure if I’ll post them on Instagram (where, by the way, you can see almost every day’s photo from this year) and I think perhaps there should be something new here on the blog for 2015. But having amassed pictures from 2014, I’m quite keen to do it again and compare year-on-year. This, I strongly suspect, will be of far more interest to me than anyone else, and although I would one day like to be the sort of old dear who’ll tell you how late spring is this year, how the bluebells are early and how things were different in her day, I’m not quite ready to be that woman just yet.

Next month, I’ll do the January 2014 vs January 2015 post – just so we can see the full circle. I hope you’ve enjoyed the Tree Time posts, if anyone feels like doing something similar, I’d say don’t hesitate, ‘do it!’ You probably won’t learn what you thought you might, but I guarantee you’ll discover a lot of new things.

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So here it is, Merry Christmas…

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Just to wish you all a very Merry Christmas.

Today I shall be attempting not to set the turkey on fire again – yes, it’s quite a spectacular way to draw attention to yourself slaving away in the kitchen, especially when the flames from the oven almost set fire to the table…

Assuming I manage that, everything else will be a bonus.

Have a wonderful day and a happy and peaceful time.

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