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A Walk in the Park – Attingham Park December

We made our monthly visit to Attingham Park, our last one for 2017, just as Christmas was making itself known at this National Trust property. Before we even reached the coffee shop for our usual warm drink to get us fueled up for our walk, we had been met by a snowman, a Christmas tree and we were entertained to some 1940’s music and dancing. The hall was decorated in a 1940’s style so the dancing set the scene.

 

The trees were decorated with wartime decorations, based on the idea of “make and make do”, as were the decorations in the coffee shop, where paper chains were made from newspaper. The trees were themed with one based on children’s games from the 1940’s and another was book based.

 

We came across a few other Snowmen, as we followed the one-mile trail, to amuse us on this chilly day. I managed to get around this month without my wheelchair as my recovery from leg surgery is coming along nicely. I walked the mile using a crutch which was very pleasing and rewarding!

      

Wandering through the woodland areas beneath tall mature trees, we noticed that a few browned leaves were managing to hang on to the branches but the majority were bare skeletons. These frameworks of trunks, branches and twigs were magnificent with no green leaves to hide their structure.

   

New buds were already waiting patiently on some branches anticipating spring far off on the horizon, while on other neighbouring trees a few dried leaves hung on. One patch of trees still showed some green in its canopy. A few old seed pods hung on having defied the storms, rains and gales of autumn, seed heads of trees, shrubs and perennial plants.

 

  

We wandered around the walled garden now virtually clear of crops, leaving hazel pole structures bare of the bean plants that once adorned them. The volunteer staff here are adept at creating beautiful and original plant structures.

   

A green flowered cauliflower had recently been attacked by frost, so had browned a little. Celeriac though recently cropped awaited storage.

 

The gardeners’ bothy was simply decorated but full of atmosphere, added to by the gardeners and volunteers enjoying their break so the aroma of freshly brewed coffee mingled with the smell of wood smoke.

Whatever time of year you explore the countryside, parkland or even more so a garden, there are always surprises awaiting. An out of season flower, a bud bursting at an inappropriate time or sadly at times the sudden death of a favourite plant. Two surprises were awaiting us at Attingham this December. First were lemon yellow catkins hanging fresh and healthily from hazel shrubs. These are usually key features of the month of February. In December they provided a beautiful diversion for me and my camera lens!

The second surprise was a Rhododendron shrub in flower!

  

Now that we have explored the parkland at Attingham Park every month during 2017, we need to decide where our monthly visit will be next year. We need somewhere open all year and of interest every month too. We shall let you know in the new year! I hope you have enjoyed visiting Attingham with us each month during 2017.

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Christmas traditions Uncategorized

Our Christmas Traditions

Recently, Judy wrote on her blog, newenglandgardenandthread.wordpress.com, about their family traditions at Christmas time. Check out her post to read her words. She suggests other bloggers post about their family traditions too, so here is a summary of my family’s Christmas traditions.

Firstly we have to have a real green tree, no artificial ones allowed by request of the guests who descend on our home every Christmas Eve. We have three generations celebrating every year but this year we gain a fourth, Jude and I of course, Jude’s mother Sheila, our children Jamie and Jo and their spouses Sam and Rob, and this year a little one year old joins us, our granddaughter Arabella (the fourth generation). We have to decorate the tree before they arrive and place presents beneath and around it.

Christmas Eve means a family evening meal, with log burner and open fire lit and glowing nicely. We all intend to go to bed early and inevitably fail especially Jude and I. Jude has to be Father Christmas later when the house goes quiet – she has to drop off “Christmas Stockings” for everyone outside their bedroom doors. Aren’t we strange!

Chrsitmas Day is a day of chaos and feasting, from the first brew of tea to wake us up through the all too big feast, Christmas dinner itself and regular snacking of sweet or chocolate items throughout. Presents are unwrapped in the morning after a traditional English breakfast and mugs of coffee. Friends and family are contacted during the day to thank them for presents and cards and to wish them a Happy Christmas.

A good doze is the order of the day once the feast has been demolished. The day ends with an evening when the family play board games, eating chocolates until we collapse and retire to our beds.

The day after is Boxing Day, a day of relaxation and walks for those fit enough. It feels very quiet and calm!

So that is it – our traditions of Christmas Day.

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allotments community gardening Shrewsbury Shropshire winter gardens

Celebrating Winter – Part Two

Welcome back to part two of my Winter Celebration post. Our celebrations are a good illustration of true community spirit and show how people with a common purpose, in this case allotment gardening, can come together in friendship.

We return to our allotment community garden Winter Celebration as the light fades. The children share their Christmas excitement by playing games organised by Liz one of our committee members and ably helped out by fellow committee member Anne.

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First up was a game of “Pin the red nose on Rudolf” which proved a difficult challenge!

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Races followed which were accompanied with loud laughter and shrieks of delight!

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But things didn’t always go according to plan!

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Little Edward was amused and amazed by it all.

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The BBQ was soon  glowing and the fire pit  beginning to show flames.

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All the lanterns and candles were lit alongside the main grass pathway. They looked great!   At times the air was full of smoke from the BBQ and fire pit. The willow decoration making went on under artificial lighting.

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Muffins and crumpets were toasted on the glowing embers of the BBQ and spread with butter and home made jams, brought in by the committee.

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Little Ella carried her own lights around with her. She glowed wherever she went. We finished the day of celebration by taking a wander around the site by candle light carrying our lanterns and torches and enjoying seeing the decorated sheds in the dark. Ella and her red lights led the way.

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To finish my pair of posts about our Winter Celebration I will leave you with two photos, the first shows our tree with our lanterns down the central pathway and the second the dying embers of the fire pit as we lock up to go home.

 

 

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The day after we returned to complete the tidying up. At every one of our seasonal celebrations we finish late and we are always too tired to get all the tidying up completed so back we go the following morning. Jude and I arrived to find that other committee members had already got plenty done. We had to use wheelbarrows to collect up the lanterns and jam jars which held the candles, as we had so many.

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allotments community gardening Shropshire Winter Gardening

Celebrating Winter – Part One

This is the first of my special posts for Christmas. Part two will arrive in your inbox on Christmas Day.

Our Winter Celebration at our allotment community garden was a true winter wonder! We celebrate each season on the allotments when we get together as a community. We have children’s activities and games, and seasonal family activities as well as some sort of barbeque.

We have a close relationship with a local nursery called Love Plants and they often help us by donating plants when we create new gardens. For our Winter Celebration they donated a fine specimen of a Nordman Fir. We thought it would be fun if everyone who came to the celebrations brought along a tree decoration and added it. It was hard to imagine how it would turn out. We collected it wrapped in netting and fitted into a heavy log.

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Our celebrations began at 2:00 and as visitors arrived they added their tree decorations to our Nordman Fir.

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By the time darkness fell the tree was well covered and looking mighty bright. One member even added a string of lights to the tree, so when it got dark the tree glowed beautifully.

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As well as a Christmas Tree we also had a Tree of Wishes and Memories. We provided parcel lables on which members and visitors could write down their thoughts for Christmas and the New Year, expressing their wishes and writing down their memories. The photo shows Pete tying his on.

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As with all our seasonal celebrations our Tea Committee set up shop with the help of a generator, a tea urn, camping gas cookers and lots more. Being cold,  they planned to serve tea, coffee and hot chocolate drinks at. The committee members brought in home made soups to be shared. With allotments to produce the ingredients the soups just had to be tasty. They were wonderful! The photos below show Wendy starting to set out the tea shop and Michael getting the generators started.

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Our friend and fellow plot holder Sherlie, a retired florist planned to show visitors how to create Christmas decorations from willow and other natural materials. Before members arrived she set up a display of her work and gathered materials.

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Once proceedings got under way lots of people were tempted to have a go.

 

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At our Autumn Celebrations we challenged members to decorate their sheds for a “Spooky Shed” competition. For our Winter Celebrations the challenge was to create sheds dressed for Christmas. The results were amazingly creative and original. In the couple of hours leading up to our celebrations members got creative with their sheds.

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Here are a few shots of the sheds including the winning ones.

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One family even decided to wrap their shed up as one massive present!

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Christmas Greetings appeared everywhere, on plots, on sheds and alongside paths and lanterns and lights adorned many plots.

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Jude organised an activity for adults and children alike, making bird cakes to keep the birds well-fed over the winter. Lots of people joined in and got very sticky hands. The allotment birds are going to be very well fed this winter!

 

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We had a BBQ all ready to go and a fire pit ready to be lit when darkness fell. Here are Michael and Ian relaxing as they wait to light up the fire pit. We shall pick up the story of our day of celebrations in part two.

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