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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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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.