Thursday, 31 March 2011

March 2011

March seems to me to be the month when the Earth awakens after a Winter-long sleep. The spring bulbs bloom, the hedgerows blossom, the trees begin to leaf and the birds, butterflies and other insects are suddenly very busy. It has also seemed a busy month on the home front - first there were pancakes (and yummy chocolate sauce), I started my Florida scrapbook (spent a fortune in Hobbycraft!), watched the "super" moon in the night sky (also watched "The Wonders of the Universe" on television - brilliant series), spent time in the garden pruning the shrubs and sowing vegetable and flower seeds (it was so hot in the garden I had my shorts on in March!) and I have also started taking long daily walks as part of my keep fit regime (or should that be get fit!!).

Most days towards the end of the month have been sunny and the blackthorn blossom has been brightening the hedgerows around the village. The Wild Cherry Plum beside our garden has now blanketed the ground in "spring snow". The Pussy Willow is also in flower and adding a yellow hue to the hedges. The banks under the hedgerows are full of Primroses and also Purple and White Violets.
The village pond is absolutely full of Frog-spawn and Tadpoles in various stages of development.
Late Saturday afternoon the sun was masked by rain-laden clouds and overnight we had a good shower of rain.
On Saturday's walk I accidentally spooked this Rabbit, who dashed to the other side of the fence and then sat watching me.
I also watched this Grey Squirrel who didn't seem at all perturbed by my presence.
And finally, on the 27th of March it was National Census Day 2011.
Not a lot had changed in the past ten years, except that Fay is now an adult and working. Now that my children are teenagers I asked them for their input - it was very interesting to hear their answers. To celebrate the 2011 Census, Ancestry opened up their records for free and I spent several hours researching some more of my family tree. So far I have traced one branch of my family tree back as far as 1791 and I have sent away for some marriage and birth certificates to gain more information.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Stanley and the Perfumed Garden

Last night I completed my March Monthly Make 2011. Annie, at The Felt Fairy, very kindly shared Cath Kidston's Stanley pattern as part of this month's challenge and this is my Stanley.
As soon as he started taking shape my husband named him Gaspode!!
So, to counteract this I put Stanley in touch with his feminine side and made a flowers and pearls collar for him. :) I have really enjoyed making him - "Thank you Annie".
Craft-wise I have also completed six pages of my Florida scrapbook. Here are two of the double page spreads depicting our day at Discovery Cove - An unforgettable day.
Yesterday afternoon I picked this heavily-scented bouquet of daffodils and narcissus from our older allotment and they are looking and smelling heavenly on our dining-table.
The front garden is being sweetly-scented by the Wild Cherry Plum
and the Purple-leaved Plum.
Whilst the back garden is being perfumed by the Hyacinths.
The Peacock and Brimstone Butterflies have been feeding off the Blue Hyacinths this week, but have flown away each time I reach for my camera!
I have never known the garden to smell so gorgeous at this time of year, it has simply been amazing. :)
Even Maurice was tempted outside to roll on the lawn in the sunshine.
Each time I go into the garden Ella accompanies me, but the rest of the time she is snuggled up in her basket, even wrapping herself up in her blanket with her mouse. :)
So sweet.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

A Trip to Winchester

Saturday's spring sunshine lured us out, in the afternoon, to Winchester for a mixture of shopping and sight-seeing. View of the High Street through the West Gate.

Unfortunately the West Gate wasn't open so we couldn't enjoy the views from the roof top. Instead we explored the Castle Passageways, or Sally Port and The Great Hall, the only two parts of the 13th century castle that are still intact. A castle has stood on this site since the time of William the Conqueror (1066 - 1087). The Great Hall that remains today was built around 1222 - 1235. More history about the Great Hall can be found here.
The Round Table dates from between 1250 and 1280 and was painted in its present form for King Henry VIII. It is inscribed " This is the round table of Arthur with 24 of his named knights". It is 18 feet in diameter, weighs one ton and four hundredweight and is made from 121 pieces of oak. The Great Hall has also been used as a court and Sir Walter Raleigh was tried and sentenced to death here in 1603. Despite a guilty verdict, King James spared Raleigh's life and imprisoned him in the Tower of London until 1616. More info can be found here. The main windows of The Great Hall date from the second half of the 14th century and depict the arms of famous people and portraits of Kings associated with Hampshire. These photos are of just two of the main windows.
The 19th century painting on this wall shows the names of Hampshire members of Parliament from 1283 - 1886.
These stainless steel gates were built by Anthony Robinson to commemorate the marriage of the Prince of Wales to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981. The wall, originally the outer wall of the castle, is 10 feet thick.
A close-up of the wall paintings.

Our visit was particularly atmospheric due to an event being held in The Great Hall. The Forty Part Motet by Janet Cardiff was being played. It is a recording of forty separate voices, played back through forty individual speakers, singing "Spem in Alium" by Thomas Tallis. It is sung by Salisbury Cathedral Choir. Here is a snippet, please excuse the poor quality of the video.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Clear Skies

The sunny days have encouraged the blossom to burst on the trees. This is our Purple-leaved Plum in the front garden. The Wild Cherry Plum and the Blackthorn in the hedgerows are also blossoming and turning the roadsides white.
Clear skies also meant that we had a good view of the full moon last night, which was a super perigee moon, the largest in 20 years. This time (after my shaky ISS photo!) I used a tripod and played with the camera settings.
The moon looked bigger and brighter than usual (14% larger and 30% brighter according to NASA), as it reached its closest possible orbit around the Earth of approximately 212K miles away, which won't happen again until 2029.
This shot was taken beside the Wild Cherry Plum near our front garden.
I also managed a good photo of the constellation of Orion.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Spring ...

... has sprung on my little patch of England. We may still be a few days away from the spring equinox, but the flowers are heralding the beginning of spring.
The Purple-leaved Plum is in bud and the first few blossoms are opening.
There are still some Snowdrops gracing the garden with their elegance.
Vibrant Pansies turn their faces to the sun.
Delicate Primroses gaze out from shady corners.
Golden hued Narcissus brighten up the garden again.
Spring Snowflakes dance in the breeze.
Hyacinths are beginning to scent the garden.
And the newly planted Forsythia "Lynwood" blooms beside the back fence.
Spring has definitely arrived here and it makes me very happy. :)

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Scrapbooking Florida

Our next outing was a day at the beach. We had a relaxing day at Indian Rocks, Clearwater where we had our first sighting of pelicans. There were quite a few crabs swimming in the seaweed and I squeaked when one tried to grab the ties on my bikini bottoms!! :)
My son enjoyed playing the clown, as always and paraded around with seaweed for hair. This was also the day he tried out his new skim board and fell off!

These next two pages are from the front of my scrapbook. I'm not too happy with them and may tweak them a little. The first photo is of my children in the V Room at Gatwick. This page also contains interior shots of our holiday home and our return tickets and a luggage holder.
This page shows our holiday home and hire car and the Mickey Mouse pylon that we frequently passed on our way to Orlando.
I have already tweaked this page since taking the photo!
Next I will be scraping our day at Discovery Cove.