Friday, 21 December 2012

Winter Solstice

Today is officially the shortest day of the year. The day when darkness lingers like a last guest reluctant to leave after a party, and daylight slides in, almost shyly. Sun slanting at low angles through tree trunks and around building corners. 
I awoke in these first hours of tentative light, the sky, paling to grey. Smudged pastel colours forming and fading as the light intensified. Birds and birdsong were everywhere, a soundtrack to the dawning day. By mid afternoon the darkness will return, darkening the sky and enveloping all in cold wintry blackness, but tomorrow, the dawn will arrive imperceptibly earlier and dusk will be slower to follow. The hours of daylight with slowly stretch through the icy fog-filled winter and warming greening spring until we reach the endless days of summer where skylarks hang on a parachute of song over fields of waving corn, and dainty butterflies dance beneath our feet.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Christmas in Winchester

 So far this year I had been slow finding my 'Christmas-y spirit' and December appeared to creep up in my diary quicker than anticipated.

Leaving work on Friday I wandered through the lanes of Midhurst to the market square where shops had stayed open late and music and revellers filled the streets, bright colourful lights spilled across the cobbles, laughter and communal joy tumbled through the air.  The air was cold and crisp, gloves hats and scarves an absolute must to keep fingers and noses from freezing.
On Saturday evening as I drove home, again from work, Petworth streets were beautiful under the glow of colourful Christmas lighting beneath a star filled night sky. Shop windows are decorated with fake snow and filled with piles of carefully wrapped cardboard-box-presents, candy-canes and signs to the north pole or inviting a passing Santa to 'stop here'.

Winchester is always a fabulous city to visit during the festive season, full of street music and light and inspiration. This weekend it was the December Farmers market and stalls overflowed with cakes and bread, mince pies and mulled wine, seasonal vegetables, pies and joints for roasting and fish laid out on trays of ice. Jams and chutneys jostled for space with ciders and wines, Christmas puddings and local produce. The colourful displays were too tempting for any photographer and my camera was soon sapping away, capturing the delights of fresh seasonal food produced displayed and sold with love and passion.

There is now a small Christmas tree sitting patiently outside my back door and presents in need to wrapping. family have been invited and arrangements are being made. Everywhere you go, in the air there is a definite hint of festive cheer.


Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Essence of Pine

December, the mornings are cold and heavy with frost, gloved hands scrape ice from car windscreens and each breath turns to a cloud of fog in the still air. At midday yesterday the sun was low and golden, slanting through the woodland to sparkle off cobweb and light up the forest floor with colours like a faded photograph; a memory of autumn past. Lichens of grey and rust coat the bark of oak and birch, emerald mounds and tufts of shaggy moss snuggle in crevices at the foot of the trees and high, high above, the dusty worn green of the pine branches brush against a brilliant blue sky. In the smell in the air and the crunch beneath my feet, the shadows on the rough bark and light between the trunks, all around me is essence of pine.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Jubilee Orchard - a community project

Friday 23rd November. Planting day!
This time last year the local Rotary Club had an idea. they wanted to plant a tree, or some trees to mark the Queen's Jubilee in 2012. through discussions with interested people including the Cichichester District Council, the idea developed and the result was a fantastic community project; A Community Orchard. in total 35 trees were sponsored by a variety of individuals, businesses and organisations in the Midhurst area.  The trees themselves were donated by Rotherhill Nurseries who also provided planting and care advice. Apples, pears, plums and cherries all featured in the 35. 
Throughout the week wet day followed wet day, the skies seemed to get ever darker as rain fell persistently and gales raked through the tree tops, howling round the sides of buildings where people eyed the weather forecasters on TV with gloomy disdain. 
At last the planting day arrived and with it, the clouds parted and sunshine was greeted with relieved smiles and happy banter as the volunteer hole diggers got to work. The day remained fine and the afternoon saw tree sponsors and other local folk alike smiling with satisfaction at the new orchard that now graces Jubilee Path, nr South Pond and Taylors Field, Midhurst. Imaginations were filled with images of pretty blossom and ripening fruit in the year to come. The fruit will be free for anyone to pick, the orchard is a place for the community to enjoy, its been described as 'a gift for life'.