Thursday, 29 December 2011

A short walk to the top of Little Staple Tor on a windy day.

 We managed a short walk after Christmas - before the awful wind and rain that we have now, set in. Staple Tor is a favourite, as it is close to home and it is a very short, easy walk. It takes you up to 420 metres above sea level and you can see the coast from the top.

The view from the top is always worth the walk.
 The ponies were already tucked into the rocks at the top, sheltering from the cold winds. It was as if they had been stabled there.
The Lakeland has a quick chat with the ponies.
A bad hair day!
On a clear day, there is a view to be enjoyed everywhere you look.

And The Curate probably forgot to look because he was playing with his new Christmas present - a GPS.
Where am I?

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Christmas Malaise

I do notice some strange things as I am sitting enjoying a cup of tea after a lovely Christmas. I am surprised by the rather forlorn expression on Father Christmas, as he sits on the marzipan log, on top of the uneaten Christmas cake. He looks completely worn out by all this Christmas stuff!
 The Christmas tree is looking a bit bedraggled too. The Curate had to fix the lights after the tree had been decorated. So he redecorated himself. The end result was a rather random effort but we didn't notice (until now!). We struggled to find a space for the Christmas tree this year. In the end it is squeezed in by a radiator so we had to use my black Christmas tree and not have the traditional tree at all. 

We have to make a lot of compromises living in this house. Most of our decorations were stored in the attic and when I went to fetch them - we found that the attic was dripping with condensation and everything that was stored there, was either mouldy or damp. The Curate discovered this was due to a lack of roof vents. These have now been delivered and we are living around the boxes until they are fitted. How I am longing to be settled into a permanent house - but it probably won't be by next Christmas.

 For now, we are making the best of where we are but it will be a very tight squeeze if eldest son comes back next year and we are still here. (- I must stop dwelling on problems that don't exist.) 
  I notice my elderly Lakeland sitting under the Christmas tree. What a picture! We are amazed how well she is and how much she enjoys walking on the moor with us, despite being nearly fifteen years old. 

Then I see her feet!
 Oh well! 
It has been a lovely Christmas. The Curate has not been too busy - he helped out with the Midnight service and then he took the 9.30 service over in our nearby rural parish. Youngest son and his girl friend were there to meet us when we got back from the midnight service, having landed at Heathrow at 8 pm.They were dressed in Moroccan attire and had had a fantastic holiday, surfing and sunbathing. Just what they needed, for they have both worked very hard in their new jobs.  They were up and came to church with me in the morning - so a great start to the day.
Parcels from under the tree are now unwrapped and I see they have been replaced by a pair of Moroccan slippers that are proudly owned by The Curate. And I can also see a pair of felt slippers that must have been left behind by a very large elf !

Monday, 26 December 2011

Boxing Day Hunt

The drag is prepared and, when ready, a trail is laid for the hounds to follow.
The newspapers tell us that over 300 hunts will meet today. Hunts have traditionally met on Boxing Day ( the day after Christmas Day) and large numbers of supporters gather to see them. In previous years these meets would have attracted protesters ( and some still do ) but since the ban on hunting with dogs, these hunts now 'hunt' by following a trail. It is still a very contentious subject as there are many grey areas to this piece of legislation and it is proving difficult to enforce. Cruelty to animals can never be condoned but, by banning hunting, there is the possibility that other forms of pest control will be adopted that are more cruel and unregulated  For now, the sight of the hunt gathering and then riding off across the moor is quite a spectacle.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Christmas Day 2011

The Nativity depicted in the stained glass window of a local church.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas Eve - a day of waiting expectantly

This time last year, The Curate and I were living on the North Coast. We had snow, lots of snow and ice.  On Christmas Eve we also received the telephone call that started the beginning of our move to our present parish - what a long time ago that seems! 
An angel from a local church
It's Christmas Eve and I am waiting: 

* For the turkey to defrost.

* For the mince pies to cook.

* For The Curate to finish his sermon.

* For the last parcels to be delivered.

* For youngest son and girlfriend to land at Heathrow from Morocco.

* For eldest son to ring us from Australia to exchange Christmas greetings twelve hours early.

An angel from a local church

* For the midnight service to begin.

* For the solo singing of  'Once in Royal David's city'. 

* For the shiver of anticipation as the final Advent candle is lit.

 * For the stillness that fills the church when the Gospel is read and we can hear the Christmas story once again.

* For the cheerfully robust singing of carols that seems to always occur at midnight.

* To celebrate the birth of Jesus - Emmanuel - God with us.

Happy Christmas

Christmas Eve market

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

The Nativity Play

The vicar never misses an opportunity to perform.
The season of church and school nativity plays is in full force. Each one I watch offers secondary scenes to the main story (- if you happen to catch them). The shepherds, tired of waiting, compete to get their crooks higher into the air. And I  just wait for one to come toppling down on an unsuspecting sheep.

 Then there is the angel who spends the whole of the play gazing at the older angel's halo, which happens to be raised up on a piece of wire. What is she thinking? 'I want one of those' or 'What's that above her head?' or 'Why's she got a TV aerial on her head?'
a little halo jealousy

Of course, I can't publish photographs of these moments, so quick, amateur pen sketches help to fix them in my mind. They provided the inspiration for the following verse written in fun (and of no great literary merit), some years ago.

some boys just don't like dresses

The Nativity

 The school hall was quite overflowing
 For the Christmas play was now showing.
There were Mums, Dads and Grans,
And babies in prams
And the faces of children were glowing

 As the lighting went dim,
The actors crept in,
Shepherds, sheep and a star,
Three kings from afar.
The play was about to begin! 

It was very well planned,
They knew where to stand.
Each king and his page
Marched onto the stage.
In their purple and gold, they looked grand.

One shepherd had enough of the staring,
And lifted his shift, without caring.
For the rest of the play
He remained in this way
And we admired the red pants he was wearing!

Monday, 19 December 2011

The Model Curate!!!

Could The Curate be searching for a new career?! Click on the ultimate clergy cape and see if you can spot him!!! 
Running from the spotlight?
It does rain a lot in Devon and The Curate risks getting very wet at any outdoor event. Ever the creative thinker and ex-service man, he decided to research bandsman's capes and found a waterproof cape that was exactly what he needed from this Scottish firm (Scotland can also be a very wet place I'm told). 

...........I'm not sure about the new career - we had to take a lot of photographs to find some that could be used! 

Friday, 16 December 2011

No 'proper' snow on Dartmoor...yet.

We went looking for snow this morning. The weatherman had suggested that snow might fall on the higher moor so, as it was our day off, we went to see if it had. The skies certainly looked threatening enough for snow as we drove up towards Princetown. When the sun cut through the dense cloud, the countryside was startlingly vibrant with the light reflecting off the sodden ground and wet rock faces.
We had to get quite high before we saw some distant snow. Dartmoor prison in Princetown, looked bleaker than ever with its dusting of snow.
Even North Hessary TV mast, which stands above Princetown (1673 ft above sea level), didn't have much snow.
No snow here, just a covering of icy hail stones.
Then we saw the hail showers coming towards us, so dense that the bright sunlight was blotted out. The hail stones were flung with such force in the wind, that they stung any exposed skin.
Time to retreat to the car and head home. We were a little too keen to try out the sledges that had  been delivered in the post this morning. They would have to stay in the back of the car for another day.