Archives for the month of: December, 2010

I tried out my new lens today, the last day of the year.

A rose hip that looks like a squid,

a rose hip that looks like a spider,

and a picture of my daughter on her way to take in the horses:

A happy New Year!

For Christmas I got a macro lens.  I’ve wanted one for about three years to take pictures of snails.  The other day I read something by a translator who thought it was important to translate technical language literally.  Here is an example of why that’s wrong:

Boxing Day, and every branch and twig is outlined in white.  The goathouse has goaty decorations processing along the top of its fence.

(You can see Vesla looking out of her window.)

(For some reason, this ghost in the snow on the driveway reminded me of Julia’s non-functioning stepladder.)

The living-room heating is switched off because of the Christmas tree.  Until I light the stove in the morning, it’s chilly in there.

There are crystals on the dichroic glass samples:

But last night it was warm,

with candles all round the room.

I remember the name Candlemas from my childhood; it must have been in my school calendar, which was full of mysterious dates that were routinely ignored by everyone.  I don’t know where the candles come in; it’s a celebration also known as The Presentation of Christ in the Temple.  There are only two candles in this depiction, made by Hans Holbein’s father:

Hans Holbein’s father was also called Hans Holbein; they had very few names in those days.

Candlemas isn’t at Christmas, but in early spring.  It’s somehow  linked to Groundhog Day — though the shadow of the groundhog is projected by the Sun, not by candles, otherwise the result would be the same every year.

Queen Elizabeth II poses for a photo during the recording of her Christmas day speech

According to today’s Guardian, our sports-mad monarch’s Christmas broadcast “will focus on how games and exercise can positively give people distance from their dreary little lives”.  Early in the new year Buckingham Palace will issue the queen’s personal exercise video, which includes tips on how to glow with a greyish-white aura.

The obvious choice for a new monarch or head of state — assuming nobody except me wants a goat — is John Cleese.  He’ll have to get rid of the moustache, but he’s very tall and he knows how to deal with foreigners.

Nowadays, the landscape is mostly in black and white.  This is the view from the kitchen:

Snow on the trees is the only difference between bleakness and winner wonnerland.  It doesn’t happen often enough that I get used to it.  There was a beautiful white scene early the other day caused by freezing fog.  It was all gone by lunchtime.

I love the squiggles, life imitating abstract expressionism:

The lake is frozen now.  It took a few weeks.

There’s a little bit of colour indoors.

Here is what our living room looks like from the outside:


Slapping the paper on inflated balloons, they learn these techniques at school nowadays.  This papier maché rendering of our dog Topsy was made by my daughter a couple of years ago.

The goats haven’t been outside since it got so cold.

Today, I thought they might want to stretch their legs, and I let them out, Vesla first.  Holly looked a little bit unsure of what to do…

Then she remembered that she could always butt Vesla.

Vesla had plans,

and led them out into the garden.

Where there wasn’t anything to do except nibble tiny rosebuds in the wind.

They very soon wanted to come back inside, which is exactly what I was hoping.

They’ve got it quite cosy now.  You can’t see, but there’s lots of straw on the ground which gives off heat as it composts.  For the first time, this year they’ve got a heat lamp.  I’m so glad we didn’t shear them in October.


It’s been hovering around -13 C  (8.6 F) for some days now.  We have electric radiators, but below you see the main source of our heating during the day; it’s a cast-iron wood stove located in the centre of the house. Jolly effective it is too.  That’s a brass parrot on top.  (The candleholders on either side are pewter copies of an 18th century original, that I bought at the Met in New York; the plates give a flickering reflection of the candle flame.)

All the south-facing windows in the living room currently have frozen condensation on them.  We should probably put in insulated glass, but we like it the way it is: warped old panes of glass that very slightly distort the image of the outside.  You can’t buy them any longer; nobody wants distorted images of the outside world except us, apparently.

I’m  going to cut back the roses in the spring.  In the meantime, they’re one of the few green things left outside.

This is how it is outside;  quite pleasant to look at, but bitterly cold when there’s a wind.