Posts Tagged ‘traditions’


Shiny! Pandora bangles seem to be all the rage this Christmas…

This is a sudden post. And all because there was a long queue of people through the door of a shop in Cardiff the other day and I was surprised to find it was the Pandora jewellery shop. The ideal Christmas gift for young and stylish women?

Very shiny, quite expensive, needing no thought at all, or maybe too much thought, (more…)

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Rainbow skull by Chris Padgett on Flickr – click on the image to go to his page…

I like to do a post for Halloween and in previous years I have featured owls and Jack o’ lantern and Will o’ the wisp.

As a former archaeologist, I have always (more…)

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My ash trees in June…

Sing Oak, and Ash, and Thorn good sirs,
All on a midsummer’s morn.
Surely we sing of no little thing
In Oak, and Ash, and Thorn.

My back garden – my world – is full of ash trees. And I fear for them, as the threat (more…)

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Face above the door, a Cardiff side street…

This magnificent face is above all the front doors of a row of old semi-detached houses in a small Cardiff side street that I often walk along.

He intrigues me so much that (more…)

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Not just black and white - a beady-eyed magpie among the ash trees...

OK, I know it’s a bit controversial, since they snatch the eggs of smaller birds, but I really do like magpies. Some things just aren’t all black and white, you might say.

They are beautiful, big and comparatively easy to photograph, surprisingly colourful and very entertaining.

Until about six weeks ago, I used to throw away the skin of scrambled egg that sticks to the surface of my “non-stick” pan. But now I have found it is one of the magpies’ favourites!

Cold water loosens the egg, which I then scrape off with my fingernails and place in a pile, where I can see it from the kitchen window.

Usually the magpies (more…)

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Miniature daffodils in the garden, in flower in time for St David's Day

Oh how we love our daffodils, here in Wales. And especially today, March 1, St David’s Day – our national day. We have a choice – to wear a daffodil or a leek – so most people choose the daff and an easy way is to buy a charity daffodil pin from Marie Curie Cancer Care. I’ll be wearing mine.

It’s also a day when (more…)

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Blue owl by Fluro-Knife - love it, the colours are so cold and alien...

I heard a tawny owl (Strix aluco) in the garden last night, for the first time in months. It’s an eerie sound and how appropriate for this Halloween time of year.

But this post is not a nature ramble but a collection of modern images of owls – see also my posts on the art of penguins and peacocks.

In this post I will mention the goddess Athena, witches and wizards and share with you some owls depicted using various media. In most cases clicking on the image will take you to the source of the picture.

Owls are surely (more…)

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Hawthorn in flower in the garden in April 2011

It’s April and the Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) has blossomed early this year, along with many flowers in the garden. Apparently this is because of the very hard midwinter followed by a very mild spell in February and March. In April we have had glorious sunshine for most of the time.

Hawthorn is also known as “may” because it does usually come into bloom in that month and the country hedges foam with the white flowers. It is also fragrant and you can smell it through open car windows as you drive through country lanes.

But the hawthorn is not the only flower in my garden that has a frothy appearance. There seems to be a theme going on in nature at the moment – lots of tiny flowers and sometimes an unexpected and heady perfume. Here are some other delicate delights from my garden…


Delicate cow parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris) in the shade...


The Choisya ternata (Mexican orange blossom) also froths...


Green on green - little flowers of Euonymus alatus - this tree's main attraction is its autumn-red leaves...


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Nativity stained-glass window from the Church of St Mary, Swanage, Dorset...

I hope everyone out there has a lovely Christmas/Holiday/Yule.

Also a prosperous 2011 – or at least a healthy one.

If you are in the mood for looking at old churches, go to my ancestral places galleries.

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Cat and Jack o' Lantern by Robb Mommaerts


This is a swede lantern just like I used to make - click on the image to go to a Scottish 'tumshie lantern' article...

Halloween is drawing near so I thought I would look at pumpkin lanterns – and the swede lanterns I am more familiar with from my Welsh childhood. A swede? You may also know it as a Swedish turnip, yellow turnip or rutabaga.

Here in the UK there is a long tradition of making lanterns from turnips, mangelwurzels and swedes for harvest time in general, but it was the Americans who started to call them Jack o’ lanterns in 1837 and to associate them with Halloween, in 1866. Thanks Wikipedia for telling me all that.

American traditions have taken over in the UK now, not only by replacing root vegetables with jolly pumpkins, but also (more…)

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