Showing posts from December, 2012

On your marks, get set .... duck! The Bibury Duck Race, 2012

One of the highlights of the year in Bibury is the annual Boxing Day Duck Race. In practice, this takes the form of two races: the first involves plastic decoy ducks, and the second the sort of yellow rubber ducks that you put in your bath. Well, perhaps not in your bath, but you know what I mean. The river that flows through Bibury is the Coln, a typically fast flowing chalk stream. Yesterday, thanks to weeks of rain, the Coln was at its highest-ever recorded level, so the yellow rubber duck race was abandoned. There were fears that hundreds of little ducks would jam what space was left underneath the bridge, causing the river to overflow into the neighbouring cottages. The local cricket club organises the race, and by 10.30am yesterday morning, there was a long queue to sponsor the decoy ducks. For £10, you had the chance of winning £100, or a bottle of champagne or whisky. The sponsor of the winning duck could also choose which charity would benefit from the money raised.

A little light reading

When you give up your office job, as I have, you expect somehow to be restored to miraculous vigor and to have enough energy simultaneously to prune the garden and decorate the house. This doesn't happen. The removal of the routine of work, you will find, also removes the routine of rest. "I'm not doing anything," you think, "so why am I always so knackered?" It's because you are probably pottering around non-stop, and pottering - particularly if it involves unpacking and putting away, and the installation of various lights/curtains/bookshelves/bits of furniture - can be very tiring if you are doing it all day long. You need to establish a new timetable with clearly marked breaks, where you sit down with a book or watch Judge Judy or just stare into space. My own preference is to sit down with a book, because much as I love Judge Judy , I feel guilty about watching daytime television. In any case, daytime television does not, in my opinion, include eno

Comings and goings at Awkward Hill

The sweep came back to Awkward Hill on Friday, to clean the other chimney ready for the arrival of a second wood-burning stove for the study. This was a thrilling moment for me - I love seeing the brush emerge from the chimney and rushed outside like a big kid to take a picture. The new stove has made the prospect of sitting down at the computer more bearable, because for the first time since I moved in, the study seems warm and inviting. It has two outside walls, and three big windows, so it needs something a bit more radical than just one measly radiator. But like the rest of the house, now it has warmed up, it seems to retain the heat quite well. Talking of heating, the new range also arrived. This was another moment of great drama - it is cast iron, so it took quite a lot of skill and muscle to get it off the truck and into the kitchen. The range provides hot water and central heating (oil-fired) and is also what we cook on. With this model, you can have the heating an

Chill December

Chill December brings the sleet, Blazing fire and Christmas treat. (English nursery rhyme) It's the first day of December, and as if to mark the day, the weather has obliged with a thick frost and bright sunshine. I can't believe that only a few weeks ago, I viewed the cottage in the heat of a late summer day. Despite all the chores that moving house dictates - the unpacking, the fixing of shelves and changing of lights, the frequent trips to B&Q, the daily discoveries (oh, is that where that screwdriver/knife/breadbin/chair/bookcase went!) - I've managed to do a bit of sorting out in the garden.  In weather like this, it seems a crime not to be outside. I put up bird feeders yesterday, and this morning, there was a bustle of small birds who were obviously delighted by the December bonus. The tits, I find, are always the first to discover the feeders, and a robin has been taking a proprietorial interest in the proceedings, but it will be interesting to see what els