Christmas seems to last forever, then New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day and now, at long last, we are back to normality. A brief reminder of December’s events must include the well-attended brass band concert in the church, mentioned in my previous blog, when the Pleasley Colliery Band put us in festive mood with their choice of music; the Women’s Institute held a very enjoyable Christmas Dinner in the Cross Keys. The church Service of Lessons and Carols was enhanced by the presence of a well-practised choir with members drawn from Oxton, Calverton and Epperstone.
Now the shortest day is well past. When the weather is reasonable we can spend an extra half hour in the afternoon on outdoor jobs. On one of these jobs I disturbed a newt. These tiny creatures resemble lizards and were once frequently found in the garden and greenhouse. Perhaps their numbers have diminished or perhaps, as an adult, I am simply further away from the ground! Whatever the reason, I was delighted to find it, also a small frog, whose numbers have certainly not diminished. I am always very reluctant to use herbicides and insecticides, finding that the balance of nature usually sorts things out, but I must admit that occasionally the weeds get out of hand – the saying “seven years seeds, seven years weeds” comes to mind!
Now is a good time to identify a number of birds, as they are easy to see in the leafless trees. The robin is always the first to tune up but there are many others already getting their brighter colours and thinking about pairing up in readiness for the nesting season. I have a new birdfeeder, a squirrel buster, that prevents squirrels from stealing the peanuts. Unfortunately the nuts in my last supply are quite large and do not fall readily into the feed ports so it could also be called a bird buster!
Several years ago a very large field owned by a local estate was made into two fields by the planting of a hedge. That hedge, although now very overgrown, is currently being turned into a stockproof and wildlife friendly hedge by the expert attention of a professional hedger. The work is very labour-intensive, and therefore costly but what a joy it will be to see the finished article.