Though Christmas is the dominating theme at this time of year the regular jobs still have to be attended to. The word “prioritize” comes to mind and is currently much in use. As the weather gets colder the birds get hungrier. Feeders need filling daily. Peanuts are going down fast. I think the squirrel population has increased this year. They, too, love peanuts but when I tried to obtain a squirrel-proof feeder I found they had sold out everywhere. Memo; one for the Christmas list. Goldfinches provide a welcome spot of colour on a dull day. They, too, have developed a liking for peanuts and perch on the feeder when the niger perches are all occupied. Taking an early evening walk recently I was fortunate to see a barn owl on top of a stack of straw bales. I hope it has taken up residence here. On the same evening I heard the unmistakable sound of a skein of geese. The evening was misty and they were flying quite low, probably looking for a good place to land.
Last month I said that we were raking leaves out of the pond while the level was low. More have since fallen but we have had a fair amount of rain since then and the level has risen so no chance of moving them now. We did, however, manage to remove the willow stump I spoke of so it is easier to work there
Most villages in the area held special services of commemoration on the 100th anniversary of the ending of World War One. Poppy displays were spectacular. Epperstone was no exception. Many villagers attended the short service at the foot of the church steps; the wreath was placed, the names were read out of those who did not return from two World Wars and the Last Post and Reveille were played. It was a moving ceremony. After standing in the cold wind an invitation from the publican of The Cross Keys to call in for tea, coffee and bacon baps was an unexpected and welcome warm-up.
As Christmas approaches Craft Fairs become popular. Patchings Art Centre held their annual Craft Fair selling handmade gifts of all descriptions. Fund raising events help to pass the long winter evenings; half the proceeds from the Quiz Night, held in the Village Hall, went to The Lily Foundation, the charity which helps to fight mitochondrial disease; the other half going to the Church of the Holy Cross. Plenty of audience participation helped to produce a really Christmas atmosphere in the church when Pleasley Colliery Welfare Band came with their Advent and Christmas Concert. The excellent canapes and the glass of wine served in the interval helped too, of course.