Today I had a lovely trip out to the Chestnut Centre with Ian, Dad, Bryony and Mark. As usual the highlight was Manoki the giant otter. Until a couple of weeks ago he was the only one of his species in the UK, but his potential future mate Penumbi is now in quarantine in the New Forest and should be joining him in May.
I look forward to meeting Penumbi in the near future.
After leaving Ian's grandparents house in Millom we took a trip to the church in Bootle, Cumbria where his parents got married. Bootle is the nearest village to Seaton Hall, formerly owned by Ian's family on his grandfather's side. Consequently a number of Ian's relatives are buried in the churchyard.
This is the gravestone of Ian's great uncle Harry, beekeeper at Seaton Hall.
Ian, William and I are in the North at present, visiting family for Christmas. Much of our time has been spent in Formby and on the 23rd we took our traditional Christmas trip to the pine woods / sand dunes.
Sadly the red squirrel population has declined dramatically due to a virus and for the first time in my life I didn't see a single squirrel.
In Formby the Rotary Club collects money each year by taking the 'carol wagon' round the streets in the run up to Christmas. The carol wagon consists of a caravan or truck pulled by a tractor, covered with Christmas lights with an open end in which father christmas sits. As a child I would listen out for the carols playing and watch from the bedroom window.
I'm not sure if something similar occurs in York, but if it does it never went down my street. I'm pleased to say that our road is on the annual route of the Exeter 'Christmas float'.
Of all the people we know that get a live Christmas tree each year we always seem to be the first to get a tree. This is because we have yet to spend Christmas at home (in Exeter), so we get the tree early with the aim of enjoying it as much as possible before we head up North for the actual Christmas holidays.
This year was no exception and we headed out on Tuesday (after Pete kindly cancelled the weekly lab meeting). When we left it was sunny, but upon arrival at the nursery it was pouring with rain. Luckily we had decided to try getting the tree somewhere different this year - St Bridget Nursery http://www.stbridgetnurseries.co.uk/ in the hope that it would be cheaper than otter nurseries. It turned out to be just as expensive, but they were kind enough to have all their trees in the shelter out of the rain, which saved us a tree-drying-off period.
We opted for a nordmann fir. Actually I'm not sure that they had any other species. We were so busy trying to find one of the right height that I didn't notice if some were noble and others nordmann. We got a tree that was too tall for the lounge, but chopped off the top foot. I really like that it has some strong branches at the top as it means the decorations go all the way to the ceiling.
We had wanted to put the tree in the bay window as we did last year, but with the new shelving on the wall it became difficult to fit the sofas in with the tv in its usual place. Still, we've done our bit for the street with our reindiator.
Over the years I've bought and been given some lovely decorations. I shall blog about some of my favourites very soon.
Yes I did spell that right! We bought our reindiator last year, but it being close to Christmas when we got him we didn't manage to put him up outside the house. Instead he lived at the end of the bed throughout December, next to the radiator. Ian kept getting tongue-tied when trying to say reindeer and the name reindiator stuck.
This year we made sure that we were ready for him. Ian installed an outdoor power socket at the weekend and this evening we put him up. As I turned on the lights a little boy walking down the street with his mother went "oooooooooo". A wonderful first reaction.
The reindiator is very curious and is constantly turning his head to see up and down the street.
I was going to blog about this last night, but luckily I had already packed my laptop ready to come to the office today (monday being the day I pop in for a meeting or two). Last night I was not in a good mood (to put it mildly).
Last year we got a plumber in to fit out new bath, toilet and wash basin. Less than 6 months later the bath tap fell became loose and a few weeks ago it fell off entirely. This would be alright if they were the kind that you could fix from above, but it required pulling out the bath to get at and we didn't manage to put it back on. That and the fact that we haven't had a shower for a year prompted us to get in another plumber to fit the shower and fix the tap. We weren't too impressed with the last plumber so decided to go with a different company. The plumber arrived on Friday, told us the other plumber had made a complete hash of fitting the taps and then proceeded to promptly fix everything. We were very impressed with his speed and efficiency. 2 days later an entire bathfull of water flowed through the floorboards and into the dining room, coming through the light fitting and above the window. When we took the bath panel off we found that the pipe that the water is supposed to drain into had completely come away from the pipe attached to the plug. Now admittedly he could not have left it in such a ridiculous state because we have used the bath since he left, but he cannot have checked that it was fitted properly before he left. Unfortunately it appears that there was little holding these two pipes together in the first place. So... is it hte fault of the plumber who came a year ago and didn't attach the two pipes together properly or the fault of the plumber who came last week and dislodged the pipes when he moved the bath? Luckily the damage was minimal - being only to the wallpaper and carpet which we intend to replace next year anyway. Had it not been, whose insurance should it have come out of and who should we get to fix the two pipes together?
Both ponds iced over completely for the first time this morning. I was surprised how quickly it happened given the size of the large pond - I thought we would have a day or two with a thin surface of ice first, but this was quite thick. Unfortunately I didn't get a photo in the rush before work, but will do so next time it happens.