Everyone's Facebook pages (including mine) have pictures of snow today. We didn't have any last year, and I do love to see it coming down, although I am not so keen on it lying in the streets for weeks on end.
T and I haven't been out and about as much as usual, (although I've had some nice walks) because T. has managed to wrench his back. He's on the mend but he is being careful not to overdo things. Actually I've enjoyed my own forays into the cold but colourful outdoors. A week or so ago I spotted these three fellas sitting on a dead tree, cawing in turn.
Are they crows or ravens? I'm not enough of a birdwatcher to know - in fact, I think I did pretty well to spot them at all! But I hope they are ravens, because I love the "Three Ravens" folksong, written down by (appropriately enough) Thomas Ravenscroft as long ago as 1611. This performance specially appeals to me, but the band, "Black Country Three" was active in the 1960s so I don't suppose I'll find any more of their singing.
For birthdays and Christmas it's sometimes nice to have an outing - to a movie, a meal, a play, musical or opera or - well, anything really! For Christmas I got tickets for "Iolanthe" at the ENO. It has only recently opened so we finally went and saw it the other day. I love Gilbert and Sullivan, although I know it's not for everyone. Gilbert's barbed wit of the 1880s often seems eerily topical even today, and Sullivan's music is so much fun. It's ironic really because apparently the poor man always yearned to be remembered as a serious religious composer, and not the entertaining guy who gave us this...
There have been four birthdays this month, two of them the twins - I was pleased that my gift of a Spiderman umbrella went down well, as you see. The party was fun but many of the guests were just as keen to play with the twins' toys. That's one of the things I loved best at parties when I was little too - did you?
I had a lovely surprise too. It arrived in the mail from Jeanie at "The Marmelade Gypsy." one of my favourite blogs. I was a prizewinner on her Blog Anniversary giveaway, and so a week or so a beautifully packaged item arrived in the post.
Inside was a beautiful painting taken from a photo I posted from Miyajima island last year!
It is nicely mounted in brown, and now I am on the lookout for a suitable frame. Thank you so much Jeanie, it's lovely to have something so pretty and personal! To me it makes the scene seem really magical in a way that a photo never could.
The bulbs I planted last autumn have been coming up. More crocuses - and my favourite variety, "Tricolour". This was taken 3 days ago when the sun was shining and the bees were out, but I'm afraid the snow might have done for them now.
I haven't been much at the computer - we've had workmen in and everything's very dusty so the best thing has been to sit in a nearby cafe and read a bit more than usual. I've just finished Edna O'Brien's "The Little Red Chairs" - a powerful, original and remarkable book, which I found extremely difficult to read at times. It tells of what happens when an erudite and intriguing war criminal escapes to rural Ireland, and the village beauty, who longs for a baby, falls in love with him.
If you think this sounds like a pleasing (though slightly challenging) read, you'd be wrong. The relationship is glamorous and exciting in its way, and yet eventually we realise that the real story is about different sorts of exile, and that some people are exiles from the human race.
If I still wrote book reviews professionally, I'd have found it hard to produce an article about something as unusual and disturbing as "The Little Red Chairs." Although it's so well written that I couldn't put it down, I began to feel in an odd way as if I was having to read it at gunpoint, unable to stop. Alarming. Honestly.
If you'd like a proper review of it, click here and read what Julie Myerson wrote in "The Guardian."
There's been quite a bit of music in this post, and so I should say that for the first time in all my years travelling on the London Underground, I saw a man busking with a didgeridoo. It was a wonderful thing which appeared to be made out of a tree trunk.
I'd never thought I'd like didgeridoo music until I went to a concert by the virtuoso William Barton, and then I saw what this instrument can do. I was pleased to find a recording of him on Youtube so see if you agree with me that he is something special.