The great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn only occurs once every 20 years. Advent Day 25 Christmas Day 2020 However in this cycle it is even rarer for them to get super close in what is called a great conjunction and it happened on the 22nd Dec 2020. So just three days ago. It is…

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Angel Memorials

Angel memorials are possibly one of the most common sculptures captured in stone, ceramics or glass. Advent Day 24 Angel memorials probably stand out as the most prominent memorials as any walk through the great Victorian cemeteries will reveal. There are numerous angels, bowing or standing over the graves of loved ones. In our church…

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Female reindeer

Doe a deer, a female deer, a Christmas deer. Advent Day 23 Why do we associate reindeer, the Christmas deer, with festivals at this time of year? Long before Christianity and Christmas, the mother of the forest and the northern Winter lands, drew a sleigh across the sky. She was the female reindeer and she…

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The gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Advent Day 22 The gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh that the magi presented to baby Jesus have been part of the Christmas story for hundreds of years. The kings or wise men make an appearance in the Book of Matthew but little is known about them. It…

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The Winter Solstice and the return of the sun. Advent Day 21 The Winter Solstice was such a significant moment for our ancestors and no wonder. Imagine living in a time when the Winter earth is frozen and there are no crops in the ground. The trees and hedgerows are bare of fruit and nuts…

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Sweet Chestnut Tree

The Sweet Chestnut Tree. Advent Day 19 The Sweet Chestnut tree is one of the most beautiful trees in our woodlands. It was introduced to Britain by the Romans and is native to Southern Europe. It now thrives in Britain on light non chalky soils which is why we don’t see them here on the…

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Goose Markets

The Goose Fair Advent Day 18 In times gone past, Goose fairs were an important part of the agricultural calendar. They were frequently held on Michaelmas Day. Michaelmas marks the end of harvest and many of the goose fairs were also hiring fairs. Labourers released after the harvest would seek employment for the Winter months.…

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Hedgerow Berries

Hedgerow berries are the ultimate banquet for our native birds and mammals. Advent Day 17 Our native hedgerow berries create an early Autumn hedge-scape full of colour. By the Winter the native berries still twinkle through the bare stems. The feast they provided in the Autumn help the birds to gain weight. Ready for the…

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And a Partridge in a Pear Tree. Advent – Day16 A partridge in a pear tree is one of the most unlikely pairings, if you will pardon the pun. The British grey partridge is a bird whose numbers have declined but much is being done to help the bird regain ground. Creating deep wild flower…

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Hedgehog

 When did you last see a British hedgehog in the wild? Advent Day 15 British hedgehogs usually disappear around about the end of November and begin their Winter hibernation. So we cannot expect to see them in our gardens for a few months. However I was struggling to remember when I last saw a hedgehog…

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Mistletoe in the host tree

Kissing under the mistletoe. Advent Calendar 14 Kissing under the Mistletoe is a ritual at Christmas time. Doorways hang with a clump of white berried Mistletoe ready to capture the unsuspecting passerby. For most of the year the Mistletoe plant goes unnoticed. The balls of evergreen hang high in the treetops and not until the…

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Mistle Thrush

The Mistle Thrush, the song bird of Winter. Advent Day 13 The Mistle Thrush accompanies us through the Winter days and its scratchy tuneful song can be heard high up in the canopy even when wild weather blows through. For this reason the bird is also known as ‘Stormcock’ but then it has a number…

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Christmas Tree

The days are shortening and darkness settles. Time to bring in the Christmas tree! Advent Calendar 12 The Christmas tree in our homes is just part of a tradition witnessed around the world that speaks of a time when light over darkness was a time of celebration. In all sorts of cultures the Winter Solstice…

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Icicles

The magic of icicles and frosts, sparkling jewels of Winter. Advent Calendar 11 Waking up to a sunny Winter morning sparkling with icicles and frost are nature’s gifts to us when the days seem short and dark. Rows of icicles hanging suspended like tubular bells show off the simple artistry of nature. They stay with…

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Hedgerow Berries

So bring us some figgy pudding…. Advent Calendar 10 We would love to bring you some but what is figgy pudding? The earliest reference to figgy pudding is from a recipe from the C14th. The recipe is for a dish called ‘Fygey’. This English recipe is quite exotic. Ground blanched almonds are added to quartered…

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owls in literature

Advent Calendar 4 A Parliament of Owls, the collective noun for a group of owls. I grew up with the tales of Narnia spinning inside my head. There was no better place to be than the ice bound land and no better way to view it than on the back of an owl. When C.S…

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Holly woodland

The Holly tree is one of the most common trees in British woodlands. Advent Calendar 3 It’s November and the gloomiest and wettest of walks is lifted by the sight of the holly tree. It’s presence is there bringing joy and the knowledge that Christmas is coming. The Christmas period is intrinsically linked with the…

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Beauty in snowflakes

The snowflake is a uniquely beautiful structure created from water. How do snowflakes form? Compare one snowflake with another. No two snowflakes are identical yet all snowflakes are created from the same simple compound that is water. Two hydrogen atoms combining with one oxygen. How then is it possible that they are all different? ‘How…

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Robin redbreast

Robin Redbreast, Britain’s national bird. The robin redbreast always brings a smile during the Winter months. The bright red breast of the Robin and its lovely song make it one of Britain’s most recognizable birds. Sometimes called Robin redbreast, all names for the bird are Ruddock or Robinet. It is also perhaps one of our…

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