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China Girl blog 4th January 2018

With the passing of the year, Ma said “Thank goodness December is over”; never had she known a colder, wetter, windier month. The old house creaks and groans under the ceaseless onslaught of the weather. I reminded her that the house had stood for over 500 years and that it must have weathered many such winters.

If only by some miracle we could win a shed load of money we would rewire, re-plumb and double glaze the windows and to hell with the rules and regulations! Guy our plumber props himself up against the aga, pontificating about this and that, adding “I told you, sell up and buy a bungalow!” to which Ma replies “But what would I do?” He replied “Go round the world and after that, go round again”. He is a Jehovahâ’s Witness, but never tries to convert Mother from her heathen ways.

We counted ten birds on the bird feeder at one time, eight of them long-tail tits. The most numerous are the blue tits and the great tit and lately a coal tit, not forgetting the nuthatches. This reminded Mother about her parrot Sophie and all the dreadful things she did over her long life. Aside from biting the ear of the vicar, one day Mrs Paterson came to the door and asked Ma if she thought it right that Sophie was allowed to fly around the village? Apparently Agnes, Mrs Paterson’s sister who was not as others are, had been waiting for the bus which passed by once a week, stopping at a request stop. As the bus approached, Agnes bent down to pick up her basket, which according to Mrs P is when Sophie perched on her head. Unable to stand up and stop the bus, it sailed by. Ma was obliged to take Agnes to the shops. This of course, was long before my time!

The garden is frozen, but still there is work to be done. The sweet-smelling winter flowering honeysuckle, Lonicera fragmentissima scents the cold air, worth growing despite its vigorous untidy habit. It should be pruned after flowering in the spring, when you can take out all the old stems if it has got out of hand. Named by Linnaes after Lonizer, a German naturalist of the 16th century; country people, call it Sweet Woodbine.

Yesterday, New Year’s eve, the wispy light shrouded the house, then the supermoon came up, lighting the darkness. It was the brightest moon of the year. The moon’s orbit around Earth is not a perfect circle. It is an ellipse, a saucer shape that is longer than it is wide. This means that as the moon follows this orbit it is sometimes closer to the Earth and sometimes farther away. At perigee, the closest spot in its orbit to the Earth, it is around 31,068 miles closer to Earth than at apogee, when it is farthest away. A supermoon is when these two cycles match up and we have a full moon that is near its perigee. The result is that the full supermoon appears slightly larger and slightly brighter in the sky. This occurs about once in every 14 full moons.

Dearest and I hoped it was a good omen for 2018 as we are very superstitious.

“Pax huic domui”. Peace be to this house.

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