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Archive for December, 2015

January 1st is the beginning of a New Year and a time for a fresh start and new beginnings. The New Year is celebrated differently across the world with many traditions dating back hundreds of years, like Christmas it is a time for family and friends to get together, often with a meal, games and fireworks at midnight.

In the UK many people observe ‘first footing’ this is traditionally done by a young, dark haired, good looking male who leaves the house before midnight and is the first person through the front door after New Year begins carrying gifts such as a piece of coal, money, bread and salt, this is believed to bring good luck, many of us sing Robert Burns ‘Auld Lang Syne’ which represents remembrance of old friends and times spent together with them.

In Denmark traditions involve leaping from chairs at midnight and smashing plates on friends’ doorsteps, this symbolises good wishes for the New Year.

In Austria New Year’s Eve is called Sylvesterabend which means Eve of Saint Sylvester, suckling pig and peppermint ice cream are eaten and marzipan or chocolate good luck charms of chimney sweeps, coins or horseshoes are exchanged.

In Germany molten lead is poured into cold water to see what shapes develop, heart shapes symbolize marriage, round shapes good luck and a ship means a journey. At their New Year’s Eve celebrations a bit of every sort of food served is left on their plate until after midnight as a way of ensuring a well-stocked larder, Carp is traditionally eaten which is thought to bring wealth.

In Brazil lentils are eaten as part of their New Year’s Eve meal they are a symbol of wealth and prosperity, in a ceremony dedicated to the god of water Yemanja, a priestess of the macumba voodoo cult, dressed in blue and white, pushes a sacrificial boat filled with jewellery, candles and flowers from Ipenama Beach to bring health, wealth and happiness.

In Greece, 1st January is St Basil’s Day, he is remembered for his kindness and generosity to the poor. Vassilopitta or St Basil’s Cake is prepared and contains a silver or gold coin, bringing luck for coming year to whoever finds the coin.

However you celebrate the New Year have a wonderful time.

Gill

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Christmas is a time to eat, drink and get together with family and friends, sometimes we may over indulge on delicious festive food, if this is the case why not get outdoors, stretch your legs and walk it off.

For more than 25 years The Ramblers Association have organised a two week ‘Festival of Winter Walks’, 19th December 2015 – 3rd January 2016, to encourage everyone to get outdoors and enjoy our beautiful landscapes, there are hundreds of free group walks to choose from which are open to all. Whatever your age or ability there is a walk for you; fun festive-themed walks for little ones, leisurely strolls under 5 miles or longer walks for those who want more of a challenge for further information or to find a walk near you click here to visit their website.

In Ribchester there is an organised village Christmas walk it is called ‘The Annual Winter Walk for Pudding-full People’ and is now in its 27th year, it is about six to seven miles long and open to adults, children and well behaved dogs, with a shorter route for those with aged, tired or rather young legs, the walk finishes at one of the local pubs where chip butties are served, it is usually well attended despite often poor weather and a great way to catch up with friends, family and neighbours.

Mucky Wellies

If you have over indulged this Christmas or just want to get outdoors get wrapped up against the elements, grab your wellies/walking boots and go for a walk, don’t forget to take your camera and binoculars you never know what you might see.

Finally, I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a peaceful New Year

Happy rambling

Gill

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The weeks prior to Christmas are often very busy and hectic at home and at School with Christmas Concerts, Nativity performances, shopping trips and of course planning for the big day, if you haven’t had chance to enter our two free competitions on the Gardening With Children website, here is a little reminder, you could win some great wildlife prizes.

In the School Zone

Send in to us a picture of a Robin, it can be painted, crayoned, drawn in pencil or a collage and you could win for your School

a Square Ground Bird Table

Square Ground Bird Table

and a Wooden Peanut Butter Feeder (supplied with a jar of bird peanut butter with mealworms)

Wooden Peanut Butter Feeder

Click here for full details and an entry form.

In the Family Zone

Simply tell us which is the most interesting bird you have seen in your garden, park or on a walk and you could win

a Wooden Peanut Butter Feeder (supplied with a jar of bird peanut butter with mealworms)

Wooden Peanut Butter Feeder

and a Birdie Bistro Seed Feeder (one supplied)

Bird Bistro Feeder

Click here for full details and an entry form.

The closing date for both competitions is Thursday 31st December 2015.

Good Luck

Gill

 

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A 'Christmas' Robin

As I sit writing this blog I can see a Robin in the garden perched by the bird feeders, we do not get many Robins in the garden, they tend to appear when the weather turns colder and there is less natural food available, on the allotment though they are about throughout the year often watching and waiting for insects and grubs that have been disturbed whilst digging and sitting on the handle of my spade when my back is turned.

The Robin has long been associated with the festive season, this could be because we see them more in Winter but it may also be because the Robin, also known as the ‘Robin Redbreast’, gave its name to the first postmen who wore red jackets and became known as ‘Robins’, some suggest this is the reason why Robins appear on Christmas cards.

Robins sing all year round, they are one of the few birds that can be heard singing during winter, both the males and females maintain territories for feeding during this period, these may be later become their breeding territories.  Robins can be quite tame during the colder months and with a lot of patience they may eat out of your hand, but despite their cute appearance they are quite aggressive with intruders who enter their territory. Around Christmas-time they begin looking for a mate, by mid-January they will have paired up and the females then stop singing. Male and female birds look identical, young Robins are spotted with golden brown they do not have a red breast until they are 2/3 months old, Robins eat insects, worms, seeds and fruits and are very partial to mealworms.

Open Fronted Teapot Bird Nester and Nest Box

Robins are well known for nesting in unusually places including sheds, greenhouses, plant pots, hanging baskets, under car bonnets and in farm machinery, to encourage Robins to breed in your garden put up an Open Fronted Robin Nest Box or a Teapot Bird Nester, they can be sensitive to disturbance whilst nest building and laying so it is best to stay away at this time, they will lay a clutch of 4-6 eggs, which once incubated by the female will hatch in 13 days, both parents feed and care for the chicks that then fledge at 14 days old even though they are still unable to fly for another couple of days, the parents will look after the chicks for another 3 weeks, Robins normally have two broods a year.

This year for the first time the people of Britain were asked to vote for Britain’s National Bird, it may come as no surprise that the winning bird was the Robin; in total more than 224,000 people cast their votes, the Robin came out top with 75,623 votes, followed in second place by the Barn Owl with 26,191 votes and the Blackbird in third place with 25,369 votes.

This Christmas why not give someone a gift of a Nest Box for the Robins in their garden?

Gill

P.S. Don’t miss out on our two free competitions on the Gardening With Children website in the School Zone and the Family Zone, for a chance to win some bird feeders for your garden, the closing date for both competitions is Thursday 31st December 2015.

 

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