Christmas 2019

We have returned home from spending Christmas with my parents. Now time to take stock of the last few days and filter through my photos.

Christmas Eve we gave Alice a Christmas Eve box with a few little bits and new pyjamas.

She enjoyed a few Christmas stories.

We started the day at our house. Alice was more excited for giving us our presents and seeing us opening them. Though she somewhat spoiled the surprise telling us what was in each present.

She did get round to opening hers eventually.

After attending the local church service we headed over to my parents. Alice was excited to give everyone presents again.

My mum did a top job of Christmas dinner.

Before needing some chill time.

Then after a good break we returned for pudding.

She was completely wiped out and went to bed early, meaning she was up early Boxing Day. She started the day slobbing out.

My sister joined us for Boxing Day and Alice was spoiled with a new spread of presents.

A noisy Rainbow Dash that will be out of batteries soon. If they aren’t I think Amy may well remove them.

She got a disco light that she absolutely adored.

Then we enjoyed another feast.

We’ve had a lovely couple of days spoiled by family. Alice has had a great time seeing both sides of her family over the last week. She is happy to be home though playing with all her new toys and introducing them to old toys. I hope you have all had super Christmas Days too.

Christmas Day and Boxing Day

In between writing all my seven days of wild Christmas and six on Saturday blog posts I haven’t got round to posting about Christmas Day yet. So here it is the Christmas summary post.

We had a slow morning at our house waking up to open presents. This is the first year with Alice having some understanding of what is going on which is magical in itself. Her first present of a crane for her train set probably would have kept her entertained for most of the day. As has already been commented on much of what we bought was second hand but I feel this has taken away the feeling of adding to the ridiculous commercial aspects of Christmas with thousands of pounds being spent on golden children. As for me and Amy, we mainly gave each other utilitarian gifts like steak knives and kitchen bowls. Though my secateurs are worth another mention. I couldn’t be happier with them. But I think we’re at an age where good quality useful presents bring us joy.

She was very determined to collect her own presents even when too big to handle.

Alice and her Minnie Mouse potato head.

She already has a pop-up version of Peter Pan that she loves. We found there was also a pop-up version of Alice in Wonderland. We couldn’t resist buying the book of her namesake.

After a settled morning, we headed to my parents. Alice wasn’t too impressed that the presents weren’t all for her.

I snatched glimpses of the wildlife outside.

After a sausage sarnie to keep us going, we headed to my sisters for the main event. Alice received a variety of tools which she loved.

Though in the end the drill was mainly used for surgery.

My mum, sister and wife wearing aprons made by my aunty. They’ve each been made with details specific to each person. So ours has bees to remind us of the wedding.

We were well fed though Alice still isn’t at a point where she’ll tuck into Christmas Dinner. She did enjoy a lot of cheese biscuits. I was driving as Amy and my dad wasn’t too well so I missed out on the delectable drinks being passed around. But, I did manage a good beer when we got back to my parents where we stayed the night.

The next day was spent pretty lazily as already discussed in a previous blog. Alice enjoyed lazing around and collecting everything in one of her new backpacks.

We had a nice couple of days away and have been spoilt by everyone for choice of food and drink. Alice has had a lovely Christmas seeing my side of the family Christmas Day and Amy’s either side of Christmas. A couple of days on she is just as happy with her train set as she was opening it. So we picked her main present well. Though all she asked for was choc choc. She loves her family very much and we remain fortunate to lead such pleasant lives where we don’t want for anything.

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7 Days of Wild Christmas-Day 1 bird feeding

Merry Christmas nature and garden lovers. I hope you are having, have had or are about to have a good Christmas day. This Festive period I am taking part in the Wildlife Trusts 7 days of wild Christmas. For many the festive season is a fairly depressing time. The days are dark and long, for some Christmas brings reminders of things lost. I find with each year I feel more and more distant from Christmas. I dislike the commercial excess of Christmas and the abundance of selfishness that many people develop as they sulk over receiving unwanted presents. The time I manage to engage with nature, gardening and getting outside helps relieve my spirits in this darker periods of the year.

But even for those who enjoy Christmas time engaging with nature can still bring much joy. The great benefit of much of what nature offers is that it is free. At a time people are getting wrapped up in the price tags and worrying they haven’t spent enough on someone nature offers a free burst of happiness.

I gain a lot of pleasure from the birds in the garden. Much wildlife comes into the garden just for the fruits on the trees. I do like to put out a bit more though to encourage more in. During these darker colder days it really helps birds to have easy access to extra food. It’s easy to forget to feed during the excitement of Christmas. But a few options will last a few days.

The suet tends to go fast. This feeder can be emptied in a day but it offers a good energy burst to the birds.

The fat balls last a few days meaning I don’t need to be out all the time replacing.

The same goes for the suet blocks.

The bird seed goes in a day but is one of the most popular feeders bringing in a great variety of birds.

Then from feeding regularly I get rewards like the ones in these photos. These were taken yesterday at my dad’s house where they also leave out plenty for the birds all year.

These charming goldfinch have been visiting regularly and that burst of gold and red is enough to bring joy to even the coldest winter hearts.

The starlings, while noisy, offer a great deal of beauty with the iridescence of their feather.

I hope you all enjoy your Christmas days and still find a bit of time out to appreciate nature. We have family time ahead now. Alice is at an age where she understands a bit more of what is going on. So I’m sure we’ll have a nice, if somewhat tiring, day.

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An excited little girl

Christmas Day

Now the gluttony of Christmas day is done I can sit back and reflect on the last two days. For once, Alice decided to sleep in on Christmas day. However both me and Amy were up as we no longer sleep, having had our sleep patterns ruined by a year and a half of parenthood.

Alice started with a box of in the night garden figures. As a result she lost interest in the idea of opening others for a while. She still isn’t at an age where she has a full understanding of what is happening, so present opening is a slow laborious process. But well worth while as she was over the moon with what she has been given. We’ve been storing things from charity shops, sales and second hand sites, so haven’t gone mad on how much we’ve spent. I can’t say Alice has missed out as a result. She loved her second hand in the night garden toys giving them all many kisses.

Her second present needed some assembly, but she enjoyed pushing it around the kitchen. I can now set her on moving the weeds I dig out to the compost bins.

The process, of opening presents, was so slow we had to pause for breakfast, some of it eaten out of the new wheelbarrow.

Before returning to one of the biggest presents.

Having got the idea she was able to help open Amy’s presents.

We relocated to my parents where Alice enjoyed a day of eating everything she likes: fruit, cheese straws, chocolate and flapjack. Presents were opened with the rest of the family. The nephews gave the toblerone game away to Daz of what his triangular prism shaped present would be. Alice liked my mums star decoration. Star is currently one of her favourite words.

Alice received a picnic set and doll accessories from her Aunty Em. She’s loved feeding her baby and pretending to put nappy cream on her.

We finished the last of the presents. My dad was excited for some of his favourite French mustard brought back from my sisters trip to France. My sister, brother in law and nephews departed to the other side of their family for dinner. Alice went down for a nap for the start of Christmas dinner, but only stayed asleep for the starters.

She did enjoy her beans though. No traditional dinner for her yet. After she chilled with granddad. She’s loved staring at all of his moving Christmas scenes and has been very good about not grabbing hold of them. She’s happily laid and watched parts moving around.

Boxing day we chilled at my parents for the morning, before going to my sisters for dinner.

Alice enjoyed some quiet time with her new crayons.

Aunty Em liked that they’d both gone for dungarees.

Two lovely days. My mum and sister did splendid jobs on the food front. We’ve been surrounded, as with last year, by love and affection again this year. 

Alice has been very lucky with friends and families generosity and I’m sure she will enjoy much of what she got for a good while beyond Christmas Day. We got too many wonderful things for her to mention them all, but thank you to all who have given her a fantastic day.

I haven’t talked about my main present, but I think I’ll leave that for another blog to discuss its delights. I hope everyone reading has had as lovely a Christmas season as we have had.


Christmas Diary

Well I hope everyone out there has had lovely Christmas days. Me and Amy have been full of cold, so plans for going to carols Christmas Eve and church Christmas day were dropped. So Christmas Eve we had a quiet afternoon, watched part of Scrooged then tried to give Amy time for a nap.

Then we let Alice have one present to gauge ow long present opening would take.  Not a bad grip on the paper. She has been highly amused by the crinkly paper throughout this first experience of opening presents. She would happily of just sat and rolled in the paper for the day.


Her first present was a lovely Usborne book of garden sounds. It has lots of different touch pads which make different garden sounds. She was amused by the sounds and flaps. The usborne range of nature books for babies is lovely with lots of nice touchy feely sensory parts.


We then lit the candle so Santa knew to come to our house.


Alice seems to of decided Christmas is a serious business.


She slept well giving Santa the chance to deliver over night without interruptions. A brief wake up at 1, then 4, then stayed down until after 7.

She had a nice gradual wake up and then opened presents. Haven’t gone overboard this year as her awareness is low of what is going on. But lots of friends and family have given lovely gifts.

She sat looking through her colour book.



She liked my present of a mug with her face on best though. Which I have to say was a rather nice present.


We worked through breakfast and then headed out to my parents house. Alice had a snooze on the way.





My mum and dad had prepared a suitable feast for the day.


My Parents, sister, bro in law and nephews enjoying their dinner.


After dinner got the nephews out to the skate park. We were going to try their new drone, but needed more charge.


After opening presents with the rest of the family we played pass the sprout, a festive version of pass the parcel.



Then back to the table for pudding.





All in all a nice day with family. I’m grateful to be surrounded by very loving people for Alice to grow up around people who care about her and adore her. Despite mine and Amy’s colds we can go to bed knowing our daughter is loved and for that I’m thankful.

Going back to the original purpose of this blog to share nature updates I will share some of my nature related presents.

I now have a good set of Collins guides to different aspects of British nature, to add to the couple I had already. David Attenborough’s planet Earth II, which I will enjoy watching again and again, then later on making Alice watch.


A guide to ladybirds of the UK.


A bat box to go up outside. We do have a number of bat species in the area, so hopefully get some nesting further down the line.


I am very grateful for all I have. My life is full of joy, I am surrounded by wonderful people and I am happy Alice is growing up with plenty of happiness in her life. I had been feeling lacking in Christmas cheer and a disconnection with the whole affair, but I am glad to of had the day with family. Spirits raised.