Snow, Snow, Snow

I love the snow, my heart leaps as soon as a speck of white is spotted in the distance. I wish for it to settle, turn the place into a winter wonderland.

Blacksmiths Lane Dog Walkers Flower Holly LaneSnow close up

In fact, I love winter as a whole. I suppose the miserable wet days are no fun, but you do get those all year round. As soon as the frost bites and hats, gloves and scarves come out I feel the need to make a hot chocolate (perhaps with a splash of Baileys in the evenings); drink soup; make steak pie followed by treacle sponge and custard. I want to buy jumpers, snuggle up in front of the fire on the sofa in a cardigan with a good book or film.

Snow TreesSnow
Unicorn Inn
Trees (2)Pots

Everyone hustles into the house and whacks the heating up so high you’d think it was mid-summer. No, I prefer to layer up the jumpers and wear my cosy slipper boots. Much more satisfying – especially with that bailey-spiked hot chocolate 😀

Red leafTrees

Berry

The photos where taken on a day where literally everything was white – ground, buildings, roofs, trees and sky – so some may not be as good as the could be despite my efforts in altering them on the computer 😀

A Witches Calender: January

I brought a calender this year – I know, not exactly thrilling news. I picked out one themed with witches because I liked the pictures, when I got it home I discovered each month tells a little story. Today I thought I’d share January’s. Sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…

HoldaJanuary

We are in the time of the Snow Queen, who is also known as the Northern Germanic goddess Holda. Holda, or Holla, is a deity associated with spinning, fertility, childbirth, and domesticated animals. Holda is the keeper of a sacred pool through which the souls of newly born infants enter the world. It was thought that if women bathed in Holda’s sacred pools, they would quickly conceive. Holda is also one of the leaders of the Wild Hunt. The season of the Wild Hunt began at the Winter Solstice and continues throughout the months of winter. Holda is a patroness of Witches, and she has a shamanistic type of energy, as Witches called on her for nighttime flights or to aid in astral projection.

Holda may appear as an old, bent crone cloaked in gray or as a beautiful young maiden dressed in shimmering white. According to folklore, when Holda makes her bed and fluffs up her feather pillows, it snows. This is how she earned the title of Snow Queen. When fog rolls in during the winter months, it is believed that this is the smoke for Holda’s fire. In southern Germany, this deity is known as Perchta (sometimes spelled Berchta). The name Perchta translates to the “bright one”. Also, a goddess of the Wild Hunt and childbirth, she was accompanied by and cared for the souls of children and babies who had passed to the other side. The festival day for Perchta/Berchta and Holda is January 6.

These goddesses of fertility and death walked here between the worlds of the living and the dead. During the month of January when the snows settle in and the night seems very long, you may call upon Holda to watch over and protect you.

Spell to Call on Holda

All around me now icy, winter winds do blow, 

I call Holda and Perchta, the Queens of the Snow.

Leaders of the Wild Hunt, great ladies, please hear my cry,

Watch over and defend me as you sail through the sky.

By the powers of the earth, air, fire and water,

Guard and protect you magickal sons and daughter.

January Correspondences

Stone: Garnet

Animal: Snow goose; owl; bear

Flower: Carnation; snowdrop

Ruling planet: Saturn

(Not my own words, copied from ‘Llewellyn’s Witches Calender 2013’: Ellen Dugan)

 

 

The Title: ‘Driving Students to Quit A levels’

‘Driving Students to Quit A levels’i (Sister to the Independent)

At first I thought this was one of those wacky surveys that strenuously connects those learning how to drive with those quitting A levels. But no, pupils across the country are leaving their A level courses (up to 31% students in some areas). The reason? Too much heavy focus on academia.

I can see their point, the few practical A level options available are looked down upon. BTECs which the Government claims are equal to A levels are considered the easy option by the general public.

quitting a levels

from Google images

However, is the issue attitudes towards practical subjects or is it more of a problem of unnecessary pressurization? Each Government wants to drive more and more students into further and then higher education. A levels and university  doesn’t suit everyone. Sure, encourage people and fund equal opportunities but if some pupils enter A levels only to realise it’s not for them then perhaps alternative paths such as apprenticeships should be endorsed.

 

If A level and uni applications decrease then so what? As long as students are doing what they enjoy and not what parents or the Government think they should enjoy then don’t fuss. Currently, university applications are decreasing. As I’ve just mentioned this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. However, I believe at the moment the chief reason is more to do with the rise in tuition fees and the increased costs of living in a difficult economic time rather than self-realisation and back bone from students.

Well Overdue Project

My best friend and I brought some material about five years ago (?) at a Patchwork and Quilting show in Birmingham and promptly forgot about it. Occasionally I’d come across it in my wardrobe smile and think ‘we should do something with this’, put it away again only to find it next time I had a clear out.

This summer Izzy decided she wanted to try her hand at making a cushion. So out came the material which had sat patiently for five years and a week or so later we had our cushions. 😀 Probably my third cushion but my first without Mums help so although it might not be a work of art I’m rather proud of it. I  just need somewhere to put it now.

DSCF3689 DSCF3693 DSCF3712

 

Anyone out there who’s brought something to do but has ended up shoving it to the back of a drawer then this year get it out and complete the project – you’ll feel better for doing something just for you.

‘Big up’ the NHS

There’s yet more discussion in the news today which downgrades the NHS and exaggerates its failures. NHS hospitals have been assessed as ‘bad places’ for the old and frail. However, the problem is not with the NHS, as Mike Farrar notes the issue lies with the community care provision and budgets. If 30% of patients in hospital don’t need to be there then take the pressure off the NHS by addressing the apparent lack of community health care. Hospitals aren’t ‘bad places’, they are unfortunately necessary places for many.

Another issue I have with attacks on NHS hospitals is the fatal generalisation after every media-hyped scandal. Obviously tragedies have occurred but no system is without fault and often it is the work of an individual not an entire hospital. Even the good hospitals get called up on for patients being ignored by nurses or nurses/health workers lacking understanding and snapping irritably at anyone who approaches.Image

I was in hospital for a week in November 2011 and since then I have been in and out for blood tests, Drs appointments and infusions on a day-care ward. Ergo, I can honestly state that the vast majority of doctors and nurses truly care. They’re reassuring, apologetic when you’re left waiting but most of all they are understanding, friendly and cheerful.

The thing is we are all lucky here in the UK. Other countries don’t enjoy the same quality of care and lots have to pay exuberant fees. So I say for once lets big-up the NHS! 😀