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January 2021

December 2020

My Big Break

Nice cup of tea

I'm taking a week off from blogging, so the North Bucks Wanderer will not be appearing next week. Our next post will be the Monday Photo on the 11th of January, 2021. Meanwhile, I shall be relaxing and drinking tea.

Meanwhile, if there's anything you would like to see covered on this blog, whether it's a particular place or event or perhaps just a general topic, please tell me below by making a comment.

Happy New Year to you all. I'll see you in 2021.

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What Did I Do This Year?

Quite a bit, really. I managed to get around to quite a few places in North Bucks when we were allowed to, and got all the way to Hillesden before the lockdown. But this post is a Covid free zone; I’ll say no more about that today.

Now here are some of the highlights of the year from the North Bucks Wanderer.

Great Linford station

On a grey February day I explored The Railway That Nearly Was, a line that might have gone all the way from Wolverton to Wellingborough, but only made it as far as Newport Pagnell. If you know what to look for, you can still see where the line was meant to run.

This was the old station at Great Linford.

 

Musket ball hole  Hillesden

Hillesden Church is often called The Cathedral in the Fields, for its huge Perpendicular windows. Because of the windows, Inside All is Bright, but here is the outside of the porch door, in the shade. That’s a musket ball hole.

 

Olney pancakes

In Pancakes for Everyone, some of the Olney Pancake Race competitors wait to run. As well as the town race, there’s an international match against another pancake race in Liberal, Texas.

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The Christmas Post

Christmas Postie

The Monday Photo

This is my postie, wearing his reindeer hat. I have no idea what his name is, but it's a fine hat. Keeps the ears warm, too; stylish yet practical.

That’s all folks.

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Dreaming of a Bright Christmas

Lime Street Santa  OlneyThe big man himself, in Lime Street, Olney.

There are some very good Christmas lights displays on private houses across North Bucks, and I wanted to show you examples from as wide an area as possible. I had a plan. But the Tier 4 lockdown came, and I only managed to get a few, all quite close to me.

The first one I found is in Lime Street, Olney. It’s there to raise donations for Willen Hospice, and last year they raised over £1,600. It was a good one to start with.

Olney Xmas lightsLime Street, Olney.

The second one is in Vicarage Road, Winslow. I spotted this house as I drove through the town, and it’s just a few doors down from the house my grandparents lived in when I was a kid. They aren’t collecting for charity, but it’s still a fine display.

I had a look at my grandparent’s old house while I was there.

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How long is a day?

Sunset in Buckinghamshire

We all know how horrible and dark it is, this time of year. But it’s not all bad. The earliest sunset has already come and gone, and the evenings have slowly been getting lighter for several days, even though the days have been getting shorter.

Today is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year.

From today, the sunrise will continue to get later until two or three days into the New Year, then the morning will start to get lighter. At last.

This little discrepancy with the shortest day and the sunrise and sunset times is due to the Earth’s orbit being elliptical rather than perfectly circular, so that a solar day (measured from the point where the sun is highest in the sky each day) isn’t always the same length and doesn’t always match up with the 24 hour clock.

Around the Summer and Winter solstices the solar day is over 24 hours, then at the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes, the solar day is less than 24 hours. But it all evens out in the end. The axial tilt of the Earth also makes a difference.

One month from now, the day will be over 51 minutes longer, and the sunset will be 38 minutes later. On the Summer Solstice, we will be getting over nine hours more daylight, a total of sixteen and three quarter hours. I can’t wait.

About 70 miles to our North, (and quite a few miles East) is Cromer, on the North Norfolk coast. On the Summer Solstice they’ll get a day that’s over eleven minutes longer than we get here. Those few miles North make a difference, but of course at this time of year they get shorter days instead.

Okay, great. Like every year, tomorrow we start the long slow climb into Summer. Meanwhile, for readers in the Southern hemisphere this will all make sense in just six months time…

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This is Not a Tree

This is not a treeThis isn't what it appears to be.

The Monday Photo

This is not a tree. It looks like a tree, but when I went to look at it again at the weekend I found three sorts of leaves and two main trunks. It hasn’t been snowing in the Ouzel Valley Park; this photo is from a previous year but you can still see the two main trunks.

I walked around and around it on Sunday trying to work out just what is growing here, and here’s what I think. The biggest trunk is Hawthorn. It has been strangled by ivy and it’s struggling. I found just one Hawthorn leaf and a few red berries which gave me a clue; there were very few thorns.

Most of the Hawthorn branches I could see were the lowest ones here. Even though it grows leaves and is obviously alive, the main trunk is rotten in places.

The Ivy stays close to the crown of the Hawthorn and its evergreen leaves are in shadow, just where they like to be. Considering how thoroughly the Ivy has strangled the Hawthorn, there are surprisingly few of them.

The other tree is probably a Dogwood, and it’s doing quite well. Even now in December, it still has many of its leaves. In the past one of the branches has touched the Hawthorn’s trunk and they have joined together; the Dogwood bending away like a bent elbow above the join.

The curious flat bottomed shape to the foliage we can see here is down to livestock, who might eat the tender leaves and who certainly like to rub up against the trunks, judging by the muddy and hoof marked ground I found underneath. The dense foliage will give shelter to livestock in the height of summer and the two trees and the Ivy all provide food for many insects and birds.

What was the other thing; why am I showing you a photo taken in the snow? Oh yes. of course.

I wish you all a merry Christmas. and a happy and healthy New Year.

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