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It has been a lovely Christmas. Due to work commitments we stayed at home and had a quiet one. We both love Christmas and always get each other pressies. This year I got tickets to see I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue – Theatre tour. I also got a fantastic book of sheet music: The Piano Treasury of Classical Music.

The Piano Treasury of Classical Music

The Piano Treasury of Classical Music

This was something I had specifically asked for. My wife was already secretly planning to buy me the sheets to Traumerei, after hearing about Sofia recommending it to me. However in buying me this book she has got me Traumerei along with another 126 (yes you read that right!) other lovely pieces all in their original arrangements. You name a classical piece you like and it is probably in there. Predictably enough I have started with Traumerei. I have decided that instead of just learning how to play it I will memorize it at the same time. It appears I am rubbish at memorizing. I will post up properly about this piece soon when I record a video of me playing it.

Because I was on call we couldn’t go far over the period, but we made sure we got plenty of walks in. We are lucky that we have some lovely places near to us. Christmas day afternoon whilst the brisket was slowly cooking we took a walk by the canal. When the weather has been wet it is a good place to go as it is solid underfoot. I love the peacefulness of the place.

I love the reflections of the trees in the still water.

I love the reflections of the trees in the still water.

The previous three times that we have walked there we have been lucky enough to see a kingfisher. I’ve got a very blurry video of one flying off in the distance, but they are just too shy. No sooner have you moved to within 50 metres and a flash of orange breast becomes an electric blue streak as it shoots down the canal away from you. They seem to fly for about 200 metres, perch on an overhanging branch until you catch them up and so it continues….  Anyway on Christmas Day we didn’t see any kingfishers, but we did see an embarrassingly large number of robins. These birds, synonymous with Christmas seemed to be making a beeline for us, hopping onto the hedge by the towpath looking at us, almost as if they were expecting to be fed a juicy worm.

On Boxing Day we took a walk in the Black Mountains. It was such a clear sunny day that we wanted to get out somewhere not tree-covered so we could feel the sun on our faces. This was definitely a boot/welly route, with streams where paths should have been and mud where solid ground is normally. We were surprised when we got up to the tops to see look across to the Brecon Beacons and see them covered in snow.

Snow on the Brecon Beacons

Snow on the Brecon Beacons

Where we walked it was nice and quiet, however we did pass by Sugar Loaf where I stopped counting people once I got to 100.

Plenty of people heading up Sugar Loaf

Plenty of people heading up Sugar Loaf

Friday I was working, but on Saturday we went down to the RSPB Newport wetlands site. It is another place that is good underfoot in the winter. It is also one of the few RSPB reserves that is free to get in. Housed in the former water pools for Newport power station, it is now covered in reeds and attracts quite a lot of birds.

The pylons of the power station reflected in the pools.

The pylons of the power station reflected in the pools.

We often see little egrets there along with all number of fowl and woodland birds, others have seen bittern and bearded tits there. Located at the mouth of the River Usk on the Bristol Channel there is quite a bit of mudflats for the wading birds and on Saturday we saw a murmuration of Knots swooping and flying over the water’s edge for the whole time we were there.

The lighthouse at the mouth of the River Usk seen from one of the reserve pools

The lighthouse at the mouth of the River Usk seen from one of the reserve pools

Our final walk of the year was yesterday on the beach at Seaton. We love where we live, but we both also miss being really close to the sea. Nearly all our holidays are on the coast. this was the first time I’d been to Seaton, despite spending loads of time when I was younger at its neighbour Sidmouth. The town isn’t too much to write home about, but I’m never looking inland. The walk was great because we went there with my sister and my nephews, so it is always great to see family. The sun was out and the waves were crashing.

Seaton Beach

Seaton Beach

I hope you have a lovely 2014. Happy New Year.

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