Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Year in the Taylorean

Somehow messed up my last post - I was trying to correct a name in my Arts and Crafts gardens post, and instead it inserted itself for a second time. So this is just a temporising post to make sure it is eradicating it. Oxford has been alpine for the last week and a half, glorious in some ways - especially when the snow is out and one could go for a tramp, but when icy and treacherous and grey, spirits dulled. The Taylor Institute Library is the most wonderful place to work; it may soon replace ST D's in my affections. A perfect cube, lined with soaring bookcases of golden old wood; busts on the mantelpiece and a real clockwork mantel clock and one of those calendars that you physically change the numerals of. The silent concentration of the readers is almost tangible: you can feel it around you far more powerfully than the quiet click of keyboards, occasional creak of a tall door and footsteps, and the sea-like noise of traffic muted by the closed windows. Until Twelfth Night, the busts wore Father Xmas hats. Christmas was wonderful, with Gillian, Phil and Adam conquering the kitchen, musical crackers and a large salmon trout donated by a fisherman at Farmoor on Boxing Day.

New Year weekend brought Tilly and Co, and Ben took to baking in a big way. Daisy and Co came again too: Fox mastered the art of pouring tea, but was happiest of all when on the phone. That weekend was also the last time we enjoyed the daily donations of Edith, Maisie and Gladys: the day after they left, a real fox, perhaps two, made bold by the cold weather, ventured into the garden on a midday raid. The thick snow that fell the next day revealed just how busy foxes had become inthe garden - they are evidently occupying the old badger sett. Lesson learnt: I shall get more hens in May, but keep a much more careful eye on them - and no free-ranging until I get a puppy, maybe two. At least they have been spared the week or more of bitter weather we've just had - and they certainly had a wonderful life while it lasted