New Year’s Day 2017

SnowdoniaOnly a sleep from old to new

Only a sleep from night to morn

The new is but the old come true

Each sunrise sees a new year born.

By Helen Hunt Jackson

Nicola here, wishing everyone a very happy 2017! January 1st has traditionally been a time to reflect on the year that has gone and Advent calendar the opportunities, hopes and dreams for the one that lies ahead. It’s a natural human instinct to be optimistic even if sometimes the world feels like a difficult place. Perhaps positive resolutions and hope in the future helps us to deal with that uncertainty.

Ravilious calendarThe calendar is, of course, an arbitrary thing that has changed over the centuries, but it is something that gives structure to our lives and that can be helpful. I'm not a big user of calendars with two exceptions. The first is my Advent Calendar, which I get every year to mark the days from December 1st to Christmas. This year I had a gorgeous one from the National Trust. Now that we are in a new year I am about to put up my 2017 wall calendar, which is a very special one showing the paintings of Eric Ravilious, one of my favourite artists. In both cases the calendars bring emotions of positivity and excitement in me about the potential for the time ahead.

Here in the English countryside the New Year also brings the usual British preoccupation with the weather with a proverb for January 1st that dates from the 19th century:

If the wind blows from the south it will bring warmth and growth, from the east lots of summer fruit on the trees, from the west Astronomical_Clock,_Prague milk and plenty of fish in the seas, but f the wind blows from the north then it’s going to be cold and stormy all year. I’ve just checked the forecast and the wind starts off in the south west today but turns around to the north later so I expect we’re going to get a mix of everything this coming year, as usual, both weatherwise and in other ways.

Whatever the winds bring, I wish everyone a happy, peaceful and healthy New Year!

In The Picture

Nicola here, sitting looking out on a wet and windy January morning and envying Wench Anne the Christmas puddingwarmth and sunshine of a Southern Hemisphere summer! We’re continuing our “12 Days of Christmas” series of posts on our favourite things.

One of my favourite things in the New Year is to get out and walk off the extra pounds I have put on with Christmas over-indulgence in food and drink. I’m very lucky that I live in such a beautiful part of the UK and have so many places on my doorstep where I can go walking.

A few years ago I discovered an artist who painted the countryside around where I live. He is EricIMG_5405 Ravilious and he was born in 1903. He began his career painting murals and also designed for Wedgwood china. The countryside of the chalk down land inspired some of his most famous paintings. He was the official War Artist in World War II and a Captain in the Royal Marines. Sadly he was killed on a RAF air sea rescue mission in 1942 aged only 39.

White HorseI can’t afford original Ravilious paintings, which sell for tens of thousands of pounds, but I am collecting his prints, so it was a huge pleasure to receive this picture as a Christmas present. It is a painting of the Uffington White Horse, a Bronze Age carving on the hillside above my house. I also have a miniature picture Buscotby Ravilious of Buscot Park, a Georgian mansion a few miles away. I hope to collect many more of his prints and at the same time enjoy one of my favourite things – walking on the hills that also inspired such a wonderful artist.

Do you have a favourite place that you visit at the start of the year, or a favourite picture that inspires you?

Very best wishes for 2012 and a happy and inspiring year!