Friday, February 27, 2015

Five on Friday

Joining in this week with  Amy and Five on Friday.  
Below are five things that have made me smile over the last few days

1.  A lovely bunch of daffodils for 99p not a great amount to bring cheer, colour and thoughts of Spring into the house.

2.  Thinking about Spring - well it is the 1st of March on Sunday so it was time to think about what we wanted to grow in the vegetable beds this year.  A visit to our local garden centre tempted us to buy some seed potatoes Juliette and Carlingford.  We also bought some tomato, beetroot, aubergine, courgette and leek seeds and were rewarded with two packs of free seeds, some marigolds to grow with the tomatoes and some small tumbler tomatoes, which was good.

3.  Coffee and toasted teacakes at the Emma Bridgewater factory shop cafe.  Always a treat with its wonky tables and assorted crockery.  This time we had matching mugs - Horatio's Garden ones.  

 We thought that perhaps they had been expecting us but no the decoration was out to welcome the Duchess of Cambridge who'd visited a couple of days before.

4.  Some lovely books to read.  I'm dipping into Beside the Seaside in between reading other books.  I picked this up at the Brierlow Bar Bookshop a few weeks ago.  The other two books have now been returned to the library but I've enjoyed reading both of them.  Both set in 1930s Britain 'Mystery in White' was written in the 30s and is set at Christmas, in a snow storm with stranded passengers from a train and a spooky house full of secrets whilst the  Maisie Dobbs novel is set in the 1930s and is the latest of the novels about this intriguing character who we first met, as readers, in 1929 and have followed with great pleasure as each book led us through to the latest, set in 1933, which ended on an intriguing note! Will she won't she?  I hope whatever she decides she does return perhaps in a new guise?  Or are her detecting days over? I hope not.

5  Fluffy monkey, up a tree at Trentham Gardens and visible across the great dividing fence from the woodland side of the Lakeside Walk.  I had to zoom in quite a way to capture him or her and its fur coat looked warm on such a cold day.

Click on the button below to find other bloggers who are participating in Five on Friday

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Seeking Snowdrops

Having seen from the local weather forecast that Tuesday and Wednesday were going to be the better and least wet of the days this week we decided that as it was February we would seek out some snowdrops. 

It was a bright, sunny day yesterday so we set off to our nearest place for snowdrops, other than the woodlands, Rode Hall which is north of the city and just over the county border in Cheshire

 The statue in the formal garden was dancing with the joys of what felt like a spring morning.

 Yes, we did find snowdrops - lots of them - but they are so hard to photograph aren't they? 

I think this one took several attempts before I could reach any kind of clarity.  
Even with mirrors placed underneath to reflect back the hidden, secretive  inners of the flowers.

We walked down the path to Rode Pool

 Down there we also found daffodils and crocus  - so lovely to see and so cheerful too

 Under the trees were spring flowering cyclamen is various shades of pink

 I'm always drawn to taking photos of doors and gates and there are plenty here to choose from

 Over the gate was the path below

 The walled kitchen garden was open

 I love walled gardens even at this time of year there is plenty to gladden the eye.

 We found many hellebores too and again the gardeners had placed a small mirror tile so that you could see under the drooping heads of the flowers.

 As well as the walled garden the other interesting area for me is the ruin of the old Tenants Hall.

The plant below was at the top of the old hall and its scent wafted all over

 Apparently it is called Daphne Bholua Jacqueline Postill.  The queues for the cafe were quite long so after visiting the ice house and then looking at an interesting and colourful art exhibition in the stables we drove the short distance to the local church of All Saints at Scholar Green.

 From the car park over the road from the church was a lovely, sunny view of Mow Cop, a place I've written about in several posts.

Inside the church was quiet and the church ladies were serving wonderful tea or coffee and cakes as well as selling home made preserves.

Our cups of coffee and chocolate and orange cake were very tasty and very welcome after a morning out in the fresh air.

Well, we did find snowdrops and much more too on such a lovely sunny day in February

Friday, February 13, 2015

Five on Friday

Joining in with Amy and others for Five on Friday (the last in this format) on this Friday 13th February. Are you superstitious about today, I wonder?

 On Wednesday we visited the fairly new museum in Shrewsbury.  The Museum was previously housed in a timber framed building called Rowley's House but over the last year or two it has moved to the former Music Hall building and behind it the older building known as Vaughan's Mansion.

It is a lovely museum, especially for me the Medieval, Tudor and Stuart galleries.  Above a view of the medieval gallery in the old hall of Vaughan's Mansion.

I was impressed with the use of space and the way the differing galleries were displayed within it.  Above a view from the balcony of the Shropshire Gallery on the floor of the old Music Hall.

It was very hard to chose just five things from the variety of objects in the displays so I have sneaked in a collage of others at the end of this post. So, below are five random objects, not in chronological order,  from across the museum exhibits.

1. A carving, from the Tudor Gallery, of the Shrewsbury Borough Arms or 'loggerheads' removed in 1760 from the outside of Romaldesham Hall, the home of the Montgomery family, and placed with two other carvings into the fronts of cottages built on the site of the old hall.  These cottages stood from 1760 until 1949.

2. Women's shoes c. 1710 from the costume section of the Shropshire Gallery

3. An early 18th century oil painting by John Bowen of a formal garden belonging to a house on Dogpole in Shrewsbury.  The town has some very unusual street names which I will include in another post.

4. A seahorse from the art installation by Shirley Chub on the balcony overlooking the Shropshire Gallery

5. A silver hand mirror from the Roman gallery.  Said to be the finest ever found in Britain it was made in the Rhineland and may have been brought here by a wealthy Roman woman.

I am joining in Five on Friday, taking five minutes from our day to enjoy five things.  Please go and visit the other people who are also blogging about Five on Friday this week.

Amy from Love Made My Home
Helen from Woollybluebells
Gina from Fan My Flame
Joanne from A Whole Plot of Love 
Debbie from Saylor Street Cottage 

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Open Lock Day

It was bitterly cold on Sunday morning as we walked along the towpath of the Caldon Canal up in the city centre from Hanley Park to Etruria.

We passed one or two other walkers out and about,  muffled up in hats, scarves and gloves against the bitter cold.

The canal passes Stoke College and student accommodation along the way.

It took about 20 minutes to reach our destination which was the Bedford Street lock.

The open weekend had been organised by the Canal and River Trust on the last weekend of its closure for the replacement of its middle gates, the re-fitting of the top gate and brickwork.

The Bedford Street Lock is a staircase lock which was built in the late 18th century to a design by James Brindley.  It opened in 1778.  I say lock but there are actually two locks.  It is known as the Bedford Street double lock and is apparently the last of its kind in North Staffordshire.

The engineers and craftsmen who were working on the project were our guides for the tour of the lock.  When we arrived the first 18 people were down in the basin of the lock so we waited for the second tour. 

We then donned hard hats and descended into the lock.  Our guide was the joiner who had made the replacement gates from English Oak sourced in the West Midlands. 

Apparently the bottom gate of the top lock acts as the top gate of the bottom lock.  This form of lock is used for steep gradients in this case the rise if 19' 3" or 5.87metres.

It was quite a way down!  Underneath the wooden flooring there was another 6 or 7 feet down to the very bottom which was why they could only take about 18 people at a time.

One of the men in our group had taken his boat through the locks on a previous visit and had struggled with the system.  One of the other guides was the present lock keeper and he explained how to navigate through the locks and gave lots of other information but by this time I was so cold that I didn't take in some of the figures and dates with regards the building and history of the lock.

Time for a warming mug of hot chocolate and a flapjack at the nearby Etruria Industrial Museum which is the former works of the bone and flint mill belonging to Jesse Shirley.  It is here that the Trent and Mersey and Caldon Canals meet.

There is a modern visitor centre and lots of activities were being enjoyed.  According to the information given the bone and flint mill is the only steam driven potter's mill in the world! The Museum does have steam days usually  Here is a  link  to more history if you are interested.

The Museum and cafe are only open to the public during events weekends of which there are several through the year.  The museum which used to be administered by the City council is now run by volunteers.  They ask for a donation of £3 per person entry which is very reasonable and all for a good cause in keeping this site of such rich industrial heritage in good shape for future generations to enjoy.

As we passed the locks on our way back along the towpath to Hanley Park there were more and more people arriving to view the staricase lock.  According to the news section of the Industrial Museum's website 361 people were recorded as visiting the lock over the weekend most of whom also visited the Museum.