Friday, December 02, 2016

Five on Friday

It's Friday, the first one of December and Five on Friday is back so below are 
five things I've been doing this week.......

1. Eating

Home made butternut squash and carrot soup with homemade bread rolls.  Apple and pear crumble made with windfall apples and conference pears.  White Leicester cheese with homemade apple and prune chutney.  All delicious.

2. Watching

The last episode of The Missing - I've been gripped by it!  Also a new Scandi Noir crime series called Modus. One of my favourite programmes 'Who do you think you are?' is back and there is a new archaeology programme  'Britain at Low Tide' on Channel 4. We also watched an interesting docudrama about the Mayflower Pilgrims with the wonderful actor Roger Rees, whom I remember seeing a few times at the RSC Theatre at Stratford in the 70s and early 80s, as William Bradford. The programme was dedicated to Roger Rees and was filmed just before his death in 2015.

3. Listening

To podcasts of the BBC4 Food Programme, recommended by a friend, as I type this I'm learning about the origins and history of apples and hearing about the Bramley apple from the famous tree in Southwell in Nottinghamshire. 

4. Reading

I've nearly finished reading The House at Bellevue Gardens by Rachel Hore.  At the same time I've been reading Shire a book of quite unusual and disturbing short stories by Ali Smith, loaned by a friend and also dipping into  How to be a Tudor by Ruth Goodman.

5. Walking

Donning scarves, hats, gloves and boots and walking along by the Caldon Canal and around the lake at Trentham Gardens both on cold but bright mornings when the sun was low in the sky.

Click on the link below to find others who are joining in with Five on Friday 

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Painting Memories for Paint Monthly

Childhood Memories

I was thinking the other day about paintings (or rather prints or copies of them) that I remember from my childhood and early years.

One of my earliest memories is of a copy of The Laughing Cavalier by Franz Hals which used to hang over a fireplace in one of the classrooms at the village school I attended.  There were three classrooms in the school.  Baby class was where we had our nature table and did dance and mime from children's radio programmes, there was also a sandpit and Wendy house in this room. Middle class was the largest and was in the main hall of the school, warmed by a huge boiler, it had the alphabet and times tables around the walls under the large windows, the dining tables were in here too and the stage was always fixed at one end of the hall for plays and concerts and also where we learned to play music on tambourines, bells, cymbals and castanets.  The top class was in a room on the back of the school near the kitchens.  This was where we used nib pens and inkwells, learned what we called 'real writing' and studied for the 11 plus.  I was 10 and three quarters when I took the eleven plus, passed and went to Grammar School, I was like a fish out of water there as I was a lot younger than the other pupils, that is another story but my abiding memory is of The Laughing Cavalier looking down on us as we struggled with inky fingers to write in a cursive, joined up writing, whatever the teacher had written on the board.

The original of this painting can be seen in The Wallace Collection

When I was six years old we moved from the large Midlands city of Leicester where I was born, to a small village in North East Derbyshire.  I remember a painting which used to be on the wall at the top of the stairs in our new home.  After my father died my Mum had married again (an old teenage sweetheart) and we moved to his home.   The painting, well copy or print of a painting, was The Boyhood of Raleigh by Sir John Everett Millais.  Over the years it faded but I remember it always there when I went up to bed on cold winter nights, reluctant to leave the roaring coal fire downstairs, clutching a hot water bottle.  The arm in the painting almost pointing the way to my little bedroom where it took ages to get warm and where sometimes, in the depths of winter,  I woke to frost on the inside of the windows.

The original of this painting can be seen in the Tate Gallery.


A few years later my mother wanted new carpet and a new sofa for what we called the front room.  This was a room we rarely used until we put a television in there.  There was a piano in this room and I was sent with my friend Wendy for piano lessons given by a music teacher who lived down in the centre of the village opposite the parish church.  When Mum got her new carpet and sofa the room had been decorated too and she bought a print of a painting she'd always liked for the back wall behind the sofa, it was The Haywain by John Constable.  This was another painting which became so familiar to me.  Many years later I did an 'A' level evening class in Art History at the Art College in the nearby town where I worked.  One of the questions in the exam just happened to be about Constable's paintings of The Haywain and Flatford Mill.

The original of this painting can be seen in the National Gallery

Of course non of the above paintings would be chosen as my favourite paintings but I do have an affection for them as they hold so many memories.   Joining in with Barbara at Coastal Ripples for Paint Monthly

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

At Bakewell

Having spent two or three days around home and not travelling very far we decided that if it was going to be dryer and brighter today that we would venture out a bit further.  The weather on the local breakfast news looked favourable so off we went to one of our favourite places the little town of Bakewell in Derbyshire.  I've taken you here in several posts before but it is somewhere I never tire of and I hope you don't either.

We were in search of a warm, winter shirt for Paul and new jar labels for the jars of  chutney we made over the weekend.  Dear friends from Nottingham visited us for lunch last Friday and brought more apples from their garden with them. You may remember I wrote about making plum and apple jam with the apples they gave us a few weeks ago, this time we made a spiced apple relish and some apple and prune chutney. 

We had a lovely wander around the town and I took a few photos along the way.

 The water in the River Wye was very high as we crossed over the bridge from the car park on the other side.

 It was frothing and cascading over the little water falls as it travelled at quite a rapid pace through the town, past Haddon Hall on its way to the village of Rowsley where it joins the River Derwent.

  It always seems that little bit colder down by the water, where the gulls dip and dive and look for food from passers by.

The metal bridge is festooned with love locks, I had read somewhere that these may have to be removed as they are undermining the structure of the bridge.  For the moment they are still there.

 In the centre of Bakewell are lots of little alleyways and courtyards full of interesting shops.

 We always enjoy mooching around them looking in the shop windows and sometimes venturing inside.

 We managed to get some labels from a kitchen shop

I bet this cafe looks lovely all lit up in the early evening.  I wouldn't want to sit outside  at this time of year though.

 Apparently Hulley's of Baslow have been offering bus services in the Peak District and South Yorkshire since 1921.

 The church of All Saints stands high above the main part of the town.  I wrote about it in a post on 26th August 2013 (link here)  It looks from the scaffolding around the tower as if restoration work is being done.

Many shop windows were decked out with Christmas displays and I was drawn to them like a child to the window of a toy shop.

These bears were my favourites standing in the door of a clothing shop.  We went in, we bought a winter shirt for Paul at an eye watering cost but as he's been looking for months for a warm, checked casual shirt that was two inches longer in the sleeve we felt it was worth every penny.  Most shops now stock only standard sizes and those that do offer a longer sleeve length only produce them in blue, grey or white cotton for business and working purposes rather than every day casual and leisure wear.

After that it was time to set out for home, we called at the bookshops at both Hassop and Brierlow Bar on the way home.  Hassop was heaving, mostly in the cafe section, but Brierlow Bar was quiet and peaceful much more conducive for looking at books.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Monday's Miscellany

The last few days have gone by so quickly and we have had an equal proportion of sunny and rainy days.  Friday was fine in the afternoon and we walked down into town and up towards the library.  I had my camera with me so I took a couple of photos along the way.

The distinctive Bottle Ovens of the Gladstone Pottery Museum.  It has been a while since we visited, I think a visit may be called for again soon to see if there have been any changes.

 Not far from the Gladstone Museum is the parish church of St James the Less.  I loved the reflections of nearby buildings outlined on the tower.

 and the Rowan tree in front of the church, full of berries.

 On Sunday morning we walked at one of our favourite places - Consall Nature Park.  Above the sun reflecting trees in Heron's Pool and below the steam train on the line of the Churnet Valley Railway near the station.  You can see the Caldon Canal in the foreground with its very muddy towpath.  Good job we had our wellies on.

 Back through the woods to the sound of the 'tooting' steam engine which was being run up and down the line, the bellowing of a couple of cows in a field near the canal and the occasional cackle of a pheasant, heard but not seen.
 This afternoon after the rain had disappeared and the sun came out we cleared a lot of leaves from the garden and filled up the wheelie bin ready for tomorrow's collection.

 We were rather surprised to spot a new visitor to the garden.

It only stayed for a short time but I managed to get a rather bad photo of it through the window.  A grey wagtail!  We've never, as far as I know, had one of those in the garden before.

Earlier in the day we found evidence of another visitor to the garden......

a Badger had been rooting around!

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

A Chilly Lakeside Walk

Gosh it was cold this morning!  We've had mild weather for so long that it is going to take a while to acclimatise to the cooler weather.  My winter coat had been washed and dried in readiness and was definitely needed this morning along with gloves, boots and hat too.

We took our usual lakeside walk at Trentham Gardens

 The lake was dark and still and in small patches was frozen over.

 We spotted a wagtail out on the lake walking on the ice.

 There were many swans on the lake and it is always a pleasure to see them

 This chaffinch sang to us as we wandered by

 As well as many white swans there is a pair of black ones too.   I waited ages for them to get close enough to take a photo and just at the last minute one of them plunged its head under water. Typical!

 It was lovely walking by the lake and under the gradually baring autumnal trees. Tramping through the shed leaves and kicking them up as we waded through. There were many people out and about walking dogs, walking in small groups.  Sporting colourful bobble hats and padded, quilted coats of many colours.
The fungi under the trees and in the dark and damp recesses of dead and decaying branches was more abundant than I have seen it for many years. 

 It took a while to spot the heron, keeping still and silent by the water's edge.   He or she was quite content for us to take photos as long as we didn't  venture too close.

 Close by the heron at the base of a tree yet more fungi

 and hidden under the fallen, decaying leaves a Fly Agaric once you see its bright colour you wonder how it was so hard to spot.

 It has been a wonderful autumn this year and even in the colder weather it still delights.

We woke up to a frost this morning, the roofs of sheds and tops of fences along the street where white and the cat from next door but two walked gingerly along the fence towards his home.   We also woke up to a pink sky 'Red sky in the morning, Shepherds' warning' is how the saying from my childhood goes and sure enough local news has just given out a warning of snow for later today and overnight.  How things have changed in just one week!

Friday, November 04, 2016

Five on Friday

It's Friday!  Time to join in with Amy at Love Made my Home for this weeks five.

So here are five things that have made me smile this week 

1.  Sunshine - glistening on the stone of the garden feature at Wolesley Nature reserve, headquarters of the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust at Colwich near Rugeley.  We visited on Monday to have a walk around the reserve.

I loved the sight of the trees through the iron work roof.

2.  Halloween or All Hallows' Eve - as we wandered around the nature reserve and visitor centre we spotted lots of carved pumpkins the one above was our favourite.

There was also this 'chattering' bat hanging in the doorway.  Brush past it and it started up with the most eerie noise, the children thought it was fun but I think the staff were finding it a little trying by the end of the day.  I did my first thinking about Christmas and bought some Christmas cards. Back home we filled a bowl with little treats and had several witchy and ghostly characters bang on the door.

3.  Cat visits to the garden - we are used to neighbourhood cats visiting our garden but not this one.  She lives next door and is supposed to be a house cat and shouldn't have been out.  I've only ever seen her indoors so it took a second or two to realise who it was.  She was swiftly scooped up and returned to her unsuspecting owners. 

4.  The Tulip Tree - the Tulip Tree in the garden has been spectacular this year  I took the photo above from our bedroom window during the golden hour before sunset early this week, the light catching the leaves made them look golden.

In the pale light of a dull day they are more coppery in colour.

5.  Quarryman sculpture - on Wednesday we met some friends for lunch at the cafe at Poole's Cavern and Buxton Country Park,  We went for a walk first in the country park as far as Solomon's Temple.  On our way we passed the sculpture of the Quarryman.

He was made by Sheffield artist Lorraine Botterill with help from pupils at a local Buxton School.  He was very realistic and I loved his stoic expression.  Apparently he is so lifelike that dogs have dropped balls at his feet and waited for him to throw them.

Click on the link below to find others who are joining in this week with Five on Friday