Friday, February 17, 2017

Five on Friday

It's time for Five on Friday kindly organised, as always, by Amy at Love Made my Home.

Below are five things that have made me smile this week

1.  Heart Shaped Biscuits made on Sunday (see my last post) ready for Tuesday.  We still have a few left.

2.  One sunny afternoon Mr Fox decided he was going to sit in our garden for a while. I saw him trotting over the lawn and thought he'd make off through the hedge but he plonked down and curled up.  He stayed for about half an hour - such a joy to see.  The photo was taken from our bedroom window through the glass with the camera on maximum zoom so I didn't have to stand too close to the window.

3.  Earlier in the week we went over to Mansfield to visit some relatives and we ended up at Rufford Abbey for a walk along the paths from the Abbey to the Mill.  The Abbey ruins were closed for renovation work but it was lovely to see the old building in the sunshine.

4.  On a recent walk at Consall Nature Park we went on to the station platform where the Churnet Valley steam railway runs through from Froghall to Cheddleton.  I was drawn to the old British Rail posters.  They made me think of summer and holidays and travelling to different places.

5.  A few of the things I spotted whilst on our walk at Consall, an old barn, stark winter trees, canal boats and moss and lichen on a gate post.  As we walked we heard a woodpecker tip-tapping, a buzzard mewling, pheasants cackling and oddly, for midday,  the hooting of an owl.  There were robins, dunnocks and chaffinches flitting between hedges and singing as we walked along.

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

Sunday, February 12, 2017

If Neighbours give you Parsnips.......

........ Make soup!  Yesterday there was a knock at the door which, when opened, revealed one of my neighbours clutching two huge parsnips.  'A present', she said!  We had bought a few parsnips the day before but I didn't like to say we didn't need them so, of course,  I accepted them.

 Adding three of the smaller parsnips we had bought as well as an onion, Paul made a lovely soup  for lunch.
 It was warm and tasty on such a cold, wet and sleety day.  There is enough soup in the fridge for another day too.

 After lunch we made biscuits and cut them into heart shapes ready for Tuesday.

 They are cooling on the rack as I type this post

 A baker's dozen! They might need a bit of decoration, perhaps?  I'm sure a few of them will find their way next door to say thank you for the parsnips.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Five on Friday

Fridays come round so quickly don't they? In what seems just like the blink of an eye it's here once more and so it is time to join in with Five on Friday, kindly organised for us by Amy at Love Made my Home.

 On Tuesday we were invited to join very special friends at Langar Hall in Nottinghamshire to celebrate their fortieth wedding anniversary.  I remember being at their wedding in 1977 and they were at ours a couple of years later.  We had joined them at Langar Hall once before for a special birthday celebration and I loved the place then and it was just as wonderful on this occasion, cosy, comfortable, unhurried and the food was wonderful.

After lunch we had a wander around to the church which stands next to the hall.

The church is dedicated to St Andrew and is a 13th century building restored and added to in both the 15th and 19th centuries.

It is part of the Wiverton Group of Parishes all in the Vale of Belvoir which also included the churches of Cropwell Bishop, Granby, Tythby, Colston Basset, Barnstone and Elton on the Hill.

In the churchyard there are several preserved 18th century memorials, usually made of Swithland slate, bearing the carved image of the Belvoir Angel.  These carvings are found in churchyards across the Vale of Belvoir but very little is known about who carved them.  Here is a - link - to more information about them.

Shall we go inside?  I'm sure there will be five further things I can tell you about this lovely church.

1.  The nave - the wooden pews were removed in the 1970s and the present curved seating arrangement opposite an alter in the north isle came later.  St Andrews is a large church for such a small village and is sometimes known as the 'Cathedral of the Vale'.

2.  In the North Transept are monuments and  memorials to the Chaworth family of nearby Wiverton Hall.  The figures on the monument in the foreground are of Sir John Chaworth and his wife Mary daughter of Sir William Paston.   Mary was his second wife.  The figure on the monument at the rear is, according to several sources, Sir George Chaworth but the printed label laid on the tomb says Henry Chaworth and according to Thoroton Henry son of George is mentioned in Latin script on the same monument. Perhaps both are there? A bit of a puzzle!

3.  In the South Transept is the monument to Thomas, Lord Scrope of Bolton and his wife Philadelphia.  The kneeling figure is of their son Emanuel.

 At the top of the steps, behind the bier is a small exhibition about one of Langar's famous sons.

4.  Samuel Butler the writer was born at nearby Langar Rectory, the son of the Rev Thomas Butler who was responsible for many of the alterations in the church during the 1860s.  Samuel Butler's grandfather, also Samuel Butler, was Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry and Headmaster of Shrewsbury School where Charles Darwin was one of his pupilsThe later Samuel Butler who's most famous novel is probably The Way of All Flesh also made popular translations of Homer's The Iliad and The Odyssey. Here is a - link - to more about Samuel Butler.

5. In the church, behind the Scrope memorial are many memorials to the Howe family, who lived at Langar Hall, including the following

To the Memory of
Admiral of the Fleet, General of His Majesty’s Marine Forces
And Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter:
He died the 5th Day of August 1799; Aged 73 Years.
Second Daughter of RICHARD EARL HOWE;
She died the 9th day of April 1800; in the 35th Year of her age.
Who died the 9th Day of August 1800;
In the 67th Year of her Age. 

Here is more about Richard Howe, who was Admiral of the Fleet during many naval campaigns including the Glorious First of June.

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

Monday, February 06, 2017

A Walk at RSPB Coombes Valley

Yesterday although the sun was shining in the morning it felt cold that dank, damp cold that seems to get into your bones so you just can't get warm.  We did want to venture out some where for a walk and decided to visit our nearest RSPB site at Coombes Valley.   As we drove out towards Leek we could see a huge pall of black smoke hanging over the north of the city;  the local radio informed us it was a plastics recycling plant that was on fire.

When we reached Coombes Valley we could still see the swirl of smoke although it had changed in density and colour.

We chatted to the warden on duty who had been wondering what the smoke was and she also told us that willow tits had been seen on the feeders.  We did eventually see one but it was too quick for us to photograph.  We also saw blue, coal and great tits on the feeders as well as robins, chaffinch and a nuthatch on the feeders.  Later we saw a jay and a sparrow hawk.

I took quite a few photos as we walked around especially of some new additions to the site which we hadn't seen or explored before. 

Rare breed sheep in the meadow

A woven willow mushroom

Music under the trees.  I did have a tap or two at the hanging one but the other looked a bit fragile so I didn't hit it with a stick.

We ventured along the canopy walkway up in the trees, a bit unnerving as it moves around but felt quite sturdy underfoot.  It was wonderful to stand in the lookout and peer up into the branches of the tree.

 When we reached the pond it was frozen over.

 In contrast the river was flowing freely

 Meandering through the valley
 The Yurt
 The Barn
Some more scenes from our walk

Friday, February 03, 2017

Five on Friday

It's time for Five on Friday so here are five simple, cheering things that have made me smile this week.

 1.  Snowdrops - the first snowdrops of early February are always so beautiful
aren't they?

2.  Baking Banana Tea Bread to use up ripening bananas.  The recipe is from the BeRo book and one I always use.  We cut slices of the cake to take with us with a flask of coffee when we go out for walks.

3.  Daffodils and a Hare - two recent purchases - the first daffodils of the season, just £1 from the supermarket bring lots of cheer.  I love Hares and I couldn't resist this felted one from a local museum.  Hares as well as daffodils make me think of the coming Spring.

4.  Hyacinths - from the same supermarket as the daffodils above.  The ones we planted late after we had found them lurking in a pot in the greenhouse didn't flower, the leaves grew taller and taller but there were no flowers lurking between them.  Hence the purchase of some more, three in a pot for £1.26, not bad at all.  You can see the flowers developing on these so it won't be long until we have some colour and scent too.

5.  In the post - The 2017 National Trust Handbook plus the latest magazine popped through the letter box earlier this week.  It is cheering on these dark and gloomy days to think about Spring and Summer and where we might visit. We tend to work our long journeys around a National Trust property as they are good places to take a break, stretch your legs and take refreshment whilst discovering one or two new places along the way as well as returning to old favourites.  We may be headed towards the Isle of Wight later this year so there are plenty of places to explore en route.

Click on the link below to find others who are participating in Five on Friday this week. Thanks to Amy at Love Made my Home for looking after us.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

The Dig by John Preston

In my last post I mentioned a book I had been reading last week and how I hadn't been able to put it down.  The book in question was called The Dig and was written by John Preston.

It is a novel about a true story and set in those hot summer months in 1939 just before the outbreak of the second world war.

Whilst the country prepares itself for war a battle of another kind is happening in farm land in Suffolk near the village of Rendlesham at the site of Sutton Hoo.

It is a battle of wills between local and national interests.

The author writes from the viewpoints of three of the main characters involved with the dig.   Basil Brown is a local, self taught freelance archaeologist who is an expert on Suffolk soils.  Edith Pretty, a widow with a young son,  is the landowner who hires him to excavate the intriguing mounds on her land.  Peggy Piggot along with her then husband Stuart Piggot is brought in to take over the dig by Cambridge archaeologist Charles Phillips and much to the dismay of both Mrs Pretty and Mr Reid Moir representative of Ipswich Museum, Mr Brown is relegated to just helping instead of leading the excavation.  The first finds are sent to the British Museum and then they become involved too.

I just loved the way this book was written.  Each of the characters came to life, their thoughts, feelings, excitements, concerns and dismays as the dig progresses and the boat is uncovered.  I loved the descriptions of the land, the woods, the trips to the local town of Woodbridge, the shepherd's hut used by Mr. Brown and his helpers, Mrs Pretty in her chair watching them work whilst her hat, scarf or parasol shielded her from the sun.  Even more I loved the descriptions of the characters and their interactions with each other, descriptions of few words which paint wonderful, colourful observational pictures.

The Dig is a short book, my version just 230 pages long, and in the way the author brings you straight into the situations he has created reminds me very much of my most favourite book J L Carr's A Month in the Country.

The wonderful illustration on the front cover of the book I borrowed from the library is by Clifford Harper.

Coincidentaly in his 'A Bit about Britain' blog Mike has recenty written about his visit to Sutton Hoo here is a - link - to his post.