Thursday, January 10, 2019

A Change of Colour

Recently we visited one of my favourite places, the little town of Ironbridge in Shropshire.  I've been looking back at photographs to see when we last visited and it seems to have been in February 2017 when I took the photo below,  although we did pass through after our visit to Coalbrookdale in March last year because I remember that the bridge was covered over.

Designed by Thomas Farnolls Pritchard the iron bridge at Ironbridge, an iconic monument of Britain's industrial heritage, was completed in 1779 and opened in 1781. After a detailed survey it was found that the bridge, which  is cared for by English Heritage, was under threat of cracking and needed urgent repairs to safeguard its future. Project Iron Bridge began in Autumn 2017 and for most of last year the bridge was covered over as restoration work was done

Both the cast iron and masonry elements of the bridge have been repaired.  The entire structure has been cleaned and repainted and it is now restored to its original red-brown colour just as it was shown in a painting of 1780 by William Williams. I'm not sure of copyright so here is a link to the painting.

After walking over the bridge and taking a few more photos we had a wander around a few of the shops.

It was a lovely sunny morning but quite chilly.

There was still a smell of the paint used on the bridge in the air.

There weren't many people about around the bridge although cars were parked all over and the coffee shops were bustling.

We bought a newspaper, had a nose in a charity shop and the wonderful bookshop.

Looking again at the bridge

Do you like the return to the original colour or the grey? I must admit that I quite like the rusty brown colour now I've seen it.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Pottery from the 'Josephine Willis'

The Josephine Willis was a first-class ship owned by Messrs Fletcher of Limehouse and chartered by Messers Willis & Co who ran monthly sailings to New Zealand.  The ship left St Katherine's Dock on February 3rd 1856 and was towed down the River Thames from Gravesend to Deal where the pilot left her to make her way out to sea.  She was laden with valuable and miscellaneous cargo, ten first class passengers, sixty steerage passengers and thirty five crew members.  

 Three hours later the Josephine Willis collided with the iron clad steamer Mangerton its iron hull sliced through the wooden sailing ship below the water line causing extensive damage.  The steamer then reversed causing the water to enter the sailing ship which sank an hour later. Sadly seventy lives were lost.

In 2012 the wreck of the Josephine Willis was discovered by the Folkestone Sub Aqua Club. During explorations a large number of pieces of Staffordshire Pottery, bound for sale in New Zealand, were found and several pieces have been donated to the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery.

The pieces are on display in the ceramics gallery, some showing signs of damage from their many years under the sea.

 Other pieces looking as they must have done when first loaded onto the ship.  Above pieces by Davenport of Longport.

 Above and below are cups saucers and plates some of them decorated with  the Gem pattern by Charles Meigh & Son of Hanley.

Here is a link to an interesting article about the ship, how it sank and the ensuing court cases and also how it was finally located.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

A Misty Lakeside Walk

On Thursday morning we walked around Westport Lake.

The mist was hanging over the water

Everything was grey

As we walked the mist began to lift slightly

There weren't many people walking just a few stalwarts taking exercise or walking dogs.  Although the air was damp it wasn't cold.

The birds were keeping close to the edges of the lake, looking out for people with food to offer them.

Others were snoozing
There were a few tufted ducks out on the lake also grebes and gulls.  I watched a cormorant fly over the lake but didn't see it land.

There were lots of coots and moorhens about too

We only saw two swans on our walk, there are usually far more.

There were four Muscovy Ducks.  Two out on the smaller lake and two keeping dry under the trees.

This goose looks like a cross between a greylag and one of the white geese.

The long tailed tits were flying quickly between the branches of the trees.  I managed to catch one of them from the rear but they are so hard to take photos of.

A tree full of pigeons all rock doves rather than wood pigeons.

I've registered to take part in the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch.  We've done this for quite a few years now.  The weekend for the survey is 26th -28th of January 2019.  

At the moment we have loads of goldfinches visiting the feeders plus sparrows, chaffinches, blue tits and great tits.  We saw a green finch a few days ago and the blackbirds are back in the garden.

What are the odds that they will all stay away when we sit down to take the survey?

Monday, December 24, 2018

A Christmas Past

It's Christmas Eve!

Shall we sit and have a mug of coffee and a mince pie whilst I tell you about the photo below? 

Recently I came across this photograph on the wonderfully named Magic Attic's facebook page.  I visited The Magic Attic in Swadlincote in Derbyshire a number of years ago to follow up some family history enquiries and to donate a manuscript that had been given to me about the history of the nearby village of Newhall.  When I first visited the archives were kept in an attic above a snooker club, hence its name.  It is now housed in the Sharpes Pottery Museum in Swadlincote town centre.  Apparently the photo above was taken from a Magic Lantern slide which was entitled 'Christmas'. It is dated 1911.  A little research had been done to find out who the people were in the photo and imagine my delight when it was found that they were part of my ancestry.  Not a direct line but the man in the photo above was the son of a younger brother of my great great grandfather.   I looked the family up on the 1911 Census and they lived at 59 James Street, Upper Midway which is on the outskirts of Swadlincote. The adults are William Gough, his wife Frances Davies Williams and the older lady to the right could be her mother Jane Williams.  The little girl is Muriel Williams Gough. What a delightful photo it is and Muriel has some lovely toys to play with. I have done further research into the Davies Williams family who seem to come from Monmouthshire and Shropshire but more of that another day.

This year we decided that we didn't want a sugary iced Christmas cake so have made a Dundee cake instead.  I say we as I weighed out the ingredients, washed the dried fruit and started creaming the butter and sugar but in the middle of mixing the ingredients got a phone call about one of our neighbours who is in hospital so Paul finished it, lined the tin and put it in the oven.  It took over four hours to cook.  I hope it tastes okay.  Paul, with his Yorkshire background, will eat a slice with a piece of cheese.

As I get older Christmas seems to me to be a time of reflection when we remember those we used to share it with and think of those less fortunate than us who may be lonely or ill or struggling through troubled times.

I'd like to wish everyone who visits me here a very Happy Christmas and to say thank you for your visits, wonderful comments and special blogging friendship throughout the year.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Once Upon a Time

After our visit to the Christmas Tree Festival in Bakewell we drove the short distance to Haddon Hall.
We usually visit in Spring or Summer, especially when the Tudor Group are there, but have been once before to their Christmas events.

The sun was shining as we made our way to the entrance.

Inside the fairy tale trail began.

Inside the greenery and toadstool decorations led us into another world.

In the banqueting hall the soft colours of the silk and paper flowers contrasted well with the darker wood of the floor and ceiling.

Lights and the minstrels' gallery were decorated too.

In the Great Chamber we found the story of Cinderella.  Her blue glass slipper was on the table....

.....and her ball gown, constructed from leaves, in the window.

Upstairs in the long gallery we found an enchanted woodland in which Sleeping Beauty slumbered.

The spinning wheel upon which the Princess pricked her finger.

I loved all the little woodland creatures

The Princess slumbers in her flowery bower.

Next door in the parlour we found the story of the Shoemaker and the Elves.

Whilst in the State bedroom Little Red Riding Hood was visiting Grandma for tea.

But who is lurking behind the door?

The Big Bad Wolf dressed in Grandma's clothes

Back downstairs in the kitchens the Three Bears eat breakfast

Baby Bear looks as if he has finished his bowl of porridge.

By the hearth Cinderella's ordinary clothes are left behind whilst she wears the beautiful ball gown made of leaves.

Meanwhile out in the courtyard Rapunzel lets down her hair.

I loved all the extra details around the hall, especially in the kitchens.

I've added a few more photos below of the things that caught my eye.  Apologies in advance for the many photos.

 There were some beautiful festive wreaths

 Lots of trees full of pretty decorations

 I loved these two little birds

 The Christmas Tree in the Banqueting Hall was decorated with dried oranges and lemons.

 Views from the gardens.....

 ...and in the chapel.

 I saw these narcissus in a tub outside the gardeners cottage where we had tea and cake before we set out for home.
A little promise of Spring amongst the festive greenery.