Saturday, December 09, 2023

Getting There

The last week has been so wet and still it rains today.  We've just managed a quick walk up to the local post office and back to buy stamps and post both cards and a parcel. The heavens opened again as we were halfway home so we are now drying off.  I think soup is needed for lunch although it isn't cold, just very damp and windy.  Dull too.  Earlier this week we had a good clear out of household things we no longer needed or used and took them to The Big Shop which is a combined shop and warehouse for a nearby hospice.  We went there as there is plenty of space to park close to the donation point. As we drove along the lanes between Stone and Eccleshall the roads were full of huge puddles with rainwater running off the fields and gushing up from blocked drains.  Some fields had developed small lakes on lower ground.  Some had resident gulls on them.

Holy Trinity Church, Eccleshall
Above and below the High Street Eccleshall is a mixture of shops, cafes and private houses.  Many have the names of their former use.  The Old Bakery, The Old Post Office and The Old Fire Station are just some of them.

Eccleshall's shopping streets were looking quite festive in spite of the rain.  We had a coffee and then a little wander around before returning home.

Preparations for Christmas have included pudding making.  I haven't bothered with a cake this year.  

I did make a cake for a friend's birthday last week and a slice was eaten late afternoon after a lovely lunch.  Just right with a cup of tea to sustain us on our journey home from Nottingham.

Coffee and Walnut cake, a favourite. 

We also brought home one of Robert's 'paperbag' stories which was inspired by fox and badger visits to our garden and the visit of an elderly fox to his own garden.  In this story Eddy the fox has a lucky escape from the dogs  next door with the help of his friend Toby the badger.

Last weekend we had snow.  We walked out in it and down to the park where parents and children were out and about with sledges, all having fun in the soft snow.  We passed many snowmen on our walk.  By the next day it had been washed away by the rain.

Fenton Park

Fenton Park

We moved on from the park to see if we could spot the Waxwings that had been reported as feeding on the berry trees in a small square nearby.  Unfortunately we didn't see any, just lots of people in black with cameras wrapped up in plastic bags patiently waiting.  I've seen some lovely photos of the Waxwings on social media and apparently they are still there today.
Next week we have another visit to make to take cards and presents, again into Nottinghamshire.  We are gently getting on with plans for the coming weeks. 
All for now. 

Friday, December 01, 2023

Into December

A few photos from this morning's walk at Trentham Gardens.  Cold in the air and crunchy underfoot. Visible breath from both walkers and dogs.  Definitely a warm hat, scarf and gloves day.  Also a hot chocolate day at the cafe halfway around the lake.  Fingers warmed around the cup before we moved on.

Stay warm and have a lovely weekend.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

A Few Geese

 There were lots of lovely geese around the lake at Rocester last week.  As well as the usual Canada and Greylag geese there were quite a few others.

A trio of geese grazing - Bar-headed goose, Egyptian Goose and Greylag goose.

Snow Goose

Bar-headed Goose

Emperor Geese

Barnacle Geese
I'm not sure what this one is.  A Hybrid perhaps?

Greylags - they all gathered together and with a flapping of wings and a tremendous noise they all flew off.  It's great to hear them.

Barnacles - there were lots of these all together.  What is it about geese? I love them, especially at this time of year.
We had a brisk walk around the whole lake before moving on to Croxden Abbey which I wrote about in my last post.

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Croxden Abbey

Croxden Abbey is one of our nearest English Heritage sites.  I've written a couple of posts about it over the years but I thought it could be featured again as it is a beautiful and atmospheric place.

We visited on Wednesday after a visit to Uttoxeter and then a walk around the JCB Lake at Rocester.  We saw some wonderful water birds at the lake so I'll write about those in a later post.

Croxden Abbey was founded in 1179 on land granted by local nobleman Bertram de Verdun, Lord of the Manor of Alton.  By the 13th century it housed about seventy Cistercian monks.  In 1538 after the Dissolution it became a farm and farmland.  In 1539 the site was leased to Francis Bassett a servant of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer.

The ruins comprise remains of the Abbey Church, Infirmary and Abbot's lodging.
Above and below show remains of the Warming House, Refrectory and Kitchen.

West Range
West Door

Above what is left of the site of the bookroom and Sacristy.

Remains of the church.
It's said that some of the burials close to the high altar in the church are those of Bertram III de Verdun the founder of the Abbey and his wife Rohese.   Theobald de Verdun, 2nd Baron Verdun and his first wife Matilda or Maud Mortimer daughter of Edmund Mortimer, 2nd Baron Mortimer.

As you can see from the photos it was a bright, sunny day. It wasn't cold either.  Rain came later as the sky darkened in the late afternoon and evening. 

Monday, November 13, 2023

Tulip Tree

 The Tulip Tree (Liriodendron) at the top of the garden is fast losing all its leaves.  It’s been looking spectacular, changing from bright green, to acid yellow then deep orange before it’s leaves began to drop and whirl and descend in a bright cloud towards the grass below.  Brisk gusts of wind lift the leaves and toss them around.  Many of them land in the hedges and shrubs, others float on the pond.

I can’t imagine how tall the tree is now.  Hard to think that we brought it home from the garden centre in the back of a car and that it remained in it’s pot for a couple of years whilst we decided where it would live.
The Liriodendron is part of the Magnolia family of trees.

It got the name Tulip Tree because its flowers vaguely resemble tulips. 

Apparently they can flower once they have reached fifteen years in age. Ours hasn't flowered yet.

Photos above and below were taken early this morning when even more leaves had fallen.

The tree is native to North America and was introduced into this country in the 17th century.
Our tree must be around twenty years old. When you compare it with the one below in Trentham Gardens,  it's still a youngster.

I'm having problems with my laptop.  It seems to be on a go slow. Not sure what the problem is as it has plenty of memory.   I may have to buy a new one. 

All for now.  Take care.

Wednesday, November 08, 2023

To the Spitfire

Recently we ventured up to the city centre to visit the Spitfire Gallery at the museum.  The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery can be found in what is signposted along all routes into the centre as The Cultural Quarter.  We also wanted to see the new library which had moved from its old 1960s building into one of the new buildings on the Smithfield site, an area where there used to be a pottery factory.

Before we went into the Museum we wandered around the newer buildings.

The new library opened at Two Smithfield last week.  It is quite spacious inside, fiction and children's books downstairs and non fiction on the upper level. There are lots of computer points and tables on both levels.  The archives part of the old library building will now be housed within the museum, opening in Spring next year.
Opposite the new library is the Mitchell Arts Centre.  Local man Reginald Mitchell (1895 - 1937) was the designer of the Spitfire hence the name of the cafe there.
Further along the road is the Regent Theatre.  Behind it is Victoria Hall a largish but not huge concert venue. I have to admit I've only been inside the Victoria Hall once when we went to see Simon Callow's one man show on Charles Dickens.   We've been to the Regent Theatre a few times but not recently.

Back on Smithfield - a new hotel.
One Smithfield was inspired by the designs of local potter and ceramic designer Clarice Cliff.  Talking of Clarice Cliff we recently saw the film 'The Colour Room' about her early years in the pottery industry.  I really enjoyed it.  Lots of it was filmed locally.
A small fragment of what is left of the old Smithfield Factory one of the city's most iconic shapes.  The bottle oven or pot bank.
The back of the Potteries Museum - the Spitfire is behind the large window.
By now it was well past 10a.m. and the Museum was open.
The Spitfire has been decorated with over a thousand poppies made by the 'Let's Make Jam' Women's Institue.

The WI have made the poppies from  wool, felt and paracord.
The poppies are sewn onto cargo netting except for the wreath.

The poppies will be on display until Sunday 12th November.

All for now.