Sunday, May 27, 2007


Yesterday morning we drove over to Bakewell. We followed our usual route through Ipstones, Warslow, Hartington, Monyash and into Bakewell. We parked up quite easily on the large car park on the island and made our way over the river into the town centre. We had a good wander round; it seemed ages since we were last there and many shops had either closed or changed hands and new coffee and tea shops seemed to have sprung up all over the town.

For instance I don't think this was here last time we visited - the original Bakewell Pudding shop is still on the main street - this one seems to be trying to take over - Pudding Factory no less!

We normally have elevenses in the cafe above the Farmer's market shop near the river but yesterday we had coffee and scones in the Antique Shop and above is the view from the window as we sat enjoying our coffee. By the time we came out the sunshine had gone and a slight drizzle had taken it's place.

We went down to the river and crossed over to the cattle market to see what the farmer's market had to offer. Lots of lovely things to eat or grow. People were queuing for fish, smoked meats, wild mushrooms, every flavour of cheese you could imagine and lots of lovely crusty bread. We bought cottage loaf style rolls, garlic and wild mushroom cheese and organic apple juice for a picnic. By this time the town was getting crowded and the car park had filled up so we set off towards home stopping on the way back for our late lunch picnic and a mooch around the wonderful bookshop at Brierlow Bar.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Only a Rose

The first roses of the year are always the yellow ones. In the list of 'The Meaning of Flowers' it says that the yellow rose indicates - Friendship; Joy and happiness; Jealousy; Trying to care; and Gladness. Such a lot for a small rose to live up to - well they certainly make me happy and I'm always glad to see them.

I 'm rather concerned about the idea for councils to put micro chips in wheelie bins so they can weigh people's rubbish and charge them for the disposing of it. I can see where they are coming from and agree that something has to be done but isn't this idea open to abuse? Whilst I put my bin out on the morning of collection a lot of my neighbours put their bins out the night before, presumably because they have to dash off to work early in the morning. I have a vision of people tiptoeing about late at night putting their waste into other people's bins. Perhaps the solution is to have a padlock on the bin but then that would take the refuse collectors twice as long to do their round; maybe we will have to stand guard over our bins until they are emptied. The people who make these plans seem to have a very rose tinted view of the world.

I was also pondering today about what may have happened to the Pilsbury Dough Man? Does anyone remember him?

Monday, May 21, 2007

You wait for ages then.........

On Sunday, after an invigorating walk around Trentham Lake, we decided to pop down to the Wedgwood Visitor Centre at Barlaston - just a short drive away - for elevenses. We parked near the cricket ground not far from the station, walked through the back of the factory and into the shop. The place was quite busy, as usual, with coaches full of tourists, all wanting to have their photo taken next to Josiah Wedgwood; by the time I took the photo below they had all gone on the factory tour.

After coffee and cheese scones in the Ivy House Cafe we wandered out to have a look at the building work for the new Wedgwood Museum and discovered these:-

We had somehow found ourselves at a vintage vehicle rally which had taken over much of the visitor car park at the centre. We spent ages wandering round and saw some wonderful old buses.

'Hold very tight, please' - Ding, Ding.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Rain Drenched Peonies

I just thought you would like to see this photo. I went out yesterday into the damp, misty and rain filled garden and found them. I always forget how beautiful they are and what memories they evoke. I see the peonies and am instantly transported back to my childhood and I'm playing on our front lawn with my friends. We have mother's clothes horse covered with a blanket and it is our tent. We have a small mat and some cushions inside and our dolls lined up against the inside wall. We are playing 'house'. Outside in the late spring sunshine the grass is a rich green, the heavily laden lilac tree casts its heady scent over our playground and in the bed near the front window of the house are the blowsy, deep rich ruby-red peonies.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Books and Bottle Ovens

I've just finished reading the book below. Written by Carol Lake in the 1980s and published in 1989 it is a series of stories about the area of Rosehill in a Midlands town that is actually Derby. The stories are warm and vibrant, even though they are about poverty, unemployment and inner city re-development. I discovered an evocative quote in here around which could be built a great story when the author describes two retired school teachers as 'living behind their dusty laurel hedges and stained-glass vestibule' - wonderful.

I particularly enjoyed the story The Trip which was about an evening visit by train to the 'Venetian Nights' at Matlock Bath. This brought back many memories of visits made as a child to this festival . Whilst I'm on the subject of Matlock Bath, a place we often pass through on our way between Stoke and visiting relatives at Chesterfield - we do stop there quite often too at either Cromford Mill or Masson Mill or Matlock itself for coffee and a look around - last week I received the book I won in a competition, kindly posted to me by the author himself with other goodies including a pen, bookmark and signed photograph. Many of the scenes in this book are in and around Matlock Bath, I did borrow it from the library earlier this year but it is wonderful to have my own copy.

I can recommend any of Stephen Booth's books, they are all wonderfully well written. If you like crime novels and the Peak District then you couldn't ask for more. I've sent a small thank you card to Mr Booth with a bottle oven on it which I bought in the Museum on Saturday. I hope he doesn't mind me sending it. Whilst I'm on the subject of bottle ovens when we were in the Museum we were able to look at the plans for 'the future of Stoke-on-Trent' which amongst many other bright and innovative ideas is a plan for huge glass bottle ovens in the city centre which will house gardens and cafes and walkways. When I saw the drawings I thought of the Winter Gardens in Sheffield and also the pyramid entrance to the Louvre in Paris. It all looks wonderful but will it ever happen? People are already complaining that the £100 million could be put to better use when the hospitals are struggling and old peoples homes are closing down - and I understand what they mean - but of course, the money comes from a different 'pot' which can't be used for other projects. It will be interesting to see what happens.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

A Busy Day

As we had to stay around home because of Max we spent most of yesterday in the garden. I mowed the lawns and weeded some of the flower beds whilst Paul dug up a small tree and moved it to another part of the garden. When we moved here a decade ago the garden was well planted and easy to maintain but as the trees and shrubs have grown bigger it has highlighted a problem with the planting done by the previous owners. I think they hadn't thought about how big the plants would grow so that now we seem to have areas of the garden where everything is close together and then large areas of space. We are trying to rectify this by moving some of the shrubs and replacing others.

Lots of the plants are in flower in particular this clematis which winds its way up into the trees at the top of the garden - I think it always looks so pretty. There is a house at the bottom of our street which has this variety all around the side of the building and then across the front door and down one side of it. It looks wonderful.

Above is the chaos that is the middle bed of the garden near the pond. It is very difficult to weed as the soil is clay and at present very dry and hard. The orange flower is Geum 'Dolly North'. The rest of the bed is filled with Aquilegias, also known as Columbines, of all colours and they spread and spread each year. Also in there are 'London Pride' and Geum 'Rivale'. Later the hardy Geranium 'Anne Thompson' will flower. You can just see one of the feathery branches of the Tamarisk tree which at this time of year is a lovely pale pink.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Mad Max

Yesterday Max had to go into the vets to get his teeth sorted out. He ended up having several extractions as well as a scale and polish. We brought him home armed with antibiotics, painkillers and special soft food; the nurse said he would probably sleep a lot and be very drowsy. Not so. He spent the evening racing around the house going round and round in circles until I was dizzy. We had to get up with him two or three times in the night as he just wouldn't settle but by morning he seemed to have calmed down and after he'd had his tablets and soft food we decided to let him out, even though we were supposed to keep him in for 24 hours, as he was desperate to be in the garden. He was fine and calmed down immediately.

In the middle of all this activity, around midnight I think, but at a point where we had just fallen asleep for a while there was a knock at the front door; as it was quite late we were a bit cautious but it was just a pizza delivery man who'd somehow got the wrong house number. I wonder if the people who'd ordered the pizza ever got their delivery?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Which Book to Choose?

So Waterstones want us to vote for our favourite book of the last twenty five years. They have presented a list of one hundred to choose from and of that one hundred I’m ashamed to say I have only read twenty; but they were all wonderful books. So how could I choose any one from the other? Am I qualified to vote having read so few? Here is a list of the ones I have read:-

Hawksmoor – Peter Ackroyd
Behind the Scenes at the Museum – Kate Atkinson
The Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood
Regeneration – Pat Barker
Notes from a Small Island – Bill Bryson
Possession – A S Byatt
The Name of the Rose – Umberto Eco
Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
Briget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
Chocolat – Joanne Harris
Notes on a Scandal – Zoe Heller
Woman in Black – Susan Hill
The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things – Jon McGregor
The English Patient – Michael Ondaatje
Perfume – Patrick Suskind
The Secret History – Donna Tartt
Fingersmith – Sarah Waters
Oranges are not the Only Fruit – Jeanette Winterson
The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

So, how do I choose between these wonderful books? The books that made me laugh perhaps? Then it would be Notes from A Small Island or Bridget Jonses’s Diary. Those that intrigued me? The Name of the Rose, The Secret History, Fingersmith, The Blind Assasin or Possession. Those that actually startled me? That would be Hawksmoor or The Woman in Black. The ones that moved me? Maybe The Remains of the Day, The English Patient, Birdsong, Regneration or Chocolat? Perhaps those that had elements of familiarity then say Oranges are not the only Fruit or Behind the Scenes at the Museum. Then again I could go for the books I’ve read more recently like Notes on a Scandal, The Shadow of the Wind, Perfume or If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things.

I wonder what I would think of the books if I went back and re-read them. Maybe they wouldn’t have the same impact a second time around. Of all the above books those that linger in my memory more vividly than the others are:-

Hawksmoor, The Name of the Rose, Fingersmith and If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things.

Can I choose four not one please? Also a book I very much enjoyed reading, seems like a decade ago now, The Quincunx by Charles Palliser, isn't on the list.

Of course, this is all diversion tactics to take my mind off the real issue of the day because I'm sitting here with fingers and toes crossed that the BNP don't win all the seats in our ward at today's local elections - the very thought fills me with dread. As soon as the worker comes home we will be off to vote and then it will be a long agonising wait to see what happens - I may even say a little prayer.