Sunday, September 30, 2007

Song Lyrics Again

Way Up High......

or down low.......

I'll go wherever you will go....

Yes, word's from 'Wherever you will go' by The Calling were in my mind as I gasped and wheezed my way to the top of the ridge opposite Thor's cave. We'd parked the car near Wetton Mill in the Manifold Valley and set off on the route towards Thor's cave but were diverted by new stiles and notices to say we could now follow the path to the top of the hills overlooking the cave. Well, we can't turn a new adventure down, can we?

It was a bit hazardous underfoot but we finally made it and the views were magnificent, by now though the sun was out making photos difficult. We saw a hare and a buzzard and plenty of sheep and crows. The grass, however, was very wet, and as we descended the hill on the other side back towards the mill, the damp was beginning to seep up my jeans from ankle to calf.

Back at the mill we sat outside with mugs of hot coffee and made friends with the mill cats ....

The Fluffy Grey

and the friendly brown and white

The third mill cat, the tortie, was in her usual place inside the cafe so we didn't disturb her.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A Walk in Sunshine

Today we walked around one of the lakes at Greenway Bank Country Park. The park is just a short drive away, up through the north of the city and then out towards Biddulph Moor where the first trickle of water, which as it flows further south and then east, grows and widens into the River Trent.

When we arrived in the car park there were just two others before us; a man walking his dogs and an old gentleman sporting cap and ear defenders, pushing an ancient cycle which had an old oil drum attached to it. He was foraging in the hedgerows for food and had apples from the still espaliered trees growing against the red brick walls which once bordered the kitchen garden of the old estate of Greenways Bank House, but were now enclosing the tarmac car park. We walked for about an hour and a half and then drove towards Bagnall passing the wonderful church at Brown Edge on the way.

It was really difficult to take photos as the sun was so bright, although it was really chilly and breezy as well.

Brown Edge is a lovely village that stretches for miles with wonderful views of both the countryside and the old workings of the Chatterley Whitfield pit, once a mining museum and now undergoing refurbishment.

We arrived at Jackson's Nursery at Bagnall just in time for lunch, which was cheese and tomato oatcakes with salad and a mug of coffee. All for three pounds each. Not a bad price really.

As it was blowing a gale on the outside decking we sat inside, and at noon we were the only customers there so we somehow missed out on the 'midday madness' required by the photo competition - perhaps we will manage tomorrow's theme of 'dinner time'.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Day Two

Today's theme for the UK at Home photos is called 'Morning Rush' and these refuse collectors were certainly rushing around this morning intent on getting the job done. We hardly had time to get the cameras switched on before they were halfway down the street, and my attempts were a bit dire so this one is Paul's photo.

You could tell that they were quick because they arrived over half an hour earlier than usual and several people were caught out and rushing to put out their wheelie bins in their dressing gowns and slippers.

On the Book Club Forum one of the topics was 'your ten favourite characters from English Literature.' I had to think really hard about this and I have left several out of my final list but this is what I finally came up with:-

Sydney Carton –
Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
Jane Eyre – Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
Kathy Ellerbeck – A Month in the Country – J L Carr
Obadiah Slope –
The Barchester Chronicles – Anthony Trollope
Captain William Dobbin –
Vanity Fair – W. M. Thackeray
Kester Woodseaves –
Precious Bane – Mary Webb
Elinor Dashwood –
Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
Gabriel Oak –
Far from the Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
Margaret Hale -
North and South – Elizabeth Gaskell
Dickon -
The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

There are, of course others including:-

Lotty Wilkins - Enchanted April - Elizabeth von Arnim
Margaret Wilcox - Howards End - E M Forster
John Ridd - Lorna Doone - R D Blackmore
Jacob Armitage - The Children of the New Forest - Captain Marryat

Some of my favourite reading as a child there too.

Tomorrow's theme for a photo is 'Midday Madness' - so watch this space!

Monday, September 24, 2007

UK at Home

This week is UK at Home week in which people are asked to take photos at particular times each day this week to give a snapshot of life across the UK. Fifty professional photographers are out and about across the country taking photos of the things that make up ordinary, everyday life - to quote from their website:-

'For one entire week, from 24 - 30 September, the UK at Home project will enable millions to capture "the emotions of home." We're looking for the distinctive rituals, ceremonies, traditions, intimate moments and all the myriad ways in which we work, play, learn, conduct our lives and interact with friends, family members (and pets!) as we transform our houses (and flats, caravans, etc) into our homes.'

The photos will end up in a book but also there is a facility on the web site in which anyone can submit a photo and each day there is a project and list of ideas that you can use when taking your photograph and a site for uploading them so other people can see them too.

I think this is a great idea, similar to the mass blog of last year, and we have decided to participate. Below is our photo, taken at 9a.m. this morning, not the greatest photo, but the usual everyday happening in our household. Cats wake us at 6a.m. asking to go out, by the time we've got up, had breakfast and tidied round they are back in again and fast asleep. Hmm....

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Up, Up and Away

We were sitting having breakfast about 8.30a.m. this morning when these two balloons drifted over our garden. We are used to seeing the green and gold Trentham Gardens balloon and the one behind was in the same colour scheme but was advertising Zanussi.

They look almost unreal in the early morning mist but as I looked at them I thought how wonderful it would be to have the freedom to just take off for the day and leave all worries and cares behind.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


I've just read a report in the local paper about a catapult attack on a school in Stafford. A teacher was hit on the side of her head by a ball bearing as she was escorting her class to the main school gates. A police spokesman said something along the lines of

'there were 100 children leaving the school with their parents. Had one of them been hit, it would have resulted in a more serious incident.'

What? Surely it has the same level of seriousness whoever is hit? But, as I have observed over the last few years, according to government and others, teachers don't count anymore. I've experienced, almost from the horses mouth, the way in which teachers, especially the older more experienced ones are being ground down and worn out by more and more paper work, training, course changes, constant monitoring and assessment, extra duties and extended timetables doled out by management so that they can tick the boxes required by government targets. There seems to be an unspoken agenda for schools to rid themselves of the older, experienced teachers in favour of young newly qualified teachers or class room assistants all of whom cost less money and don't remember how things used to be.

There are a whole load of other issues, but I won't say more or I shall get really angry. I've seen the way things have changed particularly over the last couple of years as Paul saw the job he loved and could do well, change so much that he was run ragged and stressed out. He has now walked away from the job, as have many of his colleagues this last term; he is healthier and happier now he doesn't have to spend hours each day accounting in triplicate for his every movement, now he doesn't have to miss lunch breaks in order to catch up on paper work, now he doesn't have to rush from class to class without even being able to have a comfort break and now he doesn't have to work three hours every evening and a couple of afternoons each weekend on top of his full week at work.

I'm glad he's out of it because things can only get worse.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Around the Garden

The weather today has brought to mind the first two lines from a poem called 'Remembrances' by John Clare.

'Summer pleasures they are gone like to visions every one and the cloudy days of autumn and of winter cometh on'

Yesterday was so warm that it was almost as if summer had returned for one last outing; today is very different. The sun is out but its warmth has gone, tempered by the fresh, crisp breeze that has my sheets flapping on the line and the new growth on the tamarisk tree whipping and tangling against the greying sky. The little sparrows, daily visitors to our bird table, cling on to the jiggling, dancing feeders their feathers so ruffled by the wind that they look twice their size. I have been walking around the garden taking a look here and there and still finding things to enjoy. The Sedum flowers always attract many butterflies and today one lone tortoiseshell was enjoying itself in the milky sun.

In the greenhouse the gourds Paul planted as an experiment are growing huge and heavy, but what a wonderful colour they are.

In the conservatory the fuschia flowers are still in abundance, we have both pink and purple ones, here are the pinks:-

We are still getting food from the garden; the courgettes have done so well this year and for once we have managed to salvage some hazel nuts......

from the crafty squirrel.

One of My Poems

I wrote this poem a few years ago after we paid a visit to Sutton Scarsdale Hall.

How many people's voices
have echoed through your halls?
How many children's fingers
have run along your walls?

How many people's footsteps
have crossed your old stone floors?
How many children's hopes and dreams
have left by your huge oak doors?

How many people have lived their life
in the warmth of your mellow stone?
How many children have passed away?
How many to adulthood grown?

How many years have you stood here
full of secrets and mystery?
Now you stand as a crumbled ruin
proudly open for all to see.

© RosiePursglove July 2002

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The Leopard

Yesterday we visited the first of the two buildings we had chosen from the twenty one different venues opened up across the Potteries for the Heritage Open Days weekend. This was the place that had recently been in the news locally because the new owners had discovered something rather wonderful at the back of a cupboard. Their find, behind a false wall, was a door leading them to two corridors of over 50 bedrooms built in the 1870s and left untouched since they had been closed off in the 1950s.

The Leopard stands on the market place in Burslem opposite the old town hall building which now houses the Ceramica project. It has stood on this site in one form or other for around 400 years. According to our guide for the afternoon, who was suitably or perhaps unsuitably (given the state of the building) dressed for the occasion in a flowery, lacy late 18th century style costume, records for the year 1640 show the building was three cottages. It had certainly become one building and an inn by 1765 because it was here, according to Josiah Wedgwood in one of his letters, that in March of that year, he dined with canal engineer James Brindley . The inn, at this time, was owned by Ellen Wedgwood, a relative of Josiah whose Ivy House Pottery works stood opposite, where the modern Ceramica building is now. It was in 1857 after years of neglect that Mary Lees took over as owner and gradually turned The Leopard from a small inn to one of the most prestigious hotels of the area and known locally as ‘the Savoy of the Midlands’.

We were taken into the dining room where Wedgwood and Brindley would have discussed plans for the Trent and Mersey Canal and where centuries later ceramic designer Clarice Cliff met with her married lover at an intimate corner table. Then it was up to the bedrooms, firstly the 18th century front rooms with bowed windows out onto the market place and into the room where, according to our guide, Charles Darwin and his wife Emma Wedgwood had stayed. Then we went through the door and into the old, neglected part of the building.

Two corridors of bedrooms in great disrepair, two bathrooms and two toilets on each floor. The top floor corridor along which we were allowed to walk was home to nesting pigeons and other birds. The owners hope to bring at least one floor back to it’s former glory as a hotel but being listed it is difficult to get around planning permission and the modern day need for en-suite facilities. Photography was difficult and after taking one photo of the outside, I kept my camera firmly in my bag but Paul managed to get a few photos, particularly of the different wall coverings still intact in some of the rooms.

In his some of his novels local author Arnold Bennett called The Leopard, The Tiger and the town of Burslem, Bursley. No doubt he would have used the place himself on his visits back to his home town. There was, of course, talk of ghosts two upstairs and that of a murdered servant in the cellar and apparently a television series called 'Most Haunted' is to record a programme from here later in the year. I didn't feel any ghosts but then what sensible ghost would come out when around 40 people of all ages and sizes were tramping around their patch?

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Books I really must keep - part 1

In my last post I mentioned that I would write about some of the items that I felt I could not part with and that I would start with some of my books. The first book is this one:-

I was trying to remember when this was given to me and I'm guessing it was probably in 1965 because this was the year I became hooked on Shakespeare. I'd been staying up late to watch the BBC's adaptation of the Royal Shakespeare Company's Wars of the Roses cycle of plays and my passion for Shakespeare developed from there. The book itself was given to me by my Uncle Harold and I guess it had been in his family or perhaps that of my Aunt's for some time. Unfortunately some of the front pages have been taken out so there is no date of publication just the following:-

Mr. William Shakespeare's Comedies, Histories, Tragedies & Sonnets. His Majesty's Printers, Eyre and Spottiswoode (Bible Warehouse) Ltd. London.

The pages are slightly yellowed with age and the paper is very flimsy and delicate - and I did wonder if it was a war time utility publication. 'His Majesty's Printers' must mean it was published in the reign of George V or more probably George VI. Maybe one day I will try to find out.

Book two is one of my very favourite books. A novella rather than a novel it just seems to touch every fibre of my imagination and somehow captures that bittersweet essence of life, love and mortality. That something that most of us feel but very few can express in words.

A Month in the Country by J. L. Carr tells the story of a young artist, suffering with 'shell shock' from his time in the trenches during the first world war and whose marriage is in difficulties. He travels into Yorkshire to restore a mediaeval wall painting in the church at a place called Oxgodby. Told in the first person the characters of the village that he comes across whilst he is working there, including the Reverend Keach, the archaeologist Charles Moon and the wonderful Katie Ellerbeck, are vividly portrayed. I won't say any more; just urge you to read it - it is only just over 100 pages, easily read in an afternoon - go on, treat yourself - you know you want to.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

One of those days, weeks, months or even year

Not quite the correct lyrics of I'll be there for you by the Rembrants that goes something along the lines of:- it's like you're always stuck in second gear, and it hasn't been your day, your week, your month, or even your year - well, you get the gist of it anyway.

The last few weeks have been so frustrating. Our house has been up for sale for just over a month now and we desperately need to sell it to rid ourselves of a mortgage we will soon be unable to pay and not one person has been to view the property so far. I know the housing market has slowed down through the summer and that August is the worst month to try and sell a house and that this, coupled with people waiting on the proposed change of government policy on house sales taxes has compounded our problems but at the moment we are in absolute limbo and I don't think I've slept properly for quite a few nights and it is now making me feel both restless and helpless.

This morning I was making coffee in the cafetiere when the glass broke and hot coffee shot all over the work surface, down the front of the washing machine, as well as under it and inside it, and down my front burning my stomach and the finger and thumb I was using to hold my hot, wet denim skirt away from my skin. Glass and coffee grounds went everywhere but luckily missed the airer full of ironing I'd just done. I ran up stairs and threw all my wet clothes in the bath whilst Paul moved the washing machine and took the top off and mopped up the hot coffee from the inside - who would have thought that one smallish container of coffee would cause so much mess?

Knowing that we will soon have to be moving I have been clearing out stuff and trying to get rid of things we no longer use but this has also given me the idea of writing about things that I know I can't get rid of, things that mean something to me, things I could never part with. I'm starting with books and so my next post will perhaps be about some of the books I want to keep and the reasons why. Also as this coming weekend is Heritage Open Days weekend we may be visiting a couple of buildings not normally open to the public, I think we have decided on The Leopard at Burslem and Bethesda Chapel in Hanley - I will report back later. In the meantime a lovely photo of dahlias - I always think of Bertie Wooster and his Aunt Dahlia when I see these - to cheer me up.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Monsieur Bibendum

This morning as we set off for our usual walk around Trentham Lake we came across Monsieur Bibendum. He wasn't there last time we walked the same way but this time - there he was.

The 10ft high Michelin Man was carved with a chainsaw from a tree stump, taken from an ancient sequoia tree, by Wolverhampton based artist Fred Woods. It is one of several sculptures that are to be placed around the gardens depicting industries, both past and present, that have been important to the growth of Stoke-on-Trent. The Michelin factory has been a major employer in Stoke-on-Trent for about eighty years and still employs around one thousand two hundred people in the city.

, the iconic logo of the Michelin company was designed in 1898 by French artist Marius Rossillon and was often depicted with a glass of beer and a cigar. The new Bibendum is slightly less rotund and an altogether more environmentally aware, abstemious character than his 20th century counterpart which was voted logo of the century in 2000.

Although I think that as a work of art this Monsieur Bibendum is very unusual I still prefer the three little blue and white ones that run around the roundabout near the factory in Stoke. It will be very interesting to see what different sculptures Mr Woods will design to depict the other major industries of Stoke-on-Trent.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

The Cat sat on the Mat

We had to buy a new door mat yesterday because one of our cats,Tom, has decided - even though we have two litter trays in the house - that the doormat is infinitely preferable. As you can see from the photo, because it is clean and fresh and new Chloe has decided to lay claim to it before Tom can make his 'mark' on it. Cats, eh? ....... who'd have 'em?