Sunday, June 28, 2009

Wandering around Cambridge

The next day we were up and off early towards Cambridge and by 9a.m. were at the hotel. I had great plans for my day in Cambridge not least was a visit to the Botanical Gardens but the heat was so intense I decided not to walk that far out of the centre so spent my day just pottering around along the river, in the museums and looking at all the lovely clothes, shoes and perfumes I couldn't afford to buy - but perfume you can try so I did that, too. I went in three or four book shops and spent ages wandering around before choosing Heffers to sit and drink coffee and gaze at passers by and the wonderful array of books on offer. About 11.30a.m. I decided that I'd better swap my window shopping hat for my tourist hat and so I made my way to the nearest Museum.

The Cambridge Folk Museum is housed in an old Inn and is a fascinating place. The building itself dates from around 1600 and for 300 years was The White Horse Inn.

The courtyard of the Museum

As you walk in from the reception area the first rooms are the bar and snug from the old public house and then through to the kitchen.

Up stairs in the guest bedroom was a small walk-in cupboard at the side of the fireplace; this was used for powdering wigs. In the 18th century lots of people wore wigs and they would need to be stored on a stand overnight and powdered before wearing, the little room had a shelf - presumably for the wig stand - and a window to the outside through which to shake off the excess powder.

I loved these old houses - this was the view across the road from the top floor where there were displays on Fenland crafts and working life - things like eel catching and wildfowling - and a childhood room. From here I wandered up to Kettles Yard and looked around the gallery although the house wasn't open until later in the day.

It was time to wander back to the bridge and take a walk along the River Cam before it got too warm and I wanted to see punts, below the river on Quayside near Jesus Green.

At 2p.m. it felt like lunch time so I popped into M&S for sandwiches and a drink and sat in St Mary's churchyard - like many other people - in a shaded corner to eat my lunch.

I had a couple of hours before I had to return to the Gonville Hotel so I wandered up towards the Fitzwilliam Museum where it was cool and fairly quiet - here are a few of the photos I took along the way.

The Corpus Clock outside the Taylor Library of Corpus Christi College. It was designed by John Taylor - who explains about it here

Bicycles on the wall of Corpus Christi College

Window box in the quad of Peterhouse College

Don't know what this building is but I liked it

At the Fitzwilliam museum I looked at the Darwin exhibition and then - you've guessed - back to the rabbits again! As you can see from my little souvenirs from the shop - but I'll tell you more about 'The Macclesfield Psalter' in a later post.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Marking Time

It's exam time and therefore it's marking time so earlier this week we went to Cambridge, as we did this time last year, for Paul's OCR examiner's meeting at the Gonville Hotel which is just by Parker's Piece. We actually set out the day before to visit friends in Spalding, where we used to live, and had a lovely lunch with them at the Swan Hotel in Moulton and then a visit to the Owl Centre at Weston. Here are some photos of our day.

The Market Place, Spalding - unfortunately it wasn't Market Day

The new footbridge over the River Welland in the centre of Spalding

The Mill at Moulton which is opposite the Swan Hotel

Walking by the Mill

Our next stop was The Owl Centre which is within the Baytree Garden Centre at nearby Weston. Paul took loads of photos - here

One of the owls at the centre - a Ural Owl called Titch

No, this isn't an owl - this is Chester and he is a Giant French Pappillion - well I did promise rabbits!

We were staying at the Travelodge at Alwalton just south of Peterborough and close to the East of England Showground. Our room was overlooking the fields of the showground and they were absolutely full of rabbits - they were enchanting to watch as we sat sipping a welcoming cup of tea.

More rabbits - wild ones this time.

The village itself is so pretty and we had an evening stroll around the centre with its thatched cottages and down to the river which was so still and peaceful in the evening air; we stood and watched the dragonflies skimming across the surface of the water. Henry Royce co-founder of the Rolls Royce Motor Car Company was born here and is buried at the church of St Andrews in the village.

The Cuckoo Hotel

Beautiful thatched cottages

Down by the River Nene

It was time to wander back as we had a long and busy time ahead of us the next day.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Catching Up

We've been away for a few days into South Lincolnshire and also to Cambridge, I'll report on our visit in a later post; this morning it was time to catch up with gardening - even after only a day or two things have changed.

First I cut the grass which took a lot of effort as it hadn't been done for ages because of the rain.

A job well done, I think. After a coffee break I picked some of the gooseberries which seemed to have doubled in size overnight.

It wasn't until I'd finished picking that I noticed Max asleep under the gooseberry bushes - the cats love it there as it is so shady.

So later I'll be making a crumble or two. One of my friends has passed on some Lady and Saga magazines, hmm .... what is she trying to tell me!

Not only have the gooseberries doubled in size - the tomatoes have too.

So have the beans.

I'll be back later with tales of Cambridge, owls and a rabbit or two, or three or four or........

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Midsummer Roses

Roses have a special connection to midsummer. The legend is that any rose picked on midsummer's eve or midsummer's day will stay fresh until Christmas. I may try - although I expect I would be better served by pressing a flower between the leaves of a book. This always brings to mind the wonderful book A Month in the Country by J L Carr - set in the period just after WWI and one of my favourite books. The vicar's wife, the beautiful Alice Keach gives Birkin, the artist who has come to restore the wall paintings in Osgodby church, a rose - a pink, single rose called Sara van Fleet. Years later he writes 'I have it still. Pressed in a book. My Bannister-Fletcher, as a matter of fact. Someday, after a sale, a stranger will find it there and wonder why.' It is the end of the film of the book that has me reaching for a box of tissues when Birkin, now an old man, returns to the church and in the churchyard opens his book and there, between the pages, is the pressed rose, a symbol of what might have been.

Roses are seen as the flower of love. Another custom for Midsummer's eve was that young girls would scatter rose petals before them and say the words:-

'Rose leaves, rose leaves, rose leaves I strew, He that will love me come after me now.'

Then, according to legend, the next day, Midsummer's day, their true love will visit.

I wonder if this ever happened? In Act 1 Scene1 of William Shakespeare's play 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' Lysander enquires of Hermia

'How, now my love? Why is your cheek so pale? How chance the roses there do fade so fast?'

Hermia replies 'Belike for want of rain, which I could well beteem them from the tempest of my eyes'

Lysander follows with 'Ay me! For aught that I could ever read, could ever hear by tale or history, the course of true love never did run smooth.'


Roses are much used in perfumes and also for healing purposes.

How to make rose water:-

Gather the roses from your garden just before they drop from the plant. Place in a heat-resistant bowl and cover with boiling water and leave them for about half an hour. Strain the mixture through muslin or cheesecloth into a jar and discard the petals. This mixture will last about 10 days if kept in the fridge, a tablespoon of vodka will act as a preservative if you want to store it for longer. Place in a spray bottle as a refreshing spray for warm summer days. You can also combine the rose water with glycerine to make a soothing moisturiser:-

3 tablespoons of glycerine to 3 tablespoons of rose water. Combine in a clean bottle, fasten the lid and shake the mixture. You need to shake before each use.

The rose above is called The Herbalist.

After I'd written this post and set it ready to publish later today we went for a walk around Trentham where we decided to have an ice cream from Cadwallader's ice cream parlour. Well, you've probably guessed - the flavour I chose was Rose Petal it was a pretty pale pink colour but this doesn't show very well on the photo which was taken with the phone camera; it was delicious - such a soft delicate flavour.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Another bit of the Monsal Trail

I thought we'd have a little break from the Morville adventure and keep Much Wenlock for a later post. Last week we went into Derbyshire to walk another stretch of the Monsal Trail - this time we parked at Monsal Head and walked from the viaduct towards Cressbrook Mill as far as the Rubicon wall and Water-cum-Jolly and back with a slight diversion along the way.

We parked in the large long-stay car park behind the Monsal Head Hotel and made our way past Hobb's cafe and craft shop to the path which leads down to the viaduct where the trail started.

This is where we were headed - down through the trees towards the viaduct built in 1863 to carry the trains from Bakewell to Buxton, just to the left of the path down at the end of the viaduct is another closed tunnel.

A view from the start of the path near the car park

Down through the trees

A view of the hills from the viaduct

Cressbrook Mill

Steps down to the river Wye

The waterfall near Cressbrook Mill

The Rubicon Wall at Water-cum-Jolly we crossed the bridge and walked along the other side of the water until we reached the corner - it was very muddy underfoot here - we turned back to retrace our steps to the viaduct.

We walked under the viaduct and out into the buttercup meadow

It was so peaceful and magical amongst the buttercups down by the river

I could have stayed here for ages just taking in the atmosphere listening to the insects buzzing and the coots on the river calling to each other; I just wanted to sit amongst the buttercups and dream the day away and for a while time and place were suspended. There was a certain timelessness about the place that is hard to describe.

Eventually we wandered further along the river to find the weir we could hear roaring in the distance

Then we returned along the buttercup meadow, up the path towards the viaduct passing wild orchids as we walked and back up to the car park.

We sat and had our picnic lunch on a seat overlooking this view just a stones throw away people were sitting in the garden of the Monsal Head Hotel eating pub lunches and back in the short stay car park the local ice cream van, Bradwells, was doing great trade with the passing ramblers.

I shared my sandwich with this little chaffinch - I think he enjoyed Paul's home made bread as he ate all the crumbs we put down for him and ignored the other bread left there by the last inhabitants of our seat.

Monday, June 15, 2009

At Morville - Part Two - The Church

After we left the Dower House garden we walked back towards the church where we had parked the car - we went to see if the church was open and were pleased to find that it was.

The drive from the main road which leads to the Hall and Church at Morville

St Gregory's Church was built in 1118 by the monks of Shrewsbury Abbey - it became a Priory dependant on the Abbey and it is thought it stood where the Hall is now

The chancel arch, although restored in the 19th century, is predominantly Norman

Whilst the font is thought to be of Saxon origin

From here on the photos aren't so great so I apologise but thought I would show them as you can still get some idea of what else was in the church from them.

The carvings over the vestry door

There are four carvings above the pillars in the nave which represent the evangelists - the one above is St Luke with an Ox.

On the wall of the tower is a wall paiting of bellringing fines - I've typed it out for you to read

When to ring you doe come here
you must ring well with hand and ear
for if this law you break indeed
your forfeit must be paid with speed
he that a bell doth overthrow
must pay his groat before he goe
he that suddenly checks a bell
two pence must pay all men can tell
amd he tht rings with spir or hatt
two pence is there to pay for that
these laws are olde they are not new
therefore kind debtor pay they due

It was time to head towards home which we did via Much Wenlock and Ironbridge. To be continued.....