Sunday, January 30, 2011

Photo Scavenger Hunt - January 2011

Below are my photos for the January Photo Scavenger Hunt.  I've really enjoyed the challenge of finding them.

Something out of place

a wren  in the Hobbycraft Shop at Bridgemere Garden World, Cheshire

taken at the local pet shop
Ancient tombstone
in the churchyard of the parish church of St Edward the Confessor, Leek, Staffordshire
in a basket outside the wool shop in Getliffe's Yard, Leek, Staffordshire
well one anyway!
squirrel at Brough Park, Leek, Staffordshire
Stained Glass Window
a rose window in the church of St Edward the Confessor, Leek, designed by G F Bodley and made by the William Morris Company
public library and council one-stop shop, Stoke, Stoke-on-Trent

Playground Equipment
at Hanley Park, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent
Abandoned Building
the pavillion Hanley Park, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent
Reflective Surface (not a mirror)
the Caldon Canal, Hanley Park, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent

Your front door
our front door is actually a side door so it can't be photographed easily from the front as next door's wall is in the way!

Here is a - link - to some of the other bloggers who have taken part.  There is also a - Flickr - page where you can upload your photos if you are a member.  There are some wonderful photos to discover.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Little Things

I'm going to join in with Louise and write an occasional post about what makes me happy.  I think most definitely it's the small things that happen during the day that make me smile.  I was happy yesterday evening when I realised that it was still quite light at 5p.m. - the days are getting just that little bit longer.  I was happy today when I woke up and the sun was shining and we were able to go off for our usual walk around Trentham Lake and treat ourselves to a cup of coffee which we sipped whilst  watching the water birds on the lake including some we hadn't seen before and which Paul has featured in his latest post -  link.

I was really happy when we found the heathers above for just 50p a pot in the sale at the garden centre;  there are 12 plants there and they will replace the large, old heather we lost in the bad weather late last year.

The tulips, narcissi  and muscari in the spring garden I made last year have flowered this week.  I brought the pot inside during the bad weather and forgot to put it out again so the flowers are very early but a joy to see.

The photo above is especially for Michela and Louise who commented on my last post that they wanted to see the jars of marmalade we had made .  Well here they are!

This weekend is the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch.  I've pre-registered to do the survey so I'll report on what birds I see later. I've been topping up the bird feeders in readiness - we have lots of sparrows and starlings visiting the garden at the moment but also, rather worryingly, a young male sparrowhawk which we saw sitting on the fence overlooking next door's bird feeders yesterday!  I've also managed to take all the photos needed for January's Photo Scavenger Hunt so I'll be posting those on Sunday.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Time to make Marmalade

Earlier this week we opened the last jar of marmalade from the batch we made at the beginning of  last year.  So it's time to make some more.....

 Seville Oranges - tick
Sugar - tick
empty jars - tick

OK we're ready to start chopping, shredding and boiling - I'll be back!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

In the Garden

It was wonderful to get outside and into the garden yesterday after all the weekend's rain.  Everything was very brown and soggy and the lawns were squelching as I walked over them.  I had a  wander around just looking at things before I started on a general clearing up.

I think I spent a couple of hours pottering around and cutting off all the dead foliage from last year to let the new growth underneath see some light.

I soon had piles of stuff around the garden ready for the garden bin.  Can you see the fox track to the right of the photo above?  They come down here every night and through to next door where they are fed.

There are still loads of leaves to rake up but some areas are difficult to get to especially where heather plants have broken under the weight of snow and fallen across paths.  There is a lot more work to do before the garden begins to look like it is back in shape.

You can see how wet it still is in certain areas, especially around the raised beds.  Some of the dead leaves are still standing in an inch or two of water.
Max always comes out to supervise the gardening;  he wasn't keen on the evidence of badger that I found - neither was I come to that!  I unearthed droppings as I was clearing dead leaves but we also found a hole had been dug in one of the raised beds.

There are signs of new life in the garden;  buds on the rhododendron bush, signs of growth in the rhubarb patch and on the climbing hydrangea.

 I'm a bit worried about the ceanothus tree, this year it has gone a strange brown colour, it normally has acid green variegated leaves.   I do hope we haven't lost it. I expect it has been affected by the severe weather we've had over the last couple of months.  Last year we lost the willow tree you can see in the first photo.  We have left it for a year to see if it would recover but unfortunately it hasn't so it will have to go.

I really enjoyed being able to get out into the garden again after what seems like such a long time of bad winter weather.  I'm sure there will be more to come before Spring is finally here but yesterday felt like an encouraging start to the garden year.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


When I put these bulbs into a pot they were in a brown paper bag labelled 'Pink Hyacinth' so I was surprised to see blue flowers - I put them in a pink pot!  I expect that the ones labelled 'blue hyacinth' that I put in a blue pot may be pink!

When I bought these Lincolnshire tulips for half price at the supermarket they were pale cream but they are becoming more yellow as each day passes.  Today they are the sharp colour of lemons.

When I found a dry, dead looking cyclamen corm abandoned at the back of the garage and planted it in bulb fibre I didn't think it would produce anything but now it has grown and is covered in flowers.

Sometimes the unexpected can be quite wonderful!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Demolition and Destruction

Over the last few days I've been enjoying dipping in and out of one of my new books, namely 'The Lost City of Stoke-on-Trent' by Matthew Rice.  I'm finding what he has to say about the city fascinating and his drawings are so enchanting that I'll pretend not to notice that he's called the Enson Works in Longton 'Ensign' Works.

In September 2007 I photographed the abandoned buildings of the Enson works which stand close to the church of St James the Less in between Normacott Road and Uttoxeter Road.    The area covered by the 19th century grade II listed factory buildings, pub and cottages is owned by the City Council and was part of a heritage site which had then just recently been refurbished to create an interesting visitor area that enhanced the Gladstone Museum and Rosslyn works just further down the Uttoxeter Road.

With its cobbled street and old worker's cottages it had a really historic feel; just add the thick smokey air and the soot dirtied front windows and you'd have been there.  The row of cottages on Short Street were used in the 1970s when ATV filmed the drama series Clayhanger, from the novels by Arnold Bennett and staring Peter McEnery as Edwin Clayhanger and Janet Suzman as Hilda Lessways.

We visited again on Sunday and were surprised to see the old factory buildings being demolished.

 The seating area at the bottom of Short Street has gone, although the trees are still there at the moment.

 There is a screen protecting the actual bottle ovens so it looks as if they might be staying.  Although the other factory and office buildings were fast disappearing.

I've found out from various sources since I took the photos  that new buildings are planned incorporating the bottle ovens to set up a centre of excellence for the teaching of building skills to young people in the area.  This all sounds good especially as so many old buildings have been demolished over the last few years!  I only hope the investment is found to refurbish those left  or replace those already destroyed because at the moment, some parts of the city have become a wasteland.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Splash of Colour for January

I've just remembered that it is time for 'A Splash of Colour' again!  As I haven't been out since our walk on Sunday due to still having the worst cough I've had in ages, in fact probably ever had,  I thought I'd show you one of my Christmas presents. 

Lovely bright pink, rose scented drawer liners!   According to the little V&A tag the pattern is adapted from an original design called 'Pink and Rose' by William Morris.

The original, in the V&A collections, is actually hand-block-printed wallpaper from about 1890 and is typical of Morris's later style.

Today is a strange day as I am now officially an OAP - I've had to wait a few months since my birthday as I'm in one of the first batch of women who will be  'moved forward' as the government gradually change the retirement age from 60 to 65 for all of us.  I can now go and get a bus-pass!  However did I get here?

Perhaps I'll venture out to do it as soon as this cough disappears.  I coughed so much yesterday I tired myself out - still, I'm not complaining as a friend of a friend has had the same bug and coughed so much that she has cracked a rib - I'm just grateful for small mercies! 

I'm also longing to get out and have my hair cut  and this morning my hairdryer gave up the ghost - perhaps it couldn't cope with the state of my hair anymore!  Neither can I!

Right, I'm off to sort out my drawers and re-arrange my underwear on top of some lovely rose-scented paper.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Photo Challenge

I've decided to join with Kathy and Lyn  and have a go at  the photo scavenger hunt - each month there is a list of topics or objects to photograph and you have to display them at the end of the month.  Looks like an interesting and fun challenge to brighten up the long winter months ahead.

Here is the list for January's hunt -

1. an abandoned building
2. a stained glass window
3. a goldfish
4. yarn
5. playground equipment
6. a library
7. a tombstone over 100 years old
8. your front door
9. a reflective surface ... not a mirror
10. something out of place
11. nature
12. bubbles

I've already taken one of the topics a couple of days ago without realising that I could use it for this! Just hope my little camera is up to the challenge, too!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

At Ilam

It was so good to get out and about today after almost a week indoors suffering from a nasty cough and cold.  I still don't feel that great but a bit of fresh air and exercise helped me to feel more myself so I'm hoping it is onwards and upwards from here.

I know I've written posts on Ilam before but I never tire of the place so I hope you don't either!
We had a walk along the river and back through the fields before heading down to the church.

Stopping to admire Ilam Hall on the way; it must be one of the most beautiful Youth Hostels in the country!
I love the way the church nestles in the landscape.  This is the church of the Holy Cross and there was a Saxon church on the site before this one.  You can see outlines of an old Saxon door in the wall near the entrance and some of the lower masonry is of Saxon origin.

Above is one of the two Saxon crosses that can be found in the churchyard; below is the outside of the mausoleum chapel added in 1831.

As the door was open we decided to have a quick look inside the church;  the lights were off so the lighting levels were quite low for taking photographs. I did manage to take a few.

Above is the tomb of St Bertram who was, according to legend, a Mercian prince whose wife and baby were killed by wolves.  He lived as a hermit near Stafford and then at Ilam.  His remains were eventually  moved to Stafford but the alter  tomb, which dates from the 13th century, is still a place of pilgrimage and prayers are left here - you can see them on top of the tomb in the photo.

Close by St Bertram's tomb is the 17th century Alabaster tomb of Robert and Elizabeth Meverell of  nearby Throwley Hall, now an imposing ruin which I'd love to visit one day soon.

Above is a view of the chancel;  I didn't realise until I got home and looked at the photos that the east wall was painted a bright blue.

In the photo above taken across the nave you can just see the font of 1120; the figures around it are thought to depict the life of St Bertram.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Into 2011

All my best wishes to everyone for a Happy, Healthy and Peaceful New Year