Sunday, February 27, 2011

Photo Scavenger Hunt - February 2011

Here are my photos for the February Photo Scavenger Hunt.  It has been great fun finding them!  There are many more on Flickr via Kathy's blog Postcards from the P.P.  - link -  (which I can't seem to join without giving them a lot of  information) so I'll just leave mine here.  
In no particular order..............

Post Box

Post Box outside the Beresford Tea Rooms, Hartington, Derbyshire

A Round Faced Clock

Clock on the side of the old station building, now a bookshop and cafe, at Hassop, Derbyshire


Chloe - no doubt thinking 'not that camera again'!!
Something Red
An old Dennis fire engine c. 1951 outside the fire station, Clay Cross, Derbyshire

A big lorry/truck

Travelling along the A515 between Buxton and Ashbourne - taken from The Tissington Trail near Parsley Hay.

A Bridge

The bridge at Haywood Junction in the village of Great Haywood, Staffordshire where the Trent and Mersey Canal meets the Staffordshire and Worcester canal.  The signpost indicates 'To the Trent', 'To Wolverhampton' and 'To the Potteries'!
A Park Bench

In Longton Park, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire  - spot the squirrel?
Something Heart-shaped
Found in one of the antique/ bric-a-brac barns at Dagfields, near Nantwich, Cheshire
A Musical Instrument
A Mandolin in one of the antique /bric-a-brac barns at Dagfields, near Nantwich, Cheshire

Your shoes
Bought in the sale at Pavers shop in December - not worn yet!
Something with Stripes

Small beach hut in the 'seaside' garden in Trentham Gardens, Staffordshire
Newspaper Headline
It's been ages since we indulged in a Saturday newspaper - I will probably take all weekend to read it!

(Edit 1/3/11 - I've now worked out how to upload to the Flickr group so my photos are there too!)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

At Lathkill Dale

We had some free time on Friday so we set out not quite knowing where we were going but the car has its way of taking the road towards Frogall, Ipstones and out to Hartington.  From here it was anybody's guess as to where we would end up.  We did need to buy some bread making flour so decided to head towards Bakewell and Rowsley. 

We'd made a flask of coffee and some biscuits for elevenses so we decided to stop at the village of Over Haddon for a break and a short walk down into Lathkill Dale.

It was a very still, overcast day but the birds were singing in the trees as we wandered down to the  river.  We saw quite a few blackbirds, chaffinch and a robin or two as well as pheasants taking their morning stoll across the road.

The lichens and mosses on the walls and barn roof were so green against the grey of the stones and slates.  The River Lathkill rises just below the village of Monyash and flows through the valley towards Haddon Hall where it joins with the River Wye.  Every year for the past few years we have had great intentions of re-visiting Haddon Hall but have never made it.   The last time we visited we took Mum and Dad; sadly now both long gone.This year we intend to get there!  I think it is my favourite of Derbyshire's famous houses.  Hardwick Hall, which is close to the village we lived in when I was a child, comes a close second.
The river seemed quite full and was moving at quite a rate, swirling and eddying against the banks.  We saw a dipper bobbing up and down on stones in the river.   Sorry no birdy photos - my camera isn't good for close-ups.  There were lots of lovely snowdrops growing on the river bank.

After a gentle stroll it was time to head back up the hill to the car park and continue our journey towards Bakewell and Rowsley where we bought bags of flour at Caudwell's mill.  More of this journey later!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Essex Bridge

The last part of last week's adventure lead us back to the River Trent and a wonderful piece of historical architecture. The Essex Bridge is a Grade One listed pack horse bridge which spans the River Trent at the village of Great Haywood in Staffordshire.

The bridge links the village with the nearby Shugborough Estate home of the late photographer Patrick Anson, 5th Earl of Lichfield.  This estate is now owned by the National Trust and this year the trust are opening up the private apartments of the Earl of Lichfield - there is an interesting - blog - about the work being done.

The bridge was built during the reign of Elizabeth I by the then Earl of Essex so that the Queen could enjoy hunting in the woodlands surrounding the village when visiting the Shugborough estate.

The bridge originally had forty spans or arches; just fourteen of those survive today.

Just before we photographed the bridge there was a torrential downpour of rain but it soon cleared and the bridge became very busy with families passing backwards and forwards across it.

I remembered crossing this bridge from the Shugborough estate when we visited a few years ago and thought it would be a super bridge to photograph for this month's Scavenger Hunt but then, having found another unusual bridge, I decided that the Essex Bridge deserved a post of its own.

Things to Do

Today is a dull grey day and there have been plenty of those lately but they have been interspersed with some lovely days. Days that feel tantalisingly spring like but they also leave you with a false sense of security as far as the weather is concerned. We could yet have more bad weather before it really feels like spring and no doubt we will!

We managed a bit more work in the garden this morning; so much damage has been done to many of the plants and shrubs and it seems we may have lost more than we realised.  The willow we thought we'd lost last year has to be taken down as it really is dead.  In the same patch of garden are the ceanothus and tamarisk trees.  I mentioned in an earlier post that the ceanothus looked as if it hadn't survived the cold weather of late last year but now it looks as if the tamarisk tree may have suffered too!  I'm keeping my fingers crossed for both of them!  Encouragingly there are a few green leaves showing now on the ceanothus but the tamarisk is ominously brown.

I was recently sent a novel by the author -Rosy Thornton - who had been reading my blog and noticed that I had read one of her books last year. The book I read last year - 'Hearts and Minds' - was set in a women's college in Cambridge.  'The Tapestry of Love'  is set in the CĂ©vennes region of France.  I've read a couple of chapters so far and I'm already hooked by the character of the heroine and the wonderful descriptions of the landscape and people.  I'll write a proper review later when I've finished reading. 

I've been knitting in the evenings whilst watching television - when there is something worthwhile to watch!  I must admit I'm hooked on the Danish thriller 'The Killing' on BBC4 on Saturday evenings.  I was sad to say farewell to 'Larkrise to Candleford' on Sunday evenings but am looking forward to it being replaced by  'South Riding' from the novel by Winifred Holtby; you will see it is on my favourite books list.  I'm also enjoying 'A History of Ancient Britain' with Neil Oliver, 'Life in a Cottage Garden' with Carol Klein and 'Britain by Bike' with Clare Balding.

I've mastered the ten rows of pattern -  nine rows of straight knitting and then the decreasing row which will give the cardigan its swing or flare at the back.

I'll be back shortly with the second part of last Saturday's adventure!  This outing was to take photos for February's Photo Scavenger Hunt.  I still have four more subjects to find and one of them is quite a problem but I have a couple of ideas on where to find what I'm looking for this weekend!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Two Short Walks

On Saturday we had a stroll around the grounds at the headquarters of the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust at Wolseley Bridge.  When we first moved to Staffordshire these were known as Wolseley Gardens and were in a state of decline and about to close. They were the formal gardens of Wolseley Hall which was destroyed by fire in the mid 1950s.  They finally closed in 1996 and since 2003 have been maintained by the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust as a wildlife and conservation area. They are free to walk around and well worth a visit. 

There was a lot of activity on the main lakes.  We had watched two skeins of geese fly over in a V shape formation as we drew up in the garden centre car park.  There is also a car park in the grounds near the visitor centre but we wanted to walk around the garden centre afterwards so walked  from there - it isn't far.

The geese had landed on the lakes and were making a great deal of noise - I guess it is the time of year!

After our walk we went into the visitor centre, the Wolseley Centre,  for a cup of coffee.  As we were sitting at a table in the education room we did one of the quizzes left on the table.  There were twelve 'old English' names for common birds and you had to guess what they were.  We managed to get eight of them correct!  We had fun doing it and chatting to the man on duty who had put the quiz together.  Here is a little example from the quiz:- three well known garden birds -  House Sparrow, Song Thrush, Blue Tit and three old English names to match to them  Mavis, Jackie Bluecap, Spug - which belong together?

The river Trent runs alongside and there are boardwalks to walk along between the river and the lakes.  

There are still features left from when Wolseley Gardens were the formal landscape gardens of the Wolseley Estate.

There were snowdrops dotted here and there under the trees.  We had a wander around the Wyevale Garden Centre and then drove off towards Milford and a picnic site with woodland walks.  

I can see a face in the tree in the photo below, can you?

After a walk through the woods it was time to go back to the car for our lunch before driving on towards our main goal of the day; but I'll save that  for another post.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A bit of a Colour Theme

Today was a pottering about and shopping type of day.  Books back to the library, stamps from the post office, coffee at the Museum and some super purchases.

Primroses from a nearby garden centre just 79p each.  Bowls £1 each in the sale at JTF.

Bargain!  On to the wool shop;  I've been longing to start knitting again for ages so today I bought wool - I began to see a colour theme going on.

So to balance the tendency towards lavender I also bought the primroses below!

Right, I'm off to cast on some stitches!

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

A Short Walk

After three days of wind and rain it was wonderful to wake up to a dry, crisp morning and clear skies. 

We decided that  after a few days indoors, apart from some necessary food shopping, some exercise was required so set we out for Hartington to walk along the Tissington Trail to Parsley Hay.

It is a walk we've done many times before.  If you remember some of my posts from about three years ago we walked both the Tissington Trail and the High PeakTrail in sections until both had been completed.

It was a most beautiful morning!  A morning of light and shade.

A morning of sunshine and shadows.

The sun was warm on our backs, the sky was so blue and the air crystal clear.  Chaffinch and Robins were singing in the trees and crows cawing as they flew sedately over the fields. It was a morning to savour!  According to the weather forecast for the next few days the wind and rain will be back again.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

A Delightful Surprise

I was thrilled to be the lucky winner of the recent give-away by Simone on her Linden Grove blog.  On Friday just about lunchtime there was a knock on the door and there stood a postman clutching the most  beautifully wrapped parcel with my name on it. 

I sat and looked at it for a while before I decided to open it.  Inside were lots of pretty little parcels, wrapped in tissue paper with the most beautiful botanical stickers holding them together.  I had to take a photo before I opened them.

Simone had chosen so well for me! Such pretty colours - the turquoise crochet scarf and the handmade cards and wonderful cat gift tags.  There was also a delightful scent from the lavender cushions and the hand soap.  Plus there were some white chocolate mice and a lovely card.  So many little surprises and so beautifully presented. I'm overwhelmed by your generosity - thank you so much, Simone.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Save Our Libraries Day

Today is 'Save Our Libraries Day' here in the UK.  A worthwhile cause I think, don't you?  Here in Stoke we are to lose two libraries at Fenton and Burslem and also the mobile library.  Unfortunately non of the events listed are to be held near here which is a shame because despite the wind and rain I would have gone along to listen to the read-ins and add my voice to the protest.  I have supported my local library this week by taking out two books to read and reserving one on line.

I've always had a great love of books and of libraries. When I was a child a visit to our nearest town to take books out of the library was a huge treat. I remember the large, heavy doors, the brown tiled floor, the whitewashed walls, the tall sash windows letting in light and the dark wooden shelves groaning under the weight of many books; each one unique, each one a ticket to adventure and learning;  a trip to another world.  I loved being able to chose my own books and take them to the desk.  I was fascinated by the boxes of  reader's tickets and the date stamp and ink pads, so much so that I would often play libraries on the table at home with my Mum and Dad's books, torn up slips of newspaper in an old shoe box as the tickets and a hot water bottle top as the date stamp.  As a teenager I read avidly and I think got my love of history from writers like Jean Plaidy, Anya Seaton, Margaret Irwin, Juliet Dymoke, Norah Lofts and Georgette Heyer.  I read anything and everything set in the Regency period and in the time of the English Civil War - this stemmed, I think,  from reading 'Children of the New Forest', 'For the King' and 'Gambol for a Throne' as well as the usual Secret Seven, Little Women, What Katy Did, Wind in the Willows and the 'Wells' series by Lorna Hill.

My tastes in reading have changed over the years as discovering Dorothy L Sayers, Josephine Tey, Margery Allingham and Agatha Christie in my early twenties lead me towards my present love of mystery and crime novels with many genres including biography, classics, modern classics and contemporary literature  in between.

I could go on forever listing books I have read and loved not to mention those I have read without any abiding impressions, those I had to read at school and for 'O' levels, 'A' levels and degree and those I'm ashamed to say that I abandoned after a few pages.

The book I'm reading at the moment  is 'The House at Seas End' by Elly Griffiths an author recommended to me by a friend last year.  I enjoyed her first book  'The Crossing Places' which introduced the characters of Dr Ruth Galloway, cat loving forensic archaeologist and DCI Harry Nelson of the North Norfolk Police Force.  Her second book 'The Janus Stone' was just as fascinating and the characters and story lines introduced in the first book carry through into the second and third novels which are set around Kings Lynn and the North Norfolk coast.

I'd be pretty lost without books;  my life would be poorer if I didn't have them and libraries to borrow them from.  I do buy books too, of course.  I expect we all want to own our favourite books by our favourite authors but I couldn't possibly afford to buy every book I wanted to read.  Libraries are of course, so much more than just books.  Our local library is always busy with people using the computers, school parties listening to books being read to them, book reading groups and other community activities.  Libraries enrich the lives of so many people in many different ways - we need to keep them and help them flourish because once they have gone we will surely never see their like again.